Safety Last: Reckless Behavior Provides China With Economic Competitive Advantages In Space Launch

Space launch is becoming a highly competitive market and the United States’ leadership position in the new landscape has been based to a great extent on its successful regulatory model. The framework first established by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 has provided startups and investors with defined processes and licensing regimes that are workable for business while ensuring public safety. The generally effective and forward thinking work of Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the Federal Communications Commission and more recently the Office of Space Commerce have actually attracted foreign founders and investors to set up shop in the United States. Space has been a rare case of American regulatory competitive advantage. Witness the success of Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Firefly as U.S. entities. These firms might easily have taken their business elsewhere, but U.S. talent and the rule of law have made space launch America’s business to lose. China has recently made it clear it intends to contend aggressively over this important industry and it is worth noting that extremely lax regulation has often played a critical role that nation’s ability to undercut other U.S. industries.

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese State Media Confirms Long March Launch Failure

A Chinese Long March 4C rocket failed to place its top secret military payload into orbit Wednesday after a launch from the Taiyuan space base southwest of Beijing, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The three-stage rocket lifted off around 2249 GMT (6:49 p.m. EDT) Wednesday, according to numerous Chinese social media posts from local spectators. The Long March 4C turned toward the south, aiming to place its satellite payload into a polar orbit a few hundred miles above Earth.

But confirmation of the launch did not immediately come through official Chinese media channels, which typically announce a successful mission soon after it is completed. And the U.S. military’s catalog of orbiting space objects did not list any new spacecraft in orbit early Thursday that could be attributed to the Long March 4C launch.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Boeing Bounces Back With Successful Test Of Starliner Space Taxi’s Propulsion System

Boeing has successfully run the propulsion system for its CST-100 Starliner space taxi through the same test it failed almost a year ago, marking a significant step toward carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.

The thruster firing for Starliner’s launch abort system was part of a series of tests conducted on Thursday at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. A similar test went awry last June, due to an unwanted leak of propellant. No hardware was destroyed, but the problem contributed to delays for Starliner’s first flight.

Read more at: Geekwire

Spacex Cleaning Up Cape Canaveral Landing Zone After Crew Dragon Explosion

SpaceX teams continue cleanup efforts at the Cape Canaveral site where a Crew Dragon spacecraft exploded during testing in April, according to an update from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“Over the last two weeks SpaceX has been completing the initial steps of cleanup, including clearing debris from the site,” the department told FLORIDA TODAY via email on Wednesday. “Their next step is to begin soil sampling, which will be taking place throughout the month of June.”

After an analysis of the soil, SpaceX will be tasked with coming up with a remediation plan, or series of steps it will take to clean up the area around Landing Zone 1. The site is used to land Falcon boosters after takeoff, but also functions as a test stand for other spacecraft.

Read more at: Florida today

Engineer Falsified Reports On Critical Spacex Rocket Parts, Prosecutors Say

An employee of a now-defunct New York aerospace supplier has been charged with falsifying at least three dozen quality-assurance reports for parts that went into SpaceX rockets, prosecutors said Wednesday.

James Smalley, 41, of Penn Yan, N.Y., forged signatures on inspection reports for parts that were used for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets while he worked at PMI Industries LLC, a Rochester firm that specialized in “high-tolerance machining for flight-critical aerospace parts,” according to a complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Western District of New York.

If convicted, Smalley could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

Read more at: LA Times

Penn Yan Man Charged With Falsifying Inspection Reports For Space Parts

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that James Smalley, 41, of Penn Yan, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with falsifying inspection reports for space parts. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant was a Quality Assurance Engineer at PMI Industries, LLC, a Rochester aerospace precision machining service, specializing in high-tolerance machining for flight critical aerospace parts used to build space flight vehicles by SpaceX and other Department of Defense aerospace contractors. Smalley began his employment at PMI on March 6, 2017, working on contracts for SpaceX, which developed the Falcon launch vehicle family and the Dragon spacecraft family. Falcon and Dragon both currently deliver payloads into Earth orbit for NASA, the Air Force, other United States government agencies and private industry. SQA Services, Inc. (SQA) is a subcontractor to SpaceX, and provides multiple quality assurance functions within the aerospace and defense manufacturing industries.

