NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2018 Annual Report

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress, issued its 2018 annual report Friday examining the agency’s safety performance over the past year and highlighting accomplishments, issues and concerns.

The report is based on the panel’s 2018 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; “insight” visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making processes; discussions with NASA management, employees and contractors; and the panel members’ own experience.

Annual report

Read more at: NASA

NASA Again Delays Boeing’s, Spacex’s First Flights Of Commercial Crew Program

NASA has again delayed Boeing’s and SpaceX’s first test flights of the commercial crew program — which will launch humans from American soil for the first time since 2011 — by one month.

The announcement, posted on the agency’s website Wednesday, says the delays were needed to “allow for completion of necessary hardware testing, data verification, remaining NASA and provider reviews, as well as training of flight controllers and mission managers.”

SpaceX’s flight now is scheduled for March 2 after being bumped twice from the originally planned Jan. 17. Boeing’s flight has been pushed back to April, from its original March timeline.

Read more at: Chron

ISS Suffers Another Leak, But This Time Of The Messy, Non-Dangerous, Type

Around 11 liters of water leaked into the International Space Station (ISS) during work to prepare for the future installation of the Urine Transfer System (UTS). Although the incident was minor compared to the more worrying pressure leak caused by a hole in the since-departed Soyuz MS-09, it once again highlights the day-to-day maintenance required on the orbital outpost that will play into lessons learned ahead of crewed deep space exploration.

The leak occurred during HMU 267 Power Cable Re-Routing task, which is a required operation to prepare the Station for the installation of the UTS later this year.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Former Spacex Worker Reaches Agreement With Machine Company That He Argues Exposed Him To Chemicals

A former SpaceX employee has reached a settlement agreement with the maker of a machine the Hawthorne rocket maker used to protect circuit boards, according to court records.

Ruben Juarez and Precision Valve & Automation agreed to settle the lawsuit, in which the former SpaceX employee argued chemical exposure from one of the New York manufacturer’s machines caused health problems, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court Central Division on Monday, Feb. 4. A judge still needs to approve the settlement; the two parties, according to documents, have asked for 60 days to file a “stipulation of dismissal.”

Details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Read more at: daily breeze

Mental Health Of Astronauts A Barrier In The Mars Mission

The mental well being of astronauts is a medical challenge that needs to be solved before a mission to Mars can take off.

That’s the opinion of The Canadian Space Agency.

The mental and physical health issues that astronauts face during deep-space exploration is the focus of a new permanent exhibition at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Health in Space: Daring to Explore. The Canadian Space Agency has collaborated with the museum to highlight how time in space can be hard on the human body.

Read more at: Ottawa citizen

Indian Manned Mission To Space By 2022 — Before 75th Independence Day

The Union government has set a time-line for its manned mission to space. It proposes to demonstrate human spaceflight before the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, which will be in the year 2022.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said this in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

With a budget of ₹10,000 crore expected to be spent on the Gaganyaan mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) claims to have put the required infrastructure in place. ISRO has launched a ‘Human Space Flight Centre’ in its headquarters in Bengaluru.

Read more at: Statesman

NG-10 Cygnus Departs ISS After 3 Month Science, Supply Mission

Three months after its arrival at the International Space Station, the NG-10 Cygnus, named S.S. John Young, has departed the Station with it 5,500 lb (2,494 kg) of trash and disposable equipment.  The S.S. John Young will now spend an additional 17 days in orbit performing a post-ISS nanosatellite deployment mission before conducting a destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere on Monday, 25 February.

The 10th contracted resupply flight of Cygnus to the International Space Station was the first to fly completely under the banner of Northrop Grumman, which acquired Orbital ATK in June 2018 during the then-ongoing OA-9E Cygnus mission.

Cygnus is no stranger to flying under multiple company names.  First built by Orbital Sciences as part of the initial round of Commercial Resupply Services for NASA to the International Space Station, the first Cygnus missions – the demonstration flight and resupply flights Orb-1, -2, and -3 – all flew under the Orbital Sciences flag.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

NASA Working To Minimize Shutdown Impact To Springtime Orion Abort Test

NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Air Force have resumed preparations for the Orion Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) test after the five-week long government shutdown disrupted work. The AA-2 test will collect data on the performance of Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) by initiating an abort at a high-stress point during ascent.

