Norwegian Researchers Say Data May Point To Second Blast At Russian Test Site

Researchers at a Norwegian institute believe that there may have been two explosions, not one, at the Russian naval test site on the White Sea earlier this month, an incident that killed at least five people and raised new questions about Russia’s weapons research.

The conclusions were published on August 14 by the Norsar Research Institute, based on seismographic and acoustic readings taken the day of the deadly incident, but had gone largely unnoticed.

Read more at: rferl

Soyuz MS-14 – Finally Delivers Skybot Humanoid Robot To Station At Second Attempt

In an unusual situation, Roscosmos launched the Soyuz MS-14 crew vehicle without any humans aboard.  The move is testing critical upgrades to the Soyuz MS series spacecraft, specifically the vehicle’s abort system interface with the upgraded Soyuz 2.1a rocket which will take over crew launch duties next year.

While no humans were aboard, Soyuz MS-14 carried a humanoid robot, called Skybot, up to the International Space Station.  While the liftoff – from Site No. 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 23:38:31 EDT on Wednesday – was nominal. The docking on Saturday was aborted ahead of final approach due to issues with the KURS rendezvous system on the ISS. Following a relocation of Soyuz MS-13, MS-14 docked on Monday night.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Situation Around Failed Soyuz MS-14 Docking ‘Complicated’, Says Roscosmos Chief

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has deemed the situation around the failed launch of the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) complicated, he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

“The situation is complicated, but it is under control,” he noted, adding that during the docking, “a failure of the equipment installed on the ISS that controls safe converging and locking took place.”

The docking of the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft carrying the Fedor android robot to the International Space Station (ISS) was cancelled on Saturday morning due to potential issues with an amplifier of the Kurs navigation system located on the ISS.

Read more at: TASS

Station Crew To Clear New Port For Second Soyuz Docking Attempt

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, joined by Italian flight engineer Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, plans to relocate his Soyuz spacecraft to a new docking port on the International Space Station late Sunday (U.S. time), clearing a spot for the unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spaceship to attempt another automated approach to the complex Monday after aborting its first rendezvous, Russian officials said.

Russian flight controllers devised the plan Saturday, hours after the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft failed to dock with the station on its first try. Cosmonauts on-board the station commanded the Soyuz MS-14 capsule to abort its approach, and the ship backed off to a safe distance.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Space Station Gets A New Docking Port In Key Upgrade For Boeing And Spacex Visits

Two NASA astronauts floated outside the International Space Station early Wednesday and helped attach a second docking port for commercial crew ships being built by Boeing and SpaceX. They also routed and connected cables to expand the lab’s external wireless network and provide backup power to the station’s robot arm.

Floating in the station’s Quest airlock, astronauts Nick Hague and Drew Morgan switched their suits to battery power at 08:27 a.m. EDT to officially begin the 218th space station assembly and maintenance excursion since construction began in 1998.

Read more at: CBS news

Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Qualification Motor Test for NASA’s Orion Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), along with NASA and Lockheed Martin, announced today that it successfully completed the second qualification test of its Attitude Control Motor (ACM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS). Preliminary results indicate all eight high pressure valves on the motor performed as expected under hot temperature conditions. The qualification test is a critical step toward Artemis 2, the first crewed mission of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems

Read more at: Northrop Grumman

NASA Rehearses Astronaut Launch — and Rescue — with SpaceX, Boeing (Photos)

Both SpaceX and Boeing are busily preparing for the first crewed launches of their commercial spacecraft, and in case something goes wrong, they’re simulating different types of emergencies.

The companies are contracted under NASA to provide commercial crew spacecraft for missions to the International Space Station (ISS) to supplement the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that is currently used for all ISS launches, which blast off  from a facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The first commercial crew astronauts will fly late this year or sometime in 2020, if all goes according to plan. SpaceX and Boeing will each launch their spacecraft from Florida, marking the first time American astronauts have launched from their home country since the last space shuttle mission in 2011.

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Administration Policies Seek To Promote Use Of Space Nuclear Power

A revised policy for approving the launch of spacecraft with nuclear power systems is the latest measure intended to support greater use of nuclear power systems in orbit and beyond.

