August 30, 2010

NASA Selects Two Firms for Experimental Space Vehicle Test Flights (Source: NASA)
NASA's Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program (CRuSR) has awarded a total of approximately $475,000 to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. The awards will allow the two companies to perform test flights of their experimental vehicles near the edge of space.

The flights will demonstrate the capabilities of new vehicles to provide recoverable launch and testing of small payloads going to "near-space," the region of Earth's atmosphere between 65,000 and 350,000 feet. The CRuSR program fosters the development of commercial reusable transportation to near space. The overall goal of the program is regular, frequent and predictable access to near-space at a reasonable cost with easy recovery of intact payloads. (8/30)

Embry-Riddle Launches New Ph.D. in Space-Focused Engineering Physics (Source: ERAU)
A unique new Ph.D. program in Engineering Physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University lifts off this week with a group of students taking courses in space physics, planetary orbits, solar wind, remote sensing, spacecraft dynamics, and more. “This degree is a blend of physics and engineering and its focus on the space program is a rare combination,” said John Olivero, professor and chair of the physical sciences department at the university’s Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, where it is offered. (8/30)

Space Coast Firm Grows with Langley Subcontract Work (Source: Craig Technologies)
Woman-Owned engineering and technical services firm Craig Technologies has earned work share at their fifth NASA project site--Langley Research Center (LaRC)--as part of the LaRC Information Technology Enhanced Services (LITES) contract award. As subcontractor to SGT, Inc. Craig Technologies will provide technical support for high-end systems used by Mission and Mission-support staff at LaRC, necessary for such operations as high performance computing, geometry modeling, grid generation, data visualization, image processing, computational analysis, and airspace and traffic operations simulation. (8/30)

India Announces Instrument Suite for Chandrayaan–2 Moon Orbiter, Lander and Rover (Source: SpaceRef)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced the suite of instruments for its second mission to the moon after it's first orbiter Chandrayaan–1 was successful in its mission. The second mission is scheduled to be launched on India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota in 2013. India will build the orbiter and rover and Russia will build the lander. Click here to see the list of instruments to be included. (8/30)

Japanese Radar Satellite Shuts Down (Source: Space News)
A Japanese spy satellite launched in February 2007 to keep an eye on North Korea has shut down and prospects for reviving it are "extremely grim," the Daily Yomiuiri and other Japanese media outlets reported over the weekend. Japan's Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center said the nation's lone radar-imaging satellite experienced a battery-related glitch Aug. 23 that took the spacecraft out of service. Owing to a November 2003 launch failure that destroyed two spy satellites, Japan has just four spy satellites in orbit, including the balky radar craft. (8/30)

SpaceX Asks For Oct. 23 Dragon Launch Slot (Source: Aviation Week)
SpaceX has requested Oct. 23 on the 45th Space Wing’s calendar for launch of its second Falcon 9 rocket, which will aim to place a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit. The flight is the first of up to three launches planned under SpaceX’s $278-million Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract with NASA, which is intended to help pay for the rocket and capsule’s design, development and flight testing.

In addition to a second flight test for the Falcon 9, which had a successful debut on June 4, the COTS-1 mission will test Dragon’s avionics, flight computers, guidance, navigation and control systems, back-shell heat shield, reentry and recovery systems. The Dragon vehicle is expected to be recovered in the Pacific test range close to the southern California coast after three orbits. A second operational Dragon that will maneuver to within 6 mi. of the ISS is targeted for launch early next year, while a provisional third test would have the Dragon actually dock at the station. (8/30)

Wallops Island Could Host Human Space Flights (Source: Parabolic Arc)
According to Virginia Business: "Virginia is hoping the Taurus project is a sign of things to come... Another company looking at Wallops is Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace. It’s designing the first privately owned space station that it hopes to launch four years from now. Customers most likely would be nations without space programs. Michael Gold, director of the company’s Washington office, has been to Wallops to explore the idea of using the Atlas V launch system — co-owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin... 'Potentially bringing human space flight to Virginia would be frankly the largest economic impact to hit the state in a generation,' said a Bigelow official. 'We have a very strong interest in Wallops and utilizing it ... and avoiding the red tape you might face in Florida.' ”

