Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States. Barring something really, really, really, really newsworthy, there will be no posts until Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans. I’ll catch you all on the flip side.

NASA Announces Early Stage Innovation Space Technology Research Grants

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 university-led proposals for the study of innovative, early stage technologies that address high-priority needs of America’s space program.

The universities will work on their proposed research and development projects for up to a three-year period, and will receive as much as $500,000 each in Early Stage Innovations (ESI) grant funding from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program.

“These are critical space exploration technology challenges that NASA needs solutions for,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “We are looking forward to the technology development that comes out of these research grants.”

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SSTL & ASTROSCALE team up for Orbital Debris Removal missions

ELSA-d Chaser satellite (Credit: ASTROSCALE)

LONDON (Astroscale/SSTL PR) — ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD. (ASTROSCALE) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue joint opportunities in areas of innovative on-orbit technologies and missions designed to safeguard the orbital environment for future generations.

ASTROSCALE and SSTL have agreed to long-term strategic cooperation that further positions the companies to compete globally in the growing small satellite and orbital debris removal markets. Together the companies will seek to identify ambitious debris removal projects and joint offerings for competitive small satellite missions in Japan.

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Space Tug Company Wins Space Florida Innovation Prize

A Florida company working on developing a reusable space tug was one of two winners of the 2017 Florida VentureTech Showcase and the Space Florida Accelerating Innovation prize on Nov. 16.

Weintraus, Inc., of Daytona Beach, was awarded $25,000 in the competition, which attracted 17 Florida-based companies drawn from a pool of more than 70 applicants, Space Florida said in a press release. The 17 finalists made presentations to a group of investors and entrepreneurs in Boca Raton.

Weintraus’ Hercules II space tug will be “capable of capturing, servicing, refueling, and maneuvering multiple spacecraft in orbit,” the company says on its website. “Weintraus’ ability to resupply Hercules multiple times annually with cargo and fuel, while also having the ability to upgrade Hercules’technology via resupply missions, leads to a competitive advantage over competition. Hercules’ unique design also allows Weintraus to upgrade Hercules to become adaptable to multiple markets through simple resupply missions.”

Tellus, Inc., of Deerfield Beach, won the other $25,000 prize in the competition. The company “provides comprehensive solutions to extend healthcare beyond the hospital walls.”

NASA Is Sending E. coli to Space for Astronaut Health

EcAMSat (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Ever wonder what would happen if you got sick in space? NASA has sent bacteria samples into low-Earth orbit to help find out.

One of the agency’s latest small satellite experiments is the E. coli Anti-Microbial Satellite, or EcAMSat, which will explore the genetic basis for how effectively antibiotics can combat E. coli bacteria in the low gravity of space. This CubeSat – a spacecraft the size of a shoebox built from cube-shaped units – has just been deployed from the space station, and may help us improve how we fight infections, providing safer journeys for astronauts on future voyages, and offer benefits for medicine here on Earth.

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BEAM Work and Vision Checks for Crew Today

BEAM module interior (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More CubeSats were ejected from the International Space Station today to demonstrate and validate new technologies. Back inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 53 crew continued outfitting an experimental module and studying life science.

Two more tiny satellites were deployed from the Kibo laboratory module into Earth orbit today to research a variety of new technologies and space weather. One of the nanosatellites, known as TechEdSat, seeks to develop and demonstrate spacecraft and payload deorbit techniques. The OSIRIS-3U CubeSat will measure the Earth’s ionosphere in coordination with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Commander Randy Bresnik was back inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) today with Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Joe Acaba. The astronauts are converting the experimental habitat into a cargo platform by replacing old BEAM hardware with new electronics and stowage gear.

Eye exams are on the schedule this week as two cosmonauts and two astronauts took turns playing eye doctor and patient today. Alex Misurkin and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos started first with the optical coherence tomography hardware using a laptop computer. Next, Nespoli and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took their turn to help doctors on the ground understand the vision changes that take place in space.

XCOR Owes $27.5 Million to Creditors, Orbital Outfitters Out of Business

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

The numbers are in on XCOR Aerospace’s bankruptcy, and as one would expect, they’re not real pretty.

The company has $1.1 million in assets and $1,424.66 in cash, according to documents filed with the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California. XCOR owes $27.46 million to creditors, with $23.6 million in unsecured debts and $3.86 million in liabilities secured by assets.

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Learn About Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-6 CubeSat

Video Caption: We’d like to introduce the Arkyd-6 spacecraft! This 6U cubesat is packed with power including 17 computing elements. The Arkyd-6 is part of our R&D program assisting us in the design of the Arkyd-301 spacecraft that will detect water on near-Earth asteroids.

ICEYE Announces Award with DIUx for Earth Observation Data Support Services

ESPOO, Finland, November 20, 2017 (ICEYE PR) – ICEYE, the leader in synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) technology, today announced an agreement with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to purchase airborne earth observation (EO) data support services from ICEYE U.S.

