August 7, 2011

Embry-Riddle Advancing Science Behind Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
An 8-pound, model-sized plane from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University could soon fly through the eye of a hurricane, helping scientists better forecast the strength of a storm. The drone will drop from a hurricane hunter aircraft in a storm either this fall or next summer as part of a project with NOAA to improve forecast models and estimates on a hurricane's intensity.

The unmanned aircraft is one example of a growing technology that has led Embry-Riddle to start a new bachelor's degree program in unmanned aircraft systems science for the fall semester starting Aug. 29 -- one of a few such programs in the country, university officials said.

The new bachelor's program will train students to pilot unmanned aircraft or operate the control package such as the cameras on board or sensor tracking systems. Embry-Riddle has been at the forefront of unmanned research and technology and is currently working on several projects, including one with the Federal Aviation Administration on how such planes will operate in the air with other manned aircraft and air traffic control. (8/7)

KSC Visitor Complex Explores Options to Boost Attendance (Source; Florida Today)
Atlantis will be the main new attraction, but there will be a strong supporting cast of new exhibits and features at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in the coming years. Improvements there will include moving the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame to the main visitor complex campus, a possible bus tour stop at the Vehicle Assembly Building, more interactivity as people wait in line for bus tours, and revamping the complex so there is an imaginary "vapor trail" leading visitors from one exhibit to the next.

Details on a spectrum of the visitor complex upgrades are beginning to emerge, while work continues to prepare retired shuttle Atlantis for display in a new 66,000-square-foot building that will be constructed there. The visitor complex is Brevard County's most popular paid tourist attraction, drawing about 1.5 million visitors a year.

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts is working with NASA on the logistics of having the iconic 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building become part of a specialized tour of the space center. The VAB originally was built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and later was modified to support the shuttle program. It has been off-limits to the general public for several years. The goal is to boost attendance by 15 percent. (8/7)

New Leader Takes Over Navy Group at Cape (Source: Florida Today)
In a ceremony steeped in naval tradition, Capt. John Heatherington assumed command of the Naval Ordnance Test Unit, where hundreds of military and civilian workers conduct vital testing of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Heatherington, who comes to NOTU from an assignment on the joint staff at the Pentagon, replaces retiring Capt. Jim Kuzma, who leaves the post after serving here since July 2008.

Editor's Note: NOTU has historically been responsible for a major proportion of the launches supported annually by the Eastern Range. NOTU supports offshore submarine-based missile lauunches. NOTU manages Launch Complex 46 as a contingency land-based launch pad for Trident missiles and has allowed Space Florida to use the facility's excess capacity for commercial space launches (including Athena rockets) and Air Force Minotaur launches (potentially beginning in 2014). (8/5)

Ever Wonder About JPL's Disaster Preparedness Plan? (Source: Flintridge Patch)
William Michael, JPL emergency preparedness administrator, spoke to the La Cañada Flintridge Public Safety Commission recently about how the facility would ward off a toxic nightmare in the event of a natural disaster. Located between La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena, Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a vast complex that conducts a range of high-tech manufacturing for NASA's space program, so the facility houses a significant stock of toxic chemicals that could pose a risk to San Gabriel Valley residents in the event of an earthquake, fire or terrorist incident. (8/7)

Editorial: Florida Members of Congress Must Prevent Cuts (Source: Florida Today)
Step by excruciatingly slow step, the contours of the next-generation of manned spaceflight are coming into view. And that’s cause for hope with the shuttles now parked in the barn and thousands of dedicated workers losing their jobs.

Deep cuts under way in Congress for deficit and debt reduction will likely get worse, which could gut money for private launch companies and other NASA programs and further set back America’s ability to recover from the shuttle program’s end. The reductions in question and others that may arise cannot be allowed to happen with so much at stake for America’s global leadership in space exploration and our community’s role in it. (8/7)

Weatherman: Delegation Must Defend Region (Source: Florida Today)
It appears the House Appropriations Committee has chosen to kick Florida while it’s down. While the Space Coast is still reeling from the effects of the shuttle retirement, the House Appropriations Committee has singled out Florida and seeks to cut or redirect funds originally allocated to Kennedy Space Center. Our congressional delegation needs to be screaming at the top of its lungs to defend their region that’s already economically overwhelmed.

With almost sniper-like stealth, congressional members on the committee are proposing to slash or reallocate funds intended for development of KSC’s "21st-century launch complex" upgrades, heavy-lift ground operations and space shuttle refurbishment. These projects represent the most immediate source of jobs at KSC. (8/5)

Power Companies Prepare as Solar Storms Set to Hit Earth (Source: Reuters)
Three large explosions from the Sun over the past few days have prompted U.S. government scientists to caution users of satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment to prepare for possible disruptions over the next few days. Major disruptions from solar activity are rare but have had serious impacts in the past.

In 1989, a solar storm took down the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving about six million people without power for several hours. The largest solar storm ever recorded was in 1859 when communications infrastructure was limited to telegraphs. The 1859 solar storm hit telegraph offices around the world and caused a giant aurora visible as far south as the Caribbean Islands. (8/6)

GeoEye Reports Second Quarter 2011 Earnings (Source: GeoEye)
GeoEye revenues were $87.2 million for the second quarter of 2011, a 7.7 percent increase from the second quarter of 2010. The net income was $11.1 million, compared to $12.1 million for the second quarter of 2010. Operating profit was $23.6 million for the second quarter of 2011. (8/6)

Ariane 5’s Fourth Launch of 2011 (Source: ESA)
An Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two telecommunications satellites, Astra-1N and BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R, into their planned transfer orbits. The satellites were accurately injected into their transfer orbits about 27 minutes and 38 minutes after liftoff, respectively. Astra-1N will be positioned above the equator at 19.2°E. It will provide direct-to-home television broadcast services in Europe. BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R, to be positioned over 110°E, will provide mainly television broadcast services in Japan. (8/6)

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