News Briefs – Breaking Stories – Oddities
A weekly addition of some of the more unusual stories and discoveries in space & astronomy from around the world. Updated daily for those wanting a quick update of current events so keep checking back for all the latest space news.
Defects Found in Almost Every Russian Proton Rocket Engine
An investigation into quality control issues in the Russian space industry has discovered that nearly every engine currently stockpiled for use in Proton rockets is defective, the RIA Novosti news agency reported March 30, citing Igor Arbuzov, head of state rocket engine manufacturer Energomash.
71 engines, mostly used to power the second and third stages of the Proton rocket, require complete overhauls to remove defects. Arbuzov did not specify what was wrong with the engines. In January, Interfax reported on an investigation into high-quality metals swapped by a plant manager for cheaper alternatives.
“Most of the work will be done in 2017, but we understand that some portion will inevitably slip into 2018,” Arbuzov said. “Our main goal is to avoid disrupting the government space program’s launch schedule, or the schedules of the Defense Ministry and commercial customers.”
Read more at: Moscow Times
50-Year Old Rocket Stage Involved in Orbital Debris Event
The Joint Space Operations Center this week added hundreds of new debris objects to their catalog of objects orbiting Earth, originating from five separate debris events, one of which was previously unknown and involved a 50-year old Delta rocket stage. Added to the catalog this week were 351 debris objects
Read more at: Spaceflight 101
Pioneering Earth Observation Satellite Retired by NASA
NASA has decommissioned a long-lived satellite launched in 2000 that demonstrated remote sensing and surveying instruments and techniques common in today’s orbiting Earth observatories. The Earth Observing-1 spacecraft’s orbit has shifted away from its optimal perch, and the satellite does not carry enough propellant to correct its course, NASA said.
The satellite tested new Earth-imaging cameras after its launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta 2 rocket in November 2000, then the mission became a pioneer in spacecraft autonomy, sometimes making its own decisions about when to take images.
Built by Swales Aerospace, now part of Orbital ATK, the EO-1 satellite outlived its one-year design lifetime and was still healthy when NASA decided to retire the craft. NASA managers acted on advice from an independent review panel tasked to prioritize the agency’s spending on operating Earth science missions.
Read more at: Spaceflight Now
Yuanwang Fleet to Carry Out 19 Space Tracking Tasks in 2017
Yuanwang space tracking ships, which follows the progress of satellites and other space-bound craft, will carry out 19 maritime space monitoring missions in 2017, according to the maritime satellite measurement and control authority on Wednesday.
Yuanwang-5 left port Wednesday and Yuanwang-6 started its journey Monday. Yuanwang-7 and the rocket transporting fleet will set sail in April.
In 2016, Yuanwang ships completed 14 major scientific research and experiment tasks, including maiden flights of the Long March-7 and the Long March-5, and space journeys of the Tiangong-2 space lab and the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft.
Read more at: Space Daily
Cygnus Cargo Launch Postponed to Mid April
Orbital ATK’s OA-7 Cygnus spacecraft will have to wait a little longer before being sent toward the International Space Station. The cargo mission is now targeting a no-earlier-than mid-April launch. According to a March 28, 2017, Space News report, a NASA official at the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee said the delay will also postpone a spacewalk that was originally planned for April 6.
The OA-7 Cygnus, named S.S. John Glenn, is slated to carry 7,626 pounds (3,459 kilograms) of cargo to resupply the orbiting laboratory. The 21-foot (6.4-meter) long spacecraft will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. After a two-to-four-day rendezvous and subsequent berthing, the freighter will remain at the outpost for about two months.
OA-7 has been postponed multiple times. The first was due to a hydraulic issue on ground support equipment. Then, a couple days later, on March 22, Orbital ATK announced another delay. While testing the ground support equipment from the first postponement, an issue with the booster hydraulic line on the Atlas V rocket was discovered.
Read more at: Spaceflight Insider
NASA Laser Communications to Provide Orion Faster Connections
NASA is working to forever change the way astronauts communicate to and from space using an advanced laser communications system called LEMNOS, which will enable exponentially faster connections than ever before.
