July 18, 2010

Space Weather Turns Into An International Problem (Source: Space Daily)
Sometimes a problem is so big, one country cannot handle it alone. That's the message scientists are delivering at the International Living with a Star (ILWS) meeting in Bremen, Germany, and representatives from more than 25 of the world's most technologically-advanced nations have gathered to hear what they have to say. "The problem is solar storms-figuring out how to predict them and stay safe from their effects," says ILWS Chairperson Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters. "We need to make progress on this before the next solar maximum arrives around 2013."

The sun and Earth are separated by 93 million miles of space-a seemingly safe distance. But since the Space Age began, and especially in recent years, there has been a growing realization that 93 million miles really isn't so far apart. Spacecraft and ground-based observatories have shown that Earth is located in the sun's outer atmosphere, buffeted by solar winds and pelted by hail storms of energetic particles. (7/18)

Space Solutions Proposed To Lessen Africa's Vulnerability To Natural Disasters (Source: Space Daily)
Africa faces a mounting number of disasters, such as floods, drought, food security and the spread of diseases, but must also deal with the likely impact of global climate change that could intensify these problems. To help tackle these tragic threats to Africa's human and economic well-being, space-based technologies are being identified. Nearly a 100 decision-makers and senior experts on disaster-risk management from African countries, Europe, the Middle East and America met July 6-9 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (7/18)

Swedish Corp. Wants to Sell Satellite Division (Source: Sveriges Radio)
The Swedish Space Corporation may sell off the department that builds satellites despite there being an ongoing mission which could be highly profitable for the Swedish space industry. SVT reports that the reason given is that the satellite industry is not currently profitable. The directive comes from the Swedish National Space Board and is being criticized, in part, because technology which has taken 30 years of development and taxpayer money can move elsewhere with the sale. (7/4)

New Mission for American Aerospace Giants (Source: New York Times)
For Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the other aerospace giants that have been the backbone of the American space effort for decades, the shift in U.S. space policy announced by President Barack Obama means a major change in mission. After working for decades with largely one customer — NASA — to ferry astronauts and equipment into orbit, major players in the aerospace industry are facing a commercial market with a range of entrepreneurs who say they can do that work for less.

Under President Obama’s ambitious initiative, NASA would rely on commercial companies to provide a kind of taxi service to the International Space Station, while focusing its efforts on missions into deep space with international partners. How the aerospace industry establishment will fit into this new plan remains far from clear, analysts say. “I see a certain analogy with what happened when computers went from being room-sized to being on the desktop,” said Louis D. Friedman, executive director for Planetary Society, a space exploration advocacy group. (7/18)

India Launches Payloads for Foreign Space Agencies (Source: Economic Times)
For every one kilogram of third party payload that ISRO launches into orbit, the space agency earns an approximate $20,000. Last week too when its polar satellite launch vehicle put an Algerian satellite into space orbit, it fetched a neat $4 million, besides more than half a dozen fresh orders. But then, there has never been any dearth of orders. The ISRO’s pipeline is already choked with orders worth Rs 3,000 crore. The PSLV, often referred to as ISRO’s workhorse, is the most attractive launch vehicle for the global market because it has the capability to launch multiple satellites. (7/18)

Editorial: Nothing New About NASA Outreach (Source: Houston Chronicle)
In 1985 President Reagan, recognizing the tremendous political power, prestige and privilege of flying in space, especially in the underdeveloped world, made good on a deal with our new friends in Saudi Arabia and invited Prince Sultan Salman Al-Saud to be part of the crew of STS 51-G. The first Arab to fly in space had a significant effect on our relations with many Arabs. It had a big impact in Saudi Arabia. It made this Arab prince appear accepted as an equal by the world's greatest advanced nation.

He was in a position to become not just the first Muslim to have a proven flying carpet, but to float on that prayer rug, spot the new moon at Ramadan and be part of a show of American goodwill and diversity in places where people still ride camels, men and women are kept apart and girls cannot read. When they saw the sultan (as he insisted we all call him) they saw his American crewmates, commanded by a man named Brandenstein, accompanied by a French spationaute and a woman scientist. At the time, it was big stuff.

That President Obama told Bolden to reach out and use the space program as a tool to build bridges with all sorts of people is not a new idea and is certainly a reasonable thing to undertake. But to ask him to do so at the same time he had canceled the shuttle, canceled a return to the moon and effectively canceled the NASA manned space program for at least the next decade, probably longer, is disheartening and un-American. (7/17)

Top 10 Ways to Stop an Asteroid (Source: Discovery)
If Hollywood hasn't hammered this into you enough by now, here's one more reminder: A giant asteroid slamming into Earth is a bad thing. After all, how many dinosaurs have you heard reminiscing about the K-T boundary extinction event? The catalyst for the mass extinction of the human race could be hurtling toward Earth right now. In fact, many scientists would guarantee it. Fortunately, we already have at least 10 rough game plans on how to deal with the threat of near earth asteroids (NEAs). Sorry, movie fans, but none of them involve Bruce Willis. Click here to read the article. (7/18)

New Private Spacesuit Unveiled With New York Flair (Source: Space.com)
Two private spacesuit designers unveiled their first steps toward serious attire for future space travelers Friday night in front of a young, hip crowd of artists and tech geeks in Manhattan. A spacesuit model arched his back experimentally, flashed the thumbs up and struck other poses that drew chuckles from the crowd. He showed off a bright yellow pressure suit topped by the dome of a roomy space helmet, with a blue glove on the right hand and a black glove on the left hand.

