Launch Failures: New Discoveries

A decade or so ago, when I was creating a launch failure database for the US Air Force, I was of the opinion that we were done, finished, when it came to discovering new launch vehicle failure causes. It seemed that we had managed to cause vehicles to fail in every way possible—or at least those failures that are possible assuming a reasonable degree of competence.

The database only began at 1975, since we wanted to use it not just for historical information but rather to support engineering risk evaluations for launch vehicles in the 21st century. Presumably people would have learned something about designing and operating space boosters over the last 60 years or so and there would be a base of knowledge for the industry to draw on.

Read more at: Space Review

Trump Space Advisors Considering Hubble Servicing Mission

The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump administration advisers are considering a public-private crewed mission aboard the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft to keep the aging Hubble Space Telescope (HST) operational. The proposed mission, which would not happen before 2019, would require support from the next NASA administrator.

The Journal suggested the mission would align well with the Trump administration’s desire to advance public-private partnerships while also advancing missions that could be accomplished within the president’s current four-year term.

According to the Journal story, Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC’s space systems unit, told a conference last week that Dream Chaser could be used “as an exploration vehicle, a free-flight science laboratory and a servicing vehicle for in-orbit satellites and spacecraft.” Additionally, an SNC representative stated that Dream Chaser was “designed from the beginning to be a multi-mission orbital transportation system” eventually targeting “servicing, repair and assembly of technology” in space.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Delays Expected in SpaceX, Boeing Astronaut Capsules

SpaceX and Boeing Co. should expect to experience delays in certifying their astronaut transport capsules for use by NASA astronauts, says a U.S. government watchdog agency. The Government Accountability Office released Thursday a report saying that the two companies, which are each building spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station, will likely have to put off final certification until 2019. The capsules were originally set to be approved next year.

The GAO said both companies have development schedules that are “increasingly under pressure” and cited risks for each company that could delay certification, the Los Angeles Times reported. For Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, a key risk is for unplanned design changes to its Falcon 9 rocket, the report said. Chicago-based Boeing (NYE: BA) faces the possibility of further testing of the parachute system that helps its capsule land.

Read more at: Biz journals

NASA to Provide Commercial Crew Backup Plan by March 13 in Response to GAO

NASA has agreed to develop a contingency plan for ensuring astronauts can travel to and from the International Space Station (ISS) in case the commercial crew systems under development by Boeing and SpaceX are further delayed.  The action comes in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today that outlines delays that have occurred already and problems that may result in further schedule slippage.  NASA told GAO in writing it would have the backup plan ready by March 13, 2017.

NASA has had to rely on Russia to take astronauts to and from ISS since the space shuttle program was terminated in 2011.  It contracts with Russia’s Roscosmos space state corporation to purchase seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.  The current contract covers launches through 2018 and landings in 2019.   About three years are required for Russia to build Soyuz spacecraft so NASA has endeavored in the past to sign contracts well in advance. Russia currently charges $82 million per seat.

Read more at: Space Policy Online

NASA Astronauts at Survival School Highlights Capabilities, Needs

Four NASA astronauts trained with U.S. Air Force Survival School instructors in water survival and recovery Feb. 10, at the base fitness center pool here. The astronauts underwent the training in preparation for anticipated test flights of the new commercially made American rockets, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Dragon.

“It’s a different space program now,” said Sunita Williams, a NASA astronaut. “We’re flying in capsules instead of shuttles, and they can land anywhere. You never know when an emergency situation may happen, so we’re grateful to get this training.”  The astronauts were put through the paces of bailing out from a simulated crash landing in water. They learned to deploy and secure a life raft, rescue endangered crewmembers, avoid hostile forces and experience being hoisted into a rescue vehicle.

“This is the first time we’ve gotten a complete environmental training experience, lots of wind, waves and rain,” said Doug Hurley, a NASA astronaut. “This is a great way to experience how bad it can get and how important it is to be prepared.” The astronauts opted to join in with more than 20 water survival course students, despite being given the option to train alone. “They didn’t want to train on their own,” said Lt. Col. Chas Tacheny, the chief of NASA Human Space Flight Support-Houston. “They wanted to train with the group because some of these people may one day be preforming search and rescue for them.”