Imagine being able to watch 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) video as humans take their first steps on another planet. Or imagine astronauts picking up a cell phone and video-conferencing their family and friends from 34 million miles away, just the same as they might on Earth. LEMNOS, Laser-Enhanced Mission and Navigation Operational Services, may make these capabilities and more a reality in the near future. The project was named for the island, Lemnos, where the mythical hero Orion regained his sight, according to Greek lore. Similarly, LEMNOS will provide sight for NASA’s next-generation Orion spacecraft.
Read more at: NASA
China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing
Chinese state media is reporting that the country’s space program has developed a craft capable of both landing on the moon and flying in low-Earth orbit. The new spacecraft is claimed to be able to accommodate multiple astronauts, according to spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian, who Science and Technology Daily cited as comparing the forthcoming ship to the Orion craft currently in development by the European Space Agency and NASA.
All six crewed missions of China’s Shenzhou spacecraft, modeled after Russia’s Soyuz series, have carried three astronauts in its re-entry capsule.
A late-bloomer in crewed space flight, 2003 marked the first time Beijing launched a human into space. Since that time its program has seen swift progress, and is now considered one of the top-three worldwide. In late 2016, two Chinese astronauts spent a month inside a space station during the country’s most recent crewed mission.
Read more at: Space Daily
Recycled Rocket Hailed as New Era for Space Travel
In the years and centuries to come Elon Musk hopes that historians will look back on this week as a turning point in his bid to colonise Mars.
The billionaire entrepreneur predicted a “huge revolution in spaceflight” after his company SpaceX flew a used rocket into space and back — a pioneering feat that marked the culmination of 15 years’ work for the former physics and business graduate.
Recycled rockets were once derided as an impractical flight of fancy but they are at the heart of his — and others’ — vision to drive down the costs of space-travel and make it viable on a much grander scale. SpaceX’s refurbished Falcon 9 booster took off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Read more at: Times
The Quest to Kill the Superbug that can Survive in Outer Space
Highbay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is one of the most sterile cleanrooms on Earth. Not long from now, NASA’s next big Mars mission, the life-hunting Mars 2020 rover will have its parts attached here and so will the first probe sent to Europa. As long as un-crewed missions keep going to space, their Frankenstein bodies will be attached piece-by-piece in this room.
To sterilize the robots, the hardware is either baked, bathed in hydrogen peroxide steam, or wiped down with the same pure isopropyl alcohol used to clean open wounds. However, there’s one bacteria that has managed to survive in this extreme environment. SAFR-032 is a radiation-resistant bacterial spore found only in spacecraft cleanrooms. Indeed, it takes its very name from its peculiar habitat: SAFR stands for: Spacecraft Assembly Facility,( the R is for the medium in which it’s cultured.)
Read more at: Atlantic
Cockpit of Russia’s New Spacecraft to have Three Touch Screens
The crew of Russia’s next-generation spacecraft, Federation, will control it via three touch screens and one side handle, a senior official at the Federation’s designer told TASS in an interview.
“Initially, we planned to install five monitors – one main screen, two for the commander and two for the second crew member. Later we decided that there should be one screen for each of the crew members and one main screen to be used by them jointly. All of them will be based on the touch screen technology,” said Mark Serov, the head of the flight test department at the Energiya Space Rocket Corporation.
He added that RSC Energia’s technology will enable the crew to operate while wearing spacesuits and gloves.
Read more at: TASS
Kremlin Eyes Competition With Elon Musk’s SpaceX
The Kremlin is confident Russia’s state-run space agency can compete with the most ambitious companies in the field, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned the subject of space in his daily press briefing the day after Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched the first ever rocket made from recycled materials into space. “We follow technological breakthroughs very carefully in the Kremlin and in the relevant state institutions,” Peskov told state news agency Itar-Tass. “Competition is fierce enough. But we have all grounds to suppose that we can make a worthy contribution to this competition.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin also commented on the SpaceX launch, sending Musk “heartfelt congratulations” to Musk. He also used the opportunity to talk up Russia’s space exploration efforts, claiming that Roscomos had various ongoing projects. “It is extremely important to retain, for more than just the purposes of prestige, the status of a great space state, which has to correspond totally with new work, new ideas and new technology,” he said.
