October 22, 2014

Irish Researchers Develop New Tool to Protect Earth From Space Debris (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Researchers from the Trinity College in Dublin have designed a risk assessment tool for spacecraft re-entry, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA ). The tool developed by the team of scientists from the School of Computer Science & Statistics, Professor of Statistics, Simon Wilson and Cristina De Persis is now being filed with the European Patent Office to become Trinity’s 500th patent.

The tool designed to help protect Earth and its inhabitants from the falling debris of defunct and disintegrating spacecraft and satellites that eventually re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. The invention is directed towards providing improved accuracy of modelling to achieve more accurate predictions for any given space vehicle (spacecraft, satellite, space station) on re-entry into the atmosphere.

According to Wilson, due to development in IT sphere they also managed to create new tools that will calculate more accurately impact points of satellite parts that didn’t burn in dense atmosphere. “Particularly, we are now able to calculate with higher probability whether objects in dense atmosphere will burn or not,” he noted. Other details will be kept secret until researchers get international patent. (10/22)

Japan, US Plan Military Space Cooperation to Counter Chinese Threat (Source: Itar-Tass)
Japan and the United States will carry out joint space observation in order to counter possible attacks of China. These plans are indicated in the main updated principles of Japan–US of defense cooperation, which will be published by the end of a year. Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State, said the US is concerned about increasing capabilities of the Chinese armed forces. (10/22)

The Man Who Dreams of Mining the Moon (Source: Globe and Mail)
Most look to the moon as a beacon for bedtime stories and lovers' strolls. Robert Richards sees it differently, more as a destination for an outer-space trucking service and ultimately as a giant, orbiting hunk of minerals and resources to exploit.

The Toronto-bred entrepreneur has dedicated his career to organizing various ventures geared to the heavens and is now focused on the ambition of mining the moon and asteroids for what he says are trillions of dollars worth of resources. But to do that, his company is developing a spacecraft to deliver equipment to those orbiting bodies. Click here. (10/22)

The Warped Astrophysics of Interstellar (Source: WIRED)
Kip Thorne into the black hole he helped create and thinks, “Why, of course. That's what it would do.” This particular black hole is a simulation of unprecedented accuracy. It appears to spin at nearly the speed of light, dragging bits of the universe along with it. In theory it was once a star, but instead of fading or exploding, it collapsed like a failed soufflé into a tiny point of inescapable singularity. A glowing ring orbiting the spheroidal maelstrom seems to curve over the top and below the bottom simultaneously. Click here. (10/22)

X37-B is Back. And So is the Militarization of Space (Source: GQ)
The guessing game surrounding the X37-B's mission underscores a crucial fact behind the entire history of manned exploration of space: it's always been militarised. The writings of Verne or Tsiolkovsky describing the possibility of manned spaceflight might have made imaginations run wild, but it was the Nazi V-weapons that demonstrated it was possible.

When the first manned expeditions were launched in the 1960s, the military industrial complexes of both superpowers tagged along for the ride. Military experiments were authorised on Project Gemini; the Soviets explored deployment of an armed space station. Both sides routinely spied on one another with the aid of reconnaissance and signal interception satellites. (10/22)

This Is the Comet That Just Buzzed Mars (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Comet Sliding Spring was 86,000 miles from Mars when one of NASA's explorers snapped these pictures. And while you might not see much more than a dot, you're looking at history. This is the closest look we've ever gotten at such a comet.

It came from the Oort Cloud, a vast region of icy objects 50,000 times farther from the sun than we are, and even much further than the Kuiper Belt that's home to Pluto. Comets from the fringes of the solar system find their way into our area from time to time, but this time luck was on NASA's side. As the ice ball passed within 100,000 miles of the Red Planet, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) turned its instruments on Sliding Spring. Click here. (10/22)

Space Tourism Society Plans Tour for Students (Source: Nigerian Tribune)
In its resolve to further boost tourism education in the area of space travel, Space Tourism Society, Nigeria Chapter is packaging a two-week tour of space facilities and activities for students and tourists in the United States of America. The space tour will take students and tourists on different fact-finding mission on space adventure, logistics and innovations, which will also avail them the opportunity experiencing a zero gravity activity at a space camp.

According to the Chief Executive Officer Space Media Technologies and National President, Space Tourism Society, Mr. Oladunni Paul Olanrewaju, “we are taking students and tourists on an educational tour of space and a space camp at Alabama and Los Angeles in the United States of America. (10/22)

Were We Contacted by Aliens in 1977? (Source: BBC)
In the 1960s, radio astronomy was put to work in the search. Radio telescopes surveyed the sky, searching for something that might come from an alien civilization. For years they heard nothing except the background hum of space. Then one day in 1977, a radio telescope in the US received a signal...

The Wow! signal fitted the profile of an alien transmission. Other explanations have been ruled out. Transmitters on Earth can’t use the same frequency, and the signal was too narrow to come from natural sources. Interstellar scintillation, the audio equivalent of a star twinkle, has also been dismissed. Scientists immediately searched for a repeat of the Wow! signal.

They scanned the sky in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, where the signal had come from. And as technology improved, more sensitive telescopes were put on the case, along with software that was designed to find signals among the background noise. Click here. (10/22)

Kickstarter for Preserving America's Space History (Source: Kickstarter)
Abandoned in Place is a photography book exploring and documenting America's early space launch and research facilities. Click here. (10/22)

Northrop Grumman Reports Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results (Source: SpaceRef)
Northrop Grumman reported third quarter 2014 net earnings of $473 million in the third quarter of 2013. Third quarter 2014 net earnings were reduced by $62 million. (10/22)

China's Space Policy Gets Even Tighter (Source: Space Daily)
The recent policies concerning China's upcoming lunar test launch are a shocking testimony to a new "dark age" of media coverage for the Chinese space program. Even less has been said about this flight in the lead-up to launch than for any comparable mission. This is a major achievement for China. Only two other nations have recovered a spacecraft from the Moon. Unfortunately, reportage and imagery have been tighter than for any previous lunar launch.

China may be seeking to control the flow of "state secrets" to outsiders. China could also want to avoid generating too much interest in a lunar program that was partially tainted by the problems experienced by the Yutu lunar rover. But this is counter-productive. The Chinese space program is an outstanding triumph for this nation, and matched by so few.

Greater publicity would be in China's best interests. It would also promote greater international co-operation in space, which is something China apparently wants. With this excessively high level of secrecy, China misses out on these gains, and space enthusiasts also miss out on the fun. Nobody wins in this new "dark age". Not even China. (10/22)

Court Rejects Sierra Nevada Motion to Reinstate Commercial Crew Stop-Work Order (Source: Space News)
A federal court ruled against a motion by Sierra Nevada Corp. to reinstate a suspension of work by two companies on commercial crew contracts awarded by NASA last month. NASA had issued stop-work orders to Boeing and SpaceX shortly after Sierra Nevada filed its protest of the CCtCap awards on Sep. 26.

In a statement announcing the protest, Sierra Nevada alleged there were “serious questions and inconsistencies” in NASA’s selection process. On Oct. 9, NASA announced it was lifting the stop-work order, citing “statutory authority available to it” in order to keep the overall commercial crew effort on schedule. NASA warned of risks to operations of the international space station and NASA’s ability to meet its international commitments if the development of commercial crew systems was delayed. (10/21)

Pentagon Report: Commercial Bandwidth 4 Times More Expensive than WGS (Source: Space News)
A U.S. Defense Department study says buying bandwidth from commercial satellite providers is nearly four times more expensive than using military-owned communications satellites. The study provides a counterpoint to the long-held position of commercial satellite operators that leasing is cheaper than buying, and illustrates the uphill challenge they face in seeking to change the way the Pentagon meets its satellite communications needs.

The report says the U.S. Air Force-owned and -operated Wideband Global Satcom system should remain a top priority and that the Defense Department should use commercial satellite bandwidth only when WGS capacity is not available. (10/21)

KSC To Offer Undeveloped Property for Commercial Use (Source: Space News)
With most of its surplus space shuttle-era infrastructure handed over to other organizations — including the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B military spaceplane program — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon solicit proposals from companies that want to develop new facilities there, including new launch sites.

“Now that our assets, for the most part, are spoken for or transitioned from shuttle, they can provide us a proposal for undeveloped land” on center property that companies would like to develop, said Scott Colloredo, director of KSC’s Center Planning and Development Directorate.

