SpaceX Launches Luxembourg Satellite, Russia Orbits Earth Observation Spacecraft

Falcon 9 first stage floating in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX successfully launched the GovSat-1 satellite for Luxembourg on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft will provide secure military communications for the Luxembourg government.

SpaceX did not plan to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster. However, it looks like the company will be able to do that after all.

“This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn’t hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived. We will try to tow it back to shore,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote in a tweet that included a picture of the booster floating in the ocean..

About five hours later, Russia opened its 2018 launch campaign with a successful flight of a Soyuz booster from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The rocket orbited the Kanopus-V 3 and 4 Earth observation satellites that will be used for mapping, disaster response and forest fire detection.

Space Studies Institute Begins Releasing Videos of 2017 Advanced Propulsion Workshop

Credit: SSI

MOJAVE, Calif. (SSI PR) — Last November Space Studies Institute NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Team Principal Investigator Dr. Heidi Fearn and Team Consultant Dr. James Woodward invited a group of friends and colleagues to discuss updates in engineering and testing of Propellant-less Propulsion, The “Woodward Effect,” The Machian Principle and other advanced physics and propulsion engineering topics.

Greg Meholic of The Aerospace Corporation, a presenter at the 2016 Estes Park Breakthrough Propulsion Workshop, offered an excellent space for this gathering in the Sally Ride Board Room at The Aerospace Corporation’s El Segundo, California headquarters.

The Space Studies Institute recorded the three day event and we are proud to begin releasing the full-length videos of the presentations starting this week on the SSI YouTube Channel ( https://www.youtube.com/c/SSISpaceStudiesInstitute ). In addition, most presenters provided their slides and we will be posting these on special new pages on the SSI.ORG website.

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Budget Bill Contains $10 Million for New Hangar at Spaceport America

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The New Mexico House Appropriations Committee has approved a spending plan for the state that includes $10 million for the construction of a new hangar at Spaceport America.

The funding is “for the planning and construction of an aerospace satellite testing and development hangar,” the bill reads. “The appropriation is contingent on the New Mexico spaceport authority contracting with a vendor specializing in advanced aerospace products and technologies to use the hangar.”

Construction of the spaceport near Truth or Consequences has already cost taxpayers about $225 million. The spaceport was originally built for anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, which has yet to begin flying suborbital space tourism flights from the southern New Mexico facility.

Virgin Galactic is currently testing its second SpaceShipTwo, Unity, at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Richard Branson’s space company expects to conduct several powered flight tests at Mojave before moving test operations to Spaceport America later this year.

SpaceWorks Announces Release of 2018 Nano/Microsatellite Market Forecast

CubeSats STMSat-1, CADRE and MinXSS are deployed from the International Space Station during Expedition 47. (Credit: NASA)

ATLANTA, January 30, 2018 (SEI PR) – SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) announced today the release of its annual nanosatellite and microsatellite market forecast and the unveiling of its updated SpaceWorks Commercial website.

Projections indicate as many as 2,600 nano/microsatellites will require launch over the next 5 years. The 2018 market forecast is available in presentation form as a free download on the SpaceWorks Commercial website, www.spaceworkscommercial.com.

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Spinoff 2018 Highlights Space Technology Improving Life on Earth

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used their expertise at detecting faint signals in satellite data to develop a device capable of detecting human heartbeats underneath piles of rubble. The technology has been licensed by multiple companies, including R4 Inc. After a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador in April of 2016, R4 president David Lewis Sr. brought the company’s FINDER system to look for trapped victims. Here, Lewis, right, shows local firefighters how to operate the system. (Credit: R4 Inc.)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The 2018 edition of NASA’s annual Spinoff publication, released Tuesday, features 49 technologies the agency helped create that are used in almost every facet of modern life. These include innovations that help find disaster survivors trapped under rubble, purify air and surfaces to stop the spread of germs, and test new materials for everything from airplanes to athletic shoes.

