June 2016 Archives

Watch: Media Briefing - The Science of Juno's Mission to Jupiter

"During a news briefing from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California the science team involved with the Juno mission to Jupiter talked about the scientific goals of the mission.

This Fourth of July, the solar-powered Juno spacecraft will arrive at our solar system's most massive planet after an almost five-year journey. Once in Jupiter's orbit, the spacecraft will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. This is the first time a spacecraft will orbit the poles of Jupiter, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."

Marc's note: NASA and Apple Music collaborated on short film, Visions of Harmony. The film and original music is available from the link in the tweet below on iTunes. It's worth watching.

Today is Asteroid Day

"Asteroid Day is a growing global movement, supported by international organizations, experts in planetary science, astronauts and citizens around the world to increase awareness, education and support of programs for greater detection, knowledge of the composition, mapping and deflection of dangerous asteroids. ASTEROID DAY is held each year on JUNE 30, the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recent history, 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia, which devastated 2000 square km/800 square miles in Siberia. ASTEROID DAY was co-founded in 2014 by Astrophysicist and QUEEN lead musician Dr. Brian May and Filmmaker Grig Richters, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Silicon Valley operative Danica Remy."

More info: http://asteroidday.org

Slooh: Celebrate World Asteroid Day with Live Show, Expert Guests

"On Thursday, June 30, at 4:00 pm PDT | 7:00 pm EDT | 23:00 UTC (International Times: http://bit.ly/28YW91a), Slooh is celebrating World Asteroid Day with four hours of live programming and an amazing roster of guests."

Keith's note: I'll be appearing on SLOOH's Asteroid Day broadcast to talk about the NASA politics behing asteroid detection and collection missions - and how they do/do not relate to human missions to Mars.

Ruexit For ISS?

Russia's Plan To Spin Off a New Space Station From the ISS, Popular Mechanics

"According to RKK Energia, the prime Russian contractor on the ISS, the new outpost would begin with the separation of the Nauka from the rest of the old station in mid-2020s. By that time, Nauka should have two even newer modules in tow. One would be the so-called Node Module, a tinker-toy-like component that could connect to six other modules, crew ships, cargo tankers, structural elements, you name it. The Node Module is already in RKK Energia's garage and ready to go within a few months after the Nauka. Next would be the new Science and Power Module (NEM) which, as it name implies, will finally give cosmonauts a state-of-the-art science lab and a pair of large solar arrays, making the Russian segment fully independent from the rest of the ISS in terms of power, communications, and other resources."

NASA's Response to SpaceX's June 2015 Launch Failure: Impacts on Commercial Resupply of the International Space Station, NASA OIG

"... The most significant item lost during the SPX-7 mission was the first of two Docking Adapters necessary to support upcoming commercial crew missions. Although NASA had planned to have two Adapters installed on the Station before the first commercial crew demonstration mission scheduled for May 2017, it is now likely there will be only one installed in time for these missions.

... we also found that for the first seven cargo missions NASA did not fully utilize the unpressurized cargo space available in the Dragon 1 capsule's trunk, averaging 423 kg for SPX-3 through SPX-7 even though the trunk is capable of carrying more. The ISS Program noted that unpressurized payloads depend on manifest priority, payload availability, and mission risk, and acknowledged it struggled to fully utilize this space on early missions, but as of June 2016 the Agency's cargo manifests show full trunks on all future SpaceX cargo resupply missions.

... risk mitigation procedures are not consistently employed and the subjective launch ratings the Agency uses provide insufficient information to NASA management concerning actual launch risks. In addition, NASA does not have an official, coordinated, and consistent mishap investigation policy for commercial resupply launches, which could affect its ability to determine the root cause of a launch failure and implement corrective actions."

Keith's note: The next time you hear the space and planetary science communities complaining about budget cuts consider what their NASA mission PIs are paid at SwRI (2014 IRS Form, Part VII)

[Juno] Scott J Bolton $345,145 + 51,887
[New Horizons] Sol A Stern $370,522 + 52,435

SwRI is not at all shy about telling you how much money they earn - indeed they put this on their press releases. They are a non-profit, so this whole income thing should not be all that important - right? Just sayin'

"About SwRI: SwRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization based in San Antonio, Texas, with nearly 2,800 employees and an annual research volume of $549 million."

Dawn Brooke Owens

Keith's note: Brooke Owens has left the planet. Ad Astra.

A memorial service for Brooke Owens will be held at Clear Creek Community Church, in League City, TX, at 10:00am on Saturday July 9th. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Brooke's name to one of the three following organizations:

Friends Thru The Fight (FTTF), a local non-profit which supports breast cancer patients through their treatment and were present in loving on Brooke and her family over the past few months, by visiting friendsthruthefight.org.

AidChild, a non-profit organization that Brooke served with that supports orphans living with HIV/AIDS who do not have the support of extended families in Uganda, by visiting http://aidchild.org/.

Mercy's Village International, an organization that Brooke served with dedicated to fighting poverty through the education of children and the empowerment of girls and young women, by http://www.mercysvillage.org/.

If you have any photos, memories or things like poetry or songs of or by Brooke, please send them to dawnbrookeowensmemorial - at - gmail.com

Brexit From ESA?

Brexit Does Not Mean the UK Will Leave the European Space Agency, Right?, Inverse

"The resources and partnerships that UK-based companies rely on are now hanging in the balance as the vote moves forward. However, a UK exit from the EU should not affect the country's involvement with ESA. The ESA and EU are two separate entities with different goals and member states."

'Brexit' leaves lingering questions about involvement in European Space Agency, WRAL

"In a May CNN interview from the ISS, Peake commented on how leaving the EU might impact the UK: "The UK will still be part of the European Space Agency, that won't change at all. The European Space Agency is still part of this international partnership here with the International Space Station." Peake added "it really cuts through all barriers, its such a strong partnership."

RAS Statement on the Outcome of the EU Referendum in the UK, RAS

"UK and European science benefit from the free movement of people between countries, something that has allowed UK research to become world leading. Although for example membership of the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory is not contingent on EU membership, these organizations depend on international recruitment made easier by straightforward migration between countries. We therefore urge the Government to ensure it remains straightforward for UK scientists to travel and work in EU countries, and for EU scientists to come to the UK."

Space Sells in India

Keith's note: This TV commercial is titled "Astronaut lachaar, khatam hua aachar". You have to watch the entire thing to figure out what it is selling. Its hilarious.

