|Good morning || February 7, 2020|
Leading the News
OneWeb, Arianespace Conduct Broadband Satellite Launch
Space News (2/6, Henry, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, “a Soyuz rocket launched 34 small broadband satellites for OneWeb...from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, marking the beginning of a multi-launch campaign for the company.” The launch was conducted by Arianespace and occurred at 4:43 p.m. for “a mission lasting three hours and 45 minutes.” OneWeb’s first two “spacecraft deployed about an hour and 10 minutes after liftoff. The rest deployed in groups of four about once every 20 minutes, with Soyuz’ Fregat upper-stage engine conducting brief firings in between each deployment.” Arianespace indicated in a news release that “all satellites” had separated. The launch “expands OneWeb’s constellation of low Earth orbiting satellites to 40.” According to OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel, “the company has another batch of 34 satellites launching from Baikonur in March before the company plans to take a month-long break to upgrade a satellite component.”
SPACE (2/6, Wall) reports that the launch was “the second for OneWeb but the first to loft such a big batch for the company. The previous OneWeb mission, also flown by a Soyuz, put six satellites up in February 2019.” However, progress is expected to speed up. Arianespace’s “deal with OneWeb calls for 19 additional liftoffs through the end of 2021.” Ultimately, the launches should develop “OneWeb’s initial constellation of 650 satellites, which ‘will provide high-speed, low latency services to a wide range of customers in sectors that include aeronautics, maritime, backhaul services, community Wi-Fi, emergency response services and more,’ OneWeb and Arianespace representatives wrote in an explanation of today’s mission.”
Florida Today (2/6, Kelly) reports that OneWeb “hopes to expand its network to 650 spacecraft using a variety of rockets, including Blue Origin’s New Glenn.”
CBS News (2/7, Harwood) reports that Steckel said, “This is a very significant launch for us, and I think this launch and really the next launch are critical because it will show the success that we’ve had with OneWeb Satellites ... getting the assembly line approach actually working. The real proof will be when we have 34 satellites for Launch No. 3 ready by Feb. 17 or so.” OneWeb hopes it “will have enough satellites in orbit to begin delivering limited commercial service later this year. Global service is planned in 2021.” The company “plans an initial constellation of 588 satellites with up to 60 orbiting spares.” However, “depending on demand,” it could “deploy nearly 2,000. Because the OneWeb satellites operate in a higher orbit than the SpaceX Starlinks, fewer relay stations are needed to provide global service.”
Astronomers Concerned Regarding Effect Of OneWeb Launch On Radio Astronomy. The New York Times (2/6, Hall) reports that should “OneWeb and Starlink succeed, the next decade will see nearly five times as many satellites put into orbit as all satellites launched since Sputnik 1 in 1957.” The constellations “will affect astronomy research – disrupting radio frequencies used for deep space observation and leaving bright streaks in telescope images.” However, “OneWeb raises an additional set of worries.” In particular, “OneWeb’s constellation might produce radio chatter.” OneWeb has reportedly not coordinated with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the same way that SpaceX has. Additionally, “because OneWeb will use fewer satellites (and because of design differences), its beams are much larger, roughly 700 miles across at their widest. That limits the company’s ability to briefly switch off satellites while passing over locations with radio astronomy facilities, because customers would lose service, too.”
Report: Donations To Institutions Of Higher Education Grew For 10th Consecutive Year
Inside Higher Ed (2/6) reports “donations to institutions of higher education grew for the 10th consecutive year,” according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The report shows that “donations in the 2019 fiscal year reached $49.6 billion, an all-time high since the numbers have been reported.” But the gifts were “not evenly distributed among the types of institutions, and totals were inflated by some large gifts from mega-donors like Michael Bloomberg.”
Colleges Have Become Lucrative Targets For Cyberattacks
The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/6, Leckrone) reports that colleges, “with their rich array of data and sometimes-soft internet security, have increasingly become targets for cyberattackers.” More than 60 colleges “were affected by a vulnerability in a technology product last year, according to a federal warning.”
Presidential Candidates’ Student Debt Plans Vary Widely
Forbes (2/6, Kvaal) contributor James Kvaal says the 2020 election “heralds the arrival of student debt as a top-tier presidential campaign issue” and despite “superficial similarities, the plans vary tremendously in how much the government would invest to make college more affordable, who would benefit from those investments, and even the goals of higher education.” While nine Democratic candidates and Gov. Bill Weld “support some form of free college,” Gov. Weld, Vice President Biden, and Senator Amy Klobuchar “limit their plan to community colleges.” In addition, Sen. Sanders would give “all borrowers a clean slate by canceling all debts,” while Sen. Warren would “write off 95% of loans” and others propose “targeted forgiveness for public servants or students ripped off by for-profit colleges.”