Read more at: News Week
Elon Musk has Job Openings for 473 People at SpaceX — Here’s Who it’s Hiring
When tech mogul Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, the rocket company “basically consisted of carpet and a mariachi band,” Musk said in September 2016. “That was it.” Today, SpaceX employs hundreds of people all over the US and has expanded its size, scope, and prowess with increasing revenues from government and private contracts.
And on Thursday, the company’s ballooning expertise culminated in the first-ever full reuse of an orbital rocket booster – the most expensive part of a launch system. “This is going to be a huge revolution for spaceflight. It’s been 15 years to get to this point,” Musk said during a live broadcast of the launch. “I’m at a loss for words.”
With that historic event in the rearview mirror, Musk said SpaceX was looking to make it a routine – if not boring – affair to launch, land, and relaunch rockets within 24 hours.
Read more at: Business Insider
Russia Plans at Least 30 Space Launches in 2017 – Roscosmos
Komarov added that Russia currently maintains an almost 24-percent share on the global market of space launches. Earlier in the day Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Russia believes it can compete in space with private companies including SpaceX.
SpaceX successfully has recently launched the Falcon 9 carrier rocket with the SES-10 satellite. The launch was the first attempt by SpaceX at sending the well-known Falcon 9 rocket back to space — and since, it’s already been there back in April 2016, when it delivered necessary supplies to the crew of the International Space Station (ISS), it’s been labeled as “recycled.”
Read more at: Sputnik News
Russian Expert Slams Musk’s Use of Booster Relaunch as Gimmick to Show Off to Investors
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, in which Elon Musk’s SpaceX used a re-fly booster to deliver payload into outer space is nothing more than a show-off for investors and spectators, Corresponding Member of Russia’s Tsiolkovsky Cosmonautics Academy Andrei Ionin told TASS on Friday.
SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket with a SES-10 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday. The rocket’s first stage subsequently safely landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean. Before that, the booster went into outer space in April last year when it orbited a Dragon spacecraft with supplies for the crew of the International Space Station. Therefore, SpaceX has been the first in the world to use a re-fly rocket for payload delivery into outer space.
“This was a show for spectators and investors but the efficiency of any technology will be decided when its cost becomes clear. So far, we see that Musk has become more cautious in his statements. His goal now is to reduce the launch cost by 30%,” Ionin said.
Read more at: TASS
Space Station Drama After Vital Micrometeorite Shielding Floats Away
This past week (on Thurs. March 30th), two crew members of Expedition 50 conducted an important spacewalk on the exterior of the International Space Station. During the seven hours in which they conducted this extravehicular activity (EVA), the astronauts reconnected cables and electrical connections on a new Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA-3) and installed four new thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module.
These shields were required to cover the port that was left exposed when (earlier in the week) the PMA-3 was removed and installed robotically on the Harmony module. In the course of the EVA, the two astronauts – Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson – were forced to perform an impromptu patch up job when one of the shield unexpectedly came loose.
While things flying off into space is not entirely unusual, on this occasion, there were concerns given the size and weight of the object. This shield measures about 1.5 meters by 0.6 meters (5 feet by 2 feet) and is 5 centimeters (2 inches) thick. It also weighs a little over 8 kg (18 lbs), which would make it a serious impact hazard given the relative velocity of orbital debris (28,000 km/h).
Read more at: Universe Today
Spaceport America Loses Potential Client to Spaceport that hasn’t Been Built
“Spaceport America” has lost another potential client to a rival.
Earlier this week, Vector Space Systems, “a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware,” signed an agreement with Spaceport Camden to “conduct a sub-orbital flight test of Vector’s full-scale launch vehicle, the Vector-R, as early as this summer.”
Last year, California-based Vector picked Arizona for its new manufacturing facility. Now it plans to send staffers flying over New Mexico on their way to test rockets in southeast Georgia.
Read more at: krwg
UK Industry Praises Spaceflight Bill, but Calls 2020 Launch Goal Unrealistic
The United Kingdom’s would-be launch service providers — a mix of British startups and international primes — told Parliament this week the country’s goal of seeing a first launch from within its borders by 2020 is at this point most likely wishful thinking.