Keith's note: While NASA pours money into its goofy R5 robot that cannot walk unless it is on a hoist, controlled by a human, and is always broken, Boston Dynamics continues to make astonishing progress on autonomous robots. Imagine if you had something like this on Mars as part of a sample return mission. It would allow access to places that rovers cannot go and has dexterity unmatched by anything NASA has built. Wouldn't it be cool if that first SpaceX Red Dragon opened up and one of these droids walked out?

Keith's note: NASA is holding a Viking 40th Anniversary Symposium at NASA LaRC on 19 & 20 July. This event has quite a line up of speakers for something that ought to resonate with #JourneyToMars (their poster even uses the hashtag). So ... when are NASA LaRC or NASA HQ going to tell people about this? There is nothing online at NASA LaRC, on the NASA HQ Journey To Mars webpage, or at NASA.gov calendar. I only heard about this via a NIA email notice for the live webcast and agenda.

Keith's update: PAO tells me that they just got approval to start talking about this event.

Army's new recruitment drive: Sign up, maybe fight aliens, Army Times

It's part of an ongoing effort to correct what Ortiz called "misperceptions" about the Army by the general public. "We constantly hear America talk about the Army in a very detrimental way, in that we are low-tech, we are low-skill, and for the most part, because of those first two, we are the institution of last resort," he said, adding that the responses from the public became so familiar that "two years ago, we stopped asking."

Rescuers succeed in evacuating sick workers at the South Pole, Washington Post

"For the third time ever, rescue workers have successfully evacuated someone from the South Pole during the brutal Antarctic winter, the National Science Foundation said. A plane carrying two sick workers from the Amundsen-Scott research station arrived on the Antarctic Coast early Wednesday afternoon, following a harrowing 10-hour flight across the continent. Both workers require medical attention not available at the station, prompting the rare rescue effort. ... Typically, none of the 50 or so people who overwinter at Amundsen-Scott can leave between February and October. One former worker described the South Pole as more inaccessible than the International Space Station."

Ailing Antarctic personnel transported to safety, nsf

"NSF determined that an evacuation was warranted and called on Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd., which has a U.S. government contract to fly in support of U.S. Antarctic Program science, to conduct this mission."

Keith's note: I have flown in Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes multiple times in the arctic. More than once my pilot was an antarctic veteran - in once case, a mid-winter medical rescue pilot. These folks really, really know their stuff.

Commercial Space: Industry Developments and FAA Challenges, GAO

"GAO reported in 2015 that FAA's budget requests for its commercial space launch activities generally were based on the number of projected launches, but that in recent years the actual number of launches was much lower than FAA's projections. GAO also reported that, according to FAA officials, more detailed information was not provided in FAA's budget submissions because the agency lacked information on its workload overseeing commercial space launch activities. In addition, GAO reported that the Office of Commercial Space Transportation did not track the amount of time spent on various activities."

Statements by: Taber MacCallum, George Nield, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Michael Gold, Rep. LoBiondo

Keith's note: I just got this email from Carol Hively, Director, Public Relations & Team Communications telling me "NOTE TO MEDIA: Today, the Space Foundation will issue a press release announcing data from The Space Report 2016. In addition to the data found in the press release, an overview of the report is available free to media here. There will be a charge of $99 for media to access the complete pdf of The Space Report 2016, which includes more than 80 pages of data on global space activity during 2015. Go here to receive the discount code to order The Space Report 2016 pdf full report for the discounted media rate of $99."

I had to read that email more than once. Space Foundation charges immense fees for its member companies, puts on lavish events, and never does anything in an inexpensive way. Indeed, according to their 2014 Form 990 Space Foundation had over $7,000,000 in income. And yet they want the several dozen news media (those who pay attention to the Space Foundation that is) to pay $99 to read their self-congratulatory 80 page PDF file? Really? You'd think that the Space Foundation would best serve its membership by making the good news about space economy available to everyone who is interested.

Keith's update: According to their press release "The report can be purchased as a downloadable PDF for $399. A website subscription can be purchased for $3,500." So ... now the non-profit Space Foundation is in the commercial market forecasting business, I guess. Again, you'd think that this report should be out in the wild for anyone to read.

This must be what it was like when Rome was burning.

Human flights to Mars still at least 15 years off: ESA head, Reuters

"Dreaming of a trip to Mars? You'll have to wait at least 15 years for the technology to be developed, the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) said, putting doubt on claims that the journey could happen sooner. "If there was enough money then we could possibly do it earlier but there is not as much now as the Apollo program had," ESA Director-General Jan Woerner said, referring to the U.S. project which landed the first people on the moon. Woerner says a permanent human settlement on the moon, where 3D printers could be used to turn moon rock into essential items needed for the two-year trip to Mars, would be a major step toward the red planet. U.S. space agency NASA hopes to send astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s and businessman Elon Musk, head of electric car maker Tesla Motors, says he plans to put unmanned spacecraft on Mars from as early as 2018 and have humans there by 2030. The ESA's Woerner said it would take longer."

- Moon and/or Mars: Challenging Human Exploration Orthodoxy, Earlier Post
- #JourneyToMars Via #ReturnToTheMoon, Earlier Post

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Issues Policy Paper to Guide Incoming President and Congress

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration has released a policy position paper highlighting the key issues that every presidential and congressional candidate should understand in order to ensure that deep space exploration remains a bipartisan priority over the next several years. The Coalition is the voice of America's deep space industry, with over 40 corporate members supporting NASA's deep space human exploration and science programs. The full paper, entitled "A Space Exploration Roadmap for the Next Administration," is available for download on the Coalition's website."

Keith's note: This document is mostly recycled word salad that states the obvious without ever getting to the point - other than to request continued support SLS and Orion. This is yet another attempt by this organization (actually there is no "organization", its just Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne with other smaller companies tossed in who write checks) to preserve the status quo. Everything else is just window dressing adjusted to meet the needs of these two programs. Note that there is no support for NASA's "Journey To Mars" or ARM so they're already throwing the Obama folks under the bus. As for space commerce, the Coalition makes little mention of it other than to describe it as something that happens in low Earth orbit - so long as it does not get in the way of SLS and Orion, that is.

