July 11, 2011

SpaceX Breask Ground on Falcon Heavy Launch Pad (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In April 2011, SpaceX announced its plans to design, build and launch the Falcon Heavy – the world’s largest launch vehicle since the Saturn V moon rocket. The Falcon Heavy should arrive at Vandenberg by the end of 2012 and launch soon thereafter. On Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s newest launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Falcon Heavy will have the ability to carry payloads weighing over 53 metric tons to orbit, offering more than twice the performance of other commercial providers at one-third of the cost. SpaceX save the Department of Defense at least one billion dollars annually in space launch services with such a rocket, while providing an independent family of vehicles to provide assured access to space. (7/11)

FAA Experiment to Fly on Masten Xaero CRuSR Flight (Source: Parabolic Arc)
An FAA-sponsored payload (an ADS-B transmitter, loaned to NASA by MITRE Corporation), will fly on NASA-funded CRuSR missions. This payload will be hosted on both the Masten Space Systems Xaero reusable launch vehicle (RLV). This vehicle will operate in Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing (VTVL) mode with minimal lateral translation during flight. A NASA payload that will monitor vibration and other environmental parameters during flight will also fly on this mission.

This is the first experimental payload NASA has selected to fly on a commercial RLV as part of their CRuSR Program. The Masten Space Systems Xaero vehicle will operate from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. It will fly twice to an altitude of up to 17,900 feet above MSL. The Masten Space Systems Xaero CRuSR mission will occur NET mid-July 2011.

Within a decade, aircraft and air traffic controllers will use GPS data to determine aircraft position, instead of the system of radars and transponders used now. The FAA’s NextGen air traffic control system will use ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast), allowing both controllers and pilots to get an accurate picture of air traffic. ADS-B has the potential to provide data on more than just aircraft. When a rocket is launched today, the airspace system requires considerable advance notice in order to close the airspace affected by the launch and issue notices to pilots. ADS-B could enable a much more seamless integration of air traffic and space launch activities. (7/11)

Once More, with Feelings (Source: Space Review)
On Friday the shuttle Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center, beginning the final mission of the Space Shuttle program. Jeff Foust reports on the weather and technical issues that nearly delayed the launch and the outpouring of emotions about the end of such a storied program. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1882/1 to view the article. (7/11)

Space Shuttle 2.0: What Did We Learn? (Source: Space Review)
As the Space Shuttle program winds down, what lessons from it can we carry forward to future programs? Dana Andrews argues that although it failed to achieve it, NASA was right to pursue a vehicle with high flight rates that can ultimately lower the cost of space access. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1881/1 to view the article. (7/11)

Wings in Space (Source: Space Review)
The Space Shuttle's design, including its delta wings, has become iconic, but it's not the only way a spaceplane can be built. James McLane describes his cameo role in the development of an alternative design 40 years ago. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1880/1 to view the article. (7/11)

The Space Shuttle and the Dreams of a Ten-Year-Old (Source: Space Review)
The origins of the Space Shuttle program date back four decades, and at the beginning were a source of inspiration for many young people wondering what was next after Apollo. Drew LePage recalls those memories after finding a vintage newspaper article about the shuttle. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1879/1 to view the article. (7/11)

Tinker, Tailor, NASA, Spy (Source: Space Review)
Yet another television show with an inaccurate portrayal of NASA and space operations? Dwayne Day reviews a recent episode of a USA Network drama that offers another example of how NASA and the CIA are portrayed in popular culture. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1878/1 to view the article. (7/11)

STS-135 Gets One-Day Extension (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Atlantis Commander Chris Ferguson has just been notified that the Mission Management Team has extended the STS-135 mission by one day. A focused inspection of the shuttle heat shield is not required. The shuttle will land for the final time at 5:56 a.m. on July 21 at Kennedy Space Center. (7/11)

Red Wine Counters Effects of Microgravity (Source: Discovery)
We hope the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on her final mission remembered to pack a few bottles of red wine -- a smooth merlot, or light and fruity pinot noir, maybe even a robust malbec with a bit of kick to it. That's because, according to researchers in France, drinking red wine can counteract some of the most common physiological effects of microgravity.

