by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
May 15, 2017


Humans Are Going to Mars. NASA Has Unveiled Their Mission.

Though the undertaking will no doubt include many challenges, NASA is finally ready to make humanity’s dream of sending people to Mars a reality. To that end, the agency has shared its five-part plan for reaching the Red Planet. — Futurism


Virgin Galactic Aims to Fly Space Tourists in 2018, CEO Says

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is on track to begin commercial passenger spaceflights before the end of next year, the company’s chief executive said. For years, Branson has been optimistically forecasting the start of rides aboard SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched suborbital spaceplane that is designed to carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 62 miles (100 kilometers).

During the suborbital hop, passengers will be able to experience a few minutes of microgravity and see the limb of Earth set against the blackness of space. Branson has been more circumspect in his schedule projections since an October 2014 fatal accident during a test flight of Virgin’s first vehicle. But in an interview with The Telegraph earlier this month, the billionaire entrepreneur said he’d be “very disappointed” if the program isn’t well underway by the end of next year. —

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides confirmed on April 26, 2017, that the company plans to fly space tourists in 2018.
Credit: Getty Images


NASA Reveals Prototype for Return of Supersonic Travel

NASA’s space adventures attract most of the public’s attention, the space agency also has been working with a private company to return supersonic travel to the atmosphere of our very own planet. About a year ago, NASA announced a $20 million contract with Lockheed Martin of Palmdale, California, to develop a supersonic plane that would go easy on fuel and make a lot less noise when breaking the sound barrier. The U.S. banned commercial, supersonic speeds over land because of the massive sonic boom that would result. — Seattle PI

Photo: NASA


Journey Into Space with Women Astronauts and “Dot of Light”

“I could just look at this beautiful landscape of shiny little dots and this black background and think about all the worlds that could be out there waiting for me to discover them.” So says astronaut Anousheh Ansari in “Dot of Light,” a new film from writer and director Eliza McNitt, produced in collaboration with Google. “Dot of Light” tells the story of three women and their pioneering journeys to outer space, using archival footage alongside intimate interviews with Kathryn D. Sullivan, Nicole Stott and Anousheh Ansari. The film incorporates footage captured with Pixel, and is part of a collaboration between McNitt and Google that also includes new limited edition Live Case designs inspired by women astronauts and our collective dream of travelling beyond the stars. — Pixel


SARGE Launch Update from EXOS Aerospace
by Fred Becker

EXOS Aerospace has an update on their progress towards launch of their SARGE rocket, now set for May 20 in New Mexico near Spaceport America. They are in the final stage of assembly. This rocket will carry the Enterprise In Space student experiments payload that we announced in the previous Downlink. Come meet EXOS leaders at ISDC. — EXOS Aerospace


SARGE Launch Vehicle in Final Assembly, Credit: EXOS Aerospace
Click Image to Enlarge


Made In Space Reveals the Archinaut, a Robot-Operated Factory in the Sky

Made In Space, Inc. is known as the company behind the 3D printers on board the International Space Station. Astronauts have used the startup’s AMF, or Additive Manufacturing Facility, on the ISS to churn out everything from finger splints to tools, sculptures and even other printer parts. Now, the company is revealing a video rendering of its larger Archinaut system, a factory in the sky operated by autonomous robots. The Archinaut can produce and assemble large equipment, such as satellites or even entire spacecraft, while in orbit. According to Made In Space CEO and president Andrew Rush, “It’s our ambition to develop the manufacturing technologies that will usher in the era of true commercial space utilization.” Literally, he is hoping to enable colonization of other planets, with millions of people living and working in beautiful, microgravity environments. — Tech Crunch



SpaceX to Launch Thousands of its Own Broadband Satellites Starting in 2019

SpaceX on Wednesday said it plans to launch thousands of satellites on Falcon 9 rockets beginning in 2019 to establish what would one day become a global broadband internet constellation. Patricia Cooper, SpaceX’s vice president of satellite government affairs, told a Senate Committee that the company is aiming to launch 4,425 small satellites to low Earth orbit beginning in 2019, with full deployment expected by 2024. All would launch, in phases, on Falcon 9 rockets. — Florida Today


Cold Surface, Hot Market: Commercial Lunar Gains Traction

For anyone with their finger on the pulse of the entrepreneurial space race, it should come as no surprise that the Moon is becoming prime real estate these days. As interest and investment in commercial space heats up, and as government agencies and commercial companies alike focus their attention beyond low-Earth orbit,competition between multiple private companies looking to provide access to the Moon is creating a market for commercial lunar services. — Space Angels


The Moon is the Gateway to NASA’s Exploration Future

The idea of some kind of human-tended facility in orbit around the moon is not new: NASA has suggested for years that such an outpost might be developed in the “proving ground” phase of its exploration plans, allowing astronauts to test technologies needed for missions to Mars, but offered few specifics about it.

In recent weeks, though, NASA had laid out more details about what such an outpost might look like and how it could be built, driven by the need to start planning payloads for the initial missions to develop it. “There’s starting to be a sense of urgency” about identifying those payloads, said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in a March 8 talk at the Goddard Memorial Symposium.

That urgency, he said, is because the first Space Launch System flight to deploy elements of that outpost, Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2), could launch within four years. “We’ve really got to start making some decisions about what that cargo is, whom we partner with and how we build the equipment,” he said. — Space News

Moon. Credit: NASA


Goldman Sachs – Profiles in Innovation – Space – The Next Investment Frontier

A new Space Age is emerging. Rocket launches are being privatized, the most ambitious satellite constellation ever is being deployed, man is looking back to the Moon and to Mars, and militaries are vying for the ultimate high ground. In the latest in our Profiles in Innovation series, we examine where new industries are being created, and where others are being disrupted in the latest race to harness the cosmos. We show how technological advances and necessity are creating a wave of opportunity as business and governments invest in a new Space Economy. Goldman Sachs does and seeks to do business with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. — Goldman Sachs


Hawking Says Humans Need to Leave Earth Within the Next 100 Years or Face Extinction

Um, Elon Musk might want to hurry up and get us to Mars with his SpaceX program already. Why, you ask? Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist, says it’s almost time for humans to bid farewell to their home planet. In the upcoming BBC documentary Expedition New Earth, Hawking suggests humans have 100 years to colonize elsewhere or prepare for the extinction of our species. A hundred years is a lot sooner than Hawking’s previous predictions. In November, he gave a similar warning — but said we had a comparatively lengthy 1,000 years to find a new spot to carry on the future of humankind: “Although the chance of disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years … By that time, we should have spread out into space and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.” — Mic

Stephen Hawking at a press conference in New York City to announce Breakthrough Starshot, a space exploration initiative.
Source: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images


Vector Completes Successful Flight Test of Vector-R Launch Vehicle

Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle. This flight test is the first of several upcoming launches which will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles. This announcement comes on the heels on Vector’s recent agreement to conduct a flight test in Camden County, Georgia…The summer launch from Spaceport Camden is part of a series of incremental launches which will help Vector further validate the company’s technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations, and evaluate candidate launch sites for the future. — Space Ref

Vector-R Launch


AIA Calls for Actions to Spur US Space Competitiveness

The Aerospace Industries Association, supported by research and analysis provided by the consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology, released a report today highlighting the growing importance of the U.S. domestic space industry to our nation’s economic vitality and security. The report: “Engine for Growth: Analysis and Recommendations for U.S. Space Industry Competitiveness,” recommends specific steps that the U.S. government should take to maximize potential for renewing American leadership in global trade and investing in infrastructure for a stronger America. — AIA