In Orbit, a Moment of Silence for Paris
The six people on the station, and those in control rooms on the ground, stopped work at 6 a.m. Eastern time to join in a moment of silence observed in France and elsewhere.
“We stand with the people all over the world that fight against terrorism for all of our common good,” said astronaut Scott Kelly. [Time]
A short circuit in the International Space Station’s power system could force astronauts there to perform a repair spacewalk early next year. The glitch, which occurred Friday in a current-switching device on the station, resulted in the loss of one of eight power channels on the station. NASA said the crew of the station is in no danger, but the fauilty device will likely have to be replaced on a future spacewalk. That repair will have to wait until a replacement unit is shipped to the station on a cargo mission, likely after the first of the year. [AP]
Russia launched a missile early warning satellite Tuesday morning. The Soyuz-2 rocket lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 1:34 a.m. Eastern time carrying what Russian officials described only as a military satellite. Other sources identified the satellite as the first EKS, or Tundra, next-generation missile warning satellite. [TASS]
United Launch Alliance has decided not to bid on a GPS launch contract sought by SpaceX. In a statement, ULA said that it does not have the right accounting system in place to comply with requirements in the request for proposals that funds from other government contracts will not support this contract. ULA officials previously said that congressional restrictions on the number of RD-180 engines available for competed launches raised doubts it could compete for the launch. The decision means that SpaceX will likely win the launch contract for the 2018 launch of a GPS 3 satellite, the first national security mission for the company. [SpaceNews]
Want to get these briefings even earlier? Here’s the signup.
The House of Representatives passed the final version of an expansive commercial space bill Monday. The House approved the H.R. 2262 on a voice vote after about a half-hour of debate. The bill, which the Senate passed last week by unanimous consent, reconciles separate commercial space bills the House and Senate passed earlier this year. It extends the “learning period” limiting government regulation of commercial spaceflight participant safety and also third-party launch indemnification, and also grants companies rights to resources they extract from asteroids and other solar system bodies. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. [SpaceNews]
The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee said she will seek a balance between NASA’s space exploration and science programs in a final 2016 spending bill. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said in a speech at the Applied Physics Laboratory Monday that she is working with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee that funds NASA, to provide additional support for those programs based on increased spending caps from a two-year budget deal completed last month. A final framework for a revised spending bill could be completed after Thanksgiving. NASA and the rest of the federal government are running on a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 11. [SpaceNews]
Van Allen, Meet Van Hollen
“The APL Earth-Sun Connection legacy, from ACE, STEREO, the Van Hollen… Van Hollen! There’s Van Hollen and there’s Van Allen. Get to know them both.”
– Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), speaking at the Applied Physics Laboratory Monday, confusing NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission built at APL with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), one of several candidates running to succeed the retiring Mikulski in the Senate.
The U.S. Air Force is interested in new sources for space situational awareness data. The Air Force issued a request for information earlier this month for new data from commercial providers that it can add to data it is collecting from its own systems. Responses to the request are due later this month, although the Air Force has not yet established how it will acquire any data it is interested in. [SpaceNews]
Spaceport America is opening up land at the New Mexico site for development. The spaceport will divide 250 acres near the spaceport’s main terminal building into parcels of up to 30 acres each, as well as 100 acres near the spaceport’s vertical launch site. The sites are part of the spaceport’s master plan to attract additional businesses to the site, north of Las Cruces, and diversify the spaceport’s mix of customers. [Spaceport America]
An African-American woman who worked as a NASA mathematician for more than 30 years has won a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Katherine Johnson, now 97, started work at what is now NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1953, when NASA’s predecessor, NACA, was hiring women to carry out technical calculations. Johnson spent 33 years at NASA, working on programs from Mercury through the shuttle. [Hampton Roads Daily Press]