Astronauts train long and hard to endure the rigors of a microgravity space environment, but even the best trained and most fit among them will experience a few negative effects once they get back on terra firma. Here's just a few things they're likely to experience: Bone Deterioration; Muscle Loss; and Weakened Immune System. Click here to read how red wine can help. (7/11)

Sbirs Satellite Activated (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force’s first Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) satellite, designed for ballistic missile warning, has been activated. The satellite carries staring and scanning infrared sensors. The payload will now undergo calibration tests. Known as SBIRS GEO-1, the spacecraft is the first of a series of satellites designed to replace the Defense Support System spacecraft in orbit. In addition to providing missile warning, Sbirs’ unblinking infrared view will contribute to a growing body of intelligence. (7/11)

Space Robot to Practice Refueling Satellites (Source: Reuters)
With the end of the space shuttle program in sight, the U.S. government intends to stimulate development of private space transportation and also to lay the foundation for an entire new industry to service satellites in orbit. The Robotic Refueling Mission flying aboard the space shuttle Atlantis will use the International Space Station's Dextre robot to test tools for refueling and repairing existing satellites, none of which were designed with reuse in mind. (7/11)

Institute Selects XCOR to Fly Suborbital Observatory (Source: SpaceRef)
The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) and XCOR Aerospace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that lays the groundwork for flying the human-operated Atsa Suborbital Observatory aboard XCOR's Lynx spacecraft. The Atsa project will use crewed reusable suborbital spacecraft equipped with a specially designed telescope to provide low-cost space-based observations above the contaminating atmosphere of Earth, while avoiding some operational constraints of satellite telescope systems. (7/11)

Summertime on Titan (Source: New Scientist)
Skies like a bad day in LA. Red-and-black rainbows. Methane rain and hydrocarbon lakes. It might be summertime on Titan, but Saturn's largest moon still doesn't sound like an ideal picnic spot. Nonetheless, this cold, weird world is surprisingly similar to our own, making it one of the best models we have for exoplanets that might harbor life. Click here. (7/11)

NASA KSC Hosts FAA Jobhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs Showcase (Source: Brevard Workforce)
The Next Generation of Flight is Underway — and you can be a part of it! NASA KSC will host an FAA Jobs Showcase on July 20 from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. on the 5th floor of the OSB II Building. Learn about FAA Careers, including a manager’s panel highlighting FAA’s mission critical positions. To view FAA job vacancies, visit www.faa.gov/jobs/. Click here for information about the event. (7/11)

Six AIAA Scholarships Awarded to ERAU Aerospace Engineering Students (Source: ERAU)http://www.bhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflogger.com/img/blank.gif
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is proud to announce that of 30 scholarships awarded for the 2011-2012 academic year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), six went to Embry-Riddle students, the largest number distributed to students from any university. The AIAA scholarship awards underscore Embry-Riddle’s growing national reputation in engineering. For the past 11 years, U.S. News &World Report’s “Best Colleges” report has ranked the university’s aerospace engineering program number one. (7/11)

Astronauts4Hire Members Complete Emergency & Sea Survival Training (Source: A4H)
Astronauts4Hire members have successfully completed Dunker, Emergency Egress, and Sea Survival training at Survival Systems USA in Groton, Connecticut. These courses have prepared them with the knowledge and skills to safely cope with physical and psychological stresses encountered during emergency situations at sea. Flight Members Christopher Altman, Jason Reimuller, and Brian Shiro, along with Associate Member Jules Shiohira Ung, comprised the first Astronauts4Hire class to undergo these training certifications. (7/11)

House Passes $649 Billion Defense Spending Bill for 2012 (Source: Reuters)
The House easily approved a $649 billion defense spending bill that would raise the base budget for the Pentagon for the 2012 fiscal year by about $17 billion. The measure provides about $8 billion less than what was requested by President Barack Obama. The bill includes $5.9 billion to purchase Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. (7/11)

New Full-Time Head for ISRO's Commercial Arm (Source: Silicon India)
Senior space scientist V.S. Hegde was named the first full-time head of Antrix Corporation, the Indian space agency's commercial arm, to aggressively tap growing market for airwaves and other space products. Hegde's appointment as chairman and managing director for Antrix comes about five months after it was decided to have separate full-time head to run the commercial arm following scrapping of its controversial deal with a private firm for scarce S-band allocation. (7/11)

Facing Crisis, India on the Lookout for Satellites on Rent (Source: Times of India)
Faced with rising demand but short supply of transponders, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is mulling over taking foreign satellites on rent to tide over the crisis. On Saturday ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said efforts are being made to acquire more transponders to face any eventuality. (7/11)

Regret That We Did Not Venture Far Enough Into Space (Source: Herald Scotland)
After 30 years, the space shuttle program is to end and America currently has no plans for manned space flights. That may be a disappointment to those with a keen interest in rockets and outer space, but it may not bother the majority of the population. Despite its two catastrophic failures – the loss of Challenger on its launch in 1986 and of Columbia on re-entry in 2003 – the regularity of space shuttle missions has led many to feel rather jaded about astronauts. Now that several hundred people have been up there, space doesn’t seem like such a big deal. (7/11)

Some in Space Coast Determined to Smile (Source: Houston Chronicle)
To many who live here, the future after the space shuttle program seems brutally clear: Job losses, a tourism void and an economy in pain. The predictions of an impending demise have come from everywhere, from former NASA workers to news reports. "It's across the board," said Jim Tulley, the mayor of Titusville, Fla., home to the highest concentration of NASA employees and contractors in the region.

