High Winds Knock Over Spacex Starship Prototype In South Texas
The SpaceX Starship prototype in South Texas has left the ground — though its uprooting wasn’t intentional.
Winds up to 50 mph knocked over the test vehicle’s nose cone earlier this week, according to a tweet from SpaceX founder Elon Musk. It will take a few weeks to repair, though the Starship’s tanks are fine.
The Starship vehicle, with a test version recently assembled at Boca Chica beach near Brownsville, could one day carry space travelers to the moon or Mars atop a powerful rocket.
Read more at: Chron
Virgin Galactic Lays Off Dozens Of Employees As It Prepares For Commercial Flights
Virgin Galactic laid off dozens of employees earlier this month, including three in Las Cruces, as it transitions from building its spaceship in California to launching commercial flights from southern New Mexico.
The layoffs of “around 40 people” at the company’s offices in Mojave, Calif. and Las Cruces were necessary “to position our organization for the drive to commercial operations” and to “make room for new skill sets that we need to bring in over the course of this year,” said Aleanna Crane, Virgin Galactic’s spokeswoman. A source confirmed that three of the eliminated jobs were based in Las Cruces; the others were in Mojave.
Virgin Galactic had increased staff in southern New Mexico from 21 in August 2017 to approximately 43 late last year, according to information provided to state lawmakers by Spaceport America.
Read more at: nmpolitics
Brain Condition Related To Long-Term Spaceflights Needs More Attention, Data
More people today are poised to explore space than ever before; those who do will experience the effects of microgravity on the human body. Recognizing the need for more data related to those effects, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) neuroradiologist Donna Roberts, M.D., and co-author Lonnie G. Petersen, M.D.,Ph.D., University of California San Diego, have published “The Study of Hydrocephalus Associated With Long-term Spaceflight (HALS) Provides New Insights into Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow,” in JAMA Neurology‘s Jan. 23 online publication.
Roberts, who previously published a groundbreaking research study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017 on this topic, and Petersen remain concerned about the lack of data describing the adaptation of the human brain to microgravity and advocates for more research into hydrocephalus associated with long-term spaceflight (HALS).
Read more at: Eurekalert
‘This Could Be the End’ for NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover
NASA’s Opportunity rover began its 15th year on Mars this week, although the intrepid robotic explorer may already be dead.
“I haven’t given up yet,” said Steven W. Squyres, the principal investigator for the mission. But he added, “This could be the end. Under the assumption that this is the end, it feels good. I mean that.”
The rover — which outlasted all expectations since its landing on Mars in 2004 and helped find convincing geological signs that water once flowed there — fell silent last June when it was enveloped by a global Martian dust storm. In darkness, the solar panels could not generate enough power to keep Opportunity awake.
Read more at: NYtimes
Oneweb Satellites Has Shipped First Satellites For The Oneweb Constellation To Launch Site
OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb, today announced the delivery of the first satellites for the OneWeb constellation.
The satellites were manufactured at the OneWeb Satellites facility on the Airbus Defence and Space Toulouse site and the first six have been shipped to Kourou for launch. The first launch of the mega constellation is scheduled for 19 February 2019 on a Soyuz rocket – the beginning of a long series.
With this generation of satellites, OneWeb Satellites is entering a new chapter in the story that started three years ago. “Our team is transforming the space industry and we are in the midst of demonstrating we can deliver on our promises,” said Tony Gingiss, OneWeb Satellites CEO.
Read more at: Airbus
Progress Ms-09 Leaves International Space Station
Progress MS-09 departed from the International Space Station after spending spending more than six months at the outpost.
The cargo freighter autonomously undocked from the Pirs docking compartment at 7:55 a.m. EST (12:55 GMT) Jan. 25, 2019. Following its departure, the vehicle spent several hours moving away from the space station before performing a deorbit burn at about 11:08 a.m. EST (16:08 GMT). Once it entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, it burned up with unneeded equipment and trash.
Launched to space at 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) July 9, 2018, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, it carried about 2,450 kilograms of cargo, including 705 kilograms of fuel, 50 kilograms of oxygen and 420 kilograms of water bound for the space station.