Read more at: justice

The ‘Lunar Gateway’ Would Be NASA’s First Step In Establishing An Outpost On The Moon

The first lunar landing was almost 50 years ago, and now, NASA is making plans to return to the moon. But this time around, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says the agency plans to stay there. The space agency is planning to build a “lunar gateway,” or a space station, that will orbit the moon and make it easier for astronauts to come and go. It’s part of its long-term plan to develop a lunar outpost.

Eric Berger is senior space editor for Ars Technica, and says NASA’s about 30 to 50 years away from establishing a lunar outpost. But, since NASA is a government organization, he says that timeline could also be influenced by politics.

Read more at: Texas Standard

NASA Chooses Maxar To Build Keystone Module For Lunar Gateway Station

NASA has selected Maxar Technologies for a $375 million contract to design, build and launch the core element of a mini-space station in orbit around the moon that will double as a deep space research outpost and a staging point for future human expeditions to the lunar surface.

Fitted with high-power xenon thrusters and huge roll-out solar panels, the module will become the centerpiece of NASA’s planned Gateway station in lunar orbit. NASA plans to add a small pressurized habitat, or utilization module, to the Gateway before assembling components of a lunar lander there ahead of a human landing on the moon as soon as 2024.

The Gateway is a small space station that we will put in orbit around the moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a speech Thursday at the Florida Institute of Technology. “Think of it as a reusable command and service module that will be in orbit around the moon for 15 years, and the first element is the Power and Propulsion Element.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Detecting Bacteria In Space

Scientists at Université de Montréal and McGill University have pioneered and tested a new genomic methodology which reveals a complex bacterial ecosystem at work on the International Space Station.

Their study is published today in Environmental Microbiology.

Until now, relatively little was known about the different types of microbes found on the space station. The new approach enables researchers to identify and map different species inside the ISS, which will ultimately help safeguard astronauts’ health and be key to future long-term space travel.

Read more at: UMontreal

Space Travel Causes Joint Problems in Mice. But, What About Humans?

After spending a month in space, a small group of mice returned to Earth with joint problems. Now scientists are wondering what that means for humans who go to space.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit studied cartilage samples collected from six mice that spent a month in space on Russia’s Bion-M1 spacecraft in 2013 to see how microgravity affected their joints.

Compared with mice that stayed on Earth — which the authors refer to as the “ground control mice” — the animals that went to space had degraded joint tissue by the end of their space mission. In humans, this type of tissue damage over time can lead to osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease.

Read more at:

Strong Magnetic Storm May Cause Satellites to Deorbit – Russian Academy

One of the strongest magnetic storms in recent years, which began earlier on 14 May and is forecast to continue through the evening, may increase the possibility of spacecraft deorbiting and cause problems in satellite navigation and communication, the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LPI RAS) said.

“In accordance with the developed scale of magnetic storms, level three storms have a noticeable impact on technology, especially in space, including causing [space] vehicles to deorbit and creating problems with maintaining their orientation”, the LPI RAS Laboratory of X-ray Astronomy of the Sun said in a statement.

Read more at: Spacedaily

U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence Detects Debris from India Anti-Satellite Test

The U.S. Air Force Space Fence system detected the breakup field from an anti-satellite test conducted by India during a scheduled endurance exercise of the new space surveillance radar.

As MICROSAT-R was expected to pass through the un-cued surveillance fence, Space Fence automatically issued a “breakup alert” indicating there were multiple objects within close proximity.

Space Fence observed a significant amount of debris tracks surrounding the time of the event crossing labeled as uncorrelated targets. Long-arc tracking was initiated within the orbital debris cloud to form accurate initial orbit determinations. With this information, the system was able to automatically predict and correlate the next crossing time.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Caught Speeding: Illinois Patrol Cop Spies Blazing Fireball

An Illinois police officer on a routine trip earlier this month saw a fireball suddenly light up the sky in front of the car’s dashboard camera. The resulting Facebook video, posted May 11, is the most popular clip for the Woodridge Police Department yet, a spokesperson said.

