Three Months From Application To Launch License? A New Report Says It’s Possible

A report delivered in October to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation recommends a streamlined approach to launch licensing aimed at significantly speeding up the process and reducing its complexity.

Instead of the current approach, where companies follow 350 pages of federal safety regulations and meet 2,845 specific requirements, the report, prepared under contract to the FAA by Safety Engineering and Analysis Center (SEAC), a division of APT Research Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, suggests the government could attain the same level of public safety by auditing a company’s own safety program.

Read more at: Spacenews

Virgin Orbit Successfully Takes Its 747 Flying Launchpad Out For A Spin

In the next step on its path to getting its low earth orbit payload launch system up and running, Virgin Orbit successfully took its LauncherOne system out for a spin with an actual rocket attached under its wing.

The company’s specially modified 747-400 carried a 70-foot-long rocket as part of a test flight proving that the carbon-fiber, two-stage rocket works with the plane.

It’s a necessary step toward Virgin Orbit’s  plans to begin launching rockets early next year. The launch took place in Victorville, Calif., near Virgin Orbit’s Long Beach factory and the Mojave Air and Space Port, which serves as an operational launch site for Virgin.

Read more at: Techcrunch

NG-10 Cygnus Brings Experiments, Supplies to ISS Crew

Less than 24 hours after Progress MS-10 docked with the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s NG-10 Cygnus cargo freighter rendezvoused with the orbiting outpost.

After launching from Wallops Island, Virginia, two days ago, the spacecraft arrived in the vicinity of the ISS in the early-morning hours of Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Once Cygnus was within 33 feet (10 meters) of the Destiny module, Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Serena Aunon-Chancellor controlled the 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) long robotic Canadarm2 to grab the cargo freighter from its free-flight state. Capture was confirmed at 5:28 a.m. EST (10:28 GMT).

“What a beautiful capture,” Spacecraft Communicator Tamara York radioed from Mission Control Houston. “As we gather this week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station and the spirit of exploration it represents, we celebrate today, the mission of the S.S. John Young, reaffirming that the spirit of exploration is alive and well today and will be instilled in the generations to come. Congratulations to the NG-10 team.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

NASA To Review Safety Cultures At Commercial Crew Companies

NASA plans to carry out a review in the coming months of the safety practices at Boeing and SpaceX, an examination reportedly prompted by the actions of SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

The review, first reported Nov. 20 by the Washington Post, will start early next year and last for several months, and will include extensive interviews with personnel at both companies to examine how they implement cultures of workplace safety, rather than technical issues regarding the crewed spacecraft the companies are developing.

NASA did not respond to a request for comment about the assessment, but Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, told the Post in an interview that it will look at the overall safety culture at the companies, including issues ranging from how safety issues are handed by the companies to their policies on drug use.

Read more at: Spacenews

NASA Supports Roscosmos Version Of Soyuz-FG Booster Incident

The results of a NASA probe into the abortive launch of the Soyuz-FG booster on October 11 confirm the findings by the Russian Roscosmos space corporation.

NASA’s internal probe has been completed. “It supports the Roscosmos version. Small differences, but in general we agreed,” William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for NASA, told a conference in Moscow marking International Space Station’s 20 years in orbit.

A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 11. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Read more at: TASS

NASA Sets January 2019 Target Date For First “Crew Dragon” Test Flight

SpaceX is targeting Jan. 7 for launch of its first Crew Dragon commercial ferry ship on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, NASA announced Wednesday, a major milestone in the agency’s drive to end its sole reliance on Russian Soyuz crew ships for carrying astronauts to orbit.

If the shakedown flight goes smoothly — and if a NASA safety probe unveiled Tuesday doesn’t turn up any show stoppers — SpaceX could be ready to launch the first piloted Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket in the June timeframe, carrying veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the space station.

