by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Report
November 30, 2017

The Inside Scoop on Elon Musk’s Plan to Make “Insurance for Life as We Know It”

While Elon Musk’s hopeful vision for spreading the human species across the solar system and beyond may be ambitious, to put it lightly, he is not completely alone in his support for such efforts. NASA has released a 35-page plan outlining the potential for humankind to live on both Earth and Mars, and the UAE has plans to establish a Martian colony by 2117. — Futurism


NASA Rolls Out Back-to-the-Moon Strategies

NASA has begun to roll out a return to the Moon strategy. Taking part in a Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) workshop, NASA officials have started to outline potential back to the Moon strategies. The GER is a publication authored by NASA and the other 14 space agencies that comprise the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). The roadmap outlines a phased approach to achieving the common goal of sending humans to the surface of Mars. — Inside Outer Space


New Space Investments Could Start to Pay Off Soon

The commercial satellite industry is on the cusp of seeing a slew of exits from former NewSpace startups, according to Seraphim Capital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Boggett. In an interview with Via Satellite, Boggett pointed to the growing sum of venture-backed capital in the space industry as evidence that a number of young companies are rapidly accelerating toward maturity. The team at Seraphim Capital — a venture fund that focuses exclusively on space technology — has kept a close eye on the space investment ecosystem over the last few years. According to their Seraphim Space Index, venture capitalists poured more than $3 billion into space technology between October 2016 and September 2017. The index noted that the amount of total capital has steadily increased quarter-over-quarter, and most likely, that number will continue to trend upward as investor appetite in space flourishes, Boggett said. “There are going to be some really successful and sizable businesses that are being developed right now. There’s overwhelming evidence of that already,” Boggett said. “What’s important is that there’s a huge amount of money going in at all stages of the market.” Compared to just a few years ago, the number of venture funds that have acknowledged space as a growth area has exploded. Previously, there were just ”a handful” globally that had expressed marked interest, Boggett said. “Now I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the leading venture funds have all made investments in the space tech sector,” he said. — Via Satellite

An Iceye rendering of the first SAR microsatellite deployed in orbit. Photo: Iceye.


Boeing Starliner Trio Preparing for Test Flights

Boeing is progressing through various stages of assembling the first three CST-100 Starliner spacecraft – the latter of which will launch a NASA crew on a test flight to the International Space Station (ISS). A number of major milestones are upcoming, including a Design Certification Review (DCR) for trips to the orbital outpost. The major components underwent separate outfitting operations in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) where wiring lines, avionics and other systems were installed and tested before the pieces were connected to form a complete Starliner. Inside C3PF, Starliner Spacecraft 1 was outfitted with electrical and fluid systems before engineers attached the outer thermal protection shielding and the base heat shield that will eventually protect crewmembers during re-entry. This Starliner will be used in the pad abort test to validate the launch abort system. The test is currently scheduled to take place in the second quarter of next year. Boeing is also continuing with assembly on the Spacecraft-2 and Spacecraft-3 Crew Module Upper Domes. These two spacecraft are destined to be tested in space. An uncrewed test mission to the ISS will be launched by ULA’s Atlas V (AV-080) which is already being prepared for the mission. —

Boeing is progressing through various stages of assembling the first three CST-100 Starliner spacecraft – the latter of which will launch a NASA crew on a test flight to the International Space Station (ISS).


Space: A Branded Galaxy

Space. Globally it’s worth $329 billion and in the last four years there has been $4.2 billion dollars in private investment — humankind’s outlook towards space is skyrocketing. In today’s age of fake news, and global stress levels at a historical high, we are constantly on the search for a better tomorrow. And in such trialling times, space sparks awe, fuels aspiration, and is a symbol of positivity and escapism.

The visionary mindset and provenance of space is an ingredient that brands across different verticals and industries are increasingly tapping into, transforming an intangible, far-out world into a desired experience on earth. The aesthetics, innovation, technology and design of space is rapidly permeating culture, creating exciting opportunities for brands to look up to the sky for storytelling inspiration.

