August 24, 2011

Rohrabacher Calls for “Emergency” Funding for CCDev (Source: Space Politics)
One member of Congress has seized the U.S. dependence on Russian launch services as evidence that the U.S. should be doing more to develop alternate crew transportation systems. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) says NASA should propose an “emergency transfer of funding” from other programs, including the Space Launch System, to accelerate the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. "This [Soyuz] failure should be a cause of grave concern, and a moment of reexamination of America’s space strategy,” said Rohrabacher.

"NASA needs to conduct an investigation before another Soyuz spacecraft with new ISS crew members can be launched, and it is unknown how long such an investigation will take...this episode underscores America’s need for reliable launch systems of its own to carry cargo and crew into space. The only way to achieve this goal is to place more emphasis on commercial cargo and crew systems currently being developed by American companies."

“I am calling on General Bolden, the NASA Administrator, to propose an emergency transfer of funding from unobligated balances in other programs, including the Space Launch System, to NASA’s commercial crew initiative. Funding should be used to speed up the efforts of the four current industry partners to develop their systems and potentially expand the recent awards to include the best applicants for launch vehicle development." (8/24)

Stennis Space Center Gears For Takeoff (Source: WDSU)
A major move at the Stennis Space Center is paving the way for jobs and expansion on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Officials said NASA and Stennis are taking over the 1.6 million square feet former Mississippi Army ammunition plant, which will become available for new government and commercial ventures that support the NASA mission. "Appropriate investment in the rocket testing infrastructure here at Stennis becomes more important than ever," Sen. Thad Cochran said. (8/24)

India Plans to Launch 3 Nano Satellites (Source: Outlook India)
ISRO plans to launch three nano satellites, including one from Luxembourg, and an advanced weather and climate research satellite, on board PSLV from Sriharikota spaceport next month. The other two nano "piggy-back" satellites, which would be co-passengers of Megha-Tropiques, are one from SRM University and the other named "Jugnu" is a research spacecraft from IIT Kanpur. (8/24)

Honeywell Gets $450 Million NASA Contract (Source: Daily Record)
NASA has selected Honeywell to provide ground systems and mission operations support. The total maximum ordering value of the 5-year contract is $450 million. The work will be performed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. (8/24)

Russia's Space Industry May Face Overhaul After Launch Failure (Source: Xinhua)
Wednesday's Soyuz crash marked the second Russian failure in space launch in less than a week and the third in this year, prompting local media to suspect a major reshuffle in Russia's space industry. Local media raised the prospect of a major reshuffle in Russia' s space industry as the country has lost a total of six space payloads over the past nine months. (8/24)

East Coast Earthquake Shakes Up NASA (Source:
While NASA often sets its sights on the heavens, the space agency is still affected by events here on terra firma — like yesterday's East Coast earthquake. The 5.8-magnitude temblor — the biggest quake in the region in more than 100 years — struck near the small Virginia town of Mineral on Aug. 23. It then radiated outward, shaking the ground in dozens of states. Several nearby NASA research and administration centers felt the jolt. NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., for example, was evacuated briefly yesterday, agency officials said.

Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., did not evacuate. However, Goddard did declare a "Code Red" at about 3 p.m. EDT yesterday. While that sounds scary, a Code Red simply closes the center to nonessential personnel. "I can tell you, we don't exercise often to prepare for an earthquake," said Ray Rubilotta, deputy director at Goddard. "Even if there's not another big quake for 100 years, we'll definitely have an earthquake checklist now," Rubilotta said. (8/24)

Probing the Cosmic-Ray–Climate Link (Source: Physics World)
Best known for its studies of the fundamental constituents of matter, the CERN particle-physics laboratory in Geneva is now also being used to study the climate. Researchers in the CLOUD collaboration have released the first results from their experiment designed to mimic conditions in the Earth's atmosphere. By firing beams of particles from the lab's Proton Synchrotron accelerator into a gas-filled chamber, they have discovered that cosmic rays could have a role to play in climate by enhancing the production of potentially cloud-seeding aerosols.

The team also found that our current understanding of the chemistry of these aerosols is inadequate and that manmade pollution could have a larger role in their formation than previously thought. Around half of all cloud droplets are thought to form on aerosols that are injected directly into the atmosphere, such as dust particles, sea spray or pollution from the burning of biomass. The other 50% form on aerosols that are produced by the clustering of molecules of trace gases found in the atmosphere.

