NASA Lit A Fire In Space To Keep Future Astronauts Safe (Video)

NASA deliberately set a fire in a spacecraft to see if a “smoke eater” and carbon dioxide scrubber could make future moon missions safer for astronauts.

The experiment, called Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration Project IV, or Saffire IV, continues a research program aimed at better understanding how fire behaves in space. There are six experiments planned in all, with each iteration taking place inside a cargo spacecraft, Cygnus, made by Northrop Grumman. This latest Saffire experiment focused on testing prototype equipment that could be used on Orion spacecraft bound for the moon, where NASA wants to land astronauts in 2024 under the Artemis program.

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NASA Gets Set To Put Astronauts On Blue Origin And Virgin Galactic Suborbital Flights

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine signaled today that astronauts would soon be cleared to take suborbital spaceflights aboard the commercial rocket ships being tested by Virgin Galactic and by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture.

“NASA is developing the process to fly astronauts on commercial suborbital spacecraft,” Bridenstine said in a tweet. “Whether it’s suborbital, orbital or deep space, NASA will utilize our nation’s innovative commercial capabilities.”

Bridenstine said the details will be laid out in a request for information to be released next week. Efforts to get further information from NASA Headquarters weren’t immediately successful.

Read more at: Geekwire

NASA Reveals What Could Be Source of ‘Elevated Benzene Level’ on ISS

The International Space Station is currently manned by Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner, as well as American astronauts Christopher Cassidy, Douglas Hurley, and Robert Behnken.

An increased level of toxic benzene inside the International Space Station (ISS) could be caused by the air filters installed in one of the American modules on board the space outpost, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Benzene is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke; it is used to make other chemicals for producing plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibres.

Read more at: Sputniknews

NASA Says SpaceX Can Reuse Crew Dragon Capsules And Rockets On Astronaut Missions: Report

NASA astronauts will soon start flying on used SpaceX vehicles, if all goes according to plan.

The agency has approved the use of preflown Crew Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets on SpaceX’s crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceNews reported Tuesday (June 16).

The green light comes via a recent modification of the $2.6 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract that SpaceX signed with NASA in 2014, SpaceNews’ Jeff Foust wrote.

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Israeli Doctors To Blast Bacteria Into Orbit, Readying For Space-Based Medicine

An Israeli hospital is preparing to launch 20 million bacteria into space in order to carry out an experiment that it says will prepare for the medical needs of space tourism, and advance research to combat the “global health threat” of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

As soon as the weather clears over The Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, a small chip containing E. coli bacteria will blast off on the Arianespace company’s Flight VV16.

It had been originally due to launch Friday morning, but was delayed due to bad weather.

Read more at: TimesofIsrael

Coronavirus Pandemic Likely To Leave Its Mark On Space Industry Conferences

In early April as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation or postponement of one space conference after another, the Catalyst Accelerator made a surprising announcement.

The startup accelerator backed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate invited representatives of small businesses, government agencies and large corporations to Colorado Springs for a three-day event in July called Tech Collisions.

“Although virtual engagements are very effective for those separated by distance or pandemics, there are aspects of in-person gatherings that cannot be duplicated on virtual formats,” said KiMar Gartman, Catalyst Accelerator program director.

Read more at: Spacenews


Mysterious Blue Fireball Streaks Above Western Australia, Puzzling Astronomers

A streak of blue light that flashed across the sky on Monday surprised western Australia’s night owls and befuddled the astronomy community. 

The blue fireball was seen at 1 a.m. local time on June 15, according to ABC News Pilbara. “It was really a spectacular observation,” Glen Nagle, the education and outreach manager at the CSIRO-NASA tracking station in Canberra, told the news agency. Sightings were reported across the remote Pilbara region as well as in the country’s Northern Territory and in South Australia, Nagle said.

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How The Coronavirus Pandemic Can Help Us Prepare For An Asteroid Impact

The emergency preparedness activities now underway to combat the coronavirus pandemic offer insight about our readiness to deal with a dangerous incoming asteroid, experts say.

Humanity can learn some valuable lessons about planetary defense from the things that have gone right and wrong in the coronavirus fight, according to asteroid scientists and an authority on emergency preparedness.

