Press Clips Week 17 – 2019

 In Land, China, Defense, Air, India, Environment, Energy

Independent Body Proposed To Ensure Commercial Spaceflight Safety

The non­prof­it International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) issued a new report in March call­ing for the estab­lish­ment of an inde­pen­dent Space Safety Institute to speed devel­op­ment of com­mer­cial space flight safety stan­dards and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process­es. 

The 60-page report, which the Noordwijk, Netherlands-based IAASS and its Houston-based sister non­prof­it the International Space Safety Foundation sent to NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. General Accounting Office and sev­er­al aero­space indus­try groups, said an inde­pen­dent body is needed to help the com­mer­cial space­flight indus­try grow and gain public trust.

Read more at: Spacenews

FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation Reorganizing

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which already has an office devot­ed to com­mer­cial space trans­porta­tion, is cre­at­ing an Office of Spaceports as well as a new research enter­prise focused on com­mer­cial space, safety and inno­va­tion, Secretary Elaine Chao said April 24.

The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has “per­formed well to date, but in order to pre­pare for the future it will be recon­sti­tut­ed under the lead­er­ship of Gen.[Wayne] Monteith to max­i­mize the effi­cien­cies of the new stream­lined rule,” Chao said during a cer­e­mo­ny at NASA’s Kennedy Center in Florida.

Read more at: Aviation week

More Delays For NASA’s Test Of Orion Spacecraft’s Emergency System

A test of the emer­gency system on the space­craft being built to take humans back to the moon has been delayed again — this time to allow for more test­ing at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The Orion space­craft pro­gram announced Thursday on Twitter that the test would not be con­duct­ed until July 2. Most recent­ly, it was sched­uled for early June.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Safety Panel Emphatically Urges NASA Not To Skip Sls Green Run Test

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) emphat­i­cal­ly urged NASA today not to skip the Green Run test planned for the Space Launch System (SLS). NASA is con­sid­er­ing that option in order to meet the Trump Administration’s recent direc­tive to return astro­nauts to the lunar sur­face by 2024, four years ear­li­er than NASA was plan­ning.  The direc­tive was issued just after Boeing noti­fied NASA that the first SLS flight would slip from 2020 to 2021. NASA is trying to figure out how to get SLS back on track.

Boeing is the prime con­trac­tor for SLS, a rocket that in its final form will be able to launch as much as the Apollo-era Saturn V.  The ini­tial ver­sion is less capa­ble than that, but will be able to send the Orion cap­sule with a crew of four to lunar orbit.  The first SLS launch, Exploration Mission‑1 (EM‑1), is an uncrewed test.  The date has slipped sev­er­al times.  Most recent­ly it was sched­uled for no later than June 2020, but Boeing told NASA last month that it will be delayed into 2021.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Spacex’s Crew Dragon Fire Sent Hazardous Chemical Compounds Into The Environment

When a test fire of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon cap­sule went up in smoke Saturday, the inci­dent at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station puffed up a red­dish plume that was seen for miles.

What few likely knew was just how toxic and poten­tial­ly deadly that dis­tant cloud could have been if winds had shift­ed onshore.

The spe­cial pro­pel­lants for the Crew Dragon cap­sule – designed to care­ful­ly supply engine fir­ings during liftoff anom­alies and nav­i­gate the craft in space – are far more dan­ger­ous than those used for the typ­i­cal launch. The hydrazine and nitro­gen tetrox­ide used Saturday are called hyper­golic fluids, mean­ing they react vio­lent­ly when they come in con­tact with one anoth­er. They have been used in rock­ets and space­craft for decades because they can be stored over a long period of time and still be reli­able.

Read more at: Florida today

SpaceX Turned To Fast-Igniting Fuel For Its Capsule Escape System. That Could Be Part Of The Accident Probe

During the Apollo era, NASA astro­nauts relied on a rocket tower at the top of the cap­sule to pull them safely away in case of an emer­gency. If it wasn’t used, the tower was jet­ti­soned after the Saturn V rocket had reached about 295,000 feet.

But when SpaceX and Boeing Co. set out to build a new cap­sule, NASA decid­ed to main­tain the escape func­tion all the way to orbit. In SpaceX’s case, that means build­ing thrusters into the sides of its Crew Dragon — a move that also sim­pli­fies the number of stag­ing events. Those SuperDraco thrusters are pow­ered by monomethyl­hy­drazine and nitro­gen tetrox­ide — pro­pel­lants that, when com­bined, imme­di­ate­ly ignite.

Read more at: LA Times

Crews Use Boeing Training Capsule To Practice Search, Rescue At Sea For 1st Time

Days after a SpaceX mishap sent smoke up into the air along Florida’s Space Coast, anoth­er com­mer­cial part­ner of NASA was work­ing on plans to launch astro­nauts from U.S. soil again.

