NASA Names New Chair for Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Patricia Sanders as chair of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress on matters concerning the agency’s safety performance.

Sanders currently is an independent aerospace consultant. She served for 34 years in the federal government, retiring in 2008 as the executive director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). As the executive director, she was the senior civilian responsible for MDA’s management and operations, safety and quality control, strategic planning, legislative affairs, external communication and all issues related to worldwide personnel administration and development.

Read more at: Space Daily

Boeing Starts Assembly of First Flightworthy Starliner Crew Taxi at Kennedy Spaceport

The next generation of America’s human spaceships is rapidly taking shape and “making fantastic progress” at the Kennedy Space Center as Boeing and NASA showcased the start of assembly of the first flightworthy version of the aerospace giants Starliner crew taxi vehicle to the media last week. Starliner will ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) by early 2018.

“We are making fantastic progress across the board,” John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs, told Universe Today at the July 26 media event in Boeing’s new Starliner factory.

“It so nice to move from design to firm configuration, which was an incredibly important milestone, to now moving into the integrated qual phase of the campaign.” Boeing is swiftly making tangible progress towards once again flying Americans astronauts to space from American soil

Read more at: Universe Today

The Next Big Thing in Space Business is Tiny Rockets

Back in June, NASA tested a booster for the most powerful rocket it has ever tried to build, the Space Launch System (SLS). The booster alone was more than 150 feet long, producing 3.6 million pounds of force, and reaching temperatures of nearly 6,000°F during a ground test in Promontory, Utah. The whole rocket is so expensive it will probably only fly twice in the next four years, if at all.

A month later, in the Mojave Desert, a very different test took place, involving a prototype rocket just 12 feet long. Built by a small company called Vector Space, it flew just a few thousand feet in the air, successfully demonstrating 3-D printed engine parts that will plug into a full-scale version just 42 feet long, not even a third of the size of one of SLS booster.

If its designers are right, the Vector 1, as the small rocket is called, will fly hundreds of times before the SLS becomes operational, making the company a bundle along the way.

Read more at: Quartz

Small Satellites, Big Expectations

If you watch enough spy movies, you’ll eventually see a large satellite whiz by and, on command, zoom in on a street hundreds of miles below, providing a view of events unfolding on the ground.

Hollywood may be overstating capabilities, but one part it gets right is the sheer size of government satellites; for instance, the National Reconnaissance Office’s ‘Hexagon’ imaging satellite was 18-meters long and weighed 14,000 kilograms.

Highly capable Earth observation satellites had to be big, heavy, complex, and take a long time to construct. These factors made large satellites expensive to build and launch, so only a few were affordable at a time. Conventional wisdom says only big satellites can answer important needs. Small satellites may be changing that view: over the last few years a new generation of space entrepreneurs raised nearly a billion dollars from private investors and launched more than 100 small satellites. Top space industry prognosticators forecast over 500 small satellites on orbit by 2020; there are over 1,000 in various stages of planning or development today.

Read more at: Spacenews mag

Space Psychology 101: How NASA Keeps its Astronauts Sane

Outer space is terrifying — not just on the body, but also on the mind. Extreme environments and situations can stretch people’s minds to the brink of sanity, and outer space is no exception. Sure, astronauts are protected inside their multimillion dollar spacecraft, but those confined little metallic boxes can make one feel isolated and trapped. And we’re also making strides to put humans on other planets.

All that time in the deep dark void — probably not good for the noggin, right? Thankfully, NASA’s on it. Welcome to the world alternately called aerospace psychiatry and psychology — a field of medicine where one provides mental health support to aviation professionals.

Read more at: Inverse

Crew Preps for Spacewalk; Advisory Council Warns of Gap in ISS Access

With SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship securely attached to the International Space Station (ISS), and cargo being transferred, two members Expedition 48 are gearing up for a spacewalk, set for August 19. The spacewalk will see the installation of the International Docking Adapter (IDA).

Additionally, on August 4, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams celebrated his 500th cumulative day in space over four missions. He is set to break Scott Kelly’s record of 520 days by August 24. By the time Williams returns to Earth on Sept. 6, he will have accumulated more than 533 days off the planet.