The blue glove was designed by Moscow-based spacesuit engineer Nikolay Moiseev, who built in unprecedented flexibility at the metacarpal knuckles of the hand. The black glove represented a single-layer design made from urethane by Brooklyn-based inventor and artist Ted Southern, which reduced the torque required to move the fingers to practically nothing. Moiseev and Southern push a design philosophy that embraces easier manufacture. Southern created spacesuit pieces from heat-sealed nylon coated by urethane laminant in his art studio.

Manufacturing the pressure suit components alone had cost perhaps $15,000 in all, Southern said. That price does not include all the other parts of a working spacesuit, such as communications gear and life support. Still, it may give a potential edge over rival spacesuit makers such as Orbital Outfitters, who aim to create spacesuits with a price tag of approximately $100,000, according to Southern. "I think we can cut that to one half, or even one third," Southern said. (7/17)

Space Society Store Shoots for the Moon (Source: Sign On San Diego)
Suppose you had a free week and wanted to get away from it all. To the moon, perhaps. Couldn’t happen. Not just yet, anyway. But if you’re just that kind of dreamer, we have a store for you. The Space Traveler’s Emporium opened in South Park. And if it can stay in business long enough, the proprietors — The San Diego Space Society — would love to be able to sell you a ticket to the moon. And your own space suit. And, maybe some day even sooner, a round-trip ride to the International Space Station. (7/17)

From a Distance: Citizen Science and Community Remote Sensing (Source: Secure World Foundation)
The Earth information needs of our society are enormous. Until now, we have relied on government-sponsored satellites and observing systems. However, there is a rapid emergence of citizen science and social networks that yields an exciting new means to become better stewards of our planet. Community Remote Sensing (CRS) is a new field that combines remote sensing with citizen science, social networks, and crowd-sourcing to enhance the data obtained from traditional sources. (7/16)

For MDA, Space Pays (Source: Globe and Mail)
In his cramped office, Daniel Friedmann spends a lot of time working on gas stations in space. The CEO of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. wants to build the high-tech equivalent of a service station, load it up with fuel and spare parts, and launch it into orbit to come to the aid of aging satellites. It’s an audacious idea that has the potential to revolutionize the space industry by allowing companies to squeeze extra years of life out of hugely expensive satellites.

The bold concept is even more remarkable considering that just two years ago MDA was trying to get out of the space business. In 2008, Mr. Friedmann struck a deal to sell MDA’s space division to a U.S. firm. Ottawa, fearing a loss of sovereignty, spiked the sale. He still maintains the sale would have been the best deal for shareholders, but he quickly accepted the government’s decision. “I just got on with life,” he said. (7/16)

Large NASA Project to Use ULA Rocket (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Most of the money for a $485 million NASA mission to study Mars’ atmosphere in 2014 is going to Denver-area aerospace companies and the University of Colorado. NASA recently confirmed it will use a rocket from Colorado-based United Launch Alliance for the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN) on a nine-month flight to the red planet.

That means more than $400 million from MAVEN will flow through the Denver area, given the respective roles of University of Colorado-Boulder, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and United Launch Alliance overseeing the science, satellite building and launch of the mission. (7/16)

45th Space Wing's Colonel to Rise in Rank (Source: Florida Today)
Air Force Col. Ed Wilson, the commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, will be promoted to brigadier general during ceremonies on Friday. Wilson, 47, assumed command of the 45th Space Wing in February. At Patrick, Wilson said one of the first things on his agenda was to continue the strong relationship between the base and its mission partners, NASA, the communities surrounding the base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (7/17)

Living on the Moon? It's the Pits! (Source: MSNBC)
Fresh photos from NASA's lunar orbiter suggest that pit craters could provide havens for humans on the moon – just as they do in 50-year-old science fiction. About 10 candidate pit craters have been identified in high-resolution imagery from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, according to Mark Robinson, the principal investigator for the orbiter's camera. He features images that appears to show sunlight slanting down at an angle into holes in the ground.