Read more at: Spaceflight Insider
‘Gaganyaan Likely To Land Off Gujarat Coast Near Veraval’
For years, the vast Pacific ocean has been Uncle Sam’s favoued site for splashdown — a term describing planned descent of spacecraft crew capsule. For India, the splashdown for its ambitious Gaganyaan, country’s first human space flight mission, is likely to be off Gujarat coast near Veraval. “….We are going to put two or three persons in space before August 15, 2022, our 75th year of Independence. They will be in orbit for five to seven days and will land on Gujarat coast near Veraval,” said Nilesh Desai, deputy director of the Space Applications Centre (SAC) at Isro in Ahmedabad.
Read more at: Times of India
Moving on the Moon
Europe is preparing to go forward to the Moon, but how will astronauts move once they get there? Despite the Apollo missions, little is known about what lunar gravity may mean for our bodies. ESA’s space medicine team is working to find out through a series of studies.
The level of gravity on the Moon is about one sixth of Earth’s so while Apollo astronauts did not float as astronauts do on the International Space Station, they tended to hop rather than walk.
Education coordinator at ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, David Green is leading this research alongside science operations engineer Tobias Weber. He says, though much research has been carried out into the impacts of microgravity as experienced on the International Space Station, the physiological impact of working in lunar gravity remains unknown.
Read more at: ESA
Prolonged Spaceflight Could Weaken Astronauts’ Immune Systems
NASA hopes to send humans to Mars by the 2030s on a round-trip mission that could take up to three years – far longer than any human has ever traveled in space. Such long-term spaceflights could adversely affect certain cells in the immune systems of astronauts, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researchers.
“What NASA and other space agencies are concerned about is whether or not the immune system is going to be compromised during very prolonged spaceflight missions,” said Richard Simpson, senior author and associate professor of nutritional sciences at the UA. “What clinical risks are there to the astronauts during these missions when they’re exposed to things like microgravity, radiation and isolation stress? Could it be catastrophic to the level that the astronaut wouldn’t be able to complete the mission?”
Read more at: Eurekalert
UAE Astronauts To Undergo Winter Forest Survival Course Near Moscow
Seven space crews will undergo a winter survival course in the woods near Moscow, the Russian space corporation Roscosmos said on its page in the social network VKontakte.
“A total of seven crews will be instructed in the ABCs of survival in the wilderness in low temperatures – Russia’s Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin, all of the newcomers recruited in 2018, NASA’s astronaut Thomas Marshburn, and the UAE’s Hazza Al Mansouri and Sultan Al Neyadi,” Roscosmos said.
Read more at: TASS
Battlefield Moon: How China Plans To Win The Lunar Space Race
As Apollo 11 sailed above the moon, mission control in Houston suggested the astronauts should keep an eye out for a “beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o”, who, according to legend, had ascended to the moon thousands of years previously, taking along a large rabbit as a companion.
“I’ll look out for the bunny girl then,” Buzz Aldrin joked in reply, shortly ahead of his and Neil Armstrong’s historic touchdown at the lunar surface.
Nearly 50 years on, an astronaut gazing down from orbit might glimpse a hi-tech homage to the ancient folk tale. China’s Chang’e 4 probe this month became the first to land on the lunar far side, and nearby, hibernating during the lunar night, the Jade Rabbit rover is exploring this uncharted territory.
Read more at: Guardian
Russian Scientists To Test Telemedical Technologies In Experiment For Future Lunar Flights
New equipment, telemedical technologies and the techniques of first medical aid provision in a deep space flight will be tested during the SIRIUS isolation experiment, Head of the Immune System Physiology Lab at the Institute of Biomedical Problems, Project Scientific Coordinator Sergei Ponomaryov said on Tuesday.
During the experiment, the scientists are planning to practice many medical aspects of future lunar and Martian missions, he said.
“If we speak about the Moon, this relates to telemedical technologies when a doctor who stays outside a hermetically sealed craft will be able to see information online on what takes place inside the craft. And a doctor who stays inside the hermetically sealed craft will consult with the specialist,” the scientist said.
Read more at: TASS
Environmental Protection In Outer Space
On earth, environmental protection has the primary goal of ensuring the availability of clean water and clean air for human beings in the future. Human interests usually take also precedent when it comes to protecting more developed animals and plants. Lower life forms such as bacteria, on the other hand, are considered worthy of protection only in exceptional cases.
Claudius Gros, professor for theoretical physics at Goethe University, has now investigated the degree to which the norms for the protection of planets can be derived analogously from issues that arise in environmental protection on Earth.
