Audit: NASA Has Improved Management of Historic Assets But Improvements Still Needed

Lunar rover prototype (Credit: image, NASA; left photo, NASA; right photo, U.S. Air Force)

A prototype lunar rover vehicle, an Apollo 11 sample bag with lunar dust on it, and parts of two Apollo command modules are among a number of historic items that NASA has lost possession of over the past 60 years, according to a new audit by  the agency’s Office of Inspector General. [Full Report — PDF]

“NASA’s processes for loaning and disposing of historic personal property have improved over the past 6 decades, but a significant amount of historic personal property has been lost, misplaced, or taken by former employees and contractors due to the Agency’s lack of adequate procedures,” the audit concluded.

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ATLAS Space Operations Hires Sean Casey as VP of Business Development

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich, (ATLAS Space -Operations PR) — Today, Sean Casey, Ph.D, was announced as the new Vice President of Business Development for ATLAS Space Operations.

Dr. Casey brings to ATLAS a long track-record of success, including more than 25 years of leadership experience, and unparalleled subject-matter-expertise.

“We have seen steady growth this year both in sales and as a company.” Said Sean McDaniel, CEO of ATLAS. “With the introduction of our revolutionary antenna technology and the continued expansion of our global ground network, I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to bring in Dr. Casey to expand ATLAS’ commercial lines of business.”

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Hubble Moving Closer to Normal Science Operations

Hubble Space Telescope (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA took great strides last week to press into service a Hubble Space Telescope backup gyroscope (gyro) that was incorrectly returning extremely high rotation rates. The backup gyro was turned on after the spacecraft entered safe mode due to a failed gyro on Friday, Oct. 5. The rotation rates produced by the backup gyro have since reduced and are now within an expected range. Additional tests will be performed to ensure Hubble can return to science operations with this gyro.

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National Space Council Approves Measures to Advance Space Force

Mike Pence

The National Space Council today approved six recommendations to the president concerning the establishment of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Services.

The six recommendations presented include:

  • Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
  • Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
  • Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD’s assessment of the authorities required.
  • Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
  • Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations.

The approvals came after the council, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, heard from three experts who said that establishing an independent Space Force was essential to meeting the growing threats posed to the United States by foreign adversaries.

The White House also published a press release today outlining plans for the Space Force.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave an update on the investigation into the aborted launch of a crew flight to the International Space Station. He said he was confident that Russia will have resolved the problem in time to launch a new crew to the International Space Station in December as planned.

Spacebit Technologies Brings Distributed Ledger Technology to Space

LONDON, October 20, 2018 (Spacebit PR) — What if everyone had the ability to participate in space projects? What would happen if space exploration and travel were to become — democratized? How can technology bridge the gap between space enthusiasts, governments, professional institutions, and private organizations?

Introducing Spacebit: A team of blockchain pioneers, astronauts, entrepreneurs, engineers, and rocket scientists, driven to democratize access to commercial space missions around the earth, the moon, and beyond. Using state of the art blockchain technology, Spacebit will decentralize the way in which these projects are executed and decided so that maximal involvement in the initiatives and mission choices are had by the public.

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Roscosmos to Wrap Up Soyuz Abort Investigation Next Week

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

TASS reports that Roscosmos will have a final report on the abort of a Soyuz crew launch to the International Space Station on Oct. 30.  Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague parachuted to safety aboard their Soyuz MS-10 capsule.

“Having listened to reports of the experts investigating causes of the emergency, members of the emergency commission have approved, after a detailed examination, a draft report on causes of the incident and begun drawing up recommendations to prevent similar situations in the future,” the statement says.

“The final report and list of recommendations for the space industry enterprises will be approved on October 30, 2018 and will be submitted to chairperson of the State Commission for Flight Tests of Manned Space Complexes,” it says.

Following a smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe. The Soyuz MS-10 crew were not hurt.

Video of the flight indicates that one of four strap-on boosters that form the first stage failed to separate properly from the core booster. Media reports the booster might have been improperly installed.

Mr. Rogozin Goes to Washington

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin will be paying a visit to the United States at a date TBD, The Moscow Times reports.

The White House has temporarily lifted an entry ban imposed on the head of Russia’s federal space agency to allow him to visit the United States, the head of NASA has said in an interview with Russian media.

