Bridenstine & Myers Nominations Sent on to Senate


by Douglas Messier

Managing Editor

As expected, the Senate Commerce Committee narrowly approved the Trump Administration’s nominations of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to serve as the administrators of NASA and NOAA, respectively.

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Hey Las Cruces, Get Ready for Spacestock!

Las Cruces is throwing itself a space party this year, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Organizers say the first edition of the Las Cruces Space Festival, to be held April 12 and 14, will be a small affair and they hope it will grow over the years. The idea is to showcase the region’s aerospace industry, show people what has been accomplished in southern New Mexico and encourage new generations of Las Crucens to enter the growing aerospace field.

The date, April 12, was selected to coincide with the anniversary of human space flight, when the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit around the earth in 1961.

“The intent of the festival is to celebrate what we already do in space, not worry about what’s coming,” said Pat Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium at New Mexico State University.

Hynes said plans are still developing, but events will allow the public to learn about space-related activity in the region. On Saturday, April 14, various activities will be set up around the Plaza de Las Cruces which may include informational booths, a possible space-related movie at the Rio Grande Theatre and other activities.

 

NASA Team First to Demonstrate X-ray Navigation in Space

This illustration shows the NICER mission at work aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In a technology first, a team of NASA engineers has demonstrated fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space — a capability that could revolutionize NASA’s ability in the future to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond.

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Mixed Reality Technology Helps NASA Astronauts Prepare for Starliner Returns from the Space Station

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts, wearing spacesuits and augmented reality headsets, rehearse returning to Earth from the International Space Station during recent testing at Boeing’s Extended Reality Laboratory in Philadelphia. The astronauts are seated upside down so they can practice releasing their seat harness and moving to the side hatch of the Starliner without assistance. (Credit: Boeing)

PHILADELPHIA (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program astronauts training to fly test missions to and from the International Space Station are practicing returning to Earth from the microgravity laboratory.

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New ISRO Chairman Takes Over

A new chairman took over leadership of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) last week.

K. Sivan, who previously served as director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre since June 2015, succeeded A S Kiran Kumar. Like his predecessor, Sivan has been appointed to a three-year term. Sivan also serves as secretary of the Department of Space and chairman of the Space Commission.

Sivan joined ISRO in 1982, working on the PSLV booster program. He is credited with turning around the troubled GSLV Mark II rocket program after a series of launch failures.

Sivan graduated from Madras Institute of Technology with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1980. He earned a master of engineering degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Science two years later. In 2006, he was awarded a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering by the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.

ULA Atlas V Set to Launch Air Force Satellite Tonight

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed. They will try again on Friday at 7:48 p.m. EST.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force.

The mission is set to lift off on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Thursday, Jan. 18 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s L-1 forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 7:52 p.m. ET.

Launch Forecast Summary:
Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 10%
Primary concerns: Cumulus Clouds

Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 hour delay: 10%
Primary concern: Cumulus Clouds

Webcast available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Japan Launches Radar Satellite

Epsilon launches ASNARO-2 satellite. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — At 6:06:11 a.m. (Japan Standard Time) January 18, 2017, JAXA launched Epsilon-3, the third Epsilon launch vehicle which encapsulates NEC Small radar satellite “ASNARO-2”, from the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center. The launch occurred on time.

The launch and flight of Epsilon-3 took place normally. Approximately 52 minutes 35 seconds into the flight, the separation of ASNARO-2 proceeded, with confirmation as successful.

ASNARO-2 was developed by NEC Corporation as part of the project funded by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. JAXA, NEC Corporation’s contractor, was in charge of this launch.

JAXA expresses appreciation for the support by all.

Luxembourg, China Sign Cooperative Space Agreement

Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish a Research Laboratory in Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG, January 16, 2018 (Luxembourg Government PR) – The Ministry of the Economy and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a framework for the development and implementation of scientific, technical, economic and political cooperation between Luxembourg and China in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The areas of potential cooperation include, but are not limited to economic, legal, regulatory and technological aspects of the utilization of space resources.

Furthermore, the Ministry of the Economy, represented by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy, Étienne Schneider and the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) signed a cooperation agreement to establish a Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration in Luxembourg. The National Space Science Center is China’s gateway to space science. It is the key institute responsible for planning, developing, launching and operating China’s space science satellite missions.

