(Taylor & Francis Group) A jointly established Research Lab will provide a grant to finance research projects on a specific annual topic, focusing on areas of key importance to the Chinese research community and providing an opportunity to drive significant change on issues most affecting Chinese researchers.
November 12, 2018
Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket rises from its launch pad on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. (Rocket Lab via YouTube) Rocket Lab executed its second orbital mission today, sending six small satellites and an experimental drag sail into orbit from an oceanside launch pad in New Zealand. Liftoff of the Electron rocket came at 4:50 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday (7:50 p.m. PT Saturday) at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula. This satellite launch mission was nicknamed “It’s Business Time,” in reference to its fully commercial nature as well as in tribute to , a New Zealand parody-pop duo. Rocket Lab’s business time had been postponed twice over the past eight months, due to concerns about a motor controller for the first-stage Rutherford engines. But this time around, the countdown went off without a hitch, and the three-stage rocket rose into the southern sky to enter a pole-to-pole orbit. Second-stage separation proceeded as planned. The rocket’s Curie kickstage, a mini-third stage, fired up about an hour later to put the satellites in their intended orbits. The payloads included two , designed to monitor maritime traffic and weather; two , an Australian venture that’s building a satellite constellation for Internet of Things applications; a , part of a constellation that provides data for weather and climate research; and , an experimental satellite that was built by high-school students from Irvine, Calif., and will take low-resolution pictures of celestial objects. There was also a attached to the kickstage, built by Germany’s High Performance Space Structure Systems to test a technique for deorbiting small satellites more efficiently at the end of their operating life. After satellite deployment, the sail and the kickstage were meant to plunge through the atmosphere and burn up. Rocket Lab, which is headquartered in California but has a strong New Zealand presence, is pushing out on the frontier of space technology by using carbon-composite materials for its rocket casings, and by taking advantage of 3-D printing to manufacture its electric-pump-fed Rutherford rocket engines. The list price for launching 100 to 225 kilograms (220 to 500 pounds) of payload into low Earth orbit is $5 million. The company’s sent an Electron rocket into space, but not into orbit. The putting two Spire Lemur-2 and two Planet Dove Earth-observing satellites into orbit. That launch also sent up , an ornamental satellite that twinkled in the night sky (and irritated some astronomers) for months. Rocket Lab has higher ambitions for low-cost space missions: Its next launch, aimed at , could come within weeks. for at least three more Electron launches to follow. Last month, Rocket Lab said it would and start conducting Electron launches there in about a year. The company last year, boosting its valuation to more than $1 billion. One of its investors is Lockheed Martin, which on Scotland’s north coast. There’s a chance Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle could be used at that facility as well.
November 11, 2018
(Tokyo Metropolitan University) Tokyo, Japan - Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have shown that the environment-driven evolution of a unique ovipositor in the female fruit fly Drosophila suzukii may have caused coevolution of the male genitalia; new features were found to cause mechanical incompatibility during reproduction with similar species, impeding crossbreeding and isolating the species. The dual role of the female genitalia was found to trigger coevolution and speciation, a generic pathway which may apply to many other organisms.
November 10, 2018
(Penn State) With energy demands rising, researchers at Penn State Behrend and the University of Tabriz, Iran, have completed an algorithm -- or approach -- to design more efficient wind farms, helping to generate more revenue for builders and more renewable energy for their customers.