That land use, which he said could include additional launch sites or manufacturing facilities, would have to be consistent with KSC’s master plan published this year. That plan sets aside land at the center for additional horizontal and vertical launch and landing sites, as well as locations for assembly, testing and processing buildings. “As long as it’s compatible with our master plan and our future planning, we’ll entertain it,” Colloredo said. (10/21)

Marshall Partnerships Push Boundaries of Technology (Source: WAAY)
Going to and developing space is one of the biggest challenges that face humanity. As such, it requires some of the brightest minds and most motivated agencies to overcome the problems that the harsh environment of space presents. The Marshall Space Flight Center knows that they can't do it alone, and forge partnerships with industry, government and academic entities to combine resources and manpower to create groundbreaking technology not only for use in space, but also to make life better on Earth. Click here. (10.21)

Zero-G Printer Shares History with Voyager Mission (Source: Made In Space)
Jon Lomberg is without question the preeminent space artist and the world’s most experienced designer in creating messages for other times and other beings. From artwork on far-reaching probes like Voyager and New Horizons to sun dials on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. It is a rare privilege for Made In Space to work with him on yet another milestone in space history; artwork on the the first manufacturing device in space. Click here. (10/21)

Florida Space Day 2015 Invites Sponsorships (Source: FSD)
On March 25, 2015, Florida-based companies that support the aerospace industry will be meeting with legislators in Tallahassee for Florida Space Day 2015. This event includes legislative visits with our House and Senate Representatives to discuss their support of our industry and to bring them our collaborative messages on space-related issues and pending legislation.

The funding for Florida Space Day is solely supported by Florida aerospace partners like you. Sponsorship allows involvement in various planning committees, and provides budget for developing and communicating our message, as well as partner recognition. All contributors are invited to participate in the planning and implementation of the Florida Space Day 2015 event; as well as attend the March 25th evening reception on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol Building, and to attend other events that are presently being scheduled. Click here. (10/20)

Fox Plans Billionaire Space Race TV Drama (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Fox is going for a new take on space race with an untitled drama, from 20th Century Fox TV. It falls under a deal Film 44 inked with the Fox network at the beginning of the summer. Written by Attie, the present-day drama us about a space race — but between people instead of nations, as two wildly ambitious egos with a long and ugly personal history battle to control the future of space exploration. Attie, Berg and Aubrey executive produce. (10/21)

Virgin Galactic Now Has More Land Rovers Than Spaceships (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic has received the first production vehicle of Land Rover’s Discovery Sport vehicle after it rolled off the assembly line in Halewood, England last week. The vehicle was sent to Virgin Galactic headquarters in London, Land Rover announced. This brings to at least six the number of Land Rover vehicles Virgin Galactic has received under a partnership and promotional deal between the two companies that was announced earlier this year.

Five Land Rovers have been seen at Virgin Galactic’s production and test center in Mojave, California. Virgin Galactic also will use Land Rovers at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the company will fly tourists on suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. (10/21)

Sleepy Sun Could Make Mars Trips Deadly (Source: New Scientist)
Space is getting more dangerous. Just as missions will ramp up, it seems that exploring the solar system will become more deadly. The sun is going through a quiet period. Simulations suggest that, by the 2020s, this means astronauts spending a year in space will exceed NASA's safety limits for radiation exposure, potentially thwarting missions to Mars or to asteroids.

High-energy particles from deep space called cosmic rays bombard the solar system and can damage spacecraft and human DNA. The sun's magnetic field shields us from much of this radiation, but the field's strength waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. The most recent peak in activity – a solar maximum – has been abnormally weak, reducing the shield's effectiveness.

Earth's own magnetic field protects people on the ground and even on the International Space Station, but a sleepy sun could be bad news for those going further afield. (10/21)

Doses of Radiation Contracted by Cosmonauts Overstated (Source: Itar-Tass)
Doses of radiation contracted by cosmonauts during orbital missions are smaller by a factor of several times that it was thought previously, suggest the results of the Matryoshka-R experiment held aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by scientists from different countries, including Russia, since 2004.

“This finding is crucial to the planning of protracted space flights,” Dr. Vyacheslav Shurshakov from the Moscow-based Institute of Medical-Biological Problems, one of the authors of the research, told TASS. "It means in practical terms we can fly longer and go further." (10/21)

Russia Launches Proton Rocket (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia launched on Tuesday an Express-series communications satellite on board the Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. Based on the heavy-class Express-2000 platform, the spacecraft will have an active lifespan of 15 years and carry 11 antennas as well as 72 transponders, according to Russia's Reshetnev Company, which designs and builds Express-series satellites. (10/21)

Ice Spotted on Mercury—Yes, We Know It Sounds Nuts (Source: TIME)
At high noon on Mercury, the temperature can soar to 800°F—and no wonder. The Solar System’s smallest planet (as of 2006, anyway) averages only 36 million miles from the Sun, which is right next door compared with Earth’s 93 million. You’d be justified in thinking that ice couldn’t possibly exist on such a scorching world.

But you’d be wrong. Scientists using the MESSENGER space probe are reporting in the journal Geology that they’ve taken images of that reveal what they call “the morphology of frozen volatiles” in permanently shadowed crater floors near the planet’s north pole. That’s ice, in plain English. “This is making a lot of people happy,” said Nancy Chabot of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, lead author of the report.

It’s good news because the discovery confirms circumstantial evidence for ice on Mercury that’s been mounting for decades—first from radar observations with powerful radio telescopes on Earth that showed high reflectivity from the polar region, then from MESSENGER’s neutron spectrometer, which picked up the atomic signal of hydrogen in the same area. That pointed to H2O, almost certainly in the form if ice. (10/21)

Inmarsat Details The Forensic Search For MH370 (Source: Aviation Week)
A fresh assessment of satellite data has shifted the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) to another zone in the southern Indian Ocean, based in part on new analysis from satellite operator Inmarsat, which cautions that “significant uncertainty” remains as to the location of the missing Boeing 777-200ER.

As the underwater search for MH370 moves to an area approximately 800 km (500 mi.) south of the previous zone, London-based Inmarsat, which has been criticized for its part of the investigation, shared details of the refined data analysis on which the shift was largely based. Click here. (10/20)

Lockheed Tumbles as Sales Fall Short of Analyst Estimates (Source: Bloomberg)
Lockheed Martin declined the most in almost two years after its third-quarter sales fell short of analysts’ estimates and margins declined in the unit that includes its F-35 fighter jet. Lockheed is increasingly reliant on the $398.6 billion F-35 program, the Pentagon’s most-expensive weapons system.

The jets were temporarily grounded earlier this year after an engine fire on one plane. While the company’s sales have suffered amid U.S. budget cuts, Lockheed’s shares had been buoyed on speculation that increased global tensions will improve the prospects for defense spending. Sales decreased 2.1 percent to $11.1 billion, the company said, the ninth straight quarterly decline amid government budget cutbacks. Analysts had projected $11.27 billion. (10/21)

NASA Has Found a Way to Listen to Space (Source: Esquire)
When a spaceship whooshes by in the middle of a sci-fi movie, every nerd worth his salt blurts out, “There is no sound in space!” There isn’t. No sound detectable to the human ear, that is. The only vibrations that survive the vacuum of space are electromagnetic waves. NASA has found a way to hear them.

Using a “plasma wave antenna” to record vibrations within 20 to 20,000 hertz, the range of human hearing, NASA has captured the actual sounds of our planets. It should come as no surprise that our Solar System sounds more majestic than any sci-fi director could fabricate. (10/21)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Selected to Power and Propel 2020 Mars Rover (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With NASA preparing to send crews to travel to Mars some time in the 2030s, the space agency is developing mechanical pathfinders which will blaze the trail that their human counterparts will retrace when their time comes to make history. However, getting to the Martian surface – is more difficult than recent missions have made it out to be.

To help ensure that NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover makes it safely to the dusty terrain – it has selected a well-known aerospace entity, under a larger collaborative effort - to provide key systems to help ensure success. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s thrusters have been selected for the follow-on mission to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity. In its current configuration, the robotic explorer will be very similar to Curiosity – which landed on the Martian surface in August of 2012 after a nine-month journey across the void. (10/21)

China Launches New Satellite Via Orbital Carrier Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
China has launched its new Yaogan-22 remote sensing optical satellite into scheduled orbit Monday, Chinese News Service reported. The satellite was launched atop a Long March 4C rocket, which blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, a Chinese space and defense launch facility and a spaceport. (10/21)

Russia to Create Space-Based Ballistic Missile Warning System (Source RIA Novosti)
Russia will create a space-based ballistic missile warning system capable of detecting launches of existing and test missiles, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday. "The creation of an integrated space system is one of the key directions in which Russian nuclear deterrent forces will be developed." (10/21)

October 21, 2014

Heavy Seas Delay Return of SpaceX Dragon Capsule (Source: Florida Today)
Heavy seas have delayed a SpaceX Dragon capsule's return home from space this week. Instead of on Tuesday, the unmanned cargo craft's departure from the International Space Station is now planned just before 10 a.m. Saturday, setting up a splashdown less than six hours later in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.

