Rocket Developed by Japan Startup in Flames After Liftoff

A rocket developed by a Japanese startup company burst into flames seconds after a failed liftoff Saturday in northern Japan.

The MOMO-2 rocket, developed by Interstellar Technologies, was launched in Taiki town on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. It was supposed to reach as high as 100 kilometers (62 miles) into space.

Television footage showed that the 10-meter (33-foot) pencil rocket lifted only slightly from its launch pad before dropping to the ground, disappearing in a fireball. Footage on NHK public television showed a charred rocket lying on the ground.

The incident caused no injuries. Interstellar Technologies president Takahiro Inagawa said he believes the rocket suffered a glitch in its main engine.

Read more at: ABC News

Rocket Lab’s First Commercial Launch Grounded to Fix Nagging Technical Issue

Rocket Lab will bypass its current launch window to resolve a recurring problem with a motor controller on the company’s light-class Electron rocket, officials said Thursday, likely postponing its first commercial satellite launch at least a few weeks.

The indefinite delay is the second time the U.S.-New Zealand launch company, which is on the cusp of commencing commercial launch services after two test flights, has given up on a two-week launch window to examine the motor controller issue.

“The team is standing down from this launch window to take a closer look at the motor controller behavior again. We’re still not happy with the data, and as we all know, the only metric that counts in the launch business is 100% mission success,” Rocket Lab tweeted Thursday.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Complexity, Human Errors & Other Factors Delay Webb Telescope Launch Again, Now to 2021

The most sophisticated and ambitious space-based observatory ever conceived by the human mind, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will not be ready to launch until AT LEAST Spring of 2021, according to a report this week by an Independent Review Board (IRB) established by NASA to assess the JWST program.

JWST is one of NASA’s most ambitious, complex and expensive projects ever, but has been plagued with problems and delays ever since it entered development in 1999. And while such projects of technological sophistication will always face various unforeseen challenges, JWST has faced so many that it will now launch a decade later than originally planned (at least), and will require the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the highly-anticipated mission, because it has now gone over its cost cap set by Congress in 2011.

The House of Representatives’ appropriations committee on Commerce, Justice, and Science moved to kill the JWST all together in 2011, citing numerous delays, cost overruns, and poor management, but Congress reversed the cancellation plans and instead capped additional funding at $8 billion—four times more expensive than originally proposed.

Read more at: America space

No, China’s Tiangong-2 Space Lab (Probably) Isn’t About to Fall to Earth

China’s second space lab dived unexpectedly toward Earth this month, just two months after its predecessor crashed uncontrolled into our planet’s atmosphere.

The uncrewed Tiangong-2 vehicle descended about 59 miles (95 kilometers) two weeks ago, then popped back up to its previous 242-mile-high (390 km) orbit on June 22, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who keeps tabs on many of the more interesting objects circling Earth.

The initial dip prompted some speculation that China was preparing to deorbit Tiangong-2. But the boost back up to 242 miles suggests that something else is going on, McDowell said. (The evidence of these maneuvers comes from tracking data gathered by the U.S. government.)

Read more at:

ISS Orbit Raised by 700 Meters Before Progress Spacecraft Blastoff

The Russian Flight Control Center conducted another maneuver on Saturday to adjust the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) raising it by 700 meters, the Center informed TASS.

“The maneuver was carried out at 11:15 Moscow time with the help of the engines of the Progress MS-08 cargo spaceship, which worked for 208 seconds,” the Flight Control Center said. The maneuver raised the medium altitude of the ISS’ flight orbit by 700 meters to 404,91 km, the Center added.

The maneuver was initially scheduled for June 21, but specialists put it off until June 23 for ballistic reasons. It was conducted to create ballistic conditions ahead of the launch of the Progress MS-09 cargo spacecraft to the ISS, which is scheduled to blast off from the Baikonur Space Center on July 10.

Read more at: TASS

Virgin Orbit Gears Up for Captive Carry Test Flight

Virgin Orbit is planning a key test of its LauncherOne system as soon as next week, a final step before the vehicle’s first launch later this summer.

In a speech at the NewSpace 2018 Conference here June 27, Stephen Eisele, vice president of business development of Virgin Orbit, said that company was gearing up for a “captive carry” test of its air-launch rocket, flown on a customized Boeing 747.