The U.S. banned entry to and froze the assets of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, along with other officials it blames for Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Rogozin, 54, oversaw Russia’s powerful arms industry before he was appointed to head the Roscosmos state space agency earlier this year.

Rogozin will now be able to travel to the U.S. under a workaround that removes the sanctions for the duration of his visit, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the state-run TASS news agency Friday.

This Week on The Space Show

1. Monday, Oct. 22, 2018; 2-3:30 PM PDT (4-5:30 PM CDT, 5-6:30 PM EDT): We welcome back DR. ERIC SEEDHOUSE regarding his new book, “Space Radiation and Astronaut Safety.”

2. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018: 7-8:30 PM PDT; 9-10:30 PM CDT; 10-11:30 PM EDT: We welcome back WILLIAM (BILL) KETCHUM regarding his new book, “To The Moon On A Slide Rule.”

3. Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Oct.26, 2018; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT. We welcome back DR. TOM MATULA on space finance, marketing, and economics.

5. The Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 program from 12-1:30 PM PDT, (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES. First time callers welcome, all calls welcome on space, STEM, STEAM, science.

Apollo Astronauts Dwindle as NASA Celebrates Program’s 50th Anniversary

Apollo 8 crew members William Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on the carrier after their mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of manned Apollo flights leading to the first moon landing in July 1969, the number of astronauts from the program is slowly dwindling away.

Of the 29 men who flew in the Apollo lunar program, 15 are still alive while 14 others have passed away. When the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs are included, there are 21 Apollo-era astronauts still with us while 17 have died.

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It’s Baaack! Space Access Conference to Return in 2019


FREMONT, Calif., October 19, 2018 (Space Access Society PR) – We are very pleased to announce that there will be a Space Access Conference next spring, April 18th-21st 2019, in California’s Bay Area at the Fremont Marriott Silicon Valley.

Space Access 2019 will be run by a team from the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society with advice & support from us. The SA2019 Conference Chair will be ERPS’ Michael Wallis, with much relevant experience with both space and conference running. Proceeds (if any) will benefit both ERPS and SAS.

We expect the conference style will evolve – that’s one of the benefits of bringing in a new crew with fresh perspectives. But the essence of Space Access will remain the same: Three intensive days focusing on the technology, business, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation, discussed in depth by a cross-section of the people making it happen.

We will post occasional pointers to updated conference information on the space-access.org website, but the primary web page for SA2019 information https://sa2019.erps.org/. Check it out for conference hotel and registration information, and for the conference program as it evolves.

See you all there in six months!

National Space Council Meeting to Focus on Space Force

Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The Trump Administration’s plan to create a sixth branch of the Armed Services named Space Force will he the topic of the next meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday.

The council, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, will hear from three witnesses:

  • Ret. Lt. Gen. James K. “Kevin” McLaughlin, former Deputy Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), Fort Meade, Maryland;
  • Doug Loverro, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy in the Obama Administration; and,
  • Mark Sirangelo, former head of the space division at Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).

The meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT at the National War College in Washington, DC. There will be a live stream of the meeting on whitehouse.gov and NASA TV.

BepiColombo Blasts Off to Explore the Mysteries of Mercury

BepiColombo liftoff (Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 20 October 2018 (ESA PR) — The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury blasted off on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October on its exciting mission to study the mysteries of the Solar System’s innermost planet.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via the New Norcia ground tracking station at 02:21 GMT confirmed that the launch was successful.

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XPRIZE Appoints Anousheh Ansari as New CEO

Anousheh Ansari

LOS ANGELES, October 18, 2018 (XPRIZE PR) — XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced at their annual Visioneering event today that Anousheh Ansari has been named as chief executive officer. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis will continue in the role of founder and executive chairman.

Ansari, a serial tech entrepreneur and astronaut, is an active proponent of world-changing technologies. No stranger to XPRIZE, Ansari, along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million competition that ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight. Since then, she has served on XPRIZE’s Board of Directors and has closely worked with the foundation. Ansari was asked by Diamandis, and the rest of the board, to help lead the foundation as it extends its reach and impact.

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Vector Raises $70 Million Series Be Funding Round

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 19, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a leading microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that it has secured $70M in a Series B funding round led by Kodem Growth Partners, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners.

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