Before Williams break’s Kelly’s record, he and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins will perform an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) to install IDA-2. Once complete, the station will be able to receive commercial crew vehicles such as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

Suit preparation began early last week when a new spacesuit was unloaded from inside Dragon. Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) 3006 was removed from the spacecraft and taken inside the ISS for on-orbit operations. This suit, however, will not be used in the mid-August spacewalk as it is being checked out as a viable spare. The previous spare suit, 3005, is being returned to Earth inside the CRS-9 capsule.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Alternate Orbit-Raising Plan Needed for Stranded U.S. Navy Communications Satellite

The U.S. Navy’s MUOS 5 communications satellite – stuck about halfway to its intended Geostationary Orbit – encountered a failure within its main propulsion system, the Navy confirmed this week. Work is currently underway to evaluate alternate orbit-raising plans and possible impacts on the satellite’s operational mission.

MUOS 5 lifted off from Cape Canaveral on June 24 atop an Atlas V 551 rocket – the most powerful version of the workhorse rocket, enlisting the help of five Solid Rocket Boosters to get the 6,740-Kilogram satellite off the ground and sent it into an optimized Geostationary Orbit. After a ride of nearly three hours, the satellite was deployed to an orbit of 3,903 by 35,654 Kilometers, inclined 18,97°.

From its initial elliptical transfer orbit, MUOS 5 was to perform a series of apogee maneuvers to lift the perigee of the orbit and reduce the orbital inclination to enter a Geostationary Orbit where the satellite’s speed matches that of Earth’s rotation. Five days into its climb to Geostationary Orbit, the satellite encountered what was characterized as a “failure of the orbit raising propulsion system.”

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Opinion | Building a Bright Regulatory Future for the Commercial Space Industry

As a founder and chief technology officer of a U.S. commercial spaceflight company, I’m proud to live in a country that openly supports and encourages innovation through action. In that regard, the Federal Aviation Administration has been a key collaborator, supporter and enabler of the commercial human spaceflight industry. They’ve expertly implemented the current legal framework that fosters innovation and promotes progress, ensuring both U.S. leadership on a global stage and a favorable climate for private investment and calculated risk taking. But as U.S. companies inch closer to commercial operation and our industry evolves, so too must our regulatory framework.

The human spaceflight regulatory regime that governs large segments of our industry has limitations on the FAA’s ability to issue new regulations intended to ensure occupant safety. Because these limitations, under what is known as the “learning period,” are due to expire in 2023, there is an unintended consequence of legal and fiscal uncertainty. I testified June 22 at a hearing of the House aviation subcommittee to propose a new and, I believe, improved regulatory framework that addresses this issue, and offers up a solution that will help foster the future success of our industry.

Read more at: Space News

NASA-funded Experiments will Take Place on World View Balloons

World View, the near-space balloon company that will operate from a county-owned spaceport near Tucson International Airport, will participate in two recently announced NASA-funded space experiments.

One, conducted by Space Environment Technologies, will use one of World View’s “stratolite” balloons to measure the radiation environment at altitudes up to 130,000 feet.

The other flight will be a test of World View’s own technology for keeping its balloons nearly stationary by raising and lowering altitude with a proprietary air-ballast system. W. Kent Tobiska, president and chief science officer of Space Environment Technologies, based in Pacific Palisades, California, said he will use his September 2017 “stratolite” flight to “measure the radiation environment from the ground up.”

Read more at: Tucson

China Prepares for New Round of Manned Space Missions

The rockets expected to carry China’s second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 and the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft into space have been delivered to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

A statement issued by the Manned Space Engineering Office on Saturday said that the center is where the assembly and tests of the rockets, which belong to the Long March-2F rocket series, will be carried out. The rockets were sent from Beijing Wednesday by rail.

Compared with their predecessors, the two rockets feature technical improvements to improve their safety and reliability, according to China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Watch Astronauts Test Orion Spaceship Door for Future Mars Trips

Carrying humans to space is a dangerous endeavor, so NASA is thoroughly testing its next-generation human space vehicle.

NASA’s Orion capsule could help astronauts on their way to Mars and other space locations someday. This week, a group of ground-based astronauts demonstrated the kind of testing that Orion is undergoing before it ever carries crewmembers into space. In a short video released by the space agency, three NASA astronauts are shown testing the docking hatch — which would connect the capsule to a larger vehicle in space — on a mock-up version of Orion. The test will demonstrate how the hatch functions during an emergency situation.

