by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
January 28, 2017

President Trump’s ‘Mysteries of Space’ Joins Inaugural Speech Tradition

President Donald Trump took the oath of office in Washington, D.C., today (Jan. 20) and mentioned space exploration — if for one fleeting moment — as one of the paths forward to make America great again. “No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again,” Trump said in his inaugural address. “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.” — Space.com

 

Trump Names Former Climate Scientist to NASA Advisory Role

Greg Autry and Erik Noble have been named as presidential liaisons at NASA. Both have backgrounds in the field, and Noble has even done some climate science. Trump named Autry his White House liaison and Noble his White House senior advisor at NASA. They’ll probably work together to maintain open lines of communication between the space agency and the Oval Office. Autry, in addition to serving on Trump’s NASA-specific transition team, has been a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business focusing on commercial spaceflight. He’s also the coauthor of Death by China, an alarmist look at Sino-American trade relations. That suggests pro-Elon, anti-taikonaut views. Noble is a veteran of the Trump campaign, in which he served as a data analyst. Before that, he was an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Center, doing climate and weather prediction modeling. “Having someone in this position with such a strong background in atmospheric science is a good thing,” says Marco Tedesco. — WIRED

 

A Vehicle for Ferrying Space Tourists on Missions to the Moon

Last summer, Imaginactive released the Solar Express space train concept, which reduced travel time between Earth and Mars. Creating a space train is not a new idea. In fact, Dr. Buzz Aldrin is working on a similar concept that would help us colonize the solar system in different stages. Our Cycler concept finds its inspiration from the Aldrin Mars Cycler project. We tried to imagine how a spacecraft like this would look if it were built with technology being developed today. Therefore the Cycler pictures technology from Bigelow Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, and SpaceX, among others. The Cycler’s largest part would be Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable B330 modules, which would be linked together to form a series of three space wagons. These modules would be attached together by an interface modules (IM) that would each include lateral ‘Jefferies’ tubes connectors. Each Cycler would be manned by four astronauts and would each be capable of transporting up to 12 passengers, most of whom would probably be space tourists going on the six-day trip around the Moon. — Globe & Mail

 

NASA Moves to Secure Commercial Crew as Obama Administration Exits

NASA had made a couple of major moves relating to human spaceflight this month as the Obama Administration would down toward its exit at noon on Friday. On Jan. 3, the space agency announced it had awarded four additional flights apiece to Boeing and SpaceX to carry crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Each company now has six flights for their Starliner and Crew Dragon vehicles, respectively. “The additional flights will allow the commercial partners to plan for all aspects of these missions while fulfilling space station transportation needs,” NASA said. “Awarding these missions now will provide greater stability for the future space station crew rotation schedule, as well as reduce schedule and financial uncertainty for our providers,” said Phil McAlister, director, NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Development Division. “The ability to turn on missions as needed to meet the needs of the space station program is an important aspect of the Commercial Crew Program.” — Parabolic Arc

 

SpaceX to Reopen Legendary Kennedy Launch Site

Kennedy Space Center is getting back in the rocket business, now that SpaceX is back in business. SpaceX is planning to launch its next rockets in the next few weeks from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. They will be the first rockets to blast off from Kennedy Space Center since the space shuttle program was shut down more than five years ago. NASA announced Thursday that the company will launch another cargo load to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 rocket, sometime in February, from Launch Complex 39A. The exact date has not been set. But that won’t even be the first. SpaceX also is planning a private launch from the site before then, though the company has not announced any details on the exact date or customer. The company is in line to lift two different commercial satellite missions into space this winter, for the Luxembourg SES-10 satellite, and for the Brazilian EchoStar satellite. — Florida Politics

 

How Cheap Internet Access Could Be SpaceX’s Secret Weapon

In November, SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to launch 4,425 satellites into orbits between 690 and 825 miles above the Earth. “Once fully deployed, the SpaceX System will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,” SpaceX said in its application. “Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.” To put this project’s ambitions into context, there are currently 4,256 satellites orbiting the planet. Only 1,419 of them are working. The rest are effectively space junk. So Musk wants to put three times as many satellites into the sky as there are in operation right now. SpaceX will first deploy 1,600 satellites to offer Internet access in the U.S., and the rest to expand coverage around the world. It’s not clear whether SpaceX will offer access directly or through other companies like Google, which in 2015 participated in a $1 billion investment in SpaceX to help it build satellites. — Fortune

 

NASA Installs SLS Platforms in VAB

Kennedy Space Center recently completed a significant milestone in its preparations to work on the Space Launch System exploration rocket. The last of 20 platforms — paired to form 10 levels — that will give workers access to the 322-foot rocket and Orion crew capsules was installed in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building. NASA and contractor employees signed the last platform half before hoisting it into position on the uppermost level earlier this month. The space agency is targeting a late 2018 test flight of the SLS and an unmanned Orion from launch pad 39B. — Florida Today

 

Who Launches What, Carrying How Much From Where.

