by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
December 8, 2016

Extraterrestrial Gold Rush: What’s Next for the Space Mining Industry?

If humans eventually want to become a space-faring species, we’ll need to be able to collect basic resources, like water, straight from the space environment; it’s too expensive and risky to send everything up from Earth, most experts agree. As such, multiple companies are now trying to initiate a space mining industry, which could provide those basic resources for space travelers, or for robotic space operations. In the future, asteroids or the Moon could even provide humans with resources that are rare on Earth, such as precious metals. — Space.com

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Lake of Frozen Water the Size of New Mexico Found on Mars

Settling on Mars may not be as difficult as first feared. NASA scientists have discovered a huge deposit of water ice just under the surface of the Red Planet. The ice has been found in the Utopia Planitia region of the planet, a large depression in the northern hemisphere formed by a massive impact early in the planet’s history. The ice patch, which is about the size of New Mexico, contains enough water to fill Lake Superior, according to measurements taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). “This deposit is probably more accessible than most water ice on Mars, because it is at a relatively low latitude and it lies in a flat, smooth area where landing a spacecraft would be easier than at some of the other areas with buried ice,” said Jack Holt of the University of Texas. — The Register

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Crouching tiger, hidden flagons … Boffins say there’s a huge amount of frozen water under the Martian surface.

 

Recommendations to the Next Administration Regarding Commercial Space

Prior to the election, the National Space Society convened a group of experts to discuss what the next administration should do in space. That group provides here a set of five recommendations about how the government can bolster commercial space initiatives. — Space Review

 

NSS Communicates Space Vision to Trump Transition Team

by Dale Skran

On Saturday October 8th, 2016, NSS organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations. NSS Senior VP Bruce Pittman organized the meeting, which included a tour of Steve Jurvetson’s private museum of space artifacts. — NSS

 

Virgin Galactic Conducts Captive Carry Flight at Mojave Spaceport

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Virgin Galactic conducted the fourth test flight of its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane VSS Unity. The carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve, took off with VSS Unity from the runway of Mojave Air and Spaceport. The two craft remained mated together for the entire flight. — Space Flight Insider

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During the test flight, WhiteKnightTwo served as a “flying wind tunnel” allowing the highest fidelity method of testing airflow around SpaceShipTwo while also testing the performance of the spaceship when exposed to the frigid temperatures found at the flight’s maximum altitude of approximately 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).

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This series of glide tests is designed to demonstrate how VSS Unity will perform as it returns from space after the feathering system is retracted and the spaceship becomes a glider and lands on the runway like an airplane. The phase of flight will also demonstrate and test abort procedures, which will culminate in a safe glide back to the runway.

Rocket powered test flights will begin once the requirements of the glide testing program have been satisfied.

 

Moon Village Concept Attracts Worldwide

Futuristic plans for a Moon village proposed by the European Space Agency are winning support around the world. The idea is to set up a permanent human outpost on the Moon as a base for science, business, mining and even tourism. The ESA director general said the Moon village was discussed by member state ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, to decide space funding. “We are joining forces. There are companies offering payloads. There are public entities going to the Moon and offering payloads. Even NASA is part of this. So therefore the Moon village was a part of our discussion at the very beginning.” He stressed that the village was no more than a concept and did not form part of any mission program. — The Guardian

 

Elon Musk May Have a New Partner in His Mission to Colonize Mars

Billionaire Elon Musk and SpaceX may have just found a new partner in his planned mission to Mars. Naveen Jain, the founder of a space exploration company called Moon Express, told CNBC on Thursday that his start-up is willing to work with Musk. Moon Express is the first private company given permission by the U.S. government to explore the Moon for resources. It is planning a mission to take a robotic rover to the Moon in 2017. Jain said he has spoken to Musk about working together without giving further details. Earlier this year, Musk laid out his vision to colonize Mars and take a manned mission to the Red Planet in the next ten years. While Moon Express is focused firstly on getting to the Moon, Mars is seen as the next goal. “Mars is absolutely the right place to be ultimately, but the Moon is the first training ground and the first stepping stone.” — CNBC

 

Six Investor Expectations for the NewSpace Sector

There is a startup revolution taking place in the satellite industry. Every month, and sometimes every week, a new company announces plans for a product, a constellation, or an unconventional take on the way a particular service is done. With this wave of new companies has come a second wave of investors, each trying to identify which ones will be the real game changers. These investors mean business, and startups have to convince them that they mean business too. It’s not uncommon for both entrepreneurs and investors to be unfamiliar with each other when it comes to the satellite industry. Lots of satellite programs and technologies are government driven or government influenced, and not incidentally, early stage investors have historically looked elsewhere to more fast-paced, lucrative sectors. But things are changing, as satellite entrepreneurs have taken the buzzword “disruptive,” and made it a real thing instead of a trite industry expression. — Via Satellite

 

Ex-Astronaut’s Plans to Take Tourists to Outer Atmosphere

Retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan spoke at the summit about space company World View’s plans to take tourists 30km (20 miles) above the Earth. Mr Garan believes travel above the Earth can bring a new perspective to our lives on the ground. Gigantic high altitude balloons blown up to the size of a professional football pitch will be attached to a pressurized gondola-like craft holding two crew and six passengers. The first trip is planned before the end of 2018. Here’s a video. — BBC