We've seen this movie before. Just three months ago a similar effort by many of the usual suspects produced a similar document with the same intent:

Space Policy White Paper = Shopping List For The Journey to Nowhere, March 2016

"Such is the problem with these sort of documents from the space community. On one hand the space groups want to have a say in the political decisions that affect their members (and donors). But on the other hand they'd rather not have the politicians pay too much attention to space such that the current status quo is not upset. In other words "write us the checks but don't rock the boat" - or more bluntly "look but don't touch". This is, at best, naive thinking on the part of the space community. If you read the white paper it becomes immediately apparent that this coalition wants everything that they are doing to be supported and in some cases, they want even more money. They also want a stable funding environment (makes sense). The two main programs being supported by this coalition are SLS/Orion and Commercial Crew and Cargo with gratuitous mention of other projects that are important to the members of this coalition."

- Pioneering Space National Summit One Year Later: No Clear Direction
- Fact Checking SLS Propaganda
- How The #JourneyToMars Becomes The #JourneyToNowhere

It's Big Jim

Paul Allen's Stratolaunch lifts veil on world's biggest plane - a giant bet on a new way to space, Geekwire

"The plane's wing, taking shape inside a 103,000-square-foot hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port, stands three stories off the ground and measures 385 feet from tip to tip. That's three times longer than the distance of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight in 1903. If the Enterprise is ever built to its "Star Trek" TV dimensions, now or in the 23rd century, the starship would be only a few dozen feet wider."

Keith's note: Vulcan Aerospace gave a hand-picked group of space journalists a tour of their facility. They saw Stratolaunch. It is big and it is 76% complete. No information was given as to customers, markets, etc. In other words: no news. Did I mention that it is big?

Larger image

Keith's note: As readers of NASAWatch have noted by now, I have an interest in the utilization of the International Space Station. When the amazing capabilities of ISS are used to their fullest potential we all benefit. When those resources are under-utilized our tax dollars and the finite utility of the ISS are wasted. CASIS has been given responsibility for managing the U.S. assets aboard the ISS that have been collectively proclaimed as being the ISS National Laboratory. I've already written a lot about CASIS. I'll be writing much more in the weeks to come.

Let's start with a clear-cut example of how CASIS has stumbled: its preoccupation with golf and its relationship with Cobra Puma Golf, a large and very successful golfing gear manufacturer. If you look at the LinkedIn page of Patrick O'Neill, CASIS Marketing & Communications Manager, you will see that he was an account executive for VitroRobertson. Between 2008-2009 he was "Account Executive on the Cobra Golf Account. Managed the day to day operations of all Brand Marketing efforts and assisted in the production of all Advertising efforts for Cobra Golf." If you read CASIS President/Executive Director Greg Johnson's astronaut bio you'll see that he lists golf among his recreational interests. So, senior CASIS management likes golf. "Go with what you know", so they say.

On 31 March 2016 NASA International Space Station Director Sam Scimemi sent a letter to Greg Johnson on a number of topics. One of the issues Scimemi raised had to do with how CASIS hypes/promotes the research that it takes credit for having facilitated onboard the ISS. In that letter Scimemi notes: "We would advise caution in the lending of the ISS National Lab brand (via your "Space is in it" certification) too freely; care must be taken to that research performed on the ISS has actually influenced product development in advance of awarding the certification. Failure to do so weakens the brand and may lend an air of being nonserious in our mutual quest to fully utilize the ISS as a national lab." Coincidentally this letter was sent on the same day that CASIS staff made a rather awkward presentation to the NASA Advisory Council.

The "Space Is In It" designation that CASIS calls an "endorsement" has apparently only been awarded once - to Cobra Puma Golf. As such it would be illustrative to examine how that whole process came about and what it says about the ability of CASIS to recognize the actual commercial research potential of the ISS.

Do we really need humans to explore Mars?, Ars Technica

"There's been a myth that there's some things you can do with robots and some only with people," Grunsfeld replied. "All exploration is human research. Even when we use robotic spacecraft, it's still human research. The question is how close are the people to the action? And it's also about the pace of discovery. When you have people on the scene, especially putting planetary scientists, geologists, astrobiologists on Mars, it's really going to accelerate the pace at which we can make discoveries." ... After lunch [Chris] Kraft and I drove back to his home, which overlooks a golf course a stone's throw from Johnson Space Center. As we shook hands in his driveway, he reiterated his closing argument to me: "Oh yes, I've heard the argument that we've been there before. I know that more than most. But we have unfinished business on the moon."

- #JourneyToMars Via #ReturnToTheMoon, Earlier Post

Blue Origin Successfully Launches New Shepard on its 4th Reusable Flight

Watch the full launch video and see some of the highlights in images.

"Blue Origin successfully launched its reusable rocket New Shepard today deploying the crew capsule on its suborbital mission. This was the 4th time this New Shepard rocket has flown, a feat never achieved to date by any other rocket."

If We Want to Send Astronauts to Mars, We Must Go Back to the Moon First, Scientific American

"Bush's idea was inspiring enough that, in addition to NASA, no fewer than 13 international space agencies signed on to participate in developing a plan for reaching the moon. Unfortunately, the plan's implementation was badly flawed. NASA tried to relive the glory days of Apollo by focusing on one-use vehicles that would transport everything to the moon from Earth. Apollo was a fantastic achievement, but it was not sustainable, which was in part why the program was canceled in the early 1970s. Bush's vision proved too expensive to sustain as well, and in 2010 President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. had no need to go back to the moon, saying, in essence, that we've been there, done that. Instead, he said, we would go to Mars without taking that interim step. But a return to the moon is crucial to the future of human space explorationand - not just for the experience it would give us in off-world living."

NASA Administrator Bolden Addresses ESA Council

"The third phase is becoming "Earth Independent" by building upon what we are learning on the Space Station and what we will learn in the "Proving Ground" of the lunar vicinity to enable human missions to Mars. It is with this plan in mind that I'm here today to encourage you to continue your support for human exploration, starting with an ESA Council decision this coming December to extend ISS operations to at least 2024, a critical step to continue advancing humanity's presence farther into the solar system and, ultimately, completion of the Journey to Mars."

Trump calls on Elon Musk to settle all Muslims on Mars, editorial cartoon, Washington Post

"Musk is said to be thinking over the proposal, but plans have already leaked from the Musk studio showing a design for a luxury one-person, one-way vehicle to Uranus, with pink marble interior with gold fixtures, a full-length mirror and a Make the Solar System Great Again logo."

- Hillary Clinton Wants Area 51 Transparency, earlier post

Hearing - Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing, and Treating Former Astronauts - Hearing Charter

"The hearing will evaluate the impacts of long duration human spaceflight on astronaut health; federal obligations and ethical considerations related to those impacts; as well as potential options for monitoring, diagnosing, and treating retired and management NASA astronauts for conditions resulting from their federal service."