Read more at:

China’s Yutu Retires After Operating 31 Months

“Hi! This could be the last greetings from me!” The Sina Weibo farewell message posted four days ago by user ‘Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover,’ which posts first-person accounts of Yutu, China’s lunar rover, caused a stir on China’s social media. Yutu and his antics have continued to proved hugely popular across China.

“The moon says it has prepared a long, long dream for me, and I’m wondering what the dream would be like– would I be a mars explorer, or be sent back to earth?” the lunar rover continued. The post received nearly 100,000 shares, likes and comments.

It’s not the first time that the rover has sent a farewell message, but this time the message appears to really be the last. Yutu has ceased operation after 972 days of service on the moon, according to a source from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, cited in the People’s Daily on Tuesday.

Read more at: CCTV

NASA Exploration Focuses on Deep Space Hab Systems and Crew Health

As part of its comprehensive review to the NASA Advisory Council, the US space agency has presented its review of progress on the development of a Deep Space Habitat that will allow astronauts to perform multi-month and multi-year missions in deep space – all while guiding the agency towards its ambitious plan of landing humans on Mars by the end of the 2030s.

One of the primary benefits of exploration in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is that all of the currently human operated vehicles in space fly inside the sphere of protection from damaging radiation expelled from the Sun that Earth provides. That risk assessment changes the farther from Earth one travels – and is a primary concern for missions in cislunar space and the eventual push of humans to Mars. Understanding the radiation risk environment is one of the primary aspects in developing habitation that can successfully shield astronauts against damaging radiation.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Spaceports and the Future of Space Exploration

Let yourself imagine a spaceport. I bet you put a grand concourse in the center with a fine selection of rockets descending and ascending together with space planes making their final approaches or taking off to worlds who knows where? Perhaps just behind snaking off toward the horizon is a common asphalt road with autonomous electric cars whizzing their passengers to and from the concourse. And assuredly there’s an above ground or below ground rail system that provides convenient access to those in the nearby city. At least that’s what my imagination pictures.

While my idea of space transportation may seem somewhat farfetched, the idea of a spaceport isn’t. Actually the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States of America has already licensed 10 spaceports or Launch Site Operators as they call them. Interestingly the same FAA also licenses 12 Active Launch providers.

Read more at: Universe Today

Earth Science Discussion Latest Sign of NASA-China Ties

The head of NASA’s Earth science division, Michael Freilich, met with Chinese officials last month regarding potential coordination between the two countries on an upcoming Chinese mission, the agency said Aug. 4.

The meeting, first reported by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post but not initially confirmed by NASA, is the latest sign that the space agency is finding ways to work with China despite strict limitations placed by Congress on bilateral cooperation.

“As part of coordination discussions between NASA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences related to Earth science research, Dr. Freilich met with his counterparts at the Chinese Academy of Sciences on July 12, 2016, in Beijing,” NASA spokesman Steve Cole said Aug. 4. The purpose of the meeting, Cole said, was “to discuss scientific data exchange and China’s plans for the launch of its new carbon monitoring mission, TanSat.” Cole did not disclose the outcome of the meeting, and said “no follow-up activities planned at this time.”

Read more at: Space News

China Tests Largest Solid-fuel Rocket Motor

China has completed the test ignition of its largest solid-fuel rocket motor in the northwest city of Xi’an. With a diameter of three meters, the solid-fuel rocket motor ran for 100 seconds after ignition. The successfully tested technologies will be used in heavy-lift and large rockets for China’s deep-space explorations and manned moon-landings.

Solid-fuel rocket engines have a much larger capacity than liquid-fueled iterations. The development comes as China is scheduled to launch its largest carrier rocket, the Long March-5, later this year.

Read more at:

FAA Developing System to Better Integrate Commercial Launches

The FAA is working to better integrate commercial launches into airspace. Current procedures call for closing off large areas of airspace for launches, which disrupts aircraft flight operations and poses problems as the number of commercial launches increase. The FAA is working on ways to improve automated tracking of launches and reentries that can limit the airspace that needs to be closed off.

Read more at: Space News

Laser Nudges May Help Destroy Space Debris Threatening Communications, Navigation on Earth

Space debris from completed missions — inactive satellites, lens covers, fragments from spaceship disengagements — pose a serious and ongoing threat to active communication and navigation satellites used by billions of people on Earth. An article published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, in Optical Engineering describes a new approach whereby debris orbiting in space could be pushed into Earth’s atmosphere by laser impulses, causing it to burn up.