A deorbit burn is expected at 2:43 p.m., followed by a parachute-assisted splashdown around 3:39 p.m. The Dragon will re-enter the atmosphere carrying nearly 3,300 pounds of equipment and science experiments. It's the only spacecraft flying today that can return large amounts of cargo to Earth. (10/20)

What It Could Be Like to Live on Mars (Source: WIRED)
I'd always wanted to visit Mars. Instead I got Hawaii. There, about 8,200 feet above sea level on Mauna Loa, sits a geodesically domed habitat for testing crew psychology and technologies for boldly going. I did a four-month tour at the NASA-funded HI-SEAS—that's Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation—in 2013. It's a long time to be cooped up, “so the psychological impacts are extremely important,” habitat designer Vincent Paul Ponthieux says. The key to keeping everybody sane? A sense of airiness. Click here. (10/21)

China Lofts Yaogan-22 via Long March 4C Rocket (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Chinese have launched another new satellite in the military’s Yaogan Weixing series via the use of a Long March-4C (Chang Zheng-4C) rocket. The mission began with lift off at 06:31 UTC on Monday from the LC901 launch platform of the LC9 launch complex at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. (10/20)

Federal Tax Money for Spaceport America? Congressional Candidates Support Idea (Source: NM Watchdog)
State taxpayers have already kicked in $218.5 million to build Spaceport America, the commercial space venture in southern New Mexico that is still waiting for its anchor tenant  Virgin Galactic to launch its first flight into suborbital space. But federal taxpayer money? That’s never really been on the table.

Both the Democrat and Republican in the race for U.S. House of Representatives in New Mexico’s Second Congressional District say they support the idea of federal funding going to the project. Incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, and challenger Roxanne Lara were asked, “Would you pursue and approve of federal funding … for the Spaceport?” Pearce said he “would be glad to support it” and Lara said the Spaceport “needs a good plan that’s going forward and  the federal funding can be a part and a piece of that.” (10/21)

Weather Grounds Spaceport America Launch (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Poor weather grounded the UP Aerospace rocket that was scheduled to launch into suborbit from Spaceport America on this morning. “We scrubbed the launch yesterday because the weather forecast for today was not favorable,” UP President and CEO Jerry Larson said. “We’ve re-scheduled the launch for Thursday morning.”

The rocket, dubbed the SpaceLoft, will carry four payloads paid for by NASA under the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program. That initiative, launched in 2011, pays commercial aerospace companies for suborbital flights to test new technologies in space. (10/20)

Spaceport's Relationship to County Discussed at Legislative Meeting (Source: KVIA)
Spaceport America's finances, and a still unbuilt southern access road, were big topics Monday when a New Mexico legislature finance committee met in Las Cruces. More than 90 percent of the price tag thus far has been borne by Dona Ana County, yet one state senator pointed out there still isn't a road leading to the spaceport from Dona Ana County.

"I think we are definitely setting the pace for the rest of the industry,” said Christine Anderson, executive director of the Spaceport. With more than $218 million spent thus far, Anderson is confident New Mexico's spaceport is ahead of any other venture of its kind. “For Virgin Galactic, the assumption was they would start commercial flights in June. We will be thrilled if they come earlier,” Anderson said. (10/20)

What it Took for SpaceX to Disrupt Boeing and Leapfrog NASA (Source: Quartz)
The SpaceX rocket factory is a large, white hangar-like building near Los Angeles international airport, with a parking lot filled with late-model motorcycles and Tesla electric cars. The vast metal structure once churned out 737 fuselages for Boeing. When you get through the front doors, past security and a cubicle farm stretching the width of the building, there it is: Science fiction being wrought into shape, right in front of you.

Right in front of all the workers, too. The company’s two-floor cafeteria is practically on and overlooking the manufacturing floor. Designers and accountants can eat lunch watching technicians build space capsules and rocket stages. There’s a lot to see: Rockets, like good suits, are bespoke objects, hand-made to order; a SpaceX tour guide says much of the work is too precise for robotic assembly. Click here. (10/20)

Pentagon Will Wean Itself from RD-180 Engine (Source: Space News)
A top U.S. defense official reiterated to a large group of California lawmakers that “now is the time” to study how to reduce the Pentagon’s dependence on a Russian-made rocket engine. In September, 32 members of California’s congressional delegation asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to broaden competition in the U.S. national security launch program and to move away from the RD-180 rocket engine that powers the Atlas 5 rocket sooner rather than later. (10/21)

CASIS Awards $800,000 in Grants to Boost ISS Science (Source: Space News)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit manager of non-NASA science aboard the international space station, spread about $800,000 in grant money among three experiments aimed at improving scientific research aboard the orbital outpost.

Individual awards range in value from $200,000 to $300,000, Patrick O’Neil, spokesman for Melbourne, Florida-based CASIS, wrote in an Oct. 15 email. Winning experiments were selected from among those that replied to CASIS’s February request for proposals for “Enabling Technology to Support Science in Space for Life on Earth.” The experiments have not yet been scheduled for launch. Click here. (10/21)

Spaceport America Takes Spotlight Before NM Lawmakers (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The first phase of an improved southern road to Spaceport America is slated to be under construction in the summer of next year, county officials told state lawmakers. The road proposal, vetted by the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee, is still being reviewed by the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency responsible for much of the land along the 24-mile route.

The county is waiting for the agency's environmental assessment of the road construction, Armijo said. The county is hoping the BLM will issue a finding of "no significant impact," giving the project a green light. That decision could happen in mid-April, though "they haven't given us a firm date."

Doña Ana County officials also told lawmakers they're questioning the spaceport's current practice of spending excess dollars from the 2007 spaceport sales tax. Now, the spaceport authority uses most of the spaceport's share of tax revenue — one-quarter goes to education — to repay bonds that were used to build Spaceport America. But it's also using excess tax revenue beyond what's needed for that bond repayment to help pay for other spaceport operations. (10/21)

Former Boeing Exec Named to New USAF Launch Post (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force has created a new senior executive service position at its primary space acquisition headquarters to improve what it describes as the “business of launch.” Claire Leon, a former Boeing executive, is the new director of launch enterprise at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The move comes as the service begins the competitive phase of its launch program.

Leon retired from Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems in 2013 as vice president of national programs, a euphemism for classified intelligence systems. She had previously served as vice president of the company’s navigation and communication systems and as program director for the Wideband Global Satcom system, on which Boeing is prime contractor. (10/20)

When Good Rockets Go Bad: Orion's Launch Abort System (Source: Planetary Society)
On conventional rockets, where a capsule full of humans sits at the very tip of the launch vehicle, it makes sense to have a second controlled explosion at the ready that can pull the capsule away from whatever went wrong. This second rocket motor is usually built into a tower attached to the capsule, which, under normal launch conditions, gets thrown away once the capsule makes it through most of Earth's atmosphere.

Future capsule designs by companies like SpaceX plan to forgo the tower and use thrusters built into the capsule. These thrusters could also be used to land the capsule in lieu of parachutes, which normally bring spacecraft home under both normal and abort scenarios. NASA has a lot of experience with the tower system—it's been used on every American human spaceflight program except Gemini and the space shuttle. So for Orion, NASA's new spacecraft, the capsule and tower system are back.

Critics have questioned why NASA didn't try out next-generation abort systems like built-in thrusters or powered landings. They argue Orion is simply an Apollo redux—and that other NewSpace capsules are, as one prominent journalist once told me, "still f—ing capsules." But other considerations aside, capsules and launch abort towers are a safe bet for a government agency trying to please a long list of bureaucrats, politicians and industry leaders. (10/21)

First Privately Funded Moon Mission to Ride on a Chinese Rocket (Source: Air & Space)
A Long March rocket scheduled to launch on Thursday to test technology for a future Chinese lunar mission will also carry a historic “hitchhiker”: the first privately funded payload sent to the moon. The Luxembourg-based company LuxSpace is attaching its “4M” payload to the upper stage of a Long March 3C rocket, whose main job is to launch a capsule that will round the moon and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speed to test the spacecraft’s protective heat shield. China plans to use such a capsule in 2017 for the Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission. (10/21)

Satellite Imaging Firm Working with Google Maps (Source: Toledo Free Press)
Blue Water Satellite (BWS) of Toledo announced its collaboration with Google Maps for Work to provide immediate feedback to help the team improve Google’s image processing capabilities. BWS uses satellite and other spectral imagery and patented image processing to monitor the world’s land and water resources by implementing Google Earth Engine and Google Maps Engine, BWS can process its satellite imagery and serve the data to desktops and mobile devices supported by Google’s cloud. (10/21)

French Official Invokes U.S. Market ‘Dumping’ To Make Case for Ariane 6 (Source: Space News)
France’s space minister, seeking to marshal support for a next-generation Ariane rocket that will better compete in the global market, on Oct. 20 said Ariane’s U.S. competitors, enabled by a richly profitable government business, are all but “dumping” their rockets on the commercial market.

