SpaceX Releases First Pictures of Falcon Heavy Rocket

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk released the first images of his company’s Falcon Heavy rocket Wednesday, showing the massive triple-core booster almost fully assembled inside its hangar at the Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A, where it is scheduled to lift off some time in January.

The three images posted on Twitter show the Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin 1D engines mounted on the back end of three modified first stages from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The kerosene-fueled engines will generate up to 5.1 million pounds of thrust during launch, the most power produced by any rocket departing Cape Canaveral since the space shuttle.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Crew Members from Russia, U.S. & Japan Arrive at Space Station After Two-Day Soyuz Flight

Three new arrivals pulled into their orbital docking port at the International Space Station Tuesday morning after a flawless two-day rendezvous executed by the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft with veteran Commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA’s Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai of JAXA – kicking off a planned 166-day stay aboard ISS as part of Expeditions 54 and 55.

Third-time Soyuz Commander Shkaplerov, former naval test pilot Tingle and physician-astronaut Kanai braved temperatures under -10°C at noon on Sunday when boarding their Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft, taking their seats atop 274 metric tons of explosive propellants. The 49.5-meter tall Soyuz FG rocket lifted off from Baikonur at 7:21:01 UTC and took the crew on a nine-minute climb into a 200-Kilometer around Earth.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

World View Balloon Explodes, Shakes Parts of Tucson

A World View high-altitude balloon exploded Tuesday, shaking several neighborhoods near the Tucson International Airport

The aerospace and space tourism company confirmed the incident and said two of their employees reported ringing in their ears after the accident.

World View also said damage was reported by residents and businesses in the area. “We will be proactively coordinating with the parties affected,” World View said in a news release. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this incident may have caused our local neighbors. We are working to fully understand the cause of the incident to ensure that it cannot and will not happen again.”

Read more at: Tucson Newsnow

Russian Space Agency Blames Satellite Loss on Programming Error

Russia’s space agency on Tuesday blamed a failed satellite launch from its new cosmodrome on a programming error, prompting an angry response from the deputy prime minister in charge of space.

On November 28 Russia lost contact with its Meteor-M weather satellite after its launch from the new Vostochny cosmodrome — only the second such launch since the facility opened in the country’s far east last year.

The failure “exposed a hidden problem in the algorithm” that never manifested itself in similar launches, Roscosmos said in a statement, referring to the procedure the computers are programmed to follow.

Read more at: SG News

Space Debris Threat to Geosynchronous Satellites has been Drastically Underestimated

A new analysis has found that the threat posed by space debris to satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbits (GEO) is much greater than has been assumed until now. Daniel Oltrogge at Analytical Graphics Inc (AGI), and collaborators at AGI and satellite operators SES and Inmarsat, used six separate approaches to estimate the risk, finding broad agreement between them. The results indicate that the chances of collision in GEO are up to four orders of magnitude higher than some estimates have suggested, and those collisions can occur at much higher relative velocities than previously thought. The researchers predict that the population of active GEO satellites can be expected to suffer one potentially mission-terminating impact every four years on average.

Read more at: Physics world

To Fix the Space Junk Problem, Add a Self-destruct Module

Humans have gotten pretty good at launching stuff into space—but way less good at getting stuff back down. Up in lower Earth orbit, along with a thousand-plus productive satellites, there are many more slackers: space junk, cosmic trash, garbage of the highest-orbiting order. According to the European Space Agency’s latest statistics, there are about 29,000 pieces of such junk larger than 10 centimeters, 750,000 between 1 and 10 centimeters, and a 166 millionbetween 1 mm and 1 centimeter.

But there’s a lot more smaller stuff where that came from. Previously, NASA studied this diminutive debris by looking at the little craters that it left on the space shuttle like acne scars. But the space shuttle retired in 2011 (RIP). So last month, to take the task back up, NASA installed a new 600-pound gorilla instrument on the space station: the Space Debris Sensor. This one-meter-square object has one job: to take hits. These, in turn, tell scientists about the trash’s origin and help them make extrapolations about the bigger, more dangerous debris that’s out there.