Read more at: US Air Force

Brain Structural Plasticity with Spaceflight

Humans undergo extensive sensorimotor adaptation during spaceflight due to altered vestibular inputs and body unloading. No studies have yet evaluated the effects of spaceflight on human brain structure despite the fact that recently reported optic nerve structural changes are hypothesized to occur due to increased intracranial pressure occurring with microgravity. This is the first report on human brain structural changes with spaceflight. We evaluated retrospective longitudinal T2-weighted MRI scans and balance data from 27 astronauts (thirteen ~2-week shuttle crew members and fourteen ~6-month International Space Station crew members) to determine spaceflight effects on brain structure, and whether any pre to postflight brain changes are associated with balance changes.

Data were obtained from the NASA Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health. Brain scans were segmented into gray matter maps and normalized into MNI space using a stepwise approach through subject specific templates. Non-parametric permutation testing was used to analyze pre to postflight volumetric gray matter changes. We found extensive volumetric gray matter decreases, including large areas covering the temporal and frontal poles and around the orbits. This effect was larger in International Space Station versus shuttle crew members in some regions. There were bilateral focal gray matter increases within the medial primary somatosensory and motor cortex; i.e., the cerebral areas where the lower limbs are represented. These intriguing findings are observed in a retrospective data set; future prospective studies should probe the underlying mechanisms and behavioral consequences.

Read more at: Nature

Military Mini-shuttle Not Landing at KSC Today

Reports that the military’s secretive X-37B mini-shuttle was preparing to land today at Kennedy Space Center proved inaccurate. The Air Force said notices clearing airspace were part of an exercise the program is running. “The X-37 is still on-orbit,” said Capt. Annmarie Annicelli, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon. “The program is conducting a regularly scheduled exercise this week.”

The potential landing by the unmanned, experimental space plane was reported by, citing notices to aviators clearing the air space. The website said the landing could occur as early as 7:48 a.m. Anniceilli on Monday has refused to confirm rumors that a landing was imminent at KSC’s three-mile Shuttle Landing Facility. No official notice of a landing will be provided until after the reusable vehicle is on the ground.

Read more at: Florida Today

Expert Panel Supports Study to Accelerate First Crewed SLS Mission

A panel of former NASA astronauts and officials offered tentative support Feb. 16 for an agency study announced this week to examine putting a crew on the first flight of the Space Launch System.

The witnesses, which included two former astronauts, a former chief scientist and a former center director, were asked about the issue late in a two-and-a-half-hour hearing on NASA by the House Science Committee. The hearing took place a day after NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced plans to study the feasibility of putting crew on Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), currently scheduled to launch in late 2018 without a crew.

Former astronaut Tom Stafford compared the proposal to the first flight of the space shuttle, which also carried a crew, a decision he said he was involved with while an astronaut in the early 1970s. He noted that many of the elements of the SLS, including its engines and solid rocket boosters, previously flown on the shuttle or other vehicles and thus are fairly well known. “The powerplants are in pretty good shape,” he said of the SLS’ propulsion systems. “I’d feel better about flying this than we did other things.”

Read more at: Space News

104 Satellites Put ISRO in Unique Orbit

Joy and celebrations broke out among scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as the space agency did the country proud by creating a world record on Wednesday.

At precisely 9.28 am at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, ISRO launched 104 satellites on its PSLV-C37 rocket, making it the highest number of satellites launched in a single mission. Through this feat, it broke the record held by Russia which had sent 37 satellites on a single mission in 2014. India’s previous record was the launch of 20 satellites in June 2015.

ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar summed up the joy of the scientists when he said to loud cheers: “All 104 satellites successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done.” The PSLV-C37 rocket carrying the satellites included three Indian and 101 satellites belonging to six foreign countries — 96 from the US and one each from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Israel, UAE and Kazakhstan. And handling them was no easy task.

Read more at: DNA India

Space Junk is a Problem but don’t Blame it on ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sent 104 satellites into orbit on Wednesday and the wild applause was soon followed by growing mutterings about India’s space agency adding to space junk. However, it’s irrational to blame the agency. If anything, carrying multiple payloads lowers orbital debris as each rocket used to send satellites to space also adds to the space junk.

ISRO is also ideally located for launches because its proximity to the Equator gives the rockets an extra velocity kick into space so they use less fuel to launch heavier payloads. And unlike space tourism, satellites serve a practical purpose, providing data that support communication, navigation, scientific research, weather observation, military support, earth imaging, among others. Each time you navigate using global positioning system (GPS), for example, you use a group of more than 20 satellites that determine where you are.

