19 Spacecraft Go Missing After Russian Weather Satellite Launch Goes Awry

Russia’s Meteor-M 2-1 weather satellite and 18 nanosatellites went missing today after their launch aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East.

Among the lost spacecraft were 10 satellites that were supposed to be put in orbit for San Francisco-based Spire Global and become part of the company’s Lemur-2 Earth observation network. Two remote-sensing satellites from Astro Digital, a Silicon Valley space venture, were lost as well.

The launch failure is likely to raise new questions about the capabilities of the Russian space program and its controversial multibillion-dollar effort to create the Vostochny launch complex as an alternative to the decades-old Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Read more at: Geekwire

Guidance Error Reportedly Led to Russian Launch Failure

Russian officials could complete their investigation of a rocket failure Tuesday by mid-December, and multiple Russian news reports suggest the probe has narrowed to focus on the guidance computer on the Soyuz launcher’s Fregat upper stage.

The Fregat upper stage and its 19 satellite passengers, including a Russian weather observatory and spacecraft for U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese companies, likely fell into the Atlantic Ocean after igniting its main engine in the wrong orientation, the reports said.

Russian space agency officials acknowledged the mission failed Wednesday, a day after engineers first determined something went awry when the Meteor M2-1 weather satellite launched aboard the Soyuz/Fregat rocket never made contact with ground controllers.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Impact Locations of Four Fragments of Carrier Rocket from Vostochny Registered in Yakutia

Radars in Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia have registered impact locations of four fragments of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket that was launched from the Vostochny spaceport on Tuesday, the press service of Yakutia’s environmental protection ministry said on Thursday.

“Four fragments of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket have been spotted in the impact location in the Vilyuisk district. Radars registered four fragments of the carrier rocket in the center of the RP 985 impact location,” the press service cited the ministry’s lead specialist, Vladislav Ushnitsky, as saying.

According to the ministry, specialists will survey the area by helicopter and will collect samples on Thursday. Fragments of the rocket’s stages will be recovered after an environmental monitoring. “In case they are spotted in hard-to-reach areas, it will be necessary to prepare a pad for helicopter landing,” the ministry added.

Read more at: TASS

Space Accident Commission Allows Soyuz Carrier Rocket Launches Under Approved Schedule

The accident commission looking into the causes of a faulty liftoff from the Vostochny cosmodrome has allowed the launches of Soyuz-2 carrier rockets under a schedule approved earlier, the press office of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on Friday.

“The accident commission has made a decision to allow Soyuz-2 carrier rocket launches under the schedule approved earlier,” the press office said.

Read more at: TASS

Mechanisms are Critical to All Space Vehicles

About two years ago the National Transportation Safety Board announced its finding regarding the Virgin Galactic crash that occurred on October 31, 2014. The simple explanation was that the co-pilot unlocked a critical vehicle mechanism too early. After a nine-month investigation the NTSB further concluded that human error and inadequate safety procedures caused the violent crash.

The vehicle was named the VSS Enterprise, or more precisely, Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo experimental test vehicle. This spacecraft suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup, followed by a crash in California’s Mojave Desert.

Read more at: Space Daily

Staying Safe in Space with SNC’s Deputy Director of Project Engineering

We spent the day with SNC Deputy Director of Project Engineering, Angie Wise, as she shared behind-the-scenes access to Safety & Mission Assurance (S&MA) for the Dream Chaser® spacecraft.

Read more at: SNCorp

Thales Alenia Space to Develop Space Rider

Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and European Launch Vehicle (ELV) have signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the engineering and preliminary development of the automated reusable Space Rider transportation system.

Space Rider is designed for deployment into low Earth orbit (LEO) by the upgraded Vega C light launcher, which is scheduled to make its first flight in 2019. It is being hailed by Thales Alenia Space as a major step forward in the reentry vehicle roadmap.

ELV is a joint venture between Italy’s space propulstion specialist Avio SpA (70%) and the Italian Space Agency ASI (30%). The goal of Space Rider is to provide Europe with an affordable, independent, reusable end-to-end integrated space transportation system for unmanned missions and for routine access and return from low orbit. It will be used to transport a variety of payloads into different LEO altitudes and inclinations.