Boeing is still months away from its first uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station, but astro­naut rescue train­ing is under­way should the need ever arise.

Channel 9’s Melonie Holt was at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Army Wharf on Tuesday to watch U.S. Air Force parares­cue teams prac­ticed reach­ing a cap­sule, sta­bi­liz­ing it and remov­ing its crew mem­bers.

Read more at: WFTV

OPINION: Toxic Rocket Fuel A Hidden Hazard For Canso

Two for­eign com­pa­nies want to use an unproven type of rocket for space launch­es from Nova Scotia — with 10 tonnes of proven car­cino­gen on board. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Maritime Launch Services is a Canadian com­pa­ny, but only because it’s incor­po­rat­ed here. It’s a part­ner­ship between a Ukrainian state-owned com­pa­ny (Yuzhnoye) that builds rock­ets, and an American pri­vate com­pa­ny (United Paradyne) that spe­cial­izes in “uncon­ven­tion­al fuels.”

Maritime Launch Services was cre­at­ed for the sole pur­pose of using rock­ets built by Yuzhnoye, and fuelled by United Paradyne, to launch satel­lites into orbit from a site near Canso. The part­ner com­pa­nies are propos­ing to devel­op and use a new type of rocket — the Cyclone-4M — that would com­bine ele­ments of two exist­ing, quite dis­sim­i­lar rocket sys­tems into a single two-stage launch vehi­cle.

Read more at: Chronicle herald

NASA, FEMA, International Partners Plan Asteroid Impact Exercise

While head­lines rou­tine­ly report on “close shaves” and “near-misses” when near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as aster­oids or comets pass rel­a­tive­ly close to Earth, the real work of prepar­ing for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a NEO impact with Earth goes on mostly out of the public eye.

For more than 20 years, NASA and its inter­na­tion­al part­ners have been scan­ning the skies for NEOs, which are aster­oids and comets that orbit the Sun and come within 30 mil­lion miles (50 mil­lion kilo­me­ters) of Earth’s orbit. International groups, such as NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) have made better com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the haz­ards posed by NEOs a top pri­or­i­ty.

Read more at: JPL

Cluttering Up Space: U.S. Rocket Stage Explodes

A dis­card­ed upper stage from a rocket launched nearly a decade ago has frag­ment­ed, adding to ongo­ing growth of orbital debris encir­cling Earth.

The large Atlas V Centaur upper stage, for an as-yet-unknown reason, broke up between March 23 – March 25.

At a recent meet­ing of space debris spe­cial­ists, Vladimir Agapov of Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics unveiled the frag­men­ta­tion event of object 2009 – 047B, esti­mat­ed to have taken place on March 25th.

Read more at: Leonard david

Stern To Chair Nasa Planetary Protection Review Board

Alan Stern will chair NASA’s new review board to take a fresh look at exist­ing plan­e­tary pro­tec­tion guide­lines and deter­mine if changes should be made in light of advances in plan­e­tary sci­ence over the past sev­er­al decades.  The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) called for such a review last year.  Stern’s board will make rec­om­men­da­tions that flow through sev­er­al other bodies on their way to the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), which sets those guide­lines for the inter­na­tion­al space com­mu­ni­ty.

Planetary pro­tec­tion refers to pro­tect­ing Earth and other solar system bodies from for­ward and back con­t­a­m­i­na­tion as space­craft are sent to or return from places that might harbor life.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

SpaceX Seeks Approval for Radio Links to Satellites

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is asking reg­u­la­tors to approve radio links to space­craft it plans to launch next month, a key step in the race to girdle the globe with thou­sands of low-orbit com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lites.

An ini­tial group of SpaceX satel­lites is to be launched in early May, and the com­pa­ny, in an April 5 appli­ca­tion, is asking the Federal Communications Commission to allow six ground sta­tions scat­tered around the U.S. to com­mu­ni­cate with the space­craft.

The sta­tions can help con­trol the satel­lites “in the unlike­ly event of a per­for­mance issue,” SpaceX said in the doc­u­ment that didn’t iden­ti­fy what prob­lems might arise. The author­i­ty is needed because reg­u­lar FCC licens­es don’t autho­rize com­mu­ni­ca­tions with low-orbit space­craft before they reach their assigned posi­tions, SpaceX said.

Read more at: Bloomberg

How To Tell If An Asteroid Is Going To Kill You

Take a moment to pic­ture the apoc­a­lypse.

There’s a good chance your mind might have con­jured up an image of an enor­mous aster­oid bar­relling down through the atmos­phere, wreathed in fire, slam­ming into the earth and cre­at­ing world­wide dust storms, heat, and gen­er­al death.