That outlook stands in contrast to that of U.K. Space Agency Interim Chief Executive Katherine Courtney, who said late last month that she was “confident that 2020 will see the first launches from British soil.” Officials from several aerospace companies testifying before Parliament March 27 did not share Courtney’s optimism, but they praised the government for creating policies that should make fertile ground for a British launch industry to emerge.
Read more at: Space News
Orion Service Module and Michoud Damage Biggest Risks to Schedule for First SLS Mission
Delays in the development of Orion’s European-built service module, and damage to a NASA facility from a tornado, are the key schedule risks for the first Space Launch System mission, agency officials said March 29.
The schedule for the launch of Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), currently planned for late 2018, remains uncertain regardless of the technical issues as NASA studies the possibility of putting a crew on the flight, which would likely delay it by up to a year.
In a presentation to a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee here, Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said service module delays and damage to the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans from a February tornado are running “kind of neck and neck” about being the biggest issue with the existing schedule for EM-1.
Read more at: Space News
Opinion: Richard Branson, Brian Cox and the Science of Awesomeness
Richard Branson was back in Mojave last month for the latest episode of The Virgin Galactic Show, the world’s longest-running reality program about space travel.
Accompanying the billionaire were his son, Sam, and celebrity scientist and television presenter Brian Cox. GeekWire called the trio a “star studded cast,” a label that was probably more accurate than the writer realized.
The script for this visit was virtually identical to the one used when Richard Branson was here back in early December for the first glide flight of SpaceShipTwo No. 2, Unity. Pilots Todd Ericson and Kelly Latimer would accelerate the WhiteKnightTwo mother ship Eve down a runway for its 226th flight. They would spend about 45 to 50 minutes flying the giant twin fuselage aircraft and its payload, Unity, up to about 50,000 feet.
Read more at: Parabolic Arc
Strikes in French Guiana Halt Launches at Guiana Space Centre
Mass protests, driven by unions and public outcry over crime rates and unemployment issues, have shut down operations at France’s Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. While space exploration is not a central issue in the protests, union members have gone on strike at the spaceport to call attention to the problems facing the French department.
French Guiana has been a French possession since 1664 and a French overseas department since 1947. The department became the site of the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in 1964, with operations beginning in 1968. In recent years, the department has faced increasing unemployment (nearly 20 percent according to a New York Times report) and a murder rate higher than any other French department.
As noted by Gauthier Horth, an opposition politician interviewed on the France 24 magazine: “Each year 6,500 young people enter the labour market, but there are only 2,000 jobs. We don’t have access to work, medical care or education. We are not equal to other French citizens.”
Read more at: Spaceflight Insider
Locals Join Search for Possible Meteor Crash Site in Siberia
Planetarium scientists from the Russian city of Irkutsk (Siberia) have collected the testimonies of more than 20 residents of the Lake Baikal area and the Republic of Buryatia who witnessed the fall of a celestial body glowing bright green during the afternoon of March 23, Executive Director of the Irkutsk Planetarium Pavel Nikiforov told reporters on Friday. According to him, scientists plan to use the testimonies in order to calculate the size of the celestial body and figure out where it could have crashed.
“Within a week, the testimonies of 20 witnesses were collected. The meteor was seen not only in Irkutsk but also in the Turuntayevo settlement in the Republic of Buryatia, in Usolye-Sibirskoye and the Sorty village in the Zalarinsky District. There are also two recordings made by car DVRs. The actual size of the celestial body, its speed and trajectory can be calculated based on these recordings,” said Nikoforov who witnessed the meteor fall himself.
Read more at: TASS
Jeff Bezos Teases New Shepard Capsule Interior
In a March 29, 2017, email, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos revealed additional progress on the company’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism capsule. Instead of focusing on spaceflight technologies, the latest images coming out of the company show tantalizing photos of the ship’s interior.
Bezos has characterized Blue Origin’s approach to spaceflight by the Latin motto “Gradatim ferociter,” or “Step by step, boldly.” Another symbol of this approach is a set of tortoise images (from the Tortoise and the Hare fable) painted on the side of the New Shepard test rocket. Blue Origin sees itself as winning the race to getting people to space commercially.
“Our New Shepard flight test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system,” Bezos said in the email. Of course one of the critical portions of New Shepard – for the passengers – will be the comfort of the interior of the capsule.