Returning to a theme she has regularly used in the past two years, Genevieve Fioraso said the France-backed Ariane 6 rocket being considered by European nations will be Europe’s way of countering the inherent U.S. advantage of a large domestic government market. In her speech to the parliamentarians, Fioraso did not list any specific examples, but in the past she has pointed to SpaceX as billing NASA much more than it bills commercial satellite customers for the same Falcon 9 rocket. (10/20)

Close Encounters of the Top Secret Kind (Source: Space Review)
In 1969, a Soviet spy satellite passed close to an American one. Dwayne Day examines whether this was a deliberate attempt by the Soviets to image the American satellite -- or even test an ASAT system -- or just a coincidence. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2623/1 to view the article. (10/20)

Commercial Crew's Extended Endgame (Source: Space Review)
Last month, NASA awarded contracts for commercial crew systems that were expected to end months of uncertainty about the program's future. However, Jeff Foust reports that the uncertainty lingers today, as one company protests those awards while also working on alternative plans for its vehicle design. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2622/1 to view the article. (10/20)

Powering Cislunar Spaceflight with NEO Powder (Source: Space Review)
NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission plans to use xenon as the propellant for ion propulsion systems that will nudge a small asteroid into lunar orbit. Ronald Menich argues that using NEO materials themselves is a more sustainable approach to developing long-term cislunar infrastructure. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2621/1 to view the article. (10/20)

Big Data Computing Above the Clouds (Source: Space Review)
Data centers, the essential if invisible component of cloud computing, require large amounts of power and cooling to operate effectively. Vid Beldavs describes one solution that would put cloud computing literally above the clouds, in orbit. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2620/1 to view the article. (10/20)

Rocket Lab Among Winners in New Zealand Innovators Awards (Source: Scoop)
Rocket Lab’s creation of a carbon-composite launch vehicle will allow businesses to launch satellites into orbit more cost effectively than anywhere else in the world. Built in their Auckland facility, it will also reduce launch lead-time from years down to weeks. It has the ability to deliver up to 100kg into low Earth orbits. The evaluators thought that the Rocket Lab have done a great job in working out a disruptive and market creating application for this breakthrough technology. (10/16)

Behind the Scenes of Virgin Galactic (Source: Virgin Galactic)
What actually goes on behind the hangar doors of the world’s first commercial spaceline? Here is your chance to find out: join us for a behind the scenes look at Virgin Galactic. Click here. (10/20)

Senate Space Staffer Ann Zulkosky Leaving for Lockheed Martin (Source: Space News)
The Senate Commerce science and space committee’s top Democratic staffer is stepping down Nov. 7 to take a government affairs position with Lockheed Martin. Ann Zulkosky joined Senate Commerce in 2007 as a NOAA legislative fellow, but spent most of the last seven years working on civil space matters under Sen. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat who chairs the science and space subcommittee. (10/20)

Why Floating Into Space is a Dream Come True for Zero Gravity Hero (Source: Independent)
Gavin Walsh realized a lifetime ambition onboard NASA G-Force-1 at the world's top space center in Florida. The opportunity for the visiting public to take a weightless flight was introduced at KSC by the Zero Gravity Corp. last year. The cost of the entire experience - which lasts a day - is around $3,700, according to the website.

Since their introduction, the flights have proved a huge hit with the space- mad visiting public. Each flyer experiences Martian gravity (1/3 Earth's gravity, referred to as "g"), lunar gravity (1/6 g) and zero gravity - the sensation of floating freely with no pull from terra firma. The flight patterns temporarily counteract Earth's gravity, creating weightlessness for several seconds. (10/20)

Network of Spaceports Needed to Advance Space Industry (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
New Mexico Governor Jack Campbell was a visionary. In 1963, he sent a letter to President Kennedy asking him to "support the establishment of the first inland aerospace port." Today, 51 years later, the state of New Mexico is committed to evolving its role in the commercial space transportation industry. Spaceport America is one piece of the puzzle in creating a global space transportation industry that will be stimulated by the evolution of a network of spaceports in the United States.

Visionary governors are just one of the essential components in the growing commercial space transportation industry in the United State. As states increase their interest in commercial space enterprise, spaceport development has become the leading indicator of the growth of the commercial space transportation industry. Likely, the U.S. will continue to lead in the development of the spaceport network for the next 10 years, as the space transportation industry begins to grow on a global scale. Click here. (10/20)

Editorial: Winds of Change for Weather Data (Source: Space News)
Even limited-government conservatives, like me, would concede that the federal government has a role in weather prediction, at the very least for military operations and national security. Unfortunately, the United States ranks just fourth in accurate and timely weather forecasting despite spending much more than the rest of the world combined.

NOAA is doing some good things to correct this situation. First, NOAA is investing in high-performance computing, which is necessary for the numerical weather prediction models that will enable us to improve weather forecasting. Second, NOAA is exploring options to utilize commercial satellite companies. The U.S. can dramatically improve weather forecasting, save taxpayer dollars and reduce risk by empowering the commercial weather and satellite industries. (10/20)

October 20, 2014

Tom Hanks on His New Space Fiction (Source: New Yorker)
I think Alan Bean should be a household name, along with Jack Schmitt, Dave Scott, John Young—all of the dozen guys who walked on the moon. They aren’t—ah, well. Alan is probably the only example of a guy who was really changed by his trip to the moon. He’d been a military guy, a jet pilot, an astronaut, he was on Skylab, etc. Then he came back and took up painting, something he hadn’t done prior to that. Now he’s a full-time artist. Click here. (10/20)

Russia to Orbit 9 Advanced Military Commsats by 2020 (Source: RIA Novosti)
The Russian military will add nine advanced communications satellites to its orbital grouping by 2020, a senior military commander said Monday. “By 2020, the orbital grouping of military communications satellites will be strengthened with nine modern satellites,” Maj. Gen. Khalil Arslanov, the chief of the Main Communications Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, said Monday.

Arslanov said additional satellites will allow the Russian military to quadruple communications traffic and increase average data transfer speed to 8 Mbit/sec. According to open sources, Russia has over 100 satellites deployed in various orbits. Two-thirds of them are military or dual-purpose spacecraft. (10/20)

Earth at Risk After Cuts Close Comet-Spotting Program (Source: Guardian)
The Earth has been left with a huge blind spot for potentially devastating comet strikes after the only dedicated comet-spotting program in the southern hemisphere lost its funding, leading astronomers have warned. The program, which discovered the Siding Spring comet that narrowly missed Mars on Sunday, was shut down last year after losing funding. “There could be something hurtling towards us right now and we wouldn’t know about it.” (10/20)

Hey, MIT — What About Success on Mars? (Source: Digital Journal)
MIT's study of the Mars One project has come up with a few very interesting, but debatable figures and options. It’s not infallible. It includes a lot of necessary measures, using different case scenarios based on given parameters, reasonable enough for the purposes of a study. The scenarios including growing food, not growing food, oxygen and nitrogen depletion, and water depletion, accounting for calorie intake and full recycling.

Some news reports on the paper are clear as mud, and wrong in some major respects. Click here. (10/20)

'Virtual Therapist' for ISS Crew (Source: Space Daily)
Since 2001, Dartmouth, Harvard, UCLA and The Troupe Modern Media have been developing the "Virtual Space Station," a set of interactive behavioral health training and treatment programs with support from NASA's National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). The NSBRI recently gave Dartmouth a $1.6 million grant to add new virtual reality and conflict management content to the existing Virtual Space Station programs. The NSBRI is a NASA-funded consortium of institutions developing solutions to health-related problems on long-duration missions.

Dartmouth's Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation lab, better known as DALI, is creating the new technology for the system, including virtual reality content "to help make people feel at ease, at home, happy, comfortable and calm," says Lorie Loeb, a Dartmouth research professor in computer science and executive director of the lab. (10/20)

Mars Odyssey Orbiter Watches Comet Fly Near (Source: Space Daily)
The longest-lived robot ever sent to Mars came through its latest challenge in good health, reporting home on schedule after sheltering behind Mars from possible comet dust. NASA's Mars Odyssey was out of communications with Earth, as planned, while conducting observations of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring on Sunday, Oct. 19, as the comet flew near Mars.

The comet sped within about 88,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of Mars, equivalent to about one-third of the distance between Earth and Earth's moon. Odyssey had performed a maneuver on Aug. 5 to adjust the timing of its orbit so that it would be shielded by Mars itself during the minutes when computer modeling projected a slight risk from high-velocity dust particles in the comet's tail. (10/20)

MAVEN Studies Passing Comet and Its Effects (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere. The MAVEN spacecraft -- full name Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution -- reported back to Earth in good health after about three hours of precautions against a possible collision with high-velocity dust particles released by comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring. (10/20)

Two Ways To Space And Back - An Astronaut's View (Source: Aviation Week)
Michael Lopez-Alegria has been to orbit four times – three of them in a NASA space shuttle and once on a Russian Soyuz capsule. At the recent International Astronautical Congress in Toronto, the former U.S. Navy test pilot described the differences taking off and landing in the two vehicles. As you will hear, they are very different indeed. Click here. (10/20)

Thermal Images Of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket On Descent (Source: Aviation Week)
A partnership between NASA and SpaceX is giving the U.S. space agency an early look at what it would take to land multi-ton habitats and supply caches on Mars for human explorers. Click here so see the video. (10/20) 

Opinion: Mars One Should Take MITs Disturbing Report Seriously (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A disturbing computer simulation by students at MIT indicates that the Mars One plan is a doomed venture before it even gets off the ground. The study, by MIT students Sydney Do, Koki Ho, Samuel Schreiner, Andrew Owens, and Olivier de Weck was presented to the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto. It points up potentially deadly flaws in the Mars One mission architecture as it is currently designed.

These problems the effort could lead to the crew facing starvation, suffocation, and even incineration. Do, a doctoral student in aeronautics and astronautics, said in an e-mail to The Huffington Post: “We found many problem areas, many of which revolve around the current capability of state-of-the-art technologies. These problems in turn impact the long-term sustainability of the Mars One Plan.”

...Let’s just hope they’re considering all the difficulties that they may encounter. When dedicated to a goal, it’s easy to overlook or minimize problems. In this new era of space exploration, the recent successes of private companies have emboldened groups to reach for ever-loftier goals. However, as these firms and organizations run the risk of overreaching – and in the case of space exploration – such mistakes can be deadly. To put it another way, Lansdorp needs to avoid “go fever.” (10/20)

An All-Female Mission to Mars (Source: Slate)
In February of 1960, the American magazine Look ran a cover story that asked, “Should a Girl Be First in Space?” It was a sensational headline representing an audacious idea at the time. And as we all know, the proposal fell short. In 1961, NASA sent Alan Shepard above the stratosphere, followed by dozens of other spacemen over the next two decades. Only in 1983 did Sally Ride become America’s first female astronaut to launch.

But why would anyone think a woman would be the first to space, anyway? Medical studies, for one thing. Some studies in the 1950s and ’60s suggested female bodies had stronger hearts and could better withstand vibrations and radiation exposure. Moreover, psychological studies suggested that women coped better than men in isolation and when deprived of sensory inputs. Click here. (10/19)

Space Station Is Getting A UPS-Style Shipping Service (Source: Popular Science)
It’s easy to forget that the International Space Station isn’t just a place for astronauts to hang out and take epic selfies. Because of its unique microgravity environment, the station is actually a valuable hub for research and development, housing hundreds of ongoing experiments that involve everything from human tissue growth to protein crystal formation.

Except there’s one little snag when it comes to conducting experiments on the ISS: It’s kind of far away. Getting critical samples from the station to Earth can be a lengthy process, and researchers usually have to wait anywhere from six months to a year before samples can make the trip to laboratories on the ground. These long waits can be risky, as live biological samples have a perishable lifespan and often need to be reviewed quickly before they degrade.

Well now, private spaceflight company Intuitive Machines has a solution to this problem. In cooperation with NASA, the company is developing the Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV), a spacecraft that can deliver experiment samples from station to Earth in less than 24 hours. Think of it as same-day shipping for the ISS. Such a short sample return time opens up more opportunities for research on the ISS that could never have been done before. Click here. (10/20)

Legislative Meeting Monday to Focus on Spaceport (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The state Legislature's New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee will hold two days of meetings in Las Cruces this week, devoting the entire first day on Monday to Spaceport America. That meeting will include a thorough review of spaceport finances, past, present and future. The Spaceport Authority Board of Directors is expected to be present, along with Executive Director Christine Anderson and Chief Financial Officer Doreen Sieberg, and Finance Authority CEO Robert Coalter. (10/19)

NASA Ames Turns 75; Tens of Thousands Flock to Open House (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
Greg Katayuma visited NASA's Ames Research Center when he was in grade school but hadn't been back since. So when he heard that the center was inviting the public into the famed facility to celebrate its 75th anniversary, he jumped at the chance to return.

"We thought we'd come out here and take a look and see what they do," said Katayuma, 59, who spent the better part of Saturday with his family touring the Moffett Field center. He was one of thousands of curious visitors who attended the open house, Ames' first in 17 years. (10/18)

October 19, 2014

ULA Targeting Oct. 29 Launch from Florida (Source: Florida Today)
United Launch Alliance is preparing for an Oct. 29 launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport of a new Global Positioning System satellite, the eighth in the newest series of 12 built by Boeing. An Atlas V rocket's 18-minute launch window opens at 1:21 p.m. EDT. More than 30 GPS satellites orbiting about 11,000 miles up provide highly accurate positioning, navigation and timing data to military and civilian users. (10/19)

Science Sample Return Vehicle for ISS National Laboratory (Source: Intuitive Machines)
Intuitive Machines in cooperation with NASA has been selected by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to develop a Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) that will enable on demand, rapid return of experiments from the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. Through this commercial service, Intuitive Machines will enable researchers to regularly and quickly return small samples and components from the ISS to Earth. (10/17)

New Mexico Senator Supports RD-180 Replacement (Source: Space News)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said Oct. 17 he continued to support efforts in Congress to fund development of a replacement for the RD-180 rocket engine despite a joint venture by Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance to develop such an engine on their own. “I’m pleased that, in Congress, we’ve taken the steps to provide the initial funding needed in 2015 to begin risk reduction and develop that next-generation rocket engine, and I will continue to support those efforts,” said Heinrich.

Heinrich said he was not swayed by criticism of a planned RD-180 replacement, such as estimates of as many as seven years to develop a replacement. “I think these arguments only serve to prolong the inaction and delay a course of action that will eventually make us much more self-reliant,” He did not suggest that the Blue Origin/ULA effort, which the companies are funding on their own, eliminated the need for the RD-180 replacement. (10/17)

Editorial: Indian Space: Hype Versus Priorities (Source: The News (Pakistan))
India's Mars orbiter may have served as a steroid shot for ISRO. But it will do little to advance India’s S&T. For decades, India was the Third World’s unquestioned ‘science superpower’. In 1980, it globally held the eight position in the number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, while China was a distant No 15. By 2010, China had moved up to No 2, and India down to No 9.

India lags behind the developed countries in number of R&D (research and development) personnel, and in scientific output and its impact (measured in the number of citations of papers). Other emerging economies are also catching up. Not just China, but even Russia and South Korea, have more people engaged in R&D than India. Brazil isn’t far behind.

Although India accounts for 3.5 percent of all scientific papers published worldwide, the share of Indian publications in the top one percent impact-making journals is a low 0.54 percent. As many as 45 percent of Indian publications remained uncited in 2006-2010. India’s S&T establishment is in crisis. Its priorities are warped. (10/18)

We Must Explore Space (Source: Humanity Plus)
Space exploration is a challenge to human ingenuity, and celebrations this week, under the banner of World Space Week, are an ode to it. Extreme challenges are found across our solar system. In July 2015, New Horizons will be the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto. Pluto is so far from Earth that data will come back from the spacecraft about 5,000 times slower than your home broadband, mimicking the early days of spaceflight where images of Mars from Mariner 4 took hours to trickle back to Earth.

But it will provide a new window into a largely unknown alien world. What will we discover? What will we learn about the origins of the solar system? What will we learn about ourselves? Continued space exploration is the only way we can answer any of those questions. (10/16)

The Biggest Problem Facing Elon Musk's Dream Of Building A City On Mars (Source: Business Insider)
One particular obstacle towers over the rest when building a Mars colony: "no one knows how to manufacture an entire atmosphere." We barely know enough about how our own atmosphere works to keep from destroying it. "On Mars, the best we can expect is a crude habitat, erected by robots," Anderson writes.

Those first pioneers will face a unique set of problems, including carrying out medical and equipment repair procedures they know nothing about. What works for them definitely won't scale to house 1 million people comfortably enough for them to want to spend the rest of their lives there. For one thing, atmosphere of Mars is 100 times lighter than that of Earth, making the air too thin to breathe.

The low atmospheric pressure is also partially responsible for Mars' frigid average surface temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit (compared to 57 degrees on Earth). (10/15)

SPACErePORT LinkedIn Group Follows Spaceport Issues (Source: SPACErePORT)
Interested in spaceports? I have created a LinkedIn Group that focuses on spaceport news, including LinkedIn's ability to host discussions. Join the group here. (10/19)

Branson Responds To Musk's Criticism; 'We're About To Prove Him Wrong' (Source: Business Insider)
Q: "Your friend Elon Musk had an interesting thing to say recently. 'I like Richard but,' I think his exact quote was, 'technology is not your whack.' He makes technology; you use technology to create better experiences. What do you think about that?"

A: "Well, I hope we're about to prove him wrong in that. I mean, I would not be able to change a sparking plug and I would not be able to fly a spaceship or build a rocket or whatever. But what I am good at doing is finding brilliant people and surrounding myself with brilliant people. And you know, before Christmas, we'll start to go into space. Earylish next year, I'll be going to space with my kid Sam. I would love to have my daughter, Holly, with me, but she's pregnant. And then we're going to start a whole new era of sending people to space."

