Virgin Orbit Wins FAA License for First LauncherOne Mission

Virgin Orbit has received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration for the first launch of its LauncherOne vehicle, which the company hopes to perform later this summer.

The FAA issued the license June 29 for the first launch of the air-launch system, using the LauncherOne rocket flown from a customized Boeing 747 that takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The payload for that launch is identified as a “mass simulator with CubeSat,” but doesn’t specify the identity of the cubesat or cubesats that will fly on the mission.

The FAA license is for a reusable launch vehicle (RLV), even though LauncherOne itself is expendable. The Boeing 747 used as the launch platform is reused, but Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus rocket, which is also an air-launched system, is licensed as an expendable launch vehicle by the FAA.

Read more at: Spacenews

Fate of NASA’s Opportunity Rover Unknown as Martian Dust Storm Reaches Peak Strength

As NASA’s Opportunity Rover continues to weather the massive dust storm engulfing a quarter part of the Red Planet, the silence from the resilient rover has now stretched to three weeks. Despite this, however, Dr. James Rice, co-investigator and geology team leader on NASA projects including Opportunity, recently stated that it is far too early to speculate the rover’s demise, considering the grit and durability the machine has exhibited over the past 14 years.

In an article on Spaceflight Insider, Dr. Rice noted that NASA received the last power reading from Opportunity on Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018), when the rover collected a measly 22 Wh worth of solar power. Just ten days prior to the reading, Opportunity was still able to collect 645 Wh of energy from the Sun. Despite the lack of sunlight due to the dust storm, however, Dr. Rice noted that the timing of the storm could work in Opportunity’s favor, since the warm Martian Spring could help keep the rover’s electronics from becoming too cold during the night.

Read more at: Teslerati

The Toxic Side of the Moon

When the Apollo astronauts returned from the Moon, the dust that clung to their spacesuits made their throats sore and their eyes water. Lunar dust is made of sharp, abrasive and nasty particles, but how toxic is it for humans?

The “lunar hay fever”, as NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt described it during the Apollo 17 mission created symptoms in all 12 people who have stepped on the Moon. From sneezing to nasal congestion, in some cases it took days for the reactions to fade. Inside the spacecraft, the dust smelt like burnt gunpowder.

The Moon missions left an unanswered question of lunar exploration – one that could affect humanity’s next steps in the Solar System: can lunar dust jeopardise human health?

Read more at: ESA

SpaceX’s Pad 39A Undergoing Upgrades for Dragon 2 Crew Launches

Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is preparing for a return to crew launches, with modifications taking place to prepare the Fixed Service Structure (FSS) for the installation of the Crew Access Arm (CAA) and associated crew support equipment. The gantry – that astronauts will use to ingress Dragon 2 spacecraft – is at KSC undergoing final assembly inside a large tent.

The historic Pad 39A is no stranger to crew launches, having been part of the Apollo and Shuttle Programs.

Its last crew launch was with Shuttle Atlantis and the STS-135 mission that closed out the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Watch SpaceX’s Dragon Ship for Astronauts Ace a Parachute Abort Test

SpaceX’s crew-rated Dragon spacecraft survived a parachute test during an emergency abort simulation over Southern California last month, and the company caught it all on camera.

Two videos posted on Twitter by SpaceX (we’ve combined them into the one you see above) show the 16th test of the Crew Dragon’s parachute system. During the test, SpaceX released an uncrewed Dragon prototype from a helicopter at a low altitude. The space capsule deployed a series of drogue parachutes to slow down the spacecraft as it fell toward the ground. Its four main parachutes then unfurled, slowing down the spacecraft as it swayed gently below.

Read more at:

This Aborted Mission is a Success

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) inched a small step closer to its ambition of sending Indians to space by conducting the first ‘pad abort’ test on Thursday.

The test proves that the agency can bail out future astronauts with their capsule in case of an early danger to them at the launch pad. The test lasting over four minutes was conducted at 7 a.m. at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

A 1,260-kg crew module lifted off propelled by seven complex rockets built unconventionally around it. In a pre-programmed, automatic sequence, it reached a height of 2.7 km and curved down into the Bay of Bengal on parachutes. It landed in the sea at a distance of 2.9 km from the launch centre. The module was retrieved later by three boats. A five-hour countdown preceded the test.

Read more at: Hindu

Kepler in Safe Mode Amid Concerns Spacecraft is Running Out of Fuel

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has paused science observations upon receiving indications that the spacecraft may be finally running out of fuel after more than nine years of operations.

In a status update distributed July 6, NASA said mission managers halted a current set of observations known as Campaign 18 and placed the spacecraft into a “no-fuel-use safe mode” July 2 after receiving indications of what the agency called an “anomalous” drop in fuel pressure in the spacecraft.

That safe mode, mission officials said, will preserve the 51 days of “flawless” observations collected during Campaign 18. The spacecraft will remain in that safe mode until Aug. 2, when it will resume operations for a previously scheduled downlink of data through the Deep Space Network.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Seeking Industry Proposals for First Element of Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway

NASA is asking for proposals from industry to partner with the space agency in developing the first piece of its proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway through a draft broad agency announcement (BAA). The space station proposed to be a cislunar outpost for deep space exploration missions, both robotic and human.

Formerly called the Deep Space Gateway, the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G)—part of NASA’s exploration campaign—is hoped to consist of several modules, including a power and propulsion element (PPE), habitation and utility modules, an airlock and robotic logistics spacecraft. Some of the International Space Station partner agencies have expressed interested in this new project, but like the ISS in its early days of planning, much is still in flux.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Arianespace Aims for Busy Second Half of 2018

Europe’s first mission to Mercury, a quartet of Galileo navigation spacecraft, a global winds observatory, and a new European weather satellite have arrived at an equatorial launch base in French Guiana in preparation for launches in the coming months.

The set of European missions are set to ride into space aboard four rockets, amid several more commercial flights carrying communications satellites to orbit, in what is shaping up to be a busy second half of the year for Arianespace, the French company which oversees Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega launch operations at the European-run spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The rapid-fire launch campaigns are already underway at the space center on the northeastern coast of South America, where technicians are preparing rocket and satellite hardware for liftoff.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Launch Failures: the Boring Stuff

Component specifications and material standards are probably the most boring aspect of engineering. They may be vital but they certainly are not exciting. Plowing though standards to try to figure out what is valid, what may be tailored out of the way, and what really is necessary is a painful process, and there are pitfalls waiting for even the wary. Few organizations are willing to spend their precious and expensive engineering man-hours to accomplish those kinds of detailed reviews.

For decades, Air Force engineers and private companies struggled with a stiff requirement for anti-G suit valves, the valves that feed the correct amount of pressurized air to pilots’ G suits and thus enable then to stay alert in tight turns and sharp pull-ups. The specification for the valves required that they leak no more than 600 cubic centimeters of air per minute when operating. Now, air pressure regulators need to flow air in order to operate, and if that air is not going into the suit after it is inflated it has to go somewhere. A mere 600 cubic centimeters per minute is not much air, and it leaking into a cockpit that in jet fighters is already being cooled and pressurized by large quantities of air is of no real consequence.

Read more at: Space review

This Seasoned NASA Astronaut Wore SpaceX and Boeing’s New Spacesuits — Here’s What She Thinks of Them

Every next-generation spaceship needs a great spacesuit, and one NASA astronaut says Boeing and SpaceX are delivering.

Following nearly 10 years of work, both of those aerospace companies may launch brand-new spaceships for NASA by the end of the summer, though without people aboard. If those test flights go well, the first launches of astronauts on commercial spacecraft could follow by the end of the year.

The work is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a roughly $8 billion competition for private companies to develop ships that can taxi astronauts to and from the $150-billion International Space Station. In January 2017, Boeing showed off its CST-100 Starliner spacesuit for the first time. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, followed with his own spacesuit reveal for the Crew Dragonvehicle in August.

Read more at: Business Insider

Russia, China Consider Joint Space Station – Source

Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation and its Chinese counterparts signed a number of agreements on space cooperation last month during a summit between Presidents Putin and Xi. The agreements followed a deal signed in March on Russian-Chinese cooperation in the exploration of the moon and outer space, and the creation of joint orbital groups.

A delegation from China’s National Space Administration is set to hold talks with Roscosmos on the possibility of creating a jointly-run orbital station, Sputnik has learned from a source in the space and rocketry industry.

“The delegation’s visit to Moscow is planned for the end of this week. The issue of cooperation in the field of manned programs will be discussed with our Chinese colleagues,” the source said.

Read more at: Space daily

Russia’s Soyuz Spacecraft Could Find New Life as a Lunar Taxi

On June 28, the new head of the Roscosmos State Corporation Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia could begin human missions to the Moon before completing the development of its next-generation spacecraft Federatsiya (Federation). Instead, Russia will once again rely on its 50-year-old legend.