“Speaking for myself, the novel coronavirus is a good case study of mistakes to avoid when planning to prevent an asteroid impact,” said Thomas Jones, a scientist, author and retired NASA astronaut who flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. He chairs the Association of Space Explorers’ Near Earth Objects Committee.

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Using Sunlight To Save Satellites From A Fate Of ‘Space Junk’

No satellite stays the same once launched into space. How much it changes can go unnoticed – until something bad happens.Carolin Frueh is among only a handful of researchers who have persisted in using a complex technique that can diagnose a problem from thousands of miles away based on how the satellite reflects sunlight.“While you’re driving a car, you can’t get out of the car to check if something has fallen off or gotten damaged. But you know that there might be a problem,” said Frueh (pronounced “free”), an assistant professor in Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Read more at: Purdue

How The White House Agenda For Managing Space Traffic Got Jammed Up

Little progress has been made in the two years since President Donald Trump issued directive ordering federal agencies to update the process for tracking objects in space, says Andrew D’Uva, the president of Providence Access Company, a technology and satellite consulting firm, and an expert on satellite regulations.

Trump signed Space Policy Directive-3 in June 2018 to improve the technology used to track objects in space and update the guidelines for how to handle space junk.

Read more at: Politico

Commerce Department Hopes Study Will Free Up Funding For Space Traffic Management Work

Two years after a space policy directive gave it responsibility for space traffic management, the Commerce Department says it is making progress on implementing that policy as it continues to seek additional funding from Congress.

On June 18, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited the headquarters of Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) outside of Philadelphia for a briefing on its commercial space traffic management (STM) efforts. AGI operates the Commercial Space Operations Center, which collects space situational awareness data to provide satellite operators with warnings of potential close approaches, or conjunctions, between objects in orbit.

Read more at: Spacenews

Death From Above? Fireball May Have Destroyed Ancient Syrian Village

Debris from a comet may have leveled an ancient village in Syria during a spate of several such explosions occurring around the world, according to new research.

The village of Abu Hureyra was a mound settlement in northern Syria around 13,000 years ago. The site was quickly excavated in 1972 and 1973, before the Euphrates River was dammed, flooding the site beneath Lake Assad. But the hurried excavations exposed charcoal-rich surfaces containing glass spheres formed from melting soil, melted iron- and sulfur-rich samples, and nanodiamonds.

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Reducing The Risk Of Space Debris Collision

As humanity expands its horizons beyond the Earth and begins to consider space missions with extended duration, sustainability necessitates the launch of more space vehicles, increasing the risk of collision with existing space debris. One method of clearing this debris involves a tug vehicle dragging it to a safe region. In a new paper published in EPJ Special Topics, authors Antônio Delson Conceição de Jesus and Gabriel Luiz F. Santos, both from the State University of Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil, model the complex rendezvous manoeuvres a tug vehicle clearing space debris would have to undergo to mitigate the risk of a collision that could cause irreparable damage at the moment of coupling.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Protecting Earth From Asteroid Impact With A Tethered Diversion

Our planet exists within the vicinity of thousands of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), some of which – Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)-carry the risk of impacting Earth causing major damage to infrastructure and loss of life. Methods to mitigate such a collision are highly desirable. A new paper published in EPJ Special Topics, authored by Flaviane Venditti, Planetary Radar Department, Arecibo Observatory, University of Central Florida, Arecibo, suggests the use of a tether assisted system to prevent PHA impact.

The method suggested by Venditti and her colleagues involves using the tether – previously suggested for other uses, such as space/lunar elevators and tethered satellite system -to connect the threatening PHA to another, smaller, asteroid, thus changing the centre of mass of the two and hopefully raising the PHA to a safer orbit.

Read more at: Eurekalert


This Startup Wants to Fly Humans to Space In a ‘Hot Air Balloon’ For Weddings

The budding space tourism business is looking increasingly like a full-blown industry with something for everyone. Besides high-speed sub-orbital flight packages touted by companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, aspiring space travelers will soon have the option to fly to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere in a much more relaxed way, without the discomfort of being strapped into a rocket and traveling at supersonic speed.

On Thursday, a startup named Space Perspective, launched by the founders of space exploration company World View Enterprises, unveiled a hot-balloon-like space vessel, called “Spaceship Neptune,” that aims to carry up to eight passengers at a time to the stratosphere for a six-hour joy ride in the next three to four years.

