June 21, 2010

Embry-Riddle Team Wins Rocket Competition (Source: SPACErePORT)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University placed first in the fifth annual Experimental Sounding Rocket Association Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC), held in Green River Utah. IREC challenges university student teams to launch a rocket to 10,000 feet with a ten pound payload. Teams are scored by a panel of professional judges based upon technical papers and presentations, distance from the target altitude, and successful launch and recovery. Additional points are awarded for technical merit of any scientific payload.

Embry-Riddle's Pathfinder II Heavy rocket reached an altitude of 10,870 feet, powered by an M-class main motor, and two L-class motors in outboard nacelles, which were air-started after main motor burnout. Their scientific payload, an electronic flight data collection and telemetry system, functioned flawlessly. The Embry-Riddle Team was comprised of Engineering and Engineering Physics students from two professional clubs on campus: Embry-Riddle Future Space Explorers and Developers Society (ERFSEDS), and Engineering Development Club (EnDeC). Other participants in this year's competition were Brigham Young University, which placed second, UCLA, which won the award for technical excellence, and Cal State University Long Beach. This was Embry-Riddle's first entry in ESRA IREC. (6/20)

Embry-Riddle Students Win FAA Design Competition (Source: ERAU)
A team of eight students from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus took first place in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions Challenge category of the 2010 FAA Design Competition for Universities with an innovative and practical approach to enhancing safety at small, non-towered general aviation airports.

The team's project, titled “Pilot-Controlled Alert Lighting System (Air PALS),” was submitted by Human Factors graduate students Maria Appel, Joe Crimi, Steve Dorton, Hilary Greenfield, Robert Malony, Allison Popola, Brian Potter, and Software Engineering graduate student Il Hwan Lee. (6/21)

Hayabusa Capsule Apparently In Good Condition (Source: Aviation Week)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa’s asteroid sample return capsule arrived at its Curation Center in Samagihara on June 18. Examining the capsule closely for the first time, Hayabusa Project Manager Junichiro Kawaguchi remarked upon its condition, saying that even the heat shields looked almost “brand new” and “unaffected” by their reentry. “Originally I imagined it would come back half destroyed and in really bad condition,” Kawaguchi says. “But in actual fact, the capsule looked more like a newborn infant.”

The capsule was quickly taken to another facility in Chofu for a CT scan, which reconfirmed that the various latches and seals remained intact. JAXA says it will take about a week for the capsule to be opened at the Sagamihara Curation Center, and it could take few months to half a year to distinguish if any material was actually collected from the asteroid Itokawa. (6/21)

Mauna Kea Hearing Highlights Controversy Over Hawaii Telescopes (Source: KPUA)
Hawaii's State Board of Land and Natural Resources opened a contested case hearing into NASA's plan to install a series of six outrigger telescopes at the WM Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea. During the opening arguments the parties sought to gain a tactical advantage by defining the terms of debate. Lisa Munger, representing the University of Hawai`i's Instuitute for Astronomy said there is only one issue to be decided. "This is about the outrigger telescope project. It is not a referendum on the Mauna Kea Master Plan. It's not a referendum on the entirety of astronomy development."

But Nelson Ho of the Sierra Club's Big Island Chapter said the problem that made the contested case hearing necessary, will not be resolved to anyone's satisfaction by proceeding with the University's interpretation. "What brought us here is, in fact the larger issues of cumulative impacts to the whole mountain. This is about environmental injustice. This is about how you treat a culture and place an infrastructure of a society on a landscape." Paul Neves of the Royal Order of Kamehameha said the whole issue boils down to who has the ultimate say-so when it comes to Mauna Kea. (6/21)

House Gets Firm With NASA Over Data Request (Source: NASA Watch)
In a letter from the House Science & Technology Committee to Charles Bolden Regarding FY 2011 budget information, the following comments were conveyed: "The failure of NASA to supply Congress with this information hampers our ability to address the future of NASA's human spaceflight program in a timely manner. Simultaneously, the agency is implementing dramatic changes to the Constellation program which are resulting in the loss of thousands of skilled jobs and which will cause unavoidable delays in the development of Ares-I and Orion, should Congress decide not to terminate those programs. Since NASA has failed to provide the Committee with any detailed supporting materials with which Congress can judge the proposed human spaceflight plan, Congress must insist upon the production of all materials NASA relied upon in formulating its proposal." (6/21)

Making the Path for human Spaceflight Less Rocky (Source: Space Review)
The administration's new plan for NASA had led to a debate about destinations, in particular the Moon versus near Earth objects. Dan Lester argues that the real issues revolve around the development of human spaceflight capabilities and the meaning of "space exploration". Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1650/1 to view the article. (6/21)

SpaceShipOne, Government One? (Source: Space Review)
Six years ago today SpaceShipOne made history by being the first commercial manned vehicle to fly into space, a milestone seized by many as a triumph for the private sector over the government. Jeff Foust discusses why, today, the public and private sectors need to cooperate, not compete, in this aspect of spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1649/1 to view the article. (6/21)

Individuals Pick Up the space Development Torch (Source: Space Review)
The achievement of Elon Musk's SpaceX launching Falcon 9 outshines recent efforts by Korea, India, and the United States. Sam Dinkin analyses the implications of this transition. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1648/1 to view the article. (6/21)

Wallops: NASA Rocket Launch is Thursday (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
Eleven university experiments, developed in part with a week-long workshop to teach participants how to build small experiments that can be launched on suborbital rockets, are scheduled for flight on June 24 on a Terrier-Orion suborbital sounding rocket from NASA’s Launch Range at the Wallops Flight Facility. Based on the approved range schedule, the rocket is set for launch between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT. The backup launch days are June 25-28. The rocket will be visible to residents in the Wallops area. The NASA Visitor Center will open at 5 a.m. on launch day for viewing the launch. (6/21)