“We’re going to be doing our next major milestone in probably a little over a week, which is going to be a captive carry test,” he said. On that test, the 747 will take off with the LauncherOne rocket attached to its wing, but not launched. That flight, he said, will gather “flutter and aerodynamics testing” data. “The next test after that is the first orbital flight.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Spaceport Loses Facebook as Potential Client

Facebook’s plans for a massive drone to beam internet access to underserved communities across the globe has crashed and burned, and along with it plans to test the aircraft at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

The social media giant announced in a blog Wednesday that it’s terminating efforts to build the Aquila, a solar-powered drone with a wing span the size of a Boeing 737, which Facebook has been working on since 2014 after acquiring the U.K.-based aerospace firm Ascenta.

The company had investigated logistics for flight testing and other research and development in New Mexico. It even signed a short-term lease with the Spaceport and worked with facility officials in 2016 and 2017 on site preparation.

Read more at: Abq journal

The Future of the Johnson Space Center is Up in the Air

The three men have traveled 1,400 miles from Houston to Washington, D.C. on a mission, and they’re not alone. Close to 100 citizens have descended on the capital to make the case for the country’s continued investment in its space program, as they do for three days each and every year. But today the agenda for these three is a little different. They’re not just advocating for the American space program—they’re advocating for Houston’s role in the American space program. And they’ve agreed to let Houstonia tag along with them through Washington’s corridors of power.

These utterly tireless men—who will troop six miles through the course of this rainy day in May—are Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin, and Texas State Representative Dennis Paul. All are Republicans charged in some way with protecting the Johnson Space Center, and all are here on behalf of Citizens for Space Exploration, a multistate nonprofit organization based in Houston.

Read more at: Houstonian

Spaceflight Launch Services Company Adds Virgin Orbit and Cosmic Girl to its Lineup

Seattle-based Spaceflight has a new product to offer customers who want to get small satellites up and running: Virgin Orbit’s air-launch system.

Virgin Orbit’s system, which involves sending its two-stage LauncherOne rocket into orbit from a converted Boeing 747 jet dubbed Cosmic Girl, isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. But it’s due to become available soon, and when the rockets start flying, they’ll offer Spaceflight’s clients something that’s been hard to get up to now.

Melissa Wuerl, Spaceflight’s director of business development, said her company’s customers have been asking for launch opportunities that can put small satellites into low- to mid-latitude orbital inclinations that stick close to Earth’s equator.

Read more at: Geekwire

The White House is Calling for Space Traffic Control

Officials at the White House announced a new space policy directive last week, focused on managing the increasing numbers of satellites that companies and governments are launching into space. Space Policy Directive-3 lays out general guidelines for the United States to mitigate the effects of space debris and track and manage traffic in space. The news was announced last week at the meeting of the National Space Council, but was quickly overshadowed by President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement indicating that he wished to establish an independent military branch focused on space.

As the name implies, this is the third space directive issued by the current administration since the reinstatement of the National Space Council in June 2017. The first directive pushed for humans to return to the moon. The second indicated a desire for an updated regulatory framework to manage the increasing volume of commercial spacecraft.

Read more at: Popular Science

Safety Must be Top Priority as Rockets Get Integrated Into National Airspace System

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and representatives of three commercial space launch companies told Congress today that safety must be the top priority as space launches are integrated into the National Airspace System (NAS).  The increasing cadence of launches and growing number of spaceports make that integration essential.  Information technology (IT), such as the FAA’s new Space Data Integrator, will be one of the solutions.

ALPA, Blue Origin, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) testified to the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) at a hearing on stakeholder perspectives on revising commercial space launch regulations.

President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2) last month, which gave the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) a deadline of February 1, 2019 to review and revise its regulations.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

ALPA Raises Space Ops Concerns

Congress needs to take action now to ensure that commercial space operations are safely integrated into the national airspace, ALPA president Tim Canoll told the U.S. House aviation subcommittee on Tuesday. The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation must work with the industry to develop standards for communication, navigation and surveillance, Canoll said, and certify that space flights are compatible with aviation operations. Congress also needs to develop comprehensive regulations that ensure safety in space-vehicle design and flight-crew qualification, training and certification, he said. The committee members also heard from officials from Blue Origin, SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance.