Take Coca Cola’s investment in small satellite company OneWeb, which has allowed the brand to expand its global footprint and more appropriately manage its remote locations with internet access and supply chain management. Yep, there’s a Coca-Cola satellite looking down on us as we speak. — Medium


China Lays Out its Roadmap for Space Transportation System

China has revealed a roadmap for its space transportation system outlining its goal to become a world-leading space power by 2045. The program, announced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), envisions several milestones in the nation’s space industry within the next three decades, including the development of reusable launch vehicles and a nuclear-powered space shuttle. — SpaceFlight Insider


Great Britain Gets Serious About Launch

Despite the large number of small launch vehicle efforts underway globally, the British space industry sees an opportunity to develop and launch such vehicles from the country. Jeff Foust reports on a recent conference that discussed some of the vehicles under development and efforts by the British government to support them with funding and regulation. — Space Review


Japan Eyes Crewed Lunar Surface Missions

The government plans to launch a project to send astronauts to the Moon’s surface on an exploration mission in cooperation with a similar U.S. space project, sources close to the government said. Japan hopes to join the U.S. project to construct a spaceport in lunar orbit in the latter half of the 2020s, in an effort to realize a lunar surface exploration mission by a Japanese astronaut. The government plans to submit a draft report on the project to a meeting of a governmental panel of space policy experts. By joining an international space probe, the nation is expected to obtain scientific results, and also boost its competitiveness in the space industry and assert Japan’s leadership in the field of space utilization, the sources said. Tokyo has decided it is a realistic goal to send astronauts for the first time to the lunar surface for exploration activities, by joining the U.S. Deep Space Gateway and contributing its expertise in such areas as the docking of the space station and supply ship. — Yomiuri Shimbun


How a Tiny County in Georgia Aims to Create the Country’s Newest Commercial Spaceport

On the southeast coast of Georgia, around 20 miles north of the Florida border, a few concrete slaps and a handful of roads lie on 4,000 acres of luscious green land. They are the remnants of a now-defunct manufacturing plant. The area hasn’t seen much action in 50 years, but soon, it could be teeming with activity again — as the site of future US rocket launches.

The new proposed commercial spaceport, the first one ever for Georgia, is known as Spaceport Camden. Local government officials have big plans for the area over the next few years: they hope to build a launchpad to support rocket launches to orbit, as well as a landing area that would allow rockets to touch down after takeoff. Built through partnerships with private companies, the area could become the first exclusively commercial spaceport on the East Coast; the others in Florida and Virginia are operated by or associated with federal agencies.

The county thinks the project could be a smart way for Georgia to enter the booming commercial spaceflight economy, which was valued at $329 billion in 2016. Spaceport Camden is strategically located on the coast, which would allow rockets to launch east over mostly open ocean, posing little risk to populated areas on land. Once the site is up and running, it could also serve as a hub for business and tourism, as well as an educational outpost for local schools. — The Verge

A conceptual rendering for how a launchpad at Spaceport Camden could look. Image: Camden County


NASA Promotes Small Business Involvement in SLS Rocket Development

The vision of the Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) at NASA Headquarters is to promote and integrate all small businesses into the competitive base of contractors that pioneers the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. Click here. — NASA


9 Billionaires, Including an Indian, in Space Race: Will They Overtake NASA?

Space travel is expensive — considering salaries of the Scientists, equipment expenditure and all that jazz. But for people who don’t have to worry about the spending, it is an amazing opportunity to tap their childhood sci-fi fantasies! With the adequate technology, will these billionaires set foot on space before NASA does? — India Today


The Ultimate Frontier Market

The sky is no longer the limit. An explosion of emerging space industries is creating new and unprecedented opportunities for investors in Southeast Asia and the West. The last few years have seen a huge drop in the costs associated with emerging space industries, which has opened up major commercial applications, some of which, the experts say, are only a few years away from generating returns. Where previously the opportunities were limited to government contracts in defence and aerospace as well as large communications conglomerates, today’s start-ups are pioneering new and exciting applications for both enterprise and mass-market consumers. The potential of this industry is astounding. According to news reports, in a note released last month, Morgan Stanley analysts estimate that the space industry will be worth more than US$1.1 trillion by 2040 with private companies driving much of the innovation, further cutting costs. Although the analysts concede that the opportunities are still limited, they believe companies providing internet bandwidth services from space will carry most of the future value of the space industry. They estimate “a US$400 billion incremental revenue opportunity from providing internet access to underserved parts of the world”. — The Edge Markets


