by Edward Ellegood
Florida Space Development Council
October 13, 2016

SpaceWorks Releases Update to Human Stasis Research

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) has released an update to its research into a human stasis approach for long-duration space missions. The concept involves placing the crew of a Mars mission into a prolonged hypothermic state during the in-space transit phases, both Mars-outbound and Earth-return. With Phase II support and funding provided by the NASA HQ’s NIAC program, SpaceWorks has identified four key areas to further focus their efforts and assembled a medical team to assist in the research. Placing a crew in torpor, an induced deep sleep state achieved via mild hypothermia, during the in-space mission phases appears to address a number of the medical challenges associated with space flight, including: bone demineralization, muscle atrophy, increased intracranial pressure (IIP), radiation exposure, and psycho-social problems. Furthermore, the reduced metabolic rates achieved through torpor relax the mission requirements on consumable food and water, and positively impact the design of the habitat’s environmental control, life support, and power systems. — SEI



SpaceX Test-Fires Raptor Engines

SpaceX has conducted its first firing test of its Raptor engine, the powerful propulsion system that the company aims to use to take humans to Mars. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted pictures of the tests late last night, sharing one image that showed a steady stream of flame emanating from the engine, and another showing “Mach diamonds” — patterns formed in the exhaust plumes of supersonic craft. Musk has been has been fairly vague on Raptor specifications so far, but tweeted a few extra details after last night’s tests, confirming production goals and chamber pressure. Previously he indicated that Raptor engines will deliver about 500,000 pounds of liftoff thrust — about as much as the Space Shuttle’s main engines — and will use liquid methane rather than kerosene. Full-scale Raptor engines first arrived at SpaceX’s testing facility in Texas earlier this year. — The Verge


Further Steps Toward the Frontier: Recent Policy Efforts on Space Settlement

Getting space settlement put into law as a goal for US space policy has been a long-running goal of space advocates. Cody Knipfer argues that there are encouraging signs of progress. — Space Review


Settlement of the Moon or other solar system destinations could be empowered by making settlement a national space policy goal, as some are attempting to achieve. (credit: Anna Nesterova/Alliance for Space Development)


A Moon Village ‘Marketplace’

A virtual marketplace might be the first step in the development of a “Moon Village.” In a panel session at the IAC Wednesday, George Nield of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation proposed a “Lunar Marketplace and Swap Shop” where companies and organizations interested in establishing an international lunar base could buy and sell capabilities needed for that base. That marketplace would be virtual at first, but Nield said he envisioned it could become a physical shop at a future lunar base. Nield has been an advocate for commercial participation in the Moon Village concept proposed by Jan Woerner, the head of ESA. — Geek Wire


Bezos Shows Off ‘New Glenn’ Rocket Design

If “number of Twitter followers” is our only metric, SpaceX founder Elon Musk is about 39 times more popular than Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos, however, is doing his best to change that: On Monday, the same day that Musk bragged about his and SpaceX’s interplanetary rocket’s test-fire, Bezos shared images of his and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket acing wind tunnel tests. Both Bezos and Musk hope to get humans into space, but have different goals and strategies. SpaceX was founded with the grand idea of getting people to Mars. Blue Origin takes a more methodical approach and is more secretive about its long-term goals, and is seen as trailing in technological progress. SpaceX’s latest setback shifted the balance. Bezos, no doubt detecting an opportunity, has since been stepping up his PR game, touting the strength and beauty of his New Glenn rocket.  On Monday morning, Bezos tweeted: “Exciting results from 3 weeks of wind tunnel testing of New Glenn at transonic & supersonic speeds. Validated our CFD.” (CFD stands for computational fluid dynamics, which means that the wind tunnel tests confirmed Blue Origin’s predictions about its new rocket’s aerodynamics.)  — Inverse


This model of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket was put through wind tunnel testing. (Credit: Jeff Bezos via Twitter)


Why India’s Commercial Space Program is Thriving

India’s ability to launch multiple satellites in a single mission has put it on firm footing in the global market. Many private companies are developing satellites that they need for their operations, but most cannot afford to launch these independently. So they need to piggyback on missions from agencies like Isro that have launch facilities. “The need for launches is growing exponentially worldwide, primarily because of new companies that are planning to launch entire commercial constellations [groups] of satellites,” says Susmita Mohanty, chief executive of Earth2Orbit, a company that has been helping negotiate launch deals between India’s space agency and private firms. Another thing that could be making India an attractive proposition is the frequency of its launches and its ability to meet deadlines. “So far we have been able to meet the time requirements of the customers,” says Mr Kumar. India now plans to have as many as 12 launches a year, a pace that’s more than doubled since 2015. Still, getting foreign satellites on board is not simple. — BBC


Rocket Lab Completes Construction at New Zealand Spaceport

Rocket Lab has completed construction of its New Zealand launch site. The company announced Monday the completion of the site, on Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island. Rocket Lab will use the site for its Electron small launch vehicle, the first launch of which is still planned before the end of this year. —