Read more at: CBS News

Crew Assistant CIMON* Successfully Completes First Tasks In Space

The astronaut assistant, CIMON* (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN), developed and built by Airbus on behalf of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), has passed its first tests in space with flying colours. It worked together with German ESA astronaut, Alexander Gerst, in the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) for around 90 minutes.

Gerst has been living and working on the ISS since 8 June 2018. His current horizons mission, lasting six months, includes conducting a series of tests with CIMON. This medicine-ball-sized plastic sphere, which weighs five kilogrammes, was created using 3D printing and is the first AI-based astronaut assistant – an experimental technology studying human-machine interaction in space.

Read more at: Airbus

China Tests Parachute And Landing Systems For Next-Generation Spacecraft

China has announced progress in testing landing systems for a new generation of spacecraft for human spaceflight, Chinese media report.

The tests verified recovery technology for the crew and reentry module for the new generation spacecraft, namely new parachute systems and an airbag landing system.

The development and testing of the systems has been carried out by the Beijing Institute of Space Mechanics and Electronics (BISME), also known as the 508th institute of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), China’s main body for researching, developing and manufacturing spacecraft.

Read more at: Gbtimes

ISS Microbes Should Be Monitored To Avoid Threat To Astronaut Health

Strains of the bacterium Enterobacter, similar to newly found opportunistic infectious organisms seen in a few hospital settings, have been identified on the International Space Station (ISS). The strains found in space were not pathogenic to humans, but researchers believe they should be studied for potential health implications for future missions, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Microbiology.

Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA investigated five strains of Enterobacter that were isolated from the space toilet and the exercise platform on the ISS in March 2015 as part of a wider effort to characterize the bacterial communities that live on surfaces inside the space station. To identify the species of Enterobacter collected on the ISS and to show in detail the genetic make-up of the individual strains, the researchers compared the ISS strains to all publicly available genomes of 1,291 Enterobacter strains collected on Earth.

Read more at: Eurekalert

How The Soyuz Rocket Compares With The Rest

What are rockets if not hot, phallic rods? Especially the newer ones — just cop a load of the Big Falcon Rocket, which an American space company called SpaceX hopes to launch in five years.

Look above. It’s testosterone all the way.

Most rockets look like that. They are either one long shaft, with a few fuel-loaded stages. Or they’re a shaft-and-a-half, with scrotum-like boosters strapped to the sides. And they all do similar things. They fire straight up, and (some) come down again.

Read more at: DW

What Happens To The Brain In Zero Gravity?

NASA has made a commitment to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. This is an ambitious goal when you think that a typical round trip will anywhere between three and six months and crews will be expected to stay on the red planet for up to two years before planetary alignment allows for the return journey home. It means that the astronauts have to live in reduced (micro) gravity for about three years – well beyond the current record of 438 continuous days in space held by the Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov.

In the early days of space travel, scientists worked hard to figure out how to overcome the force of gravity so that a rocket could catapult free of Earth’s pull in order to land humans on the Moon. Today, gravity remains at the top of the science agenda, but this time we’re more interested in how reduced gravity affects the astronauts’ health – especially their brains. After all, we’ve evolved to exist within Earth’s gravity (1 g), not in the weightlessness of space (0 g) or the microgravity of Mars (0.3 g).

Read more at: Conversation

China’s 34th Launch Of 2018 Places Five Satellites In Orbit

China sent Shiyan-6 and four small satellites into orbit late on Monday with the launch of Long March 2D from Jiuquan, marking the country’s 34th orbital mission of the year.

Launch occurred at 23:40 UTC Monday (19:40 ET; 07:40 local Tuesday) at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert, sending the satellites into a 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit.

The main payload was the Shiyan-6 (‘experiment-6’) satellite, about which little is known, but the series has previously been linked to surveillance capabilities. Shiyan-7, launched in 2013, caused a stir after it carried out unusual orbital manoeuvres.

