September 24, 2010

Aerojet Continues Orion Motor Work (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet has successfully conducted a static firing of the third nozzle risk reduction motor in support of the Orion jettison motor, a critical component of the launch abort system (LAS) for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. This successful test firing validates several nozzle design changes implemented to enhance the safety and reliability of the jettison motor. (9/24)

U.S. Military Wants To Streamline Hosted Payload Process (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Defense Department in the coming months plans to unveil a new website that will serve as the central node for matching government payloads with potential commercial host spacecraft. The concept of hosting government payloads on commercial satellite platforms has received much attention in recent years as a way for governments to acquire capabilities more cheaply while helping industry to maximize returns on spacecraft investments. (9/24)

White House Objects to Imagery Provision in Bill (Source: Space News)
The administration of President Obama has objected to a provision in a Senate defense bill that would place restrictions on the kinds of commercial satellite imagery the Pentagon could purchase in the future. The provision bars the Pentagon from entering into new imagery purchase contracts after 2010 unless the satellites in question have 1.5-meter telescopes. “Since the commercial satellite industry does not currently build 1.5-meter satellites, this provision would require considerable additional government investment, and is not required to meet defense or intelligence requirements,” according to the White House.

“Further, by stipulating a predetermined commercial solution, this provision could negatively impact the commercial data providers, limit innovation in commercial technology, and increase the risks on future government contracts for commercial data services.” (9/24)

House Breaks Without Action on NASA Bill (Source: Space News)
The U.S. House recessed Sept. 24 without taking up a three-year NASA authorization bill, dimming prospects for passage of the nearly $50 billion measure before midterm elections Nov. 2. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said votes on all bills were postponed until Sept. 29, when the chamber hopes to take up a stopgap spending measure, known as a continuing resolution. Editor's Note: There's some potential for a vote in the House on Wednesday or Thursday. (9/24)

Where Will Next Mars Rover Land? (Source: WIRED)
WIRED Magazine has produced an assessment of various candidate Mars landing sites. Click here to view them. (9/24)

Out-of-This-World Proposal for Solar Wind Power (Source: New Scientist)
Forget wind power or conventional solar power, the world's energy needs could be met 100 billion times over using a satellite to harness the solar wind and beam the energy to Earth – though focusing the beam could be tricky. The concept for the so-called Dyson-Harrop satellite begins with a long metal wire loop pointed at the sun. This wire is charged to generate a cylindrical magnetic field that snags the electrons that make up half the solar wind.

These electrons get funneled into a metal spherical receiver to produce a current, which generates the wire's magnetic field – making the system self-sustaining. Any current not needed for the magnetic field powers an infrared laser trained on satellite dishes back on Earth, designed to collect the energy. Air is transparent to infrared so Earth's atmosphere won't suck up energy from the beam before it reaches the ground. (9/24)

Commercial Space Transportation Lessons Learned System (Sources: FAA, Space Politics)
To ensure safe and successful commercial launch and reentry activities, it is necessary for all involved to learn from past experiences and to share that knowledge with others. The Commercial Space Transportation Lessons Learned System (CSTLLS) is an FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) program designed to facilitate the sharing of lessons learned resulting from positive and negative experiences. Click here for more. (9/24)

Stuck in Orbit: ISS Astronauts Remain One Extra Day (Source:
Three astronauts on the International Space Station were set to return to Earth on Sep. 23, but equipment problems kept them aloft. The problem was not with their Soyuz landing capsule; it was a set of stuck hooks on the station. But how did the unprecedented undocking glitch happen in the first place? Russian engineers narrowed the list of electronic suspects to a faulty microswitch may have caused an open circuit in the docking port's wiring.

