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Space Corps amendment blocked

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, is an advocate of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which would create a Space Corps within the Air Force analogous to the Marine Corps within the Department of the Navy. Credit: C-SPAN

The House won’t take up an amendment to block funding of a Space Corps.

The House Rules Committee did not accept an amendment submitted by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) for a defense appropriations bill that would have blocked the Air Force from spending any money creating a Space Corps.

Language in the defense authorization act previously passed by the House requires the Air Force to establish a Space Corps, a provision missing from the Senate’s version of the act. [SpacePolicyOnline]


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Cameras on a NASA exoplanet spacecraft to launch next year will be slightly out of focus, The agency said Wednesday that testing found that the focus of the cameras on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will drift when the spacecraft cools to operating temperatures after launch. The agency said that, despite being slightly out of focus, the cameras will still be able to achieve their science goals. TESS is designed to look for planets around the nearest and brightest stars by measuring dips in brightness as planets transit in front of them, similar to the Kepler mission. Some astronomers are still concerned about the effects of the focus shift, according to discussion at a NASA Advisory Council committee meeting this week. [SpaceNews]

NASA has rescheduled the launch of the TDRS-M communications satellite for Aug. 20. The spacecraft was scheduled to launch on an Atlas 5 Aug. 3, but an omnidirectional antenna on the spacecraft was damaged during final payload processing work earlier this month. NASA said it has given approval to Boeing to replace the antenna. Neither NASA nor Being have released details about how the antenna was damaged, but a NASA official said at a committee meeting this week that the incident took place during a crane operation. [SpaceNews]

Telesat, a major operator of geostationary communications satellites, said it’s investing in a low Earth orbit constellation to reduce latency. Dan Goldberg, president and CEO of Telesat, said in a conference call with investors Wednesday that while high-throughput GEO satellites are good for many applications, a LEO system is needed for those that require low latency. The first two satellites of that system are scheduled for launch later this year, but the company has yet to procure the spacecraft for the full constellation of 117 Ka-band satellites. [SpaceNews]

The head of U.S. Strategic Command confirmed Wednesday plans for a restructuring. U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten said the existing set of Joint Functional Component Commands within Strategic Command will be replaced with a smaller number of Joint Force Component Commands, including one for space. The changes, which won’t be completed until next spring, will also have the head of Air Force Space Command directly advise Hyten on space forces. [Breaking Defense]

A Soyuz rocket is on the pad for the launch Friday of three new ISS crewmembers. The Soyuz rocket, carrying the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft, arrived at the pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome Wednesday in advance of a launch scheduled for 11:41 a.m. Eastern Friday. The Soyuz will send to the ISS Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, American astronaut Randy Bresnik and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli. [Spaceflight Now]

Astrobotic will launch its first lunar lander on an Atlas 5 in 2019. The company announced Wednesdaythat its first Peregrine lunar lander will go to the moon as a secondary payload on an Atlas 5. The primary payload for that mission is undisclosed. Astrobotic, a former competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, is planning a series of lunar lander missions that can carry between 35 and 265 kilograms of customer payloads to the lunar surface. [SpaceNews]

Breakthrough Starshot has launched the first of the chip-sized satellites it eventually wants to send to another star. Six of the “Sprite” satellites, each weighing only four grams, were carried into orbit on two smallsats launched on an Indian PSLV in June. Four of the six were designed to be released, with the other two remaining attached to the exterior of the smallsats. Ground stations have detected signals from one of the Sprites, but problems with the communications link to one of the smallsats has halted plans to deploy the Sprites. Breakthrough Starshot is testing the Sprites to demonstrate their potential to serve as fully functional spacecraft. Utimately, a massive laser would propel the Sprites to 20 percent of the speed of light on a mission to Alpha Centauri. [Scientific American]

A Hawaiian judge has recommended the state issue a construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope. The judge, overseeing a “contested case” hearing for the construction permit, concluded that the state’s land resources board reissue the permit that would allow the observatory to be built on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. An earlier permit was revoked by the state’s supreme court after concluding the board made procedural errors in issuing it. The telescope remains controversial among native Hawaiian groups, who consider the mountain sacred. [AP]

Half of the matter in the Milky Way came from other galaxies, a new study finds. Simulations of the formation of the Milky Way found that it collected matter from galactic winds, streams of particles powered by supernova explosions. Those galactic winds, astronomers found, were stronger than previously thought, allowing more matter to escape galaxies and travel to other galaxies, including the Milky Way. [New Scientist]

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Space Corps amendment blocked

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