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Buzz Aldrin Evacuated From South Pole After Falling Ill

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Update: According to an update from his Twitter account, Buzz is being treated for fluid in his lungs. He’s in stable condition and responding to medication.

NSS Urges Trump to Lead Lunar Base Construction

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nss_logoWASHINGTON, DC, November 30, 2016 (NSS PR) — On Saturday, October 8th, the National Space Society (NSS) organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Silicon Valley Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. NSS has submitted the resulting white paper to the Trump Transition Team. The paper can be viewed at The paper can be viewed at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

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ULA Launches RocketBuilder Website

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ula_rocketbuilder_site
WASHINGTON, D.C.,  Nov. 30, 2016 (ULA PR)
– United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced its new, innovative website today that enhances the way customers shop for launch services and sets a new standard for pricing transparency. It also provides insight into reliability, schedule assurance and performance, allowing users to make a true value comparison.

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NSS Sets Invite Only Space Settlement Summit in Santa Monica

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Artist Don Davis' rendering of a space colony, part of the initial NASA Ames study done in 1975.

Artist Don Davis’ rendering of a space colony, part of the initial NASA Ames study done in 1975.

The National Space Society (NSS) is having a two-day, invitation-only Space Settlement Summit at a swanky hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., in early January.

The $1,000 per ticket gathering will take place at the Shutters on the Beach Hotel on Jan. 10-11. Rooms at the luxury hotel start from $468 and go up to $3,230 for a bedroom suite.

According to the summit’s buzz word heavy website:

The National Space Society is convening the Space Settlement Summit to bring together the leading people, companies and organizations that are making space settlement a reality. Participation in this event will be by invitation only and is limited to a very select group of people who will set the cultural message of near term Space Settlement and those who will build and finance it.

The objective of the event is to show the synergistic in-space ecosystem that is emerging; to facilitate a convergence of interests and opportunities amongst the key players; and to identify critical issues along the path to Space Settlement.

This summit will bring together not only the companies and organizations that are charting this new frontier, but also the thought leaders who are constantly innovating new ways for Space Settlement to flourish in the immediate future.

Convergence. Synergistic. Ecosystem. Thought leaders. That odd use of the British English word amongst. Still not buzzy enough. How about this: Could this event be a game changing, paradigm shifting pivot that will lead to an exponential explosion in humanity’s conquest of space?

Invites have already been sent out, so if you haven’t received yours, consider yourself either out of luck or fortunate, depending upon how you view NSS and the summit.

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AIA Urges Congress to Pass Budget, Lift Limit on Ex-Im Bank Deals

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aialogosmARLINGTON, Va. (AIA PR) — Aerospace Industries Association sent a letter today urging Congress to pass a completed FY2017 appropriation package rather than a full-year continuing resolution. We also ask that the ExIm Bank be enabled to process transactions more than $10 million. It was signed by more than 70 CEOs and senior industry representatives from AIA member companies.

The letter argues that the aerospace and defense industry is “arguably the most successful sector in our country,” contributing significantly to our nation’s economic growth, stability and national security despite “great uncertainty and instability in both the marketplace and with regard to annual government funding.” Our innovative industry supports our military, the dynamic aerospace sector and space exploration, and few things would offer a greater sense of stability going forward than completing the final FY2017 appropriations bills and restoring the ExIm Bank to full functionality.

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, and Leader Reid:

With the 114th Congress coming to a close, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the leaders of our member companies would like to express our strong support for efforts to pass appropriations legislation providing full year FY 17 funding for the federal government.

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GLXP Update: PT Scientists Announce Lunar Launch Contract

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Part-Time Scientists rover. (Credit: Audi)

Part-Time Scientists rover. (Credit: Audi)

PT Scientists has announced it has secured a launch contract through Spaceflight Industries to place two rovers on the moon next year to visit the Apollo 17 landing site. The rovers and a landing vehicle will fly as a secondary payload on an unidentified booster.

The team is trying to win the $20 million first prize in the Google Lunar X Prize. It is one of 16 teams left in the competition, which expires on Dec. 31, 2017.

PT Scientists have been working with Audi to develop two lightweight rovers to explore the site in the Taurus–Littrow valley where Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the last men to walk on the moon in December 1972.

The team has submitted its launch contract to the Google Lunar X Prize for verification. Teams need to have verified agreements by the end of this year in order to continue in the competition. Three teams have verified contracts: Moon Express, SpaceIL and Synergy Moon.