According to the post, Sgt. Chrusciel was near the 75th St./Interstate 355 intersection facing east when the fireball appeared, cruising across the sky from left to right. While the fireball was bright, the police officer’s view was lucky. The city “did not receive any reports. The meteor occurred early in the morning, and many people were likely sleeping,” said Jim Hoff, a Village of Woodridge management analyst, in an email interview with

Read more at:

Spacex’s New Satellites Will Dodge Collisions Autonomously (And They’d Better)

“Within a year and a half, maybe two years, if things go well, SpaceX will probably have more satellites in orbit than all other satellites combined,” Elon Musk said last week.

This is an exaggeration. There are almost 2,000 operational satellites in space right now. But Thursday night’s launch of 60 satellites for a new internet network called Starlink is the first step towards that goal. Today, Musk’s space company said it expects to launch six more times in 2019, with the goal of operating 720 satellites by the end of the 2020, and eventually more than 4,000.

The Federal Communications Commission—the lead regulator for American satellites—approved these satellite, among 13,000 new satellites okayed in the last year. That huge number has many in the space community nervous about the potential for collisions with other satellites or with space debris.

Read more at: QZ

Wow! This Is What SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites Look Like in the Night Sky

You’ve never seen a night sky sight quite like this.

It’s been one day since SpaceX launched its first 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit, and a skywatching sleuth has already spotted them soaring across the night sky. Netherlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek stunned space fans tonight (May 24) with this jaw-dropping video of dozens of Starlink satellites soaring overhead.

It’s been one day since SpaceX launched its first 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit, and a skywatching sleuth has already spotted them soaring across the night sky. Netherlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek stunned space fans tonight (May 24) with this jaw-dropping video of dozens of Starlink satellites soaring overhead.

Read more at:

Could Microbes Live in Martian Dust? Mission Designers Are Thinking Ahead for Red Planet Crews

Could Mars have little microbes living in its dust? It seems difficult to imagine, with radiation bathing the planet’s surface and no water running in at least most Red Planet regions. But NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection is making plans for what to do if Martian microorganisms turn up.

At The Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, on May 16, NASA Planetary Protection Officer Lisa Pratt briefly brought up the possibility of Mars microbes in a panel discussion. She said that future explorers should be concerned about possible biological agents in the dust, but she clarified that nobody knows that life exists for sure anywhere on the Red Planet — let alone on the Martian surface.

Read more at:

This Weird Meteorite Crashed Through a Doghouse in Costa Rica. (The Dog’s Fine)

Rocky was napping in a doghouse in Costa Rica on April 23 when a small meteorite punctured the roof. The dog was unharmed, but couldn’t hope to match scientists’ interest in fetching the stray meteorite.

That’s because Rocky’s space rock was just one piece of a clay-rich meteorite that crashed to Earth over the town of Aguas Zarcas in Costa Rica. Clay-rich meteorites are scientifically fascinating, preserving water-rich minerals from beyond Earth. But they’re also fragile: Rain can cause this type of meteorite to fall apart. Hence scientists’ enthusiasm over Rocky’s sample and other fragments of the meteorite, which they estimate was about the size of a washing machine when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at:

Companies Encourage NASA To Press Ahead With LEO Commercialization Efforts

Companies interested in developing commercial space stations and related facilities in low Earth orbit are wondering if NASA’s support for such efforts has been overshadowed by the agency’s rush back to the moon.

NASA requested $150 million in fiscal year 2019 for new Commercial LEO Development program. The final omnibus spending bill for 2019, enacted in February, provided $40 million for that effort, with report language directing that money be used “for LEO port implementation analysis and other activities to enable future commercial activities at the International Space Station.”

Read more at: Spacenews

5G Spectrum And The Potential Weather Forecasting Apocalypse

A struggle is brewing between the nation’s weather and climate agencies and the wireless industry concerning 5G spectrum and the reliability of our weather forecasts.

Why it matters: The tug-of-war over a key swath of airwaves underscores the increasingly intense battle for coveted airwaves that power not only our smart phones but also other equipment critical for public safety, including weather forecasting.

  • Radio spectrum, a finite resource, will only become more scarce and sought after as demand for wireless technologies continues to explode.

Read more at: Axios

NASA Head Rules Out Spacex Rockets For 2024 Moon Mission

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday there’s only one way to get the first female astronaut to the moon’s south pole by 2024, and it won’t involve Elon Musk’s help.