- Subcommittee Discusses Healthcare for Former Astronauts, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
- Subcommittee Seeks Better Health Care for Former Astronauts, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
- Prepared Statement: Scott Kelly
- Prepared Statement: Richard Williams
- Prepared Statement: Chris Cassidy
- Prepared Statement: Michael Lopez-Alegria
- Prepared Statement: Jeffrey P. Kahn

Keith's note: It has been interesting to listen to astronauts and medical professionals talk about the various medical aspects of flying in space - especially what Scott Kelly has gone through as he re-adapts to life on Earth after his long flight. There is still so much we do not know. My first job at NASA in 1986 was at the Life Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters working on a large report documenting life science issues in space. A lot of the work had to do with crew health and safety. A lot of good research has been accomplished in the decades that have followed. We now know a lot more about how long duration spaceflight affects human health - but we do not know everything. Nor do we know how to deal with all of the potential risks - yet. As more research is done on the ISS, these issues will be better understood. When NASA sends humans on the #JourneyToMars they're going to need to understand just what the risks are for a trip that could last years before they sign off on the missions. Some risks simply have to be accepted. Yet others can be avoided - easily. Like being pregnant.

There is a movie coming out in August called "The Space Between Us". Based on the movie trailer and the film's website a pregnant astronaut files all the way to Mars and gives birth to a child - on Mars, dying in the process of childbirth. After lots of talk about how the boy could never adapt to Earth, they go ahead and fly him back to Earth anyway. Go figure. I just do not understand how any individual astronaut - or anyone at NASA - could ever allow a pregnant person to do this given how little we know about mammalian reproduction in a spaceflight environment. We do not fly pregnant astronauts now. This movie (based on what has been released) is going to be bioethics nightmare for any space life science expert who will be called upon to comment.

Had they changed the plot such that conception, development and birth all happened on Mars, they'd have been in much less risky territory since the 0.38G gravity on Mars may well be enough for normal development to proceed. Maybe. But having a pregnant woman - probably very close to term - do a multi-G entry and landing after 9 months of zero G gestation is just pushing the limits of ethics and credibility.

Orlando and the miraculously bad timing of the NASA-UAE Space Agency deal, op ed, Danny Bednar, Space News

"On Sunday, June 12, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was in Abu Dhabi finalizing an agreement with the chairman of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency Khalif Al Romaithi. The deal is also significant in that on the same day in which hatred and bigotry lead to the senseless death of 50 innocent people inside an LGBTQ Orlando nightclub, the leaders of a federal agency (with deep ties to the state of Florida) essentially said that in the desire to explore space, with the best science and technology humanity can develop, it is A-OK to overlook archaic laws regarding homosexuality and LGBTQ rights."

Canadian astronaut offers to help UAE's space aspirations, The National (2014)

"A Canadian astronaut, whose social-media postings from the international space station inspired millions, has offered to consult with authorities here about setting up a space agency. Chris Hadfield, who had an instrumental role in the formation of the Canadian space agency, has spent the past four days visiting Emirati engineers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. On Monday he gave a talk at President Sheikh Khalifa's majlis in the capital. The UAE last week announced its intention to set up a space agency and launch an orbital probe to Mars by 2021. "It's going to take a lot of international cooperation in order to make that work," said Mr Hadfield. "Hopefully it's an opportunity for Canada and the UAE to work together."

Keith's 13 June note: It is repugnant to see people lazily conflating the devastating, bigotry-centric tragedy in Orlando, by virtue of a coincidence of the calendar, with a totally unrelated government-to-government activity planned months ago so as to score a political point - and impugning the motives of an entire space agency in so doing. In addition it is the height of hypocrisy to see someone complain about another nation's space agency for things that their own country's agency has embraced. Danny Bednar (a Canadian) apparently thinks it was OK for canadian space legend Chris Hadfield to visit UAE in 2014 to help set up a space agency but it is not OK for America's space agency's administrator to work with the same space agency in 2016 that Hadfield helped to set up? If working with UAE is so terrible then where was Bednar's outrage in 2014? Why does he make no mention of this contradiction now?

Space cooperation is not a vehicle for LGBTQ rights, OpEd, John Sheldon, SpaceNews

"And now, Danny Bednar, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Western Canada, writes in these very pages perhaps the most vapid attempt at politically linking what happened in Orlando to the agreement reached between NASA and the UAE Space Agency in Abu Dhabi on June 12, 2016. ... The ridiculousness of Mr. Bednar's stance beggars belief, and implies a political agenda that, doubtless unwitting on his part, mirrors that of xenophobes like Donald Trump. On top of that, it reeks of the kind of breathless, hypocritical, and self-righteous identity politics that poisons the body politic."

What Were They Thinking? Bednar SpaceNews Opinion Piece Misses the Mark, SpaceRef Canada

"I'm not sure why SpaceNews published the opinion piece After Orlando, NASA-UAE deal gives reason to ponder space partnerships of Danny Bednar, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Western University, the day after the Orlando terror attack. I can only surmise it was to pull a Buzzfeed and post something controversial to attract readers. It worked."

SpaceX Successfully Launches EUTELSAT 117 West B and ABS-2A Satellites [With video and comments from Elon Musk], SpaceRef Business

"A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched and placed the EUTELSAT 117 West B and ABS-2A communications satellites into nominal orbits today."

The secondary mission of landing the Falcon first stage ended with a hard landing on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous spaceport drone ship and resulted in its destruction. It was the first landing failure after four consecutive successes.

Selling Space: Entrepreneurs Offer Dreams and Schemes in the Hope of Making a Buck Off the Cosmos, Houston Press

"... Dula is not just a NewSpace pioneer, he's a defendant in a $49 million fraud suit calling him a con artist with a warehouse full of antiquated space junk that was never meant to get off the ground. It's the second time an investor has accused him of fraud -- a Houston woman, Donna Beck, previously sued him for allegedly duping her into an asteroid-mining scam. Beck and Dula agreed to dismiss the case, with prejudice, in early 2014. In the years after Dula accepted his prestigious [Space Frontier Foundation Pioneer of NewSpace] award, his space capsules have been to London's Parliament Square, Saudi Arabia and an auction house in Brussels. They just haven't been to space. The man who would sue Dula, Japanese billionaire Takafumi Horie, was actually considered a con man himself in his native country, where he was convicted of manipulating stock prices in his Internet company and sentenced to 21 months in prison."