Rogozin says moonshots could be possible with the existing Soyuz spacecraft, which currently taxis crews to the International Space Station orbiting the Earth. “The Soyuz was originally developed for the (Soviet) lunar program and that means its upgrade (for lunar missions) is quite possible, until we get the new vehicle,” Rogozin says.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because various schemes to send Soyuz on a long loop behind the Moon have been on the table for years, but never got the green light from the Russian government—until now.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

US Asks Russia to Fix its Broken Toilet on ISS

NASA has renewed a contract with Energia Rocket and Space Corporation on the maintenance and repair of a series of components of the lavatory onboard the US segment of the International Space Station, according to the Russian company’s annual report.

NASA bought the Energia-made space toilet in 2007 for $19 million after unsuccessful efforts by US engineers to create their own space toilet, with US designs facing a series of malfunctions before the US decided to switch to the Russian-made waste receptacle.

“Over the course of the year, the fulfillment of the contract with NASA on the manufacture and supply of space toilet and cabin components for the American segment of the International Space Station and related integration services for the ISS has continued.

Read more at: Space daily

The Astronaut Who Never Left Earth

Stepping out of a capsule no bigger than a modest home kitchen, the four-person crew of NASA’s latest Human Exploration Research Analog study “returned” to Earth last month after a 45-day mission to fictional asteroid Geographos. Although the capsule never actually left NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, the mission’s results could shape how the space agency’s astronauts someday handle the isolation, confinement and sleep deprivation likely to occur during interplanetary travel.

Crew member William Daniels, a geologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has long adored cosmic exploration. He saw this mission as a small-but-significant step toward deep-space travel—NASA will use lessons from this crew to build protocols for human voyages to Mars. Unfazed at the prospect of sleeping just five hours per night and being subjected to a steady stream of invasive physiological and mental tests, Daniels volunteered to live with three strangers in the cramped capsule, which consisted of a flight deck, a living area and a “hygiene” module. Daniels spoke to Scientific American about his experience.

Read more at: Scientific American

Virgin Galactic Signs Onto a Deal to Bring Spaceflights to Future Spaceport in Italy

Virgin Galactic and a pair of Italian companies today signed a framework agreement aimed at bringing Virgin Galactic’s launch system to a future spaceport in the heel of Italy’s “boot.” The suborbital space launch system would be based at Taranto-Grottaglie Airport, which Italian public-private partners aim to turn into a spaceport.

Although the companies didn’t announce a time frame for the start of operations, one of the executives involved said in May that the spaceport “could be active as early as 2020.”

Virgin Galactic’s partners include Altec, a public-private company owned by the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space; and Sitael, Italy’s largest privately owned space company.

Read more at: Geekwire

SpaceX Could Try to Land Rocket in California Later this Year

A recent federal regulatory filing by SpaceX suggests the company may attempt to return a Falcon 9 rocket booster to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the first time later this year.

Landing a Falcon 9 rocket stage at a new onshore recovery pad at Vandenberg would be a new step in SpaceX’s plans to retrieve and reuse boosters.

SpaceX has submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission, which must approve the company’s plans to use radio frequencies to communicate with the rocket after landing. In the application, SpaceX requested permission from the FCC for the use of a ground antenna to send commands to a Falcon 9 booster after landing at Vandenberg.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Crew Dragon Undergoes More Tests as it Progresses to Operational Readiness

After recently being subjected to electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon inches closer to operational readiness with the completion of two key tests.

In one test, Crew Dragon was subjected to conditions like those it will encounter in space. This was done so as to ensure that the spacecraft can operate in a high-altitude environment. The vehicle is the same one that has been tapped to fly on the company’s first, uncrewed flight — designated Demonstration Mission 1 — in the second half of this year (2018) To help accomplish this, the spacecraft was placed in a vacuum testing chamber at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio.

The chamber, part of the In-Space Propulsion (ISP) Facility at Plum Brook is the only site in the world capable of testing spacecraft, launch vehicle upper-stages, and even rocket engines in conditions similar to those that may be experienced on a typical mission. The chamber, with a usable volume greater than 47,000 cubic feet (1,330 cubic meters), can accommodate engines producing up to 400,000 pounds-force (1,779 kilonewtons) of thrust.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Russian Academician Calls for Global Precautions Against Dangerous Asteroids

Precautions against the asteroids and meteorites bearing potential threat to the Earth should require solutions on a global scale, Dr. Radiy Ilkayev, the honorary chief research supervisor at the All-Russia Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics [VNIIEF, reporting to the state atomic energy corporation Rosatom – TASS] told TASS on Thursday.