Read more at: Spacedaily
Radiation for Dummies
Meet Helga and Zohar, the dummies destined for a pioneering lunar flyby to help protect space travelers from cosmic rays and energetic solar storms.
These two female phantoms will occupy the passenger seats during Orion’s first mission around the Moon, going further than any human has flown before.
Fitted with more than 5600 sensors, the pair will measure the amount of radiation astronauts could be exposed to in future missions with unprecedented precision. The flight test will take place during NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, an uncrewed trip to the vicinity of the Moon and back to Earth.
Read more at: ESA
Space Debris Poses Threat To UK And French Air Force Operations
Relatively small militaries, such as France or the UK, would be at a disproportionate disadvantage compared with China, Russia or the USA, which boast vastly greater air and space resources. That is the preliminary conclusion of a study on “space Armageddon” by two French army officers, Maj Alexandre Dubreucq and Maj Francois Lamothe, who presented their study at the Royal UnitedServices Institute in London on 16 January, during a conference called: “Is space the new cyber? UK dependencies and vulnerabilities”.
Dubreucq and Lamothe, working through France’s Ecole de Guerre, are studying the potential effect of some 30,000 large pieces of orbiting debris – leftover rocket bodies, defunct satellites, mission cast-offs such as lens covers, and fragments of spacecraft created by fuel tank explosions or collisions – which threaten to damage or destroy valuable satellites.
Read more at: Flight global
Forecasting Space Weather Which Affects The Arctic Circle
Space weather can have an impact on the Arctic Circle. Researchers at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, have developed a new technique for forecasting space weather. The new method can be used to study magnetic field changes for forecasting space weather which affects the Arctic Circle.
The technique analyses fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field. It was used to study magnetic field changes in different years, at different times of the day, and at different latitudes.
Doctoral candidate Pyry Peitso, said: “The Fractional Derivative Rate (FDR) technique that we have developed calculates for each day percentage which indicates how often the activeness of the magnetic field has reached a level of 0.2 nT/s (nanoteslas per second) on that day. This value corresponds to the typical initial stage of a substorm, which is one of the most common space weather phenomena. This technique makes it easier to analyse high resolution observation data for long periods of time.”
Read more at: scitecheuropa
Chinese Companies Onespace And Ispace Are Preparing For First Orbital Launches
Chinese private companies OneSpace and iSpace are making progress with plans to attempt their first orbital launches in the first half of 2019.
OneSpace is currently working toward a launch of its OS-M rocket that could come as early as late March, following engine tests for the four stages of the launch vehicle in the second half of 2018.
A OneSpace representative told SpaceNews that the company will soon proceed with comprehensive electrical systems and payload fairing separation tests as next steps toward launch.
The 19-meter-tall, four-stage OS-M will be able to carry a 205-kilogram payload to 300-kilometer low Earth orbit (LEO), and 73 kilograms to 800-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), but the payload for the maiden flight has not yet been disclosed.
Read more at: Spacenews
Blue Origin Launches, Lands New Shepard Rocket While Streaming Live
Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, conducted a successful launch and landing of its New Shepard rocket and crew capsule on Wednesday.
Why it matters: The launch and landing bring the company closer to flying humans to suborbital space, which it hopes to begin by the end of 2019. In addition to space tourism, the company is also vying with Elon Musk’s SpaceX — as well as a host of other private sector firms — to win contracts to carry cargo payloads to space.
Read more at: axios
NASA astronaut Mike Fincke to replace Eric Boe to Boeing’s Starliner Crew
A member of the Boeing crew slated to fly on the company’s Starliner spacecraft dropped out of the running Tuesday for the first missions of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronaut Eric Boe, who had originally been assigned to the CST-100 Starliner’s crewed test in August, was forced to back out due to medical reasons, according to a release.
Taking his place: Longtime space veteran and NASA astronaut E. Michael Fincke. Since joining the astronaut corps in 1996, Fincke served as International Space Station flight engineer, science officer and commander over two expeditions.
Read more at: Florida today
After Static Fire Test Of Crew Dragon Elon Musk Says Spacex Could Launch Astronauts This Summer
The first test launch of a vehicle that’s part of NASA’s new Commercial Crew Program is expected to happen next month after delays. The launch of the Crew Dragon, made by SpaceX, is expected for February without a crew. It is the first of the test missions aimed at one day using commercial partners to send United States astronauts to and from space.