Read more at: Spaceflight Insider
Here is NASA’s Plan for a Space Station that Orbits the Moon
Behind the scenes, NASA and its international partners are putting the finishing touches on humanity’s new home in space. This future science station, which will effectively replace the International Space Station when it reaches retirement age in the 2020s, will be a fraction of the size but carry astronauts hundreds of thousands of miles farther into space. In fact, it might travel farther away from our planet than any other human-piloted spacecraft, including the Apollo missions.
But the most exciting idea behind this new station, destined to make its home orbiting near the moon (aka a cis-lunar orbit), is it will provide a new foothold for future human missions to Earth’s closest celestial neighbors, like asteroids, the moon itself, and Mars. Because the station is in an egg-shaped orbit, stretching anywhere from 1,500 km to 70,000 km (930 to 44,000 miles) from the Moon, it would need only a little push to be sent flying to a yet-to-be-chosen destination.
Read more at: Popular Mechanics
Futuristic Clock Prepared for Space
No one keeps time quite like NASA. Last month, the space agency’s next-generation atomic clock was joined to the spacecraft that will take it into orbit in late 2017. That instrument, the Deep Space Atomic Clock was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. On Feb. 17, JPL engineers monitored integration of the clock on to the Surrey Orbital Test Bed spacecraft at Surrey Satellite Technology in Englewood, Colorado.
Timekeeping plays a critical role in spacecraft navigation and will be especially important for future deep space missions. This clock will be smaller, lighter and magnitudes more precise than any atomic clock flown in space before.
Most spacecraft are tracked using “two-way” methods: the ground-based antenna ‘pings’ the spacecraft and waits for the signal to return. By measuring how long the signal takes to travel, the distance to the spacecraft can be calculated. A navigation team then processes this information to determine the spacecraft’s flight path and determine if any course corrections are required.
Read more at: Spaceref
Potential Mars Airplane Resumes Flight
Flight tests have resumed on subscale aircraft that could one day observe the Martian atmosphere and a variant that will improve collection of Earth’s weather data.
Work on the shape of the aircraft and the systems it will need to fly autonomously and collect data are ongoing for the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M aircraft. Student interns with support from staff members at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California are advancing the project.
The March flights included two slightly different Prandtl-M aerodynamic models that were air launched from a remotely piloted Carbon Cub. The research validated the airframe that will be the basis for a potential Mars aircraft and the Weather Hazard Alert and Awareness Technology Radiation Radiosonde (WHAATRR) Glider on Earth.
Read more at: Mars Daily
ARCA Unveils the World’s First Single-Stage-to-Orbit Rocket
Since the beginning of the Space Age, scientists have relied on multi-stage rockets in order to put spacecraft and payloads into orbit. The same technology has allowed for missions farther into space, sending robotic spacecraft to every planet in the Solar System, and astronauts to the Moon. But looking to the future, it is clear that new ideas will be needed in order to cut costs and expand launch services.
Hence why the ARCA Space Corporation has developed a concept for a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) rocket. It’s known as the Haas 2CA, the latest in a series of rockets being developed by the New Mexico-based aerospace company. If all goes as planned, this rocket will be the first SSTO rocket in history, meaning it will be able to place payloads and crew into Earth’s orbit relying on only one stage with one engine.
Read more at: Universe Today
NASA Technology Fights Flight Delays
In early 2017 two large passenger planes and a smaller corporate jet practiced landing, one right after the other, without the usual constant help of an air traffic controller. Instead they relied on NASA-developed technology that lets planes automatically “talk” to one another and to control towers, simultaneously. If these flight tests—which took place at an airport near Seattle—prove convincing, the technology could eventually make its way to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval. And if all planes one day adopt the system, more aircraft could land in less time at the country’s increasingly congested airports.
As planes line up for landing today, pilots maintain steady communication with air traffic controllers to ensure that all planes maintain safe distances from one another. The time spent relaying information means pilots can adjust speed only as quickly as they hear from the tower. This wait creates the need to leave an extra safety buffer of space between each arriving aircraft, limiting the number that can land within a given time.