Read more at: Hindustan Times

This Company is Poised to Generate Satellite Images of the Entire Earth — Every Day

With 88 new shoebox-sized satellites now circling Earth, San Francisco-based Planet will be able to image every piece of land on Earth every day. The latest flock of Planet’s Dove satellites blasted off aboard an Indian PSLV rocket Tuesday night. The 88 newcomers expand Planet’s constellation to 149 satellites in orbit, not including seven higher-resolution imagers it will acquire as part of its purchase of Terra Bella from Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

The sale, announced earlier this month, is pending regulatory approval, said Planet chief executive Will Marshall. Why so many satellites? Planet’s business plan is to acquire daily imaging of the entire Earth land mass so companies, governments and researchers can better understand the changing planet, Marshall told Seeker.

Read more at: Seeker

Turn Satellites into Sparkling Fireworks to Burn up Space Junk

The chemistry that gives festive sparklers their sparkle could be used to reduce the hazards of falling space junk. Researchers have demonstrated that a mixture similar to that used in fireworks can help bring dead satellites back to Earth safely.

Descending space junk largely ends up in the oceans, but that doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to the issue. In 2011, a Delta II rocket stage and a fuel tank came to Earth in Mongolia. Last year an old Chinese rocket stage landed in Myanmar, shaking houses. “We actually get quite a lot of stuff falling,” said William Ailor at Aerospace, a non-profit company in California that studies orbital debris. Safely de-orbiting dead satellites or used rocket stages is a serious challenge, and space agencies around the world are working on solutions.

Part of the problem is that a lot of space junk is made of titanium, which has a high melting point: about 1670 °C. Most satellites completely burn up in our atmosphere, but the titanium alloy pieces are more likely to survive re-entry. Even worse, some of these are aerodynamically shaped, making them more likely to reach the ground.

Read more at: New Scientist

Scientists Recreate Space Weather of 400 Years Ago

In 1645, the sun became nearly spotless. During the 70-year period that followed, known as the Maunder Minimum, sunspots appeared only rarely on the surface of the Sun. Now, after a peak in magnetic activity that drove the appearance of a multitude of sunspots during the 1950s and 60s, the Sun again appears to be headed toward such a minimum.

Yet it’s not always a bad thing when history repeats itself — it means that we can study the past to predict the future. And that’s just what scientists such as Mathew Owens (University of Reading, UK) are doing. In Nature’s January 31st Scientific Reports, Owens and colleagues look back to the Maunder Minimum in order to anticipate solar and auroral activity (or the lack thereof) in our near future.

Read more at: Sky and Telescope

Dangerous Space Rocks Discussed at Asteroid Day Prep

Experts from around the world gathered on Tuesday (Feb. 14) to discuss how humans can mitigate the threat of asteroid impacts, as well as to go over plans for future space probes and even for the mining of space rocks — all ahead of the third annual Asteroid Day, which arrives June 30.

The Asteroid Day press conference (which you can watch on YouTube) was broadcast from Luxembourg, with some participants joining from Bucharest, Romania; London; and Silicon Valley. It included Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and Britain’s Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees.  “I think were all aware that we on spaceship Earth are vulnerable to impact from the outside,” Rees said. “And for the first time, were in a position to remove this risk. … International organizations should realize it’s an environmental issue.”

Read more at:

SpaceX Halts Rocket Launch 10 Seconds Before Planned Liftoff

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. halted the launch of its second rocket in as many months on Saturday, about 10 seconds before its scheduled liftoff. “All systems go, except the movement trace of an upper stage engine steering hydraulic piston was slightly odd. Standing down to investigate,” Musk said in a Twitter post.

The rocket, which was set to ferry supplies destined for the International Space Station, was investigated Friday for what Musk called a “very small” leak in the upper stage before it was deemed adequate to fly. In a second tweet on Saturday, Musk said the “flight would be fine” if there are no other issues, though SpaceX needs “to make sure that it isn’t symptomatic of a more significant upstream root cause.”

The company will “take a closer look at an engine actuator on the second stage,” SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said in an e-mail. The launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been rescheduled for Sunday at 9:38 a.m., he said.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Air Force Doctor Wins NASA “Space Poop Challenge”

NASA has picked its number one person for a number two problem.

Air Force Col. Thatcher Cardon won the agency’s “Space Poop Challenge,” an effort to design better ways for astronauts to deal with bodily waste than the current super-absorbent diapers. Cardon’s solution is a “perineal access port” located in the suit’s crotch. It’s essentially a valve opening through which astronauts can insert various toilet devices to aid in waste extraction, and can be easily operated while wearing a spacesuit glove. He beat out more than 5,000 other competitors, according to a press release from the Air Force, and will receive $15,000 from NASA for winning the challenge.