Major pieces of flight test hardware were about to be shipped or were being delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida and the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) launch site when the shutdown closed several federal agencies including NASA. Although some work was able to be restarted before the shutdown ended, it is expected that the launch date for the test will be delayed a couple of weeks into mid-May.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Spacex Seeks FCC Approval For Up To 1M Starlink Satellite Earth Stations

SpaceX has opened a new window into its ambitious plans for a global satellite broadband data network, thanks to an earth-station license application filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

The application, filed on behalf of a sister company called SpaceX Services, seeks blanket approval for up to a million earth stations that would be used by customers of the Starlink satellite internet service. The stations would rely on a flat-panel, phased-array system to transmit and receive signals in the Ku-band to and from the Starlink constellation.

Read more at: Geekwire

NASA Seeking Proposals For Human-Rated Lunar Lander Systems

With SLS and Orion in the latter stages of development, NASA wants to work with industry to develop a human-rated lunar lander by the mid-to-late 2020s.

NASA is working to return astronauts to the Moon under Space Policy Directive-1. In order to do that sustainably, the agency announced plans on Dec. 13, 2018, to work with U.S. companies to develop systems to land on the lunar surface. A formal request for proposals was published on Feb. 7, 2019, with responses due by March 25.

“Building on our model in low-Earth orbit, we’ll expand our partnerships with industry and other nations to explore the Moon and advance our missions to farther destinations such as Mars, with America leading the way,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a NASA news release. “When we send astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion.”

Read more at: Spaceflight insider

Rogozin Teases New Russian Super-Heavy Rocket Yenisei

With the collapse of a major U.S.-Russia arms treaty last week, much attention is being paid to new Russian rockets. In Moscow, the Kremlin has ordered its generals to begin crash development of an array of intermediate-range missiles. But while all of this was going on, President Vladimir Putin has also been reviewing other ambitious rocket programs.

On Feb. 4, Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin went to the Kremlin to sit down with Putin for a check-in on the state of the Russian space program. Much of the meeting focused on Roscosmos financials, which are bleak. But toward the end of the publicized portion of their discussion, Rogozin provided an update on three key rocket projects.

Read more at: Spacenews

Two Men Spent 340 Days in Space. Scientists Are Still Figuring Out What They’ve Learned

Between March 2015 and March 2016, a man spent a total of 357 hours being poked and prodded: sacrificing blood and urine, sweating through sprints and letting others read his journals — oh, and living on the

The man was Scott Kelly, and with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kornienko, he spent a total of 340 days living in space as part of NASA’s first attempt to understand how such long stints without gravity affect the human body. But while the men returned to Earth nearly three years ago, scientists are still trying to figure out what they’ve learned.

Read more at:

Meteors (?) Over Cuba and Venezuela – February 2019

Just a little over a week after Cuba was hit with meteorites that broke off from a bolide meteor that exploded in the sky, and just several days short of the 6-year anniversary of the asteroid explosion over Russia (which injured hundreds, and damaged buildings), a large meteor has been seen exploding over Venezuela – and part of it has apparently landed in the country. One video shows a supposed fire caused by the meteorite crash. Watch the YouTube footage below and stay tuned for more ongoing updates:

Read more at: texasufosigtings

Coloradans Report Seeing “Fireball In The Sky” Across The State Thursday Night

If you weren’t looking up, you probably missed getting a glimpse of a meteorite falling across the Colorado sky Thursday evening.

Several people along I-70 called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office early Thursday evening to report a “fireball in the sky.”

Calls about the astronomical event also came from Conifer, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told Denver7.

One deputy who was working at the time the meteorite was falling saw it coming down and explode into many pieces, according to the sheriff’s office spokesperson. After it disintegrated, the meteorite left a persistent white trail of smoke that stayed in the sky for several minutes.

Read more at: Denver post

Space Agency Ups Risk Of Asteroid-Earth Collision

The European Space Agency’s Near Earth Object Coordination Centre – the world’s primary watchdog for lumps of rock orbiting close to the planet – has upped the risk level for one of the 19,563 asteroids and 107 comets listed as passing through the Earth’s neighbourhood.

According to the agency, recent observations of an asteroid discovered last year and dubbed, thus, XB 2018, have prompted a recalculation of its likelihood of impacting the planet.