Read more at: Air Cosmos International

US Government Shuts Down Flat-Earther’s Rocket Launch

“Mad” Mike Hughes, a flat-Earth conspiracy theorist, will have to wait a little longer to test his science-busting rocket.

Hughes had previously announced plans to launch himself in a homemade rocket to a height of 1,800 feet (550 meters) above California’s Mojave Desert. But the launch, which Hughes had said would take place Nov. 25, did not happen. NPR reports that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “got wind” of the plan after the Associated Press reported Hughes’ announcement. The agency shut down Hughes’ launch, which would have taken place on public land.

Read more at: Space.com

Microbe Threat to Mars

The presence of water on Mars increases the possibility that human missions to the planet will inadvertently contaminate it with Earth species. And new research has uncovered the most likely potential threat.

Some planetary scientists have suggested the danger of microbial contamination on Mars is reduced because any water on the planet – such as that identified at the equatorial Gale Crater in 2015 – is hyper-briny and likely shot through with bio-unfriendly ingredients such as high levels of sulfate.

Research led by astrobiologist Adam Stevens of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, however, indicates that some types of terrestrial life might be tough enough to survive in such harsh conditions. Stevens and his colleagues looked at biofilm-forming microbes. These are species that clump together on surfaces and embed themselves in a matrix of polysaccharides, proteins, DNA and fats (known collectively as “extracellular polymeric substances”).

Read more at: Cosmos Magazine

Scientists Identify Key Factors that Help Microbes Thrive in Harsh Environments

Three new studies by University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) scientists have identified key factors that help microbes survive in harsh environments. The results, which have implications for biotechnology and understanding life in extreme conditions, were in the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences (PNAS), Astrobiology, and the International Journal of Astrobiology.

“Our work capitalizes on the abundance of genomic and transcriptomic data. Genomic data represent road maps, and genetics, biochemistry, and microbiology are the vehicles for exploring and expanding knowledge,” said the principal author on the studies, Shiladitya DasSarma, professor at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in the UMSOM Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Read more at: Space Daily

Spaceflight Pollution: How Do Rocket Launches and Space Junk Affect Earth’s Atmosphere?

Nobody knows the extent to which rocket launches and re-entering space debris affect Earth’s atmosphere — but such ignorance could be remedied soon.

The issue of rocket emissions — which deliver gases and particles directly into the middle and upper atmosphere — will be included in a forthcoming United Nations 2018 Quadrennial Global Ozone Assessment that delves into the substances responsible for ozone depletion. “The 2018 assessment is really the first one to have a substantial section on rocket emissions, not just a passing thought,” said Martin Ross, a lead author of the relevant section in the upcoming report.

Read more at: Space.com

Boeing Starliner Trio Preparing for Test Flights

Boeing is progressing through various stages of assembling the first three CST-100 Starliner spacecraft – the latter of which will launch a NASA crew on a test flight to the International Space Station (ISS). A number of major milestones are upcoming, including a Design Certification Review (DCR) for trips to the orbital outpost.

Part of the tag team effort with SpaceX’s Dragon 2 that’ll return US independence for crew launches, a capability lost when Atlantis landed at the conclusion of STS-135 in 2011, Starliner’s goal is to safely launch and return NASA astronauts to and from the ISS.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Astronaut Blood May Not Act Weird in Space After All

Astronauts’ blood changes in space — but that may not stop them from getting to Mars.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk often boasts about the imminent colonization of Mars, despite major human health problems that stand between us and the Red Planet. Fortunately for Musk and other aspiring space travelers, NASA scientists may have crossed one item off that list of potential problems.

Researchers who study space health have long thought astronauts lose red blood cells during extended deployments in space, leading to anemia. The ailment causes fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and other issues.

Read more at: Space.com

Air Force: Budget Uncertainty Threatens Cape Canaveral Rocket Launches

Before a rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a system drenches the launch pad with water to cool it down from the gas and flames bellowing out of engines firing with a million pounds of thrust or more.