The Research Laboratory of Deep Space Exploration will be established as an independent legal entity in Luxembourg where it will carry out scientific research and technology development and thus contribute to achieving the objectives set forth within the SpaceResources.lu initiative. Other main research fields of the Research Laboratory include universal interplanetary communications network related technology or advanced deep space communications technology. In a first stage, the Research Laboratory will employ at least 5 employees in Luxembourg.

Significant Commercial Crew Challenges Ahead for Boeing, SpaceX & NASA


Key Excerpts from

NASA Commercial Crew Program:
Continued Delays Pose Risks for Uninterrupted Access to the International Space Station

Government Accountability Office
[Full Testimony]

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Space,
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
House of Representatives
Statement of Cristina T. Chaplain Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management
January 17, 2018

Space X Risks

Dragon 2 wledment and heat shield. (Credit: SpaceX)

Similar to our findings in February 2017, our ongoing work indicates that the Commercial Crew Program’s top programmatic and safety risks for SpaceX, are in part, related to ongoing launch vehicle design and development efforts.

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GAO: FAA Evaluation of Commercial Launch Insurance Requirements Fell Short

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has failed to fully reevaluate insurance requirements for commercial space launches as required by law, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Effective Space Enters Satellite Servicing Arena

A UK-based company called Effective Space says it has signed an agreement with an unidentified spacecraft operator to provide satellite servicing capabilities, the BBC reports.

Effective Space says its two servicing “Space Drones” will be built using manufacturing expertise in the UK and from across the rest of Europe.

The pair, which will each be sized about the same as a washing machine and weigh less than 400kg, are expected to launch on the same rocket sometime in 2020.

Once in orbit, they will separate and attach themselves to the two different geostationary telecommunications satellites that are almost out of fuel.

The drones, using their own propulsion systems, will then take over station-keeping duties 36,000km above the Earth, ensuring the satellites can continue to point in the right direction to transmit their signals.

On its website, Effective Space says it will launch two SPACE DRONE spacecraft with universal, non-intrusive docking systems in 2020.

“‘Phase One’ roll-out is providing life-extension services to operators of satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), including station-keeping, relocation, deorbiting, orbit correction, inclination correction and ‘bringing into use’ (BIU),” the website states.

“Further phases will see platform adaptations to support the evolving low-earth-orbit (LEO) constellations, as well as active-debris-removal (ADR) and in-space explorations, mining and manufacturing logistics,” the website adds.

First Commercial Flights to ISS Slide Toward 2020


by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Early in the classic police comedy, The Naked Gun, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is at the hospital with partner Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) visiting the critically wounded Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), who had been shot and left for dead by a group of heroin smuggling thugs.

“Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that,” Ed tells Frank.

A similar scene played out Wednesday morning during the House Space Subcommittee’s hearing on the progress of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Only it wasn’t nearly as funny.

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ICEYE Launches World’s First Successful SAR Microsat

Helsinki, FINLAND  (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology for microsatellites providing expanded access to reliable and timely earth observation data, today announced the successful launch of its proof-of-concept satellite mission, ICEYE-X1, on ISRO’s PSLV-C40 rocket.

The success of the launch, from Satish Dhawan Space Center in India, distinguishes ICEYE-X1 as the world’s first microsatellite equipped with synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to ever be deployed in space and as Finland’s very first commercial satellite. Making further history, ICEYE has also successfully established communications with the 70 kg satellite at 05:20, GMT (07:20 Finland time) now in orbit, signaling the next step in the mission’s success.

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SSTL Confirms the Successful Launch of CARBONITE-2 & Telesat LEO Phase 1 Satellite

PSLV-C40 booster lifts off (Credit: ISRO)

GUILDFORD, England (SSTL PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has confirmed the successful launch of CARBONITE-2, an Earth Observation technology demonstration mission owned and operated by SSTL, and of the Telesat LEO Phase 1 communications satellite, an important milestone in Telesat’s plans to deploy a global low earth orbit (LEO) constellation that will revolutionise broadband communications services around the world.

These two small SSTL satellites were launched into a 505 km sun-synchronous orbit on board the PSLV launch vehicle from the Satash Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on 12 January 2018 at UTC/GMT 03:59.

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GomSpace Signs Launch Contract with Virgin Orbit

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 16, 2018 (GomSpace PR) — GomSpace has purchased a launch for several nanosatellites onboard a LauncherOne rocket from the California based company Virgin Orbit. The flight, which is bound for a low-inclination orbit, is scheduled to occur in early 2019.
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