“I want to be clear about SLS and Orion… SLS and Orion is the only system that gives us any chance of getting there in 2024,” he said. “We’ve looked at everything, we’ve considered everything and SLS and Orion, that is the system. And once it’s developed, we will use it over and over and over again.”

NASA’s plan, newly rebranded as “Artemis,” has always been to use SLS (Space Launch System) rockets and its sister Orion crew capsule to return humans to deep space, but the system isn’t ready yet. When the Trump administration moved up the moon mission by four years, Bridenstine and NASA considered alternatives.

Read more at: CNET

Virgin Orbit Conducts Crucial Hotfire Test

On May 21, 2019, commercial satellite launch company Virgin Orbit announced the successful completion of a full mission duty cycle hotfire test of the first stage of the company’s LauncherOne rocket.

The test firing was conducted last week at Virgin Orbit’s test site in Mojave, California, and lasted over three minutes, using all of the same equipment the company plans to use on actual orbital flights later this year.

“We have completed the most challenging, most important, and most successful test in the history of our rocket program: a full mission duty cycle hotfire of LauncherOne’s first stage,” the company announced in a tweet.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

An Embarrassment Of Rockets?

Some people see the proliferation of startups developing rocket engines as a sign of the space industry’s vibrancy. Jeff Greason calls it “f—ing insane.”

“It’s a sign of the immaturity of the industry,” Greason, former XCOR Aerospace co-founder and chief executive, said at the Space Access 2019 conference in Fremont, California, last month.

In every other transportation industry, vehicles adopt common engines because engine development is labor-intensive, time-consuming and requires a lot of specialized expertise, said Greason, who leads Agile Aero, a company focused on rapid prototyping for aerospace vehicles. “If you don’t divide that among many units of production, you’re not competitive.”

Read more at: Spacenews

From Airport To Spaceport As UK Targets Horizontal Spaceflight

Future spaceports can apply for a share of 2 million pounds to support plans for small satellite launch from aircraft and sub-orbital flight from the UK, Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced Wednesday.

Sites such as Newquay in Cornwall, Campbeltown and Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, and Snowdonia in Wales are already developing their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions. The 2 million pounds strategic development fund, opened by the UK Space Agency, will help sites like these accelerate their plans further.

Read more at: Spacedaily

NASA Taps 11 American Companies to Advance Human Lunar Landers

NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts – the first woman and next man – on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

“To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations,” said Marshall Smith, director for human lunar exploration programs at NASA Headquarters. “Our team is excited to get back to the Moon quickly as possible, and our public/private partnerships to study human landing systems are an important step in that process.”

Read more at: Moondaily

ULA Completes Final Design Review for New Vulcan Centaur Rocket

United Launch Alliance leaders and engineers completed an important milestone with the conclusion of the system Critical Design Review (CDR) for the company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The system-level CDR is the final review of the design for the overall rocket.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the ULA team and a significant milestone in the development of a rocket – signaling the completion of the design phase and start of formal qualification,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Vulcan Centaur is purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation’s space launch needs and its flight-proven design will transform the future of space launch and advance America’s superiority in space.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Space Tourism Is About to Push Civilian Astronaut Medicine Into the Final Frontier

For decades, access to space has been limited based on a set of preconceived beliefs about human bodies — but capitalism is chipping away at those restrictions.

Soon, people with enough money will be able to buy trips into space. And as wealth redefines the traditional “right stuff,” the field of space medicine will need to rethink its approach. The discipline will still need to evaluate and support human health within the context of spaceflight, but specialized space medicine professionals will exert much less control over who flies and who doesn’t.

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Surviving in Space: Why Going to Mars Is Even Tougher than You Thought

Engineers look up at the night sky, with its dazzling dot matrix of distant stars, and can’t help but think of the awesome spaceships they can build to get one small step closer. There’s nothing more technologically awe-inspiring than a gargantuan, flame-spewing rocket that looks gravity dead in the eye and says not today.

But there’s a less shiny side of space technology that demands every bit as much engineering attention, according to Dr. Nicole Buckley, Chief Scientist of Life Sciences at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Dr. Buckley’s job is to ask that quarrelsome question that complicates the whole spacefaring dream: can humans even survive in space?