China Exclusive: China to send Chang'e-4 to south pole of moon's far-side, Xinhua

"China aims to send the Chang'e-4 lunar probe to land in the south pole region of the far side of the moon in 2018, according to China National Space Administration (CNSA). Scientists plan to send a relay satellite for Chang'e-4 to the halo orbit of the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point L2 in late May or early June 2018, and then launch the Chang'e-4 lunar lander and rover to the Aitken Basin of the south pole region about half a year later, said Liu Tongjie, deputy director of the CNSA's Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center. "We plan to land Chang'e-4 at the Aitken Basin because the region is believed to be a place with great scientific research potential," Liu told Xinhua in an exclusive interview."

Senate Reaches Agreement on Russian RD-180 Engines, SpacePolicyOnline

"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) brokered an agreement among Senators who have been at sharp odds over how to transition U.S. rocket launches away from reliance on Russian RD-180 engines to a new American-made engine. The Nelson amendment passed the Senate this morning by voice vote as part of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA itself then passed the Senate by a vote of 85-13. In brief, the compromise sets December 31, 2022 as the end date for use of the RD-180 by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Atlas V launches of national security satellites. It also limits to 18 the number of RD-180s that can be used between the date that the FY2017 NDAA is signed into law (enacted) and that end date."

Keith's note: Dava Newman likely only has 7 months or so left in her job as Deputy Administrator - maybe a few more as acting administrator while the next Administration picks their team. Meanwhile, her old job at MIT is waiting for her to return. So, she does not have any job security issues to worry about. As such, one would think that instead of spending all of this time overseas (she is currently in Austria) that she'd be back in the U.S. doing whatever it is that she does at NASA. As for Charlie Bolden: he has told folks that he plans to increase his travel in his final year - and that is exactly what he is doing.

Continued Jordan-NASA cooperation encouraged, The Jordan Times

"His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday met with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, according to a Royal Court statement. During the meeting attended by HRH Crown Prince Hussein at Al Husseiniya Palace, the King said Jordan is looking forward to benefitting from the programmes and expertise of NASA in the advanced science field , which are to be incorporated into the curricula of local educational and academic institutions."

NASA chief touts cooperation with Israel, Israel Hayom

"NASA plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said on Monday during a visit to Israel. Accompanied by Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis and Givatayim Mayor Ran Konik, Bolden toured the Givatayim Observatory on Monday."

NASA, UAE Sign Significant Outer Space, Aeronautics Cooperation Agreement

"The United States and United Arab Emirates (UAE) have entered into an agreement to cooperate in aeronautics research, and the exploration and use of airspace and outer space for peaceful purposes, working together in the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of humanity. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and UAE Space Agency Chairman Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi formalized and signed the agreement Sunday at a meeting in Abu Dhabi."

Space Angels Network Opposes ICBM Amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, SpaceRef Business

"On Sunday the Space Angels Network released a letter in opposition to Mike Lee's amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act which would allow the commercial use of ICBM's. The primary arguments are that the amendment would benefit one company and hurt the burgeoning small satellite commercial launch market."


- Hearing Discusses Using Old ICBMs As Satellite Launchers
- Why Not Use Old Missiles To Launch New Satellites?

NASA Centennial Challenges Vascular Tissue Challenge

"The Vascular Tissue Challenge is open and teams that wish to compete may now register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The Vascular Tissue Challenge is a prize competition with a $500,000 prize purse for teams that can successfully create thick, human vascularized organ tissue in an in vitro environment while maintaining metabolic functionality similar to their in vivo functionality throughout a 30-day survival period. NASA is providing the prize purse. The Methuselah Foundation's New Organ Alliance is the Allied Organization managing the competition."

Keith's 12 June note: I sent NASA STMD AA Steve Jurczyk, NASA PAO, and HEOMD an email inquiry on this Challenge asking: "Can you tell me why NASA is providing $500,000 in award money for a competition to "create thick, human vascularized organ tissue in an in vitro environment while maintaining metabolic functionality similar to their in vivo functionality throughout a 30-day survival period"?

According to this partner organization link referenced by this notice: "Specifically, innovations may enable the growth of de novo tissues and organs on orbit which may address the risks related to traumatic bodily injury, improve general crew health, and enhance crew performance on future, long-duration missions."

That said, is there an existing NASA mission/medical/safety requirement for ISS or NASA's human spaceflight activities to develop such a capability in space - or on Earth? If so can you provide me with the specific justification and the expected specific application of technology developed from the results of this challenge? When is this capability planned for implementation in space? Is NASA's participation in the topic of this specific challenge reflected in existing NASA plans for human health and countermeasures research? If there is no specific plan to implement this technology on space missions, can you explain why NASA is spending half a million dollars on research that is clearly much more relevant to NIH's or DoD's respective research portfolios? How (specifically) is this line of research "of interest and value to NASA"? This research has a clear overlap with the biotech research being conducted by the ISS National Laboratory. Is CASIS involved in this challenge?

As a biologist and former NASA life science division employee I am both intrigued and puzzled by this announcement."

Keith's 13 June update: By coincidence CASIS announced yet another cool biotech challenge today. Organs-on-chips have broad utility on Earth and in space - within and outside of space research. Cool, cutting-edge stuff, yes? But the rest of NASA (most notably NASA's Centennial Challenges) makes no reference to the CASIS biotech challenge announcement - and CASIS makes no announcement of the STMD Vascular Tissue Challenge. And NASA HEOMD does not mention either despite obvious linkages to human health and disease. So I forwarded this to the folks at STMD and HEOMD and asked if there is an agency-wide strategic plan that governs things like this. i.e. who does what - and why.

CASIS Announces $1 Million In Grant Awards For Organs-On-Chips Challenge

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) announced it has awarded $1 million in grant funding to two research entities stemming from its 3D Microphysiological Systems for Organs-On-Chips Grand Challenge. CASIS is the organization tasked with managing and promoting research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory."

Keith's 13 June update: Here's the response I got from Sarah Ramsey at NASA PAO:

Senator: "Then why don't you simply withdraw your testimony and concede...that this journey to the center of the galaxy never took place?"

Dr. Arroway: "Because I can't. I had an experience. I can't prove it. I can't even explain it. But everything I know as a human being, everything I am ... tells me it was real. I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision ... of the universe ... that tells us undeniably ... how tiny and insignificant ...and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us that we belong to something ...that is greater than ourselves, that none of us are alone. I wish I could share that. I wish ... that everyone, if even for one ... moment ... could feel ...that awe and humility and hope. That continues to be my wish."