Read more at: Scientific American
International Collaborations in Space Always Reflect Politics on Earth
In 1991, several months apart, two cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Alexander Volkov, left the Soviet Union for the space station Mir. When they returned to Earth together the next year, they landed in Russia.
Five hundred forty-nine people from about 40 countries have orbited the Earth. (It is impossible to give a precise number, because both dual citizenship and the breakup of the USSR make such accounting choices subjective and political.) Almost two-thirds of them are American. China was the third country to send its own citizens to space. People from Vietnam and Mongolia got to space before France or Germany. Saudi Arabia got there before Japan.
These aren’t just cocktail-party factoids (though if you’re in the mood for a good one, get this—Volkov’s son Sergei took off in a Soyuz of his own in 2008, the first person to follow his dad into space). Understanding the history of when and how the first representatives of each of these countries got to space helps untangle the widely misremembered ways in which commerce, national interest, science, and adventure have been mixed together in space.
Read more at: Slate
Evolution of Arianespace Governance Ensures Greater Coherence with Airbus Safran Launchers
Arianespace shareholders voted unanimously to convert the launch operator and subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers to an SAS (simplified joint-stock company) at the company’s Annual General Meeting, held in Paris on Monday, March 27.
The modification aims to streamline and modernize Arianespace’s governance to achieve greater responsiveness, facilitate relationships with industrial prime contractors, and be coherent with the new shareholder structure of Arianespace Participation.
The new legal form also comes with changes to the governance of Arianespace, allowing for more cohesive working coordination between the launch operator and its parent company, the Ariane launcher prime contractor. With these changes, Airbus Safran Launchers CEO, Alain Charmeau, also becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors of the holding company, Arianespace Participation. Stephane Israel, CEO of Arianespace SAS, and CEO of Arianespace Participation, joins the Executive committee of Airbus Safran Launchers as Director of Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 commercial launcher programs. This position had been held provisionally by Alain Charmeau.
Read more at: Space Daily
US Vice Admiral Calls for Code of Conduct for Space
The deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command is calling for the development of a code of conduct for space as dreams of altruistic exploration fade. Vice Admiral Charles Richard believes establishing norms and practices of behavior in space would help nations better understand each other’s activities.
“We’re still sorting out what constitutes an attack in space,” Richard said at a conference titled “Space Security: Issues for the New U.S. Administration” held last week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“What is the indisputable evidence required within the international community to assert violation of sovereign territory in space? What constitutes provocation in space from our point of view?” he asked.
Read more at: voanews
Trump’s Air Force Pick Says Increasing Space-threat Awareness a Priority
Heather Wilson, President Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. Air Force secretary, said expanding awareness of space as a warfighting domain would be one of her priorities if she’s confirmed.
“There are a variety of things I think we need to do,” Wilson said. “But rethinking the way in which we think about space as a contested domain has to be part of it. It’s the development of strategies, techniques, and capabilities to be able to fight through, to be resilient, to be as crafty and successful in space as we are in air. That’s a very big change for the country to be starting to think that way. I think there’s some elements of the Air Force that already are starting to develop those thoughts.”
During her March 30 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Wilson noted that she was serving on the House Intelligence Committee in 2007 when China put spacefaring nations on edge by demonstrating an anti-satellite weapon by deliberately destroying one of its aging Fengyun weather satellites.
Read more at: Space News
Space Arms Race as Russia, China Emerge as ‘Rapidly Growing Threats’ to US
U.S. satellites may be vulnerable to attacks that could make our whole way of fighting war riskier, according to experts. “Every major space-faring nation that can track a satellite and launch into outer space has the means to mess up a satellite,” said Michael Krepon, a space security expert and co-founder of the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, D.C.
A space arms race of sorts is underway with weapons under development or in the arsenals of China, Russia and the U.S. Space weapons include satellite jammers, lasers and high-power microwave gun systems. “My guess is that our capabilities to carry out a war in space are a lot better than the Chinese and Russians,” said Krepon.