The policy, formally issued by President Trump Aug. 20 to coincide with the latest public meeting of the National Space Council, updates guidelines for how both government and commercial spacecraft carrying space nuclear systems are reviewed and approved for launch.

The policy establishes a three-tier system for reviewing payloads carrying nuclear power systems, such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) or fission reactors, based on the amount of radioactive material on board and the probability of certain radiation exposure levels in the event of an accident.

Read more at: Spacenews

Nuclear Propulsion Could Be ‘Game-Changer’ for Space Exploration, NASA Chief Says

Humanity’s next giant leap could be enabled by next-gen nuclear tech, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

During the sixth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) today (Aug. 20), the NASA chief lauded the potential of nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants such as hydrogen to tremendous speeds.

Spacecraft powered by such engines could conceivably reach Mars in just three to four months — about half the time of the fastest possible trip in a vehicle with traditional chemical propulsion, said NSC panelist Rex Geveden, the president and CEO of BWX Technologies Inc.

Read more at:

Trump Issues New Launch Guidelines for Nuclear Spacecraft

The United States has set new guidelines for launching safe and sustainable nuclear spacecraft on future missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

On Tuesday (Aug. 20), President Donald Trump signed a memorandum outlining new procedures for launching nuclear-powered systems into space. The guidelines include a thorough safety analysis and launch processes for both government and commercial launches.

Space nuclear systems include radioisotope power systems, such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which are in widespread use on spacecraft today. The memorandum also covers potential future systems such as nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants to very high speeds.

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Police Sent Explosion Warnings To Residents Near Spacex’s South Texas Launch Site Ahead Of An Experimental Rocket Flight

A small community of people at the southern tip of Texas just received what some of its residents are calling a “shocking” and “concerning” warning about SpaceX’s upcoming launch attempt of a Mars rocket ship prototype.

Residents told Business Insider a county sheriff went door-to-door on Saturday night to hand-deliver printed notices to the community, where approximately 20 people own homes. Known as Boca Chica Village or Kopernik Shores, the hamlet has in recent years become flanked by a rocket launch and development site.

Read more at: Business insider

Search Continues For New NASA Human Spaceflight Leader

More than a month after he reassigned the longtime head of its human spaceflight division, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Aug. 21 it may be several weeks before he appoints a successor.

Speaking at a press conference at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Bridenstine said the agency was still carrying out a broad search for a new associate administrator for human exploration and operations to replace Bill Gerstenmaier, who was reassigned to a special advisor role on July 10.

“We are looking wide and far. We are doing a nationwide search,” Bridenstine said. “We are, at this point, wide open looking at all the possible alternatives.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Russian Space Agency To Select And Train Four Indian Cosmonauts

Four representatives of India will undergo a selection procedure and training at the Russian Cosmonaut Training Center, the State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on Wednesday.

The Russian space agency made this statement following the results of a working meeting between Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin and India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

Read more at: TASS

Tardigrade Spill on the Moon Proves We Need Rules for Spreading Life Beyond Earth

On April 11, a private spacecraft crashed into the moon. But it wasn’t just bent metal and twisted bolts scattered across the lunar landscape—the wreckage included thousands of tardigrades, incredibly resilient micro-animals. The famously-hardy tardigrades might have survived the crash landing and are a perfect reminder that it’s time to start talking about what rules we want to shape our space environment.

“We have to be careful of exploring at any cost,” aerospace engineer Natalie Panek told Motherboard in a Twitter direct message. She argued that the same concepts of wilderness conservation apply to space exploration. “We need to show respect for the places we explore and the places we are trying to learn from. This means leaving as little impact as possible.”

Read more at: Vice

Lunar Dust Likely To Be Major Hurdle: ISRO Chairman K Sivan

One of the four major hurdles to the mission is preventing the damage to lander Vikram due to lunar dust. This dust is likely to rise when the lander is setting on the moon from the distance of 30 metres.ISRO has designed Vikram in such a way that the lunar dust does not form plumes and settles on the top of the lander. “Moon dust is a major concern for any moon landing mission,” ISRO Chairman, K Sivan had said. However  ISRO has devised a way of overcoming this hurdle.