SpaceX Could See Its Valuation Soar to $50 Billion

Elon Musk, the 46-year-old CEO of Tesla and aerospace service provider SpaceX and co-founder of OpenAI has seen his $20 billion fortune rise on the back of massive growth from his core companies which continually draw attention for their projects in everything from an eventual mission of colonizing Mars to self-driving cars and artificial intelligence (AI).

But as Musk’s great achievements as an industrialist continue to defy expectations, and this whether it is by creating the first attractive luxury electric cars or lowering the cost of space transportation, his companies, mainly Tesla and SpaceX, remain the darling of Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Earlier this year, shares of Tesla put the company’s market cap at nearly $53 billion, above GM and Ford’s $50 billion and $48 billion, respectively, thus making the company the most valuable US car manufacturer on the market.

SpaceX, thanks to its disruptive innovations that have forever transformed the rocket launch industry seems to be in a Tesla-like value growth trajectory. The interesting part of that claim is that one doesn’t have to make a hard sell on the name given the numbers back the argument up. Only recently Musk’s space exploration outfit raised another $350 million – bringing the company’s value to $21 billion, a figure that puts SpaceX globally among a very exclusive small group of companies that have hit the $20 billion mark. — Wall Street Pit


Aerospace Companies Planning a Squad of Space-Repair Robots

Hundreds of millions of dollars can go into the school-bus-size satellites that orbit Earth and provide services like broadband internet, broadcasting and military surveillance. But if a part breaks or a satellite runs out of fuel, there’s no way to send help. Commercial industry and government agencies believe they’re getting close to an answer: robot repairs. The idea is to extend the lives of satellites with in-orbit satellite servicing, with robotic spacecraft traveling from satellite to satellite to refuel them and fix problems.

One of the first such commercial robot technicians is expected to launch next year, but analysts say a mature market is still at least 10 years away. Not only do the spacecraft and capabilities still need to be fine-tuned, but the space industry, which is relatively conservative, will also want to see several demonstrations before signing on. — Houston Chronicle

This rendering shows robotic arms that are being built for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The robotic servicer, on the left, is preparing to use a tool to open a stuck solar array on a disabled satellite.


NASA Drone Race: Human Pilot Emerges Faster Than Artificial Intelligence

An expert human pilot was successfully able to beat flying drones controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) systems in a race organised by NASA. However, the AI-driven drones were more consistent in their performance, scientists said. Drone racing is a high-speed sport demanding instinctive reflexes. Researchers at NASA JPL put their work to the test recently.

Timing laps through a twisting obstacle course, they raced drones controlled by AI against world-class drone pilot Ken Loo. The team built three custom drones and developed the complex algorithms the drones needed to fly at high speeds while avoiding obstacles. The drones were built to racing specifications and could easily go as fast as 129 kilometers per hour in a straight line.

“You can actually see that the AI flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier,” Reid said. Compared to Loo, the drones flew more cautiously but consistently. Their algorithms are still a work in progress. Loo attained higher speeds and was able to perform impressive aerial corkscrews. However, he was limited by exhaustion, something the AI-piloted drones did not have to deal with. —  Economic Times


All the Exoplanets We’ve Discovered in One Small Chart

Every day, it seems like there’s a new exoplanet out there—and often, claims of habitability. But it’s easy to get lost in the mess of numbers. We have discovered more than 3,700 exoplanets, but they range in size from smaller than the moon to bigger than Jupiter, bordering on the size of failed stars.

Just today, astronomers announced a new exoplanet, Ross 128 b, which is nearby (11 light-years) and possibly in a slightly chilly habitable zone. Professor Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Lab at the University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo put together this spectacular chart to show exoplanets organized by size and temperature. It reveals a few surprising facts. — Popular Mechanics

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