Center of Theological Inquiry, CTI

"The Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant by the NASA Astrobiology Program to convene an interdisciplinary inquiry into the societal implications of the search for life in the universe."

Why Did NASA Issue a $1.1 Million Grant to Study How Alien Life Could Impact Christianity?

"To put that another way, NASA made a million-dollar donation to a religious group so that it could study how the discovery of extraterrestrial life would impact Christianity. Why is NASA funding any sort of dialogue about the intersection of science and religion?"

NASA, Jesus & Templeton?, Huffington Post

"The attempt by Templeton to insinuate its divine motive into science is aided by the failure of science to understand the origin and evolution of life. Templeton funds many projects in these two areas seemingly not to find answers but to factor in religion."

'Contact' Is The Forgotten '90s Sci-Fi Film You Need To Revisit, Bustle

"The film explores ethical, moral, and scientific dilemmas that come from humanity interacting with other species in thought-provoking ways, and the fact that it features an intelligent, emotional, complex woman at its center is the cherry on top."

Elon Musk provides new details on his 'mind blowing' mission to Mars, Washington Post

"Essentially what we're saying is we're establishing a cargo route to Mars," he said. "It's a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It's going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station. And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it's going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments."

SpaceX's Elon Musk teases 'dangerous' plan to colonize Mars starting in 2024, Geekwire

"Musk said 2022 would mark the first use of the Mars Colonial Transporter, a spaceship that's big enough to carry scores of people to Mars. The first MCT would be uncrewed. However, it's plausible to think that the craft could be pre-positioned at Mars to support the crewed mission to come, and the return trip to Earth. That's the part of the plan that's still fuzzy."

- The Real Cost of a Red Dragon Mission to Mars, earlier Post
- SpaceX Will Go To Mars Starting in 2018, earlier Post

NASA OIG: Review of NASA-Funded Institutes

"We found NASA does not aggregate information on the universe, status, or funding levels for the many institutes it supports. The absence of this information makes it difficult for Agency leaders to strategically evaluate the scope or purpose of its institute investments or for Congress and other stakeholders to understand how NASA is spending more than three-quarters of a billion dollars of its budget annually. Moreover, the Agency has not defined what constitutes an institute or established guidance and metrics on their management, use, or expectations for return on investment. Such guidance may enable the Agency to gain a better understanding of how funds directed to institutes are utilized to accomplish its mission and goals, increase its return on investment, and evaluate institutes' performance.

During the course of this review, we became aware of two institutes GeneSys Research Institute (GRI) and the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) under investigation by the Federal Government for alleged grant fraud. GRI declared bankruptcy and the status of its work under two NASA grants of approximately $500,000 is unknown. Likewise, the status of IGES work under approximately $500,000 of NASA funding is also unknown. In past work we found NASA lacked a standard process to assess a potential grantee's financial condition prior to grant award or to impose additional reporting or oversight requirements that such a condition may warrant. Without such a mechanism, NASA risks making uninformed investment decisions."

Patti Grace Smith

Patti Grace Smith, Champion of Private Space Travel, Dies at 68, NY Times

"In an email, Elon Musk, the PayPal and Tesla entrepreneur who founded SpaceX, a company that has developed launch vehicles, wrote that Ms. Smith had "helped lay the foundations for a new era in American spaceflight." "We are closer to becoming a multiplanet species because of her efforts," he added."

Keith's note: There was a time when Patti was the only person in the entire Federal government who was thinking seriously about commercial space. At that time, no one else really cared. She did. Look what happened.

Keith's update: Patti's family requests in lieu of flowers that donations can be made to the American Cancer Society in Patti's name. Patti's "Home-Going" Service will be held Monday, 13 June at 11:00 am at the Mount Sinai Baptist Church 1615 3rd St. NW in Washington, DC.

Saving NASA's ARM and the Journey to Mars, Op Ed, Louis Friedman, Space News

"The House Appropriations Committee may have just induced such a paralysis by proposing to block funding for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). This mission represents the first step in the Journey to Mars, advances needed technologies for Mars and gives Orion and SLS their first real exploration mission. If their action to stop ARM is allowed to stand, there will be no human space exploration earlier than 2030: a delay of at least 5, and more likely 10 years, in any journey to Mars. The space community's lack of support for NASA and ARM is a shot in our foot. Its political lesson, of undermining a presidential initiative for a human Mars goal, will not be lost. The community's fractionation, whereby the scientists are happy with their robotic missions, the industry is happy with their rocket contracts, and the technologists are happy with their flight demonstrations, leaves out only the public who would like to see a grander human venture marshalling the talents of all these communities."

Seeing the end of Obama's space doctrine, a bipartisan Congress moves in, Ars Technica

"Although the House language must still go to conference with the Senate, it seems unlikely anyone in that body will fight too hard to save the asteroid mission, Capitol Hill sources told Ars. Even if the administration vetoes the bill, it doesn't really matter to Congress, because key members of Obama's leadership team, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, will probably be gone next year. This year's legislation effectively lays down a marker for negotiations with the new occupant of the White House in 2017."

Keith's note: C'mon Lou: the reason that so many people are against ARM is that its avowed purpose of enabling humans to go to Mars has been repeatedly demonstrated to be bogus - at best a needless detour. Friedman's own words focus on the case in point: ARM is an attempt to give SLS/Orion somewhere to go - other than Mars. The Planetary Society co-hosted the workshop that spawned this idea and helped lobby the White House to include it as a feel-good thing to do. So their disappointment is understandable. ARM's total lack of credibility in any reasonable #JourneyToMars scenario is widely accepted by robotic and human exploration communities alike.


Statement of Administration Policy: S. 2943 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, OMB

"If the President were presented with S. 2943, his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill. ...

... Multiple Provisions Imposing Restrictions on the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program: The Administration strongly objects to sections 1036, 1037, 1038, and 1611. Section 1036 would restrict DOD's authority to use RD-180 engines, eliminate the Secretary's authority to waive restrictions to protect national security interests, and -- with section 1037 -- disqualify a domestic launch service provider from offering a competitive, certified launch service capability. Section 1038 would repeal the statutory requirement to allow all certified providers to compete for launch service procurements. Section 1611 would redirect funds away from the development of modern, cost-effective, domestic launch capabilities that will replace non-allied engines. The combined effect of these provisions would be to eliminate price-based competition of EELV launch service contracts starting in FY 2017, force the Department to allocate missions, inhibit DOD's ability to maintain assured access to space, delay the launch of national security satellites, delay the on-ramp of new domestic launch capabilities and services, and increase the cost of space launch to DOD, the Intelligence Community, and civil agencies. The authorization to use up to 18 RD-180 engines is necessary and prudent to expeditiously and affordably transition to the new domestic launch capabilities currently under development."