There has been much debate about the possible role of cosmic rays in the formation of these aerosols. Researchers hypothesize that the ions that are formed as (charged) cosmic rays pass through the atmosphere act as a kind of glue that makes it easier for molecules to stick together and form aerosols. This hypothesis has proved controversial because it suggests a role for solar variation, as well as human emissions of greenhouse gases, in climate change – the idea being that the stronger the Sun's magnetic field, the more cosmic rays are deflected away from the Earth, resulting in the formation of fewer clouds and so a warmer Earth, with a weaker solar magnetism having the opposite effect. (8/24)

Congress Considers Cutting Hubble's Successor (Source: KPCC)
As the federal government looks to tighten its belt this fall, it could mean the end of several major science initiatives. Among the items on the chopping block: the James Webb Space Telescope -- NASA's successor to the soon-to-retire Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble was an astronomical gold mine, but the astronomical price of its successor makes it an attractive target for the budget-conscious House Appropriations Committee. (8/24)

NASA And ATK Full-Scale Solid Rocket Motor Test Set For Sep. 8 (Source:
NASA and Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) will conduct a full-scale test of a five-segment, solid rocket motor at the ATK Aerospace Systems test facility in Promontory, Utah, at 4:05 p.m. EDT, Sep. 8. The static firing of the five-segment solid rocket motor, designated Development Motor-3 (DM-3), will last approximately two minutes. DM-3 is the third in a series of development motors and the most heavily instrumented solid rocket motor in NASA history, with a total of 37 test objectives measured through more than 970 instruments. (8/24)

Workshop Boosts Concept of Clusters to Generate Space Coast Jobs (Source: Florida Today)
Brevard County's days launching space shuttles are over, but the Space Coast could become a player in emerging industries that fly tiny satellites or unmanned aerial vehicles. Those were among ideas discussed Tuesday during a local workshop to brainstorm business opportunities that participants hope could generate growth and jobs in the region.

It was the latest in a series of meetings led by consultants hired to help the area regroup after the retirement of NASA's space shuttle program and roughly 8,000 associated layoffs of Kennedy Space Center contractors. The narrative centers on five industry sectors already identified as offering the best potential for job growth across Central Florida: clean energy, defense, life sciences, information technology and aerospace.

"You have amazing assets on the Space Coast, given all the competencies that were developed under NASA," said Fowler. "So, how you can repurpose those and migrate talent and think about ways to connect the dots is what we're here for." Aerospace opportunities included the manufacturing and launch of small satellites, the testing of unmanned vehicles and Space Florida's planned management of the International Space Station's National Lab, which could draw life science and biotech researchers. (8/24)

NASA NEO Scientist Plans Aug. 31 Lecture at UCF (Source: UCF)
President Obama stated on April 15, 2010, that the next goal for human spaceflight will be to send human beings to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025. Missions to NEOs would undoubtedly provide a great deal of technical and engineering data on spacecraft operations for future human space exploration while conducting in-depth scientific investigations of these primitive objects. In addition, the resulting scientific investigations would refine designs for future extraterrestrial resource extraction and utilization, and assist in the development of hazard mitigation techniques for planetary defense.

On Aug. 31, Dr. Paul Abell of NASA JSC will be the featured lecturer at UCF's Partnership II Bldg. in Orlando. His presentation will discuss some of the physical characteristics of NEOs and review some of the current plans for Near Earth Object (NEO) research and exploration from both a human and robotic mission perspective. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will begin at 4:00 p.m. Click here. (8/24)

Aviation High School in Seattle Will Open in 2013 (Source: Seattle Times)
Raisbeck Aviation High School, which is due to open in 2013, will sit on what is now a vacant lot near the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The school will help educate the scientists, pilots, engineers and technicians of tomorrow. "We want to inspire the generation that's going to write the story of the second century of flight," said Douglas King, CEO and president of the Museum of Flight. (8/24)

Russian Rocket Failure Dooms Space Station Cargo Mission (Source:
An "emergency situation" occurred during today's launch of a robotic Russian resupply ship headed for the International Space Station, preventing the Soyuz rocket from placing the freighter into orbit. Liftoff of the Soyuz booster carrying the Progress vessel from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:00 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), beginning Russia's 44th such cargo delivery mission to the space station.

The Russian space agency says a problem with the upper stage propulsion system caused a premature shutdown and the vehicle's catastrophic failure. It should have been a nine-minute ascent provided by the three-stage rocket, but communications were lost about six minutes into flight. All 43 previous Progress flights for the International Space Station had occurred successfully.

The station program does guard against possible problems with receiving new cargo deliveries by keeping extra supplies positioned aboard the complex. That policy ensures one missed resupply does not endanger the mission. Today's launch was known in the station's assembly matrix as Progress mission 44P. The spacecraft's formal Russian designation is Progress M-12M.