"We're building our own spaceships shaped as airplanes. That means that one day we'll be able to transport people across the earth in spaceships. We're going to be able to put thousands of small satellites into space. So at the moment Elon and I are in different areas, but there will come a time, I'm sure, where we'll overlap. He's done something extraordinary — I think our team has done something extraordinary, as well." (10/18)

Sending Pakistan to Mars (Source: Asian Age)
When spacecraft Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit in late September after a 10-month journey, India erupted in joy. Costing more than an F-16 but less than a Rafale, Mangalyaan’s meticulous planning and execution established India as a space-faring country. Although Indians had falsely celebrated their five nuclear tests of 1998 which were based upon well-known physics of the 1940s the Mars mission is a true accomplishment.

Pakistanis may well ask: can we do it too? What will it take? Seen in the proper spirit, India’s foray into the solar system could be Pakistan’s sputnik moment — an opportunity to reflect upon what’s important. Let’s see how India did it: First, space travel is all about science and India’s young ones are a huge reservoir of enthusiasm for science. Surveys show that 12-16 year olds practically worship Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking...and most want a career in science.

But how can we cash-strapped Pakistanis get to our bit of the solar system? Or establish a presence which we so far lack in the world of science? The process will be slow, but here is how to do it. First, create enthusiasm in our young people for science. Space exploration is only a part of the larger whole. Instead of TV channels saturated with dharna news and random political “experts”, have good educational programmes. Standards of English in Pakistan must improve. Sadly, the world of science is closed to those who can only read or understand Urdu. (10/18)

Leave Space Alone! (Source: Khaleej Times)
We are looking at conquering other planets even as we destroy our own! When Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon in 1969, it was a “giant leap for mankind”. There could have been no disputing that. Today, however, that ‘small step’ can definitely be disputed! In fact, not regretting may be a blunder!

While humans are unable to control the destiny of the planet they occupy, they are bidding to shape the destiny of planets beyond their own. Surely, there could have been better ways to spend the $250,000 (approximately today’s price) a minute that it cost for Armstrong to walk on the moon.

In the intervening years, as threats to our planet have multiplied, that question has become even more important. No doubt, there have been spinoffs, from satellites to several other luxuries that we have got used to in our daily lives, but surely safeguarding the survival of earth should rate above exploring Mars and beyond. (10/19)

October 18, 2014

Work Completed on New Chinese Spaceport (Source: China Daily)
Construction of the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province, China’s fourth and most advanced space launch center, has been completed and it will soon become operational. The center is designed to handle next-generation rockets and space station modules. Building work began in 2009.

Situated on the northeast coast of Hainan, about 60 km from Haikou, the provincial capital, the center is the country’s first coastal satellite launch base. The location, about 19 degrees north of the equator, is suitable for launching geosynchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space station components and lunar and interplanetary missions.

The new center will enhance the nation’s deep-space exploration capability, as it is an ideal site for the launch of the Long March 5 rocket, China’s most powerful, which is being developed. The Long March 5 can be transported to the center by sea, while the other launch centers are in inland areas, requiring transportation by rail. Qi Faren, former chief designer of the Shenzhou spaceships, has said the Long March 5 will be launched from the new center in 2015. (10/18)

A Step Toward Asteroid Mining: Planetary Resources to Launch Test Satellite (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
Planetary Resources is set to launch its first satellite Oct. 24, a significant step in the Redmond company's ambitious goal of mining precious metals and water from asteroids. The first satellite Akryd 3 satellite won't do any of that, however. It won't carry mining equipment or even a camera. At just 14 inches long and 4 inches wide, its purpose is to test the company's software systems, computer, and its rocket motor.

The launch date was announced by Chris Voorhees, Planetary's vice president of space development, at a Seattle conference last week on defense, space and security. It is several months behind the July launch date mentioned last year by Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki. (10/16)

ULA Plans New Rocket, Restructuring to Cut Launch Costs in Half (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance is starting to develop a whole new rocket system and will be restructuring its processes and workforce to slash launch costs in half amid smaller military budgets and competition from SpaceX. The result will be a smaller ULA in the near term, but one able to grow again and win new kinds of business in the long run, said CEO Tory Bruno.

Bruno, the former president of Lockheed Martin's strategic missiles and missile defense programs, said ULA will have preliminary design ideas by year's end for a new line of rockets blending the best features of ULA's Atlas V and Delta IV rocket families. The new launch system, its booster stage powered by new engines made by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company, is meant to start flying in 2019 and cap a remaking of ULA as a more efficient organization.

What affect the restructuring will have on ULA's work force isn't yet clear, Bruno said, but he expects ULA will be smaller. How much smaller remains to be seen. The company employs 3,700 people nationwide. About 1,700 of them around Denver primarily in engineering and ULA's administrative functions. Manufacturing, assembly and launch take place in ULA facilities in Harlingen, Texas; Decatur, Alabama and launch complexes in Florida and California. (10/16)

Dark Matter May Streaming from Sun’s Core? (Source: Guardian)
An unusual signal picked up by a European space observatory could be the first direct detection of dark matter particles, astronomers say. The findings are tentative and could take several years to check, but if confirmed they would represent a dramatic advance in scientists’ understanding of the universe.

Researchers at Leicester University spotted the curious signal in 15 years of measurements taken by the European Space Agency’s orbiting XMM-Newton observatory. They noticed that the intensity of x-rays recorded by the spacecraft rose by about 10% whenever it observed the boundary of Earth’s magnetic field that faces towards the sun. (10/16)

NASA, SpaceX Share Data On Supersonic Retropropulsion (Source: Aviation Week)
An innovative partnership with SpaceX is giving NASA an early look at what it would take to land multi-ton habitats and supply caches on Mars for human explorers, while providing SpaceX with sophisticated infrared (IR) imagery to help develop a reusable launch vehicle.

After multiple attempts, airborne NASA and U.S. Navy IR tracking cameras have captured a SpaceX Falcon 9 in flight as its first stage falls back toward Earth shortly after second-stage ignition and then reignites to lower the stage toward a propulsive “zero-velocity, zero-altitude” touchdown on the sea surface. Engineers are now correlating the IR data with vehicle telemetry to learn exactly what the vehicle was doing in terms of engine-firing and maneuvering when it generated the signatures collected by the aircraft. (10/17)

NASA Begins Sixth Year of Airborne Antarctic Ice Change Study (Source: NASA)
NASA is carrying out its sixth consecutive year of Operation IceBridge research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. This year’s airborne campaign, which began its first flight Thursday morning, will revisit a section of the Antarctic ice sheet that recently was found to be in irreversible decline.

For the next several weeks, researchers will fly aboard NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft out of Punta Arenas, Chile. This year also marks the return to western Antarctica following 2013’s campaign based at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station. “We are curious to see how much these glaciers have changed in two years,” said Eric Rignot, IceBridge science team co-lead. (10/16)

Will Humans Start Colonizing Mars in Ten Years? (Source: IEEE Spectrum)
Colonizing Mars has long represented one of the more ambitious dreams for space travel proponents ranging from NASA scientists to Silicon Valley entrepreneur and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. The latter also envisions sending humans to Mars sometimes in the next several decades, and has mused about how to build a Mars colony population of 1 million people in an Aeon interview.

Mars One — a nonprofit organization based in the Netherlands — shares some of the Musk’s goals and indeed, the Mars One vision relies on Musk’s SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. But Mars One’s concept of seeding Mars with human colonies by launching one-way missions recently received some close scrutiny from a team of MIT researchers.

The MIT team’s critique identified potential challenges and estimated that settling the first batch of Mars colonists would require about 15 launches of the Falcon Heavy rocket being developed by Musk’s firm SpaceX at a cost of $4.5 billion. MIT also suggested that Mars One may want to dial back its aggressive schedule of sending four-person crews every 26 months starting in 2024. (10/15)

The Big Future: Can We Colonize Mars? (Source: The Verge)
Mars has been seeing a lot of action lately, between NASA's string of rovers and new projects from Elon Musk and Mars One. But what would it take to set up a permanent settlement there? Could humans survive in such a harsh and alien setting? We take a look at the nuts and bolts of a Martian settlement, from food shipments to radiation management. There are a lot of problems, but we've got good ideas about how to solve them. Click here. (10/17)

Hadfield: 'Forget Mars, We Should Live on the Moon' (Source: Daily Mail)
NASA has made no secret of its desire to land humans on Mars in the 2030s. But according to former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, we should be looking to go back to the moon before making the giant leap to the red planet. He says we don't yet have the technology or capabilities to safely make the trip to the Mars and should instead aim to live on the moon for 'generations' before.

"The next logical destination? It’s obviously the moon as its just three days away," Hadfield says. "If there’s a mistake we can turn around and come back. There’s sort of a public appetite for going to Mars right now in a big hurry, but there’s no tech to make it safe enough and affordable." (10/17)

Orbital Sciences Beats Expectations, but Merger May Be Delayed (Source: New York Times)
Orbital Sciences Inc. on Thursday reported a 36% increase in third-quarter profit, beating expectations, and raised its full-year guidance, though it said its planned merger with Alliant Techsystems Inc. may not close until January. The rocket and satellite specialist plans to merge with Alliant to form a new powerhouse in launchers, space services and defense products such as military ammunition, with annual sales of around $4.5 billion. (10/16)

Once in a Million Years: Comet Will Buzz Mars (and its Seven Robots) Sunday (Source: CS Monitor)
The heavens are hosting an event this weekend that occurs once in a million years or so. A comet as hefty as a small mountain will pass mind-bogglingly close to Mars on Sunday, approaching within 87,000 miles at a speed of 126,000 mph.

