November 14, 2010

Non Profit Offers The Public Chance To Win Suborbital Spaceflight (Source: Space Daily)
In support of its mission to broaden public awareness of the benefits of space exploration, the Aerospace Research and Engineering Systems Institute is giving the public the opportunity to take the ride of a lifetime to the edge of space! We have established an innovative contest giving any U.S. citizen age 18 or older the chance to purchase tickets at $10 a piece to be placed into a raffle.

Commercial passenger spaceflight is expensive, with fares costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. At such a high price, most people simply can't afford to experience spaceflight. This contest is designed to give the opportunity for a member of the public to fly aboard a commercial spacecraft who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity by raising funds to cover the cost of the flight and then awarding the seat to one of the participants in the contest. Click here for information. (11/14)

The Coming Train Wreck for Commercial Human Spaceflight (Source: Wayne Hale Blog)
Commercial Human Spaceflight is poised to enter a bad relationship and I wonder why everyone is so blind they cannot see what is about to happen. And I’m not talking about the Debt Commission or the new Republican House majority. This has to do with NASA and the way the agency works, really works, away from NASA HQ, out in the field centers, with the rank and file engineer.

For almost fifty years, NASA has been contracting with large aerospace firms to build human spacecraft and their launch vehicles. For that entire time, NASA has been firmly in charge. From time to time there have been accidents or anomalies. As with all good government bureaucracies, NASA believes that improved processes will prevent future problems. So NASA writes longer and longer specifications and requirements, and demands more and more documentation and proof. Somewhere along the line, we have crossed over the optimum point to ensure safety and just added cost and delay.

NASA must change or its commercial transportation initiative will fail. I am reminded that the military’s requirements for its first airplane ran 2 and ½ pages; and the requirements for NASA’s Gemini capsule ran about two dozen pages. Simple, straightforward requirements and the flexibility to use good industry based standards could allow commercial spaceflight to be as successful as those programs or the NASA Launch Services program. But we are not on that path. Click here to read the article. (11/14)

Ex-NASA Officials: Agency Plans Off-Track (Source: Amarillo Globe-News)
The country's political leaders have lost the direction of the space program. Jim Lovell made that comment before he and Gene Kranz were slated to deliver the keynote address for West Texas A&M University's centennial convocation Friday night. Also before the convocation. To both men, however, support for human space travel among both top politicians and the country appears to have dwindled over the decades.

Kranz said it seems the current generation of young adults is not as receptive as others to space travel. "I'm scared to see the day when a fifth-grader comes into class and doesn't know what an astronaut is," he said. Lovell said former President George W. Bush had an initiative to revive support of manned space missions. He said President Barack Obama's administration has proposed funding cuts for manned travels and instead wants to place more focus on developing technology and further commercializing space.

Lovell supports commercialization, but worries the government will waste money by investing in unproven initiatives. "I think they've lost the direction," the astronaut said. Kranz said one of NASA's main objectives upon its creation was exploration. He said it appears the country's leaders are "shelving" the technology and manpower available for travel. (11/14)

More Layoffs Possible for NASA Contractors (Source: WAFF)
Another round of budget cuts and job layoffs could be on the way for NASA contractors. Right now, it's wait and see. The outgoing congress authorized NASA's new program but didn't fund it, and funding isn't expected to come until after the new congress takes office in January. Former NASA advisory council member and Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel says he doesn't see this proposal getting much support.

"I do not think the president would follow this recommendation when it goes to NASA because he already has his NASA commission. His space policy people like that Augustine report, but again, this battle has already been fought in Congress," said McDaniel. (11/14)

Second Cracked Stringer Found in Discovery's Tank (Source:
Engineers removed additional foam insulation near a cracked structural support strip, or stringer, in the shuttle Discovery's external tank and found yet another crack in an adjacent stringer. Engineers will use "structural math models" to characterize the forces acting on the stringers during launch to make sure repairs will be sufficient to provide the required margin of safety. (11/14)

Stressors Faced by Astronauts When They Travel in Space (Source: Factoidz)
Most people think of flying in space as an experience that would be fun and exciting. And they would be correct. It also involves much more than what meets the eye. Astronauts train for many years to learn the basics of what their jobs require. Once assigned to a mission they come together as a crew and train together for about one year. As the flight approaches all that they have trained for comes together and they are ready to go.