SpaceX shared a video of the Crew Dragon, also called the Dragon 2, on top of a SpaceX rocket on the launch pad in Florida on Thursday. The video was taken during the static fire test of the rocket and the crew capsule earlier this week at Launch Complex 39A.
Read more at: Newsweek
Here’s What Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Plans For Its New Alabama Rocket Engine Plant
Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, broke ground in Huntsville, Ala., today on a new $200 million rocket engine plant.
CEO Bob Smith excited the groundbreaking audience by also announcing an agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to refurbish and reopen test stand 4670 on the center to test the new engines made in Alabama. The stand that once tested the Saturn V’s first stage and the space shuttle’s main engines will return to large-engine testing for the first time since the shuttle program ended.
Read more at: Al
Meet Tom Mueller: From Idaho Logger To Spacex Co-Founder Who Makes Elon Musk’s Rockets Fly
Tom Mueller started life in Idaho, the son of an logger; he himself worked summers logging when he was a student. But today, Mueller is a rocket scientist and co-founder of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Mueller isn’t famous like Musk, but he is a linchpin in the story of SpaceX — as chief technology officer of propulsion, he’s the one who makes sure the rockets lift off. Mueller met Musk in Los Angeles in the early 2000s through a mutual friend, and they decided to build rockets that could one day take humans to Mars. Were it not for an inspiring high school math teacher, Mueller says he never could have even dreamed a logger’s kid from St. Maries, Idaho could become a rocket scientist.
Read more at: CNBC
Under Armour To Design ‘Spacewear’ For Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts
Under Armour makes sporting equipment, workout clothes, sneakers — and now, astronaut apparel.
Virgin Galactic, which plans to use a rocket-powered plane to fly groups of tourists to the edge of space, announced Thursday that Under Armour will develop the suits that will be worn by pilots and passengers during flight. “Working with Sir Richard [Branson] and Virgin Galactic is an opportunity of a lifetime, one that has the entire Under Armour team across the world excited,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said in a statement.
Hundreds of people are signed up to fly with Virgin Galactic, and the company expects to conduct its first trip with passengers sometime this year.
Read more at: CNN
Europe’s Arianespace Takes On Spacex By Cutting Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Price
Europe’s Arianespace is discounting the price of satellite launches with its Ariane 5 rockets as it competes against U.S. rival SpaceX for customers before the release of the cheaper Ariane 6 rocket next year, a senior executive said on Wednesday.
Arianespace is aiming for the cost of launching the Ariane 6 to fall by around 40 percent versus the Ariane 5 through design changes and higher volume production, bringing its prices more in line with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Arianespace Managing Director and Head of Sales for Asia-Pacific Vivian Quenet said.
He said in current marketing campaigns, the company is offering customers such as telecoms an Ariane 5 launch for the same price as the Ariane 6.
Read more at: Reuters
This Massive Rocket Creates A Fireball As It Launches, And That’s By Design
Anyone who watched the launch of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket on Saturday was treated to an up-close view of the liftoff. This vantage point, showing the three-core rocket taking off beneath blue skies, offered a distinct view of a fireball engulfing the rocket during launch.
This can be rather distracting if you’ve never seen it before—uhh, is that rocket about to blow up?—but in reality it’s a byproduct of the RS-68 rocket engines that power each of the three cores of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.
Developed during the 1990s by Rocketdyne, the expendable RS-68 engine was designed to be less expensive and more powerful than the Space Shuttle’s reusable RS-25 main engines. Like the Shuttle’s engines, the RS-68 engine runs on a cryogenic fuel mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
Read more at: Arstechnica
Arianegroup And PTscientists To Study Lunar Lander Mission For ESA
The European Space Agency has awarded a contract to a group that includes Europe’s largest launch services provider and a former Google Lunar X Prize competitor to study a concept for a mission to mine lunar regolith.
ArianeGroup announced Jan. 21 that it has received a one-year contract from ESA to study a lunar lander mission proposal that would launch by 2025. The purpose of the mission would be to demonstrate the ability to mine lunar regolith and extract resources, such as oxygen, from it.
The proposed mission would be launched on an Ariane 64, a version of the Ariane 6 with four strap-on boosters. PTScientists, a German company that started as a team in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition for privately developed lunar landers, is responsible for the spacecraft. Belgian company Space Applications Services will provide ground control and communications services.
Read more at: Spacenews
Elon Musk: Why I’m Building the Starship out of Stainless Steel
So SpaceX is making a huge rocket out of stainless steel. As far as we know, this marks the first time the material has been used in spacecraft construction since some early, ill-fated attempts during the Atlas program in the late 1950s.
We know he is doing this because, after weeks of rumors about a tweak to the design, a few days before Christmas Musk revealed that there would be much more than a tweak. The state-of-the-art carbon fiber forming the body of the Starship rocket (formerly known as the BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, or Big F-other-word Rocket) and its Super Heavy booster would be replaced by 300-series stainless.
Read more at: popular mechanics
New Study Presents Surprising Explanation For Differences In Southern And Northern Lights
For many years, scientists assumed the aurora seen around the north pole was identical to the aurora seen around the south pole. The poles are connected by magnetic field lines and auroral displays are caused by charged particles streaming along these field lines. Because the charged particles follow these field lines, it would make sense that the auroras would be mirror images of each other.
However, in 2009, scientists discovered aurora can look differently around the north pole and the south pole, including having different shapes and occurring at different locations – a phenomenon called asymmetry.
Read more at: AGU
Speeding Up Plutonium Production for Space Exploration
A new innovation may solve a major dilemma in deep space exploration. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, based in Tennessee, recently announced a way to speed up production of the plutonium isotope plutonium-238 (Pu-238), a crucial element for deep space exploration. The solution comes as NASA looks to return to the outer solar system in the 2020s and field a new generation of deep-space missions.
Solar panels work great for powering spacecraft in the inner solar system, but solar energy drops off by the inverse square of the distance as probes travel farther from the Sun. NASA’s Juno mission, for example, is the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter that is equipped with solar panels — but it needs three school bus-size panels to generate a minuscule 420 watts of electricity. That’s only enough to power a half a dozen household light bulbs. Solar panels are also delicate: one encounter with the donut of plasma that circles Jupiter, which is fueled by particles expelled from volcanic moon Io, would end Juno’s mission in a hurry.
Read more at: Sky and telescope
Blue Origin Video Shows Off Updated Design of Huge New Glenn Rocket
A new video shows the latest design incarnation of Blue Origin’s huge New Glenn rocket, which is scheduled to debut in 2021.
Blue Origin, which is led by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, released the nearly 2-minute animation on Wednesday (Jan. 16). It shows highlights of a typical mission for the two-stage heavy-lifter, including a first-stage landing on a ship at sea — a dramatic maneuver made famous by returning first stages of SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.
There are a few notable differences between the rocket depicted in the new video and the New Glenn we saw in a similar 2017 animation. For example, the older version featured a payload fairing — the protective nose cone that surrounds spacecraft during launch — that was bullet-shaped and 18 feet (5.4 meters) wide. The current incarnation boasts a 23-foot-wide (7 m) fairing with a traditional snub-nosed look.
Read more at: Space.com
Facebook’s Plans for Space Lasers Revealed
The snow-dusted peak of Mount Wilson in California has been home to many famous observatories. Until 1949, its 100-inch (2.5-meter) Hooker telescopewas the largest aperture telescope in the world, and in 2004, its CHARA arraybecame the world’s largest optical interferometer.
Now, two new observatories are being built there that, while not focused on the stars, might prove equally historic. They could house Facebook’s first laser communications systems designed to connect to satellites in orbit.
Construction permits issued by the County of Los Angeles show that a small company called PointView Tech is building two detached observatories on the mountain peak.
Read more at: IEEE Spectrum
Whittington: Can Ted Cruz Save The Space Program?
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz finds himself in an interesting position in the new Congress.
He has been a champion of NASA and commercial space since he first entered the Senate six years ago. The last midterms, however, saw the exit of a number of space enthusiasts from Congress. Democrat and Republican Reps. Lamar Smith, John Culberson, Dana Rohrabacher and Sen. Bill Nelson have retired or been retired to private life.
Cruz virtually stands alone as a supporter of NASA’s mission and of the commercial space sector’s growth.
Since he is the chairman of the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee, he has some power to save American space efforts from the tide of politics over the next two years.