Audrey Powers, deputy general counsel for Blue Origin, told the committee the existing regulatory environment is “cumbersome,” noting that her company must comply not only with FAA regulations but also U.S. Air Force requirements.

Read more at: Avweb

Congress Looks to Boost Commercial Space Transport

Lawmakers on Tuesday held a hearing on commercial space transportation with executives testifying on ways to boost their growing industry.

The hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation comes as the Federal Aviation Administration is in the midst of a review to reform its regulation of the industry.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), the chairman of the subcommittee, praised the “tremendous growth for the industry” and FAA efforts to streamline regulations. “There have been more FAA licensed launches in this first half of 2018 than there were in all of 2016,” he said in his opening remarks. But Democrats on the committee questioned if the one-year time frame for FAA to review its regulations was enough.

Read more at: Hill

House Science Committee Approves Space Traffic Management Bill

The House Science Committee approved a bill June 27 that would give the Commerce Department new responsibilities for space traffic management despite opposition by some Democrats that the bill “rubber stamps” the administration’s space policy.

The committee favorably reported on a voice vote H.R. 6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Framework for Entity (SAFE) Management Act. The legislation, announced by the committee June 22, would authorize the Commerce Department to provide space traffic management services, such as collision warnings, to civil and commercial satellite operators within one year of the bill’s enactment.

Read more at: Spacenews

Viewpoint: Space Congestion Threatens to ‘Darken Skies’

In 2014, John Charles of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency coined the term the “darkening skies,” to highlight the emerging challenge to both national security and commercial interests by the proliferation of satellites, particularly in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

His prediction was that Earth observation satellites would become ubiquitous, presenting an array of potential threats to both mission and infrastructure. However, while those satellites have indeed increased rapidly, it is the mega-array communication satellite constellations which are likely to be the tipping point for this congestion.

Read more at: National Degense Magazine

Boeing Constellation Stalled, SpaceX Constellation Progressing

Boeing is not actively building any satellites for the constellation it proposed to U.S. regulators two years ago, an industry executive said June 25.

“We have a filing but we haven’t really started developing it yet, so I would call that not really moving forward,” Dawn Harms, vice president of global sales and marketing at Boeing Satellite Systems International, said at the CASBAA Satellite Industry Forum here.

Boeing has applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for a constellation numbering between 1,396 and 2,956 satellites in low Earth orbit for global internet access. Since that application, which has yet to be approved, the company has revealed little about progress with the constellation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Al Maktoum International to Become a ‘Cosmic Super-port’ Handling Hypersonic and Space Aircraft in Future

Dubai is known for its aviation vision – home to Emirates, the world’s largest international airline. Now another special chapter is about to open in the emirate’s aviation story. Al Maktoum Airport will be reinvented as an aviation hub that can handle air and space travel.

The move was announced on Wednesday and it means subsonic, supersonic, hypersonic and even space planes will be able to use the facility.

Dubai has called this proposed new airport a “multi-mode super-port”. Further details were not immediately to hand but the move is part of the Dubai 10X initiative with Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects working on the project in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation.

Read more at: National

Commercial Spaceports Still Waiting for Liftoff

Last summer, a slim red-and-black rocket blasted off from a vacant industrial site in swampy south Georgia. The rocket was 40 feet tall, about a tenth of the size of the rockets that sent the first astronauts to the moon, but it represents an increasingly important part of the space industry: rockets designed to take small satellites into orbit.

If local officials have their way, the August test flight will be the first of many launches at the Camden County facility. Local leaders are seeking federal permission to develop a commercial spaceport there, a project they hope will attract space-related jobs to the largely rural area.

“The spaceport’s the catalyst,” said County Administrator Steve Howard, who’s in charge of the project. He envisions a research park set up near the launch and landing sites, complete with services for small businesses and startups.

Read more at: pewtrusts

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher: Private Space Pioneer

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was one of the earliest advocates in Congress for laws to help encourage a private space industry, authoring the first commercial space legislation as far back as 2004.

The California Republican, a senior member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee who also served as chairman of the space subcommittee for eight years, has seen the fruits of those efforts pay off in a what he calls “billions of dollars that are being invested by the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Atlantic, you name it.”