This is a fairly accu­rate dooms­day sce­nario – one that has hap­pened before and will happen again. For over four bil­lion years, the Earth has been con­stant­ly clob­bered by aster­oids and other objects zoom­ing around the solar system. While the major­i­ty have burned up harm­less­ly in the atmos­phere, others have smashed into the sur­face and caused global dev­as­ta­tion.

Read more at: Cosmos

Debris of Satellite Destroyed by India May Threaten ISS – Russian MoD

When India tested its anti-satel­lite weapons, more than 100 frag­ments of destroyed space­craft were cre­at­ed; in the future, these frag­ments could pose a threat to the ISS, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

“On 27 March, India suc­cess­ful­ly tested anti-satel­lite weapons, as a result of the destruc­tion of the space­craft, more than 100 frag­ments were formed in the alti­tude range from 100 to 1,000 kilo­me­tres, orbit­ing very close to the ISS, which may create threats in the near future,” senior assis­tant to the head of the depart­ment of the Main Space Intelligence Centre of the Russian Defence Ministry Roman Fatakhov said in a speech at a con­fer­ence on space debris.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Crew Dragon Anomaly Not The Only Pacing Item For Commercial Crew Systems

Saturday’s anom­aly during test­ing of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon abort system is not the only pacing item for get­ting the com­mer­cial crew sys­tems ready for oper­a­tional flights.  NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) stressed during a meet­ing today that despite the suc­cess­ful uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Demo‑1 last month, both SpaceX and Boeing have a long way to go before their sys­tems are ready for astro­nauts to climb aboard.  Separately, ASAP warned that NASA is taking too much risk with the aging space­suits astro­nauts must use and next-gen­er­a­tion suits are needed imme­di­ate­ly.

According to ASAP, SpaceX is lead­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the anom­aly with “active NASA par­tic­i­pa­tion.” NASA and SpaceX have said little other than acknowl­edg­ing that it hap­pened and will not delay the upcom­ing launch of a cargo ver­sion of the space­craft sched­uled for next week, SpaceX CRS-17 (SpX-17).

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Dream Chaser Progress Ahead Of CRS2 As SNC Keeps Crew Version Alive

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is qui­et­ly making progress towards her latest goal of car­ry­ing out resup­ply mis­sions to the International Space Station (ISS), start­ing in 2021. The Cargo vari­ant of the space­plane – also sport­ing an updat­ed “color” scheme – is now deep into con­struc­tion ahead of flying on NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) mis­sions.

The com­pa­ny also made a rare ref­er­ence to the crew ver­sion of the vehi­cle, which con­tin­ues to be an active pro­gram – if with­out any NASA mis­sions – under a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with the agency.

Dream Chaser will be flying at least six mis­sions to the ISS in the 2020s, fol­low­ing NASA’s con­tract award to SNC – along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK for the CRS2 mis­sions.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

College Students Hatch Nuclear-Powered Magnetic Plan to Protect Marsonauts from Cosmic Rays

A group of under­grad stu­dents is devel­op­ing a mag­net­ic shield to defend inter­plan­e­tary astro­nauts from the intense cosmic radi­a­tion between Earth and Mars.

The stu­dents, from Drake University in Iowa, pre­sent­ed their project in the poster ses­sion Saturday (April 13) at the April meet­ing of the American Physical Society. Their MISSFIT (Magneto-Ionization Spacecraft Shield for Interplanetary Travel) design uses a pow­er­ful mag­net­ic shield that, like Earth’s mag­ne­tos­phere, pro­tects the planet from high-energy par­ti­cles. The defense system also incor­po­rates “pas­sive” shield­ing to mimic the ionos­phere — Earth’s second layer of defense.

Read more at: Space.com

Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose

Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose – more for­mal­ly known as the H‑4 Hercules – was until 13 April this year the largest air­craft ever to have flown. Conceived as a WWII transat­lantic troop car­ri­er, the fight­ing had, mer­ci­ful­ly, ended before the flying boat final­ly flew, for just a few sec­onds, in 1947. Retirement fol­lowed.

Today, the air­craft seems some­what if not entire­ly ridicu­lous. A behe­moth, out­sized for the pre-jet era, it was by 1947 a solu­tion to a prob­lem that no longer exist­ed. Its cost was as mon­u­men­tal as its vision, or folly: $23 mil­lion, nearly $300 mil­lion in today’s money, and much of it borne by the US tax­pay­er.

Read more at: Flight global

China’s Space Programs Have Come A Long Way

April 24 marks China’s Space Day. The country’s space indus­try has been devel­op­ing for over half a cen­tu­ry now.

Today, China has estab­lished a com­pre­hen­sive space indus­try, which pro­duces not only launch vehi­cles, satel­lites, space­ships and space sta­tions, but also all the sub­sys­tems, equip­ments and com­po­nents.