November 09, 2018
SpaceX’s satellite plan suggests that Starlink spacecraft would be placed in two different sets of orbits, starting with lower-orbit satellites at an altitude of 550 kilometers. (PatentYogi via YouTube) SpaceX wants to lower the bar for its first batch of , with the aim of beginning deployment by the end of 2019. The revised plan is laid out for regulators at the Federal Communications Commission in filings that seek a lower orbit for 1,584 of the more than 4,400 satellites it envisions launching. The new target orbit would be 550 kilometers (342 miles) in altitude, as opposed to the 1,150-kilometer (715-mile) orbit described in SpaceX’s initial round of filings. The FCC , and would have to approve the revisions after putting them through a public comment period. In its filings, SpaceX said it was changing the plan based on its experience with Tintin A and B,. Those spacecraft, which were built at SpaceX’s satellite development facility in Redmond, Wash., have been undergoing testing for months. Some observers wondered why the Tintin satellites weren’t sent into a higher orbit as planned — and the revised constellation plan could provide an explanation. “This move will help simplify the spacecraft design and enhance the considerable space safety attributes of SpaceX’s constellation by ensuring that any orbital debris will undergo rapid atmospheric re-entry and demise, even in the unlikely event that a spacecraft fails in orbit,” SpaceX said in the . SpaceX said the plan for a lower orbit means 16 fewer satellites will be required — and will also reduce the potential for a traffic jam at the higher orbit, which is close to the altitude targeted by rival broadband constellations being considered by OneWeb, Boeing and Telesat. Starlink will require thousands of satellites because each satellite spends only a few minutes in contact with a given ground station as it passes over. But once enough satellites are in orbit, the constellation should provide global coverage, theoretically making low-cost broadband internet access available to billions of people who don’t have it today. Having the satellite in low Earth orbit as opposed to a much higher geostationary orbit reduces the lag time, or latency, for data transmissions. In May, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said with latency amounting to 25 milliseconds. “Good enough to play fast-response video games,” he tweeted. When the low-orbit constellation is fully deployed, latency could be reduced to as little as 15 milliseconds, “at which point it would be virtually unnoticeable to almost all users,” SpaceX said in today’s filing. SpaceX acknowledged that going lower will present some challenges. At least at first, the satellites will have to widen their transmission angles so that ground stations can be in communication when the satellites are just 25 degrees above the horizon, as opposed to 40 degrees under the original plan. Also, SpaceX has to convince the FCC that the revised plan would create no more interference for ground-based networks and geosynchronous satellite networks than the original plan would have. The company presented pages of graphs showing that would be the case. Read SpaceX’s key FCC filings: and SpaceX clearly wants the FCC to expedite approval of the revisions: When the agency gave its original approval, it said the thumbs-up was contingent on favorable findings from the International Telecommunications Union, the global authority on telecom satellite orbits. But in today’s filings, SpaceX said it wasn’t optimistic about getting the ITU’s go-ahead on a timely schedule. It offered orbital data based on ITU simulations as a substitute, in hopes of getting a waiver of the FCC’s original requirement. The FCC is due to consider a different aspect of SpaceX’s satellite plan , during a time frame that SpaceX said it was planning to beat the deadlines laid out by the FCC in its original approval. “SpaceX intends to launch its first batch of satellites to begin populating a new orbital shell before the end of 2019,” it said. At least half of the 4,400-plus satellites are required to be in operation by March 29, 2024. In today’s filings, SpaceX gave a shout-out to its Redmond operation, which to accelerate the pace of satellite development. “SpaceX was able to move from opening its satellite technology development office in Redmond, Washington, to building, launching and operating its own spacecraft in orbit in an unprecedented three and a half years,” the company said. In other SpaceX news: NASA’s has certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as a Category 3 launch vehicle. Such vehicles are certified to support NASA’s highest cost and most complex scientific missions. “LSP Category 3 certification is a major achievement for the Falcon 9 team and represents another key milestone in our close partnership with NASA,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement. “We are honored to have the opportunity to provide cost-effective and reliable launch services to the country’s most critical scientific payloads.” In a series of tweets, Elon Musk said SpaceX would design a Falcon 9 upper stage to serve as a scaled-down testbed for the that’s meant to take on missions to the moon and Mars within the next decade. The “mini-BFR Ship” would that would be required for atmospheric re-entry of the full-scale spaceship. “Aiming for orbital flight by June,” Musk said. The re-entry tests would be conducted in parallel with . Reuters is quoting two unnamed sources as saying that SpaceX has circulated pricing information on a that will put cash on the company’s balance sheet. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is leading the deal, and commitments are due Nov. 16, Reuters reported. that Goldman Sachs pulled out of an when SpaceX sought wide latitude to raise additional debt.
November 09, 2018
A picture taken from the International Space Station shows Japan’s robotic HTV-7 cargo ship being released from the station’s Canadian robotic arm. (ESA Photo / Alexander Gerst via Twitter) A balky computer system is working again on the International Space Station, thanks to a reboot, the Russian space agency reported today. “The system was tested for one and a half turns of the station’s flight around the Earth (about two hours),” . “In fact, all systems tested out properly.” The computer, one of three redundant systems, . The other two systems continued to operate normally, and operations on the orbital outpost were unaffected. Roscosmos said there was no need to replace the system that suffered the glitch. Roscosmos didn’t go into detail about the cause of the computer crash. The glitch was the latest in a string of technical issues affecting Russian space hardware. In August, the space station’s crew had to that’s currently docked to the station. And last month, a Soyuz rocket of two new crew members to the station. The quick resolution of this week’s computer problem means the three spacefliers aboard the space station can turn their attention more fully to a pair of robotic cargo deliveries scheduled to be made next week by a Russian Progress supply ship and a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo carrier. In preparation for those deliveries, an uncrewed Japanese HTV-7 cargo ship was. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s spacecraft, filled with trash, is due to burn up during atmospheric re-entry on Saturday — but not before releasing a small capsule designed to test JAXA’s ability to return research payloads to Earth.
November 08, 2018