If that water supply failed, the rockets couldn’t launch. That’s why Pump Station 7 is a top priority among the 85 projects the 45th Space Wing has tackled during a two-week maintenance period expected to close the Eastern Range through Friday, Dec. 1.

Read more at: Florida Today

Rocket Lab Schedules Second NZ Launch

The company will attempt the launch from the North Island’s Mahia Peninsula during a 10-day window starting December 8.

The company’s inaugural test in May reached space but didn’t make it into orbit after a communication fault forced the flight to be aborted. “Electron’s first test made history when it became the first orbital-class launch vehicle to reach space from a private launch facility,” chief Peter Beck said today.

“This is the first test carrying customer payloads and we’ll be monitoring everything closely as we attempt to reach orbit.”

Read more at: TVNZ

Japan May Join Space Station Project Aimed at Manned Moon Landings

Japan will consider joining a U.S.-proposed project to build a new space station in orbit around the moon, hoping that it will boost the chances of sending Japanese astronauts to the lunar surface, government officials said Friday.

The move indicates Tokyo’s desire not to fall behind the developments in the space field, as Russia said in September it will collaborate with the United States on the new space station, whose completion is envisioned in the latter half of the 2020s.

The science ministry panel proposed in a report compiled Friday that the government consider joining the U.S.-led project. The proposal was included in the draft revised road map of Japan’s space policy, to become official later in the month.

Read more at: Nikkei Asia

Deep Space Gateway Key Part of Updated Exploration Roadmap

A new edition of an international space exploration planning document to be released early next year will offer an updated plan for human missions to the moon and Mars, emphasizing the role that NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway could play.

In January, NASA and 14 international space agencies plan to publish their common goals for exploration, including an extended presence in low Earth orbit, a cislunar habitat, moon missions and eventual excursions to Mars, in an updated Global Exploration Roadmap being drafted by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG).

Read more at: Spacenews

Crossing Drones with Satellites: ESA Eyes High-altitude Aerial Platforms

ESA is considering extending its activities to a new region of the sky via a novel type of aerial vehicle, a ‘missing link’ between drones and satellites.

High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites, or HAPS, are platforms that float or fly at high altitude like conventional aircraft but operate more like satellites – except that rather than working from space they can remain in position inside the atmosphere for weeks or even months, offering continuous coverage of the territory below.

The best working altitude is about 20 km, above the clouds and jet streams, and 10 km above commercial airliners, where wind speeds are low enough for them to hold position for long periods.

Read more at: Spacewar

British Company Reveals Details About its Smallsat Launch Vehicle

A British company has released new details about a small satellite launch vehicle it expects to have ready in the next few years, part of a growing number of ventures seeking to build and launch rockets from the country.

In a presentation at a Royal Aeronautical Society commercial space conference here Nov. 22, the head of Orbex said the company was making good progress in the development of a launch vehicle designed for launching small satellites primarily into polar orbits.

“We’re quite confident that this is a good business opportunity,” said Chris Larmour, chief executive of Orbex, in what he said was the first public presentation about the startup’s plans. “It’s a good opportunity, and it’s an interesting thing to do, too.”

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Sensor to Study Space Junk too Small to be Seen from Earth

The film Gravity dramatized the risks of space junk. But although flyaway wrenches and broken-off rocket parts may pose the deadliest threat to spacecraft, most orbital debris is actually much smaller—think flecks of paint and the splinters of shattered satellites. Now, NASA hopes to learn more about the dust-size microdebris orbiting Earth with the Space Debris Sensor (SDS), set to be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) following a 4 December cargo launch by SpaceX.

Using ground-based radars, the U.S. Air Force keeps track of about 23,000 objects larger than a baseball, so satellite operators can avoid collisions by maneuvering out of the way. But much less is known about smaller debris, says Brian Weeden, director of program planning for Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit focused on space sustainability, in Washington, D.C. The SDS will study objects smaller than a millimeter—and at high speeds they can still cause real damage, Weeden says. “If a satellite is in orbit for 10 or 15 years, those little abrasions can have an impact by degrading sensors or degrading materials on the satellite,” he says.