Read more at: Wired

See the Next Generation of Nuclear Power for Mars Missions

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy are collaborating to develop the next generation of nuclear generators, with a focus on crewed missions to Mars.

The Kilopower project, depicted in a new video from NASA,aims to produce a nuclear generator with greater efficiency and higher output than those currently in use.

Nuclear power has a long and successful history of use in space exploration. It powered the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft that explored the solar system in the 1970s and continues to be used in technologies such as the Curiosity rover, which arrived on Mars in 2012. Nuclear fission provides a compact, reliable source of electricity, especially in situations where solar panels would be ineffective.

Read more at: Space.com

Soyuz MS-05 Returns Crew Back to Earth

The Russian Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and completed its journey back to Earth with its three crewmembers on Thursday. The vehicle undocked at 05:14 UTC ahead of landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan around 08:38 UTC. The Soyuz returned ESA’s Paolo Nespoli, Randy Bresnik of NASA and Sergei Ryazansky of Roscosmos.

Soyuz MS-05’s homecoming – also noted as the End Of Mission (EOM) events – represented the conclusion of the 134th flight of a crewed Soyuz vehicle, which was conducted by the 60th launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket since it entered service in 2001.

That launch took place in late July, using the fast rendezvous technique that resulted in a successful docking at the MRM-1 module of the Station.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Bridging the Gap: NASA Studies the Human Body in Space for One Year to Extrapolate for Missions to Mars

Before we can run or jump, we walk. Before sending humans to Mars, NASA must understand how the human body is affected by living and working in space. Typical missions to the International Space Station last six months. A round-trip mission to Mars could last three years.  Do the effects of being in space change over time? NASA is asking the scientific community to propose research that will help bridge the gap in our knowledge regarding long-term experiences in space.

NASA’s Human Research Program is now soliciting proposals for research that, when combined with ongoing NASA studies, could enable safer and more effective travel to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA is seeking research proposals in seven topic areas.   Such research will help NASA establish a baseline for proposed deep space missions up to 400 days in length as well as understand, prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate, and cure the potential health effects of prolonged spaceflight. Interested scientists and researchers will find a detailed description of the research emphases, as well as the proposal process and awards, on the NSPIRES website

Read more at: NASA

Genes in Space-3 Successfully Identifies Unknown Microbes in Space

Being able to identify microbes in real time aboard the International Space Station, without having to send them back to Earth for identification first, would be revolutionary for the world of microbiology and space exploration. The Genes in Space-3 team turned that possibility into a reality this year, when it completed the first-ever sample-to-sequence process entirely aboard the space station. Results from their investigation were published in Scientific Reports.

The ability to identify microbes in space could aid in the ability to diagnose and treat astronaut ailments in real time, as well as assisting in the identification of DNA-based life on other planets. It could also benefit other experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory. Identifying microbes involves isolating the DNA of samples, and then amplifying – or making many copies – of that DNA that can then be sequenced, or identified.

Read more at: NASA

Report Highlights Social and Economic Impacts of Space Weather

Some experts in the emergency management community believe that the first “trillion-dollar storm” won’t come in the form of a tornado, hurricane, or flood, but rather will come from the sun. A new report funded by NOAA’s National Weather Service begins to quantify impacts from space weather on the United States economy.

Space weather broadly refers to time-variable conditions in the near-Earth space environment including the sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere. It represents a natural hazard that is known to interrupt and damage technologies critical to modern society such as electric power grids, airlines, trains, pipelines, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) [National Research Council, 2008; Baker and Lanzerotti, 2016].

Read more at: Weather

How a Student Satellite Solved a Major Space Mystery

A 60-year-old mystery regarding the source of some energetic and potentially damaging particles in Earth’s radiation belts is now solved using data from a shoebox-sized satellite built and operated by CU Boulder students.

The results from the new study indicate energetic electrons in Earth’s inner radiation belt—primarily near its inner edge—are created by cosmic rays born from explosions of supernovas, said the study’s lead author, Professor Xinlin Li of CU Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Earth’s radiation belts, known as the Van Allen belts, are layers of energetic particles held in place by Earth’s magnetic field.