Pieces even smaller than a smartphone represent danger to our ability to share information and find our way. While the locations of major space debris are known, fragments smaller than 10 centimeters are difficult to catalogue, and there are 10 times more small pieces than large ones. Because of their remarkably high speeds — up to 15 kilometers per second — small pieces of debris pose a serious threat for space flight and the operation of satellites such as those involved in communications and navigation.

In “Laser-based removal of irregularly shaped space debris,” Stefan Scharring, Jascha Wilken, and Hans-Albert Eckel of the German Aerospace Center describe a new approach in applying laser-induced damage principles where using high-energy laser pulses modify the orbit of debris and push it into the atmosphere, causing it to burn up.

Read more at: Science Daily

U.S. Says it Mistakenly Sold Apollo 11 Bag, Asks Judge to Rescind Sale

A bag carried to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft and used for the first sample of lunar material is at the centre a legal fight after the government mistakenly sold it during the criminal case against the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

The white bag — which was flown to the moon on Apollo 11 in June 1969 and has lunar material embedded in its fabric — is “a rare artifact, if not a national treasure,” the government said.

The dispute is the latest legal twist in the case of Max Ary, the founder and longtime director of the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson who was convicted in November 2005 for stealing and selling museum artifacts. At issue in his prosecution were hundreds of missing space artifacts and memorabilia. Some were on loan from NASA to the Cosmosphere. The lunar bag was discovered in 2003 during the execution of a search warrant in a box located in Ary’s garage.

Read more at: CTV News

First Private Company with Permission for Lunar Trip

For anyone who grew up dreaming of setting foot on the moon, or travelling in space, becoming a NASA astronaut might not be the only way to make that dream a reality before long.

Moon Express, a Silicon Valley-based commercial space exploration company that hopes to eventually “mine” the natural resources of the moon, officially became the first private company in the world to receive permission to travel into space. The historic green light, which was granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the same government agency that regulates on-Earth flight, comes after months of negotiation between the company and government officials.

“We are now free to set sail as explorers to Earth’s eighth continent, the Moon, seeking new knowledge and resources to expand Earth’s economic sphere for the benefit of all humanity,” said Moon Express co-founder and CEO Bob Richards in a statement.

While Moon Express has the go-ahead, it does not have free reign to explore the solar system at will. The FAA granted specific permission for the company’s planned lunar expedition in 2017 under the conditions that the project receive oversight from multiple other government agencies, including NASA, in the interest of safety and national security. There was previously no procedure in place to grant space exploration permission to a commercial firm.

Read more at: davidreneke

SpaceX Prepares for Two Upcoming Launches

SpaceX is gearing up for two commercial satellite launches in the next month. A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the JCSAT-16 communications satellite for Sky Perfect JSAT on Aug. 14 from Cape Canaveral. That will be followed in late August or early September by a Falcon 9 launch of Amos-6 for Spacecom, also from the Cape.

Read more at: Space News

Aerojet Rocketdyne to Supply Electric Power System for Dream Chaser

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), has been awarded a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply the electrical power system for the Dream Chaser, a commercial spacecraft that will carry cargo to and from the International Space Station.

The system will regulate power generated from the solar arrays and distribute it to the reusable spacecraft’s avionics, thermal and propulsion systems, as well as payloads that require electrical power. “Aerojet Rocketdyne is honored to supply a critical power-management system for a spacecraft that will deliver supplies to astronauts living and working onboard the space station,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake.

Read more at: Space Daily

Spectrolab Produces Higher Efficiency Space Solar Cell

Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab has begun manufacturing a higher-efficiency space solar cell providing new opportunities for the aerospace industry to develop lighter and less expensive spacecraft.

The new solar cell, known as XTJ Prime, has achieved an energy efficiency of 30.7%, which is higher than any other comparable model currently available. Solar cell efficiency refers to how much sunlight a cell can convert into usable energy. First delivery of the higher efficiency XTJ Prime cells is expected later this year.

Read more at: Solar Daily

Politics Must be Excluded from Space Exploration

Space is so expensive to explore that it makes sense for agencies to collaborate and pool resources. China and the US, as the leaders in the field, should therefore be working together on endeavours and missions. But although scientists from both sides are eager to cooperate, American lawmakers are so distrustful of Beijing that they have refused to ease a ban involving the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). Politics should not get in the way of scientific pursuit; exploration would come about quicker if such thinking was set aside.