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Trump Doesn’t Mention Space in State of the Union Address

Bill Nye (Credit: Montclair Film Festival)

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (the Science Guy) had high hopes as he attended Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address on Tuesday as the guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

“Historically, the Space Program has brought Americans together, and during his address, I hope to hear the President’s plans to continue exploring the space frontier,” he tweeted.

It was not to be. The president said not a word about space exploration during the lengthy speech. The closest he got to talking about anything remotely scientific was to declare he had ended the war on “beautiful clean coal,” an oxymoron if there ever was one.

No, I’m not kidding. He really did say that. Trump might even believe it. Or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Will Nye’s presence at the speech help convince skeptical Senators to approve his nomination to run NASA? Will it seriously hurt Nye’s reputation? Will it help The Planetary Society have a voice in the emerging space policy to send astronauts beyond Earth orbit?

Time will tell.

Opposition to Nye’s State of the Union Attendance Grows

Bill Nye (Credit: Montclair Film Festival)

The criticism of the decision by The Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (the Science Guy) to attend Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address tonight at the invitation of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has grown to include a petition and an opinion piece in a prominent scientific publication.

An online petition urging Nye to cancel his plans started by ClimateHawkVote had garnered 35,790 signatures, more the 35,000 it was seeking. The petition reads:

President Donald Trump is a bigoted climate denier. So is Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump’s embattled nominee for NASA Administrator. So why is Bill Nye “very pleased” to be Bridenstine’s guest at Trump’s first State of the Union address?

Bill, please be the Science Guy, not the Bigoted Climate Denial Guy. Cancel your plans to attend Trump’s State of the Union as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest.

An opinion piece in Scientific American by the organization 500 Women Scientists disagrees with Nye’s claim that he is not endorsing Bridenstine, the Trump Administration or their science policies by attending the annual address.

But by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large. Rep. Bridenstine is a controversial nominee who refuses to state that climate change is driven by human activity, and even introduced legislation to remove Earth sciences from NASA’s scientific mission. Further, he’s worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants, a ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education….

The true shame is that Bill Nye remains the popular face of science because he keeps himself in the public eye. To be sure, increasing the visibility of scientists in the popular media is important to strengthening public support for science, but Nye’s TV persona has perpetuated the harmful stereotype that scientists are nerdy, combative white men in lab coats—a stereotype that does not comport with our lived experience as women in STEM. And he continues to wield his power recklessly, even after his recent endeavors in debate and politics have backfired spectacularly.

In 2014, he attempted to debate creationist Ken Ham—against the judgment of evolution experts—which only served to allow Ham to raise the funds needed to build an evangelical theme park that spreads misinformation about human evolution. Similarly, Nye repeatedly agreed to televised debates with non-scientist climate deniers, contributing to the false perception that researchers still disagree about basic climate science. And when Bill Nye went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to “debate” climate change in 2017, his appearance was used to spread misinformation to Fox viewers and fundraise for anti-climate initiatives.

Bridenstine Attempts to Soften Anti-Science Image with The Science Guy

Bill Nye in Washington. (Credit: Planetary Society)

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (the Science Guy) is defending his controversial decision to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address this evening as a guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), whose nomination to serve as NASA administrator is facing a tough fight in the Senate.

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NASA KSC Director Looks Ahead to 2018 Milestones

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana speaks to employees at the Florida spaceport about plans for the coming year. (Credits: NASA/Frank Michaux)

By Bob Granath
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana recently spoke to spaceport employees about plans for 2018. The coming year will be highlighted by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partners preparing to launch test flights for crewed missions to the International Space Station.

“This is going to be an awesome year for us,” Cabana said speaking to center employees on Jan. 11, in the Lunar Theater of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Apollo Saturn V Center. “The number one priority this year is we’ve got to get commercial crew flying to the International Space Station.”

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GLXP Update: Parabolic Archers Called It!

Congratulations are in order for Parabolic Arc readers! Or at least the 59 percent of you who voted correctly in our latest poll.

That’s the percentage of voters who chose “None of the Above” on the question of  who would win the Google X Prize. And wouldn’t you know it, last week the X Prize announced that the prize was ending without any winner.