Maryland Congressman: Don't Cancel Constellation Without "Roadmap" for NASA's Future (Source: Huntsville Times)
Mayor Tommy Battle's "Second to None" task force continues to try to reverse the cancellation of NASA's Constellation program. Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-Md., is here at the task force's request meeting some of the 500 Marshall Space Flight Center employees and 1,750 contractors whose jobs are tied to Constellation. During a morning news conference, Ruppersberger said he is concerned about ending the rocket program without a "roadmap" for how America will remain a leader in space. "It gives a head start to a lot of our competitors, especially the Chinese," he said. "And I don't want to give any country a head start when it comes to controlling the skies and controlling space." (6/21)

Even a Newborn Canyon is Big in Texas (Source: Houston Chronicle)
An unexpectedly large canyon carved by a Texas flood may help scientists estimate the size of ancient megafloods believed to have sculpted terrain on both Earth and Mars, new research suggests. The new canyon has many characteristics similar to those presumed to have been sculpted by larger-scale floods in other terrains, including streamlined features like ones that appear in images taken by Mars-orbiting probes, says a Caltech geologist.

In July 2002, record flooding in central Texas caused Canyon Lake, a reservoir held behind a dam about 55 kilometers northeast of San Antonio, to overflow. Water rushing through the dam’s emergency spillway carved a 2.2-kilometer-long canyon downstream of the spillway in just three days. “Geology is typically about events that happened long ago and very slowly,” said one researcher. “This is the one of the first studies to study the effects of a single canyon-cutting event.”

Many researchers view canyon erosion as a process that unfolds over centuries if not millennia. Water flow during the flood was so intense that it plucked large, flat-sided blocks of limestone — some of them 1 meter across — intact from the bedrock. During the peak of the three-day flood, water flowed through the canyon at a rate that would have filled between 12 and 20 Olympic-sized pools each minute. (6/21)

White House Looks to Help Shuttle Workers (Outside Florida) (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
When President Barack Obama visited Kennedy Space Center in April, he pledged $40 million to help aerospace workers in Florida find new jobs after the space shuttle fleet completes its final mission, now scheduled for later this year. But the gesture didn’t sit well in other states with NASA centers — particularly Texas and Alabama — which also would be affected by the shuttle’s retirement. So in response, NASA announced today that “other affected regions” would get $60 million to help their workers.

“This request would fund an initiative to develop a plan to spur regional economic growth and job creation along the Florida Space Coast and other affected regions in furtherance of my Administration’s bold new course for human space flight,” notes Obama in a letter to Congress. A blue ribbon panel has until Aug. 15 to develop a plan on how to spend the $40 million for thousands of displaced Florida workers and NASA spokesman Doc Mirelson said the same group also would provide recommendations on how to use the other $60 million. (6/21)

John Glenn to NASA: Keep Shuttles Flying (Source: MSNBC)
Living legend John Glenn says America should keep flying its space shuttle fleet rather than paying Russia to haul Americans to and from the Space Station. Glenn said flying the space shuttle fleet beyond its currently scheduled retirement date would be the best use of taxpayer dollars. "We'll spend almost as much buying our astronauts seats on Russia's Soyuz as we would to keep the shuttles flying," Glenn said.

The 88-year-old Glenn speaks from the perspective of a seasoned politician as well as a spaceman. The Ohio Democrat served as a U.S. senator from 1975 to 1999, and made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1984. He flew on the space shuttle for a widely publicized mission in 1998, becoming the oldest human in orbit at the age of 77.

"Why terminate a perfectly good system that has been made more safe and reliable through its many years of development?" Glenn asked. He fears that a failure involving Russia's Soyuz craft would almost certainly result in the abandonment of the station. (6/21)

Stanford Hosts Conference on US / Europe Space Collaboration (Source:
The European Commission is holding a half-day conference on July 21 to inform the US space community regarding new opportunities for US space companies, universities, research labs, government agencies, foundations and related research organizations to participate in the European Commission’s Space Research Program. This event will be held on July 21 at Stanford University. Visit http://www.eurunion.org/eu/ for information. (6/21)

Russia Launches German Radar Satellite From Kazakhstan (Source: DLR)
Germany's second Earth observation satellite, TanDEM-X, was launched successfully on 21 June from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Atop a Russian Dnepr rocket, the satellite, weighing more than 1.3 tons and five meters in length, started its journey into orbit. (6/21)

Obama Plan to Land on Asteroid May Be Unrealistic for 2025 (Source: USA Today)
Millions of miles from Earth, two astronauts hover weightlessly next to a giant space rock, selecting pebbles for scientific research. The spaceship where they'll sleep floats just overhead. Beyond it, barely visible in the sky, is a glittering speck. It's Earth. It sounds like a science-fiction movie, but this surreal scene could, if President Obama has his way, become a reality.

However, unlike Hollywood depictions in such movies as Armageddon, it's going to be a lot harder to pull off. The moon is 240,000 miles away. A trip to an asteroid would be 5 million miles — at a minimum. It would mark a milestone just as significant as Neil Armstrong's "small step" on the moon, experts say.

To go to an asteroid, humans would have to venture for the first time into "deep space," where the sun, not the Earth, is the main player. An asteroid trip "would really be our first step as a species outside the Earth-moon system," says planetary scientist Andy Rivkin of the Applied Physics Laboratory. "This would be taking off the training wheels." (6/21)

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