Read more at: Gbtimes

NASA To Pay Private Space Companies For Moon Rides

Next month, almost a half-century since the United States last landed a spacecraft on the moon, NASA is expected to announce plans for a return. But the agency will just be along for the ride. Rather than unveiling plans for its own spacecraft, NASA will name the private companies it will pay to carry science experiments to the moon on small robotic landers.

Under a program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), NASA would buy space aboard a couple of launches a year, starting in 2021. The effort is similar to an agency program that paid private space companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). “This a new way of doing business,” says Sarah Noble, a planetary scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., who is leading the science side of NASA’s lunar plans.

Read more at: Sciencemag

Chinese Rocket Company Galactic Energy Sets Sights On Pallas-1 Medium-Lift Launch Vehicle

A young Chinese private launch company named Galactic Energy has stated that it is developing a launch vehicle capable of lifting four metric tonnes to a 200 km low Earth orbit.

Xinghe Power (星河动力), also known as Galactic Energy, released its official ‘Pallas-1’ concept via its WeChat channel on Monday, stating it aims to debut the launch vehicle in December 2022, along with another plan for a smaller, solid propellant launcher.

The 42 metre high rocket will use kerosene and liquid oxygen propellant and be capable of carrying a payload of up to four tonnes to low Earth orbit (LEO) or two tonnes to 700 km altitude Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).

Read more at: Gbtimes

FCC License Application Sheds Light On Spacex Vehicle Testing Plans

SpaceX has filed a license application with the Federal Communications Commission to cover testing at the company’s South Texas launch site of what may be the company’s next-generation launch vehicle.

The application, dated Nov. 19 and posted on a publicly accessible FCC database Nov. 21, seeks an experimental communications license to cover transmissions to and from an unspecified vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) vehicle that company plans to fly at its launch site under construction on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville, Texas.

During the tests, the vehicle “will take off, ascend vertically to a low altitude, and then descend back to its original landing spot,” according to a description attached to the application. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment about the FCC license application Nov. 23.

Read more at: Spacenews

We Have A Problem: Can A City Spaceport Keep Houston In The Space Race?

Houston has a long and proud connection with space exploration. It is home to the Johnson Space Center, the Nasa hub best known for hosting Mission Control. But as the US government squeezes Nasa’s budget and cedes much of its work to private industry, high-profile tycoons such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson are generating most of the buzz around the future of American spaceflight. And they are elsewhere.

In an attempt to stay relevant, Houston is transforming its 101-year-old Ellington airport into a major spaceport. “It keeps the city at the cutting edge of space and maintains it as Space City USA,” said Mario Diaz, director of aviation for the Houston Airport System, which manages Ellington and the city’s two major passenger airports, George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby.

Read more at: Guardian

A Historic Day For Chinese Newspace

On October 27, invited by MinoSpace, a Chinese startup satellite company, I went to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) and witnessed the inauguraal launch of the LandSpace Zhuque 1 (ZQ-1) solid-fueled small launcher. It was not only the first orbital launch by LandSpace, the China’s leading private rocket company, but also China’s first private rocket to be launched into orbit. The payload on top of this rocket was the first deliverable by MinoSpace, the Weilai 1 (Future 1) educational satellite developed for CCTV (China Central Television).

It was a nice day with comfortable temperatures and a clear blue sky. Our bus departed before sunrise and started a four-hour journey in the Gobi Desert. The bus ran on a section of desert expressway at first, where greens, villages, and farmlands were occasionally seen. And we saw a beautiful sunrise. However, after about three-fourths of the journey, an immense flat bare desert was suddenly before my eyes. All living things were gone, replaced with sparsely located strange facilities.

Read more at: Space review

NASA ‘Will Eventually Retire’ Its New Mega-Rocket If Spacex, Blue Origin Can Safely Launch Their Own Powerful Rockets

NASA is building a giant rocket ship to return astronauts to the moon and, later on, ferry the first crews to and from Mars.