Read more at: New Indian express

Chinese Telecommunications Satellite Hit By Anomalies After Launch

A Chinese telecommunications satellite has suffered unspecified anomalies following an apparently successful launch into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Zhongxing-18 (ChinaSat-18), a civilian telecommunications satellite to provide broadcasting and communications services to China, lifted off atop of an enhanced Long March 3B launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, southwest China, at 8:03 a.m. Eastern Monday, with amateur footage from the vicinity confirming liftoff. The first official confirmation of many Chinese launches come around one hour after launch from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main space contractor for the space program, or the media arm of the People’s Liberation Army.

Read more at: Spacenews

India’s Anti-Satellite Test Debris Still in Space – NASA

In its latest assessment on debris in space published in Orbital Debris Quarterly News, NASA claimed there are 101 pieces of debris big enough to be tracked, of which 49 pieces remain in orbit as of 15 July.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States has revealed in a report that debris from India’s anti-satellite test on 27 March is still floating in space.

The NASA report, however, said most of the debris created by the 27 March test seemed to have disintegrated. It was possible that smaller pieces from that test are floating around and not being tracked, it stated.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Despite Elon Musk’s Alarmist Tweet About An Asteroid Hitting Earth, NASA Says There Is No Known Threat

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, tweeted that a “big rock” is going to hit Earth, and that we “currently have no defense.”

But NASA, seems to disagree. Musk’s tweet was a response to another by comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, who shared an article reporting that NASA has begun preparations for the 1,100-foot-wide asteroid Apophis, which is scheduled to pass by Earth on April 13, 2029.

Read more at: CNN

Bezos And Musk’s Satellite Internet Could Save Americans $30B A Year

Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites for broadband internet access are beginning to display signs of real potential. Recently, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin pulled back the curtain on its space intentions by announcing Project Kuiper, a 3,236-satellite constellation. Additionally, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink recently launched a rocket containing 60 satellites from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

The fight for space internet supremacy is on. Both players, alongside others like OneWeb, are spending billions in space in hopes of making further billions annually once the satellites go into service for consumers in the US and around the globe.

Read more at: Next web

Radio Astronomers Worried About Oneweb Interference

Radio astronomers say OneWeb has not, until recently, paid attention to their concerns about interference, but that it is not too late to avoid a spectrum conflict.

OneWeb has resumed conversations about potential interference from its planned megaconstellation after talks stalled out three years ago, according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which operates radio telescopes in the United States and its territories.

The observatory raised the issue with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, saying OneWeb shouldn’t be talking about starting operations because the company had not met a commission rule that it first coordinate spectrum it wants to use that is adjacent to where astronomers do research.

Read more at: Spacenews

Here Come The Space Tugs, Ready To Tidy Up Earth’s Orbits

FOR THE LOW, low price of $2.25 million, SpaceX will put your small satellite on a big Falcon 9 rocket and shoot it to orbit with a bunch of similarly small satellites. It’s part of a new initiative called the SmallSat Rideshare Program, and with a first flight in late 2020 or early 2021, it will carry onlydiminutive instruments, a boon for their makers. While a Falcon 9 carried out a similar rideshare mission last year, that launch was organized by another company. This time, SpaceX itself is promising “regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions,” according to its website.

Typically, small satellites have to squeeze in, Tetris-style, alongside larger, more expensive satellites that dictate when the launch happens and what orbit the payload goes to.

Read more at: Wired

Boosting Space Situational Awareness: SMC Awards SBIR Phase 2 Contract

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Directorate of Special Programs (DirSP) awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract to Bluestaq LLC who will develop the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Marketplace program under the auspices of AFWERX.

AFWERX was created in 2017 by then Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to support rapid innovation within the Defense Department. SBIR is a prime example of the AFWERX goal of fostering a culture of innovation.