Prelaunch the crew begins sleep shifting, adjusting to the jet lag of the time change, for up to a week before their planned launch. Due to orbital dynamics, each work day is reset to twenty two minutes earlier each calendar day. This effect is due to the relative change in the spacecraft’s workday compared to the orbit of the earth. The crew is quarantined before launch to help prevent them from contracting a contagious disease which could make them sick during their mission. Crew quarantine begins one week before launch, usually at the quarantine facility at Johnson Space Center. (11/13)

Russia Launches U.S. Comsat (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Russian Proton-M carrier rocket with the SkyTerra 1 U.S. telecommunications satellite blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Sunday. The contract to put the satellite into space was signed between Russian-U.S. company International Launch Services (ILS) and Canadian MSV-Mobile Satellite Ventures. (11/14)

Multi-Billion Dollar Broadband Dream Rockets Into Reality (Source:
Designed to beam broadband messages to smart phones from more than 22,000 miles in space, a massive spacecraft blasted off Sunday from the plains of Kazakhstan on a Proton rocket in the first phase of deploying a unique wireless communications network stretching across North America.

The 11,900-pound satellite, named SkyTerra 1, will join traditional terrestrial cell networks to shape a fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless system designed to reach nearly every American by the end of 2016. The ambitious plan is a project of LightSquared, a Virginia-based firm with $2.9 billion in fresh financing from Harbinger Capital Partners of New York. LightSquared, which recently changed its name from SkyTerra, also claims another $1.75 billion in equity financing from other sources. (11/14)

Space, Inc. Moving Closer to Launch (Source: Florid Today)
Florida Today traveled coast to coast, toured secretive facilities, saw first-hand highly proprietary work under way and interviewed dozens of key players trying to stimulate this new industry at altitudes hundreds of miles above Earth. Our four-month analysis found that U.S. private industry is more than capable of developing spacecraft to fly U.S. astronauts to and from low Earth orbit.

What's more, U.S. aerospace companies already are developing, testing and launching prototypes. Their plans are not just PowerPoint presentations and engineering drawings. Commercial companies are cutting metal, assembling engines, testing steering thrusters, and in some cases, spacecraft already are orbiting the Earth. Click here to read the article. (11/14)

'Envoys of Mankind' Deserve Benefits of Astronaut Rescue Treaty (Source:
“Envoys of mankind” were the essential words used to describe humans in space by international law adopted more than 40 years ago. Humans from around the world are now going to space in larger number as the “envoys of mankind,” a legal moniker adopted in the Outer Space Treaty and the Rescue of Astronauts regime by members of the United Nations.

The importance of this international law is growing every day as commercial space launch capability expands to place more and more non-government envoys of mankind into space in this decade. It is probable, if not likely, that there will be a commercial Apollo-13-like mishap on orbit with a micrometeorite piercing the hull, an electrical shutdown, onboard fire, or some other event that causes the call for help to go forth to others in space.

Several members of Congress appear not to be willing to obligate, or to receive, assistance from Chinese-made space vehicles or their human crews despite the international law. Rep. Frank Wolf questions cooperation with the Chinese in space, citing human rights violations or military technology transfer concerns. Click here to read the article. (11/14)

Space & Missile Museum Free and Open to the Public at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: USAF)
The new 3,200 foot Air Force Space and Missile History Center, located at 100 Space Port Way outside the Cape's Gate 1 entrance, is free to the public and includes a variety of exhibits from the 1950s through today. "As we move forward into the future of space operations, this center provides everyone with a detailed history of where the Air Force's space launch program started and how much it has progressed in relatively very little time," said Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, 45th Space Wing commander. "This center is a testament to all those who have come before us, to the hard work and the dedication they expressed, and the sacrifices those individuals made." (11/14)