Progress Was Carrying Vital Space Station Supplies (Source:
The 24-foot-long craft was bringing nearly three tons of supplies to the station. The "dry" cargo tucked aboard the Progress amounts to 2,777 pounds in the form of food, spare parts, life support gear and experiment hardware. The refueling module carried 2,050 pounds of propellant for transfer into the Russian segment of the complex to feed the station's maneuvering thrusters. The vessel also had 926 pounds of water and 110 pounds of oxygen and air. It was scheduled to remain attached to the station through next March. (8/24)

China 'Set to Launch Rival to International Space Station' (Source: Telegraph)
The unmanned Tiangong-1 – or 'Heavenly Palace' – test module is in the final stages of preparation at China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The 8.5-ton module, whose launch has been long-awaited as a badge of China's ascendant national and technological ambitions, will form the test-bed for a larger 60-ton space station which is China wants to have in orbit by the early 2020s. Launch of Tiangong-1 spacelab could take place "in the first 10 days of September", earlier than previously anticipated and ahead of China's National Day celebrations on October 1. (8/24)

Antimatter Belt (Source: Frontline)
One of the biggest mysteries of science is the lack of antimatter in the universe. Since protons and neutrons are made of quarks, which are charged particles, while a neutron is made of quarks, an antineutron is made of antiquarks. When a particle and an antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other and give out enormous energy according to Einstein's E = mc2 equation.

If the laws of physics as we know them today are correct, at the Big Bang, matter and antimatter should have been created in equal amounts. However, the world as we see it seems to be made only of matter; antimatter, for some reason not yet understood, seems to have disappeared. One of the objectives of present-day cosmic ray experiments is to search for this primary (primordial) antimatter to understand the observed matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe.

The magnetic field around the earth has “mirror points”, where the field lines come together and the spirals get tightened. This causes the charged particles to execute a spiraling motion back and forth, bouncing between the earth's North and South Poles and forming a torus-shaped radiation belt around the earth. Click here. (8/24)

Coolest Brown Dwarf Discovered (Source: New Scientist)
The coolest stars in the galaxy have finally come out of hiding. Astronomers using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have found six chilly almost-stars called Y dwarfs, which had been hunted unsuccessfully for more than a decade. Y dwarfs are the coldest class of brown dwarfs, star-like bodies that are too low-mass to fuse hydrogen in their cores. These "failed stars" don't burn the way stars like our sun do, meaning they do not emit visible wavelengths that most telescopes can spot. (8/24)

New Report Analyzes Emerging Space Nations (Source: NewsWise)
While the advent of emerging space nations certainly creates opportunities, it also raises new concerns. Balancing these new sets of opportunities and risks requires an understanding of the rationale and development paths of all space actors, in particular, emerging space nations. A new examination of six emerging space nations (South Africa, Brazil, and India compared against Nigeria, Venezuela, and Malaysia) reveals opportunities and challenges to space sustainability. Click here. (8/24)

Blue Origin Issues Notice for Aug. 24 Test Flight (Source: Hobby Space)
Blue Origin, the secretive launch company founded by founder Jeff Bezos, has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) through the FAA for "rocket launch activity" at the company's private spaceport in inland Texas. Here's a link to the NOTAM. (8/23)

Moon Express Gets NASA Thumbs-Up for Developing Landing Technology (Source: ME)
Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that it has successfully demonstrated a critical component of its lunar landing technology to NASA under its Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD) Program contract. The Moon Express Mini-Radar System promises to radically reduce the cost and mass of the company's commercial lunar landing system. NASA has reviewed and accepted the Moon Express Mini-Radar data package, satisfying the requirements of the $500K First Task Order under the company's $10M commercial lunar data contract. (8/24)

NASA Satellites Detect Pothole on Road to Higher Seas (Source: Space Daily)
The U.S./French Jason-1, Jason-2 and Topex/Poseidon spacecraft have been monitoring the gradual rise of the world's ocean in response to global warming. While the rise has been remarkably steady, every once in a while, sea level rise hits a speed bump. This past year, it's been more like a pothole: between last summer and this one, global sea level actually fell by about a quarter of an inch. So what's up with the down seas, and what does it mean?

Climate scientist Josh Willis of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., says you can blame it on the cycle of El Nino and La Nina in the Pacific. Willis said that while 2010 began with a sizable El Nino, by year's end, it was replaced by one of the strongest La Ninas in recent memory. This sudden shift in the Pacific changed rainfall patterns all across the globe, bringing massive floods to places like Australia and the Amazon basin, and drought to the southern U.S.

So where does all that extra water in Brazil and Australia come from? You guessed it--the ocean. Each year, huge amounts of water are evaporated from the ocean. While most of it falls right back into the ocean as rain, some of it falls over land. "This year, the continents got an extra dose of rain, so much so that global sea levels actually fell over most of the last year," says Carmen Boening, a JPL oceanographer and climate scientist. (8/24)

No comments: