September 29 News Items

The Business of Space Tourism (Source: Global News)
While Quebec billionaire Guy Laliberte has called his visit to space “social” and “poetic,” it is also very expensive. The Cirque de Soleil founder reportedly paid $35 million to become the latest “space tourist,” blasting off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. While he is the first Canadian tourist to visit space, there have been several others to make the trip. And like Laliberte, they have all been billionaires with a taste for adventure.

Five other space tourists have reportedly paid $20-$25 million for the out-of-this-world adventure. While a large amount of money can get you a reservation on a flight to the ISS, the preparation to go into space is much more involved. Before taking off, space tourists have to undergo a medical examination and follow the same training as astronauts. The training is both theoretical and physical. Astronauts practice meal preparation, equipment stowage, trash management, use of cameras, and experiment operations. Training in a water tank is used to simulate weightless conditions. (9/29)

NASA Faces Hurdles to Get Launch Date for Next Shuttle (Source:
Two upcoming satellite launches, a pair of meteor showers, multiple Russian missions and tight launch windows are causing potential headaches for NASA planners looking ahead to the next shuttle mission in November. NASA is readying the shuttle Atlantis for roll out to pad 39A on Oct. 13 and launch around Nov. 12 on a mission to deliver critical spare parts to the International Space Station. But the ship's nine-day launch window currently is in conflict with a pair of unmanned satellite launches, one a commercial mission and the other military.

The U.S. Eastern Range, which provides tracking and telemetry support for all rockets launched from Florida, can only support one mission at a time and it operates on a first-come, first-served basis. A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 carrying an Intelsat communications satellite is currently booked on the range for a launch Nov. 14 with a backup opportunity the next day. A ULA Delta 4 rocket carrying a military communications satellite has the range booked Nov. 17 and 18. (9/29)

Pratt & Whitney Works with Lockheed on Mach 6 Ramjet (Source: PWR)
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has been awarded a 10-month contract by Lockheed Martin for preliminary design of the high speed accelerator for a turbine-based combined-cycle (TBCC) propulsion system, which could support flight up to Mach 6. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will develop preliminary designs for a dual-mode ramjet combustor with related control and fuel system components. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will also define requirements for a test facility to perform TBCC propulsion system mode transition tests. The TBCC propulsion system consists of a turbojet engine, which can operate from take-off to Mach 3, and a ramjet engine, which can operate from Mach 2.5 to Mach 6. (9/29)

Russia to Launch Orbital Lab "Oka-T" in 2015 (Source: Xinhua)
Russia will launch an orbital laboratory in 2015. The lab, called Oka-T, would serve the crews of the International Space Station (ISS). Oka-T would be an autonomous spacecraft that would support experiments on space technologies and material sciences in the environment of microgravity. The lab would dock to the ISS only when transmitting laboratory results, replacing or maintaining research equipment and bringing supplies. The eight-ton orbital lab could also be used to develop microelectronic and nanoelectronic technologies, producing alloys, composite materials and biological substances. The lab is now being jointly manufactured by several Russian space corporations. It will serve for at least five years. (9/29)

SpaceX Preparing for Next Rocket Engine Test in October (Source: TD News)
The rocket company in McGregor that is known for rattling windows around town is keeping quiet about the exact time it next fires up its rocket engines. SpaceX spokeswoman Cassie Kloberdanz said the California-based company would conduct two separate tests of its Falcon 9 rocket engine assembly at the McGregor site "no earlier than Oct. 1." The first test is scheduled to last 10 seconds. The second test, which will be conducted on a later day, will fire for 30 seconds.

Trying to pinpoint exactly when that rumbling would begin isn't practical, Ms. Kloberdanz said, because these are complicated tests. When scientists and engineers are ready to fire up nine of their Merlin rocket engines at once, they don't have time to notify everyone. (9/29)

Embry-Riddle Plans Arizona Commemoration of Moon Landing (Source: Prescott News)
The Prescott Fine Arts Singers and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University present their second concert, “Moon II - The Man on the Moon—a fortieth anniversary celebration of man’s first steps on the moon” featuring for the first time, original compositions by local musician Stan Gibb. The program will feature patriotic and original music matched with visual presentation, and graphics depicting events leading up to the historic day. (9/29)

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