But agency leaders are already contemplating the retirement of the Space Launch System (SLS), as the towering and yet-to-fly government rocket is called, and the Orion space capsule that’ll ride on top. NASA is anticipating the emergence of two reusable and presumably more affordable mega-rockets that private aerospace companies are creating. Those systems are the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is being built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX; and the New Glenn, a launcher being built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Read more at: Business insider

This Hunk of Metal Fell From Space and Landed in California

A walnut farmer in central California found a strange metal object in his orchard on Oct. 13.

He called the local sheriff’s office, according to a KGET report. The sheriffs reached out to Vandenberg Air Force Base, and experts there reportedly said the burnt husk was likely a fuel tank from an Iridium communications satellite. Specifically, it came from Iridium 70, which according to the satellite tracking site n2yo.com fell out of its orbit three days earlier, on Oct. 10.

Iridium 70 was part of a constellation of communications satellites first launched in the late 1990s. This one, according to Astronautix.com, rode a Delta 7920-10C rocket into space on May 17, 1998 along with Iridiums 72, 73, 74 and 75. (Coincidentally, the launch site was Vandenberg Air Force Base.) Of those satellites, only Iridium 73 is still in orbit.

Read more at: Live science

FAA: Fireball In Texas Sky Likely A Meteor

The Federal Aviation Administration says a streaking light seen in the skies over parts of Texas and Oklahoma was likely a meteor.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the agency received reports of the light Wednesday night. The sightings were reported as far north as Oklahoma City and as far south as Houston.

Media outlets across the ArkLaTex and beyond got reports of a bright, fiery object in the sky after it was spotted around 8 p.m. Some described it as having bright colors and looking like a “shooting star.” TV stations across Texas are reporting similar sightings. In some areas, meteor sightings were accompanied by reports of a “sonic boom.”

Read more at: ksla

Landing On Mars Is Harder Than You Think. Here’s How NASA Prepares

Pleas wish Julie Wertz-Chen the most boring week possible.

“If we’re bored, life is good,” the aerospace systems engineer says. After all, in just a few short days Wertz-Chen and her colleagues will attempt to safely set NASA’s InSight spacecraft on Mars. It’s a decidedly non-boring feat that could make this holiday week, which is normally full of extra stress for many of us, especially tense.

Landing a spacecraft on Mars might sound routine at this point, yet it’s anything but ordinary. Of the 50-odd times humans have flung various bits of hardware at Mars, whether destined for the surface or Martian orbit, more than half have failed. As of 2018, the United States is the only nation that has successfully put a rover on the surface of the red planet.

Read more at: National Geographic

Elon Musk Is Making A ‘Radical Change’ To Spacex’s Monster Mars Rocket — And Renamed Its Parts ‘Starship’ And ‘Super Heavy’

Elon Musk is dead-set on colonizing Mars, but keeps changing his mind about how his 16-year-old aerospace startup, SpaceX, will ferry people to and from the red planet.

Over the weekend, Musk said a “radical change” is coming to the design of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR — a 39-story, fully reusable rocket-booster-and-spaceship system for deep-space travel.

“SpaceX is no longer planning to upgrade Falcon 9 second stage for reusability,” Musk tweeted on Saturday, referring to the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. “Accelerating BFR instead. New design is very exciting! Delightfully counter-intuitive.”

Read more at: Business insider

DLR Is Developing A Reusable Rocket Engine For Launching Small Satellites

Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit. As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.

Read more at: DLR

Successfully Tested the M10-Methane Engine Prototype

Today in Colleferro Avio successfully tested the prototype of the new M10 liquid oxygen-methane engine, developed by Avio in partnership with the European Space Agency within the Vega E (Vega Evolution) program. The prototype is a scaled model of the third stage propulsion engine which will equip the Vega launcher starting from 2024.