“Having just opened our U.S. subsidiary, ICEYE U.S. is on a fast-track in providing services that will help the public sector,” said Mike Lyons, CEO of ICEYE U.S. “DIUx is tackling some of the nation’s most challenging problems, and we’re eager to provide them with data support services that will help in solving those problems.”

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) launched DIUx in 2015 to build a bridge between commercial technological innovation and national security endeavors. Headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in Boston, Austin, and the Pentagon, DIUx facilitates DoD’s efforts to identify and work with commercial companies, including ICEYE U.S., to help solve national defense problems.

Earlier this year, ICEYE announced its expansion into the U.S. with an entity focused on delivering EO data in long-form to its current and prospective clients. ICEYE U.S. is also developing data analytics capabilities to support more varied industry specific services.

About ICEYE

ICEYE aims to provide democratized access to reliable Earth Observation data through developing efficient SAR sensors and microsatellites, enabling everyone to make better decisions. Through an imaging service available anywhere around the globe, anytime, and with response times measured in just few hours, ICEYE helps clients resolve challenges in segments such as maritime, disaster management and security and intelligence. ICEYE is on track to be the first organization in the world to launch SAR microsatellites and expects to commence its commercial data operations in the first half of 2018. For more information, please visit: www.iceye.com 

Solar System’s First Interstellar Visitor Dazzles Scientists

Artist’s concept of interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua) as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. The aspect ratio of up to 10:1 is unlike that of any object seen in our own solar system. (Credit: European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the solar system on a steep trajectory from interstellar space-the first confirmed object from another star.

Now, new data reveal the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. The asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua by its discoverers, is up to one-quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly-elongated-perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide. That aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date. While its elongated shape is quite surprising, and unlike asteroids seen in our solar system, it may provide new clues into how other solar systems formed.

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Rubio Still Concerned Over Bridenstine’s Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) confirmation hearing apparently did nothing to assuage the doubts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) over his suitability to serve as NASA’s next administrator.

“I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered,” Rubio said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think NASA at this critical stage of its history can afford that … As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.”

Rubio’s comments are his strongest yet and suggest that his initial misgivings when President Donald Trump announced Bridenstine’s nomination in early September have only grown.

A broad swath of Democrats from Washington Sen. Patty Murray to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson have already announced their opposition to Bridenstine over a range of his past statements, including ones skeptical of climate science and opposing same-sex marriage.

Bridenstine’s nomination requires approval of the full Senate. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber, which means the Congressman cannot afford to lose many GOP votes.

ELaNa XIV CubeSats Launch on JPSS-1 Mission

Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTa) CubeSat (Credit: MIT)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has launched four small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by four universities as part of a broader mission launching the next generation polar-orbiting satellite to space. These CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as part of the 14th installment of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions.

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Nov. 20, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): We welcome back JON GOFF of Altera Space to provide us with updates and happenings in his space R&D activities.

2. Tuesday, Nov. 21 2017: 7-8:30 PM PST, 10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST: We welcome back BOB ZIMMERMAN for policy, news, and space project updats. Let’s make the phone ring. and challenge Bob with your questions and comments.

3. Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2017: 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, Nov. 24, 2017; 9:30 AM-11 AM PST, (12:30 -2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST
):No show due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

5. Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017: 12-1:30 PM PST; 2-4:30 PM EST; 2-3:30 PM CST. We welcome author KEN THOMAS to the show to discuss his new book “The Journey to Moonwalking.”.

The Votes Are In: Elon Musk’s BFR Point-to-Point Plan is Wackadoodle

The people have spoken. And, by a narrow margin, they think that Elon Reeve Musk’s BFR point-to-point commercial travel plan is wackadoodle.

There were 129 votes for Wackadoodle — It’ll Never Happen, which represents 28 percent of the total.

Great Idea — But I Have REALLY Serious Doubts came in a close second with 171 votes (27 percent).

Awesome Sauce — Let’s Do It! came in third with 26 percent or 165 votes.

That was followed by Great Idea — But I have Some Doubts (115 votes, 18 percent) and Not Sure (13 votes, 2 percent).

I want to thank all the Parabolic Archers who voted. Please remember to vote in our new poll. And remember: vote early! Vote often! Just vote, dammit! Vote!

 

Team Indus Down to the Wire in Effort to Win Moon Prize

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

Team Indus is short of time and money as the March 31 deadline looms for winning the Google Lunar X Prize.

While TeamIndus – consisting of several engineers, specialists and finance experts – has signed a deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation to book the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle for a potential launch, funding issues have even resulted in a few missed payments, sources said.

Rahul Narayan of TeamIndus admitted that a part of the budget is yet to be raised, although he did not directly comment on the missed payments.

“TeamIndus inked its launch services agreement with Antrix (the commercial arm of ISRO) in late 2016. The entire TeamIndus moon mission programme is expected to cost approximately $70 million, of which nearly two-thirds has already been committed. We do not comment on individual cost line items in accordance to our agreements with various partners,” Narayan said.

Sources in TeamIndus told ThePrint that meeting the March deadline may not be possible due to both technical and financial barriers. However, an extension in deadline and significant fund raising could give new life to the initiative.