The SPACErePORT’s chart of international orbital launch vehicles has been updated and now includes 58 rockets that are operational, in development, or proposed, operating from spaceports around the globe. The chart also gives payload capacities to low Earth orbit. — SPACErePORT

Click Photo to Enlarge

 

Moonwalkers Are Leaving Us
by Michael Stennecken, DRG e.V. /German Space Society with Claire McMurray

Gene Cernan, the Last Man to leave our “8th Continent” (the Moon—after Europe, Asia, Africa, South-, North-America Australia, and Antarctica) passed away on January 16, 2017 at the age of 82. Now the half of the 12 Moon-walking astronauts are still alive. In nine Moon missions, 24 men reached the Moon (three of them twice); 10 of them are dead now. In this list you can see who they were: Apollo 8, 1968 orbital mission—Borman, Anders, Lovell; Apollo 10, 1969 orbital mission— Stafford, Young, Cernan; Apollo 11, 1969 first landing—Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins; Apollo 12, also a 1969 landing—Conrad, Bean, Gordon; Apollo 13, 1971 could not land, but got farthest past the Moon—Lovell, Haise, Swigert; Apollo 14, 1971 landing—Shepard, Mitchell, Roosa; Apollo 15, 1971 landing—Scott, Irwin, Worden; Apollo 16, 1972 landing—Young, Duke, Mattingly; and Apollo 17, 1972 (last) landing—Cernan, Schmitt, Evans. I myself [Stennecken] had no opportunity to meet Cernan, only years ago his partner of the Apollo 17 mission, Jack Schmitt, the Last Man to enter the Moon and also the only professional scientist to walk on the Moon so far. Whatever we leave – Moon or Earth –we hopefully can say “We came in Peace for all Mankind.”

Credit: NASA

Credit: Stenneken; Lunar rock and rover by NASA/Cernan

 

Scientists Enter Hawaii Dome in Eight-Month Mars Space Mission Study

Six scientists have entered a dome perched atop a remote volcano in Hawaii where they will spend the next eight months in isolation to simulate life for astronauts traveling to Mars, the University of Hawaii said. The study is designed to help NASA better understand human behavior and performance during long space missions as the U.S. space agency explores plans for a manned mission to the Red Planet. The crew will perform geological field work and basic daily tasks in the 1,200-square-foot (365 m) dome, located in an abandoned quarry 8,000 feet (2.5 km) above sea level on the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. There is little vegetation and the scientists will have no contact with the outside world, said the university, which operates the dome. Communications with a mission control team will be time-delayed to match the 20-minute travel time of radio waves passing between Earth and Mars. — Reuters

 

A New NASA Mission Could Make Asteroid Mining a Reality in the Future

In 2030, a robotic emissary launched from Earth seven years earlier will lay eyes on a metal world never seen from close range. That NASA spacecraft, known as Psyche, will carry with it a number of instruments designed to spy on the the metallic world called 16 Psyche as it circles the sun. — Mashable

 

Are China and the US Set for a Showdown in Space?

China’s space program is clearly of interest to U.S. policymakers and strategists. Academics have invested significant effort in researching China’s civil and military capabilities as well as its space goals. Much of this analysis mirrors the U.S. understanding of space as fitting into categories of espionage, military use, and scientific exploration.

Analysis which starts from China’s own conceptual framework is less developed, and Chinese views on space resources are particularly under-studied. Space resources deserve to be studied because of the potentially vast economic value and potential to cause inter-state conflict. China’s conceptual framework is important because China conceptualizes space activity principally within the context of economic development, which has important implications for space resources and property. — The Diplomat

 

Red Zeitgeist: Popular Entertainment and the Settlement of Mars

The success of the National Geographic Channel series about Mars exploration has been enough to warrant a second season. Dwayne Day takes another look at that series and the overall interest in the Red Planet, in both fact and fiction. — Space Review