Read more at: Daily caller
There is No Space Race
The landing of Chang’e-4 on the far side of the Moon is a triumph for Chinese space exploration, reflecting technological sophistication in launching a communications satellite to orbit the Moon so that Chang’e-4 could communicate back to Earth. China provided the location of its spacecraft to NASA so that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter could produce images of exact location where the lunar lander and its rover landed. That exchange, while no big deal technically, was symbolic of the reality that many are unwilling to accept for different reasons: there is no space race.
In the 1950s, after the launch of the first two Sputniks, the United States and the Soviet Union embarked on the great space race with its multiple firsts that culminated in the Apollo program and the Eagle landing on the lunar surface in July 1969. That success did not signal a continuation of the space race but rather its winding down to the point that, by the mid-1970s, the United States was out of space with regards to human space exploration until the Space Shuttle first flew in 1981.
Read more at: Spacereview
Making Europe Fit For The Newspace Race
The knowledge-sharing platform would serve as a think tank for pilot projects, bringing together policy-makers, newspace companies, institutional players and more up to three times a year at different locations around Europe.
“Europe has been at the cutting edge. It’s been number 2 in the space race, following the US,” Shiva Dustdar, head of innovation finance advisory at the EIB, told Delano ahead of its launch at a space policy conference in Brussels on 22 January. “I feel a bit nervous if we don’t act fast enough and make a real commitment to the sector, we could become marginalised in this global space race,” Dustdar said.
Read more at: Delano
Is The Space Industry Moving Beyond Spacex?
Elon Musk is considered by many to be the godfather of private-sector spaceflight, and for a good reason. In January 2015, he revolutionized the space industry. By settling a lawsuit with the U.S. Air Force that effectively opened the aerospace marketplace to competition, Musk and his rocket company SpaceX helped restore free-market principles to the space industry. Nearly four years later, the space industry is thriving and expanding far too quickly for SpaceX to retain its preeminence.
When Musk first entered the spaceflight industry, many industry players viewed SpaceX as “an unrealistic upstart that didn’t appreciate the harsh technical and cost realities of the spaceflight business.” Yet, SpaceX managed to offer some services at a cost of 20 to 30 percent less than its competitors.
Read more at: Hill
Beyond UNISPACE: It’s Time for the Moon Treaty
In 1968, the United Nations convened UNISPACE, the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It was the first of a series of UN-sponsored conferences intended to create an international framework of laws to guide humanity’s departure from the home planet. Alas, the effort has failed. The Moon Treaty, along with an Implementation Agreement, now appears to be the best hope for moving humanity forward.
Last June, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) held a high-level meeting that tried to produce a consensus on a framework of laws for the sustainable exploration and development of outer space.
Read more at: Spacereview
Here’s What Each Brexit Scenario Could Mean For The U.K. Space Industry
The impact of Brexit has been felt across the U.K. and the wider world. But with continued uncertainty over what the future may hold, industries are continuing to suffer as they wait for progress to be made – and space is no exception.
In the past few years the U.K. government has begun to pump some serious money into the space industry. Their Prosperity from Space strategy, outlined in May 2018, included committing £150 million ($190 million) towards rocket testing, satellite construction, and the development of spaceports.
This investment included the announcement in July 2018 that the U.K. would aim to build a launchpad to send rockets into space, something the country hasn’t done since 1971. The current proposed launch site is in Sutherland, on the northern tip of Scotland, with the U.K. Space Agency investing £2.5 million ($3.2 million).
Read more at: Forbes
European Commission, Fearing Brain Drain To US, Takes Sharper Look At Space Investment Strategy
The European Commission is preparing a series of programs aimed at fostering space startups and encouraging them to stay in Europe rather than leaving for the United States.
Commissioners speaking this week at the Conference on European Space Policy in Brussels said the continued reservations of European investors about financing space startups is hampering Europe’s ability to keep pace with similar startup activity in the United States.
The absence of an effective policy for the European Commission to be first to buy products and services from startups further isolates European “NewSpace” companies from their American counterparts, the commissioners said.
Read more at: Spacenews
Trump’s Space Force Is A Strategic Mistake
In remarks last week announcing his vision for American missile defense, President Trump said “we will recognize that space is a new warfighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way.” Any strategic decision should be evaluated both by the ends it seeks to accomplish, and by the means by which it intends to accomplish them. The president’s proposed Space Force fails on both counts.