A revolution in how SMC provides the best possible tools available to the warfighter, the SSA Marketplace – a digital storefront – will provide the prime solution to the DoD SSA commercial data acquisition needs by supplying the DoD with a central hub for connecting SSA data providers and customers. Simply put, customers submit their data requirements to the SSA Marketplace, and commercial companies will bid in real time, allowing the customer to pick the data source that best meets their data needs, efficiently and effectively.

Read more at: Losangeles AF

New Space Race Forces Firm To Accelerate Mission

Ispace, which was founded in Japan and has a Luxembourg subsidiary, announced on Thursday an amendment to the mission timeline. Its first mission was expected to send an orbiter around the moon in 2020 to test in-flight technology. Now the team will focus all of its resources on the Hakuto-R programme for a soft lunar landing in 2021, followed by deployment of a lunar rover for surface exploration in 2023. The first mission will be able to carry customer payloads.

Read more at: Delano

WHITTINGTON: Newt Gingrich’s Plan For A Private Space Race Is A Shaky One

Is a private competition the right way to encourage Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in their race to the moon? Instead of tasking NASA to mount expeditions to the moon, the idea is to offer money to the first private group to land on the lunar surface and establish a base.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich apparently believes the concept would work. Reports indicate he has a plan to offer $2 billion for the first private group to accomplish what NASA proposes to spend tens of billions of dollars on with Project Artemis. Gingrich developed the latest concept with Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast and former music publicist Howard Bloom.

Read more at: Daily caller

Brit Rocketeer Skyrora Reckons It’ll Be Orbital In 3 Years – That Is, If UK Government Plays Ball

With two launches of the SkyLark Nano under its belt, Skyrora aim to go orbital in the coming years – assuming UK Parliament keeps up. The Register had a chat with the Brit rocketeer at its Edinburgh HQ to learn more.

The two-metre solid fuel-powered Skylark Nano was launched this month, hitting an altitude of 6km and a speed of over 1,800kph. It was a repeat performance, with engineers using the mission to check the maths behind their trajectory calculations.

The rocket, which was recovered by parachute, can be viewed at the Bayes Centre during the Edinburgh Festival.

Read more at: Register

SpaceX loses Falcon Heavy Customer Ovzon to Arianespace

Satellite broadband company Ovzon said Aug. 24 that a better offer from Arianespace for a 2021 launch aboard an Ariane 5 prompted it exit an agreement to launch its first fully owned satellite on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy.

Ovzon disclosed the switch to Ariane 5 in an earnings report Aug. 23, saying it had “recently contracted Arianespace to launch our satellite in 2021.”

“[W]e have thus left the preliminary agreements we had,” Ovzon said. In an interview Aug. 24, Ovzon CEO Magnus René told SpaceNews the company received a more appealing launch offer from Arianespace.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Galactic’s Next Space Plane Should Begin Test Flights in 2020

Virgin Galactic will soon have two space planes plying the sky, if all goes according to plan.

The company’s newest six-passenger SpaceShipTwo vehicle, known as VSS Unity, is nearly ready to fly tourists to suborbital space and back. Unity reached space on its two most recent test missions, and the craft is being prepped for a move to Spaceport America in New Mexico, the hub for Virgin Galactic’s commercial operations.

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Boeing Spacecraft Astronauts See New Frontier For Commercial Space

A crew of veteran U.S. astronauts and aviators are training in Houston for a manned mission to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s new Starliner spacecraft, which could also be used to take tourists into space on future missions.

The Boeing Starliner mission was originally scheduled for this month, but that has been delayed to at least the end of the year or into 2020 due to technical issues and amid a shakeup in the top echelons of the space agency.

Read more at: Reuters

NASA Awards Aerospace Corp. Contract Worth Up To $621 Million

The Aerospace Corp. won one of its largest NASA contracts to date, an engineering, evaluation and testing support contract with a maximum potential value of $621 million over nine years.

Under the sole source contract for the NASA-wide Specialized Engineering, Evaluation and Test Services (NSEETS) program, Aerospace Corp. will lend support, which may include staff, for focused science and technology studies, advanced systems architecture, systems engineering and independent reviews. Work under the contract is set to begin Oct. 1.