It now has four satel­lite launch cen­ters on its main­land with the newest one sit­u­at­ed in Wenchang, China’s south­ern Hainan province. It was from there that Long March‑5, the largest launch vehi­cle ever built by China, which ranks among the top three in the world in terms of its capa­bil­i­ty, lifted off. Today, the Long March car­ri­er rocket series has accom­plished more than 300 launch­es.

Read more at: cgtn news

Dod IG: Air Force Secretary Questioned Ethics Of Shanahan’s 2018 Meeting With Elon Musk

A report released on Thursday by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General reveals that on December 6, 2018, then Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan met with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told IG inves­ti­ga­tors she believed Shanahan should not have met with Musk because Shanahan, a former Boeing exec­u­tive, was bound by an ethics agree­ment to recuse him­self from any offi­cial busi­ness relat­ed to his former employ­er.

Wilson raised con­cerns that the meet­ing was improp­er because SpaceX and Boeing com­pete for Air Force launch ser­vices con­tracts. Boeing owns 50% of United Launch Alliance, Musk’s archri­val since SpaceX entered the nation­al secu­ri­ty launch market in 2015.

Read more at: Spacenews

Congressional Panel Looks At National Security Implications Of China’s Space Ambitions

Are the United States and China inevitably headed to a war in space? That was the cen­tral ques­tion posed by mem­bers of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission at a hear­ing on Thursday on Capitol Hill.

In tes­ti­mo­ny, experts pro­vid­ed ample evi­dence of China’s space ambi­tions and cited the already well doc­u­ment­ed achieve­ments of the Chinese space pro­gram. But while the pro­fes­sion­al con­sen­sus is that China is a rising space power with a grow­ing arse­nal of anti-satel­lite weapons, a future war in space is not a fore­gone con­clu­sion, these experts argued.

Read more at: Spacenews

Air Force Leaders On Space Deterrence: ‘At Some Point, We’ve Got To Hit Back’

Deterrence was the watch­word among U.S. Air Force lead­er­ship during last week’s Space Symposium, and offi­cials stated in strong terms that the United States is pre­pared to enact a show of force to prove its abil­i­ty to respond to threats in space.

“There may come a point where we demon­strate some capa­bil­i­ties so that our adver­saries under­stand that they will not be able to deny us the use of space with­out con­se­quences,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters during a Wednesday round­table.

“That capa­bil­i­ty needs to be one that’s under­stood by your adver­sary. They need to know that there are cer­tain things we can do, at least at some broad level,” she said, adding that uncer­tain­ty was also a key com­po­nent to deter­rence. “How con­fi­dent are they that they know every­thing we can do?”

Read more at: Defensenews

Feds: Worker Falsified Pollution Test Results At NASA Site

Federal author­i­ties say an employ­ee for a NASA con­trac­tor fal­si­fied pol­lu­tion test results at a NASA facil­i­ty on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Court doc­u­ments filed Monday iden­ti­fied the now ex-employ­ee as Monica Borowicz. The con­trac­tor wasn’t named.

Borowicz had worked at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island. It’s home to research planes and a launch pad that some­times sends unmanned cargo rock­ets to the International Space Station.

Read more at: wtop

Justice Department Reaches Deal With Company Implicated In Taurus Launch Failures

The Justice Department has reached a set­tle­ment with the com­pa­ny that pro­vid­ed faulty com­po­nents that led to the fail­ure of back-to-back Taurus launch­es for NASA.

In an April 23 state­ment, the Justice Department said it reached a plea agree­ment with Oregon-based Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc., for­mer­ly known as Sapa Profiles Inc. (SPI), and its parent com­pa­ny, Hydro Extrusion USA, LLC, for­mer­ly known as Sapa Extrusions Inc. (SEI), over charges that they fal­si­fied test results for alu­minum extru­sions it man­u­fac­tured for var­i­ous cus­tomers, includ­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Read more at: Spacenews

John Glenn’s 1962 Mercury Pilot Report

In the early days of the U.S. human space­flight pro­gram there was a vig­or­ous debate over how much work the first astro­nauts would do in space. President Dwight Eisenhower decid­ed mil­i­tary test pilots would be the first Americans to rise above the atmos­phere, but it wasn’t imme­di­ate­ly appar­ent how valu­able their skills would be in that air­less realm.

Chimpanzees were the ini­tial pas­sen­gers in NASA’s Mercury cap­sule, and the proud pilots we know today as the Mercury Seven suf­fered at the com­par­i­son. Chuck Yeager, the grand­dad­dy of test pilots in those days, called them “Spam in a can,” imply­ing that they would be little more than potted meat.

Read more at: Aviation week

Source: Space Safety Magazine

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