The ban was imposed in 2011 due to a perceived risk of espionage. US lawmakers are so adamant that China be kept away that they even prevent Chinese scientists from attending space conferences. But the views are not shared by the heads of the Chinese and American space administrations, the scientific community or even the White House, which has been trying to change attitudes. Suspicions of Beijing run deep in Congress, though, and it is only with the retirement last year of congressman Frank Wolf, who was behind numerous China-exclusion laws, that there is a glimmer of hope.

Read more at: scmp

Japan’s Sixth HTV Cargo Mission Slated for Sept. 30 Launch

Japan’s space agency has set Sept. 30 as the target launch date for the country’s sixth resupply mission to the International Space Station, carrying cargo, experiments and six lithium-ion batteries to kick off a major upgrade of the lab’s electrical system.

The cylinder-shaped cargo craft is set for liftoff at 1716 GMT (1:16 p.m. EDT) Sept. 30 from the Tanegashima Space Center, a facility nestled on the southern coast of Tanegashima Island in southern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Tuesday.

The launch of the sixth H-2 Transfer Vehicle will occur in the predawn hours Oct. 1, Japanese time. Japan has nicknamed the mission Kounotori 6, which means white stork. It will transport about 9,365 (4,248 kilograms) of cargo in separate pressurized and unpressurized modules, according to the latest payload manifest. The Kounotori 6 spacecraft will reach the space station Oct. 4, when astronauts will snare the approaching supply ship with a robotic arm.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

NASA’s Secret Art Studio: How to Make Rocket Science Beautiful

If you’ve marveled at space news recently, there’s a good chance it’s thanks to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This arm of Nasa is responsible for the most ambitious of missions, like sending robots to Mars and, most recently, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter. But the JPL has another under-the-radar mission: uniting two uncommon bedfellows – design and science – in new and meaningful ways.

You’ve probably never heard of the Studio at JPL, a group of rocket-science misfits who roam the facilities, offering their not-so-traditional design skills to engineers. You’ve definitely never seen their digs, a trailer on the outskirts of campus that looks like a science fair exploded on the inside. But you may have already seen their work.

The studio comprises eight jacks-of-all-trades who have experience in sci-fi movie effects, anthropology, advertising, architecture and illustration, among others. They work like freelance contractors, usually juggling at least five projects apiece.

Read more at: Guardian

Scientists Simulated a Nuclear Explosion of an Asteroid

Employees of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry NII PMM of Tomsk state university (Russia) and colleagues from St. Petersburg State University, Keldysh Research Center, and Research Institute Sirius are developing measures to protect the Earth from potentially dangerous celestial bodies. With the help of supercomputer SKIF Cyberia, the scientists simulated the nuclear explosion of an asteroid 200 meters in diameter in such a way that its irradiated fragments do not fall to the Earth.

“The way we propose to eliminate the threat from space is reasonable to use in case of the impossibility of the soft disposal of an object from a collision in orbit and for the elimination of an object that is constantly returning to Earth,” says Tatiana Galushina, an employee of the Department of Celestial Mechanics and Astrometry. “Previously, as a preventive measure, it was proposed to abolish the asteroid on its approach to our planet, but this could lead to catastrophic consequences — a fall to Earth of the majority of the highly radioactive fragments.”

Read more at: Science Daily

Company Offering Flights to the ‘Edge of Space’ for Nearly £14,000

For thriller seekers, the chance to ride a supersonic military jet right to the edge of space and into the Earth’s stratosphere may be closest thing to space tourism. It is a service by Swiss company MiGFlug, costing up to £13,800, in which they take adventures as high as 13.6 miles into sky for a dazzling view of the earth in a MiG-29 jet fighter.

MiGFlug has been offering the trip, called Edge of Space flights, for over 12 years and remains the only company worldwide to offer civilians the chance to break the sound barrier and fly at supersonic speed. While a commercial flight cruises at an average of ten metres per second, MiGFlug fliers climb into the sky at a rate of 330 metres per second.

Read more at: Telegraph

Russia Plans to Use Atmospheric Satellite ‘Sova’ to Develop North, Siberia

The first Russian atmospheric satellite dubbed “Sova” (Owl), which was recently successfully tested, will be used primarily for the development of the Russia’s North and Siberia, Deputy Director General for Advanced Research Fund Igor Denisov told Sputnik.