If the mission is to maintain US dominance in space, a Space Force is overkill. And by purposefully reframing space as a warfighting domain, the United States will almost certainly damage the existing, fragile peace in orbit.
Support for Trump’s idea. Last March, Trump first floated the idea of a Space Force, a new branch of the military focused on defending American assets in space. At first the comment seemed to just be another one of the president’s signature asides, but subsequent announcements made it clear that he takes the idea seriously.
Read more at: Bulletin
EU Commissioner Floats Idea For European Space Force
The European Union should consider setting up a European Space Force, EU commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said on Tuesday (22 January).
“Several member states are considering just now ways to strengthen their defence doctrine to [the] space dimension. They are talking about space forces,” said Bienkowska, responsible in the European Commission for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs. Her portfolio also includes the EU’s space policy.
“What is becoming a reality at the national level, probably should also become a reality at the EU level. We need to discuss, [on the] medium [to] long term, a European Space Force,” she said.
Read more at: EUObserver
Republican Space Corps Opponent Gets Top Spot On Key Hasc Subcommittee
Congressional committees that oversee U.S. space activities are taking the first formal steps to get to work for the 116th Congress. Today, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) announced the Chairs and Ranking Members of its subcommittees and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee released its membership roster.
Perhaps the most interesting assignment is that of Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) to be the Ranking Member of HASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee. A former chairman of the subcommittee, Turner was one of the few HASC members who vocally opposed a HASC proposal to create a Space Corps within the Air Force analogous to the Marine Corps within the Department of the Navy. Both during committee markup and as the bill was headed to a floor vote, Turner adamantly argued that a Space Corps was unnecessary now.
Read more at: Spacepolicy online
Russia Calls On US To Reject Plans Of Deploying Missile Defense Facilities In Space
Moscow calls on Washington no to deploy missile defense facilities in space, as stipulated in the new US missile defense conception, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Friday.
“We call on Washington to display reasonableness and reject such irresponsible ventures which could entail extremely negative consequences both for the whole international community and the US itself. It is obvious that the appearance of weapons in space would run counter to the established practice of international cooperation in the research and use of space for peaceful purposes,” the ministry said in a statement.
Read more at: TASS
The Military Is Looking At Ways To Intercept Nukes From Space — But Experts Say It’s Not Feasible
On Thursday, the Pentagon released a massive report detailing the new capabilities it wants to pursue to beef up US missile defense — and part of that list involves updating our assets in space. But while some of the suggested upgrades to our space-based technology could prove useful, experts say other ideas, like stopping nukes from orbit, are a bit more farfetched.
The document, known as the Missile Defense Review, calls for a new constellation of satellites, equipped with infrared sensors that can better track warheads on Earth. It’s a technology that’s intended to help the US follow the paths of new hypersonic vehicles that are being developed to transport nukes from one place to another. But the review also encourages the Pentagon to study the possibility of creating satellites that can interceptnuclear missiles from space. And for this research, the Pentagon may perform experiments and technology demonstrations in orbit around Earth.
Read more at: Verge
Trump Is Fixating On Another ‘Wall’ That Will Almost Certainly Fail To Live Up To His Promises
In 1983, in what came to be known as his “Star Wars” speech, President Ronald Reagan unveiled an ambitious vision for a missile defense system that would render the need for traditional nuclear deterrence unnecessary. Reagan asked: “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?”
The “Star Wars” label proved prophetic, because Reagan’s vision of an impermeable shield that would deflect incoming nuclear missiles proved to be the stuff of science fiction. Missile defense has achieved modest successes, but it also has been marked by embarrassing failures.
Read more at: LA Times
DARPA Assembling Team Of Blackjack Players
One of the most closely watched programs in the military space sector is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack. Led by the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, Blackjack is trying to prove the utility of commercial space mega-constellations and low-cost satellites in military systems. The plan is to take commercial buses and match them with military payloads. DARPA said its goal is to launch a small experimental constellation of up to 20 satellites to test the concept.
DARPA already has awarded bus contracts to Airbus, Blue Canyon Technologies and Telesat. These companies will advance to the next phase, called “preliminary design review” when they will integrate their bus designs with specific payloads. The first two payload awards were made to Raytheon in December and Trident Technologies in January. More awards are anticipated in March, a DARPA spokesman told SpaceNews.