Is There Life Out There? (Source: Guardian)
Gliese 581 is a modest star lying in an unfashionable part of the constellation Libra. It is dim, small and even though relatively close to Earth, cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is, to put it simply, insignificant – the Crouch End of interstellar real estate. But astronomers have recently found that it possesses an intriguing secret. In 2009, observations showed that the star has a family of five planets, including at least one body roughly the same size as Earth in orbital region known as the "Goldilocks zone".

Even if Gliese 581g turns out not to exist, scientists using transit observations have pinpointed what looks to be another exoplanet of special interest. Last December, a team at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of a planet round Gliese 1214, a small, dim red star in the constellation Ophiuchus. (These stars are named after the German astronomer Wilhelm Gliese.) This world – known as Gliese 1214b – appears to be composed largely of water and has a mass and diameter two or three times that of Earth. (11/14)

Florida Could See Launch Traffic Take Off (Source: Florida Today)
The Obama Administration’s controversial plan for the U.S. human space flight program is highly unpopular around Kennedy Space Center. But if successful, it could create a profitable new industry that proves to be a powerful economic engine for Florida and its Space Coast. Launch traffic at KSC, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and other national and regional spaceports could double in the next decade, according to the private companies involved.

Bigelow Aerospace projects a need for 20 to 25 launches a year by 2017 to send crews and cargo to its commercial orbital outposts. That equals or exceeds the total number of launches — 15 to 20 — that blast off from Florida’s Space Coast in any given year. "Can Florida handle it?” Bigelow has asked. Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander of the 45th Space Wing, said Florida can. “We’ve clearly got the capability to take on more launches,” said Wilson.

“I think it’s outstanding for Florida and the Space Coast... The Kennedy Space Center has not had a developmental program of a human-rated system [in its history],” said Ed Mango, director of the space transportation planning office at KSC. “This is the first time.” Take a look at the towns surrounding Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The streets are lined by engineering and technology companies that opened offices to support development programs. (11/14)

Editorial: Commercial Firms Can Help Power Spaceflight with Political Support (Source: Florida Today)
If NASA and its proposed commercial launch partners have much to prove, so do elected officials in Washington and Tallahassee. Their political support is imperative for success, yet it remains to be seen whether they will deliver it. NASA’s new plan has Democratic and Republican support in Washington, and members of both parties should protect its funding as a necessary investment in the nation’s scientific and technological future. It would be grossly irresponsible and harm the national interest to do anything less.

Lawmakers in the Florida Legislature are facing their own critical decisions. They sent an important signal last year that Florida was serious about private space business when they allocated $31 million for space investment and related economic development. However, lawmakers are again confronting a serious budget deficit that will require more spending cuts. But space should be spared because it’s vital to easing high unemployment and creating jobs.

Legislators should maintain stable funding for Space Florida, the state’s space-recruiting arm, replenish space investment funds and approve tax credits for companies investing in space infrastructure, retaining aerospace workers and conducting research and development. GOP Gov.-elect Rick Scott, whose views on space remain unknown, also should step forward with committed leadership. (11/14)

Aerial Drone to Hunt Life on Mars (Source: Discovery)
The Wright Brothers flew their first successful powered flight from Kitty Hawk, N.C., over 100 years ago. Ever since that first lift off, aviation has provided explorers with a new tool for discovery and a better way to see the land below. Now, one scientist hopes to bring flight to Mars and explore what rovers and orbiters have left behind. Atmospheric scientist Joel Levine believes bringing an unmanned aircraft to Mars would tap into an unknown area where orbiters would be too far to reach and rovers too short to detect. (11/14)