Use of Surplus Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Motors for Commercial Space Launches: Section 1607 would direct the Comptroller General to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits of providing surplus ICBMs to the private sector for commercial space launch purposes. Both Federal law and the Administration's National Space Transportation Policy currently prohibit such transfers for commercial use. The Administration continues to support this long-standing policy, which seeks to avoid undermining investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the launch market."

There are other military space-related issues of concerns listed as well.

Tiffany Moisan

NASA scientist's body found in Princess Anne, Delmarva Now

"Tiffany Moisan, 48, a resident of Kemps Nursery Road in Princess Anne, was found in a wooded area behind the Food Lion store on Brittingham Lane, police said. There were no apparent signs of foul play."

Tiffany A Moisan Bio, NASA GSFC

"My research interests are in phytoplankton physiology and optics with relationships to taxonomic composition of the phytoplankton community. My interests are in the Ocean Color Mission and Global Climate Change. I also have interests in NASA Education and Public Outreach."

Keith's note: A month ago I posted news that NASA Advisory Council chair Steve Squyres had sent an email to the NAC and to NASA - resigning as chair of the NAC. In the month that followed this posting NASA has said nothing about the status of the NAC. If you go to the NAC home page at NASA nothing has changed in terms of NAC membership (including people whose terms have expired). Squyres is also listed here as NAC chair. Although the NAC discussed having a meeting in Cleveland in July no future meeting dates are listed here.

NASA Advisory Council Chair Steve Squyres Resigns, earlier post

Retired NASA astronaut charged with murder in DUI crash that killed 2 young sisters, Huntsville Times

"James Donald Halsell Jr., a five-flight veteran who was selected by NASA in 1991 to become an astronaut, was arrested Monday in the deaths of Niomi Deona James, 11, and Jayla Latrice Parler, 13. The family had just picked up the girls from Texas for summer vacation with their father and were almost home when the crash happened. He was booked into the Tuscaloosa County Jail at 11 a.m. Monday and released at 6:30 p.m.after posting $150,000 bond."

Former NASA Chief Dan Goldin's Neural Computing Company KnuEdge to Transform Real-World Human-Machine Interaction

"We are not about incremental technology. Our mission is fundamental transformation," said Dan Goldin, Founder and CEO of KnuEdge. "We were swinging for the fences from the very beginning, with intent to create technologies that will in essence alter how humans interact with machines, and enable next-generation computing capabilities ranging from signal processing to machine learning."

Former NASA chief unveils $100 million neural chip maker KnuEdge, Venture Beat

"It's not all that easy to call KnuEdge a startup. Created a decade ago by Daniel Goldin, the former head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, KnuEdge is only now coming out of stealth mode. It has already raised $100 million in funding to build a "neural chip" that Goldin says will make data centers more efficient in a hyperscale age."

- KnuEdge

NPR Photographer, Interpreter Killed In Afghanistan, NPR

"David Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist who chronicled pain and beauty in war and conflict, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday along with NPR's Afghan interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna. David and Zabihullah were on assignment for the network traveling with an Afghan army unit, which came under attack killing David and Zabihullah. David was 50 and Zabihullah, who for years also worked as a photographer, was 38-years-old."

Keith's note: I used to be a professional interpreter and I sometimes act like a journalist. And I have reported from somewhat dangerous places. But not like this team - not even remotely close. These guys pushed the envelope so that we could understand the hell that others are going through - in a way such that we can comfortably listen/read about all of it during our morning commute. Your enlightened world view has a human cost folks.

U.S. Set to Approve Moon Mission by Commercial Space Venture, WS Journal (subscription)

"U.S. officials appear poised to make history by approving the first private space mission to go beyond Earth's orbit, according to people familiar with the details."

Moon Express Becomes First Private Company in History to Initiate a Commercial Lunar Mission Approval Process with the US Government, Moon Express (earlier post, April 2016)

"Today, Moon Express made history as the first private space company to request the U.S government to conduct a payload review of its spacecraft and plans leading to regulatory approval of a commercial mission to the Moon in 2017. Moon Express initiated the review process through a submission to the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST), bringing the company another important step closer to the Moon."

Keith's note: There is no "news" in this Wall Street Journal article since Moon Express announced the ongoing interactions with FAA back in April - and they are still ongoing - and everyone knows that they are ongoing. So the news seems to be the use of the word "appear" except that was obvious several months ago as well.

Federal Acquisition Regulation; Removal of Regulations Relating to Telegraphic Communication, NASA et al

"DoD, GSA, and NASA are proposing to amend the FAR to delete the use of the terms ``telegram'', ``telegraph'', ``telegraphic'', and related terminology. The word ``telegram'' emerged shortly after the invention of the electrical telegraph in the 1840s. This terminology and way of communicating was incorporated into the first issue of the FAR, effective April 1, 1984. The emergence of electronic means of communication, starting with the facsimile machine, and then followed by email and mobile-phone text messages in the 1990s, resulted in the sparing use of telegraph services and use of telegrams. On this basis, the Councils are proposing to delete telegraphic services from the FAR and replace these terms with an option for electronic communications. This case is consistent with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Memorandum dated December 4, 2014 on transforming the marketplace, which describes ongoing actions to support the needs of a 21st century Government."

Keith's note: Of course, there is no email address listed within this whereby you can contact the government employees nor is any fax number included. Also, it looks like it took DoD, GSA, and NASA 2 years to implement this simple editorial change. Inevitably someone, somewhere within NASA will eventually think that this means that telegrams no longer need to be archived and you'll see people throwing them out or putting them in boxes without labels. Then there will come a time when the information contained in those telegrams will needed and ... we've seen this movie before. Moon walk tapes anyone? Larger image (NASA actually used telegrams for important stuff once upon a time).

Universal Faces $20M Lawsuit By Homer Hickam Over 'October Sky'

"Author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickam is suing Universal for north of $20M over its October Sky musical. In a breach of contract, fraud and multi-claim jury-seeking complaint filed today, the Rocket Boys memoirist claims that Universal Pictures "has taken the completely fallacious position" that Hickam gave over all the rights to the source material to the studio. Its 1999 film October Sky was based on Rocket Boys, and the musical premiered onstage last year."