But he also believes that the government still needs to be more willing to let such private space innovators take on a greater role in the space program.

Read more at: Politico

Rocket Report: Small Sat Market Surging, Proton Dying, Falcon Heavy Certified

Welcome to Edition 1.06 of the Rocket Report! We’re coming to you this week from Kourou, French Guiana, where the European Space Agency has its spaceport. We’re here at the agency’s invitation to see the facilities, better understand its launch program, speak with key officials about the Ariane 6 booster, and more. Expect more coverage in the days and weeks to come on Ars Technica.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below. Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Hunt Underway for Chunks of Massive Meteor that Splashed Down off Washington

Scientists onboard the EV Nautilus started their search for meteorite fragments Monday and continued through the afternoon. They plan to announce their findings — if any — Tuesday morning. You can follow the hunt live online and send questions.

The crew didn’t spot any large chunks that might be space rocks. But they have used underwater robots to “slurp up” multiple sediments samples. Scientists planned to sort through the sediment Monday evening. The water at a depth of about 300 feet was murky due to surface swells of six to 12 feet.

Brittany Bryson was sitting at a fast-food drive-up in Ocean Shores the evening of March 7 when a bright flash lit the sky, followed by a boom so loud it rattled her car. Minutes later she fielded a frantic call from her sister, who had been outside with Bryson’s kids. “They thought it was a spaceship,” she recalled.

Read more at: Seattle Times

Daytime Fireball Over Russia on June 21

On 21 June 2018, a very bright fireball occurred over western Russia around 01:15 UT (04:15 LT). The event was captured on video and caused a lot of public attention. The event has been reported by witnesses from the cities of Kursk, Lipetsk, Voronzeh and Orel. Many of them reported a loud sonic boom.

CNEOS/JPL analysis of US Government sensor data found a time of 01:16:20 UT and a location of 52.8 N, 38.1 E. The velocity was determined to be 14.4 km/s and the source energy was estimated to be 2.8 kt TNT.

The fireball was also detected in infrasound by initially 4 stations for the International Monitoring System (IMS) as tweeted by the CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

Read more at: IMO

Space Junk Clean-up Demonstrator Deployed from Space Station

A small satellite assembled in Britain has been released from the International Space Station, commencing a standalone mission to test technology and techniques that could be used to capture and de-orbit space junk in low Earth orbit.

Loaded with experiments crafted by engineers across Europe, the RemoveDebris spacecraft has powered up and is undergoing checkouts after its deployment June 20 from the space station’s Canadian robotic arm.

The cube-shaped spacecraft measures about 3 feet (1 meter) on each side, and weighed about 220 pounds (100 kilograms when it launched April 2 from Cape Canaveral inside a SpaceX Dragon supply ship.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

High-Tech Firepower: Russia Develops New Space Laser Cannon

A company affiliated with the Russian space agency Roscosmos is reportedly moving to develop a powerful new laser capable of evaporating targets in orbit for the benefit of all mankind.

Researchers at the Scientific and Industrial Corporation ‘Precision Instrument Systems’ (NPK SPP), a subsidiary of Roscosmos, are developing a new technology which would allow for the vaporizing of potentially harmful space debris via a focused laser beam, according to a report submitted to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The proposal drafted by the scientists involves creating “an optic detection system which includes a solid-state laser and a transmit/receive adaptive optical system.”

Read more at: Spacewar

Russian Nuclear Energy Agency in Search for Asteroid Protection Technologies

Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, has launched a research into technologies that would allow to protect the planet from the asteroid and meteorite threat, a senior Russian researcher has told TASS.

“Our study is only a part of the quest to create an asteroid protection system. The priorities here are detection, classification and high-precision monitoring of a celestial body. After that, a bomb should be designed, which would be safe enough during the launch. A carrier rocket will have to be designed, too,” said Vladimir Rogachev, the deputy head of the laser physics institute at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center (VNIIEF), part of the Rosatom corporation.

Read more at: TASS

International Asteroid Day: Are We Ready if an Asteroid Strikes Earth?

Saturday is International Asteroid Day, commemorating the Earth’s largest recorded asteroid impact while focusing on the real danger of asteroids that could collide with Earth.