Read more at: Science Magazine

Monitoring Activity in the Geosynchronous Belt

In the darkness of 2 a.m. on Aug. 26, the sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida, lit up with the bright plume of a Minotaur rocket lifting off from its launch pad. Aboard the rocket, a satellite developed by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office awaited its deployment into low Earth orbit.

The ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft is on a 3-year mission to continually scan the geosynchronous belt, which at about 36,000 kilometers above Earth is home to a great number of satellites indispensable to the national economy and security. Data collected by SensorSat will help the United States keep a protective eye on the movements of satellites and space debris in the belt.

Read more at: MIT

Russian Astronomers Record Space Object’s Fall

Participants in the project to create the Urals bolide network of photo and video cameras have registered the fall of a space object north of the town of Irbit in the Sverdlovsk Region overnight to November 27, project participant Ilya Yankovsky told TASS on Monday.

The object could be a fragment of a satellite or a large meteor, he said.

The local media earlier reported, citing eye-witnesses, that Yekaterinburg residents had witnessed a bright flash at about 05:00 a.m. local time on September 27 near the Yekaterinburg-Expo exhibition center. Besides, several videos were posted. However, scientists say that these videos have no relation to the object registered near Irbit.

Read more at: TASS

Newly Tested Parachute Could Land Cubesats Without Thrusters

NASA launched the TechEdSat-6 to the International Space Station on Nov. 12. This nanosatellite is the sixth installment in NASA’s Technology Educational Satellite series, a project that tests different tracking and communication technologies. TechEdSat-6 is the fourth satellite to test the Exo-Brake. The satellite was released into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 20 to begin its experiments, deploying its Exo-Brake once it was safety away from the space station. The agency released a video of the satellite’s deployment.

The current version of the Exo-Brake uses struts and flexible cords to warp the parachute, “much like how the Wright brothers used warping to control the flight behavior of their first wing design,” Marcus Murbach, the device’s inventor, said in a previous NASA statement. Engineers will be able to use the device to steer nanosatellites to desired landing sites without using fuel, which adds significant weight to a space-bound payload, according to this NASA statement. Currently, small satellites would have to fire rocket boosters to control their direction as they deorbit.

Read more at: Space.com

RemoveDebris: Space Junk Mission Prepares for Launch

The RemoveDebris spacecraft will attempt to snare a small satellite with a net and test whether a harpoon is an effective garbage grabber. The probe has been assembled in Surrey and will soon be packed up ready for blast off early next year.

Scientists warn that the growing problem of space debris is putting spacecraft and astronauts at risk. It is estimated that there are about half a million pieces of man-made rubbish orbiting the Earth, ranging from huge defunct satellites, to spent rocket boosters and nuts and bolts. Any collisions can cause a great deal of damage, and generate even more pieces of debris.

Read more at: BBC

A Shifting Shield Provides Protection Against Cosmic Rays

The Sun plays an important role in protecting us from cosmic rays, energetic particles that pelt us from outside our solar system. But can we predict when and how it will provide the most protection, and use this to minimize the damage to both piloted and robotic space missions?

Galactic cosmic rays are high-energy, charged particles that originate from astrophysical processes — like supernovae or even distant active galactic nuclei — outside of our solar system.

One reason to care about the cosmic rays arriving near Earth is because these particles can provide a significant challenge for space missions traveling above Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field. Since impacts from cosmic rays can damage human DNA, this risk poses a major barrier to plans for interplanetary travel by crewed spacecraft. And robotic missions aren’t safe either: cosmic rays can flip bits, wreaking havoc on spacecraft electronics as well.

Read more at: aasnova

Galileo’s 400-Year-Old Theory of Free-Falling Objects Passes Space Test

A key tenet of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity has passed yet another test with flying colors—and for the first time in space. A French satellite experiment has shown that objects with different masses fall at exactly the same rate under gravity, just as relativity dictates. The result is the most precise confirmation yet of the equivalence principle, first tested more than 400 years ago by Galileo Galilei. “The mission appears to have performed fantastically,” says Clifford Will, a theoretical physicist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Physicists scrutinize the equivalence principle because any violation could point to new forces of nature that might resolve a long-standing impasse between general relativity and quantum theory. The satellite, called MICROSCOPE, found no discrepancy in the acceleration of two small test masses to about one part in 100 trillion (1014).That’s more than 10 times better than the most sensitive ground-based experiments, which look for disparities in the response of weights to Earth’s spin.

