Musk to Present Mars 2.0 Next Week in Adelaide

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

ADELAIDE, Australia (IAC PR) — Elon Musk will attend IAC2017 and deliver a short address to delegates on Friday 29 September in the afternoon.  He plans to provide delegates with an update on his plans for settling Mars. His talk will also be live-streamed globally.

The Friday programme will also feature two interesting Late Breaking News on the Mars Base Camp, presented by Lockheed Martin and the Juno mission to Jupiter, presented by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Make sure not to miss these interesting events!

Editor’s Note: I’m hoping this plan is a bit more realistic than the one he presented last year. I thought it to be too ambitious technically. His time and cost estimates were utterly unrealistic (even more so than usual). As to what a settlement on Mars would cost and what it would do was largely missing from the presentation. It was, “well, I can get you there. The rest is up to you.’ Ummm….yeah. Which is to say, no.

The weakest part of the presentation was probably the rationale he put forward. Well, it would certainly be an adventure for humanity. And yes, we’d become a multi-planet species. The former is a given for anything we do beyond LEO. As for the latter….absent an existential threat to life on Earth, there’s no real urgency to it. And not much of a return on investment.

If the Musk hoped the presentation last year would influence whoever won the U.S. presidential election, the effort seems to have been a failure. If anything, the Trump Administration seems to be leaning toward a return to the moon as an interim step to Mars. It’s no co-incidence that Musk has been saying nice things about a moon base in recent months.

I’m really curious as to whether Comic Book Guy (aka, Dick Rocket) and the Toilet Bowl Kid (name unknown) will show up again. They were completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. (Mr. Rocket seems even more cuckoo these days; of which, more in a future post.) Maybe Morgana the Kissing Bandit will appear as well.

It should be interesting to see what Mr. Musk comes up with.

SES Invests in Seraphim Space Fund

LUXEMBOURG (SES PR) – SES announced today that it is investing in the Seraphim Space Fund in order to support innovation in the satellite industry and to encourage Research and Development (R&D) efforts across the markets served by satellite. The world-leading satellite operator will also participate in the fund’s Advisory Board.

Seraphim Space Fund is a new venture capital fund launched by Seraphim Capital. Its primary focus is to invest in projects that are commercialising data about the Earth, collected by either satellite or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Seraphim also invests in the broader technology ecosystem which supports the satellite and RPAS infrastructures and applications across a broad range of vertical markets, including construction, logistics, agriculture, finance, with a key focus on the insurance market – using insights from airborne data to evaluate risk, monitor assets and assess claims.

“SES is focused on providing reliable and secure satellite solutions to customers in our Video and Networks market segments. By investing in the Seraphim Space Fund, we will be working with other leading industry partners to push beyond the capabilities of satellites. We look forward to identifying innovative developments along the value chains and key markets,” said Christophe De Hauwer, Chief Strategy & Development Officer at SES.

SES is renowned for its leading role in technological and business innovation in the satellite industry, and actively promotes innovation through various initiatives.

Seraphim Space Tech Venture Capital Fund Reaches $95 Million Close

  • The world’s only dedicated space tech Venture Capital fund reaches £70m close
  • Europe’s leading space companies collectively supporting pioneering new fund
  • Former Google Earth CTO Michael Jones joins Seraphim as Managing Partner
  • Completed first 2 investments in leading nanosat constellations – Spire & Iceye

LONDON (Seraphim Capital PR) — A new revolution in Earth Observation is underway driven by low cost satellites and drones/UAVs enabling data that will be defining our changing world over the next decade. A new venture fund launched by Seraphim Capital has been established to capitalize on this opportunity.

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Meet Starlink — The Name of SpaceX’s Mega Satellite Internet Constellation

SpaceX has applied for a trademark for the term “Starlink” as the name of its mega-constellations of Internet satellites. Elon Musk’s company’s has proposed an initial constellation of 4,425 satellites and a second constellation of 7,518 spacecraft.