Read more at: Colorado

Orion’s Parachutes Tested in High Deserts of Arizona

NASA tested parachutes for the space agency’s Orion spacecraft on December 15, 2017, at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground located in Arizona. This was the fifth test to validate the design of the parachute system for NASA’s crew-rated spacecraft. The evaluation comes after a previous attempt on Dec. 13, 2017, was called off because of aircraft issues.

A model of Orion was ejected from a C-17 aircraft flying at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet (9,144 meters). The test was not flown to demonstrate how the system would perform under optimal conditions. Instead, one of the parachutes was designed to fail and, in so doing, validate this critical system’s ability to function under a possible failure scenario.

The three main parachutes are meant to slow the Orion spacecraft from a speed of 300 miles (483 kilometers) per hour to 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour in under 10 minutes. If everything goes according to plan, these chutes will allow for a safe ocean splashdown.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Reaction Engines Start Work on US High-temperature Airflow Test Facility

Located at the Front Range Airport near Watkins, Colorado, Reaction Engines’ test facility will be capable of exposing the pre-cooler test article (HTX) to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of 1800°F (1000°C) that are expected during high-speed flights up to Mach 5.

Reaction Engines recently received a contract award from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct the HTX tests, which follow successful testing of the pre-cooler heat exchanger at ambient temperature conditions.

Read more at: Engineeer

Stratolaunch’s Monster Jet Completes First Test-Drive Down Runway

Stratolaunch’s rocket-launching mothership was driven down the runway for the first time this past weekend. The double-bodied jet —which has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in the world —has been undergoing tests at Stratolaunch’s facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The latest phase in this process was testing the aircraft’s steering and stopping capabilities.

Video footage of the taxi test showed the plane rolling along at a slow speed. Afterward, Stratolaunch officials said the vehicle’s steering, braking, anti-skid and telemetry systems all operated as anticipated.

“Our crew was able to demonstrate ground directional control with nose gear steering, and our brake systems were exercised successfully on the runway,”George Bugg, Stratolaunch’s aircraft program manager, said in a statement. “Our first low speed taxi test is a very important step toward first flight. We are all proud and excited.”

Read more at: Space.com

Thales Alenia Working with Three Companies on Deep Space Gateway Concepts

Thales Alenia Space is partnering with three U.S. companies that are working on NASA studies of concepts for the proposed Deep Space Gateway, leveraging its expertise in space station and cargo module development.

Thales announced Dec. 14 that Boeing was the latest company it was working with as part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) 2 effort. Thales has previously also been working with Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK. Thales did not disclose the value of the individual contracts with the three companies.

For all three companies, Thales is providing expertise in areas such as structures, environmental controls and thermal controls, said Walter Cugno, vice president of Thales Alenia Space’s exploration and sciences domain, in a call with reporters. The company’s contributions are currently limited to studies, he said, and does not include hardware at this time.

Read more at: Space News

Virgin Galactic Strikes a Deal to Send Italian Scientist on Suborbital Space Trip in 2019

Virgin Galactic and the Italian Space Agency say they’ve signed a letter of intent to send an Italian payload specialist and scientific experiments on a suborbital space mission in 2019. The deal was announced today during the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Colorado. Attendees quoted CEO George Whitesides as saying that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity, would go through one more glide test before starting rocket-powered trials at Mojave Air and Space Port in 2018.

Commercial flights would be conducted at Spaceport America in New Mexico, potentially by the end of next year, and NASA already has signed up to be a research payload customer.

Read more at: Geekwire

After 14 Months, a New and Improved New Shepard Flies Again

When Blue Origin last flew its New Shepard system, the spacecraft intentionally triggered its abort system 45 seconds after launch. As the spacecraft blasted away from the booster, its escape motor slammed the rocket with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force and hot exhaust. Nevertheless, both the spacecraft and rocket returned safely to the West Texas launch site for a successful test flight.