On Tuesday, the prototype of the first atmosphere research satellite Sova with a wingspan of 9 meters (30 feet) has successfully completed a 48-hour non-stop flight.

“The atmospheric satellite is solar-powered, and it is one of the basic platforms for developing key technologies. What makes it special is that – since Russia is quite a northern country with not a lot of sun – the satellite is designed for continuous operations in the northern latitudes, including the Arctic.

Read more at: Space Daily

The Women Who Made Communication With Outer Space Possible

In 1969, the world watched as Neil Armstrong marked his historic achievement with the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” His now-famous transmission was heard around the globe thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network, which made communication from outer space possible.

That network was built by a woman named Susan Finley. She was part of an all-female team of coders whose work was integral to the success of the Apollo 11 mission, but went largely unheralded. Science writer Nathalia Holt, who has written a book about Finley and her all-female team of coders, says this unique group of women was brought together by the efforts of a woman named Macy Roberts.

“Macy Roberts was made supervisor of this unique group in 1942 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” Holt says. “They were known as computers — before all of the devices we have today it was humans that were actually hired to do the calculations for laboratories. And so Macy Roberts decided that she wanted to make it an all-female group because she worried that, if she hired a man, they just wouldn’t listen to her because she was a female.” This all-female department played a crucial role in the early NASA lunar missions.

Read more at: Pri

Moon Landing Could Happen in Five Years With Plans to Build a Base On Surface

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Neil Armstrong said when humans first landed on the moon. It’s been 46 years since those words were spoken, and more than 42 since anyone has walked on the moon.

A new study is suggesting that humans could soon return to the natural satellite of the Earth in the next five to seven years, with a permanent base possible just ten years later. Financial restrictions have held NASA back in the past, with estimations for the trip escalating to around $100 billion. But according to new research, the costs are as “low” as $10 billion to travel there and another $40 billion to stay.

The low cost is thanks to public-private partnerships including the use of resources from privately owned companies like SpaceX. The process is already used to resupply NASA’s International Space Station. The plan also relies on the development of reusable spacecraft and lunar landers to reduce costs.

Read more at: Huffington Post

Mexico, Argentina Sign Space Cooperation Agreement

The governments of Mexico and Argentina have signed a space cooperation agreement for peaceful purposes, the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) said Sunday. The ministry said this agreement was made during Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s recent state visit to Argentina.

The agreement will enable the existing links between the two countries to be strengthened while promoting the creation of new mechanisms, and supporting exchange between Argentine and Mexican research groups, the SCT said through a press release.

Read more at: Space Daily

Space Colonization and the Space Movement

The National Space Society (NSS) and its precursor organization, the L-5 Society, have been promoting Space Settlement since 1975. Our ultimate goal is nothing less than the settlement of space and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity. This goal has been moving toward the mainstream at an accelerating pace.

A discussion of recent progress (up until May 2015) can be found in “We Are Winning” (Ad Astra, Fall 2015). Since then the pace has continued to accelerate. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin, using only non-government funds, have returned launch vehicles to Earth for reuse, signaling an imminent reduction in space transportation costs. Space Settlement is the goal of both of these companies. The Space Exploration Development and Settlement Act was introduced in Congress on March 16, 2016. If passed, the SEDS Act would make Space Settlement an official goal of NASA (see “Victory: The Vision of NSS May Soon Become an Official Objective of NASA”). Most recently, Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, announced his company’s plans to send the first human mission to Mars as early as 2024. Musk also announced that he will detail SpaceX’s plans to settle Mars during the International Astronautical Congress in late September 2016. This announcement is likely to cause the goal of Space Settlement to make a major jump toward the mainstream.

Read more at: NSS

Review: Fallen Astronauts

Forty-five years ago —August 2, 1971—Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin wrapped up their final moonwalk with a small and unofficial ceremony. Out of view of the cameras, the two placed on the lunar surface a small figurine called “The Fallen Astronaut” and a plaque. On the plaque were the names of 14 men, both American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts, who had died since the beginning of human spaceflight a decade earlier. Only after returning to Earth did Scott disclose the ceremony, documented by a single photograph of the plaque and figurine on the surface.

That ceremony, and the men it honored, are the basis for an updated version of Fallen Astronauts by space historians Colin Burgess, Kate Doolan, and Bert Vis. The book documents the lives of those 14 men—some famous, but many others not—and the circumstances of their deaths.