UMass Lowell Signs STEM Agreement With Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
The AP (2/6) reports the University of Massachusetts Lowell signed a five-year educational partnership with Portsmouth Naval Shipyard “to share technology and enhance student education.” The agreement will “allow the Navy to make its scientific, engineering and technology assets and subject matter experts available to university faculty. In turn, the Navy is able to involve UMass Lowell faculty and students in innovative projects underway at the shipyard.”
New ASEE Publication on Diversity in STEM
ASEE, with funding from the National Science Foundation, released a publication on the NSF GOLD program, seeking to diversify the Geosciences. The publication features five GOLD projects, with a deep look at two in particular. Lessons learned from these initiatives are applicable to engineering and all STEM disciplines.
March 2020 – Free Webinar on Insights for DEI Project Evaluation
March 10 at 1 PM, ET: Evaluation is critical for DEI-focused projects. In this webinar, Liz Litzler and Cara Margherio (University of Washington Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity) will help develop the capacity of researchers to work with evaluators on their DEI projects, sharing best practices for developing evaluation language, working alongside evaluators, and interpreting results. Register today.
ASEE Mid-Atlantic Spring 2020 Conference
The conference is at Johns Hopkins University on March 27th and 28th with the theme Inter- and Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Education. Register, learn more, and and submit an abstract here.
Research and Development
SpaceX Considering Taking Starlink Public, But Not For “Several Years”
Reuters (2/6) reports that “a company official told Reuters on Thursday” that SpaceX “plans to list its space internet venture, Starlink, but not for several years.” Bloomberg had also “reported the possibility of Starlink going public, citing Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell.” Shotwell reportedly said at a “private investor event in” Miami, “Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.”
CNBC (2/6, Sheetz) reports that the decision would “stand [Starlink] up as a separate company through an initial public stock offering.” Shotwell reportedly also said, “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.” Should SpaceX “overcome the technological challenges of building and distributing” the Starlink service, it “is optimistic on its potential demand and revenue. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in May told reporters that Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year – or about 10 times the highest annual revenue it expects from its core rocket business.”
The Los Angeles Times (2/6, Masunaga) reports that “SpaceX told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that it could take Starlink public within the next several years.” Relative to SpaceX’s other projects, Starlink’s “more near-term goals” could “be attractive to investors.”
Weather 80% “Go” For Sunday’s Solar Orbiter Launch
Florida Today (2/6, Jaramillo) reports that “weather is currently forecasted as 80% ‘go’” for Sunday’s launch of the NASA-ESA Solar Orbiter Aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket. The 45th Weather Squadron said that “the primary concern for launch is the Cumulus Cloud Rule (meaning an increase in clouds and rain showers during the launch window).” Should the mission be delayed, “weather drops slightly to 70% ‘go’ for a Monday launch.” Launch is scheduled for “no earlier than 11:03 p.m. Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 41.”
Auto Industry Embracing Smart Factories
The Economic Times (IND) (2/6) reports that a new report released Thursday said that smart factory adoption rate “is highest in the automotive industry” and that the industry “is set to increase investment by over 60 per cent in the next three years.”
Coronavirus Continues To Impact Airlines, Travel Plans
CNBC (2/6, Josephs) reports that one by one, “air carriers have cut service after demand fell sharply and governments took more drastic measures” in response to the coronavirus outbreak in China. These steps “have left China, the world’s second-largest air travel market after the US, more isolated.” The US also “instituted travel restrictions on Sunday that include requiring returning U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province – where Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, is located – to face mandatory, 14-day quarantines.”
The AP (2/6, News) reports “the viral outbreak in China has thrown the travel industry into chaos, threatening billions in losses and keeping millions of would-be travelers at home.” The loss “of those tourists is being felt most acutely in Asia, which usually attracts 75% of Lunar New Year travelers, says ForwardKeys, a travel consulting company.” Tourism Economics, a data and consulting firm, “estimates that U.S. airlines will lose $1.6 billion this year because of lost business to and from China.”
The Wall Street Journal (2/6, Smith, Subscription Publication) also reports.
Airbus Posts Largest January Order Haul In 15 Years
Reuters (2/6) reports that Airbus “posted its biggest January order haul in at least 15 years.” Airbus “said it had taken orders for 296 aircraft in January, including the recently finalised order for 102 planes from Air Lease Corp as well as 100 jets from U.S. low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.” Following cancellations, it “started the year with 274 net orders.”