In the 14 months since that abort-test flight, Blue Origin has been working on an upgraded version of the rocket—to improve its capacity for rapid, low-cost reusability—and the capsule in which six passengers will eventually ride to space inside. For example, the test capsule used during flights in late 2015 and 2016 had painted-on windows. The new variant has actual windows, which at 3.6 feet tall may be the largest of any spacecraft that has flown into space.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Space Tourism to Launch in 2018?

The first commercial space tourism flight is still on the schedule to go up from Spaceport America at some point next year.

Virgin Galactic Director of Operational Services Nick Kaczmarek told the Middle Rio Grande Economic Development Association board last week in Truth or Consequences that the first flight is expected in 2018. The flight would include Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson.

“We’re very quickly getting ready for commercial operations,” Kaczmarek said. He said test flights of the vehicles taking the tourists to space are also expected to be conducted at the site before the commercial tourism flights take place. He said Virgin Galactic has developed a new ship called Unity that was built after the fatal SpaceShipTwo test in 2014. Kaczmarek said testing is now moving from glide flights to powered-flight testing.

Read more at: dchieftain

Belgian Researcher Leaves to Study Space Travel in Antarctica

Professor Sarah Baatout leaves today (16 December) for a long journey to Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station to study the response of the human body to extreme conditions.

As previously reported, the 2017 – 2018 scientic season at the Belgian polar station has just begun. Sarah Baatout, head of the radiobiology unit at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) and guest professor in bio-engineering at Gent University, will join a team of 12 researchers of Belgian and other nationalities at Cape Town and from there continue to Antarctica. There they will carry out an interdisciplinary biomonitoring project for one month.

SCK•CEN with more than 700 employees is one of the largest research centers in Belgium and deals with peaceful applications of radioactivity, including safety of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste. For many years it has also worked on the protection of astronauts during space travel.

Read more at: Brussels Times

Chinese Commercial Rocket Company Secures 1.2bn Yuan Investment, Multiple Launches Set for 2018

Chinese commercial rocket launch company EXPACE has secured nearly US$182m for the development and launch of its Kuaizhou series of solid fuelled launch vehicles.

CASIC Rocket Technology Company, also known as EXPACE and based in the city of Wuhan, said it signed fundraising agreements totalling 1.2bn yuan with eight investment institutions at the Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange on Monday, Xinhua reports.

EXPACE was jointly established in February 2016 by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the state-owned defence giant and missile maker, and the China Sanjiang Space Group.

Read more at: GB Times

Saudi Rocket Scientist Aims for the Moon

Saudi aerospace engineer Mishaal Alshemimry wishes to see more opportunities in the Kingdom and possibly a space agency.
A rocket company founded by Alshemimry wants to make space more accessible through innovative and low-cost launch vehicles.

MISHAAL Aerospace, based in Miami, Florida, is developing its own line of launch vehicles to be able to achieve further strives in space such as sending small satellites and being able to mine the moon and bring back samples to earth. Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah recently awarded Alshemimry a certificate for inspiring Saudi women. Dar Al-Hekma University is also exploring with Alshemimry the possibilities of expanding opportunities in different majors for students.

Read more at: Saudi Gazette

Blue Origin a Year Away from Crewed New Shepard Flights

After carrying out a successful test flight of a new version of its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft, a Blue Origin executive said Dec. 18 that the company was now about a year away from starting to fly people.

Speaking at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) here, Jeff Ashby, a former NASA astronaut who is director of safety and mission assurance for Blue Origin, said the Dec. 12 flight of the vehicle from Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas was a major milestone for the company.

That flight featured both a new version of the cylindrical propulsion module as well as “Version 2.0” of its crew capsule, now outfitted with the large windows that are a distinctive feature of the spacecraft. The capsule carried 12 experiments as well as a test dummy, dubbed “Mannequin Skywalker,” to measure the environment a human would experience on those flights.

Read more at: Space News

China and US Quietly Hold Third Civil Space Dialogue, Discuss Exploration Plans and Cooperation

Beijing quietly hosted the third China-US Civil Space Dialogue on November 30, with the two sides exchanging plans for human and robotic space exploration, and discussing engagement through multilateral mechanisms.