Read more at: Space Review

Book Review: Calculated Risk – The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom

Whenever the subject of U.S. space flight is mentioned, the names John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, and perhaps Alan Shepard come to mind. Gus Grissom is unlikely to top that list, but perhaps he should. A new review of the astronaut’s life, Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom, came out last month (June) and highlights a career, and a life, of someone willing to take risks to achieve great things.

This book is a welcome addition to the scant information about Grissom’s life. Moreover, in the age of internet journalism where writers state everything in the definitive – even when those statements are only loosely verified – George Leopold doesn’t have this issue.  Where there are parts of Grissom’s life that can be directly corroborated, Leopold states what is commonly viewed as being true, and also denotes first-hand reports that counter these views.

Even more importantly – the author has obviously done his homework – Grissom’s formative years in Mitchell, Indiana, are covered at length as is the Korean War veteran’s military and NASA years. “The historical record is incomplete regarding Gus and his career. This was apparent to me and many who have followed the history of manned spaceflight. My goal was to place Gus’s contributions in the context of the history of manned spaceflight and the Cold War. Ultimately, Grissom was a Cold Warrior,” Leopold told SpaceFlight Insider.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Trump is Running Curious Outer Space Ads

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said a lot about border walls, Muslim immigration and restoring manufacturing in the United States. Yet he hasn’t said much about the U.S. space program, which makes his use of space imagery in recent ads seem all the more curious.

“Aspire to Greatness” is the lofty message seen in digital ads from the campaign spotted around the web by online ad tracking firm Moat Pro. Two intergalactic ads, one featuring an astronaut in full NASA gear including a space helmet and another with a shot of a NASA spacecraft blasting off into the cosmos, have run since late July, just in time for the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Both images of space exploration are juxtaposed with the same photo of the real estate tycoon peering into the distance, a white “Make America Great Again” baseball hat perched on his head.

Read more at: Adage

Truth Test: Trump on Space, Jobs and Economy

“We will be bringing jobs back,” Donald Trump told the crowd of thousands inside Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center Wednesday.

Trump was not just saying jobs in general. He was referring specifically to a conversation he had with WESH 2’s Greg Fox before his appearance, in which he talked about the painful decline of space industry jobs in Central Florida when the shuttle program was scuttled.

The Republican presidential nominee said to the crowd, “Someone just asked me backstage, ‘Mr. Trump, will you get involved in the space program?'” That someone was WESH 2’s Fox. Trump said he will “invest” in NASA.

Read more at: Wesh

Next Missile Warning Sentinel Set for October Launch to Geosynchronous Orbit

A highly sophisticated U.S. Air Force satellite to sound the alarm when an enemy missile launches has shipped to its Florida launch site for liftoff in October aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The third Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite, or SBIRS GEO Flight 3, was delivered from Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale production factory in California to Cape Canaveral aboard a military C-5 transport aircraft on Aug. 2.

Its primary mission — and most dire use — would be warning the president and secretary of defense of an incoming attack on the United States homeland. “SBIRS GEO satellites are our nation’s missile warning sentinels and are critical assets to the U.S. military’s continually evolving mission,” said David Sheridan, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared systems mission area.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

US Says will Defend Itself, Allies After NKorea Missile Test

The United States issued a stern warning Tuesday that it was prepared to “defend ourselves and our allies” after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile towards the Sea of Japan.

“We are aware of reports that the DPRK (North Korea) fired ballistic missiles,” said State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen, noting that Washington strongly condemned this and other recent tests. “We remain prepared to work with our allies and partners around the world to respond to further DPRK provocations, as well as to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”

Read more at: Space Daily

North Korea Aims to Place its Flag on the Moon

Space exploration was once considered the province of two superpowers, with only tertiary participation from other nations. But since the turn of the century, more and more nations are joining in. China and India, for example, have placed landers on the Moon, satellites around Mars, and are even working on a space station. And as if that weren’t enough, private industry is also making its presence felt, largely through SpaceX and Blue Origins‘ development of reusable rockets.

But in the latest announcement to come out of the world’s last Stalinist regime, it seems that North Korea also hopes to join the 100 mile-high club (the space race, not the other thing!) In a recent interview with the Associated Press, a North Korean official indicated that the country is busy working on a five year plan that will put more satellites into orbit by 2020, and mount a mission to the moon within 10 years time.

Read more at: Universe Today

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