X-37B update

Leonard David gives the latest on the X-37B currently in orbit: US Military Space Plane’s Mystery Mission Passes 5-Month Mark – Space.com.

The U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B space plane has quietly passed the five-month mark on its latest secret mission in Earth orbit.

The unmanned X-37B spacecraft launched into space atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 11, 2012, kicking off a mission whose objectives and payloads are classified.

Here’s a video of the launch:

Space policy roundup – May.27.13

Some Congresspersons want to see commercial crew transport firms bogged down with government red tape: Space Act deals draw lawmaker scrutiny- Florida Today.

A view on human spaceflight: What is it about sending people into space? – Comment – Voices – The Independent

Res Communis posts the latest collection of space and aviation related law, regulation and policy links: Library: A Round-up of Reading


Here are two more reports on the Starship Century Symposium (see earlier post) held last week in San Diego. While there were discussions of developing starship technologies and other challenges of reaching a distant star, there was also a lot of talk related to space policies that were nearer term :

“The Little Book of Space Law”

Leonard David reviews The Little Book of Space Law by Matthew J. Kleiman: Book Review: The Little Book of Space Law – Coalition for Space Exploration

Frankly, after this read you may be a little less afraid to hear that space lawyers are here to help you! As the author suggests in the opening line of the main text: “Practicing law is not rocket science, but sometimes rocket scientists need lawyers.”


Sunjammer solar sail to fly far in 2014

The NASA funded Sunjammer Project will fly the largest solar sail ever deployed in space, a  1200 sq. meter sail built by L’Garde. Scheduled for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2014, the Sunjammer spacecraft will aim for a location 300M kilometers from earth. The goals of the project include:

1. Demonstrate segmented deployment of a solar sail with ~4X the area of that vacuum tested at Plum Brook, “cookie cut” from the center of a much larger sail.

2. Demonstrate attitude control plus passive stability and trim using beam-tip vanes.

3. Execute a navigation sequence with mission-capable accuracy.

4. Fly to and Maintain Position at L1 and pole sitter positions

Taking advantage of the sunlight force on the sail, such spacecraft should be able to achieve stable orbital locations relative to earth that would provide excellent places to detect solar  storms and send warnings back home. Sunjammer will carry two solar wind measurement  instruments built by groups in the UK:

HI-SEAS project simulates long space voyage

The NASA funded project HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) is investigating human factor challenges for a Mars mission. They are starting with a four-month simulated mission with 6 non-astronaut “crew members” in a dome near Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. One of the issues that will focus on is food, in particular those foods that can be stored for long voyages but are still tasty : Aloha, Mars! What we’ll eat, wear and play with to ease boredom in space – Cosmic Log

Here is a video from earlier this year when the project participants carried out a short term simulation at the Mars Society‘s Mars Desert Research Station in Utah: