This Week on The Space Show


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

1 Monday, Feb. 18, 2019; 2-3:30 PM PST (4-5:30 PM CST, 5-6:30 PM EST): No show for today due to Presidents Day Holiday Weekend.

2. Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019: 7-8:30 PM PST (9-10:30 pm CST; 10-11:30 PM EST): We welcome back FRANK WHITE for his new book, “The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications Of The Overview Effect.”

3. Wedmesdau, Feb. 20, 2019: 7-8:30 PM PST (9-10:30 pm CST; 10-11:30 PM EST): We welcome back MATT BILLE regarding using microsats to track whales. See uploaded items on The Space Show website page for this show.

4. Friday, Feb. 22, 2019; 9:30-11 AM PST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST; 12:30-2 PM EST. We welcome DR. ZINA JARRAHI-CINKER regarding graphene and its uses for space and space mfg.

5. The Sunday, Feb. 4 2019 12-1:30 PM PST, (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We welcome back LINDA PLUSH, aerospace medicine nurse and specialist in human spaceflight. News and updates from the front lines.

NASA Launches Effort to Develop Human Lunar Landing System

Credit: NASA

Last week, NASA had an industry day for its recently released Human Landing System Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The space agency is seeking private participation in the development of a landing system capable of delivering astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2028.

The following are excerpts from the PowerPoint presentation give by NASA officials last week that outlined the agency’s plans. The complete slides are here.
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There She Floats! RemoveDEBRIS Satellite Successfully Test Harpoon in Orbit

SURREY, UK (University of Surrey PR) — The RemoveDEBRIS satellite, one of the world’s first attempts to address the build-up of dangerous space debris, has successfully used its on-board harpoon-capture system in orbit.

The Airbus Stevenage designed harpoon featured a 1.5 metre boom deployed from the main RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft with a piece of satellite panel on the end. The harpoon was fired at 20 metres/sec to penetrate the target and demonstrate the ability of a harpoon to capture debris.

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Blue Origin, Masten Vehicles Drive the Highway to Space

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifted off in July 2018 carrying five NASA-supported technologies to flight test in space. (Credit: Blue Origin)

A fledgling industry of rocket and balloon companies is taking science and technology experiments into space-like environments.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — At the edge of space, in the upper reaches of the stratosphere, extremely cold, near-vacuum conditions can be an ideal proving ground for space-related science and technology experiments.

“Earth’s atmosphere can interfere with the ability to do certain types of research, and at this height, you’re above a large majority of it,” says Andrew Antonio, director of marketing at World View, a Tucson, Arizona–based company that sends research and other high-altitude balloons into the space-like stratosphere, which he says offers an affordable environment for some space-related research.

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DIA: Russia Sees Reliance on Space as U.S. Military’s Achilles’ Heel

Russia has focused on maintaining its own military and civil satellites on orbit and selling launch services commercially. Russia usually launches small satellites as multiple payloads on heavier rockets but sometimes uses the Rokot light-lift vehicle to launch smaller payloads into LEO. Russia’s heavy-lift vehicles are mostly used for launching into GEO or HEO. The developmental Energia SLV, designed to boost the Russian space shuttle into orbit, was discontinued in the 1980s and revived in 2016 to support proposed lunar missions. (Visualization: DIA, D3 Design)

Challenges to Security in Space
Defense Intelligence Agency
February 2019

Full Report (PDF)

Excerpts on Russia

Strategy, Doctrine, and Intent

Russian military doctrine and authoritative writings clearly articulate that Russia views space as a warfighting domain and that achieving supremacy in space will be a decisive factor in winning future conflicts. Russian military thinkers believe the importance of space will continue to expand because of the growing role of precision weapons and satellite-supported information networks in all types of conflict. Meanwhile, Russia regularly expresses concern over the weaponization of space and is pursuing legal, binding space arms control agreements to curb what it sees as U.S. weaponization of outer space.

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The Bones of the Matter: Reversing the Loss of Bone Mass in Space

Without the influence of gravity, astronauts experience bone loss and it takes research in space to figure out how to reverse that.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Spaceflight is hard on the human body. Adapted over generations to meet the rigors of an environment with gravity, all of the normal rules about staying healthy on Earth don’t apply in zero gravity. Long-term space exploration depends on knowing how to keep humans strong and well, so NASA has been studying the consequences of short-term trips in space for years, with the International Space Station contributing significantly to the understanding of how to keep astronauts healthy.

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NASA Looks to Procure More Soyuz Seats Amid Commercial Crew Uncertainty

Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Amid uncertainty about the Commercial Crew schedule, NASA has issued a pre-solitication procurement notice to secure additional rides with the Russians for its astronauts.

“NASA is considering contracting with the State Space Corporation ‘Roscosmos’ for these services on a sole source basis for two (2) Soyuz seats and associated services to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft vehicle. This transportation would be for one crewmember in the Fall of 2019 and one crew member in the Spring of 2020,” the agency said in the Feb. 13 notice.

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Richard Branson Seeking More Funding for Virgin Galactic & Virgin Orbit

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo fly right overhead. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Having broken off a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia following that government’s murder and dismemberment of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Richard Branson has hired LionTree Advisors to drum up funding for Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company, Sky News reports.

Discussions with prospective investors, including sovereign wealth funds, private equity firms, high net worth individuals and strategic partners, are already under way, according to people close to the process.

LionTree’s appointment is understood to have been made on the back of expressions of investor interest that followed Galactic’s test flight in December to the edge of space.

Sources said this weekend that Sir Richard was seeking funding that would value Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, which launches satellites for commercial customers, at a combined sum of well over $2bn (£1.55bn).

The precise amount that he is looking to raise has yet to be determined, but people close to the process suggested it would be at least $250m (£193m), representing a minority stake.

In October 2017, Branson signed a memorandum of understanding for a $1 billion investment by  Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The deal, which included an option for $480 million more,  would have injected funding into Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company.

The murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey put an end to the deal. Branson was also set to invest in a new city named Neom that Saudi Arabia plans to build on the Red Sea.

Branson has said that Virgin has spent $1 to $1.3 billion on the three companies. That figure includes $390 million invested by aabar Investments, which is one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds.

LeoStella Inaugurates State-of-the-Art Smallsat Production Facility

Satellite production facility (Credit: LeoStella)

Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries joint venture plans to disrupt the smallsat industry by producing cost-effective satellites at scale

TUKWILA, Wash., Feb. 15, 2019 (LeoStella PR) – LeoStella, a smallsat design and manufacturing company, today announced the official inauguration of its production facilities in Tukwila, Wash. The company is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space, joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), and Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries. Formed in March 2018, LeoStella has been developing a state-of-the-art production facility to construct smallsats cost-effectively and at scale.

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NASA to Advance Unique 3D Printed Sensor Technology

Technologist Mahmooda Sultana holds an early iteration of an autonomous multifunctional sensor platform, which could benefit all of NASA’s major scientific disciplines and efforts to send humans to the Moon and Mars. (Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

By Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A NASA technologist is taking miniaturization to the extreme.

Mahmooda Sultana won funding to advance a potentially revolutionary, nanomaterial-based detector platform. The technology is capable of sensing everything from minute concentrations of gases and vapor, atmospheric pressure and temperature, and then transmitting that data via a wireless antenna — all from the same self-contained platform that measures just two-by-three-inches in size.

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Nanosat to Serve the Internet of Things Tested for Space

Evaluation of a test Hiber nanosatellite took place in ESA’s metal-walled Hybrid European Radio Frequency and Antenna Test Zone (Hertz) at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands, shut off from all external influences for radio testing.  (Credit: ESA–G. Porter)

NOORDWIJK, the Netherlands (ESA PR) — The Netherlands’ latest space firm brought its newest design for testing in ESA’s largest antenna test facility. The Hiber company has already launched its first two nanosatellites into orbit, and is busily preparing its next generation.

Dutch space company Hiber is building an orbital constellation of CubeSats – small modular satellites based around 10 cm units – to provide global low-cost connectivity for the ‘Internet of Things’, tracking and harnessing data from modem-linked objects such as haulage vehicles, power cables, pipelines or sensors for precision agriculture.

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Thales Radar System Can Help Satellites Avoid Space Debris

SMART-L Multi-Mission long-distance radar (Credit: Thales)

PARIS (Thales PR) — More powerful and accurate, Earth Observation satellites feature major breakthrough technologies contributing to a better understanding of our planet, our oceans, our weather conditions… in a nutshell, our global environment. Earth Observation satellites, whether using radar or optical payloads, can also be used for defense uses, in particular for applications linked to maritime security or border surveillance. Moreover, powerful telecommunications satellites can offer High Speed Internet in certain coverage zones, directly contributing to bridge the digital divide, in particular in isolated areas.

Yet that only will be possible if they can find space in that space—a place to park in orbit that will not be vulnerable to the dangers of increasing space debris.

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Floating Discoveries: University Researchers Find Results in Zero Gravity

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A test tube drifting in midair and a computer tablet slowly turning are fun moments for the scientists who experience brief periods of weightlessness during parabolic flights. However, the science that’s taking place is no joke. NASA’s Flight Opportunities program makes it possible for U.S. researchers to take experiments out of their laboratories and into zero gravity for some for serious research with a bit of levity.

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University of Luxembourg Launches New Interdisciplinary Space Master’s Program

LUXEMBOURG (University of Luxembourg PR) — The University of Luxembourg announces the launch of a new two-year Interdisciplinary Space Master study course in the fall of 2019. The Master programme aims to provide students with the required engineering skills in the space industry, along with both deep and broad knowledge to manage space-related business activities.

The Interdisciplinary Space Master has the support of Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy and the Luxembourg Space Agency and of a number of industry partners. “With the new study programme, the University responds to the growing need for graduates who are uniquely qualified to contribute to a growing and dynamic industry,” says University Rector Stéphane Pallage.

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Relativity Granted Industry-First Machine Learning 3D Metal Printing Patent, Adds Execs from SpaceX & Virgin Orbit

LOS ANGELES–(Relativity PR)–Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader, today announced the appointment of three aerospace veterans to its executive team and an industry-leading new patent grant for its autonomous 3D printing technology. The fast-growing company has now hired twelve former senior leaders from SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Orbit, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Waymo, Zoox, and Tesla, and has secured a key patent for 3D printing metal using machine learning.

Tim Buzza, recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in rocket development, as well as among the first leaders and a twelve-year executive at SpaceX, and former Co-President and Vice President of Launch at Virgin Orbit, officially joins Relativity as Distinguished Engineer after serving as an Advisor to the company.

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