The meeting was co-chaired by Tian Yulong, secretary-general of China National Space Administration (CNSA), and Jonathan Margolis, assistant secretary of state of the US Department of State.

In an email, a State Department official informed gbtimes.com that “the delegations discussed ways to improve bilateral cooperation on spaceflight safety issues and shared their respective plans for human and robotic space exploration, and support for commercial space activities.

Read more at: GB Times

ArianeGroup to Start Building First Ariane 6 Launcher

ArianeGroup, the space-launchers joint-venture between Airbus and Safran, has passed an industrial milestone allowing it to move ahead with production of the first Ariane 6, Europe’s next-generation rocket, the company said on Monday.

The first flight of the replacement for the Ariane 5 government and commercial launcher is scheduled for mid-2020. It is being developed in two versions, Ariane 62 with two boosters and Ariane 64 with four. These will be capable of carrying payloads of around 5 tonnes and 11 tonnes respectively into geostationary transfer orbit, a staging post en route to a satellite’s final position.

Read more at: Reuters

ArianeGroup Signs Contract with ESA for Future Prometheus Engine

Prometheus is a European demonstrator for a very low cost reusable engine, running on liquid oxygen (LOx) and methane. It is the precursor for future European launcher engines as of 2030.

The aim is to be able to build future liquid propellant engines with a unit cost of about 1 million euros, or 10 times less than the cost of producing existing engines such as the Vulcain®2. The success of this type of technological challenge demands an entirely new approach  and the use of innovative design and production methods and tools. Apart from switching from the traditional Ariane propellant (transition from the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen combination to a combination of liquid oxygen and methane), the demonstrator will entail major developments, including digitilization of engine control and diagnostics, and manufacturing  using 3D printing in a connected factory environment.

Read more at: Ariane

UK Hopes New $132 Million Satellite Testing Plant will Assuage Brexit Concerns for Space Industry

A 99 million pound ($132 million) satellite test facility to be built at the U.K.’s Harwell Campus should bring more business to the space hub here and ensure Britain’s satellite manufacturers can carry on without disruption post-Brexit, according to Chris Mutlow, director of RAL Space, the space division of the U.K. state-run Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The RAL Space-operated National Satellite Test Facility, once it opens three years from now, will be able to test satellites as large as 7 metric tons, and aims to attract commercial clients, Mutlow said. The facility will provide a package of services including vibration and acoustic testing, electromagnetic compatibility and center of gravity testing, pyroshock simulations and an antenna test range.

Read more at: Space News

JAL in Alliance with Japanese Private Space Company

Japan Airlines has committed to invest in Japanese space transport business Ispace, which is attempting to launch two missions to the moon by 2020. JAL says it has agreed to a “capital and business alliance” with the company, in addition to its sponsorship of the Hakuto lunar exploration team managed by Ispace.

The Hakuto team is competing for the Google Lunar X prize, which is offering $30 million to the first privately-funded team to land a rover on the moon that can travel more than 500m.

Read more at: Flight global

AZUR SPACE Selected by Sierra Nevada Corporation to Build Dream Chaser Spacecraft Solar Panels

Azur Space Solar Power GmbH, a leading provider of high-efficiency solar cells, assemblies and panels for both space and terrestrial power applications, announced today that it was chosen from a competitive procurement to provide solar panels for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) first Dream Chaser spacecraft.

The 3G30C-Advanced solar cells will be manufactured at AZUR SPACE’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities located in Heilbronn, Germany. For AZUR SPACE, the Space Equipment business of Airbus Defence and Space will produce the completed solar panels in Ottobrunn, Germany, using decades of product heritage, engineering expertise and manufacturing experience.

Read more at: Colorado Spacenews

India Developing Small Rocket to Cash in on Small-satellite Boom

With the size of earth observation satellites reducing and the future trend moving towards a constellation of small satellites rather than a large one, India’s space agency is developing a smaller rocket that can carry satellites weighing up to 500 kg, a senior official said.