In 1908, a powerful asteroid struck the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote Siberian forest of Russia. The event leveled trees and destroyed forests across 770 square miles, which is equal to the size of three-quarters of the US state of Rhode Island. The impact threw people to the ground in a town 40 miles away.

Five years ago, an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia. It exploded in the air, releasing 20 to 30 times more energy than that of the first atomic bombs, generating brightness greater than the sun, exuding heat, damaging more than 7,000 buildings and injuring more than 1,000 people.

Read more at: CNN

ESA Plans Second Attempt at Planetary Defense Mission

A year and a half after ministers declined to fund one mission to an asteroid, the European Space Agency is working on a second such mission that could support planetary defense efforts.

ESA announced June 25 that a proposed mission called Hera has entered its next stage of engineering development. The spacecraft would fly to the asteroid Didymos, arriving there in 2026 to the study it and a smaller moon, informally named “Didymoon,”orbiting it.

Hera is based on an earlier mission called the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM). ESA had planned to develop AIM in conjunction with NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which will fly to Didymos and collide with its moon in October 2022 to test the ability of such impacts to alter the orbits of asteroids. AIM would have observed the impact and studied its effects.

Read more at: Spacenews

Jenni Sidey-Gibbons is Flying High, Diving Deep and Learning Russian. Here’s What Astronaut Training is Really Like

A year ago today, Jenni Sidey-Gibbons walked across a stage on Parliament Hill and was introduced as one of Canada’s two newest astronauts.

The 29-year-old from Calgary was only the third female candidate ever to be named to the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut program, and she had some big shoes to fill. The last woman who did the job is now Canada’s governor general, after all.

Since July 2017, Sidey-Gibbons has spent much of her time at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where the first year of training has taken her high above the clouds, deep underwater and even into the wilderness. In spite of a hectic schedule, she managed to carve out some time this week to chat with Global News.

Read more at: Globalnews

Giant Rocket Simulator Helps Engineers Tweak Before First Launch

It takes a lot of wiring to control the most powerful rocket ever built. The rocket in question, the Space Launch System (SLS), is designed to help send robots – and maybe one day people – to Mars and beyond (for more on the changing road map, see “Team moon vs team Mars: the battle over the future of NASA”). But it will need more than brawn – it needs brains, too, and much testing.

Read more at: New Scientist

‘Flying Brain’ Designed to Follow German Astronaut Launches Friday

A floating, ball-shaped, artificial intelligence robot, specially trained to follow around a German astronaut at the International Space Station, is scheduled to blast off Friday on its ground-breaking mission.

The basketball-sized device called CIMON — shortened from Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN — was described as a “flying brain” by Manfred Jaumann, head of microgravity payloads at Airbus.

It launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Friday at 5:42 am (0942 GMT), along with some 5,900 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of gear packed aboard SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule.

Read more at: Space daily

Why Bacteria Survive in Space – UH Biologists Discover Clues

In professor George Fox’s lab at the University of Houston, scientists are studying Earth germs that could be contaminating other planets. Despite extreme decontamination efforts, bacterial spores from Earth still manage to find their way into outer space aboard spacecraft. Fox and his team are examining how and why some spores elude decontamination. Their research is published in “BMC Microbiology.”

To gain access into the uber-sanitized clean rooms at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the world’s largest clean room, or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Caltech, California, employees pass through a series of lobbies. One, with adhesive floor mats, traps dirt carried on shoes. Another, about the size of an old phone booth, delivers a forced-air shower where dozens of air jets blow away dirt and debris. Only after these sterilization measures can they don the bodysuits, head covers and other disinfected regalia.

Read more at: UH

First-of-its-kind Hypersonic Flight Booster Tested at Cecil Spaceport

Rocket science is literally going on at the Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville as Generation Orbit completes a hot fire test of a hypersonic prototype. The initial integrated engine firing of a full-scale, functional prototype of the GOLauncher1 (GO1) hypersonic flight test booster.

The test was the first of its kind to be done at Cecil Spaceport. It’s also GO’s first test to include Ursa Major technologies’ Hadley liquid rocket engine.  The 5,000 lbf-class oxygen-rich staged combustion engine performed as expected through the tests.