The technology adopted represents a true innovation for both propulsion efficiency and environmental sustainability, given its reduced emissions and combustion waste. The prototype has been structured through additive manufacturing following Avio’s SMSP (Single Material Single Part) patent, exploiting advanced 3D-laser printing technologies.

Read more at: Avio

Russia To Complete Building Its Orbital Outpost Segment In 2022

The Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) will be fully built in 2022 when the last of the three modules scheduled for their launch in 2019-2022 joins the station, Chief Designer and First Deputy CEO of Energia Space Rocket Corporation Yevgeny Mikrin said on Monday.

“The construction of the ISS is planned to be completed by 2022 by putting three new modules into operation. These are the multifunctional laboratory module due to be launched in 2019, the nodal module with its launch in 2020 and the research and energy module planned to be launched in 2022,” Mikrin said at a conference devoted to the 20th anniversary of the world’s sole orbiter.

Read more at: TASS

Human Space Travel as a Platform to Accelerate Biomedical Innovation

A manned mission to Mars is slated for as early as 2024, but there are serious health risks that must be mitigated in order for such a mission to be successful. The most pressing risk identified by NASA is radiation exposure. Instead of stunting our spirit of exploration, there is an urgent need to develop effective radioprotection strategies to send humans to Mars on the order of decades, and not centuries. The health risks associated with deep space travel stem from fairly fundamental biology questions. Hence, the same radioprotection solutions we’d develop to go to Mars (or any other planet) would likely have considerable medical applications here on Earth—think new drugs, regenerative medicine, and gene editing.

Read more at: Xconomy

Focus on Vega Developments

Vega is proving its reliability. Based on this heritage, ESA and European industry are building new elements that will increase Vega’s performance, capabilities and flexibility from mid-2019.

A proof of concept flight on Vega of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service is planned for mid-2019.

It offers more low cost ride-share launch opportunities into low Earth orbit for small satellites below 500 kg, from CubeSats to microsats and minisats, technology demonstrators to mega-constellations.

This service is based on a range of specially developed dispensers which will allow launch operator Arianespace at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana to optimise Vega launch capacities.

Read more at: ESA

An Orbiter Glitch May Mean Some Signs Of Liquid Water On Mars Aren’t Real

Some signs of water on Mars may have just dried up.

Thanks to the way data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are handled, the spacecraft may be seeing signs of hydrated salts that aren’t really there, planetary scientists report online November 9 in Geophysical Research Letters.

That lack of salts could mean that certain sites proposed as places where life could exist on Mars today, including purported streaks of liquid water on the walls of Martian craters, are probably dry and lifeless. “People think these environments might be inhabitable by microbes,” says planetary scientist Ellen Leask of Caltech. But “there might not actually be any real evidence for it,” at least not from orbit.

Read more at: Science news

Japanese Cargo Capsule Succeeds In Re-Entry Tech Demo

A miniature cargo return vehicle carried aboard a Japanese supply ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean earlier this month in the first test of a new capsule to bring home experiment samples from the International Space Station.

Flying back from space for the first time, the capsule splashed down Sunday, Nov. 11, in the Pacific Ocean near Minamitorishima, a remote island around 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) southeast of Tokyo, reaching Earth under parachute around 7:06 a.m. Japan Standard Time (2206 GMT; 5:06 p.m. EST on Nov. 10).

A Japanese recovery ship pulled the return vessel from the ocean for an airlift to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tsukuba Space Center, where the capsule arrived Nov. 13 for ground teams to inspect and retrieve experiment samples carried inside.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Why NASA Blasts Half A Million Gallons Of Water During Rocket Launches

This is almost half a million gallons of water being blasted a hundred feet into the air.

The most impressive part? It was all done in just 60 seconds.

NASA created the massive fountain as part of a test for its Space Launch System, scheduled to launch for the first time in 2020.

It will be the largest, most powerful rocket NASA has ever built. Standing upright, the SLS will reach 322 feet in height, 17 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, and weigh almost 6 million pounds.