India currently gets contracts to launch small satellites largely weighing less than 500 kg and a smaller rocket would be sufficient, he added. He also said 2018 will be an eventful year for the Indian space agency with several notable launches being lined up.

“Owing to advancement in technology, the mass of satellites is coming down – including that of communication satellites. A lot of start-ups are building small satellites and they would like to put one in orbit at a lower cost,” K. Sivan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), a part of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told IANS.

Read more at: Space Daily

Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine Launches Initiative in Commercial Space Transportation

Baylor College of Medicine is expanding its renowned research and education programs in the Center for Space Medicine to include cutting-edge aerospace medicine for commercial space missions.

“We are thrilled about this new frontier and uncharted territory that we are moving in to,” said Dr. Jeffrey Sutton, director of the Center for Space Medicine. “This positions the Center for Space Medicine to become a leader in integrated research, education and clinical activities related to space medicine in an academic setting.”

Read more at: BCM

Standard ‘Launch Unit’ could Make it Easier to Send Small Payloads to Space

Does the spaceflight industry need an agreed-upon unit of measurement for space-bound cargo? A nonprofit called The Aerospace Corporation thinks the answer is yes, and it’s assembled a working group to come up with a standard “launch unit.”

As technological advances make it possible to pack more satellite capabilities into increasingly smaller packages, the number of companies, universities and other institutions trying to send satellites into space is increasing. But most of those small payloads still have to hitch a ride with larger payloads. The Aerospace Corporation thinks organizing those “rideshares” based on a standard unit for payload size would make it easier to put more payloads into space, and make it possible to add small payloads to a launch on short notice.

Read more at: Space.com

Space is Not a “Global Commons,” Top Trump Space Official Says

The US is now dedicated to “long-term exploration and utilization” of the moon, but in practice that goal will be shaped more by a scramble of private companies than any mission executed by NASA alone.

Last week, Donald Trump refocused the US space agency on returning astronauts to the moon. But without significant increases in public spending on NASA’s deep-space hardware, the US government is unlikely to reach the surface of the moon or establish a permanent base there during Trump’s term in office.

Instead, the White House is embracing companies that are racing to develop low-cost methods to find and exploit resources on the moon and other astronomical bodies, whose activities and interests will shape future rules about space activity.

Read more at: QZ

This Space for Rent

People don’t live on the moon yet, but humanity is already making strides to plaster it with advertisements. The space travel startup Ispace Inc. just wrapped up a new round of funding that nets the Japan-based company more than $90 million, to be used in the development of a lunar lander and two uncrewed missions to the moon by 2020. According to Bloomberg:

A billboard on the moon! Well, something like that—a company spokesman told me that what Bloomberg is calling a billboard will technically be a projection of an advertisement onto a lunar lander, rover, or other vehicle, not a physical board. But it will serve the same purpose as a traditional billboard, which should make future colonists feel right at home.

Read more at: Slate

Sorry America, we’re Not Going Back to the Moon

Last week, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, designed to refocus NASA’s mission on human exploration and spaceflight. Proclaiming, “This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and, perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond,” Trump made a promise that should sound familiar to American citizens, as many incoming presidents (including Obama and both Bushes) have made similar plans and proclamations. Like all plans, to bring this one to fruition will require a tremendous investment of resources: in people, in equipment and facilities, in research and development, and in terms of money as well. With no plans for adequate, additional funding to support these ambitions, these dreams will simply evaporate, as they have so many times before.

Read more at: Forbes

Where, But Not How or When

On July 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush gave the directive to return to the Moon from the steps of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush also called for a return from the Moon, this time in a speech at NASA Headquarters, a few blocks from the museum.

The third time around, on December 11, 2017, it was President Donald Trump, speaking from the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In comments made 45 years—almost to the minute—after the Apollo 17 lunar module touching down on the surface of the Moon, Trump said it would now be official NASA policy that the United States will return humans to the Moon.

Read more at: Space Review

Scientists Cautiously Back Trump’s Moon Plan

In a White House announcement early last week, US President Donald Trump startled space scientists by issuing a directive announcing a U.S. intention to return to the Moon “and other destinations.” “This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint,” he said, “we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond.”