Here’s how the services are described in the application, which was filed on Aug. 21:

IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Satellite communication and transmission services; wireless broadband communication services; transmission of data, voice and video via satellite; interactive satellite communication services; delivery of messages by electronic transmission; providing telecommunications connections to the Internet; telecommunications gateway services; providing high-speed wireless internet access; providing multiple-user access to the internet, global computer networks, and electronic communications networks; providing access to global information networks; telecommunications services via satellite; providing a website featuring information in the field of satellite communications; providing a website featuring information in the field of internet access via satellite; providing access to electronic databases and online information for use in retrieving satellite data, recordings, and measurements; satellite photography services

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Research and development services in the field of satellite communications; consulting services in the field of satellite communications; engineering services in the field of satellite communications; scientific and technological services, namely, research, analysis, and monitoring of data captured via remote sensors and satellites; remote sensing services, namely, aerial surveying through the use of satellites

CSA Awards Neptec Contract for New ISS Vision System

OTTAWA, Ont., September 18, 2017 (Neptec PR) – Neptec Design Group has been awarded an $11.9 million contract by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop a state-of-the-art vision system for the International Space Station (ISS). This new Canadian eye on the space station will be used to support ISS operations and advance technology for future space exploration missions.

The vision system will be developed, manufactured and qualified by a team of optical and robotic experts at Neptec’s Ottawa facilities. Neptec will also develop and certify ground control software for use at NASA’s and/or CSA’s mission control centres.

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AIA Praises Nominations to Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors

ARLINGTON, Va. (AIA PR) — The Aerospace Industries Association strongly supports the nominations of Kimberly Reed, Claudia Slacik and Judith Pryor to the Ex-Im Bank Board of Directors and urges the Senate to confirm them, along with previous nominee Spencer Bachus. This group exhibits the track record of leadership and belief in the mission of the Bank to restore it to full functionality.

For far too long, the Bank has been languishing without a quorum of at least three members on its Board, unable to fulfill its mission or process transactions exceeding $10 million, and we urge Chairman Crapo (R-Idaho) to schedule hearings on these nominees as quickly as possible. By the bank’s latest estimate, more than $30 billion dollars of U.S. export sales are unable to be completed without a board quorum.

AIA continues to oppose the nomination of Scott Garrett as Chairman of the Ex-Im Bank due to his stated opposition to the Bank’s mission and we urge President Trump to withdraw his nomination. Aerospace companies — small, medium and large — need a Chairman and a full slate of Ex-Im Board members who will bolster American export sales opportunities that lead to job growth here at home. Our companies, workforce and nation deserve an Ex-Im Bank with leaders who are fully committed to the success of Ex-Im and to removing any barriers to its full functionality.

The aerospace and defense industry contributes the largest positive trade balance of any U.S. industry – more than $90 billion in 2016 – and supports more than 2.4 million jobs in the United States, including 13 percent of our nation’s manufacturing workforce. We have enormous potential to advance President Trump’s priority of creating more American jobs, provided we can compete on a level playing field in the markets around the world where our products and innovation are in high demand.

Stratolaunch Complete First Phase of Aircraft Engine Testing

Stratolaunch carrier aircraft (Credit: Dylan Schwartz)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Stratolaunch PR) — Stratolaunch Aircraft Hits Another Milestone with Completion of First Phase of Engine Testing

The Stratolaunch team is proud to announce that our aircraft is one step closer to providing convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit.

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AIA Names Eric K. Fanning as Next President & CEO

Eric K. Fanning

ARLINGTON, Va. (AIA PR) — The Aerospace Industries Association announced today that Eric K. Fanning will become its president and chief executive officer, effective January 1, 2018.

“Eric is an accomplished, respected leader whose broad government and national security experience will serve AIA and its member companies well,” said AIA Chairman Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. “Building on the significant progress made under Dave Melcher’s leadership, Eric will strengthen AIA’s position as the voice of the aerospace and defense industry, bringing continued attention and advocacy to key issues affecting civil aviation, space and defense. We owe Dave our enduring gratitude for his tireless advocacy and many contributions to our industry.”