Read more at: Science magazine

If No One Owns the Moon, Can Anyone Make Money Up There?

From Launch Complex 17 here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, many of NASA’s robotic planetary missions blasted off. Soon, the two massive towers that once cradled Delta 2 rockets will be torn down. A new tenant — Moon Express, a tiny company with far-out ambitions — is moving in.

Next year, the company, with just 30 employees, aims to be the first private entity to put a small robotic lander on the moon and perhaps win $20 million in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. It is investing at least $1.85 million to renovate decades-old buildings here. The company is transforming a parking lot into a miniature moonscape, and will also set up an engineering laboratory, a mission operations room and a test stand for spacecraft engine firings.

Read more at: NY Times

Australia’s First Commercial Space Base to Launch Rockets Within a Year

Australia’s first commercial space station is expected to be established and launching rockets within a year.

Commercial rocket launching company Equatorial Launch Australia, has secured a lease with traditional owners for about 60 hectares of land, to build a rocket base in the Northern Territory. The site is about 30km south of Nhulunbuy, in North East Arnhem Land.

ELA expects to start construction of the Arnhem Space Centre early next year, with the first launch at the end of 2018, once regulatory processes and environmental assessments to “get a space license” are complete.

Read more at: AU News

A Failed Company and an Uncertain Market

A decade ago, suborbital spaceflight appeared to have a bright future ahead of it. Virgin Galactic appeared to be leading the way with SpaceShipTwo, even if its development had already encountered delays. Others, though, were in the works, including Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Rocketplane, and XCOR Aerospace. There was also a secretive venture known as Blue Origin funded by some guy named Jeff Bezos.

None of those companies has yet flown a person into space yet, and the list of failed ventures is mounting. Rocketplane didn’t survive the Great Recession, which dried up funding for both its suborbital spaceplane and orbital vehicle it was drying to develop for NASA to supply the space station. A few years later, Armadillo founder John Carmack said his company was effectively dead, as he used up his own funds without making enough progress.

Read more at: Space Review

Scientists Make Transparent Materials Absorb Light

A group of physicists from Russia, Sweden, and the U.S. has demonstrated a highly unusual optical effect: They managed to “virtually” absorb light using a material that has no light-absorbing capacity. The research findings, published in Optica, break new ground for the creation of memory elements for light.

The absorption of electromagnetic radiation – light, among other things – is one of the main effects of electromagnetism. This process takes place when electromagnetic energy is converted to heat or another kind of energy within an absorbing material (for instance, during electron excitation).

Read more at: Space daily

New Motion Sensors Major Step Towards Cheaper Wearable Technology

Researchers from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering have developed a class of breakthrough motion sensors that could herald a near future of ubiquitous, fully integrated and affordable wearable technology.

In a paper published in the journal Materials and Design, engineers from FSU’s High-Performance Materials Institute, in collaboration with scientists from Institut National des Sciences Appliquees in Lyon, France, detail the impressive properties and cost-effective manufacturing process of an advanced series of motion sensors made using buckypaper – razor thin, flexible sheets of pure, exceptionally durable carbon nanotubes.

Read more at: Space daily

British Government to Offer Funding for Spaceports and Launchers

A new national industrial strategy unveiled by the British government Nov. 27 includes 50 million pounds ($67 million) to support development of new launch sites and launch vehicles.

The funding, announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark, is part of a broader “Industrial Strategy” for the British economy to increase productivity and earning power by investing in several key sectors, one widely anticipated by the country’s space industry.

The strategy’s funds, according to an announcement from the U.K. Space Agency, will “enable new satellite launch services and low gravity spaceflights from U.K. spaceports,” although the statement didn’t elaborate on how the funds will be allocated.

Read more at: Spacenews

Op-Ed | A House Divided, or in this Case, a Rocket

For almost all of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s a eight years in office, America’s human spaceflight community was at war with itself.