Author Sues Universal Over Musical Theater Adaptation of 'October Sky', Hollywood Reporter

"A decade later, Hickam developed and produced Rocket Boys into a live stage musical with the approval of Universal, according to the lawsuit. In 2015, Universal decided to create an October Sky musical, purportedly based on the film and Hickam's memoir, and has shut down the author's stage show."

- Text of lawsuit
- October Sky, Wikipedia

SpaceResources.lu: New space law to provide framework for space resource utilization, Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy

"The Luxembourg Government forges ahead with the SpaceResources.lu initiative by presenting an overall strategy to be implemented progressively for the exploration and commercial utilization of resources from Near Earth Objects (NEOs), such as asteroids. Amongst the key actions undertaken is the establishment of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for space resource utilization activities to provide private companies and investors with a secure legal environment. ... Dr. Simon "Pete" Worden said: "Perhaps the most important aspect of Luxembourg's spaceresources.lu initiative is the excitement it is generating across the world - particularly young scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Everywhere I go I hear young people ask about these ideas. Recently, entrepreneurs from Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Colombia and Mexico contacted me to ask how they can get involved. I come from Silicon Valley - but I'm convinced that the Silicon Valley for space resources - and gateway to an unlimited future of resources for humanity, will be here in Luxembourg."

- Can Congress Authorize Mining On Asteroids?, earlier post
- Americans Can Now Legally Mine Asteroids, earlier post

Dick Malow

Keith's note: Dick Malow, a long-time staff member on the House VA-HUD Appropriations subcommittee, has died after a lengthy illness. Malow was known for his support of NASA which often required some tough love on his part. Over the years Malow managed to have a lot of influence upon the way that the International Space Station was designed, re-designed, and then redesigned again so as to make it easier to assemble and more useful to the people who would eventually do research on it. His influence on what eventually became the ISS was rather substantial and was not totally appreciated at the time. I can remember more than once sitting in a meeting with the engineering side of the Space Station Freedom program when a design or science utilization issue came up. Usually someone was trying to cut a corner or reduce some capability that the science users needed. More than once I said something to the effect of "well, if the science types tell Malow about this you know that there will be a directive from Congress telling you to stop doing it." Indeed, that actually happened more than once. Dick Malow helped keep the space station alive when others wanted to kill it and helped make it useful when others just wanted to launch hardware - any hardware - that simply kept the lights on.. Ad Astra Dick.

Obituary, Washington Post

Elon Musk plans manned mission to Mars by 2024, Mashable

"If things go according to plan, [we] should be able to launch people by 2024 with arrival in 2025," said Musk. Musk noted that in order to build growing cities on Mars - putting his multi-planet species idea in action - SpaceX will need to develop the ability to transport larger numbers of people and millions of pounds of hardware."

Why does SpaceX market space better than NASA?, Teslarati

"The question of what makes SpaceX so different in marketing space technology is still a difficult one for me as my personal reasons for admiring their progress has little to do with the aesthetics of the achievements. I admire the true progress they're making and the relatability of what they're developing to what their larger goals are. NASA may be truly making progress towards a "Journey to Mars", but when compared to the advancements SpaceX has achieved, it seems more like thus far, they just have a guitar amp that "goes to 11"."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: We Should Settle Mars 'Because It's Cool', Fortune

"We could build gigantic chip factories in space and just send little bits down," he said. "We don't have to build them here." But then, sensing the obvious next question from the audience, Bezos interrupted himself to declare: "We will settle Mars. And we should, because it's cool."

Launch of new series manned spacecraft rescheduled due to risk of docking disruption, TASS

"The launch has been rescheduled for July 7," he said. "The crew is expected to come to Baikonur (the Russian space center located is Kazakhstan TASS) on June 24." "Experts have established the ship will be rolling as it docks the ISS and they are unable to stop this rolling motion so far," the source said.

Jim Busby

James Busby Passes Away, File770

"Space flight historian James Milton Busby died June 1 after a lengthy hospitalization. He was 61 years old, and had suffered many health problems in recent years. He is survived by his wife, Arlene, a longtime LASFS member. They married in 2012. James volunteered and consulted with the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles on the 1980 redesign of their aerospace museum. He was hired in 1984 as a museum assistant and was employed there until 2003. The museum awarded James with an Honorary Doctorate degree of Space Science Information."

Keith's note: I knew Jim since - I dunno - 30+ years ago. He was such a sweet guy. We are very, very close in age so this hits home very hard. I used to work at Rockwell Downey so he and I regularly interacted over the years. The last time I saw Jim was several years ago. I was asked to be a speaker at the opening of the Columbia Memorial Space Center - a Challenger Learning Center - located on the old Rockwell Downey lot. As it happens the place I stood to speak is where I used to park my car. Jim was in his element as they worked through preserving things from the glory days at Downey. Whatever does remain from that place - from that time - is due in great part to Jim's un-wavering dedication. Jim was the space cadet's space cadet. They just don't make people like him any more. Oh yes - he plays that Grumman guy tapping his pencil in episode 5 of "From the Earth to the Moon." He just oozed space. Ad Astra, Jim.

Why It'll Take New Horizons 16 Months to Send Us This Week's Data, Gizmodo (2015)

"4,000 bits per second may be double our current downlink speed, but downloading planetary science data over 3 billion miles is still quite a bit slower than loading your email on a 56K connection. Hence the reason it's going to take us an estimated 16 months to send home all the data we collect in the next several days."

National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads, Congressional Research Service

"Transitioning away from the RD-180 to a domestic U.S. alternative would likely involve technical, program, and schedule risk. A combination of factors over the next several years, as a worst-case scenario, could leave the United States in a situation where some of its national security space payloads would not have a certified launcher available. Even with a smooth, on- schedule transition away from the RD-180 to an alternative engine or launch vehicle, the performance and reliability record achieved with the RD-180 to date would not likely be replicated until well beyond 2030 because the RD-180 has had 68 consecutive successful civil, commercial, and NSS launches since 2000."

Previous RD-180 posts

Trouble at XCOR?

The XCOR Lynx Spaceplane Might Be Down for the Count , Popular Mechanics

"Even before this news, a shakeup was in the works. Some of the original XCOR gang-founder Jeff Greason and early backer Stephen Fleming-were bounced from the company's board of directors in March. Greason, XCOR's CEO turned chief technologist (another cross into Silicon Valley terrain) left the company in 2015. One board replacement: Michael Gass, the former president and chief executive of ULA. Those who see traditional space industry invading the private space movement, take note of this move."



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