“Protection from asteroids should be a task of a global scale and the efforts to resolve it should embrace, in the first place, the countries with expansive capabilities in research and technologies,” Dr. Ilkayev said. “You need a very high level of technologies even if you want just to trace an asteroid.”

“More than that, you have to calculate its trajectory and to evaluate the risks it poses to the Earth,” he said. “If it does pose risk, then you’ll have to tap the ways to rebuff them.”

Read more at: TASS

As Space Becomes a Busy Place, NASA Bolsters its Planet-Contamination Police

There is a new space sheriff in town for alien-hunting U.S. scientists: Lisa Pratt, NASA’s latest “planetary protection officer,” an astrobiologist from Indiana University who entered the role in early February.

Although not exactly the lawless wild west, the search for extraterrestrial life remains so speculative that meaningful regulations are few and far between. One exception is the proviso, codified in international law, to avoid potentially harmful interplanetary exchanges of biological material that could spark virulent epidemics on Earth or wipe out fragile alien biospheres.

Read more at: Scientific American

New Approach to Planetary Protection Needed as More Players Engage in Exploration

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes that new approaches to setting and implementing planetary protection policies are needed.  The report cites a changing landscape where more countries and private sector companies are planning missions to destinations like Mars, and sample return and human missions come closer to reality.  The report urges NASA to create an agency-wide strategic plan to manage planetary protection policy development in this new environment that takes private sector views into account. 

Planetary protection refers to protecting Earth and other solar system bodies from forward and back contamination as spacecraft are sent to or return from places that might harbor life.  Those include Mars and moons of the outer planets that scientists believe have oceans under their icy crusts like Europa and Enceladus.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Fragment of Impacting Asteroid Recovered in Botswana

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, a team of experts from Botswana, South Africa, Finland and the United States of America recovered a fresh meteorite in Botswana´s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

The meteorite is one of the fragments of asteroid 2018 LA which collided with Earth on June 2, 2018 and turned into a meteor fireball that detonated over Botswana a few seconds after entering the atmosphere. The incident was witnessed by a number of spectators in Botswana and neighbouring countries and was captured on numerous security cameras.

Asteroid 2018 LA was detected in space eight hours before hitting Earth. It was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey, operated by the University of Arizona and sponsored by NASA as part of its Planetary Defence mission.

Read more at: Science daily

‘Flying Brain’ Designed to Follow German Astronaut Launches Tonight

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 groundbreaking 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 about 6:52pm AEST, along with some 2,700 kilograms of gear packed aboard SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule.

Read more at: AU News

NASA Seeks New Ways to Handle Trash for Deep Space Missions

Life aboard the International Space Station requires extreme measures in efficiency to preserve resources, reduce waste, repurpose materials, and recycle water and breathable air. Regular cargo resupply missions deliver approximately 12 metric tons of supplies each year, which can lead to significant storage challenges in the orbiting laboratory.

When trash accumulates, astronauts manually squeeze it into trash bags, temporarily store almost two metric tons of it for relatively short durations, and then send it away in a departing commercial supply vehicle, which either returns it to Earth or incinerates it during reentry through the atmosphere.

Read more at: Space daily

Engine Tests Underway for DARPA Spaceplane Program

A space shuttle-era main engine is undergoing a series of daily test firings to demonstrate its suitability for use on a reusable spaceplane under development.

The Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine is in the midst of a series of 10 100-second engine firings over the course of 10 days at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. As of July 2 the company has completed six such tests and was on track to complete the rest on schedule.

The engine is a version of the Space Shuttle Main Engine with only minor modifications, said Jeff Haynes, AR-22 program manager at Aerojet, in a July 2 interview. “We’re not designing or building any new hardware for this engine,” he said. “We’re taking and making use of existing hardware, most of it being flight proven.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Chinese Startup One Space Successfully Tests First Stage Engine for Orbital Rocket

On 4 July, One Space, a Chinese NewSpace startup developing low-cost launch vehicles, successfully tested the first stage rocket motor of its M-series family of rockets.

The success of this test means One Space is on track for the first test launch of OS-M1, the first of its M-series launch vehicles, scheduled for end-2018.

OS-M1, a four-stage solid propellant rocket, will be 19m long, with a liftoff mass of 20 tonnes. The launch vehicle will be able to carry a maximum payload of 205kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and 143kg to the Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

Read more at: Spacetech asia

China Claims Progress in New Landing Technology for Crewed Spacecraft, Mars Landings

China is claiming progress on a number of reentry and landing technologies for human spaceflight and Mars missions, underlining apparently significant plans for deep space exploration.