Read more at: Engineering

Momentum Grows For Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

 With congressional funding and industry support, nuclear thermal propulsion technology is making progress for potential use on future NASA deep space missions, although how it fits into the agency’s exploration architectures remains uncertain.

The House Appropriations Committee approved May 22 a commerce, justice and science (CJS) appropriations bill that offers $22.3 billion for NASA. That funding includes $125 million for nuclear thermal propulsion development within the agency’s space technology program, compared to an administration request for no funding.

“The bill’s investment in nuclear thermal propulsion is critical as NASA works towards the design of a flight demonstration by 2024,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), ranking member of the CJS appropriations subcommittee, during that subcommittee’s markup of the bill May 17. He offered similar comments in support of that project at the full committee markup.

Read more at: Spacenews

Origami-Inspired Materials Could Soften The Blow For Reusable Spacecraft

Space vehicles like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 are designed to be reusable. But this means that, like Olympic gymnasts hoping for a gold medal, they have to stick their landings.

Landing is stressful on a rocket’s legs because they must handle the force from the impact with the landing pad. One way to combat this is to build legs out of materials that absorb some of the force and soften the blow.

University of Washington researchers have developed a novel solution to help reduce impact forces — for potential applications in spacecraft, cars and beyond. Inspired by the paper folding art of origami, the team created a paper model of a metamaterial that uses “folding creases” to soften impact forces and instead promote forces that relax stresses in the chain. The team published its results May 24 in Science Advances.

Read more at: Washington

House Appropriators Say No To Elevating Office Of Space Commerce

The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) said no to the Trump Administration’s proposal to elevate the Office of Space Commerce from NOAA to the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and merge it with NOAA’s Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA).  That keeps Trump Administration plans to make the Department of Commerce (DOC) the “one-stop shop” for commercial space in limbo.

DOC is funded in the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill, the same one that funds NASA.  The FY2020 bill was approved at subcommittee level last week and will face the full committee tomorrow.  The committee released the draft text of the report to accompany the bill today, which provides details on what the subcommittee recommended.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

The Political Reality of American Astronauts on the Moon by 2024

President Trump has decided that NASA should send American astronauts to land on the moon within five years. It is a risky political decision that could negatively affect the American space program.

When President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress in Washington on May 25, 1961 and declared that America should land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, it was political decision driven by the Cold War.

When Vice President Pence spoke at the Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council on March 26 in Huntsville, Alabama and announced that Americans would land astronauts on the moon within five years, it was a political decision driven in part by ego.

Read more at: SpaceQ

China’s Tech ‘Long March’ Could Be Road To Nowhere

China’s president has called for technological self-reliance in the escalating rivalry with America, but experts believe Beijing’s late start on tech and relatively backward capabilities could make that a mission impossible.

China has no doubt made an amazing transformation, from a former basket case wracked by mass famine and political upheaval to a highly connected society marked by growing use of renewable energy, a space programme, and bullet trains criss-crossing the country.

But a closer look reveals that while China is adept at assembling foreign technologies into commercially successful products at home, its ability to innovate remains deeply hampered, tech experts said.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Russia, Pakistan Call For International Efforts To Avoid Military Confrontation In Space

A month after Islamabad expressed concern over India’s anti-satellite missile test, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday signed a joint statement on no-first placement of weapons in outer space, on the side-lines of the SCO foreign ministers’ meet in Bishkek.

The two countries have agreed to “make all possible efforts to prevent Outer Space from becoming an arena for military confrontation and to ensure security in Outer Space activities”.

The development came against the backdrop of recent anti-satellite tests conducted by India, which Pakistan considers “a matter of grave concern” and “it would also be amiss to ignore the military dimension of such actions and its implications on the global and regional peace, stability and security”.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Crunch Time: Rocket Companies In All-Out Battle For Air Force Award

The U.S. Air Force has given United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin until Aug. 1 to submit their bids to become one of just two launch providers that will be entrusted to carry high-value national security payloads to orbit in the decade ahead.

After months of behind behind-the-scenes battles over the timing of the most consequential U.S. launch competition in the 20 years since the Air Force chose Atlas 5 and Delta 4 as its workhorse rockets, the battleground has shifted to theoretically neutral territory: the bid proposal.

But in the days since the May 3 release of the Air Force’s formal call for proposals for the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement, new squabbles have arisen as bidders scrutinize the final solicitation for anything that might tilt the competition in a rival’s favor.

Read more at: Spacenews

SASC OKs Space Force in 2020 Defense Policy Mark

The Senate Armed Services Committee endorses a Space Force in its version of the 2020 defense policy bill, becoming the first defense oversight panel to explicitly greenlight the proposal this year.

Under the proposal, Air Force Space Command would transform into the Space Force, changing from a major command to the sixth armed service and bringing existing AFSPC staff along, a committee aide told Air Force Magazine.

Senators approved the $750 billion authorization bill by a 25 to 2 vote in a closed markup May 22. 

Read more at: Airforcemag

Space Force Clears Senate Committee After House Attempt to Stall

One week after a House subcommittee rejected new funding for President Trump’s new Space Force, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of the new service branch for the U.S. military, but scaled back some of the administration’s proposal.

Senior committee aides speaking to reporters on Thursday were short on details, but the move marks the first time a Senate panel has voted to support a separate service for space. In the same measure, senators also called for an overhaul of how the military buys satellites and launch services.

“I think we’ve got a really good path ahead for not only a U.S.Space Force, but space acquisition in the long term,” a senior committee aide said Thursday after the Senate panel finished its review of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.

Read more at: Defenseone

House Appropriators Suggest Changes to Major Space Efforts

House appropriators want to pull more than $200 million from a key missile warning satellite program in fiscal 2020 and are linking it to the future of the Pentagon’s new Space Development Agency, according to the report accompanying the House Appropriations Committee’s version of the 2020 defense spending bill.

The Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program’s execution raises questions among lawmakers who are concerned about its steep uptick in proposed funding for 2020. The Air Force requested $1.4 billion for OPIR in 2020, three-quarters of a billion dollars above the 2019 spending level. HAC would shrink that to $1.2 billion, in its fiscal 2020 spending bill, which the committee approved with a vote of 30 to 22 on May 21.

Read more at: Airforcemag

India Claims New First For World’s Fastest Cruise Missile

India said the world’s fastest cruise missile passed another key test Wednesday when it successfully hit a land target after being fired from a fighter jet.

India is developing the supersonic BrahMos missile — which has a top speed of 3,450 kilometres (2,140 miles) per hour — with Russia, and according to media reports wants to soon start selling it abroad. The missile is one-and-a-half times faster than the old Concorde supersonic jet.

Read more at: Spacedaily

LSU Mechanical Engineering Alumnus Max Faget Remembered 50 Years After Moon Landing

Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong is rightfully remembered for taking man’s first steps on the moon nearly 50 years ago on July 20, 1969. Less well known, perhaps, is LSU Mechanical Engineering alumnus Maxime “Max” Faget, who designed the spacecraft responsible for that “giant leap for mankind.”

Born in Stann Creek, British Honduras (now Belize) in 1921, Faget was the son of American doctor Guy Henry Faget and the great-grandson of New Orleans doctor Jean Charles Faget. Guy Henry was famous for discovering the first effective treatment for leprosy using promin and also served as director of the United States Marine Hospital in Carville, La. Jean Charles is renowned for discovering the unique symptom of yellow fever, known as the Faget sign, which allowed early detection and quarantine. Unlike the men before him, however, Max took a different path in life.

Read more at: LSU

NASA Covers for SpaceX

Video footage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon space capsule exploding on the ground during an April 20 test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was leaked online by the next day. Yet SpaceX and NASA are unacceptably dragging their feet in explaining this taxpayer-financed fiasco in the American space program and thus continued SpaceX’s worrisome undue influence on government.

SpaceX’s April 20 press release with its “anomaly” euphemism was immediately contradicted by images provided by a photographer from a local Florida publication covering a surfing festival on a beach near Cape Canaveral. In the telling photos, toxic reddish smoke clouds billow upwards from the space center. The accident is a poor omen for the Crew Dragon, in which NASA wants to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more at: Americanthinker

A Government Coup by NASA’s Bureaucracy

The recent revelations in connection with the Russian-collusion scam as well as the efforts in the Justice Department, the FBI, and the CIA to spy on the Trump campaign and then work to overturn his 2016 victory have led many observers to conclude we’ve just witnessed a failed coup. As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway noted in April:

Yet, while cleaning house in the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department might do much to squelch any future power grabs from those quarters, it appears it will do little to end the unchecked expansion of power by the unelected federal bureaucracy. The general historical trend this scandal epitomizes and makes evident continues unabated throughout the entire federal government, and unless we take a wider view we are guaranteed to see similar coup attempts in the future.

Read more at: Amgreatness

Trump Taps Barbara Barrett, Former Aerospace Corporation Chairwoman, As Next Air Force Secretary

President Trump on Tuesday announced that he plans to nominate Barbara Barrett, a former chairwoman of the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation, to be the next secretary of the Air Force.

Trump revealed that he has settled on Barrett as the service’s 25th secretary in a tweet Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the conclusion of a farewell ceremony for departing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. Wilson will leave the Air Force at the end of the month to be the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

Read more at: Airforce times

Just Revealed Spacex Lawsuit Alleges Air Force ‘Wrongly Awarded’ Billions To Rocket Competitors

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in a previously secret lawsuit revealed on Wednesday, challenged the Air Force awarding $2.3 billion in rocket development contracts last year to competitors Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

SpaceX filed the complaint on Friday but asked that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims keep the motion “under seal,” saying that “the proceedings in this matter will involve SpaceX’s proprietary proposal information and source selection information that must be protected to safeguard the competitive process.” On Wednesday, a redacted version of the full 79-page complaint was posted on the federal court’s public system.

Read more at: CNBC

Sirangelo To NASA— Hi And Bye

Mark Sirangelo is leaving NASA after less than two months.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the news in a memo to employees.  Sirangelo was hired as a special assistant to Bridenstine to work on the Artemis Moon program with the expectation he would head a new Moon to Mars Mission Directorate. Congress nixed the reorganization plan, so Sirangelo is leaving.

Sirangelo is very well known in the space community primarily from his years as Vice President of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems Division where he led the Dream Chaser program.  He left last year and joined the University of Colorado Boulder as an “entrepreneur in residence.”

On April 8, Bridenstine announced that Sirangelo was joining NASA to take charge of developing a strategy and plan for putting humans back on the Moon by 2024 — recently named Artemis — and lead an agency restructuring to create a Moon to Mars Mission Directorate to implement it.

Read more at: Spacepolicy Online

Kennedy Space Center VAB Designer Calls Iconic Building His Proudest Accomplishment

Vero Beach resident Philip Franklin Moyer has had quite a life.

At 95 years old, he is not only a World War II veteran, but he also designed and constructed the largest single-story building in the world: the Vehicle Assembly Buildingat Kennedy Space Center.

Completed in 1966, the white and grey building, adorned with a 209-foot-tall American flag painted on the south side along with a 12,300-square-foot NASA logo, is a national landmark. It has stood the test of time throughout the duration of the Apollo missions and space shuttle program, and remains the only facility that has assembled a rocket that carried humans beyond low-Earth orbit and to the moon.

Read more at: Florida today

The Most Famous Women In NASA History

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Omega Celebrates ‘Iconic Hours’ Of Apollo 11 With New Speedmaster

A new chronograph captures the time, 50 years ago, when the first wristwatch was worn on the surface of the moon.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin became the second human to walk on the moon — and the first to wear a watch while doing so. Now, half a century later, the maker of that well-traveled timepiece has included that detail on the face of a new, limited edition watch created to commemorate the mission’s 50th anniversary.

“The 9 o’clock subdial shows Buzz Aldrin climbing down onto the lunar surface,” writes Omega on its website, describing the “Moonshine Gold” subdial that is laser engraved with Aldrin’s image on its newly-revealed Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition watch.

Read more at: Collectspace

Face to Face with George T. Whitesides: Reaching for the Stars

George T. Whitesides caught the space bug early in life.

“I have this distinct memory as an 11-year-old of looking up at the night sky where I grew up outside of Boston. It was one of those cold nights where you can see the stars really clearly and I remember saying to myself, ‘I’m going to go up there someday.’ ”

That someday for Whitesides and ultimately thousands of other members of the human race appears to be on the near horizon. And when it happens he will have played a pivotal role.

Read more at: abqjournal

Course: ISS Payloads Design and Operations Safety

ISS Payloads Design and Operations Safety Course