by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
August 13, 2016

NASA Orders Another Crewed Mission to the ISS from SpaceX

On Friday, NASA announced it was ordering another International Space Station-bound crew flight from SpaceX — making it the second such mission Elon Musk’s company will conduct for the space agency, and NASA’s fourth order from a commercial provider. Since closing down the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA has been forced to cooperate with Russia and buy seats on Soyuz rocket launches in order to safely get American astronauts to the International Space Station. The plan to get our astronaut launches back to U.S. soil and make our space program independent again means that we’ll turn over transportation missions to the ISS (both cargo and crew) to U.S. spaceflight companies. — Inverse

NASA Thinks It Can Send Humans to Martian Orbit By 2033

At the NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee Meeting on Monday, Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for HEO at the agency, said he believes we could have astronauts make it to Martian orbit — or conduct a short-distance flyby of the red planet — by 2033. According to current budgets and plans, the projection could be realized, Gerstenmaier said. The larger goal of getting human boots on Mars’ surface, however, would require a much more extensive advancement of technology, and would likely occur closer to the end of the 2030s. — Inverse

Senators Want Continuity for NASA’s Exploration Program

A recent Senate committee hearing focused on how to ensure that the human spaceflight program avoids another dramatic change when a new President takes office next year as it did in 2009. While most of the hearing dealt with maintaining the status quo amid political change, one witness, Mike Gold of SSL, looked more to the future and the need for a synergistic relationship between government and private sector space activities. The hearing before the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on July 13 was chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). This was only the third space hearing he had called since becoming subcommittee chairman last year. SpacePolicyOnline.com summarized his February 24, 2015 hearing on human spaceflight and commercial space and his March 12, 2015 hearing on NASA’s FY2016 budget request. Joining him were the top Democrat on the subcommittee, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the top Democrat on the full committee Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and subcommittee member Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who introduced Gold, a Montana native. Peters and Nelson explicitly said they want to pass a new NASA authorization bill before the end of the Congress, and Cruz inferred it by saying that the subcommittee wants to provide NASA with security and stability and he would work with Peters to achieve that. Nelson made clear that he wants to extend the lifetime of the International Space Station (ISS) to the end of the decade, instead of the current U.S. commitment of 2024.
— Space Policy Online

A Stepping-Stone to Commercial Space Stations

NASA hopes that, by the time it’s ready to retire the International Space Station in the 2020s, one or commercial space stations will be ready to support researchers and others using the ISS today. Jeff Foust reports that one step towards a commercial station may be a commercial module on the ISS. Click here.
— Space Review

NASA Wants More Private Uses of the International Space Station

NASA doesn’t just see the International Space Station as a place where government space agencies can work together in harmony — it could be a business hub, too. The agency has put out a call for ideas that could increase commercial use of the ISS. Those private outfits have potential uses that researchers hadn’t imagined, NASA says. They could likely take better advantage of the “unique capabilities” of the low-Earth orbit facility, such as hooking up to underused attachment ports. Companies have quietly been soliciting ideas since the start of July, and they’ll have until the 29th to get their ideas in. This won’t necessarily turn the ISS into a marketplace. However, you shouldn’t be surprised if the station soon gets more of a private presence than the occasional SpaceX capsule. — Engadget

Commercial Spaceports

Just last year, the FAA gave Houston the “go-ahead” to build America’s 10th commercial spaceport. Yes, the US already had nine spaceports designated for commercial operations. One must ask, “Why do we need 10 spaceports for so little commercial space activities?” This represents a great deal of investment and ongoing expense for an industry still in its infancy. The reason for all this excitement among several states and entrepreneurs is space tourism, the so-called “killer” space application that has yet to become reality. Yes, the media continues to expend a great deal of energy and newsprint on the topic. So much so, that any person might think we are launching tourist spaceships every hour on the hour, to several orbiting hotels and resort complexes. In reality, that industry is still taking “baby” steps toward the future objective of populous orbiting resorts and theme parks. — LaunchSpace

New Space Startup Audacy Shoots for the Moon

A new company aims to provide the communications capacity required for the ongoing private spaceflight revolution. California-based Audacy plans to close a Series A fundraising round of at least $15 million to begin creating three satellites and two Earth stations. The goal is to raise four major rounds of funding, build the ground stations and get the satellites launched by 2019. All told, the plan will cost about $750 million — $250 million in funding and $500 million more in government-backed debt, Audacy representatives said. The three satellites could support perhaps 2,000 tiny cubesats, all working at the same time, anywhere in Earth orbit. Alternatively, Audacy could have up to 12 high-capacity customers and perhaps 1,000 smaller ones sharing the bandwidth simultaneously. If all goes well, the company hopes to break even in 2023. In the future, if the demand is there, Audacy’s infrastructure could also support some moon missions, because the ground stations could reach that far. —  Space.com