The Beijing Institute of Space Mechanics and Electronics (BISME) announced in May that it had performed an airdrop test of a parachute for two new-generation crewed spacecraft, which will be larger successors to the current Shenzhou capsules. The test was reported to have verified the strength and function of the parachute.

The new-generation crewed spacecraft, according to previous announcements from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will come in two variations – a 20- metric ton version for lunar missions, and a 14-metric-ton version for potential Mars and deep space exploration.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Lawmaking

For almost half a century, the body of space treaties (“Corpus Juris Spatialis”) ensured the legal environment in the space sector, addressing the principles of exploration and use of outer space. Despite this multilateral normative framework, treaties now seem to struggle to keep up with the development of outer space activity. It is concomitantly being challenged by the growth of commercialization and privatization of space activities, with the arrival of new entrants into the space operations market; and by national regulation, both part of the space sector. In this context, states are regulating space activities through the enactment of national laws and regulations.1 Resort to national regulation plays purposeful functions.

Given the international state responsibility for the undertaking of national activities in outer space (Outer Space Treaty (OST), Article VI, first sentence), resort to domestic lawmaking is a way of crafting a legal framework to ensure compliance of the domestic space activities with the international embedding principles, obligations, and commitments, such safety standards and debris mitigation and prevention.

Read more at: Space review

Trump Wants NASA Out of the ISS Operations Business. Easier Said Than Done

Since President Trump’s 2019 budget called for ending International Space Station funding in 2025, Congress held hearings, NASA published an ISS Transition Report and U.S. companies advertised plans for new outposts. Still, it’s not clear how that transition will occur, a fact highlighted by the recent confusion over NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s comments to The Washington Post about companies taking over ISS operations. For clues on the space station’s current status and the transition ahead, SpaceNews spoke with Sam Scimemi, ISS director at NASA headquarters.

Read more at: Spacenews

Op-ed | Regulatory Reform is Not a One-off Event

Speaking at this year’s Space Symposium, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross described current U.S. space sector dynamics as a period of ”convergence of technology, convergence of capital, and convergence of political will.”

The political will includes both an ongoing area of emphasis within the Trump administration and to related legislative initiatives within Congress.

Building and expanding upon work begun under the Obama administration, the National Space Council has promulgated a series of recommendations to modernize the regulatory framework in the United States to be more responsive and effective in response to ongoing private sector innovation.

Read more at: Spacenews

Private-sector Space Activities Require Government Regulation, Says US Report

The US Congress must introduce legislation to regulate the activities of private companies operating in space. That is according to a new report by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which says the need for reform has been heightened by the “burgeoning” commercial space sector in the US.

One leader in the booming US private space sector is Space X, which was founded by Tesla head Elon Musk in 2002. The firm, which has had a number of recent high-profile rocket launches, is setting its sights on missions to Mars. Even Jeff Bezos, who founded the online shopping giant Amazon, is getting in on the act with plans for his firm Blue Origin to send a manned mission to the Moon.

Read more at: Physics world

Airbus and United Nations Team Up for Universal Access to Space

Airbus and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the UNISPACE+50 conference celebrating half a century of international cooperation in outer space.

The five-year renewable MoU aims to jointly build capabilities in developed and developing countries in microgravity experiments and its related benefits. Furthermore it aims to build capability in terms of usage of Earth observation data and support the missions of the UN, its specialist agencies and Member States.

Both partners will work together to support the Member States in accessing and using space by enabling access to the International Space Station (ISS). Bartolomeo, the new external hosting platform developed by Airbus, self-funded and operated in cooperation with the European Space Agency, enables cost and time-efficient access to space.

Read more at: Airbus

European Rocket Chief: Trump Rhetoric Strengthens Our Commitment to Space

In June, when President Donald Trump told his military leaders to create a new branch of the military dedicated to space, the words rippled across the US military and political landscape. Soon after, the generals said they would work to comply with the order. At rallies, Trump’s crowds began to chant, “Space Force! Space Force!”

But chatter about America’s desire to dominate space did not stop there. Trump’s declaration reached even this remote coast of South America, where the Amazon River muddies pristine Atlantic waters and jungle dominates the landscape.

Read more at: Arstechnica

China Urges Prevention of Space Arms Race

A senior Chinese official has called for international efforts to explore effective ways to avoid a possible arms race in space.