Funding Bid Launches for UK Prestwick Spaceport Plan

Fresh investment could be on its way as council leaders in North and East Ayrshire vote through Growth Deal plans, with South set to follow. An ambitious plan to inject £360million of fresh funding into Ayrshire is set to go before government ministers. A bid for an Ayrshire Growth Deal has been drawn up, aiming to secure funding for plans including the Spaceport at Prestwick Airport. — Daily Record


Sierra Nevada and United Nations Announce Dedicated U.N. Dream Chaser Mission

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and have announced details of the first-ever United Nations space mission. The dedicated Dream Chaser Mission is targeted at providing developing countries the opportunity to develop and fly microgravity payloads for an extended duration in orbit; however, all United Nations Member States will be able to propose payloads for the mission. — SNC


Got a Few Million to Spare? Here are the Companies Vying to Send Tourists to Space

Travel to the final frontier is becoming increasingly accessible as the race to send tourists to space heats up. SpaceX founder Elon Musk is expected to give more details tomorrow on his company’s plans for colonizing Mars. The billionaire has said he hopes to send humans to the Red Planet as soon as 2025.  But those itching to get off Earth sooner have some other options. Several companies offer experiences such as visits to the International Space Station (ISS) or trips 100 kilometers above the Earth — for a hefty price. — CBC



Hawking: Space Travel is Essential for Human Survival

Stephen Hawking says space travel is essential for the survival of humanity. In an excerpt from a new book about private spaceflight, Hawking said that life on Earth is in “ever-increasing” danger of natural or human-made disasters. “I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space,” he wrote. Hawking, offered a free ticket on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, said that “if I am lucky, I will be among the early passengers.” — Guardian



KSC Research: Farming in ‘Martian Gardens’

Of the many challenges involved in sending humans on the journey to Mars, figuring out how to pack enough food for such a lengthy trip looms large. Of course, astronauts will need food on their way to and from Mars, and also during their time on the Red Planet as part of the almost two-and-a-half-year trip. Although prepackaged food will be provided, stowing space-saving seeds to grow one’s own food provides extra nutrition and even increases morale by sprouting a glimpse of home while millions of miles away from Earth. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is partnering with the Florida Tech Buzz Aldrin Space Institute in Melbourne, Florida, to collaborate on research studying the performance of crop species grown in a simulated “Martian garden” — a proving ground for a potential future farm on the Red Planet. “We are using advances in science to learn about increasing plant production to supplement astronauts’ diets,” said Trent Smith, Veggie Project Manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. — NASA


Stratolaunch Becomes Air-Launch Platform for Orbital ATK’s Pegasus

Orbital ATK and Stratolaunch Systems announced a multi-year production-based partnership that will offer significant cost advantages to air-launch customers. Under this partnership, Orbital ATK will initially provide multiple Pegasus XL air-launch vehicles for use with the Stratolaunch aircraft to provide customers with unparalleled flexibility to launch small satellites weighing up to 1,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. Editor’s Note: This accompanying graphic shows the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft in flight with three Pegasus rockets attached. So rather than launching a single Delta-2 class payload, the system would launch multiple microsatellite payloads aboard separate launch vehicles. This seems like a very complex solution. — Space News



Boeing CEO Vows to Beat Musk to Mars

Boeing once helped the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the race to the Moon. Now the company intends to go toe-to-toe with newcomers such as billionaire Elon Musk in the next era of space exploration and commerce. Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less. And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal. “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine.  — Bloomberg


To Boldly Go Toward New Frontiers, We First Need to Learn From Our Colonial Past

How should we understand the idea of the frontier in the contemporary world, with spacecraft sailing beyond the solar system and quantum computing taking us deeper into the heart of matter? Many view human evolution as a continual expansion into new territories, from out-of-Africa to the “high frontier” of space. Frontiers, then, are associated with exploration, conquest, and struggles against hostile nature. They can be seen as a challenge to solve with technology, going hand-in-hand with human progress. But the concept also comes with a lot of baggage. — The Conversation


Space Travel to Improve Health on Earth

The International Space Station (ISS) is pressurized, heated, and contains adequate oxygen which mitigates many factors encountered, however, the lack of gravity is still an enigma. The knowledge that has been gained in sustaining healthy human life in space has provided invaluable advances to the understanding of complex medical conditions experienced by patients on Earth. One such example is in cardiovascular research. The lack of gravity encountered by astronauts on long duration space missions alters the normal distribution of fluid in the body. There is a shift of fluid from the lower body to the upper body. — OUP



China Plans World’s Biggest Spaceplane to Carry 20 Tourists

Even China can’t resist the lure of space tourism. A state-backed firm is developing a gigantic spaceplane, New Scientist can reveal. The plane may one day fly up to 20 passengers to the edge of space – significantly more people than any other commercial spaceflight firm has pledged to fly to date. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing has designed a simple, one-piece spaceplane whose design can be scaled up to carry more people, academy rocket scientist Lui Haiquang said. — New Scientist


Sea Launch’s New Owner Plans 10-12 Launches in First Five Years

S7 Group, the new owner of the Sea Launch floating spaceport, intends to carry out 10-12 launches in the first five years after the resumption of the spaceport’s work, CEO of S7 Space Transport Systems Sergei Sopov said. “About 10-12 launches, if we take the year 2017 as a starting point,” he said. — Tass