“I’ve always wanted to go into biomedical engineering,” Cardon, commander of the 47th medical group at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, said in a statement. “I opted for family medicine instead, thinking I could always do biomedical engineering later on. I never imagined that poop would be my ticket into the field.”

Read more at: Space News

Russia’s First Private Space Tourism Craft Flight Test Set for 2020

Pavel Pushkin, director of CosmoCourse company, said the spacecraft’s production is funded by a private investor. It is expected to be launched from a Russian cosmodrome and conduct space tours at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles).

Potential space tourists would be admitted to the private spaceflight program after three-day training and medical examination. “Space tourists will be offered a 15-minute flight in a group of six tourists. Each will be in a state of weightlessness inside a cabin with a total volume of 30 square meters [320 square feet],” Pushkin said.

Read more at: Sputnik News

Spaceflight Legislation Passes House, Senate Votes

The Georgia Spaceflight Act has been approved by the state House and now heads to the Senate for consideration. The Senate companion bill was also approved, by a 49-2 vote, and now heads to the House for consideration.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the bill’s sponsor, said he was encouraged by the support in both houses of the General Assembly. “The significance is that it sends a clear and resounding message that Georgia is ready to welcome commercial space industry-related jobs,” he said.

The legislation requires companies in the business of launching rockets in Georgia to train their employees so they understand the risks associated with space flight. Workers in the space flight industry in Georgia will waive the right to sue the companies they work for unless gross negligence can be proven, he said.

Read more at: Golden Isles

Spaceport Backers in Bid for Funds

The group behind a bid to create a spaceport in Newquay plan to bid for a “large chunk” of the £10 million the Government is offering to push forward commercial spaceflight activity in the UK.

The Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aims to establish horizontal spaceplane launches deploying satellites from Cornwall Airport Newquay, as well as provide low-cost access to space. The Government is inviting applications for grants to make the UK the first place in Europe where commercial space operators can launch small satellites into orbit, or offer spaceplane flights for science and tourism from 2020.

The growing space and aerospace sector is a key priority for the Cornwall  LEP as Newquay airport boasts one of the UK’s longest runways and uncongested airspace, while Goonhilly Earth Station offers mission control, tracking and communication facilities. Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall LEP, said: “Newquay is the only site able to offer low cost access to space in the UK by the target date of 2020. We are perfectly placed to maximise the potential from the global small satellite launch market, and spaceplane development.

Read more at: Newquayvoice

Looking for the Next Leap in Rechargeable Batteries

USC researchers may have just found a solution for one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the next wave of rechargeable batteries – small enough for cellphones and powerful enough for cars. In a paper published in the January issue of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Sri Narayan and Derek Moy of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute outline how they developed an alteration to the lithium-sulfur battery that could make it more than competitive with the industry standard lithium-ion battery.

The lithium-sulfur battery, long thought to be better at energy storage capacity than its more popular lithium-ion counterpart, was hampered by its short cycle life. Currently the lithium-sulfur battery can be recharged 50 to 100 times – impractical as an alternative energy source compared to 1,000 times for many rechargeable batteries on the market today.

Read more at: Space Daily

Curtiss-Wright Offers COTS Module for Measuring Microgravity Acceleration

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division has introduced the space industry’s first COTS-based solution for measuring microgravity acceleration. Previously, the measurement of microgravity acceleration has required costly custom-designed electronic systems.

What’s more, the high cost of these solutions has encouraged the sharing of this capability by multiple users on-board the microgravity platform, leading to backups and delays for users who desire timely access to the microgravity measurement system. Because of its cost-effective COTS design, the new KAD/ADC/128 module significantly lowers the cost and improves the performance of microgravity acceleration measurement systems.

Read more at: Space Daily

Mars 500: Study Overview

Human exploration of our Solar System is an important focus for ESA. The Agency has started on the path to making this a reality in the future. Making sure that our astronauts are prepared mentally and physically for the demands of long exploration missions is imperative a mission’s success.

In light of this, ESA undertook a cooperative project with the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow, called Mars500.

ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight has a long tradition of conducting research on the physiological and psychological aspects of spaceflight. ESA’s bedrest studies, in particular, are at the forefront of scientific research to understand how the human body reacts under weightless conditions, in order to devise effective countermeasures and enable humans to undertake long missions in space effectively. Mars500 is part of these scientific efforts to prepare for human exploration missions.

Read more at: ESA

Nasa Revives ‘Weird Life Forms’ Trapped Inside Crystals for 60,000 years, Raising Hopes of Finding Alien Organisms in Space

Lifeforms which have been living inside crystals for up to 60,000 years have been revived by NASA, raising hopes that alien organisms could be found in extreme environments on other planets.

Penelope Boston, the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and her team have spent years exploring Mexico’s Naica Mine in Chihuahua looking for extremophiles, which contain caves as large as cathedrals. The mine is filled with giant gypsum crystals which look so extraordinary that when Dr Boston first saw a picture, she assumed it had was a Photoshop hoax.

But more astounding, was that inside the crystals, tiny bugs were discovered in a state of ‘geolatency’ – where living organisms remain viable in geological materials for long periods of time. “Much to my surprise we got things to grow,” said Dr Boston. “It was laborious. We lost some of them – that’s just the game.  They’ve got needs we can’t fulfill. That part of it was really like zoo keeping.”

Read more at: Telegraph

Italy, Russia Working Closely on Mars Exploration, Earth Monitoring Satellites

There are neither sanctions nor politics in space and cooperation there between Russia, the US and Europe is absolutely vital. In an interview with Sputnik, the head of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Roberto Battiston, spoke about the joint projects being implemented by ASI and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

Roberto Battiston described Russian-Italian relations, including in space exploration, as “absolutely special.” And special they really are as the two countries’ space agencies are working hand in hand on numerous projects, including the ExoMars 2020 mission to study the Red Planet.

Read more at: Space Daily

Senate Passes 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act

The Senate passed the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act today.  The bill is very similar to one that passed the Senate in December as the 114th Congress was coming to an end. The House had completed its legislative business by then so could not act on it and that bill died at the end of the Congress. This new bill, S. 442, represents a compromise with the House, so expectations are high that it will quickly be passed by the House and presented to the President for signature.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who chairs the Space, Science, and Competitiveness subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the full committee, issued a joint press release along with other bipartisan members of the committee praising the bill for providing stability to NASA during this time of a presidential transition.

The new bill has some changes from the version that passed the Senate in December.  One clarifies that the primary consideration for the acquisition strategy for the commercial crew program is to carry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) “safely, reliably, and affordably” and to serve as a crew rescue vehicle.  Another directs NASA to report to Congress on how the Orion spacecraft can fulfill the provision in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act that it be able to serve as a backup to commercial crew, including with use of a launch vehicle other than the Space Launch System. A third is a finding that NASA has not demonstrated to Congress that the cost of the Asteroid Redirect Mission is commensurate with its benefits, a stronger statement than what was in the 2016 bill.  The new bill also has a section on use of Space Act Agreements.

Read more at: Space Policy Online

Reforming Space Oversight

According to Politico, the Trump Administration is eyeing some big changes in outer space policy. The White House wants America’s space program to be less risk-averse and more reliant on commercial capabilities. Low-earth orbit could be mostly turned over to private actors, private space stations could be launched, and private American astronauts could be heading towards the moon on private spaceships. The planned space program evokes exciting images of a new era of space use and exploration. While it is good that the Administration is looking to promote commercial space, it may need to start by focusing closer to Earth.

The commercial space sector is growing rapidly, and seems poised to expand even faster in the near future. While nothing is inevitable, a new wave of demand-driven launch providers are driving down the costs to access space. Technological innovations spun in from other industries—such as information technology—have made smaller satellites more versatile in their capabilities.

Read more at: Niskanen Center

Purdum: Needing to Cry About the Challenger Disaster

My 12-year-old daughter recently told me her science class watched videos of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I started to tell her how I had seen it real-time on national television as it actually occurred Jan. 28, 1986, but I couldn’t. Instead I burst into tears.

I am 40 years old. When the Challenger exploded over Cape Canaveral I was in the fourth grade — just two years younger than my sixth-grader to whom I blubbered in an embarrassingly and seemingly irrational way. But I was having a major flashback. The sights, the sounds, the hairdos of the 1980s washed over me like a flood.

NASA had set a goal in the ’80s to spur student interest in math, science and space exploration. It churned up huge hype over the Challenger launch, especially with Ronald Reagan’s Teacher in Space Project. I remember writing an essay to nominate my own teacher to be considered.