Zhang Hanhui, China’s assistant foreign minister, made the remarks at the opening of an international symposium jointly held by China, Russia and the United Nations (UN) in Beijing, which ran on Wednesday and Thursday, Xinhua reports.

The symposium mainly discussed current space security situations, threats that may arise from countries stockpiling weapons that could be used above the planet and the forming of new laws. The organisers hope that the discussions have laid the groundwork for the UN’s plan to build an expert governmental team around the theme of ‘the prevention of a space arms race’ later this year.

Read more at: Gbtimes

Trump Ignores Critics, Claims ‘Everyone is Very Excited’ About Space Force

“Everyone is very excited” about the establishment of a Space Force, President Donald Trump said Wednesday. Numerous critics of creating a sixth branch of the U.S. military say otherwise.

Trump made this assertion during his speech at a July 4 military appreciation event on the South Lawn of the White House. “We have the Air Force—and by the way, I might add, we very well may soon have the Space Force. You’ve been hearing about that,” the president said. “Everyone is very excited about that.”

Read more at: reason

NASA Chief Explains the Need for a “Space Force”

While speaking at a National Space Council meeting at the White House in June, President Trump called for a “space force” to be added as a sixth branch of the military.

This week on “The Takeout” CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett spoke with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to explain America’s dominance on the last frontier.

Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot and former U.S. congressman, served on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, a branch of the Armed Services Committee that deals with America’s space capabilities. He said, “space has become congested, contested and in some cases hostile. And it has become very dangerous.”

Read more at: CBS news

Former NASA Human Research Program Chief Scientist John Charles Joins Space Center Houston

Space Center Houston welcomes 33-year NASA veteran scientist John B. Charles, Ph.D. as the nonprofit’s first scientist in residence. This new role will emphasize and integrate the human health and performance aspect of space exploration into the center’s learning environment.

Dr. Charles will help interpret space research into guest experiences and education programs via exhibits, presentations, experiential activities and curriculum, according to Tracy Lamm, the center’s chief operating officer.

“We pride ourselves in offering guests an authentic learning experience,” said Lamm. “John adds a true science connection to space exploration with his decades of experience.” A lifelong enthusiasm for space combined with the opportunity provided by a career at NASA allows Dr. Charles to demystify space flight for people intimidated by its complexity.

Read more at: Spaceref

Russia to Promote its Space Food Worldwide

Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation, will start promoting Russian-made food for cosmonauts on the global market, the Roscosmos press service has said.

The cooperation agreement on the issue has been signed by Glavkosmos head Denis Lyskov and Space Food Lab head Konstantin Grigoryev.

“In line with the agreement, Glavkosmos will promote and sell internationally the space food, produced by the lab. In addition, the sides agreed to render information support and jointly take part in international events,” Roscosmos said in a statement on Thursday.

“This cooperation opens new business areas for us. We see potential demand for space food on the international market, many of our traditional foreign partners have demonstrated interest in purchasing space food,” Lyskov was quoted as saying.

Read more at: TASS

Lufthansa Adds Astronaut Food to its Airline Passenger Menu

The barrier to dining like an astronaut living on the International Space Station astronaut has now been lowered — by about 240 miles.

Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, has begun serving some of its passengers one of the same menu items that it developed for German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who launched to the space station in June. The space food, now served at 35,000 feet (10,700 meters) in addition to 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the planet, is available to business class passengers on long-haul flights originating in Germany.

“Passengers will have the chance to enjoy one of the menus that Alexander Gerst and his crew will also be receiving on board [the station] as special highlights, chicken ragout with mushrooms,” Lufthansa announced in a recent press release. The astronaut-turned-airline food will be available on flights in July and August.

Read more at: Collect space

Why Do Astronauts Use Space Pens Instead of Pencils?

It’s often said that NASA spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could write in zero gravity, while the Russians just used pencils. It was a warning about looking for a high-tech solution to a mundane problem, of American excess vs. Russian sensibility.

It’s also entirely false.

To understand why NASA was so keen on a workable space pen, you have to understand that the pencil is not suited for space travel. The problem is that they have a habit of breaking, shattering, and leaving graphite dust behind. The wood, too, can make it a serious fire risk in the pressurized, oxygen-rich capsule. All of these common issues become life-threatening hazards in space.

Still, there were attempts to bring pencils into space. In 1965, the agency famously ordered 34 specially designed mechanical pencils in hopes of finding the perfect writing tool for astronauts.

Read more at: mentalfloss

“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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