May 7, 2010

Scramjet with Stamina Ready for Hypersonic Test (Source: New Scientist)
In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed aircraft called the X-51. The 4-meter-long prototype will drop from beneath the wing of a bomber and attempt to become the first scramjet to punch through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds for minutes, not seconds. Like an airliner's jet engines, supersonic combustion ramjets – or scramjets – work by compressing air enough to ignite fuel which drives air out of the back of the engine to provide thrust. It is designed to work at hypersonic speeds – above about 5 times the speed of sound. (5/6)

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Gets ULA Contract for Escape System Work (Source: Bloomberg)
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne says it has received a $1.8 million contract from United Launch Alliance to develop an emergency detection system for space launch vehicles. The system will monitor critical launch vehicle and space flight systems and issue warnings to the crew if it detects a problem. The company said it will trigger a launch abort system in an emergency that would carry astronauts to safety. (5/7)

Senator Lemieux Blasts Obama Space Strategy at Florida Tech (Source: Florida Today)
U.S. Sen. George Lemieux did not mention President Barack Obama by name, but did use his commencement speech at Florida Tech's graduation ceremony to blast the White House's space strategy. Urging the Tech graduates not to give up on American leadership in space exploration, the Republican senator from Orlando characterized the White House's proposed NASA budget a non-plan and a half-plan. "I am working to ensure that the Space Coast continues to play a major role in human space flight," he said during the ceremony Friday in Melbourne. (5/7)

Asteroid-Bound: Scientists Look for Worthy Rock (Source: Science News)
The Little Prince, who stood tall on his fictional house-sized asteroid B612, may soon have company. Since President Obama announced last month that NASA plans to send people to an asteroid by 2025, scientists have been scrambling to fill in the details. Before astronauts can embark on such a journey, they need to choose a destination. Already, researchers have begun culling the list of potential candidates. Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., proposed criteria for identifying “potentially visitable objects” on April 28 in Brookline, Mass., at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy. (5/7)

Turkey to Launch Small Satellite Next Year (Source: Xinhua)
Turkey will launch a small satellite next year as a test for an ambitious communication satellite in 2015. Ozkan Dalbay, director general of Turkey's satellite communications company TURKSAT, said: "TURKSAT plans to test a small satellite as early as 2011 and send it to space...This experience will be used in future broad-scale satellites." (5/7)

New Astronauts Recruited for China's Space Program (Source: Xinhua)
China has recently recruited five male and two female astronaut. The new recruits are all duty pilots, married, with bachelor degrees. The eldest is 35 and youngest 30. The male candidates were previously fighter pilots and the women were transport plane pilots. Their average flight time is 1,270.7 hours. They all have excellent skills with good psychological qualities and are qualified both in clinical and space medicine. Most of them participated in the quake relief work after the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, 2008. (5/7)

Globalstar Has Kept 105K Subscribers Despite Degraded Voice Service (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar on May 6 said it has managed to hold on to 105,000 subscribers for its two-way voice service despite the service degradation in the past three years caused by a problem on the company’s satellites. These telephone customers, the company said, will form the core of Globalstar’s revenue base as it returns to full service when its second-generation satellites are launched starting late this year. (5/7)

Reshaped Space Plan Gains Support (Source: MSNBC)
NASA, the White House and Congress have been hammering out the details of a three-pronged plan for America’s future in space, restoring hundreds of skilled jobs that might have been lost with the Shuttle's retirement, and reviving elements of Constellation. NASA's goal is to send people to Mars when it knows how. The plan calls for a so-called flexible path, beginning with a six-day voyage around the moon, followed by a month-long trip to one of the Earth-sun Lagrange points, known as L1. In the 2025 time frame, the next step will be to undertake weeks-long missions to asteroids. Then, astronauts would set out on a one- to two-year journey to fly by or land on one of Mars' moons.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is gaining the support of other influential Senate committees for adding $726 million to the president's budget request for the next fiscal year. The money would go toward preparations for another Ares 1 launch with a high-altitude abort test in 2013, followed by additional tests in 2014 and 2015. Nelson says this would save hundreds of space jobs and shave years off the development cycle for the heavy-lifters.