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Russia Eyes Launch of Progress Cargo Ship Replacement After 2020

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Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (Credit: RSC Energia)

Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (Credit: RSC Energia)

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — The first launch of the Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (ICCTS) for logistic support of the International Space Station (ISS) is possible after 2020.

Preliminary design work on the ICCTS is to be completed in December 2016, there are no plans to develop a cargo-return version of the spacecraft.

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RUAG Space to Build Spacecraft Structures for OneWeb

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ruag_logoBERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — RUAG Space will supply the structures for the OneWeb satellite constellation. A contract between OneWeb Satellites, the company responsible for constructing the OneWeb satellites, and RUAG Space has been signed that anticipates delivery of structures for 900 satellites by the end of 2020.

OneWeb is revolutionizing global connectivity and by far the largest satellite constellation ever. In just a few years’ time, about 900 satellites will be manufactured to be launched into low Earth orbit at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometres. These will offer broadband internet with up to 50 Mbps around the globe.

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Space Florida Pleads With Trump to Continuing Funding Major NASA Programs

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Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello Regarding President-Elect Donald Trump

“On behalf of Space Florida, I welcome President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration and look forward to continuing our positive relationship with NASA. I have been encouraged by what I have heard of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans for our national space program. As the incoming administration develops policies and priorities for the upcoming term, Space Florida  encourages President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration to sustain the balance of programs of record, including NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and affiliated Ground Systems Development and Operations.

Collectively, these programs sustain the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, this nation’s premier gateway to a great future in space.”
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Companies Propose Launching 8,700 Satellites into Non-Geosynchronous Orbit

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OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

While SpaceX has received most of the attention for its plan to launch more than 4,000 broadband satellite network, the constellation makes up just over half the number of spacecraft that companies have proposed placing in non-geosynchronous satellite orbit (NGSO).

Companies have filed applications with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 8,731 NGSO communications satellites. While most of the constellations would provide broadband and communications services, others would collect Earth observation data.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, NGSO spacecraft “occupy a range of orbital positions (LEO satellites are located between 700km-1,500km from the Earth, MEO satellites are located at 10,000km from the Earth), and do not maintain a stationary position, but instead move in relation to the Earth’s surface.”

SpaceX leads the pack with 4,425 spacecraft, followed by Boeing with 2,956 and WorldVu (aka, OneWeb) with 720. Boeing has a second application before the FCC for a constellation with 60 satellites.

The table below provides a summary of the applications filed with the FCC.

 NGSO APPLICATIONS BEFORE FCC
COMPANY LOCATION
NO. OF SATELLITES
BANDS SERVICES
SpaceX Hawthorne, CA 4,425 Ka, Ku Global broadband
Boeing Seattle, WA 2,956 V Advanced communications, Internet-based services
WorldVu (OneWeb) Arlington, VA 720 Ku Global broadband
Kepler Communications Toronto, ONT 140 Ku Machine-to-machine communications (Internet of Things)
 Telesat Canada Ottawa, ONT 117 Ka  Wide band and narrow band communications services
 Theia Holdings A, Inc. Philadelphia, PA 112 Ka Integrated Earth observation and communications network
Spire Global San Francisco, CA 100 Ka Maritime monitoring, meteorological monitoring, and earth imaging services
 LeoSat MA Pompano Beach, FL 80 Ka Broadband services
Boeing Seattle, WA 60 Ka Very high speed connectivity for end-user earth stations
 O3b Washington, DC 60 Ka Broadband services
ViaSat  Carlsbad, CA 24 Ka, V Broadband services
 Karousel LLC Alexandria, VA 12 Ka Communications
Audacy Communications Walnut, CA 3 K, V Data relay constellation providing satellite operators with seamless access to NGSO satellites
Space Norway AS Oslo, Norway 2 Ka, Ku Arctic broadband

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House Science Committee Launches Investigation into NASA Press Release

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Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). NASA recently issued a press release that implies the ARM has gained acceptance by advisory bodies.

“As the incoming Administration evaluates ARM, it would benefit from clear guidance from both NASA and its advisory bodies. Similarly, it should be unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term. Contrary to the assertions made in the press release, numerous advisory bodies have questioned the merits of the President’s ARM mission. The NASA Advisory Council, the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), and the National Research Council have all raised concerns with the mission since its proposal by the Administration,” the letter states.