It is now considered the fifth most dangerous Near Earth Object (NEO) in the sky – but still represents very little cause for concern.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

There’s An ‘Empty Trash Bag’ Circling Our Planet

There is a lot of space junk streaming around the Earth’s orbit, but few objects are quite as peculiar as one called A10bMLz, which astronomers are describing it as an “empty trash bag.” Farther than the average distance between the Earth and the moon, A10bMLz doesn’t have a stable orbit. It’s moving erratically, unpredictably veering back and forth between a distance of about 372,000 and 334,000 miles from the surface of the Earth, a lot like—you guessed it—an empty trash bag caught in the wind.

A10bMLz is far from run-of-the-mill space junk. Astronomer Daniel Bamberger from London’s Northolt Branch Observatories, which made follow-up observations and ran more analyses on the object after its initial discovery on January 25 by the ATLAS asteroid survey in Hawaii, says he and his team initially had no clue whether the object was natural or artificial. As they tracked its movements, they realized it was defying predictions and moving around almost randomly.

Read more at: Popsci

Place for Russian First Private Cosmodrome Revealed by Source

Russia’s first private cosmodrome for suborbital space tourism flights might be built either in the country’s Republic of Tatarstan or the Nizhny Novgorod Region, a source in the aerospace industry told Sputnik, adding that talks on the project with the heads of the regions were underway.

“The negotiations on allotting a platform for suborbital tourism are now in their final stage with the two regions. The documents are being prepared for being signed. The platform will be set up on the territory of the region which would be the first to reach the deal,” the source said.

The spaceport would be created by the Kosmokurs company, the source continued. The company itself denied commenting on the issue.

Read more at: Sputnik news

Momentus Signs In-Space Transportation Pact

Exolaunch, the German launch services provider formerly known as ECM Space, signed a contract to pay in-space transportation startup Momentus more than $6 million to move satellites in low Earth orbit in 2020 with a service called Vigoride and from low Earth to geosynchronous orbit in 2021 with Vigoride Extended.

With Vigoride, Exolaunch will send “cubesat and microsatellite constellations to multiple orbits, giving clients an unprecedented flexibility of satellite deployment, reducing the price of launch, and giving access to orbits not typical for ridesharing vehicles,” Dmitriy Bogdanov, Exolaunch chief executive, said in a statement. “We also plan to deliver smallsats to geosynchronous orbit using the Vigoride Extended service.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Orion Span: Dreams Of First Luxury Space Hotel Come Crashing Down

Orbiting our planet 320 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, one company Orion Span dreams of running the first luxury hotel in space. It will be a hotel to the stars surrounded by the cosmos.

The Aurora Space Station claims that in three years it will be “equipped for a remarkable astronaut experience that can be had nowhere else in the known universe.”

Running sorties in space suits, Orion Span promises 12-day itineraries “that will change your life.” Though details are light on what these itineraries might involve, it promises to be out of this world.

Read more at: NZ Herald

How Easy will it be to Build a Moon Base?

In 1975, three years after the final Apollo Moon landing, Space: 1999 first aired on British television. It began with a nuclear explosion wrenching the Moon, and an international lunar colony of over 300 people, out of its orbit and into an unknown journey into space.

The TV series obviously made an impression on a young Elon Musk because, when the SpaceX founder revealed their plans for a lunar colony in August 2017, he called it Moonbase Alpha after the lunar base in Space: 1999. “Cheesy show,” Musk tweeted, “but I loved it.”

Read more at: BBC

How A New Satellite Constellation Could Allow Us To Track Planes All Over The Globe

A newly completed constellation of satellites is poised to provide unprecedented tracking of the hundreds of thousands of aircraft that soar over the Earth every day. It’s a type of global coverage that’s never been fully realized before, but it has the potential to influence how air traffic is managed throughout the world.

The satellite constellation is Iridium NEXT, and it consists of 75 vehicles — 66 operational ones and nine spares. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the last batch of 10 satellites for the system on January 11th, out of California, and yesterday Iridium declared the constellation complete. The main function of Iridium NEXT is to provide global telecommunications coverage. But each satellite in the constellation is also equipped with a special receiver, technology that will eventually make it possible to track every single airplane flying in the sky — no matter where they are on Earth.

Read more at: Verge

Researching Space on Earth – Two Facilities Join ESA’s Platforms for Spaceflight Research

Science is everywhere but opportunities to carry out research in space can be limited. To combat this, ESA works with institutes across Europe to maintain a network of ground-based facilities that recreate aspects of spaceflight.

From radiation to weightlessness, isolation and a lack of Earthly comforts, astronauts and robots on missions far from home face many challenges in space.