Bigelow hopes to launch its first space station in 2014, followed by a second in two years later. By the end of the decade, the number of support launches for these facilities would reach into the high 20s. This number would probably be more than Cape Canaveral could handle given its other launches. Bigelow, which wants to launch from the United States, is looking at flying on multiple vehicles from different launch sites. (8/30)

Danish Amateurs Aim to Rocket Themselves Into Space (Source: Discovery)
Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen of Denmark don't have a death wish, or even a mid-life crisis. Yet they're the first to admit that their efforts to put themselves in space on home-built rockets certainly begs the question. A major milestone is set for as early as this week when the men launch for the first time their suborbital rocket, a solid-propellant, liquid oxidizer affair called HEAT-1X Tycho Brahe (named after a 16th century Danish discoverer of a supernova).

Von Bengtson says he won't be disappointed if the rocket fails. "There's a good chance of that," he said. "Basically we're just going to go out there and push the button and build a new rocket -- no matter what happens." Additional test flights will follow over the next three to 10 years, von Bengtson says, before he and Madsen, 39, take turns trapping themselves inside the one-person capsule and blasting off for a suborbital ride to space. (8/30)

NASA, Internet Archive and Flickr Launch Historic Image Collection (Source: NASA)
Three compilations of images from more than half a century of NASA history are available for comment on a section of the photo-sharing site Flickr known as The Commons. Visitors to NASA on The Commons can help tell the photos' story by adding tags, or keywords, to the images to identify objects and people. In addition, viewers can communicate with other visitors by sharing comments. These contributions will help make the images easier to find online and add insight about NASA's history.

The capability to interact with these already-public photos is the result of a partnership between NASA, Flickr from Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco. Three sets of photos share a common theme of NASA beginnings. The "Launch and Takeoff" set captures iconic spacecraft and aircraft taking flight. "Building NASA" spotlights ground-breaking events and the construction of some of NASA's one-of-a-kind facilities. The "Center Namesakes" set features photos of the founders and figureheads of NASA's 10 field centers. To view NASA on The Commons images, visit: (8/30)

Some Restrictions on Exports to be Eased Following Complaints (Source: AIA)
President Barack Obama was expected to announce today a lifting of some restrictions on the sale of products with military applications to foreign buyers, following complaints from companies that the export rules were too burdensome. The rules were intended largely to keep dual-use technology out of the hands of military adversaries, but businesses said the list of prohibited parts was too long and out of date. The changes are expected to affect companies such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Microsoft. (8/30)

Troop Drawdown Likely to Step Up Pressure for Defense Spending Cuts (Source: AIA)
As concern over the U.S. budget deficit grows, the end of the country's combat mission in Iraq and plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2011 may put increased pressure on the Pentagon to reduce spending. The drawdowns will likely boost the political arguments for those urging defense cuts, after years of having their arguments dismissed following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (8/30)

Dancing in the Dark: The Orbital Rendezvous of SJ-12 and SJ-06F (Source: Space Review)
Earlier this month two Chinese satellites made a close approach to, and perhaps even made contact with, each other. Brian Weeden examines the facts about this event and its implications for space security. Visit to view the article. (8/30)

DM-2 and the Future of SRBs (Source: Space Review)
This week NASA and ATK are scheduled to perform the second test-firing of a five-segment solid rocket motor originally developed for the Ares 1. Jeff Foust describes the planning for the test and its significance given the uncertain future of NASA's human spaceflight plans. Visit to view the article. (8/30)

Harkness Screens Lift Off at Kennedy Space Center (Source: Govt. Video)
NASA's latest attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, "Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted," incorporates live theatre, interactive experiences and large-scale multimedia presentations to display what the future of space travel may look like. BRC Imagination Arts, designer and producer of immersive experiences, needed screens and frames to match the awesome project; it turned to Harkness Screens.

With four custom-shaped trapezoidal Harkness Contrast Grey front projection screens flying above the stage and two large main stage rear projection screens, the viewer is completely engulfed. The main stage 16:9 Harkness Translite Super Grey 14x7.8-feet rear projection screen was also custom designed to fit into a scenic LED bezel. (8/30)

Satellite Antennas Made by Harris Crucial to Military (Source: Florida Today)
Satellite antennas made by Harris Corp. in Palm Bay are a crucial part of a data transfer system that allows soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan and other locations to transmit and gather video information. In December, United Launch Alliance orbited the last of three satellites from Cape Canaveral, completing the Wideband Global SATCOM constellation, helping soldiers transmit video to and from the battlefield and allowing video to be transmitted from unmanned drones.

Three additional satellites are scheduled for launch beginning no earlier than December 2011. Each $300 million, 7,600-pound, Boeing-built satellite carries 10 Harris phased array antennas that can be pointed at specific parts of the battlefield. (8/30)

Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Shows Every Asteroid Discovered Since 1980 (Source: Huffington Post)
A new video using data from the Asteroid Orbital Elements Database presents a visual history of the asteroids discovered since 1980. In 1980, according to the video, there were only 8,954 known asteroids. By 1990, that number had grown to over 14,000. As the video moves into the mid 1990's we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online. Most of the surveys are imaging the sky directly opposite the sun and you'll see a region of high discovery rates aligned in this manner. When the video ends in 2010, the solar system looks positively packed. Click here to watch. (8/30)

Wallops Island Could Benefit from a Private-Sector Space Race (Source: Virginia Business)
When the Taurus II rocket soars into space next year from a launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Island just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean, it’s going to be a show unlike any that Virginia’s Eastern Shore has ever seen. At 131 feet and 320 tons, the Taurus II is bigger by far than any of the thousands of smaller unmanned rockets launched from Wallops since its creation in 1945.

Construction began last year on a new concrete launch pad that’s connected to what looks like a highway on-ramp. It will be used to roll the rocket into place. A few hundred yards away is a new building for assembling the rocket pieces now being built and tested at other sites. The entire rocket will be put together while lying on its side and then raised upright on the pad.

Then, if all goes as planned, it will lift off in a dramatic trail of fire as it soars toward the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth about 200 miles above the planet’s surface. The rocket will bring as much as 7,000 kilograms (15,400 pounds) of supplies, such as food and oxygen and equipment for maintenance or new experiments. (8/30)

Astrotech Reports Results for Fourth Quarter and FY-2010 (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech posted a fourth quarter FY-2010 net loss of $1.6 million, compared with a fourth quarter FY-2009 net income of $2.6 million, on revenue of $10.4 million. Astrotech's net income for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010 was $0.3 million on revenue of $28.0 million compared to net income of $4.7 million on revenue of $32.0 million for the prior fiscal year. (8/30)

James Cameron Hosts The ZERO-G Experience (Source: X PRIZE Foundation)
Helping to raise funds for the X PRIZE Foundation, "Avatar" Producer/Director, James Cameron, will participate as the honored guest aboard an extraordinary ZERO-G Experience taking off from Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in Los Angeles on Oct. 9. Additional X PRIZE Board Members and special guests have purchased seats to participate in this special event. Three available seats for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure will be auctioned on eBay to the general public beginning Aug. 31 and endingSep. 3. To find out more information about the auction and to bid on seats, visit (8/30)

Space Foundation Seeks 'Space Heroes' (Source: Florida Today)
Buzz Lightyear? Capt. Kirk? Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana? Story Musgrave? John Glenn? Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin? Or maybe famed NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz because failure was not an option. Who is your Space Hero? The Space Foundation wants to know.

Begun earlier this month, the foundation's "Space Heroes" survey simply asks who rocks your universe and why. The aim is to determine who inspires people to support and promote space exploration. Take the survey at (8/30)

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