Read more at: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/29/space-arms-race-as-russia-china-emerge-as-rapidly-growing-threats-to-us.html
Star Wars: US Must Prep for Space Battles, Commander Says
The United States needs to make clear that it’s ready and able to fight a war that extends into space, a top military official said. Such a “preparation without provocation” strategy would both protect American space assets and help prevent conflicts from flaring up in the final frontier, said Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
“Just as nuclear assets deter aggression by convincing potential adversaries there’s just no benefit to the attack, we have to maintain a space posture that communicates the same strategic message,” Richard said on March 22 during a presentation at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference in Washington, D.C.
“I submit [that] the best way to prevent war is to be prepared for war, and we’re going to make sure that everyone knows we’re going to be prepared to fight and win wars in all domains, to include space,” he added.
Read more at: Space.com
Congress Warned of GPS Vulnerabilities
The U.S. Global Positioning System can be disrupted too easily and needs better protection, experts testified during a March 29 congressional hearing on space threats and the implications for homeland security.
“We need to protect the signal and the delivery system,” said retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who directed the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was the national incident commander for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “We need to create a deterrent to illegal jamming. We need to control the manufacture and web sale of jammers, which is pretty unabated right now, we need to improve jamming detection, we need to be able to localize and pinpoint jammers…Where we have reason to believe laws have been violated, we need to prosecute offenders and set up consequences for these actions.”
Read more at: SpaceNews
This Little-Known Math Genius Helped America Reach the Stars
In 1958, a woman stumped the panelists on “What’s My Line?” It took the actors Arlene Francis and Jack Lemmon, journalist Dorothy Kilgallen and publisher Bennet Cerf, celebrity panelists of the popular television game show, quite a while to figure out her M.O.
When they finally discovered what she did, the show’s host admitted that he, himself, was surprised by her occupation. The panel consisted of the stars of the day, but it was Mary Golda Ross who helped people reach them as the first female engineer at an elite, top-secret think tank. Ross’s gender alone made her a hidden figure in the world of early spaceflight. But something else the panelists didn’t know about Ross was her Native American heritage.
Read more at: Smithsonian Magazine
3 April 2017 Stephen Clark
A balky interplanetary seismic instrument that ran into technical problems in 2015, forcing a two-year delay in the launch of NASA’s InSight lander to Mars, cleared a major test last month after engineers redesigned part of the sensor package, boosting confidence that the mission will be ready to blast off in May 2018.
3 April 2017 Astronomy Now
A mysterious flash of X-rays has been discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in the deepest X-ray image ever obtained. This source likely comes from some sort of destructive event, but may be of a variety that scientists have never seen before.
2 April 2017 Steven Young
This video was captured from Astronomy Now Headquarters and shows the International Space Station appearing close to the waxing crescent Moon as it passed 405 km (252 miles) high overhead at 1926 UT on 2 April 2017.
2 April 2017 Stephen Clark
Engineers have spotted two small breaks in the treading on the left middle wheel on NASA’s Curiosity rover, one of six wheels that have moved the robot nearly 16 kilometres (10 miles) across the Martian surface since landing in August 2012.
28 March 2017 Astronomy Now
Astronomers have uncovered a supermassive black hole that has been propelled out of the centre of a distant galaxy by what could be the awesome power of gravitational waves.
28 March 2017 Stephen Clark
NASA’s Juno spacecraft sailed over Jupiter’s cloud tops early Monday, the fourth time the solar-powered probe has approached the giant planet and collected science data since its arrival last July 4.
28 March 2017 Stephen Clark
Data collected by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft in its first two years at Mars confirm suspicions that the solar wind is blasting away the planet’s atmosphere and helped transform the world from a warmer, wetter and potentially habitable world into the barren landscape seen today, scientists said.
24 March 2017 Astronomy Now
The Milky Way’s closest neighbor, Andromeda, features a dominant source of high-energy X-ray emission, but its identity was mysterious until now. As reported in a new study, NASA’s NuSTAR mission has pinpointed an object responsible for this high-energy radiation.
23 March 2017 Astronomy Now
With just over two weeks left to enter the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition, the Royal Observatory Greenwich has released a sneak peek at some of this year’s entrants.
23 March 2017 Stephen Clark
Scientists examining imagery from Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft have logged numerous changes to the face of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, from collapsing cliffs to a growing crack through the comet’s neck that could foretell the eventual unraveling of the city-sized icy world.
Courtesy Of Space Safety Mag