So, kudos to you guys. Each and everyone one of you are a regular Ed Glosser.

As for the rest of you losers….21 percent voted for Moon Express, 9 percent of Team Indus, and 3 percent for Synergy Moon.

I’ve put in a new poll up on what will happen to Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to lead NASA.

Remember: vote early. Vote often. Vote as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

Seriously. I’ll explain later.

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Falcon 9 Flight to Kick Off Busy Launch Period

Falcon 9 on the launch pad with Intelsat 35e satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

UPDATE: SpaceX has scrubbed for the day due to the need to replace a sensor on the second stage. The next launch window is Wednesday, Jan. 31.
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for late this afternoon will kick off a busy period of international launches that will see the inaugural launch of the Falcon Heavy and China’s sixth orbital mission of 2018. SpaceX has four flights scheduled by the middle of February. (Thanks to Spaceflight Now for the schedule.)

Jan. 30

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: GovSat 1
Launch Window: 4:25-6:46 p.m. EST (2125-2346 GMT)
Launch Site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The Orbital ATK-built satellite will provide secure communications as part of the nation’s contribution to NATO. There will be no attempt to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage.

Jan. 31/Feb. 1

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 2-1a with Fregat upper stage
Payload: Kanopus-V 3 & V4
Launch Time: 9:07:18 p.m. EST Jan. 31 (0207:18 GMT on Feb. 1)
Launch Site: Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

The twin satellites will assist Russia in mapping, forest fire detection and disaster response.

Feb. 1

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D
Payload: CSES
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China

The China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite will study how electromagnetic signals in Earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere to determine if they can help predict earthquakes. This joint mission with Italy will be China’s sixth launch of 2018.

Feb. 3

Launch Vehicle: SS-520-5
Payload: TRICOM 1R CubeSat
Launch Window: 12:00-12:20 a.m. EST (0500-0520 GMT)
Launch Site: Uchinoura Space Center, Japan

The second launch of Japan’s upgraded sounding rocket will carry the 3U TRICOM 1R CubeSat, which has an imaging camera and store and forward communications system.

Feb. 6

Launch Vehicle: Falcon Heavy
Payload: Tesla Roadster
Launch Window: 1:30-4:30 p.m. EST (1830-2130 GMT)
Launch Site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy will send a red Tesla Roadster into deep space.

Feb. 10

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Paz
Launch Time: 9:22 a.m. EST; 6:22 a.m. PST (1422 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, Hisdesat’s Paz satellite will provide radar imaging as well ship tracking and weather data. The flight will use a previously-flown first stage.

Feb. 11

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Progress 69P
Launch Time: 3:58 a.m. EST (0858 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Feb. 14

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Hispasat 30W-6
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide communications services over Europe, North Africa and the Americas.

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Jan.29 , 2018: 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): We welcome back LAURA MONTGOMERY, noted space attorney. Laura will be discussing recent trends and concepts for US legal space policy and the OST.

2. SPECIAL DAY AND TIME: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018: 9:30 AM-11 AM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): We welcome PAUL GILSTER regarding interstellar.possibilities and technologies.

3. Wednesday, Jan.31, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Feb. 2, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): No show today as am working on finishing my move and studio setup.

5. Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018: 12-1:30 PM PST; 2-4:30 PM EST; 2-3:30 PM CST. We welcome DR. JOEL SERCEL, author of the NASA study “Stepping Stones: Economic Analysis of Space Transportation Supplied From NEO Resources.” The study examines Benefits of Settling Space Using NEO Resources

NASA & JAXA Agree to Pursue Deep Space Gateway

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On January 24, 2018, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) met to exchange their views on space exploration. The agencies signed a joint statement affirming their strong mutual interest in continued future cooperation in space exploration.

Both agencies have established a strong and committed partnership throughout the many years of cooperation in all mission areas, including human exploration, Earth and space science, fundamental aeronautics, and especially through the International Space Station (ISS) Program.

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