"They could be entrances to a geologic wonderland," Robinson says in a NASA Science News report. "We believe the giant holes are skylights that formed when the ceilings of underground lava tubes collapsed." Such pit craters are thought to be a consequence of ancient volcanic activity on the moon, with surface openings leading to the lava tubes beneath. The tubes could provide shelter from the moon's harsh surface conditions. (7/18)

AFRL Test Marks Return to 'In-House' Rocket Fuel Development (Source: USAF)
Air Force Research Laboratory scientists here returned to the organization's roots with their latest rocket test recently. AFRL technicians have tested rockets of all sizes and fuels of all make-ups for years. What makes this latest test unique is that all components of the test were developed at the laboratory by AFRL employees.

his was the first time in a long time that AFRL people designed their own in-house rocket motor in order to conduct a test. Rocket motor development had been contracted previously. This type of research, development and testing for new solid rocket fuels looks to become the normal procedure for AFRL. (7/16)

A Lesson in 'Political Science, Not Rocket Science' (Source: BBC)
Are we seeing the beginnings of a compromise on Capitol Hill? President Barack Obama had laid out his vision for the future of human spaceflight. He was certain that low-Earth orbit operations should be handed to the commercial sector. As for NASA, he believed it should have a much stronger R&D focus. He wanted the agency to concentrate on difficult stuff, and take its time before deciding on how America should send astronauts to distant targets such as asteroids and Mars.

This vision invited fury from many in Congress and beyond because of its likely impact in those key States where the re-moulding of the agency would lead to many job losses - in Florida, Texas, Alabama and Utah. Now, Republican and Democratic members of the influential Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee have unanimously approved a position that may end months of dispute in Washington DC. (7/16)

Air Force May Slow Planned GPS 3 Production Pace (Source: Space News)
The primary payload for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation GPS 3 navigation satellites recently was cleared for production even as the service contemplates slowing down the program based on the health of the current GPS constellation. Current plans call for GPS 3 prime contractor Lockheed Martin to deliver four satellites per year, with the first slated to launch in 2014, but the Air Force is currently re-evaluating the production rate. (7/16)

NASA's Lori Garver On Board With Senate Bill (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Since her appointment NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver has been something of a lightning rod, almost the "bad cop" to Charlie Bolden's "good cop" when it came to supporting President Obama's spaceflight proposals. Some people viewed her as the architect of the President's plan. However, after speaking to Garver late Thursday, it appears that she is largely on board with the Senate's plan for NASA, which strikes a compromise. In this respect she is also speaking for the White House, I believe. Click here to read the interview. (7/16)

Astrotech Announces Corporate Realignment (Source: Globe Newswire)
Astrotech Corp. announced a realignment of its corporate structure, following an evaluation of each business and a review of strategic alternatives. Astrotech's realignment includes the termination of President James Royston. "This corporate leadership realignment allows us to streamline Astrotech, reduce overall costs and maximize shareholder value," said Thomas B. Pickens III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Astrotech.

The corporate realignment will allow Astrotech to put a greater focus on the pre-launch satellite service offering of its Astrotech Space Operations business unit. The Company has no immediate plans of filling the position created by Mr. Royston's termination. Editor's Note: Based on this announcement, Astrotech appears to be returning to its satellite-processing roots, with perhaps less emphasis on biomedical research. (7/16)

Germany's 'Sharp' Rocket Set to Revolutionize Space Travel (Source: The Local)
German scientists unveiled on Friday the key part of a flat-sided, re-usable space rocket they say would be much cheaper and easier to build than NASA's space shuttles. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is developing the cutting-edge rocket that can re-enter Earth’s atmosphere without breaking up or suffering much damage, making it an affordable and easy-to-build alternative to than NASA's ageing space shuttles.

DLR scientists on Friday unveiled the 2.5-meter nose cone for the SHEFEX II program, short for “sharp-edged test flight,” at the DLR headquarters in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich. It will take its first test flight next March from Australia’s Woomera rocket launch site. A smaller and slower prototype, SHEFEX I, had a successful test flight from Norway in 2005.

The new model will be more heat-resistant, cheaper and, most importantly, easier to control in landing than any other type of launchable space craft. The distinct angular nose cone has eight flat faces, which provide better aerodynamics and cheaper construction than the traditional round cone. “The rocket therefore has nearly the aerodynamic qualities of a space shuttle, but it’s smaller and doesn’t need wings,” said Weihs. (7/16)

SpaceShipTwo Makes First Flight With Crew Aboard (Source: WIRED)
SpaceShipTwo staged a dress rehearsal for its glide flight and flew with a crew for the first time. Anticipation mounted yesterday as word spread that SpaceShipTwo, attached to its mother ship Eve, departed the Mojave Air and Space Port. Many, including us, were anxious to hear whether the first glide flight of the spacecraft also known as VSS Enterprise would happen, especially since we knew a chase plane followed SpaceShipTwo into the sky.

The flight test team at Scaled Composites has been busy preparing for the first glide flight. There have been four flights of WhiteKnightTwo in the past month where the crew has made practice approaches similar to what will be flown in the VSS Enterprise. (7/16)

Second Falcon 9 Rocket Begins Arriving at the Cape (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Six weeks after the first Falcon 9 rocketed into orbit, pieces of the second launcher have begun arriving at Cape Canaveral for a shakedown flight of SpaceX's Dragon capsule in September, according to the company's top executive. The Falcon 9 first stage pulled into Cape Canaveral Thursday after a truck ride from SpaceX's test site in central Texas. The stage was placed inside the company's rocket assembly hangar at launch pad 40. (7/16)

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