To help mitigate these, two new facilities have been added to Europe’s roster of places where researchers can apply to run spaceflight experiments on Earth with ESA.

Read more at: ESA

Jeff Bezos Lays Out Blue Origin’s Rocket Reusability Vision for Space Travel (Video)

In the new video, Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos explains how he first got inspired by spaceflight. Bezos remembers Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969, when Bezos was just 5 years old.

“I’ve been passionate about space, rockets, rocket engines, space travel,” Bezo said during a montage of historical clips of spaceflight. “I think we all have passions, and you don’t get to choose them. They pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them.”

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The Director General Of ESA Discusses Their Future Space Activities

Space for Europe, European Space in the World’ was the theme of the 11th European Space Policy event, which SciTech Europa Quarterly attended in Brussels in February. This event posited that ‘in 2019, Europe’s space policy will find itself at a pivotal point in its development as it will be confronted with multiple key questions about the responses to be brought to new critical needs and major new challenges.’

Space for Europe, European Space in the World’ was the theme of the 11th European Space Policy event, which SciTech Europa Quarterly attended in Brussels in February. This event posited that ‘in 2019, Europe’s space policy will find itself at a pivotal point in its development as it will be confronted with multiple key questions about the responses to be brought to new critical needs and major new challenges.’

Read more at: Scitech europa

Shutdown Delays Proposed Revisions To Launch Licensing Regulations

The partial government shutdown caused the Federal Aviation Administration to miss a Feb. 1 deadline for releasing a draft of revised launch licensing regulations.

The FAA was working to release a notice of proposed rulemaking, or NPRM, on Feb. 1 on revised regulations to streamline the launch licensing process. That deadline was set by Space Policy Directive 2 announced in February 2018, which called on the Department of Transportation to “rescind or revise those regulations, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules rescinding or revising those regulations” by that date.

Read more at: Spacenews

SpaceX Texas Launch Site Risks Being Split in Two by Border Wall

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a big stake in the battle over border security being waged in Congress: a launchpad on the U.S.-Mexico border that it plans to use for rockets carrying humans around the world and eventually to Mars.

Democratic lawmakers have taken up the cause of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and are trying to thwart the Trump administration’s efforts to build a border barrier that could cut across the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico coast near Brownsville.

Lawmakers said they’re concerned about the impact on the company’s 50-acre facility after seeing a Department of Homeland Security map showing a barrier running through what they describe as a launchpad.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Brexit Fears Fail to Trouble Airbus Space Business

UK Defence & Space chief executive Colin Paynter says Airbus Group head Tom Enders’ recent warning that Brexit could force Airbus to move its commercial aircraft wing building business out of the UK was absolutely “correct and I would echo that”, but tells FlightGlobal that his operation could better weather the storm of divorce.

Speaking at the company’s space hardware site at Stevenage, just north of London, to unveil the rover built there for the 2020 joint European and Russian ExoMars mission, Paynter said Defence & Space follows the same operating model as the other divisions. This, he says, relies on moving “parts, people and ideas” between European locations without restrictions.

Read more at: Flight global

Turkey Creates Its First Space Agency

Turkey has set its eyes on the stars. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signed an executive order to form the country’s first official space agency. Scientists have welcomed the move and hope it will provide jobs and reduce brain drain even as they wonder about the feasibility of its ambitious goals.

The agency is expected to develop technologies for rocket launches and space exploration, as well as to coordinate the space-related activities of the country’s other space-research centres, according to the order, signed on 13 December.

It’s not yet clear how much of the national budget the new organisation will receive, or when it will be up and running.

Read more at: Nature

Aerospace Workforce Training – A National Mandate for 2019 and Beyond

As the aerospace workforce ages, technology advances and space operations become more contested it is imperative to continually train engineers and managers to refresh and advance their knowledge base in order to keep the U.S. competitive. This challenge is further complicated by the fact that over the past few years roughly 40% of U.S. skilled tradesman have retired.

Aviation Week recently reported that the average age of an aerospace employee was over 45, and only about 4% of all industry employees were between the ages of 22 and 25. This indicates that the demand for workforce training will remain high for at least the next several decades.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Why a Department of the Space Force?

Over the last 20 years several issues regarding the National Security Space (NSS) organization and management have been reviewed and assessed. Both the Rumsfeld Commission in 2001 and the Allard Commission in 2009 noted that there are many pockets of excellence and positive trends within the NSS community.