India to Launch Three Satellites for Studying Climate Change (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch three satellites — Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and RISAT-1 — next year to study climate change. ISRO and the French National Space Agency (CNES) will be launching Megha-Tropiques by mid-2011 to study tropical climate. While two sensors were developed by CNES, ISRO jointly worked on a sensor. Another ISRO-CNES mission to be launched next year is SARAL (Satellite for Argos and Altika) for seasonal forecasting, oceanography and climate studies. (11/14)

Space Exploration Yields Unexpected Benefits (Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Twenty years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft turned its cameras back toward Earth and took a photograph that Carl Sagan famously called "The Pale Blue Dot." In the vast emptiness of space, our world had never looked so lonely: the only habitable spot in the only planetary system we knew. How things have changed. Within a decade or so, that photo will be part of a family album.

For centuries, we humans have been driven to explore outer space. The pace of discovery today is quickening the pulse of stargazers around the globe, thanks to state-of-the-art technology and the work of many astronomers, including teams at UCSC and UC Berkeley. Campus researchers developed a technology called "extreme adaptive optics." Using a laser, they can measure and correct for distortion in ways that allow them to produce photographs of unprecedented sharpness. When coupled to the next generation of large telescopes, extreme adaptive optics will allow direct imaging of planets the size of Neptune or Jupiter, and a few Earth-like planets orbiting the very nearest stars. (11/14)

Which NASA? There's the Exploration NASA and the Carnival NASA (Source: What's New)
The James Webb Space Telescope is in trouble. Barbara Mikulski requested a review of the NASA budget. The bottom line is that the James Webb space telescope is a year behind schedule and $200 million short. Christopher Scolese, associate administrator of NASA, agreed with the report's findings, but could not see where they could find the money. I should tell him the secret, NASA is bifurcated.

The NASA that’s the envy of the world, we might call "Exploration NASA," it’s a science agency that discovers exoplanets and puts rovers on Mars. Then there’s "Carnival NASA." It arranges trips to space for people with too much disposable income, and looks for water on the Moon to make rocket fuel. (11/14)

USAF Official: Japanese Engine Not to Blame for AEHF Issue (Source: Aviation Week)
U.S. Air Force officials have ruled out the Japanese-made liquid apogee engine (LAE) as the culprit for the failure of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite to reach orbit as expected, says Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force. “We know some of the things that it is not. The LAE is one of the things that is not” the cause of the failure, Conaton says. She says the company has been cooperating with an investigation into the mishap.

The Lockheed Martin satellite, estimated to be worth about $2 billion, is the first of a new series designed to provide assured connectivity between the national command authority and nuclear forces. The constellation will replace the Milstar series now in orbit. The Air Force is in the midst of executing a four-phase strategy using two other onboard thruster systems to reach the planned orbit about 22,000 mi. above Earth. AEHF will likely reach operational status about 7-8 months later than planned. (11/12)

Orbital Targets 2012 for Taurus-2 Cargo Flights (Source:
Orbital executives said work on the NASA cargo launch program is slipping behind schedule, pushing the Taurus and Cygnus system's first operational mission until the beginning of 2012. That flight is supposed to haul more than 3,400 pounds of supplies to the space station. A significant chunk of the delay stems from the Taurus-2's specially-built launch infrastructure at Wallops. Orbital is building a new launch pad, water tower and horizontal integration building on the Virginia coast. (11/12)

Russia to Launch Half of Rockets From Far East Spaceport by 2020 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia intends to carry out up to 45 percent of its carrier rocket launches from the Vostochny Space Center, under construction in the Far East, by 2020. The spaceport, intended as a "new stage in the development of Russian cosmonautics," will host almost 1,500 facilities, including two launch systems, a training center, and oxygen and hydrogen generation plants.

"A new, modern town, comfortable in every respect and intended for specialists in the space sphere and their families will be created here," Kiktor Remishevsky said. The new space center, which will employ 20,000-25,000 people, will ensure Russia's independence in the launch of piloted space vehicles, currently carried out at Baikonur. Russia currently uses two launch sites: Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia. (11/13)

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