The initial sallies occurred early in former President George W. Bush’s administration, but did not degenerate into outright civil war until the Obama administration politically botched its attempt to cancel the Constellation project as unaffordable. Constellation sought to develop a Saturn 5-class rocket and other vehicles in a complete, integrated architecture to return permanently to Earth’s moon. The then-new and inexperienced Obama team failed to work with Congress to create a new strategy and get political support for it — or apparently even to inform key senators in advance. Congress responded by going over Mr. Obama’s head and creating the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, but failed to consider a realistic strategy for its use.

Read more at: Spacenews

How a Tiny County in Georgia is Trying to Create the Country’s Newest Commercial Spaceport

On the southeast coast of Georgia, around 20 miles north of the Florida border, a few concrete slaps and a handful of roads lie on 4,000 acres of luscious green land. They are the remnants of a now-defunct manufacturing plant. The area hasn’t seen much action in 50 years, but soon, it could be teeming with activity again — as the site of future US rocket launches.

The new proposed commercial spaceport, the first one ever for Georgia, is known as Spaceport Camden. Local government officials have big plans for the area over the next few years: they hope to build a launchpad to support rocket launches to orbit, as well as a landing area that would allow rockets to touch down after takeoff. Built through partnerships with private companies, the area could become the first exclusively commercial spaceport on the East Coast; the others in Florida and Virginia are operated by or associated with federal agencies.

Read more at: Verge

Sociology professor Phyllis Johnson says she could never be a good astronaut, explaining, “I’m too short.”

But the University of British Columbia academic is contributing to the high-flying work of actual astronauts with an continuing research initiative into what she calls a “space culture” – how astronauts make the International Space Station into a home as it orbits the Earth at about 26,700 kilometres an hour.

Dr. Johnson, working with co-investigator Peter Suedfeld, a UBC psychology professor, has been surveying astronauts on how they live in space as part of a study called At Home in Space, seeking insights that could help in longer missions, but also lead to data relevant to other circumstances on Earth where people live and work in isolated environments.

Read more at: Globe and Mail

Russian Cosmonaut Claims he Found Alien Microbes on the Space Station

By now you should know that it’s (almost) never aliens.

Still, earlier this week, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov told the Russian state news agency TASS that he had collected bacteria from outside of the International Space Station (ISS) that was from “outer space” — meaning that it’s of alien origin. When contacted, the Russian space agency Roscosmos did not refute Shkaplerov’s claims. Instead, it shared two previous stories from TASS, one of which stated that the exterior of the Space Station might serve as a “temporary custodian of biomaterial of extraterrestrial origin.” By this rationale, perhaps bits of space rock or dust from a comet containing alien microbes could have smacked against the station — and stayed there.

It’s certainly likely that Shkaplerov, while taking a cotton swab of the Space Station’s exterior, picked up a bunch of dead microbes. It’s just that these microbes almost certainly came from Earth.

Read more at: Mashable

If GPS Failed, We’d Be More Than Lost

North Korea and Russia pose increasingly serious geopolitical threats to the U.S. and its allies. While these rogue nations possess nuclear weapons and formidable conventional forces, they have also used unconventional methods like hacking to attack government institutions and private companies. Add another target to the list of concerns: the Global Positioning System.

Read more at: WSJ

NASA Rolls Out Back-to-the-Moon Strategies

NASA has begun to roll out a return to the Moon strategy. Taking part in a Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) workshop, NASA officials have started to outline potential back to the Moon strategies.

The GER is a publication authored by NASA and the other 14 space agencies that comprise the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). The roadmap outlines a phased approach to achieving the common goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars.

Additionally, NASA officials are fleshing out use of the cis-lunar situated Deep Space Gateway. Mission concepts for cislunar space, the Moon and Mars and functions that may be suited for possible commercial services are being discussed.

Read more at: Leonard david

EU Exempts Fuel for ExoMars Mission From Anti-Russian Sanctions

“On November 30, 2017, the Council adopted Decision (CFSP) 2017/2214 in order to permit certain operations concerning hydrazine (CAS 302-01-2) in concentrations of 70 % or more, which is included in the Common Military List of the European Union,” the Council of the European Union’s regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union reads.