Read more at: Business Insider

Who Owns Space?

As a vast place full of limitless possibility, space is a huge draw for brilliant minds and big ambitions.

A new generation of billionaire entrepreneurs is vying to lay claim to it. Be it Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or Paul Allen, some of the world’s wealthiest and most ambitious businesspersons are going to great lengths and great personal expense to put their stamp on commercial space travel and the so-called New Space sector, turning a very cold place into a hotbed of startup activity.

Professor Matt Weinzierl has taken careful note of this trend and has his own goals for the New Space sector: namely, to use it as a means of launching classroom discussion and research on the subtleties and challenges of the relationship between the public and private sectors. An associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, Weinzierl is the author of a new case entitled “Blue Origin, NASA, and New Space”, which he uses as part of his course in the MBA elective curriculum, The Role of Government in Market Economies.

Read more at: hbs

Space Council Gets Human Spaceflight Strategy Report

On Friday, NASA submitted a report to the National Space Council that was developed in conjunction with the Departments of State and Commerce as requested by the Council at its February 2018 meeting.  The report outlines goals for human spaceflight and economic growth in low Earth orbit (LEO).  The agency released just an executive summary, saying the report itself is for internal government use only.

Entitled “A Strategy for Human Spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit and Economic Growth in Space,” the report lays out four goals. NASA’s press release said only that the goals “are among the priorities of NASA’s exploration plans” and it will continue to work with its interagency partners to achieve them.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Envoy Warns World Powers Not To Make Themselves ‘Great Again’ By Comparing Nuclear Buttons

The Russian Foreign Ministry will encourage cooperation within the global community as part of the International Space Station (ISS) in every possible way, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told an international scientific and practical conference called “Cosmonautics: Open Space for International Cooperation and Development” on Monday.

“The ISS is an example of partnership, which is not subject to politics. The last thing is particularly crucial for the Foreign Ministry. I think that the importance of such cooperation today is doubly critical, so we need to safeguard and step it up,” the diplomat emphasized.

“This project has become an independent area, as the saying goes, an island of normality in international relations. There is no collision of interests, no one carries out provocations, or practices sanctions and countermeasures. Quite the contrary, here we can see a unity of interests, an approach towards a mutual accomplishment of existing objectives and emerging problems. Here we can see a joint pursuit to achieve common goals and support each other,” Ryabkov stressed.

Read more at: TASS

Opinion: Is Space Exploration Motivated by Nationalism?

Many have complained about the poor quality of education offered by elite universities for years. The latest evidence supporting that complaint recently appeared in an article called “Make Outer Space Great Again,” published in Brown University’s student-run Political Review.

The premise was that the space program, especially under President Trump, is motivated by something called “Christian nationalism” and American isolationism. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Apollo race to the moon was motivated by the need to demonstrate the superiority of the American system, which valued freedom and tolerance in contrast to the totalitarian Soviet regime. President Kennedy put the matter very well in his famous Rice University speech

Read more at: Daily caller

New Committee Brings Industry Viewpoint to NAC, Seeks Changes to Planetary Protection Guidelines

The new NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Regulatory and Policy Committee (RPC) met for the first time last Friday, adopting a number of  “observations, findings, and recommendations” (OFRs) that will be considered by the full NAC at its meeting in December.  The committee, composed primarily of industry representatives, approved OFRs spanning topics from export controls to advertising to planetary protection.  If approved by NAC, they will be forwarded to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who created RPC shortly after taking office.

NASA publicly announced the membership of the RPC committee only hours before it met on November 16. They had a private session in the morning where they held preliminary discussions and a three-hour public meeting in the afternoon.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Navy Nanosatellite Launch Delayed For Further Inspection

A U.S. Navy ultra-high frequency nanosatellite designed for polar communications scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base was delayed Monday for further inspection, SpaceX said.