NASA's five robotic explorers at Mars — three orbiters and two rovers — are being repurposed to witness a comet named Siding Spring make its first known visit to the inner solar system. So are a European and an Indian spacecraft circling the red planet. The orbiting craft will attempt to observe the incoming iceball, then hide behind Mars for protection from potentially dangerous dusty debris in the comet tail. (10/16)

Argentina Successfully Launches Its First Telecom Satellite (Source: RIA Novosti)
Argentina has successfully launched its first domestically designed and developed geostationary communications satellite Thursday. ARSAT-1 is the first stage of a program by Argentina’s government to orbit a fleet of satellites able to transmit and relay signals to all of Latin America. A second satellite is planned to be launched in 2015. (10/17)

Did Jesus Save the Klingons? (Source: Scientific American)
The discovery of life beyond Earth would be a triumph for science but might wreak havoc on certain religions. Some faiths, such as evangelical Christianity, have long held that we are God’s favorite children and would not easily accommodate the notion that we would have to share the attention; others, such as Roman Catholicism, struggle with thorny questions such as whether aliens have original sin.

Now that researchers have discovered more than 1,500 exoplanets beyond the solar system, the day when scientists detect signs of life on one of them may be near at hand. Given this new urgency, Vanderbilt University astronomer David Weintraub decided to find out what the world’s religions had to say on the question of aliens. In his new book, Weintraub investigates the implications of life beyond Earth on more than two dozen faiths. Click here. (10/17)

Hubble Finds Fresh Targets for NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto (Source: SEN)
The Hubble Space Telescope has successfully discovered three remote, icy objects in the outer Solar System that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it shoots past Pluto in July next year. (10/17)

Meet Scotland's DIY Rocketeers (Source: Motherboard)
There aren’t many places you can conveniently launch a homemade rocket. But a blustery Scottish moor, reachable only by winding roads that twist around reservoirs, wind turbines, and plenty of sheep, is one of them. Every year for a week in August, a group of amateur rocketeers convene at the Fairlie Moor Rocket Site, not far from Glasgow, to blast their DIY shuttles and spaceships into the skies. This is International Rocket Week. Click here. (10/16)

New Spacecraft Cleaning Method Gets Rid of Pesky “Hitchhikers” (Source: Air & Space)
Ralf Moeller from the German Aerospace Center gave a presentation about a novel sterilization method that could be used to kill bacteria stowing away on spacecraft sent to other planets. These “hitchhikers” are a critical concern for planetary protection—which seeks to avoid contaminating other worlds with terrestrial life as well as preventing possible alien organisms from reaching Earth on returning spacecraft.

The sterilization methods most commonly used today are based on ultraviolet irradiation and chemical sterilizing agents. No method is 100 percent effective, and large numbers of hitchhikers survive space travel. Current sterilization methods selectively kill certain microorganisms by exposing them to the kinds of environmental stresses that microbes would experience on Mars. In other words, organisms that wouldn’t survive on Mars anyway are killed before they leave Earth. And life that might survive on Mars would most likely also survive the sterilization measures.

Moeller’s proposal—using low-temperature plasma—is a promising alternative because it occurs at a low temperature, does not involve toxic chemicals, and can be done within a minute or less. Research has shown that plasma sterilization is very effective at killing even the spores of the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Many microbes, in detrimental environmental conditions, go dormant and form these hardy spores, which can become viable again when conditions improve. Not only does plasma sterilization neutralize active microorganisms, it also stops this revitalization of spores to a very large degree. (10/16)

Need for Commercial Space Travel Pilots Driving Changes to Aviation Education (Source: Skift)
Before commercial space travel can get big, it will need to get more pilots in aircraft cockpits, and university’s are responding to the need by creating programs to get students pointed in the right direction. Dr. Richard Heist of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University says the school put a heavy focus on preparing students for commercial space travel in the past three years. He says the school readies students for future aircraft making it possible to travel between New York and Singapore in just three hours, for example.

“One reason for this is in the last four to five years NASA pulled back from controlling all space operations and now other companies like XCOR and SpaceX are moving into supplying the industry,” said Heist. “But commercial customers are what will make it work, and eventually we’ll be carrying people where they want to be faster using these new engines.” Click here. (10/17)

Boeing Finishes Commercial Crew Space Act Agreement for CST-100/Atlas V (Source: NASA)
Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket.

NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’s crew transportation system, confirming the detailed designs and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis to proceed with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and testing.

It is the culmination of four years of development work by Boeing beginning when the company partnered with NASA during the first round of agreements to develop commercial crew transportation systems. To get to this point, extensive spacecraft subsystem, systems, and integrated vehicle design work has been performed, along with extensive component and wind tunnel testing. (10/17)

ESA Agrees To Manage Copernicus Satellite Program (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency on Oct. 16 formally approved a convention with the European Commission that will give ESA the management authority over Europe’s Copernicus series of environment-monitoring satellites. Under the agreement, which is formally called as a delegation agreement and is expected to be approved by the commission within two weeks, the 20-nation ESA will receive 3.148 billion euros ($4.1 billion) from the commission between 2014 and 2020 to run the Copernicus space segment. (10/17)

Top Managers Fired at Silicon Valley Satellite Maker (Source: Space News)
Canopus Systems LLC, a small-satellite startup in Silicon Valley, underwent a shake-up in early October when Chief Executive Tomas Svitek was fired and Chief Operating Officer Megan Nunes resigned. Established in early 2013 to develop and manufacture inexpensive small satellites, Canopus of Mountain View, California, is affiliated with Dauria Aerospace, which has its headquarters in Munich and offices in Mountain View and in Skolkovo, the high-technology hub near Moscow. (10/17)

ABS Files $214 Million Insurance Claim for Bad Satellite Beam (Source: Space News)
The failure of a key Russia-directed satellite beam aboard the ABS-2 satellite launched in February will result in an insurance claim of up to $214 million, an unusually large sum for a single beam that reflects its importance for the satellite’s owners, industry officials said.

ABS-2, built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, California, suffered an unexplained anomaly on its Russian beam this past summer. At the time, Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) said it was only a partial failure of the beam, and that the rest of the satellite was operating normally.  (10/17)

Alaska Offers Incentives for Medium-class Launch Providers (Source: Space News)
The operator of an underutilized Alaska launch site is offering more than $20 million to launch companies in a bid to attract a larger class of launch vehicles, even as it continues to assess damages from a failed missile test there in August. The Alaska Aerospace Corp. issued a request for proposals (RFP) Oct. 2 for companies interested in conducting commercial launches of “medium class payloads” from the state’s Kodiak Launch Complex.

Such launches are defined in the RFP as those capable of placing payloads heavier than 1,500 kilograms into a 1,000-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. Companies responding to the RFP have to demonstrate their technical capabilities as well as their ability to conduct at least three launches from Kodiak by 2020.

Alaska Aerospace will award the winning company a $21 million fixed-price contract to develop those launch services. The launch provider, though, will be responsible for providing any additional funding needed to develop the launch site infrastructure to support those launches. The $21 million comes from a $25 million appropriation by the Alaska State Legislature in 2012 to develop a medium-lift capability at Kodiak. (10/17)

Orbital Says It Has Selected Future Antares Engine, But Offers No Specifics (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. on Oct. 16 teased investors about the future of its Antares rocket program, saying the company had selected an Antares main-engine manufacturer for launches starting in 2017 but would not say who it is. Many industry officials expect Orbital to use a solid-fueled motor built by ATK, with which Orbital is merging in a deal scheduled to clear regulatory approval late this year or early next year.

Orbital also had been considering two Russian suppliers, including the current main-engine provider, but a Russian choice given the current state of relations between Russia and the United States would carry risks, industry officials said. (10/17)

SecAF Gains 'Inside Look' Into Eastern Range Launch Mission (Source: USAF)
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and her husband, Mr. Frank Beatty, visited the 45th Space Wing's Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Oct. 15, 2014. The Secretary's visit included a wing mission brief, unit mission briefs, tours of Air Force Eastern Range launch assets as well as a windshield tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (10/17)

Igniting Excitement at Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Bulletin)
Stuart Witt, chief executive officer of the Mojave Air and Space Port, challenged attendees at the International Symposium on Personal and Commercial Space (ISPCS) Community Partners luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 14, to build a vibrant business hub at Spaceport America – and to bring the community along. “Tell your story to a thirsty world,” Witt said. “People are looking to be part of something bigger than themselves.” (10/17)

Space Plane Lands at Vandenberg (Source Santa Barbara Independent)
Descending from space after 674 days in orbit, the Air Force's autonomous, reusable space plane — the X-37B — touched down at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:24 a.m. Friday morning. The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission, which is overseen by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, “performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies,” Vandenberg officials said. The Air Force is preparing to launch the fourth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2015. (10/17)

Rogozin Drives Builders to Finish Cosmodrome Before Winter Comes (Source: Moscow Times)
With winter on Russia's doorstep, Deputy Prime Ministry Dmitry Rogozin is hounding workers at the Vostochny Cosmodrome construction site in the Far East to complete the spaceport's facilities before the cold sets in. "Vostochny Cosmodrome workers are trying to complete all concrete construction before the cold arrives, and provide warmth to the facilities for the installation of the technical equipment, which has already been delivered to the space industry in Amur oblast," Rogozin said.