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Orbital ATK Receives $21 Million Hypersonic Propulsion Contract from DARPA

DARPA’s new Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate at subsonic through hypersonic speeds and lay the framework for routine, reusable hypersonic flight. (Credit: DARPA)

DARPA has awarded a contract worth $21.4 million to Orbital ATK for a research project under the Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program. The defense agency is allocating $1 million in R&D funds for the program in fiscal year 2017, which ends on Sept. 30.

“AFRE seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate over the full range of speeds required from low-speed takeoff through hypersonic flight,” DARPA said in a press release announcing the program.

Hypersonic speeds are defined as Mach 5 (approximately 3,300 miles per hour/5,300 kilometers per hour) and above.

“Instead of designing an entirely new kind of engine, we’re envisioning an inventive hybrid system that would combine and improve upon the best of off-the-shelf turbine and ramjet/scramjet technologies,” said Christopher Clay, DARPA program manager. “This won’t be the first time that ambitious engineers will attempt to combine turbine and ramjet technologies. But with recent advances in manufacturing methods, modeling, and other disciplines, we believe this potentially groundbreaking achievement may finally be within reach.”

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This Week on The Space Show


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

1. Monday, Sept. 18, 2017: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome Dr. Mike Wall,space journalist to the show.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: No show due to dental surgery.

3. Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2016:: 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, Sept. 22, 2017; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): No show due to jury duty.

5. Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): Open Lines. We discuss the topics you want to talk about. First time callers are welcome as are all STEAM, STEM, Science, and Space related calls

Northrop Grumman to Acquire Orbital ATK in $9.2 Billion Deal

FALLS CHURCH Va. and DULLES, Va., Sept. 18, 2017 (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), a leading global security company, and Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE:OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. Orbital ATK shareholders will receive all-cash consideration of $134.50 per share.

The agreement has been approved unanimously by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval.

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Jim Bridenstine Explains Why He is Qualified to be NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) says that his leadership efforts in Congress on space issues qualifies him to serve as NASA administrator.

“For three terms in Congress, have led comprehensive, bipartisan, space reforms with the objective of preserving America’s preeminence and global leadership in space,” Bridenstine stated in a notarized document submitted to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“These efforts have led me to a deep understanding of the complex challenges NASA will face bringing together traditional space companies and new space entrepreneurs into a comprehensive NASA vision for both exploration and science,” he added. “Traditional and new space companies are both critical to accelerating America’s space renaissance.”

In the document, which queried Bridenstine on his views and qualifications for NASA’s top job, the congressman listed NASA’s top three challenges as:
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NASA Selects Economic Research Studies to Examine Investments in Space

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected five new research proposals to understand the effective drivers of investments in the global space economy, encouraging non-traditional companies, as well as traditional aerospace companies, to look beyond satellites for new opportunities in commercial space development.

“Our space technology work is focused on providing new capabilities for robotic and human exploration of the solar system, but we are also here to help enable new commercial markets or enterprises,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA. “The results of these studies provide insights into the potential economic impacts of new space-based capabilities and applications which in turn helps guide our investments in technology development.”

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Report: Northrop Grumman Nears Deal to Acquire Orbital ATK

Here’s an interesting report from Reuters:

Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) neared an agreement to buy Orbital ATK Inc (OA.N) in a transaction that could be announced as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

The source requested anonymity because the deal has not been disclosed publicly.

Northrop Grumman declined to comment and Orbital did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal reported the deal earlier on Sunday.

Northrop is valued at $46.5 billion, while Orbital is valued at $6.3 billion. The acquisition price could not be immediately determined, but could exceed $7.5 billion if a typical premium was attached to it, Wall Street Journal said.

Editor’s Note:  If Northrop buys Orbital ATK, it will inherit the Pegasus XL booster and the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft that is used to launch it. Northrop is also is involved through Scaled Composites in the Stratolaunch program, which will also use Pegasus XL boosters.

The cost of maintaining one aging jetliner built in 1974 has got to be fairly high. Then you’ve got Stratolaunch which is a massive, one-of-a-kind aircraft. So, would you want to maintain both of them to launch the same booster?