October 12, 2010

Florida Officials Try to Lure Space Jobs to Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
Economic development officials are negotiating with 57 companies that could bring about 5,000 jobs if they can be lured to Brevard. Though some of those prospects likely will opt to locate elsewhere, those that do come to Brevard will do so in part because of incentives. "I will tell you that 57 active projects is a lot more than we had last year," Lynda Weatherman, president of the Space Coast Economic Development Commission. "That's why it's critical that we look at incentives."

Space Florida President Frank DiBello said his agency will work with the Legislature during the next session to create incentives for space companies to come to Florida. "We're going to be seeking a number of tax incentives, a research and development tax credit, plus financing and insurance incentives that are unique," DiBello said. "Don't worry, Florida gets it. We know what it takes to close a commercial case for business companies." (10/12)

China Eyes Extended Mission Beyond Moon (Source: Space Daily)
The mysteries surrounding the mission of China's Chang'e 2 moon probe are gradually being solved. Prior to the launch, China was exceptionally shy about revealing many details of the mission, including the launch vehicle. This led some analysts to wonder what was being left out of the public domain.

We now know more about the souped-up launch and the course of the mission. Chang'e 2 does not seem to be a radically different spacecraft from its sister, Chang'e 1. In theory, China could still have launched this bird to the Moon with the same Long March 3A launch vehicle used for Chang'e 1. However, the upgrade to the more powerful Long March 3C rocket does produce its advantages. It leaves Chang'e 2 well stocked with fuel. With plenty of fuel onboard Chang'e 2, one option for an extended mission would be to explore the Lagrange points in the Earth-Moon system, before heading out further into heliocentric orbit. (10/12)

Pentagon: If Contractors Can Lower Costs, Orders May Rise (Source: AIA)
The Pentagon will commit to buying greater quantities if contractors can figure out a way to cut unit costs, said Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary William Lynn in a speech last week. Lynn said the Defense Department needs 2% to 3% real growth each year in warfighting accounts but will likely get only 1% as Congress grapples with the federal budget deficit. Measures for closing the gap can include improved program execution and reduction of unit costs. (10/12)

Embry-Riddle Acquires System to Study Hypoxia and Flight Performance (Source: ERAU)
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University has increased the capabilities of the High-Altitude Lab at its Daytona Beach campus with the addition of a new Mentor Advanced Aircraft Training Device. The Mentor has a sophisticated data recording package that measures and graphically displays a pilot’s performance and deviations while flying. Embry-Riddle researchers will use the new device to measure performance and decision-making by pilots training in a hypoxic (oxygen-depleted) environment.

Investigators have already completed one preliminary study of pilot performance at altitudes where hypoxia can affect behavior. With about 1,200 students at the campus preparing to be professional pilots, researchers have a sizeable pool of subjects to study. Embry Riddle created its high-altitude normobaric lab, the nation’s first, in 2009 to teach pilots how to recognize and recover from hypoxia. In the normobaric enclosure, a hypoxic environment is created by air machines that extract oxygen from the air, instead of pumps that reduce air pressure.

Editor's Note: Given their flight altitudes, pilots, crew and passengers flying suborbital spacecraft may have increased exposure to conditions that might cause hypoxia. Training and countermeasures for hypoxic conditions may be important for future commercial human spaceflight operations. (10/12)

NASA Has the Plan, But Can it Get the Money from Lameduck Congress? (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA's new plan is federal law now, but space program supporters say 2010's long budget thrill ride still isn't over. "The 600-pound gorilla here is the U.S. economy," former astronaut Sally Ride told a press teleconference Monday. The teleconference was called to celebrate President Obama's Monday signing into law of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.

Funding will have to come during what Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., predicted will be a "tough" lame duck session of Congress after the November elections. NASA will be part of an omnibus funding bill for the entire government, Nelson said. There's widespread support for NASA in Congress, he said, but some will try to hold all government spending to fiscal 2008 levels to cut the federal deficit. (10/12)

NASA Contractors Want Retraction From Justice Dept. (Source: Washington Post)
Contractors working for NASA are calling on Acting Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal to retract statements made last week to the Supreme Court regarding which agency facilities the contractors can access with their identification badges. During his oral arguments, Katyal told justices that the questions are justified on national security grounds because ID badges worn by contractors give them access to JPL and all other NASA facilities.

"It's such an important credential that it would allow them to get within, for example, six to 10 feet of the space shuttle as it's being repaired and readied for launch," Katyal said. The lead plaintiff in the case, demanded a retraction, calling it "an insult to all of our co-workers at Kennedy Space Center who labor continuously to protect the safety of all NASA launch vehicles."

"You cannot walk up to the space shuttle with the badge I have from JPL." Visits to the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of JPL missions required obtaining a separate badge to enter a viewing area, he said. But the Justice Department said Monday it has no plans to correct the record. "The solicitor general's office worked closely with NASA officials in preparing for this case, including the use of the space shuttle example in the argument, and in no way misled the court," a Justice Department spokeswoman said. (10/12)

Legislators Want Incentives for Commercial Space Enterprise (Source: Sunshine News)
There's a growing realization on the Space Coast that the future of the area's economy and the future of space exploration are going to rely heavily on commercial space companies. That realization is forming into a political consensus across both parties in the region that Florida must offer the right incentives to lure companies to Florida. Why? Because the Sunshine State is competing against a growing number of states and countries looking to get in on the space game.

Government and business leaders gathered Monday in Cocoa for the Florida Space and Technology Forum, and most agreed that Florida needs to do anything it can to cultivate the burgeoning commercial space industry in the wake of the imminent loss of the space shuttle program. "If we're going to have Florida be at the forefront of the space business, we're going to have to change the way we do business," said Dr. George Nield, associate administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. (10/12)

Um, If We Get ET On The Line, What Will We Say? (Source: Daily Maverick)
Finding conclusive proof of extraterrestrial neighbors has been an ardent hope since space exploration first took off. But, of course, extraterrestrial contact can’t be contemplated without a whole set of rules about who chats to the aliens, what they’re allowed to say and whether we should be sending out messages at all. You know, like in every good bureaucracy. Click here to read the article. (10/12)

Japan Celebrates Aussie Spacecraft Help (Source: The Age)
When Japanese scientists proposed to land a spacecraft in the Australian outback quarantine authorities had one strict rule. The asteroid samples captured by the Hayabusa would have to leave the country whenever it was practical. The spacecraft landed in South Australia's Woomera prohibited range at four minutes to midnight on June 13 this year after a difficult journey. Within four days, the extraterrestrial dust samples were airlifted to Tokyo enroute to the Japanese space agency's Sagamihara campus. (10/12)

Cyber Threat: India Rules Out Stuxnet Attack on Insat-4 B (Source: Economic Times)
India has ruled out possibility of the deadly Stuxnet internet worm attacking Insat-4 B satellite on July 7, resulting in 12 of its 24 transponders shutting down. ISRO officials, requesting anonymity, said that the worm only strikes a satellite’s program logic controller (PLC).

“We can confirm that Insat-4 B doesn’t have a PLC. So the chances of the Stuxnet worm attacking it appear remote. In PLC’s place, Insat-4 B had its own indigenously-designed software which controlled the logic of the spacecraft,’’ said a source. (10/12)

China 'Zero Chance' of Moon Landing in Next Five Years (Source: Radio Australia)
China has taken a giant leap forward, after launching its second lunar probe earlier this month. The Chinese rocket carrying a probe destined for the moon blasted off on October the first. Its aim is to test key technologies and collect data for future landings. If the mission succeeds, it will put China another step ahead of India in the race to become the second nation, after the United States, to land an astronaut on the moon.

"China does not have an announced human lunar program and their two current programs, the Human Space Flight Program and the Chang'e Robotic Lunar Exploration program are set to terminate some time around 2020. So if China were to send a person to the moon, it would be sometime after 2020 in my estimation." (10/12)

India May Seek International Help on Cryogenic Engine (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
India remains committed to perfecting an indigenous cryogenic upper stage for its most powerful rockets, but the leader of the country's space program is not ruling out asking for more Russian help. In the early stages of designing a new booster for communications satellites, India struck a deal with Russia to provide hydrogen-fueled rocket engines and technical know-how. (10/12)

Is Obama Killing NASA... Or Saving It? (Source: The Week)
President Obama signed into law Monday a sweeping realignment of NASA's priorities. His overhaul scraps the Bush-era Constellation program to return Americans to the moon, adds a program to send astronauts to asteroids, then Mars, and provides seed money for commercial space-flight ventures to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Will this reinvigorate America's space program? Click here to read the article. (10/12)

Giant Star Goes Supernova -- And is Smothered by its Own Dust (Source: OSU)
A giant star in a faraway galaxy recently ended its life with a dust-shrouded whimper instead of the more typical bang. Ohio State University researchers suspect that this odd event -- the first one of its kind ever viewed by astronomers – was more common early in the universe. It also hints at what we would see if the brightest star system in our galaxy became a supernova. (10/12)

India Will Launch Dedicated Military Sats (Source: Aviation Week)
India plans to loft a series of dedicated satellites for defense purposes in the coming years, boosting the country’s capability to scan multiple activities on and across its borders. “We are looking at launching one or two satellites every year to fulfill the requirements of all three military formations,” says V.K. Saraswat, chief of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization. (10/12)

500th Alien Planet Could Be Discovered This Month (Source: Space.com)
Less than 20 years after first finding a planet beyond our solar system, astronomers are poised to hit a big milestone — the discovery of alien world No. 500. As of Tuesday (Oct. 12), the confirmed tally stands at 494 extrasolar planets, with more than 70 discovered so far in 2010 alone. At that rate, No. 500 could be announced before October is out — just a month or so after another watershed moment, the discovery of the first potentially habitable alien planet. (10/12)

If Earth Were Powered From Space (Source: New York Times)
Black holes are regions of space so massively dense and in which the force of gravity is so strong that nothing, not the slightest energy particle nor wave, can escape. But if two black holes collide and merge, says Steve MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency, they can eject massive jets of gas at high speed.

Space is an untapped resource, Dr. Maclean told the 21st World Energy Congress, an international gathering of about 5,000 delegates who convened in Montreal last month to address the Earth’s energy needs. “The important thing to recognize is there is more energy out there on the head of a pin than you can imagine,” he said in an opening speech, “and it could power the Earth for years to come.” Click here to read the article. (10/12)

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