However, the commissions also noted growing performance shortfalls, vulnerabilities and potential gaps in capabilities. Many of the capabilities are thin and fragile. Important space-based capabilities are currently provided by obsolete on-orbit assets, while new generation satellites have experienced unacceptable cost and schedule growth, technical performance problems and cancellations.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Key DOD Space Situational Awareness Upgrade Project Fails Operational Test

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester has deemed a key upgrade of the Joint Space Operations Center (JspOC) Mission System (JMS) is not operationally effective or suitable for its space situational awareness mission, a setback for the Air Force program which aims, among other things, to provide real-time alerts of hostile actions against U.S. satellites.

Read more at: Inside defense

Lawmakers: Air Force Launch Procurement Strategy Undermines Spacex

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) are calling for an independent review of the Air Force’s space launch procurement strategy. They contend that the Air Force, in an effort to broaden the launch playing field, is putting SpaceX at a competitive disadvantage.

In a Feb. 4 letter addressed to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Feinstein and Calvert — both with strong ties to the space industry — argue that the path the Air Force has chosen to select future launch providers creates an unfair playing field. Although SpaceX is not mentioned in the letter by name, it is clear from the lawmakers’ language that they believe the company is getting a raw deal because, unlike its major competitors, it did not receive Air Force funding to modify its commercial rockets so they meet national security mission requirements.

Read more at: Spacenews

9 Everyday Things Astronauts Can’t Do In Space

Astronauts make a lot of sacrifices when they venture off of Earth. Besides the dangers of space travel and time away from family, microgravity comes with a whole new set of rules that dictates many facets of everyday life. Here are nine things astronauts can’t do in space.

Astronauts can laugh in space all they want, but the act of crying is quite different without gravity.

When asked if he could cry in space, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield answered, “Can you cry in space? Your eyes make tears but they stick as a liquid ball. In fact, they sting a bit. So – space tears don’t shed.”

Unless an astronaut wipes that water away, tears in space can form a giant clump that can break free of your eye, as The Atlantic explained. So in space, you can actually watch a ball of your tears float around.

Read more at: Business Insider

The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America’s Moon Rocket

In 1923, a prominent German physicist named Hermann Oberth released a study called “Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen,” or, roughly translated, “By Rocket to Space.” That same year, another fateful event happened across the country, when a rising star in the Nazi party named Adolf Hitler suffered an embarrassing defeat in Munich as his Beer Hall Putch uprising was foiled by local authorities.

These two facts may seem tangentially related. But they would go on to shape the life of an eleven-year-old Berliner named Wernher von Braun, and in so course, spark the future of human spaceflight.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Tiny Meteorites Are Everywhere — Here’s How To Find Them

Between 60 and 100 tons of space dust falls to Earth every single day. That’s a lot of dust. Some of it has been pulled up from deep-sea sediments or melted out of ice near the poles. But there hasn’t been somebody dedicated enough — or maybe even absurd enough — to seek out these tiny bits of metal and rock from outer space in populated places.

That changed in 2010 when Jon Larsen, a jazz musician-turned-amateur scientist, started searching for micrometeorites in some of the dustiest corners of the Earth.

Larsen told Verge Science about the frustrating paradox regarding micrometeorites. “Everybody agreed upon that it was completely impossible to find the micrometeorites in populated areas of the world. And at the same time, everybody agreed that the daily influx from space is nearly 100 metric tons of cosmic dust. So I was like, ‘100 metric tons, and it’s impossible to find it? Something doesn’t add up.’”

Read more at: Verge

Yuri Gagarin: Why The Russians Still Won’t Say How The First Man In Space Died

Around the world, there are few people as beloved in their home country as Yuri Gagarin is in Russia. But more than 50 years on, the circumstances behind his untimely death remain deliberately shrouded in mystery, designated classified by Vladimir Putin’s government.

The Soviet Union caught the world off-guard when they announced in April 1961 that a man had been to outer space and back. That man was Yuri Gagarin, a short and charming Air Force officer with a smile that, according to one rocket scientist, “lit up the darkness of the Cold War”.

In the words of Purdue University’s Michael Smith, a historian specialising in Soviet space exploration, Gagarin was “idolised by Russians”. “People wanted to know him, see him, photograph him, and be seen with him,” Dr Smith told 9News.

Read more at: 9news

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