The announcement drew support from NASA, aerospace proponents, and Congressmen Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “This administration’s dedication to space is a refreshing change from the past eight years,” said Smith. Even SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who parted ways with Trump last summer over climate change, tweeted his approval. “It’s high time that humanity went beyond Earth,” he wrote.

But not everyone is as sanguine. Many Americans view their President as flighty, lacking on follow-through.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

US, Russia Have ‘Limitless’ Potential to Continue Space Cooperation – Envoy

The United States and Russia have a “limitless” potential to continue cooperation on space exploration despite the fact that political relations between the two states are undergoing a difficult time, US Ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman said Tuesday.

The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying three crew members, comprising NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai, successfully docked with the ISS earlier on Tuesday.

Despite the US-Russia tensions, which were also reflected in the recently released Trump’s national security strategy, calling Russia a “revisionist power” that “wants to shape a world antithetical to US values and interests,” with ambition and growing military capabilities, thwe two countries have been successfully cooperating in the area of space exploration, with the agreement on Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbital station, signed in late September.

Read more at: Sputnik News

China Plans for Nuclear-powered Interplanetary Capacity by 2040

China is expected to achieve a “major breakthrough” in nuclear-powered space shuttles around 2040, according to a report issued by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation on Thursday.

The achievement will be able to support large-scale exploration and development of space resources, and make mining on asteroids and space solar power plants possible, said the report, which outlines the development road map for China’s space transportation system to 2045. A future generation of carrier rockets will be put into use around 2040 and hybrid power reusable carriers will be developed, the report said.

Read more at: Space Daily

Space Industry Takes Prominent Role in Trump’s National Security Strategy

The Trump administration is elevating the role of the privately funded space industry in advancing the nation’s interests as competitors like Russia and China seek to challenge the United States and its free rein in space.

In the 2017 National Security Strategy released Dec. 18, the president commits the U.S. government to partnering with private industry to explore space and defend U.S. assets there. The administration also promises to help defend private space systems from hostile attacks.

The strategy makes the promotion of space commerce a national security priority. In that vein, the administration intends to overhaul industry regulations to motivate companies to invest and innovate. “The United States will simplify and update regulations for commercial space activity to strengthen competitiveness,” says the document.

Read more at: Space News

Algeria Unveils Its National Space Programme to 2040

Algeria plans to send several state-of-the-art satellites as part of its space programme 2020-2040, which is “under study now,” the director general of the Algerian Space Agency, Azzedine Oussedik, said on December 18, 2017, in Algiers.

A national space programme, which includes plans for the launch of many cutting-edge satellites, is under consideration at the Algerian Space Agency, Oussedik told a news conference about the successful launch, on December 11, 2017, of the Algerian space communication satellite Alcomsat-1 from the Chinese launch site at Xichang.

He added that the new programme will be put into operation after the completion of the current national space programme 2006-2020, under which five satellites have been successfully launched, the latest of which is Alcomsat-1.

Read more at: Spacewatch ME

Japan to Setup Command Center to Address Threats in Space and Cyberspace

The government plans to set up a command center at the Defense Ministry to deal with threats in space and cyberspace as well as electronic warfare, a government source said Sunday.

The plan will be included in the National Defense Program Guidelines that the government will update in 2018 after it is approved at a National Security Council meeting to be held soon, the source said.

Space, cyberspace and electronic warfare are emerging as new security areas, with some countries beefing up operations to handle them. As Japan has trailed in this area, specialized units to cope with the three areas will be established under the new command center.

Read more at: Japan Times

ArianeGroup Becomes a Key Player in Space Surveillance for French Joint Space Command

A first space surveillance contract, signed in the autumn of this year with General Breton, head of the Joint Space Command, covers transmission of optical observation data. These data will be obtained from ArianeGroup’s GEOTracker network, to provide a situational picture of geostationary orbit in space.