But there are some who remain stubbornly optimistic, even as business leaders, politicians, engineers and grocery store clerks detail the odds stacked against the communities surrounding Kennedy Space Center. They have reasons to hope that tourism and the job market will remain strong. For starters: The retired shuttle Atlantis will be on display in a new KSC exhibit and commercial space companies have begun aggressively pursuing their own programs, which will likely launch here.

Owners of newly constructed condo units in the area, a result of recent building booms before the recession, have struggled to rent the properties and now compete with hotels to rent to corporate and touring customers. With that market gone and more competition for business in the area, layoffs and foreclosures could be on the horizon, David Spain said. "A couple years are going to be ugly, but I think the long-term potential for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center is huge," he said, referring to planned launches from private companies. (7/11)

Floating Debris Poses Risk to Space Station (Source: USA Today)
A small piece of space debris may pass dangerously close to the International Space Station, mission managers reported Sunday, requiring an orbit boost to preserve a planned space walk on the final mission of the space shuttle Atlantis. The shuttle docked flawlessly to the station Sunday morning. Among the tasks ahead for the mission is a spacewalk Tuesday to remove a failed pump from the station, planned to occur during the passage of the orbital debris, preliminarily estimated to happen at 12:59 p.m. ET. (7/11)

China Aims High in Space (Source: CFNews13)
China is forging ahead with plans to put a man on the moon sometime after 2020. Some experts worry the U.S. could slip behind China in human spaceflight. Former associate NASA administrator Scott Pace says that "a decline in space leadership will be seen as symbolic of a relative decline in U.S. power and influence."

An ongoing U.S. space shuttle mission will be the last. NASA is ending the program after 30 years. China is still far behind the U.S. in space but has made steady progress in recent years. It sent a probe to the moon in 2006 and carried out its first spacewalk in 2008. This year it plans to launch a train-car size module into orbit as the first building block for a planned space station. (7/11)

Kentucky Space Leader Looks for Innovation as Shuttle Program Ends (Source: WFPL)
Without the shuttle program, organizations like Kentucky Space that send research projects into orbit will have to find other vessels to carry the cargo. That means foreign, unmanned and privately-operated craft. Kentucky Space president Kris Kimel says those are all viable options, and ones his organization has explored before. But, he hopes manned spaceflight resumes in the near future.

“Nothing replaces humans in space in terms of creativity, innovation, looking at situations and being able to analyze them and respond to them,” he says. “Certainly, despite machines, the human brain is still the most sophisticated, extraordinary thinking machine we have.” Kimel adds that the lack of the shuttle program will likely spur more innovation among the remaining and new organizations participating in space exploration. (7/11)

Colorado: A Stepping Stone to Space (Source: KUSA)
Our state has supplied pioneer astronauts and countless technological advances in the history of American space exploration. As Atlantis marks the end of the shuttle era, Colorado companies are working on the next generation of spaceflight technology. Colorado seems to grow astronauts. Scott Carpenter was the first. In 1962, he flew the second piloted orbit around the Earth. The Boulder-native was the first astronaut from the University of Colorado.

Today, inside the university's Heritage Center in the Old Main, the oldest building on the Boulder campus, a sign features hastily written additions to CU's roll of astronauts, a tally that now stands at 20. In addition, more than 75 Air Force Academy graduates have gone on to higher service in the astronaut corps. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans have worked to make spaceflight safer, enable life-saving research, and allow exploration in ways that once seemed impossible.

The men and women of Martin Marietta, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and other companies led the way, along with those working at military command posts and Air Force bases. (7/11)

Kennedy, Obama and the Moon (Source: CNN)
When President Kennedy promised the country a lunar landing, his famous declaration became a symbol of the American can-do ideal, stating that we do such endeavors, "Not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Obama channeled the Kennedy sentiment during his campaign, declaring in Wisconsin, "That’s what hope is. Imagining and then fighting for and then working for what did not seem possible before. That's leadership. John F. Kennedy didn't look up at the moon and say, 'That's too far. We can't go.'"

"I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the moon first, as previously planned," he said at Cape Canaveral. "But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before. Buzz (Aldrin) has been there." But minutes after the final shuttle launch Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the president's space policy is not restrained, but rather expansive.

"The fact is, the president has laid out an ambitious agenda, an ambitious vision for human space life that will take American astronauts beyond where we’ve been before, with the ultimate goal being a human mission to Mars,” Carney said. (7/11)

Launch of Globalstar Satellites Postponed (Source: Globalstar)
The launch of six Globalstar satellites, scheduled for earlier today, was postponed following the countdown's interruption prior to liftoff of the Soyuz launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch provider Arianespace announced that the Globalstar launch has been delayed. Globalstar and Arianespace will provide further information as it becomes available. (7/11)

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