Read more at: News-journal

Space Matter: A Quick History of Launch Pads at Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral (called Cape Kennedy for a time after President Kennedy’s death) is our nation’s spaceport. Sure, we have launch facilities at other sites, such as Wallops Island, VA, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and a whole host of commercial launch facilities currently licensed or in development, but the Cape is where all our manned launches happen—our gateway to the stars.

Last year, NASA made headlines within the space community by announcing that SpaceX would be taking over Launch Pad 39A, a historic launch site to be sure. Its first flight is scheduled (at the time of this writing) for February 18. The first launch from pad 39A was the unmanned Apollo 4, the first test of the Saturn V rocket, on November 9, 1967. Pad 39A saw use through the Apollo and shuttle era—it was the launch site of both the first shuttle flight (STS-1) and the last (STS-135). It also played a part in the first and only possible dual shuttle launch in the program’s history.

Read more at: Paste Magazine

Possible NASA Administrator Bridenstine Wants to Fight North Korea

“President Trump should order the Secretary of Defense to position American assets and shoot down Kim Jong Un’s next missile launch. Intercepting a North Korean missile would signal to Pyongyang that America has the capability and the willingness to defend our allies and the homeland. In the parlance of military strategy, the missile defense option enhances deterrence-by-denial. North Korea is more likely to be deterred from developing missiles if robust, layered missile defenses deny them any strategic benefit from striking first. The only two alternatives are preemptive offensive action and, of course, more strongly worded UN Security Council resolutions and toothless sanctions.”

Read more at: NASA Watch

Space Aggressors Jam AF, Allies’ Systems

The 26th Space Aggressor Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base is always gearing up for the next exercise in replicating enemy action against space-based and space-enabled systems.  eams of adversary subject matter experts regularly employ jamming techniques to train Air Force, joint and coalition personnel how to recognize, mitigate, counter and defeat threats.

“Our mission is to train others,” said Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Millspaugh, the 26th SAS superintendent. “Currently, Schriever is the only place in the Department of Defense that provides this type of instruction and training that we use to help get our military partners up to speed.”

The squadron acts like a consultant, teaching its clients how to navigate a world full of noise. The world being space, and the noise being rivals that want to prevent their communications or steal information. Acting as the “bad guy,” space aggressors deny operators use of their capabilities like GPS and satellite communication (SATCOM) in order to train warfighters how to operate in environments where critical systems are interfered with or completely negated.

To do this, space aggressors replicate adversary systems to provide a threat representative affect the United States’ joint and allied forces. They use a variety of hardware in creative ways to ensure the antennas, amplifiers, and additional hardware are used in the same way an adversary would employ them.

Read more at: US Air Force

The U.S. Needs a Space Force (To Win the Wars of the Future)

“Trump Launches Space War,” intoned Politico Morning Defense last week. Journalist Greg Hallman was not-quite-quoting colleague Bryan Bender’s article “Trump advisers’ space plan: to moon, Mars and beyond” in Politico itself of the same day. According to documents filched from the White House, he wrote, the administration is considering “a ‘rapid and affordable’ return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately-operated space stations, and the redirection of NASA’s mission to ‘the large-scale economic development of space’.”

In all fairness, that’s no war at all, and good on that. One needn’t watch a Sandra Bullock movie to understand how space wars could get out of hand quickly. But as Paul Shinkman recently wrote for US News & World Report, those using space the most will have the most to lose. That lesson is not lost on the Russians and Chinese, so if the rest of us are using space, we’ll want to defend what we put there. Who should do that for us is another question—of whether the US needs a dedicated military force to defend its interests in space, and its use of space from here.

Read more at: National Interest

Aerojet Rocketdyne Names John Schneider VP of Quality & Mission Assurance

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), today announced that John Schneider has been appointed vice president of Quality & Mission Assurance (Q&MA). He succeeds Jerry Tarnacki who was recently named senior vice president of the company’s Space Business Unit.

Schneider joined Aerojet Rocketdyne in July 1988 and has served in a variety of leadership positions over the last 28 years, most recently as site director for the Los Angeles facility since December 2013.

In his new role as vice president of Q&MA, Schneider will report directly to Chief Operating Officer Mark Tucker and will work closely with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 14 sites and various Space and Defense programs to drive continued implementation of the company’s new operating system, build on the company’s culture of quality, and improve Q&MA systems and processes across the enterprise.

Read more at: Rocket

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