FlightGlobal (2/7, Kaminski) reports that both the Air Lease and Spirit orders “were originally disclosed last year but have only newly been firmed.” Airbus “also delivered 31 aircraft in January, comprising two A350s, an A330 and 28 single-aisle aircraft including two A220s.”
Spirit Airlines Concerned About Airbus Production Issues. Reuters (2/6, Rucinski) reports that Spirit Airlines “warned on Thursday that” Airbus’ “production problems are set to last beyond 2021.” Spirit executives indicated on a conference call that “future capacity growth at Spirit, which only operates Airbus jets, could be slowed by production problems at Airbus, delays related to a U.S. tariff dispute and additional engine supply issues with Pratt & Whitney.” The carrier is “now expecting 15 A320neo deliveries this year, down from 21 previously.” Spirit “is working with Airbus and Pratt to find remedies for this year and next.”
Mitsubishi Delays SpaceJet To Fiscal Year 2021
The Seattle Times (2/6, Gates) reports that Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet regional aircraft “will be delayed again as costs mount with a fiscal-year loss projected at $2.5 billion.” The jet was “previously scheduled to [be] deliver[ed]...in...fiscal year 2020,” but Mitsubishi “said Thursday in a financial briefing in Japan that it now expects deliveries to begin in fiscal 2021.” The SpaceJet M100 model is “designed to fit the regulations governing regional jets in the United States,” and “exactly meets the scope-clause weight restriction of 86,000 pounds and will carry the full U.S. limit of 76 passengers in three classes.” In a statement, “Mitsubishi said the first test flight M100 is in final preparations.”
Engineering and Public Policy
NHTSA Grants Safety Approval For Nuro’s Self-Driving Delivery Vehicle
The Washington Post (2/6, Duncan) reports, “Delivery robot company Nuro won the first federal safety approval for a purpose-built self-driving vehicle,” which, says the Post, “indicates that federal regulators at the Department of Transportation Department believe specially-built robot cars can safely take to the roads.” Nuro said it would “soon begin testing in Houston.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that in the case of such vehicles, some safety requirements for cars “no longer make sense.” Nuro’s vehicles are approved “for two years, and...won’t carry passengers, won’t travel faster than 25 mph, and production will be capped at 5,000 vehicles.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which granted the approval will require Nuro “to share information with regulators in real time, hold regular meetings with officials and engage with communities where it wants to deploy the R2.”
House Democrats Look To Create Nationwide Network Of EV Charging Stations
Reuters (2/6, Shepardson) reports two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday were set to “unveil legislation that would create a nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging network to promote the shift from gasoline-powered vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Reps. Andy Levin of suburban Detroit and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York “are releasing legislation dubbed the ‘EV Freedom Act’ to create a network of high-speed charging stations within five years along the public roads of the national highway system in the United States.” The two are backed by environmental groups and the United Auto Workers.
Energy 202: Democratic Candidates Talk Climate Plans In Effort To Win New Hampshire
In the Washington Post (2/6, Grandoni) Energy 202 blog, Dino Grandoni says Democrats running for president have “spent much of this week in the Granite State trading grabs over which one of them can best tackle” climate change. The candidates, he says, “are heeding calls from the party base in New Hampshire to do something – anything – about what many of them see is an existential threat.” Several presidential candidates, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, “trekked from Iowa...to New Hampshire to speak at a youth climate town hall.”
Most California Students Did Not Meet Or Exceed Standards On New Science Test
EdSource (2/7, Johnson) reports most California students “did not score at a proficient level on the state’s new science test, with scores especially low among several student groups.” The first scores show that statewide, “32 percent of 5th-graders, 31 percent of 8th-graders and 28 percent of high school students met or exceeded standards on the California science test aligned to the new standards.” Additionally, the scores reveal a “wide gap between black and Latino students and their white and Asian peers: Across all grades, 14 percent of black students and 19 percent of Latino students met or exceeded standards, compared with 44 percent of white students and 59 percent of Asian students.”
Central New Jersey Leaders Discuss New STEM Initiatives
The Hunterdon County (NJ) News (2/6) reports dozens of central New Jersey “superintendents, business industry leaders, school board members and educators from across the state” attended the HSMC (Hunterdon, Somerset, and Mercer counties) Tri-County STEM Ecosystem meeting this week, where they discussed “new ideas for how the group could continue to advance S.T.E.M. learning across the state.”
Thursday's Lead Stories
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