At the core of the malfunction is a set of hooks and latches on the space station's Russian Poisk docking port, which refused to release the astronauts' Soyuz capsule last night. The glitch was fixed overnight, clearing the way for a Soyuz landing early Saturday on the steppes of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. (9/24)

DigitalGlobe Forecasts Faster Revenue Growth (Source: Space News)
Commercial Earth imaging provider DigitalGlobe on Sep. 23 said its 10-year, $3.55 billion contract to provide satellite imagery to the U.S. government likely will enable the company to surpass its promise to double revenue within five years. Satellite imagery and services sales to governments in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere, plus an expanding consumer business with location-based services, are expected to grow even faster than its revenue from the U.S. government. DigitalGlobe, which reported revenue of $281.9 million in 2009, expects that figure to double within three to five years. The commercial segment, which accounted for just $52.8 million of revenue in 2009, will at least double and may triple during the same period. (9/24)

Orbital Set to Launch Minotaur from California (Source: Orbital)
Orbital Sciences Corp. will launch the first orbital mission of the Minotaur IV rocket in support of the Air Force’s Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite on Saturday night. The Minotaur IV is the latest in the family of Minotaur launchers that Orbital has developed for the Air Force. The SBSS mission will be the 18th to be carried out by Orbital’s family of Minotaur vehicles over the last 10 years. The previous 17 missions have all been successful. The Minotaur IV launch vehicle is based on decommissioned Peacekeeper rocket motors that Orbital has upgraded and integrated with modern avionics and other subsystems. (9/24)

Mars Methane Mystery: What's Making the Gas? (Source: Discovery)
A six-year study of methane in Mars' atmosphere shows the planet is far from dead, though whether it is merely geologically active or host to microbial life is unknown. An Italy-based team of researchers combed through billions of measurements taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor to compile seasonal maps of the gas, a simple chemical compound that appears in minute quantities in Mars' carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere.

Methane breaks down in ultraviolet light from the sun, so scientists know it is being replenished in some way from the planet itself. The speed at which the methane is being depleted -- less than a year -- is as great a mystery as what's causing it. There are three regions in the planet's northern hemisphere with consistently higher concentrations of methane -- Tharsis, Elysium and Arabia Terrae. Tharsis and Elysium are home to Mars' most massive volcanoes and Arabia Terrae has large quantities of subterranean frozen water. (9/24)

Animal Defenders Advance Campaign Against NASA Primate Experiments (Source: ADI)
Animal Defenders International (ADI) launched a major U.S. educational and legislative campaign to secure public and government support to prevent NASA from proceeding with irradiating squirrel monkeys to study adverse effects of space radiation.

The centerpiece of the legislative campaign is a compelling 4-minute video entitled ‘Space Experiments on Monkeys - One Giant Leap Backwards’ which recaps the prior use of animals in space research, cites reasons NASA’s irradiation experiments are flawed and premature, and presents viable alternatives to primate testing. (9/24)

House Plan Edges Toward Extra Shuttle Flight (Source: Florida Today)
The latest House proposal for NASA's future edges closer to President Obama's plan to develop a commercial rocket program and would provide the extra space shuttle flight sought by shuttle advocates in Florida. But it's not clear the three-year bill released Thursday will satisfy NASA advocates in the Senate. House and Senate lawmakers may continue haggling over their differences after the election. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, who has led negotiations with Gordon, said he still hopes the two chambers will come together and approve a compromise on NASA policy by the end of next week. (9/24)

Magnetic Anomalies Shield the Moon (Source: Astronomy Now)
Evidence for magnetic anomalies strongly deflecting the solar wind from the lunar surface was presented at the European Planetary Science Congress. Unlike the Earth, which has a magnetic field to carve out its protective magnetosphere that shields us from the influx of the solar wind, airless bodies such as the Moon have surfaces exposed directly to the bombardment of solar wind particles. Combined with the Moon's lack of atmosphere – which would normally filter out micro-meteorite impacts – this results in a heavily weathered surface known as the lunar regolith.

Until recently, the solar wind was thought to be absorbed by the regolith, but new data provided by the recent fleet of lunar orbiters – Chang'E-1, Kaguya and Chandrayaan-1– have revealed that there is more to the story. In particular, Chandrayaan-1 mapped for the first time the energetic hydrogen atoms emanating from the Moon, finding that up to one fifth of the solar wind protons reaching the lunar surface are reflected back to space. (9/4)

About Bolden’s Saudi Trip (Source: National Review)
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden raised eyebrows last month when he said his “foremost” goal was to help Muslim nations “feel good about their historic contribution to science.” He raised them further when he recently scheduled a trip to Saudi Arabia “to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Arab astronaut’s shuttle flight.”

According to NASA, the Saudi visit is part of a larger itinerary that includes the Czech Republic and Nepal. While in Saudi Arabia, he will lead a NASA delegation at an aerospace conference and an event in honor of the 25th anniversary of space shuttle flight that carried Sultan Salman Al-Saud.