Return to the Underwater Space Station

This year, NASA’s underwater training mission for astronauts promises to be longer and better than ever. Starting on 21 July, space agencies will test technologies and research international crew behaviour for long-duration missions using a permanent underwater base off the coast of Florida. The 21st NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, sortie will enact a mission to Mars to test equipment for astronauts. The six ‘aquanauts’ will spend 16 days 20 m underwater in their habitat and perform ‘waterwalks’ – by adjusting their buoyancy, the aquanauts can simulate Mars gravity. — Space Daily

China’s Agreement with UN to Help Developing Countries Get Access to Space

Last month, China has signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to open the country’s future space station for science experiments and astronauts from UN member states. According to a spokesperson from the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), this cooperation heralds better accessibility to space for developing countries. “The agreement will provide exciting opportunities to further build the space capacity of developing countries and increase awareness of the benefits human space technology can bring to humankind, and thus to promote the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” Aimin Niu, CMSA spokesperson, told Astrowatch.net. In particular, this agreement means that UNOOSA and CMSA will work together to give UN member states an opportunity to conduct space experiments onboard China’s future space station, as well as to provide flight opportunities for astronauts and payload engineers. — Space Daily

China to Expand International Astronauts Exchange

China will expand international exchange in the training of astronauts in a bid to push it closer to becoming a space power, an official said Wednesday. Li Xinke of the Astronaut Center of China made the remarks while briefing an international training mission for astronauts. Chinese astronaut Ye Guangfu participated in the mission. Ye is the first Chinese to receives CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behavior and performance Skills) training, an advanced training course for astronauts, organized by the European Space Agency (ESA). The training took place in the Sa Grutta underground caves, Sardinia, Italy. Prospective astronauts from Japan, Russia, Spain and the United States also took part in the training. — Space Daily

OneWeb Announces Appointment of Eric Beranger

OneWeb which is building a new global communications system to create affordable broadband services for all, announces the appointment of Eric Beranger as Chief Executive Officer. At Airbus Defence & Space, Eric has led the technical and operational relationship with OneWeb, overseeing the formation of and presiding on the Board of the satellite manufacturing joint venture. The joint venture, named OneWeb Satellites, is building the world’s purpose built first high volume satellite manufacturing facility and producing 900 satellites as the basis of the OneWeb constellation. OneWeb Satellites will also be producing similar sized production satellites for third party operators. — OneWeb

The US Wants Space Business to Stay Laissez-Faire

At this point in history, humanity is probably about halfway between the past moment when visiting the Moon became an achievable dream, and the future moment when that same trip will become a total hassle. As such, even a bit of bureaucratic paper is enough to make news. Today, space company Moon Express announced it has received permission from the FAA to launch the first commercial cargo bound for the moon. But what’s really remarkable is that this Moon clearance was, bureaucratically, not much different from the clearance required to send any other commercial payload into space. This could set the precedent for how the US will regulate business on celestial objects beyond Earth’s orbit. Click here.– WIRED

FAA’s Moon-Landing OK May Offer Chance for SpaceX Mission

A private commercial space company made one small step for space entrepreneurs, which could result in a giant leap for SpaceX. Cape Canaveral-based Moon Express Inc. on Aug. 3 got the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch and land a spacecraft on the moon— the first time a private entity received landing mission approval. That opens the door for other promising space businesses to follow in Moon Express’s path, such as SpaceX’s plan to land its Dragon capsule on Mars in 2018. And it benefits Central Florida, as the launch activity will take place at Cape Canaveral. “I think this [Moon Express approval] is going to be the first of many that will help this industry grow,” said Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida. “We’re putting in place a regulatory regime for the marketplace to move forward.” — Orlando Business Journal

Falcon Heavy vs Saturn V

Its an Epic Rocket Battle! Or a Clash of the Titans, if you will. Except that in this case, the titans are the two of the heaviest rockets the world has ever seen. And the contenders couldn’t be better matched. On one side, we have the heaviest rocket to come out of the US during the Space Race, and the one that delivered the Apollo astronauts to the Moon. On the other, we have the heaviest rocket created by the NewSpace industry, and which promises to deliver astronauts to Mars. And in many respects, the Falcon Heavy is considered to be the successor of the Saturn V. Ever since the latter was retired in 1973, the United States has effectively been without a super-heavy lifter. And with the Space Launch System still in development, the Falcon Heavy is likely to become the workhorse of both private space corporations and space agencies in the coming years. — Universe Today