The delayed launch is part of the Integrated Communications Extension Capability program under the Navy’s Program Executive Office Space Systems and the Space and Naval Warfare Command Systems Center Pacific. Further details on the delay have not been released.

ICE-Cap is meant demonstrate low-Earth orbit satellites ability to extend the coverage of the Mobile User Objective System and old UHF Follow-On satellites to the polar regions.

Read more at: Space war

Space Force May Cost a Fifth of Air Force Estimates

A Space Force may only cost the Pentagon $550 million more per year, amounting to only a fraction of the estimate put forth by the U.S. Air Force, according to a defense budget analyst.

While the total cost for a Space Force could amount to as much as $21.5 billion annually, most of that money is already accounted for in the Defense Department’s budget for space personnel, operations, and procurement, according to Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Most of this is just a simple matter of reorganization and whether or not you think that’s worth it,” Harrison told Defense One on Monday. “The added cost is a handful of F-35s or less than the audit. I don’t think cost actually should be that big of factor in their decision. I think a bigger factor is whether or not it’s needed.”

Read more at: Freebeacon

Independent Estimate Puts Space Force Tab at Up to $21.5 Billion

The total annual budget of a new Space Force could cost up to $21.5 billion—or as little as $11.5 billion, with almost all of the cost coming from existing spending, according to a new report by Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report released Monday outlines three options: 

  • A limited “Space Corps” comprised of with a staff of 27,300 drawn from components of the 14th Air Force, would cost $11.5 billion.
  • A larger force adding the Army’s 1st Space Brigade, the Navy Program Executive Office Space Systems, and the Navy Satellite Operations Center would have 35,800 personnel and a budget of $13.4 billion.
  • An expanded version would add the Army’s 100th Missile Defense Brigade and personnel from the Defense Information Systems Agency for a total of 48,500 personnel and a budget of $21.5 billion.

Read more at: Airforce mag

Future Military Satcom System Puts Cybersecurity First

Electronic threats against satellite communication have rapidly escalated in the last few years and will continue to advance in the foreseeable future, the Defense Science Board cautioned in a March 2017 report. Similar warnings appear in the Trump administration’s 2018 national defense strategy: U.S. adversaries are developing electronic jammers and other cyber weapons that can render all commercial and most defense satellite communications inoperable.

The Russian military, for instance, has fielded several types of mobile jammers to target specific satellite user terminals within tactical ranges, the Secure World Foundation reported. Russia also has deployed technology to jam communications satellite uplinks over a wide area from fixed ground stations.

Read more at: Spacenews

Spaceplanes: The Triumph Of Hope Over Experience

If you look up “spaceplane” on Wikipedia you are confronted with a list of more than 80 enterprises since World War II. If you stretch a point, as it does, by counting the North American X-15, the Space Shuttle, Buran, SpaceShipOne, and the Boeing X-37 as successful spaceplanes, then this raises an etymological problem. Dictionaries describe a spaceplane as an aircraft that is capable of accessing space but can take off and land conventionally. On that basis, none of these five qualify. This means that, despite those eighty-odd attempts over seventy-odd years, a true spaceplane has never been flown.

Why not? Why can’t a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane be constructed that flies up and then glides back to a soft landing? Or, more interestingly, why did rocket engineers all over the world never stop trying to build one, despite unending failures, awesome financial losses, and the brutal tyranny of the rocket equation, the one that makes multiple-stage rocket launches apparently unavoidable?

Read more at: Space review

Flight Of UAE Astronaut To ISS Will Take Place In 2019 — Russian Space Agency

The flight of an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the International Space Station (ISS) originally scheduled for April 2019 has been postponed because of the October 11 abortive launch of a Soyuz-FG carrier rocket but will take place next year in any case, head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday

“The schedule has been somewhat altered due to the Soyuz accident. But I think we will fulfil our obligations concerning the flight of an UAE national in 2019,” he said.

Officials from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and nine candidates for a space flight arrived in Russia on July 31 for a three-week medical check.