The NSEETS contract announced Aug. 19 carries on work Aerospace Corp. began performing in 2011.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Future Of Commercial Space Transportation

Today, commercial space transportation primarily means launch to Earth orbit. In the near future, it will include commercial in-space transportation systems and their support infrastructure. In fact, there are commercial in-space transportation companies now. One can book payload delivery to the Moon on expendable commercial lunar landers today with Astrobotic for $1.2 million per kilogram. In addition, Momentus is offering expendable space tug services in Earth orbit for small payloads. Reusable space tugs and Moon shuttles with propellant depots and on-orbit refueling are coming. Commercial space transportation is evolving to more diverse and more reusable launch systems as well as expanding to encompass orbit transfer vehicles and Moon landers.

Read more at: Space review

Medicine in Space: What Microgravity Can Tell Us about Human Health

Microgravity, or very weak gravity, on the International Space Station (ISS) is what lets astronauts glide and somersault around effortlessly as they orbit Earth. It is also a useful environment for gaining insights into human health, both in terms of the impacts of long-duration spaceflight and new perspectives on diseases that afflict people on our planet.

Space-based biomedical research was one of the key topics discussed last week at the ISS R&D Conference in Atlanta. Researchers highlighted some of the current work on the Space Station, as well as further studies NASA and the ISS National Laboratory hope to do while seeking to commercialize low-Earth orbit. They also aim to use the ISS as a stepping-stone to landing back on the Moon and eventually Mars.

Read more at: Scientific american

Spaceflight Consistently Affects The Gut

A new Northwestern University study discovered that spaceflight — both aboard a space shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS) — has a consistent effect on the gut microbiome

The Northwestern researchers developed a novel analytical tool to compare microbiome data from mice as far back as 2011. Called STARMAPS (Similarity Test for Accordant and Reproducible Microbiome Abundance Patterns), the tool indicates that spaceflight causes a specific, consistent change on the abundance, ratios and diversity of bacteria in the gut.

Read more at: Northwestern

Microgravity Changes Brain Connectivity

An international team of Russian and Belgian researchers, including scientists from HSE University, has found out that space travel has a significant impact on the brain: they discovered that cosmonauts demonstrate changes in brain connectivity related to perception and movement.

Some areas, such as regions in the insular and parietal cortices, work more synchronously with other brain areas after the space flight. On the other hand, connectivity of some other regions, such as the cerebellum and vestibular nuclei, decreases. The results of the study were published in Frontiers in Physiology.

Read more at: Eureka alert

Sierra Nevada Unveils Giant Habitat That Could Be Used For Moon Orbiting Space Station

A gentle whirring sound fills the warehouse at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as an enormous, inflatable cylinder slowly begins to fill with air.

The more the cylinder expands, the more it looks like a giant bouncy house.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Russia’s Roscosmos Patents ‘Armour’ to Protect Satellites From Space Debris

Russian space agency Roscosmos has patented a new protective shield for protecting satellites from the high-speed impact of space debris, according to the database of the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent).

The device consists of a two-layer protective shield made of aluminium, steel or copper with many cone-shaped elements on the surface. The tops of the cone-shaped elements are coated with a hard alloy. The gaps between the cones are filled with composite material.

Upon impact, an object should fall apart into smaller fragments, losing some of the energy, and the fragments should be thrown in different directions, hitting the cone-shaped base of the protective shield.

Read more at: Sputnik news

NASA’s New HPE-Built Supercomputer Will Prepare For Landing Artemis Astronauts On The Moon

NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have teamed up to build a new supercomputer, which will serve NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and develop models and simulations of the landing process for Artemis Moon missions.

The new supercomputer is called “Aitken,” named after American astronomer Robert Grant Aitken, and it can run simulations at up to 3.69 petaFLOPs of theoretical performance power. Aitken is custom-designed by HPE and NASA to work with the Ames modular data center, which is a project it undertook starting in 2017 to massively reduce the amount of water and energy used in cooling its supercomputing hardware.