Closer to home, commercial space taxis will replace the space shuttle with new made-in-the-USA transports to the Space Station. The idea is that a commercial rocket and spaceship would cost less, but would it? Critics say commercial spaceships are like commercial airliners, needing government-run airports, control towers and centers, flight simulators, weather bureaus and forecasters. Even if SpaceX is successful, it will need similar services from NASA. The space effort will also need the U.S. Navy to recover astronauts at sea. The commercial guys say they're ready to take care of trips to the space station in low Earth orbit while NASA takes care of the challenging deep-space missions. (5/7)

Boeing Honors Embry-Riddle as Supplier of the Year in Academia Category (Source: ERAU)
Boeingy has honored Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and 13 other organizations as winners of its prestigious 2009 Supplier of the Year awards. Before final selection as a Supplier of the Year, each of the 14 companies had been named one of the 486 recipients of a Boeing Performance Excellence Award for 2009. Boeing has more than 12,000 active suppliers worldwide.

Embry-Riddle was the winner in the Academia category, primarily thanks to human factors research conducted by Dr. Jon French. “He invented an outstanding analytical tool that gives Boeing a method to analyze various passenger constraints and interferences while boarding an aircraft," said a Boeing official. Boeing will incorporate Dr. French’s findings into future aircraft designs and will submit his passenger flow model for a U.S. patent, listing him as one of the inventors. (5/7)

Volcanic Ash Pushes Case for New Satellite Sensors (Source: BBC)
Iceland's ongoing eruption is likely to press the case for new satellite instruments to monitor volcanic ash thrown into the atmosphere. More flights were grounded this week because of ash from Eyjafjallajokull. Remote sensing expert Dr Fred Prata told a major Earth sciences meeting in Vienna that current monitoring from space was good but could be improved. "Of the present suite of satellite instruments, none were developed for the volcanic ash problem," he said. (5/7)

Misplaced From Space (Source: Houston Chronicle)
It was not much, at least by size, but the offering of small chunks of lunar rock to the head of every government was a symbolic gesture by the U.S. intended to promote goodwill. More than 130 nations received inscribed plaques adorned with small replicas of their official flags — which had made the trip to the moon and back — along with a thumb-sized bit of black igneous rock beneath a Lucite shield. In mineralogical terms, the pebbles had no real value. But there was no beating them for rarity.

Years later, the fate of those Apollo 11 moon rocks, as well as a second goodwill offering in 1973 that followed the Apollo 17 mission, is in many cases an embarrassing mystery. Some likely are in archives and cannot easily be located. But others have disappeared with deposed dictators, aging government officials or crooked former bureaucrats. Every once in a while, one shows up in the shadowy recesses of illicit private commerce accompanied by a multimillion-dollar price tag and a no-questions proviso. Click here to read the article. (5/7)

Aerospace Caucus is Formed in Senate with 2 Dozen Members (Source: AIA)
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced the new Aerospace Caucus in the Senate, designed to "fight for the needs of our aerospace industry in the years to come." Murray warned that, despite sales that topped $214 billion in 2009, the industry could face trouble and needs to work with Congress to develop a plan for the future to avoid going the way of the U.S. auto industry. Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey said export control rules and defense trade treaties are among the issues faced by the caucus, which counts 24 senators among its initial membership. (5/7)

Science Group Says 'Immune Booster' for Space Travel Not So Far Off (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
Space has often been referred to as the final frontier for human travel, but a group of Monta Vista High School students see it as a business opportunity. Five students from the school's Future Business Leaders of America program recently showcased a business plan that could potentially make space travel easier.

Their idea? Use a time- released drug delivery system to reactivate an astronaut's immunity during space travel. The immune system boost would help astronauts deal with the impact of gravity on their health when returning from space travel and possibly prevent space missions from being jeopardized because of health problems. The product booster is an implant can be injected into a traveler's body prior to launch and time-released once in flight. (5/7)

Editorial: Legislature Delivers Space Support; Obama's Task Force Must Do Same (Source: Florida Today)
Rebuilding the Space Coast economy — and the impact that will have on Central Florida — will be a tough slog after the shuttle fleet retires. But it can be done with a sustained effort and there are hopeful signs the coalition required to make it happen is gaining some traction.

It was shown last week when an economic summit in Melbourne brought together an impressive group of 250 business and community leaders to develop a post-shuttle roadmap for Brevard County. Talking, though, is easy. Now comes the hard part — staying energized and following through. The state Legislature has stepped forward in a major way, approving $31.1 million for space initiatives. The importance of the funds — and the signal it sends to the global space industry — cannot be overstated.

Perhaps most significantly, President Obama has named Cabinet secretaries to the task force he’s ordered to develop a post-shuttle job creation plan for the Space Coast by Aug. 15. The group is led by NASA boss Charles Bolden and includes the secretaries of commerce, defense, labor, education and transportation. Obama’s two top economic advisers also are onboard. Those heavy-hitters must formulate a strong plan in consultation with local and state officials that delivers quick results to employ laid-off workers in the near term, and a strategy for creating new jobs over the long haul. (5/7)

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