Today’s letter requests documents associated with the consideration, development, formulation, drafting, production, and dissemination of the press release and a recent SBAG Special Action Team report.

frank_grimes

The late Frank Grimes

Editor’s Note: The House Science Committee is investigating a press release? Are you serious? Of course you’re serious. You guys went all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs a long time ago.

Trump needs to be “unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term.” What decisions? To put out a press release? And when has Trump ever felt encumbered by anything? Decency. Precedent. Truth.

And a 10-page letter? You needed 10 pages for that?

Don’t you have anything better to do with their time? Like passing a budget so agencies like NASA can do their work properly? The fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. Now I hear you guys are going with a continuing resolution until March.

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Orbital ATK to Develop Critical Technology for In-Orbit Assembly Through NASA Partnership

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orbital_ATK_logoDULLES, Va., 29 November 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that it has begun a public-private partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) to establish a Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) in space. The CIRAS program will advance key technologies for in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space structures that will help the agency meet its goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system.

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RUAG Space Selects Titusville for Production Facility

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ruag_logoBREVARD COUNTY, Fla., November 29, 2016 (Florida Space Coast EDC PR) – Today, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) announced RUAG’s selection of Brevard County for its RUAG Space USA Inc. production facility in Titusville. RUAG Space USA Inc., a supplier of spacecraft structural and thermal equipment, will operate at the Port Canaveral Titusville Logistic Center.

“The aerospace industry is undergoing a disruptive transformation,” explains Peter Guggenbach, CEO of RUAG Space USA Inc. “In what’s known as the new space segment, innovative start-ups and private investors are developing new commercial business models for aerospace applications. We want to be a competitive player in this segment too. The current order from Airbus OneWeb Satellites proves that we’re on the right path,” he says.

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Trump Appoints Christopher Shank to NASA Landing Team

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Christopher Shank

Christopher Shank

President elect Donald Trump has appointed Christopher Shank to the NASA transition landing team. Shank was most recently the policy and coalitions director for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and was formerly deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). He also served as NASA’s director of strategic investments and chief of strategic communications under President George W. Bush.

Mark Albrecht, who had been reportedly involved in the NASA transition, was been added to the landing team for the Department of Defense.

Shank’s LinkedIn profile is below.

Christopher Shank
LinkedIn Profile

Policy and Coalitions Director
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
January 2013 – Present (3 years 11 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Directs the Committee’s legislative and hearing agenda for broad portfolio of issues ranging from energy and environment/climate change, space exploration, and various research and technology initiatives across five subcommittees, engaging 22 Science Committee Members of Congress, in coordination with House Leadership.

Deputy Chief of Staff
Congressman Lamar Smith
March 2011 – Present (5 years 9 months)

Senior Director, Space, Networks, and Communications Business Development
Honeywell Aerospace
November 2009 – March 2011 (1 year 5 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Assistant Group Supervisor
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
February 2009 – October 2009 (9 months)

Director of Strategic Investments and Chief of Strategic Communications
NASA
April 2005 – January 2009 (3 years 10 months)

  • Senior agency official responsible for directing strategic messaging across all NASA mission directorates, program offices, and field centers. Directed 120-person NASA HQ staff including 10 senior executives responsible for $150 million/year education portfolio, legislative and intergovernmental affairs, and NASA public relations/special events.
  • Key member of NASA’s Management Councils with other Headquarters Officials-in-Charge, Associate Administrators, and Center Directors
  • Responsible for formulating and defending NASA’s annual budget requests and operating plans of $18 billion to the White House and Congress. Led 30-person HQ office, with hundreds more people in matrix support across agency.

Professional Staff Member
House Science Committee
April 2001 – April 2005 (4 years 1 month)

Officer
US Air Force
May 1990 – March 2001 (10 years 11 months)

Education

University of Colorado Boulder
M.S., Aerospace Engineering
1995 – 1996

University of Notre Dame
B.A., Mathematics
1986 – 1990

A Box of ‘Black Magic’ to Study Earth from Space

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RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Black magic.

That’s what radiofrequency engineers call the mysterious forces guiding communications over the air. These forces involve complex physics and are difficult enough to master on Earth. They only get more baffling when you’re beaming signals into space.

Until now, the shape of choice for casting this “magic” has been the parabolic dish. The bigger the antenna dish, the better it is at “catching” or transmitting signals from far away.

But CubeSats are changing that. These spacecraft are meant to be light, cheap and extremely small: most aren’t much bigger than a cereal box. Suddenly, antenna designers have to pack their “black magic” into a device where there’s no room for a dish — let alone much else.

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