GO1 is a single-stage liquid rocket, launched from a Gulfstream III carrier aircraft, primarily designed for hypersonic flight testing. The rocket vehicle propulsion system utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions between Mach 5 and Mach 8 to a wide range of payloads for fundamental research, technology development, and risk reduction. The first flight of GO1 is planned for late 2019.

Read more at: News4jax

Simulated Moon Dirt is Turning Up Some Real Challenges for Future Lunar Missions

When commercial ventures start setting up shop on the moon, they may well run into nasty clouds of grit that clog up airways and gum up equipment. Those are just the sorts of unpleasant surprises that Off Planet Research wants to help those ventures avoid.

The Lacey, Wash.-based company produces simulated soil that can be used for earthly testing of lunar operations. “It doesn’t behave at all as you’d expect,” aerospace engineer Vince Roux, one of the venture’s co-owners, said here today at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference. “You ask yourself, ‘Why is it clinging to that spot on the wall?’ ”

It turns out that lunar soil, technically known as regolith, has dramatically different properties that depend on its precise composition as well as its water content.

Read more at: Geekwire

China Developing Smart Rocket Able to Plot Own Flight Plan

China is developing a smart rocket that can rectify mechanical failures during flight and plot a new flight path.

The rocket, which is being developed by a project team with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, will have the ability to perceive, judge, plan, and execute flight corrections by itself. It will be equipped with an advanced reusable power system that can be switched on and off repeatedly.

Based on its flight mission, capabilities and external environment, the rocket can automatically devise the best flight control plan and complete its own space launch.

The ultimate goal for rocket launches is to enter the targeted orbit. In case of non-fatal malfunctions, those with non-explosive or non-structural damage, the smart rocket can respond and make adjustments by itself, including entering emergency rescue orbit and returning to base, to minimize losses.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Why are We Going Over the Moon on ISRO and Helium-3 All Over Again?

There has been a surge of ‘news reports’ on various platforms, including Hindustan Times, Financial Express, Deccan Chronicle and the Times of India, talking about the Indian Space Research Organisation’s plans to mine the moon for helium-3 (He-3). It’s unbelievable how quickly we’re having this ‘debate’ again: we don’t know how to use He-3 as a source of energy, a claim that all the reports are using to justify their talking about it. Apparently this isotope can be used in nuclear fusion reactors – conveniently forgetting we’re over a decade away from successfully fusing the lightest fusionable isotopes in an energy-surplus reaction.

All the reports also appear to be rooted in one published by Bloomberg Quint (BQ), which quotes K. Sivan, ISRO chairman, as saying, “The countries which have the capacity to bring that source from the moon to Earth will dictate the process. I don’t want to be just a part of them, I want to lead them.”

Read more at: Wire

​Donald Trump’s Space Force: the Dangerous Militarisation of Outer Space

In a recent speech, President Donald Trump announced a new policy for the American space programme. It is time, he argued, for America to create a “Space Force”. As ever, the policy announcement was full of glittering ideas but short on detail, largely unspecific and even inaccurate. What we do know is that this would be a new and separate military command, “equal” to the American Airforce. But like much of Trumpian vision, superlative expressions shroud reality and do great injustice to the serious issues at stake.

We should all be concerned by the prospect of the nuclearisation and militarisation of outer space. It is crucial for world, and perhaps even intergalactic, peace that the legality of his plans are subject to the fiercest domestic and international scrutiny. At the moment it is unclear how they could possible fit in with existing international legal frameworks.

Read more at: Conversation

Pentagon Ready to Put Missile-tracking Sensors in Space, but Still Needs Proof the Technology Works

Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency, says he has the full backing of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin to move ahead with the development and testing of sensors in space that would fill blind spots in the nation’s antimissile defense system.

The Pentagon hopes to have funding approved possibly next year to begin work on a network of missile-watching satellites amid new warnings that Russia is testing hypersonic ballistic glider weapons that today would be undetectable after the initial boost phase of their flight.

Read more at: Spacenews

US, Chinese Defence Chiefs Talk Cooperation Despite Tensions

US Defense Secretary James Mattis met his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Wednesday, aiming to find areas of cooperation despite a mounting military rivalry between the two superpowers.