Read more at: Techcrunch

Inside Sierra Nevada’s Inflatable Space Habitat for Astronauts in Lunar Orbit (Photos)

Astronauts may one day orbit the moon, live on the lunar surface or travel to Mars in a multifloor, inflatable habitat, should a Colorado company’s design be adopted by NASA.

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) on Wednesday (Aug. 21) provided a close-up look at its full-scale mockup for NASA’s Lunar Gateway, a human-tended orbital platform to support missions on the moon’s surface and future flights into deep space. Developed under the agency’s NeXTSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2) contract, SNC’s ground prototype is one of five concepts that NASA is assessing for future use as part of its Artemis program architecture.

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WPI Mathematician Is Helping NASA Spacecraft Travel Faster and Farther

By combining cutting-edge machine learning with 19th-century mathematics, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) mathematician is working to make NASA spacecraft lighter and more damage tolerant by developing methods to detect imperfections in carbon nanomaterials used to make composite rocket fuel tanks and other spacecraft structures.

Randy Paffenroth, associate professor of mathematical sciences, computer science, and data science, has a multi-part mission in this research project. Using machine learning, neural networks, and an old mathematical equation, he has developed an algorithm that will significantly enhance the resolution of density scanning systems that are used to detect flaws in carbon nanotube materials.

Read more at: WPI

Scientists Know Gravity Exists. They Just Don’t Know How It Works.

In 1888, astronomer Simon Newcomb proclaimed, “We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know.” At the time, it was believed that the universe comprised some 6,000 stars — a vast expansion of the heavens previously charted by Galileo and Copernicus and Kepler, who had, in turn, radically overhauled the authority of Aristotle’s celestial projections. As a man of his era, Newcomb had a point. Having seen farther into the sky than previous generations ever could have imagined, and having settled on a way to explain what we saw there, how much more could we expect to learn?

Read more at: Washington post

Statement on the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s NPRM Comments

Today, CSF filed comments and recommendations to the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for streamlined launch and re-entry licensing requirements.

“CSF thanks the FAA for undertaking the effort to modernize commercial launch regulations. While we appreciate the significant effort that has gone into producing the initial draft, our comments detail serious concerns with the proposed rule. In order to ensure that new regulations do not inhibit innovation, potentially result in less safe systems, and keep pace with the U.S. commercial space industry’s operations, the FAA has more work to do,” said Eric Stallmer. “We look forward to working with the FAA to refine and improve the rule.”

Read more at: Spaceref

FAA Launch Office, With Mounting Workload, Prioritizing Reorganization Over Expansion

The Federal Aviation Administration’s space-related workload is growing faster than its workforce, but the agency wants to complete a reorganization focused on efficiency before seeking more personnel.

That growing workload, the office’s leader warned Friday during a media teleconference, may be exacerbated by planned revisions to regulations for launch licensing. The public comment period for those revisions closed Aug. 19.

Since 2012, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, has increased staffing by 40 percent, according to Wayne Monteith, the associate administrator of that office. Its workload, in contrast, has grown tenfold, he said.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Council Recommendations Address Exploration And Management Concerns

Despite a strong public endorsement of NASA’s efforts to return humans to the moon as a step towards Mars, a series of recommendations approved by the National Space Council Aug. 20 highlight concerns about the agency’s plans to do so.

The council, at its sixth public meeting since being reconstituted two years ago, did not discuss the recommendations when presented by Vice President Mike Pence, chair of the council, at the end of the two-hour meeting. Pence, citing schedule constraints, only briefly described the recommendations and asked council members to endorse them. Members did so unanimously and without debate.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Government’s Plan To Update Rocket Launch Licensing Is Pissing Off The Commercial Space Industry

To address the rapid growth of the commercial space industry, the Trump administration has vowed to streamline the licensing process for rocket launches. But as the government has taken steps to fulfill this task, some in the commercial space industry are crying foul, arguing that the administration is poised to make changes that may make regulations more demanding than they were before.

To launch a rocket, companies must get a series of licenses, including one from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA isn’t so much focused on what a company is launching, but it mostly deems a rocket safe to the uninvolved public and property.