According to the council, the substance is necessary for the flight of the ExoMars carrier module and tests and flight of the ExoMars descent module under the umbrella of the ExoMars 2020 mission.

The EU Common Military List regulates the scope of military items controlled for export in the EU pursuant to the EU Common Position on arms exports.

Read more at: Sputnik news

New Caucus to Advocate for NASA’s Needs in Congress

The co-founder of a new congressional caucus devoted to NASA said he hopes to use it to advocate for the agency’s needs in Congress once a new administrator is in place.

Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) co-founded the new NASA Caucus in October with Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). The bipartisan caucus now has about 50 members, he said in a Nov. 30 speech at a Commercial Spaceflight Federation breakfast here.

“We’re going to talk about what NASA can do, what the private industry can do, what commercial spaceflight is going to be doing, what everything is going to be doing, all meshed together,” he said.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA has Never Gone this Long Without a Formal Administrator

Four-time astronaut Charles Bolden resigned as NASA administrator on January 20, 2017, leaving the space agency after more than seven years on the job. Since then, a former director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, Robert Lightfoot, has served as interim director. He has held this post now for 315 days, or nearly 11 months.

According to an analysis of the gaps between administrators at the space agency, NASA has never gone this long without a formal administrator. Beginning with T. Keith Glennan in 1958 and running through the term of Charles Bolden six decades later, there have been ten transitions between NASA administrators. The average gap between administrators has been 3.7 months.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Commentary: Ron DeSantis: Bridenstine’s Space Knowledge Makes him Best NASA Leader

Florida is critical to America’s space program. The only people ever to walk on the moon launched from Florida, and, eventually, the first humans to set foot on Mars will take off from Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.

President Donald Trump has done both NASA and Florida a favor by nominating Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine to be the next NASA administrator. Jim is a strong leader who is the right choice to lead what I hope will be a reinvigorated space program.

Jim’s leadership is rooted in the fact that he is a bona fide American hero. As a Navy pilot, Jim flew combat missions off the USS Abraham Lincoln in both Iraq and Afghanistan, earning military decorations for his “heroic achievement,” and for “often placing himself at great personal risk.”

Read more at: Orlando Sentinel

A Former NASA Flight Director Explains Why he Couldn’t do Anything But Lie Alone in a Darkened Room During Parts of Space Missions

When it came time to recover from a shift in mission control, former NASA flight director Paul Hill would head home. There, he might grab something to eat or catch up with his two kids.

Then he would retreat to the quietest room in the house, where his wife covered the windows with blankets to block out the sun. Hill would try to fall asleep, until it came time to head back to the mission control center.

NASA’s mission control is run by three teams rotating between nine-hour shifts. A different flight director leads each team. Hill, the author of “Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom: A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance,” said there’s usually about an hour of overlap between each shift.

Read more at: Business Insider

LG Helps Former NASA Astronaut Experience Moon Landing with VR

LG Electronics Inc. said Tuesday it assisted a retired NASA astronaut who took part in the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to experience landing on the moon with Google’s Daydream View VR headset. LG Electronics said it used the V30 smartphone and the Google headset to help the astronaut, Jim Lovell, get a glimpse of what is it like to be on the moon.

Lovell was the captain of Apollo 13, which failed to land on the moon 47 years ago due to an explosion of an oxygen tank.

LG Electronics said the V30 smartphone, which weighs 158 grams, is optimized for Google’s Daydream View VR headset. The device’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 AP and OLED display also provide users with a top-notch gaming environment, it added.

Read more at: Yonhapnews

Space in Images

On 14 November 2017 at about 16:45 GMT a football-sized meteoroid entered Earth’s atmosphere about 50 km northeast of Darmstadt, Germany. It created a bright fireball in the sky, which was seen by thousands of people in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg, and was reported widely by media.

This remarkable image was taken by Ollie Taylor, a photographer from Dorset, UK, who happened to be on a shoot in Italy, in the Dolomites. The landscape scene shows the village of La Villa, Alta Badia, with Ursa Major seen in the background sky. At dusk on 14 November, he was setting up for a night landscape shoot at Passo Falzarego, at 2200 m altitude, in clear but chilly –6ºC weather.