Read more at: Spacenews
Space Force Skeptic Will Guide Its Fate In HASC Shakeup
A key congressional skeptic of President Donald Trump’s Space Force proposal will help lead a House subpanel overseeing the matter.
In a shakeup of the House Armed Services Committee roster announced Wednesday for the new, Democratic-led Congress, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, was named the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.
The former StratFor ranking member, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., who is a Space Force proponent, was named chairman. Cooper has argued America needs a sixth branch of the military dedicated to protecting our space assets and developing more capable space systems, while Turner has periodically called for more study.
Read more at: Defense news
Why Creating The Perfect Cup Of Coffee Really Is Rocket Science
As a rival to the Millennium Falcon or the Starship Enterprise, a proposed spacecraft from entrepreneurs Anders Cavallini and Hatem Alkhafaji is low on sophistication and rocket thrust. In fact, it would be built to carry out only one task: to produce perfectly roasted coffee beans – in outer space. Hence the craft’s name: the Coffee Roasting Capsule.
The capsule – which could be launched next year – would use the heat of re-entry to roast coffee beans as they float inside it in a pressurised tank. The effect would be to roast the beans all over and produce perfect coffee, Cavallini and Alkhafaji claim in a recent issue of the space journal Room. They say that on Earth, beans tumble around, break apart and are scorched by contact with the hot surfaces of the roaster. “But if gravity is removed, the beans float around in a heated oven, giving them 360 degrees of evenly distributed heat and roasting to near perfection.”
Read more at: Guardian
It’s Time To Rethink Who’s Best Suited For Space Travel
In 1961, a college student named David Myers traveled from Washington, DC, to the US Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Florida to take part in a new experiment. “I had a very limited understanding of what I was getting myself into,” Myers told me recently over email. “So I was extremely curious and mildly excited that first day.”
Myers was one of 11 men specifically recruited by Dr. Ashton Graybiel to help test the feasibility of human spaceflight, at a time when nobody knew whether the human body could withstand a trip beyond our atmosphere. For nearly a decade, the US Navy put 11 eleven men through countless tests.
Read more at: Wired
Son Of Space Shuttle Challenger Commander Remembers Tragedy 33 Years Ago
For Lt. Gen. Richard “Rich” Scobee, losing his father in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger was a personal tragedy he and the families of other members of the crew have shared with the nation for 33 years.
“If you have ever lost somebody that you loved, it’s that exact feeling,” Scobee told CNN this month, as the anniversary approached. “I just shared my loss with the country. I think it’s my responsibility to share some of that — because it’s part of our history.”
On January 28, 1986, Scobee was about to graduate from the Air Force Academy when he joined his mother and the other crew members’ families in Florida to watch his father, mission commander Dick Scobee and six other astronauts blast off aboard Challenger.
Read more at: CNN
‘Isn’t That Enough?’ Remembering Grissom, White and Chaffee, Fallen Crew of Apollo 1
At 6:31 p.m. EST on Friday, 27 January 1967—52 years ago, tonight—as darkness fell over Cape Kennedy in Florida, one of the worst disasters ever to befall America’s space program unfolded with horrifying suddenness. Out at the Cape’s Pad 34 sat a two-stage Saturn IB booster, capped with the Command and Service Module (CSM) for Apollo 1. In less than a month’s time, it was hoped, Apollo 1 Command Pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White—who had already earned fame as the United States’ first spacewalker—and Pilot Roger Chaffee would fly the new spacecraft for the first time in a crewed capacity in low-Earth orbit. As outlined in a recent AmericaSpace history article, those plans turned figuratively and literally to ashes in a tragedy forever known as “The Fire.”
As America remembers the disaster which claimed Apollo 1, on this date, over five decades ago, AmericaSpace honors the three men whose careers had already carried them to exalted heights…and, had the hands of fate been kinder, might have taken them further still.
Read more at: America space
How Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars in His First Term
Donald Trump nearly derailed a televised call to the International Space Station after he got distracted, first by a sudden fantasy of going to Mars before the end of his first term in the White House, and then by a trip to the bathroom to check his reflection in the mirror, according to Team of Vipers, a new book by Cliff Sims, who worked as a communications official for Trump on his presidential campaign and in the West Wing.
The April 24, 2017 video call to congratulate the astronaut Peggy Whitson, who that day broke the record to become the American who has spent the longest amount of time in space, was an unusually smooth public event for the president.
Read more at: NYmag