Read more at: Verge

Russian Government Continues Work On Updated Version Of Russia’s Space Policy Concept

The Russian government continues its work on the updated version of Russia’s space policy concept after the document was reviewed by the presidential administration and the Russian Security Council, an official with Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Thursday.

“The draft document on the basis of state policy in space exploration has been prepared by the Russian government and handed over to the Russian President’s administration and the Security Council of the Russian Federation. At present, the document is being fine-tuned by the government based on the results of the review,” the source said.

Read more at: TASS

Ending The Moon Versus Mars Fight

NASA’s long-term goals include enabling “the extension of human presence throughout the solar system.” This will be an incredibly long, arduous and difficult task requiring countless steps over many generations. But for whatever reason, the U.S. spaceflight community seems bound and determined to start this journey by shooting themselves in the foot with another interminable debate over which essential steps we can ignore and how quickly we can ignore them.

Preserving “continuity of purpose” was a dominant theme in the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act. Over the years, changes in direction, restarts and program cancelations have taken their toll on NASA.

Read more at: Hill

Newt Gingrich Pushing $2 Billion Moon-Base Race: Report

Newt Gingrich still has big moon dreams.

The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives made headlines during his 2012 presidential run by promising to get a lunar colony up and running by 2020 if elected. And now Gingrich is trying to sell Donald Trump’s White House on a $2 billion competition to set up a crewed outpost on Earth’s nearest neighbor, according to Politico.

Read more at:

Brazil’s Space Agency Head Was Forced Out for Defending Climate Science

Ricardo Galvão, the former director of Brazil’s space and climate-monitoring agency, left his position earlier this month after defending scientific findings that showed that the world’s largest tropical rainforest is undergoing a sharp increase in deforestation.

In just one month, June 2019, the Amazon rainforest experienced deforestation over about 800 square miles (2,072 square km), a region larger than Maui. That total, published July 4, comes from the Deforestation Detection System in Real Time (DETER), a program run by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Read more at:

What Does the Rise of the New Philippines Space Agency Mean?

Last week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte finally signed a law that would pave the way for the creation of a more comprehensive Philippine policy toward outer space, including the setting up of a new space agency. The development spotlighted the broader issue of the evolution of Philippine space policy amid the range of opportunities and challenges therein as well as wider regional and international developments.

The Philippines has long had an interest in outer space, including efforts to build satellites dating back to the 1960s as well as involvement in aspects of other areas such as education, training, and international cooperation with countries such as Japan. But the development of Philippine space policy has been hampered by several challenges, including the lack of coordination and the establishment of a single designated space agency.

Read more at: Diplomat

What’s in Thailand’s New Military Space Center Launch?

Last week, reports surfaced that the Thai military had launched a facility to preserve Thailand’s national security in outer space. Though details still remain unclear about the facility and its future prospects, the development nonetheless spotlighted the broader issue of Thailand’s development of its national space policy.

Thailand has long had an interest in outer space, with its involvement in areas such as research and development and satellite navigation dating back decades and the involvement of agencies like the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA).

Read more at: Diplomat

White House Keeps Up Pressure On NASA At Space Council Meeting

Vice President Mike Pence presided over the sixth public meeting of the White House National Space Council today.  At the last meeting in March, Pence directed NASA to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than planned, adding that if NASA could not do it, NASA would have to change, not the goal.  Today, Pence kept up the pressure while also praising the progress NASA is making.

As part of his introductory remarks, Pence laid out what NASA and its commercial partners have been doing since March to execute the Moon-by-2024 program, now named Artemis.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

USSPACECOM Stands Up August 29, Ushers In New Dod/Nro Era

Vice President Mike Pence will preside over a ceremony on August 29 to officially stand up the new U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM). On that day, 87 units will be reassigned to it and a new relationship will be established between DOD and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) where NRO will take direction from USSPACECOM to defend its satellites if conflict extends into space.

Speaking at the sixth public meeting of the National Space Council yesterday, Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., explained these steps, which emerged from President Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4).

NRO is one of the 17 agencies that comprise the Intelligence Community (IC), overseen by the DNI.  It designs, builds and operates the nation’s spy satellites and has a very close relationship with DOD, especially the Air Force, but is separate from it.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

US And Russia Trade Barbs At UN Over ‘New Arms Race’

Russia and the US traded accusations at the United Nations Thursday of risking a new arms race as China said it would play no part in any new missile deal.

The United States and Moscow ditched the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty after blaming each other for violating the accord.

Deputy Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy told the Security Council that Washington’s testing of a ground-launched missile earlier this week showed “America is ready for an arms race.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

Space Command Will Help the US Retake the Lead in Space

The space race is very much on, and the United States needs to up its game.

That was the message President Donald Trump conveyed in a series of speeches that began in March of 2018, and next week, his administration will take a major stride to do just that.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, the Defense Department will formally establish the U.S. Space Command as the 11th unified combatant command. This seminal event is the second in a series of steps that are impressive in scope, outlook, and impact.

Read more at: dailysignal

Iran Unveils Home-Grown Missile Defence System

Iran unveiled its new home-grown air defence system on Thursday at a time of increased tensions with the United States.

Iranian officials have previously called Bavar-373 the Islamic republic’s first domestically produced long-range missile defence system.

Tehran began making Bavar — which means “believe” — after the purchase of Russia’s S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani attended the unveiling ceremony for the mobile surface-to-air system and ordered it to be added to Iran’s missile defence network, state news agency IRNA reported.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Apollo XI – A Wasted Legacy?

The United States, and indeed much of the world, has spent the summer of 2019 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. Tributes have been paid to the crew and to the thousands of backroom staff, scientists and engineers who designed, built and tested the myriad of sub-systems required to complete that “Giant Leap” within the ambitious timescale demanded by a slain President. The media have regaled in detail the story of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins; their bold journey and that momentous step.

“What happened next” in space exploration is less well known today, and resulted in a path that disappointed many who hoped that more great discoveries and ambitious exploration lay ahead.

Read more at: Forbes

A Brief History of Spaceport America

Sometime in 2020, if all goes according to plan, British billionaire Richard Branson will board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity at Spaceport America in New Mexico and take the first commercial suborbital space flight in history.

The landmark flight, which Virgin has been trying to conduct for 15 years, will also be the culmination of a 30-year effort by New Mexico to become a commercial space power.

That effort has seen the expenditure of more than $225 million just on developing Spaceport America. While there have numerous sounding rocket launches from the desert facility, the ultimate goal of launching humans on space tourism flights has remained elusive so far.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

New York Times: Astronaut Accessed Estranged Spouse’s Bank Account In Possible First Criminal Allegation From Space

NASA is examining a claim that an astronaut improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, The New York Times reported Friday — potentially the first criminal allegation from space.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain told investigators she had accessed the bank account of her spouse while on a six-month mission aboard the ISS in preparation for her role in NASA’s anticipated first all-female spacewalk, the Times reported. McClain’s spouse, former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden, brought a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that McClain had committed identity theft, despite not seeing any indication of moved or spent funds.

Read more at: CNN

NASA Astronauts Train In Underwater Space Station

Astronauts have been training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to prepare for flying on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which could one day take tourists into space.

Reuters news agency was given access to the space centre to see the astronauts put through training for the planned flight.

Read more at: BBC

NASA Has Named A Mars Rock After The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have received just about every earthly honor in their legendary career, and now they are making rock history on Mars.

NASA has named a rock there after the band. It’s the size of a golf ball and was photographed by the InSight lander. Actor Robert Downey Jr. announced the honor Thursday night before the band’s concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The stadium is about three miles from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which runs the Mars InSight mission.

Read more at: CNN

Dennis Tito, World’s First Space Tourist, Files for Divorce

Multi-millionaire Dennis Tito, who made history in 2001 as the world’s first space tourist, will now tackle a new frontier: bachelorhood.

According to court documents obtained by The Blast, the 79-year-old filed for divorce on Monday from his wife, Elizabeth TenHouten. The couple was married in June of 2016 and they did not have any children together.

Tito cited irreconcilable differences for the split and indicated the couple has a prenuptial agreement that will dictate the terms of their divorce.

Read more at: Blast
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