Read more at: TASS

Over $150M Embezzled in Construction of Russia’s Far East Spaceport — Prosecutors

Russian prosecutors have said that over $150 million was embezzled during construction of the country’s new $5-billion spaceport in the Far East.

Russia sees the Vostochny Cosmodrome project, plagued by scandals and prosecutions of some of its contractors for fraud, as vital to secure the country’s independent access to space. Currently, space launches take place from the Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur in Kazakhstan, which itself has been blighted by failed launches.

Read more at: Moscow times

This Astronaut Video of a Rocket Launch as Seen from Space Is Simply Amazing

Look out, International Space Station, this spacecraft is hot on your tail! An astronaut captured a stunning time lapse video of the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft, also known as Progress 71, on its way to the orbiting complex.

About 15 minutes of the Progress launch on Nov. 16 show up in the time lapse video posted on the European Space Agency website. The video clearly shows the flare of rocket launch, the spacecraft making its way up into space, and the re-entry of the first stage of the rocket. As the spacecraft becomes a bright light in the sky, the Earth spins below.

European Space Astronaut Alexander Gerst, the commander of Expedition 57, captured the images from the wrap-around Cupola window on the space station. He set a camera that took pictures at regular intervals, and the resulting timelapse shows the launch at about eight to 16 times normal speed, according to a statement from ESA.

Read more at: Space.com

Major Tim Peake Reveals What Ground Control Wants In An Astronaut

The astronaut selection process at the European Space Agency is unforgiving from the start. On day one, candidates assemble in Hamburg for six rounds of tests that run back to back, with 10-minute breaks in between. All are designed to expose weaknesses in people’s “hard skills”: their mental arithmetic, visual perception, working memory, pattern recognition, concentration, and more. Most are abilities that cannot be taught.

“On the first day of testing you are so exposed. There is no hiding place,” says Tim Peake, an army major and former helicopter test-pilot who became Britain’s first ESA astronaut in 2009. “They are analysing your brain and you’ve either got it or you haven’t. I was more nervous about that stage than anything else.

Read more at: Guardian

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Why Elon Musk is more important than Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg

Which of this generation’s biggest tech luminaries and innovators will ultimately be remembered for having the greatest lasting effect on the world?

It’s a tough question, especially when you consider the role that people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg play in our everyday lives. But, if you ask renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the answer is simple: Elon Musk.

“As important as Steve Jobs was, no doubt about it — [and] you have to add him to Bill Gates, because they birthed the personal computing revolution kind of together — here’s the difference: Elon Musk is trying to invent a future, not by providing the next app,” deGrasse Tyson tells CNBC Make It about the Tesla and SpaceX CEO.

Read more at: CNBC

Review: The Bomb and America’s Missile Age

The beginning of the Space Age is intertwined with the beginning of the ICBM Age. The R-7 rocket that launched Sputnik in 1957 was developed as a ballistic missile intended to carry Soviet hydrogen bombs. The United States soon pressed into service its first ICBM, Atlas, as a space launch vehicle as well. Neither vehicle had a long career as a ballistic missile, as the development paths of ICBMs and launch vehicles soon diverged, but both played critical roles in the space programs of their countries.

One might think that those missiles were developed as part of long-term strategic plans by both countries, advancing the German rocket technology captured at the end of World War II and shaped by the development of nuclear weapons. However, as Canadian historian Christopher Gainor describes in The Bomb and America’s Missile Age, the development of long-range ballistic missiles, for launching weapons or satellites, was a more complex, confused process in the years after the war.

Read more at: Space review

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

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

Read more at: ISSF

10th IAASS Conference

15 – 17 May 2019 – Los Angeles, USA

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

Read more at: IAASS Conference

Abstract Deadline for 10th IAASS Conference

DEADLINE: 7 December 2018

Submit Abstract

Read more at: 10th IAASS Conference