The GEOTracker network of optical stations is entirely owned and operated by ArianeGroup, and provides permanent coverage of the entire geostationary arc, with the highest level of operational availability plus customized programming flexibility to meet changing customer needs. One of its main roles is to track objects in space in order to protect satellites from possible collision or interference.

Read more at: Ariane

Lockheed Martin to Support AEGIS System for Japanese Self Defense Forces

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract for the AEGIS weapon system by the U.S. Navy for new construction in support of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force.

The deal, announced Friday by the Department of Defense, is worth more than $135.8 million under the terms of a cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.

The contract calls for new construction and integration of a DDG AEGIS, which is a centralized, automated, command-and-control weapon system used to rapidly detect and track more than 100 targets at once.

Read more at: Spacewar

US Military Imagines War Without GPS

With GPS-guided bombs, armed drones beaming footage via satellite and spy cameras scooping up intel from the heavens, America’s military machine is growing ever more reliant on space-based technology.

But what would happen if an enemy were to target the military’s satellites, or somehow jam their signals?

The disastrous scenario is one the Pentagon knows all too well could happen, and for which it is actively preparing. “Our force structure today is built around the assumption that we have GPS and we have satellite communications. We are very lethal when we have those things,” said Colonel Richard Zellmann, commander of the 1st Space Brigade based in Colorado.

Read more at: GPS Daily

The Greatest Leap, Part 3: The Triumph and Near-tragedy of the First Moon Landing

A vast, gray expanse loomed just a few hundred meters below as Neil Armstrong peered out his tiny window. From inside the spidery lunar lander, a fragile cocoon with walls only about as thick as construction paper, the Apollo 11 commander finally had a clear view of where the on-board computer had directed him to land.

He did not like what he saw there. A big crater. Boulders strewn all around. A death trap.

To make matters worse, Eagle had limited fuel reserves. If Armstrong couldn’t find a safe landing site soon, he would have to ditch the bottom half of the lander and burn like hell for lunar orbit in a dangerous and risky abort procedure. Otherwise, he and Buzz Aldrin would not only become the first humans to land on the Moon, they’d become the first humans to die there, too.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Aerion And Lockheed Martin Join Forces to Develop World’s First Supersonic Business Jet

Two leaders in supersonic technology, Aerion and Lockheed Martin announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to define a formal and gated process to explore the feasibility of a joint development of the world’s first supersonic business jet, the Aerion AS2. Over the next 12 months, the companies will work together to develop a framework on all phases of the program, including engineering, certification and production.

Aerion Chairman Robert M. Bass stated, “This relationship is absolutely key to creating a supersonic renaissance. When it comes to supersonic know-how, Lockheed Martin’s capabilities are well known, and, in fact, legendary. We share with Lockheed Martin a commitment to the long-term development of efficient civil supersonic aircraft.”

Read more at: Colorado Spacenews

Dutch Police Ground Drone-fighting Eagles

Dutch police have clipped the wings of their airborne drone-fighting force of eagles, and fired their winged warriors deeming them too expensive and too unruly to be effective.

After a series of tests in 2015, the police last year announced they were putting into operation a flock of the birds of prey to take down drones believed to be posing a danger to the public, such as near airports.

But now the feathered force has been grounded, with police realising that demand for their services was not very high, and their upkeep was more expensive than first thought.

Read more at: Spacewar

IAASS to Offer New Training Course

We are excited to offer a new course offering this February in conjunction with the 2018 offering of the ISS Payload Design and Payload Operations.  This new course covers the various aspects of Risk Management and is being taught by the University of Pisa.

The plan is to offer both course in the same week with the Risk Management portion being offered on Monday and Tuesday with the ISS Payload portion following on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Personnel can sign-up for either course or both.  The courses will be held in Livorno (Tuscany), Italy.  The tentative dates are 12 – 16 February 2018.

To accommodate this new course, the ISS Payload course will be reduced from its current 3.5 days to 3 days.  This will be accomplished by reducing the focus on some areas that have are not as relevant as in the past while retaining that information that makes a successful ISS Payload mission.

If information about either course is desired, please email [email protected]