Read more at: Observer

The European Rocket Challenging Spacex And Rocket Lab In The Growing U.S. Small Satellite Market

A host of small satellites manufactured in the United States are set to launch on a rocket from South America on Saturday, in a mission that represents the foreign competition to U.S. rocket builders like SpaceX and Rocket Lab.

The Vega rocket, built by Italian aerospace manufacturer Avio and operated by French rocket company Arianespace, has a multinational European background. But, after almost a year hiatus following a launch failure, Arianespace is hoping Vega’s return to flight will help the company claim a larger part of the growing U.S. market of small satellites.

Read more at: CNBC

NRO To Increase Investments In Commercial Space Technology

The National Reconnaissance Office is keeping an eye on the commercial space industry and is looking for opportunities to use private sector-funded technologies to support intelligence and defense agencies, a senior official said.

“We’re tracking what’s going on in the commercial realm and we’re thinking about how we can adapt, both processes and technology, to take better advantage of that,” Intelligence Community Space Executive John Paul Parker said on a June 17 podcast hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Parker, a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, oversees a new office created to increase collaboration and innovation in the intelligence space enterprise.

Read more at: Spacenews

UK-US Sign Agreement On Space Launch Technology

Britain and America have signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will make it much easier for US firms to bring rocket hardware into the UK.

Ordinarily, very tight restrictions apply to the movement of such equipment because of its dual-use nature. The agreement is therefore a must-have if US companies like Virgin Orbit and Lockheed Martin are to start launching satellites from Britain.

But this is not just about rockets; it’s the whole component supply chain that should now open up as well.

Read more at: BBC

Elon Musk Developing Floating Spaceports To Take Humans To Moon, Mars

Elon Musk is building floating spaceports at least 35 kms from the coastline and would be used for launching starship rockets to the Moon, mars and even hypersonic travel around Earth.

The floating spaceports would be accessed via tunnels dug under the water and Musk-owned The Boring Company would construct those.

“SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, Moon & hypersonic travel around Earth,” Musk tweeted. Starship is the next-generation transportation system designed to take people to and from the moon, Mars and anywhere on Earth.

Read more at: Livemint


Massive SLS Rocket Test: NASA to Apply Millions of Pounds of Force to Try to Break Oxygen Tank Structure

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program is concluding its structural qualification test series with one upcoming final test that will push the design for the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank to its limits at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

In the name of science, engineers will try to break a structural test article of the tank — on purpose. The liquid oxygen tank’s structure is identical to the tank that is part of the SLS core stage, which will provide power to help launch the Artemis missions to the Moon.

Read more at: scitech daily

Electrically Charged Dust Storms Drive Martian Chlorine Cycle

How’s the weather on Mars? Tough on rovers, but very good for generating and moving highly reactive chlorine compounds. New research from Washington University in St. Louis planetary scientists shows that Martian dust storms, like the one that eventually shut down the Opportunity rover, drive the cycle of chlorine from surface to atmosphere and may shed light on the potential for finding life on Mars.

Recent research from Alian Wang, research professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, and collaborators at WashU, Stony Brook University, Shandong University, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center builds on a previous examination of Martian dust storms as an essential factor in the chemical evolution of the red planet’s surface.

Read more at: Eurekalert

The US Military Is Getting Serious About Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

There are many ways to get around space, but most of them are pretty slow. This is why, even when launching at an optimal time, a spacecraft leaving Earth requires about six months to reach orbit around Mars.

For decades, many rocket scientists have looked to a propulsion system powered by a nuclear reactor as the fastest practical means of getting to Mars and other places in the Solar System more quickly.

Read more at: Arstechnica

The Space Station’s New Toilet Will Undergo Mars Mission Conditions

This week NASA announced a new space toilet would be installed aboard the International Space Station, introducing a Universal Waste Management System that may one day accompany astronauts into deep space, including projected missions to Mars.

In response to emailed questions, Melissa McKinley, UWMS project manager and principal investigator, described the new toilet as “the next generation in urine and fecal collection for use in space travel.”

The UWMS will be first deployed aboard the space station, where its operation in microgravity environments and capacity for recycling urine into drinking water will be demonstrated, while hopefully providing data on its use in future space voyages.