On his first ever visit to China, the Pentagon chief was greeted at the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army by an honour guard and marching band playing the US and Chinese anthems.

In opening remarks, Defence Minister Wei Fenghe called the visit critical “to increase the strategic trust between our countries.” He said Mattis’ words “carry weight in both the military and political circles back in the United States.”

Read more at: Spacewar

America’s Moon Landings Gave Us GPS. Without Galileo, Britain will be All at Sea

It’s funny the things that geeks notice. I’ve been a keen photographer since I was a teenager and so one of the fascinating aspects for me about the Apollo programme was the cameras that the astronauts used on their missions. On Apollo 11, the first moon landing, for example, they had three Hasselblad 500ELs.

Why is this interesting? Well, in those days, Hasselbads were – and remain– ferociously expensive devices. But the final straw came with Apollo 17, the final moon landing, when the commander, Eugene Cernan, left his Hass behind on the lunar surface, where it remains to this day. Even in the context of a space mission that was fabulously expensive, the casual abandonment of such a beautiful, precision-engineered instrument looked – to those of us who thought about these things – like a criminal act.

Read more at: Guardian

US-made Fisher Space Pens Celebrating 50 Years of Space Travel

The famous Fisher Space Pens have been used by NASA astronauts on every manned space mission for the last 50 years.

“This is the original astronaut space pen used on all man’s space flights — American and Russian,” Matt Fisher, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, as well as the inventor’s grandson, told ABC News.

On its website, NASA said the Space Pen “functioned in a weightless environment, underwater, in other liquids, and in temperature extremes.” Matt Fisher said his grandfather, Paul Fisher, was “one of the original pioneers” in the ball pen business, starting the Fisher Pen Co. in 1948.

Read more at: ABC News

SpaceX will Launch Pouches of Strong Death Wish Coffee to ISS this Week

International Space Station astronauts and cosmonauts on the lookout for a potent coffee-fueled jolt won’t have to wait for a return trip to Earth to get their fix.

Sixty silver pouches of the strong stuff, courtesy of Death Wish Coffee Company, will hitch a ride from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the orbiting outpost on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:42 a.m. Friday, part of a mission that will deliver nearly 6,000 pounds of supplies, cargo and science experiments.

Two-time space shuttle astronaut Nicole Stott, a coffee lover and guest on the company’s Fueled By Death Cast podcast, last year discussed the exhaustion felt after a long spacewalk and how a strong cup of coffee would help with recovery. Ultimately, she helped the company get its “World’s Strongest Coffee” blend in the hands of food experts at NASA, who agreed it would make a good addition to the crew’s care packages.

Read more at: Florida today

Mission Accomplished

The last time Lorna Onizuka spoke to her husband, she mentioned milk. She and their two daughters, Janelle and Darien, wouldn’t be able to have cereal the next morning because she’d left the milk on the porch and it was frozen solid. The temperature that night in Cape Canaveral, Florida, dropped to 18 degrees, well below the average low of 50. This would become important later, but for now, it affected only breakfast.

It was late, later than her husband, Ellison, should have been up, but he was restless inside the crew quarters at Kennedy Space Center and wanted to know whether there was news about tomorrow. Lorna turned on the TV at the house they had rented for the occasion and relayed what she saw: The 10th flight of the space shuttle Challenger was a go.

“I guess we’re going to launch tomorrow,” Ellison said on the other end of the telephone.

Read more at: espn

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

“Safe Passage to Mars” is a design challenge for undergraduate students. Enabling safe space exploration of Moon, Mars and beyond requires the application of the concepts of Engineering Psychology to design and build hardware (tools, devices, or equipment) which can mitigate critical human performance issues associated with long-duration spaceflight.

Read more at: ISSF

10th IAASS Conference

15 – 17 May 2019 – Los Angeles, USA

The tenth IAASS Conference “Making Safety Happen” is an invitation to reflect and exchange information on a number of topics in space safety and sustainability of national and international interest. The conference is also a forum to promote mutual understanding, trust, and the widest possible international cooperation in such matters. The once exclusive “club” of nations with autonomous space access capabilities is becoming crowded with fresh, and ambitious new entrants. New commercial spaceports and near-spaceports are in operations and others are being built.

Read more at: IAASS Conference

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