Rogozin added that he will be making the trip to the new cosmodrome every month to inspect the site's construction progress. Rogozin has been increasingly active in the Vostochny Cosmodrome project, which is estimated to be two to three months behind schedule. Eager to make a promised first launch in 2015, President Vladimir Putin last month pledged 50 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) to expedite the facility's completion. (10/17)

October 17, 2014

Airbus Nabs $1.7 Billion Contract for Six Metop Weather Satellites (Source: Space News)
Airbus signed a $1.7 billion contract to build six polar-orbiting meteorological satellites for European governments, a deal in which guaranteeing strict work-share equality between Germany and France was almost as important as the satellite technology involved. For Airbus, the contract for the Metop Second Generation satellites was a kind of revenge match against the same Thales Alenia Space-OHB AG team that had bested Airbus for Europe’s third-generation Meteosat geostationary-orbiting satellites. (10/16)

Meet the Entrepreneurs at the Forefront of the Space Race (Source: Entrepreneur)
Call it the New Space Age. There's a reignited fervor for all things extraterrestrial, and entrepreneurs are leading the charge. From zero-gravity tourism to satellite and software development, themed entertainment and beyond, commercial enterprises are capitalizing on opportunities in the burgeoning space industry. As costly and risky as these endeavors may be, the possibility for reward is out of this world. Click here. (10/17)

Who Owns the Moon? (Source: The Conversation)
Whether you’re into mining, energy or tourism, there are lots of reasons to explore space. Some “pioneers” even believe humanity’s survival depends on colonising celestial bodies such as the moon and Mars, both becoming central hubs for our further journey into the cosmos. Lunar land peddlers have started doing deals already – a one-acre plot can be yours for just £16.75.

More seriously, big corporations, rich entrepreneurs and even US politicians are eyeing up the moon and its untapped resources. Russia has plans for a manned colony by 2030 and a Japanese firm wants to build a ring of solar panels around the moon and beam energy back to Earth.

We need to be clear about the legal validity of extraterrestrial real estate as the same ideas that were once used to justify colonialism are being deployed by governments and galactic entrepreneurs. Without proper regulation, the moon risks becoming an extra-planetary Wild West. Click here. (10/17)

Countdown to Monday Launch at Spaceport America (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
UP Aerospace is set for its next suborbital launch on Monday out of Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. It will be UP’s first flight since last year, when it launched two rockets in summer and fall with more than a dozen payloads paid for by NASA under the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program. That initiative, launched in 2011, pays commercial aerospace companies for suborbital flights to test new technologies in space.

Monday’s flight will include four payloads that UP is now packaging and loading onto its rocket, company President and CEO Jerry Larson said earlier this week. This is UP’s 13th launch from the spaceport since 2006, and the 21st time a rocket has flown from the facility since it began hosting vertical launch activities eight years ago, said Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson. (10/16)

NASA Maintains Lofty Worker-Satisfaction Ratings for 2014 (Source: Washington Post)
NASA employees remained largely satisfied with their agency this year, likely continuing the agency’s trend of ranking among the best places to work in the federal government, according to results from a recent survey. Seventy-one percent of NASA staffers who responded to the Office of Personnel Management’s federal-employee viewpoints survey gave the agency a positive mark this year when asked about their overall impression of the organization. (10/16)

Construction of ISS-Bound Cold Atom Lab on Tap for 2015 (Source: Space.com)
A $52 million physics experiment NASA plans to send to the international space station in 2016 is scheduled for a critical design review — the last milestone before hardware construction begins — in January. The Cold Atom Lab is being built by JPL, and will be carried to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Once unpacked, astronauts will install the science payload inside one of the space station’s standardized Express experiment racks.

The experiment, slated to run at least one and as many as five years, will take advantage of microgravity to cool atoms to temperatures impossible to reach in Earth gravity. (10/16)

Obama Nominates Dava Newman for NASA Deputy Administrator (Source: Parabolic Arc)
President Barack Obama has nominated Dr. Dava Newman for the post of Deputy Administrator of NASA, a position that was left open by the departure of Lori Garver in September 2013. Newman is best known in the space community for her working in designing a shrink-wrap type pressure suit called the BioSuit. Dr. Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (10/16)

zero2infinity Plans to Launch Nanosats (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Spanish company zero2infinity, based in Barcelona, known for its extensive Near-Space ballooning experience, announced it’s been working to expand its capabilities to include a nanosatellite launch vehicle, named bloostar, to offer reliable, dedicated, launch on demand for 21st century small satellites. zero2infinity has been operating high-altitude balloons since 2009. Flying technical, scientific and commercial payloads to over 30km altitude is its current operational activity. Using balloons as a first-stage for a nanosatellite launcher is the logical and necessary next step to address this booming and underserved market. (10/15)

CASIS to Fund 3 ISS Enabling Projects (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has announced grant awards for three projects focused on enabling technologies from the International Space Station (ISS). These awards stem from the CASIS Request for Proposals (RFP) “Enabling Technology to Support Science in Space for Life on Earth.” CASIS is the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

The purpose of this RFP was to identify and support technology development projects that would enable increased use of ISS for Earth benefits—for example, improvements in hardware/capabilities or methods to improve bandwidth, throughput, or quality of future research projects. Click here. (10/15)

Alba Orbital Announces Off-the-Shelf CubeSat Solar Panels (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Alba Orbital Ltd (PocketQube Shop) announced today the addition of the DHV Technology PocketQube Solar Panel product to its online satellite shop. The Solar Panels are the first off the shelf power subsystem to be developed for the new PocketQube Standard.

The PocketQube Solar panels are available in a number of configuration including 1p, 2p and 3p. They leverage flight heritage gained from the Unisat-6 Microsatellite which launched earlier this year using DHV Solar panels. Panels can be tailored to different structures on request. (10/15)

Albuquerque Company Lands Multi-Billion-Dollar NASA Deal (Source: KOAT)
An Albuquerque information technology company has been awarded a contract to provide products and services to NASA. The company, Abba Technologies, is headquartered in Albuquerque. It offers IT systems integration and professional services. The contract was awarded under the Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement fifth generation initiative. Abba competed to win one of a limited number of awards. (10/16)

Arianespace Launches Two Satellites (Source: Arianespace)
Arianespace continued Ariane 5’s track record of success with another heavy-lift mission performed today from the Spaceport in French Guiana, which orbited a pair of telecommunications satellites for Latin America: Intelsat 30, which is hosting the DLA-1 payload; and ARSAT-1. Both spacecraft were deployed into geostationary transfer orbits following their ascent from the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone. (10/16)

Designing Tomorrow's Air Traffic Control Systems (Source: Phys.org)
On a good day, flying can be a comfortable and efficient way to travel. But all too often, weather or overcbooking can cause delays that ripple through the system, inducing missed flights, anxiety, discomfort and lots of lost time and money. Things had gotten so out of whack that in 2003, Congress enacted a law designed to bring online a Next Generation—or NextGen—air traffic control system by January 2020.

The Department of Transportation would require the majority of aircraft operating within U.S. airspace to be equipped with new technology to track and coordinate aircraft and would institute many other programs to improve air travel. Click here. (10/15)

Space Coast Candidates Answer Space Policy Questions (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council has posted answers to five space policy questions posed to the candidates competing to represent Florida's 8th District, which includes the Space Coast. Incumbent Republican Bill Posey and the Democratic nominee Gabriel Rothblatt both provided thoughtful answers on topics that are of increasing concern to Space Coast voters. Click here. (10/16)

To Boldly Go -- How A British Business School Would Change NASA (Source: Forbes)
NASA’s biggest problem is well-known. It was the first international space operation to get a man on the moon. Its critics say it has not done enough since to maintain that supremacy and now it faces competition abroad from China and at home from the likes of Elon Musk’s space company Space X.

Stating that NASA has not made valuable contributions to modern life would be like that scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when dissident from the People’s Front of Judea complains: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

In healthcare alone, a recent paper by Loizos Heracleous, professor of strategy and organisation at Britain’s Warwick Business School, in the journal Space Policy lists technologies developed or advanced by NASA from laser angioplasty, cardio and body imaging, gait analysis and ocular screening to food preservation and safety, UV-blocking lenses, scratch resistant lens coatings and X-ray imaging. Click here. (10/15)