Read more at: Newsweek

UK Space Sector Gets A Boost With The Installation Of A Giant New Satellite Test Chamber

The UK’s space industry has received a major piece of new equipment to help get larger, more complex satellites ready for launch. A 16m long space test chamber, amongst the giants of Europe, has been installed in the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility.

The Large Space Test Chamber will test spacecraft for the harsh conditions of space including extreme temperatures from -180°C to +100°C

Read more at: Ralspace

NASA Astrobiologists Progressing on Antiviral Solutions for COVID-19

Astrobiologists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program are applying their diverse skillset to the development of treatments for patients infected by COVID-19.

The effort centers around the work of Professor Rachel Martin at the University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine). Martin is a principal investigator (PI) with the Exobiology program and her research focuses on predicting the properties of proteases found in extremophilic microorganisms on Earth. In particular, her team studies protease in microbes from very cold environments.

Read more at: scitechdaily


Russia Ready To Discuss Space Activities As Part Of Dialogue With US — Ministry

Russia ready to discuss problems of activities in outer space within the Russian-US dialogue the agreement on which was reached in January, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday following the release of the United States’ defense space strategy.

“We see a possibility to remove mutual concerns within a comprehensive meaningful Russian-US dialogue on a wide spectrum of issues of security of space activities. An agreement to organize such dialogue was reach back on January 16,” the ministry said. “We reiterate our readiness to discuss all the problems of space activities between representatives from the both sides’ agencies and organizations concerned.”

Read more at: TASS

The Case for US-Japan Space Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

On May 18, about six months after the United States established the Space Force, Japan launched a new Space Operations Squadron. These moves by the two allies reflect the importance that each country attaches to outer space given its key role for information technology, military strategy, and the economy.

The U.S. and Japanese actions in outer space are also unfolding in the larger context of intensifying strategic competition.

Read more at: Diplomat

NOAA’s Jacobs Cited for Scientific Misconduct in Sharpiegate

Neil Jacobs, the acting head of NOAA, was cited in a report released today as having engaged in scientific misconduct in Sharpiegate, where someone used a Sharpie pen to include Alabama in a threatened area from Hurricane Dorian last year. Jacobs’s nomination to get the NOAA job permanently is pending in the Senate.

Jacobs is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction. Since February 2019 he has been the acting head of NOAA.

NOAA has not had a permanent head since the Trump Administration began.

Read more at: Spacepolicyonline


DOD Issues Defense Space Strategy

The Department of Defense rolled out a Defense Space Strategy (DSS) today in response to what it sees as Russian and Chinese weaponization of space. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the United States wants a stable and secure space domain, but our adversaries have made it a warfighting domain and we must respond.

At a Pentagon press conference today, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay said Russia and China pose a great strategic threat with their development, testing and deployment of counterspace systems and associated doctrine.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Roscosmos Urges Pentagon To Prevent Potential Space Arms Race

Russia’s space corporation, Roscosmos, is advocating the adoption of a resolution to prevent an arms race in space as a response to the defense space strategy developed by the Pentagon, said Sergei Savelyev, Roscosmos Deputy Director General.

“”We act consistently on all possible venues including, in particular, the Conference on Disarmament, in order to adopt a resolution to prevent an arms race in space,” Savelyev was quoted in the statement by Roscosmos on Thursday.

Read more at: TASS

Space Force Invokes Defense Production Act To Prop Up Small Launch Market

The Space and Missile Systems Center will award ride-share contracts to six small launch providers under the Defense Production Act, providing support to a market the Pentagon has repeatedly said is vulnerable to coronavirus-related financial restraints.

The six companies approved by the Industrial Base Council are Aevum, Astra, X-BOW, Rocket Lab USA, Space Vector and VOX Space. Each company will be awarded sole-source contracts for two ride-share missions to be conducted over the next 24 months. The value of the contracts was not included in the announcement originally posted on on June 16.

Read more at: c4isrnet

Russia, France Could Counter Militarization Of Space Together, Policymaker Suggests

Chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev sees opportunities for interaction between Russia and France on preventing the militarization of space. He stated that during a meeting of the committee and the French Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, where a second joint report on Russian-French relations was discussed.

“The issue of the militarization of space is extremely important. If we don’t pool our efforts now, at some point an arms race could erupt in space which would be equally difficult to stop as it is currently impossible to stop an arms race on Earth.

Read more at: TASS

UK Seeking To Scale Back Plans For Independent Satnav, Report Says

British ministers are seeking to scale back plans for a £5bn satellite navigation system that was introduced in 2018 as an alternative to the EU’s Galileo project, it has been reported.

The ministers are exploring other options, which include using OneWeb, the UK satellite operator that went bankrupt in March, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.

OneWeb has pledged to move its satellite production from Florida in the US to the UK if its management wins government support for its bid, according to the report.

Read more at: Guardian


Boeing Shifts Its Team Leaders For Space Station And Starliner Space Programs

As a new commercial-centric era dawns for the International Space Station, Boeing is realigning its top managers for the space station program — and for the program that’s working to send Starliner capsules there and back.

Mark Mulqueen, who has served as Boeing’s space station program manager since 2015, will be retiring July 2. During his 35 years at Boeing, Mulqueen has served in a variety of management positions — for example, as deputy program manager for the space station and deputy program manager for the commercial crew program.

Read more at: Geekwire

NASA’s Space Station Program Manager Retiring From Agency

Kirk Shireman, NASA’s program manager for the International Space Station, is retiring from the space agency later this month to take a position in private industry.

NASA has appointed Joel Montalbano, the deputy ISS program manager, to take over as acting program manager effective June 26, when Shireman is scheduled to leave the agency.

Shireman has served as ISS program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston since 2015, when he replaced Mike Suffredini as head of the space stage program. Suffredini held the job from 2005 until 2015 before leaving to take over as chief executive of Axiom Space, a Houston-based company that seeks to fly commercial astronauts to the space station, and eventually build a privately-operated space complex in low Earth orbit.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Jim Taiclet Becomes New Lockheed Martin President And CEO

In a planned leadership transition, experienced chief executive, Gulf War veteran and pilot James D. Taiclet, 60, today became president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation [NYSE: LMT]. He succeeds Marillyn A. Hewson, 66, who has served as chairman, president and CEO since 2014 and president and CEO since 2013. Taiclet will continue to serve as a member of the corporation’s board, which he joined in 2018. Hewson will become executive chairman of the board and provide ongoing support for the leadership transition.

“As a former military pilot, I understand the mission of this great corporation to provide global security and innovative solutions for the brave men and women who protect our freedom,” Taiclet said.

Read more at: lockheed martin

Of Frogs and Princes: Remembering Shuttle Mission 51G, OTD in 1985

Thirty-five years ago today, on 17 June 1985, a spacecraft roared aloft with a crew representing the largest number of nations ever flown into space and carrying the largest load of satellites ever put into space at that time by a crewed vehicle. Aboard veteran shuttle Discovery for Mission 51G—the fourth of nine flights undertaken by NASA’s fleet of reusable orbiters that year—were U.S. astronauts Dan Brandenstein, John “J.O.” Creighton, Shannon Lucid, John Fabian and Steve Nagel, together with Frenchman Patrick Baudry and Saudi Arabia’s first man in space, Prince Sultan Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

Read more at: America space

Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr., 1940-2020

Retired Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr., a key leader in the formation of Air Force space organizations and a former Air Force vice chief of staff, died June 17 at age 79.

Gen. Jay Raymond, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations and head of U.S. Space Command, described Moorman as “a friend and long-time mentor” whose legacy will be “forever … etched in the establishment of U.S. Air Force Space Command.” Raymond said Moorman “played a pivotal role in establishing both national and Defense Department space programs, while laying the foundation for today’s U.S. Space Force.”

Read more at: airforcemag

Everything We Know—And Don’t—About Tom Cruise’s Plans To Film A Movie In Space

For some in the space community, it sounded like the rehash of an old rumor: “Tom Cruise Plots Movie To Shoot In Space…” read the headline of a Deadline Hollywood article published last month.

The “exclusive”—all three paragraphs of it—was short on details, but the mention of Cruise and space was all that was needed for other publications to want to run with the story and for social media to light up with the news.

Read more at: Arstechnica

11th IAASS Conference – Poster A2