Ollie reports: “I was composing a shot of this scene and Ursa Major, seen above the meteor. I wanted to get it at twilight so the sky had a nice pink hue. I just decided I was not getting close enough, and was reaching for my other camera with a longer lens, luckily I left this camera exposing!

Read more at: ESA

Air Force Space Launch Plan Multiplies Risks But Won’t Meet Military Requirements

What’s wrong with this picture? The head of U.S. Strategic Command said earlier this month that he will no longer support the development of exquisite, billion-dollar satellites — satellites he described as “big, fat, juicy targets.” Meanwhile, the Air Force agency charged with developing military space systems is racing ahead with a “launch service agreement” that requires prospective launch providers to spend big bucks developing a new heavy-lift rocket so they can loft exquisite, billion-dollar satellites into orbit.

What’s wrong with the picture is that one part of the Air Force’s space community doesn’t seem to know what the other part is doing. General John Hyten, the head of Strategic Command, previously ran Air Force Space Command. He presided over the formulation of a new “space enterprise vision” that would make the military’s orbital assets more resilient as space is increasingly contested by America’s enemies.

Read more at: Forbes

Japan Eyes Joining US Space War Game Next Year

The Japanese government is moving toward participating for the first time in American-led defense exercises that ready against satellite jamming and other threats in the space domain.

The U.K. and a number of other countries have in recent years taken part in the Schriever Wargame, held by agencies including the U.S. Air Force Space Command.

A Japanese government advisory panel submitted on Friday recommendations for a national space policy plan, including participation by the Self-Defense Forces in the 2018 exercises. A task force led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will approve the plan within the year.

Read more at: Nikkei Asia

North Korea’s New Missile: Pyongyang vs the Analysts

North Korea Thursday released pictures of its latest missile launch, giving analysts a chance to test Pyongyang’s claim of a breakthrough that brings the whole of the US within range of a nuclear strike.

Leader Kim Jong-Un declared the test of a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) had completed his nation’s drive to become a full-fledged nuclear power.

But analysts remain unconvinced that the North has mastered the technology required to launch and direct a missile, and ensure it survives the difficult re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Space daily

US Believes it can Defend Against N. Korea Missiles, for Now

The US military remains confident it can — at least for the moment — protect against any North Korean missile threat, a US official said Wednesday after Pyongyang tested a new rocket type.

North Korea earlier launched a previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called a Hwasong 15 and claimed was capable of carrying a “super-large heavy warhead” to any target in the continental United States.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the missile flew higher than any other from North Korea, and warned that Pyongyang could soon threaten “everywhere in the world.”

Read more at: Space war

Space Safety and Human Performance 1st Edition

Space Safety and Human Performance provides a comprehensive reference for engineers and technical managers within aerospace and high technology companies, space agencies, operators, and consulting firms. The book draws upon the expertise of the world’s leading experts in the field and focuses primarily on humans in spaceflight, but also covers operators of control centers on the ground and behavior aspects of complex organizations, thus addressing the entire spectrum of space actors.

During spaceflight, human performance can be deeply affected by physical, psychological and psychosocial stressors. Strict selection, intensive training and adequate operational rules are used to fight performance degradation and prepare individuals and teams to effectively manage systems failures and challenging emergencies. The book is endorsed by the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS).

Read more at: Elsevier

IAASS to Offer New Training Course

We are excited to offer a new course offering this February in conjunction with the 2018 offering of the ISS Payload Design and Payload Operations.  This new course covers the various aspects of Risk Management and is being taught by the University of Pisa.

The plan is to offer both course in the same week with the Risk Management portion being offered on Monday and Tuesday with the ISS Payload portion following on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Personnel can sign-up for either course or both.  The courses will be held in Livorno (Tuscany), Italy.  The tentative dates are 12 – 16 February 2018.

To accommodate this new course, the ISS Payload course will be reduced from its current 3.5 days to 3 days.  This will be accomplished by reducing the focus on some areas that have are not as relevant as in the past while retaining that information that makes a successful ISS Payload mission.

If information about either course is desired, please email IAASS.training@gmail.com .

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