December 11, 2010

Embry-Riddle Expanding Overseas Presence (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University plans to expand its worldwide presence by partnering with other universities in Singapore to offer courses starting next month. University president John P. Johnson and two of his executives were in Singapore last month meeting with aviation officials and college presidents. Embry-Riddle plans in January to offer bachelor's degrees in aviation maintenance science, aviation business administration and a master's in aviation. (12/11)

Masten Wins NASA SBIR (Source: Masten)
Masten Space Systems' “Terrestrial Plume Impingement Testbed” project is among those selected by NASA for small business technology development under the SBIR program. The project involves having a vertical lander land on or near samples of lunar regolith simulant or martian soil simulant. (12/11)

'Last' Set of Shuttle Engines Get Installed (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center quietly marked a significant shuttle program "last" this week when technicians preparing an orbiter for flight installed a set of main engines for the last time. The three engines went into Atlantis, which would fly the third and final shuttle mission next year if Congress approves the funding. (12/11)

Dream Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of: Parabolic Flight Crew (Source: WIRED)
In Douglas Adam’s book Life, The Universe, and Everything, he shares the secret of flying: it’s the art of learning how to “throw yourself at the ground and miss.” Tim Bailey teaches people how to do just that: throw themselves at the ground (in an airplane) and miss in order to fly.

Professionally speaking, Tim wears a lot of hats. Although his LinkedIn profile gives his job title as simply “Catalyst”, it then lists 10 separate jobs under “Current”. To name just a few, he works on SpaceVidcast, Space Task Force, Yuri’s Night (The World Space Party), and is the co-founder and Chief Operating Office of Sky Fire Lab—an independent organization promoting space travel in the media. See a theme yet? But if you scroll down to the bottom of his lengthy list of job titles, you will see that he is also a member of the Parabolic Flight Crew for the ZERO-G Corporation. What’s that you ask? parabolic what?

Tim’s job is the closest thing there is to being an astronaut without actually going into space. He spends his days assisting and training people in aircraft flights that simulate a microgravity environment—effectively he’s a flight attendant teaching people how to fly—and he is one of only nine people on the planet qualified to do this. Click here to read the article. (12/11)

SpaceX Success Could Put Air Force in Awkward Position (Source: WIRED)
The “commercialization” of space puts the U.S. military — one of the biggest space customers and a close partner with NASA — in an awkward position, according to Eric Sterner, a space expert with the Marshall Institute. “Changes in the nature of the launch industry will present policymakers with new dilemmas when it comes to ensuring military access to space.”

The problem stretches back to the mid-1990s, when the Air Force began pouring billions into a new rocket for launching military satellites. The plan was to license the same rocket to commercial launch firms. But that private market never really materialized, and the Pentagon ended up assuming the full, $100-million-per-launch cost for the resulting Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, today the military’s standard rocket.

“Some would prefer NASA to meet its [Low-Earth Orbit] human spaceflight needs with modifications to the EELV, which theoretically would increase production runs and lower the [Air Force] marginal cost,” Sterner said. But after SpaceX’s success this week, NASA might decide to base its future vehicles on Falcon, leaving the cash-strapped Air Force to maintain the EELV all by itself. (12/11)

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