"This trip including the visit to Saudi Arabia is driven by specific, appropriate agency-level objectives. It was not initiated by the White House, State Department or any other entity and has no objective other than those identified above. However, all such activities are coordinated through established State Department channels." (9/24)

‘Smaller is Better’ as Israel Launches Itself as Space Contender (Source: Jewish Herald Voice)
The State of Israel is hoping to carve out a niche in the world space market while, at the same time, grow its space-related collaborations with the United States. Israeli-pioneered “mini satellites” – which are comparatively small, lightweight and durable, yet inexpensive – are key to these efforts. The Netanyahu administration reportedly is placing a major thrust on spaceR&D. The aim is to boost sales of Israel’s miniaturized space platforms to nearly $8 billion a year over the next several years, and to secure a small but significant percentage of the $250-billion-a-year international space market. (9/24)

Former El Paso Astronaut Finds New Job In Southern California (Source: KVIA)
Former NASA astronaut John "Danny" Olivas wasn't without a job for long. He left NASA in May to become the director of engineering for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, Calif. He started his new job in June. He and his staff will focus on satellite sensor technology that can do such things as document gases in the atmosphere, wind speeds and directions, and detect changes in the polar ice caps. (9/23)

India to Replace Two Ageing Satellites in December (Source: IANS)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to replace two of its ageing satellites with new ones by December. The agency is planning to send in space two rockets for the purpose. First to fly towards the heavens will be ISRO's heavy rocket - the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) - sometime during the second week of December carrying a communication satellite GSAT 5 - intended to replace the ageing INSAT 2E.

After the GSLV, it will be turn of ISRO's lighter rocket, the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), which will be carrying a remote sensing satellite - Resourcesat-2. Piggy-backing on it will be two small satellites made in Singapore and Russia. (9/24)

"Trends in New Space Meet Up" Planned in L.A. on Oct. 12 (Source: CSA)
Join us on October 12 as a part of the ongoing Trends in New Space Meet Up. We'll be featuring guest presenters Amaresh Kollipara on commercial space markets and Andy Cochrane on The Mars Project. RSVP is required. Click here for details. (9/24)

Tech Brew Meg Mixer Includes California Space Authority Presentation on Oct. 18 (Source: CSA)
A Special TECH BREW MEGA MIXER will feature a Mini Business Seminar at 4:30 p.m. on Internet marketing, and a special announcements/presentation by the California Space Center. TECH BREW is the Region's Premier Networking Event for High Technology Professionals, Cutting Edge Entrepreneurs and Innovators, Business Leaders, Government officials, related Non Profits, Educational Institutions and Resources for Sustainable Economic Development. Visit for information. (9/24)

Mojave Air and Space Port Celebrates Diamond Anniversary (Source: Tehachapi News)
On Sep. 18, the 75th anniversary of the Mojave Air and Space Port was celebrated at the airport. The airport was founded in 1935, the first year the Douglas DC-3 flew. (9/24)

Diamandis Featured at Roundtable Event in Santa Clara on Oct. 20 (Source: CSA)
The Silicon Valley Space Business Roundtable partnering with CSA invites you to an Oct. 20 reception and presentation with Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. The Foundation leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. The event will be held in Santa Clara at the Hyatt Hotel from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at

AIA Launches New Web-Based State-by-State Aerospace Database (Source: AIA)
AIA has launched a new tool on its website that provides a one-stop source for information on employment, payroll, average wages and the number of aerospace establishments in all 50 states and selected metropolitan areas. Get state data here. (9/24)

House Passes Critical Bonus Depreciation Legislation (Source: GAMA)
The House of Representatives has passed the final version of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 which allows businesses to take advantage of the bonus depreciation tax incentive for general aviation aircraft purchases and components, including engines and avionics. This critically important legislation will help drive new sales for manufacturers as they continue to recover from the recession.

The bonus depreciation provision allows a business that purchases a general aviation aircraft to deduct the normal depreciation allowance as well as an additional 50 percent of the depreciable value of the aircraft in the first year after delivery, instead of spreading it out evenly over five years. This tax incentive is a proven way to help increase aircraft sales. One general aviation manufacturer reported that bonus depreciation accounted for 55 percent of all piston airplane sales in 2009. (9/24)

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