September 28, 2011

KSC Starts Plan for Modernizing Facilities (Soource: Florida Today)
NASA is taking its first steps this week toward converting 50-year-old Kennedy Space Center into a vibrant modern spaceport where both the agency and commercial companies can operate. With a new era of human space exploration and orbital enterprise opening, NASA started architectural design work Tuesday aimed at building a new $200 million to $300 million Central Campus Complex in the KSC Industrial Area.

The landmark NASA Headquarters Building, the Central Instrumentation Facility, several administrative offices and scientific laboratories — all of which played key roles in early U.S. space exploration — ultimately will be torn down while a new pedestrian-friendly hub of green buildings is raised in six phases. The idea is to consolidate work in a central hub of modern, energy-efficient buildings that provide safer environments for engineers, managers and administrative personnel. The footprint of NASA facilities in the area will be reduced to 450,000 square feet from 900,000 square feet, returning 35 percent of the land to green open space. (9/28)

Space Coast Groups Win $2.2 Million for Energy Programs (Source: Space Florida)
Four Brevard County-based economic development organizations – Space Florida, the Space Coast Energy Consortium, Brevard Workforce and the Technological Research and Development Association (TRDA) – have been awarded a total of $2.2 million in Federal grants to further develop a clean energy hub in Central Florida. Programs and services enabled by the grants will provide employment opportunities in this rapidly growing high-tech sector.

$1 million will be used to create a “One-Stop Connector" to connect with state and national resources and help build capacity of clean energy companies in the area; and to create a Space-to-Energy Regional Innovation Center, which will help space-related and traditional energy companies bring clean energy applications to market through trials and demonstrations utilizing the world-class engineering resources resident at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

$1 million will support workforce needs and assist members of the Central Florida community to obtain the training or certification(s) necessary to fill those job opportunities. $150,000 will be used to mentor small businesses as they work through contracting/proposal processes to grow their organizations. Space Florida led the proposal coordination for the Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator Team. (9/28)

Orbiting Standards Lab Could Improve Climate Predictions (Source: Physics World)
Policy makers would be much better placed to combat the effects of global warming if scientists had access to accurate measurements of the Earth's radiation balance from a dedicated satellite, claims an international group of physicists. As well as collecting its own data, the spacecraft would also calibrate other Earth-observation satellites. The group estimates that the satellite could cut a decade or more from the time needed to make useful projections of global temperature at the end of the 21st century. (9/28)

China to Intensify International Exchanges, Cooperation in Aerospace (Source: Xinhua)
China will bolster its exchanges and cooperation with other countries to contribute to the exploration and peaceful use of space. "We believe that international exchanges and cooperation in the field of aerospace engineering should be intensified on the basis of mutual benefit, peaceful use and common development," said Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program.

Wu said China has carried out comprehensive cooperation and exchanges with countries such as Russia and Germany, as well as with the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), since it started its manned space program in 1992. She said scientists from China and Germany will jointly carry out experiments on space life science at the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, scheduled for launch in November. (9/28)

Nigeria’s New Satellite Demonstrates Stunning High Resolution Capability (Source: SSTL)
The first high resolution satellite imagery is today released from NigeriaSat-2, as engineers from the Nigerian space agency (NASRDA) and the satellite’s manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) continue in the successful commissioning of the new satellite from NASRDA’s headquarters in Abuja. Testing of all the systems on-board the satellite has been successfully completed, and calibration of the imaging payloads is ongoing with outstanding results already being produced. (9/28)

Tiger Stripe Leaps Point to Enceladus Ocean (Source: USA Today)
Saturn's moon Enceladus likely hides an ocean under its icy crust, suggests an analysis of its geyser crevices. In 2005, the Cassini spacecraft showed that Enceladus, a moon only 318 miles wide, releases geyser-like blasts from its southern half. The finding surprised planetary scientists, who have since debated whether an interior sea fuels the geysers, or if geyser ice simply melts briefly due to gravitational tugs from Saturn. A few have even suggested the entire moon hides an ocean under its icy crust. (9/28)

ISU Works with NASA to Detect Water Contaminants in Astronaut Drinking Water (Source: Iowa State U.)
A team of ISU scientists invented a new way to detect water contaminants in astronauts' drinking water — a process that was funded by NASA. "The general idea is to provide the space station with a means for monitoring their drinking water to make sure that it's safe to drink," said Robert Lipert. After a long development period, the instrument was finally launched for testing two years ago, and was just recently approved for actual use. (9/28)

World's First DNA Astronauts to Launch Into Space (Source: rSPACE)
Have you ever wanted to go to space? Not a multi-millionaire? No problem. rSPACE LLC, a company whose goal is to allow everyone the chance to actively and personally participate in a real rocket launch into outer space, announces the historical formation of the DNA Astronaut Corps. "Now, anyone can enjoy the thrill of space by becoming a DNA Astronaut. Imagine -- this is your chance to join an elite group of people from all over the world on an exciting journey to the unknown and not break the bank!" JP Stevens said. Click here. (9/28)

SpaceX to Build 'Grasshopper' Rocket (Source: Discovery)
SpaceX, the company started by PayPal co-founder and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, is stepping up its pursuit of a reusable rocket with a suborbital craft named "Grasshopper." Based on the company's Falcon rocket, the 106-foot tall launcher will have an extra motor to practice cushioning its return trip to Earth, with the aim of landing on the launch pad, a draft environmental assessment issued by the FAA shows.

From a launch site in Texas, Grasshopper will fly as high as about 11,500 feet above ground, and as often as 70 times a year. In addition to a Falcon 9 first stage and a Merlin engine, Grasshopper would be outfitted with four steel landing legs and a steel support structure, the FAA document shows.

SpaceX declined to disclose details of the Grasshopper program, but rather than developing a new suborbital launch vehicle for sale, Grasshopper most likely is a testbed for SpaceX to chase the elusive holy grail of rocket scientists -- reusable launchers. (9/28)

Space Florida Supports Energy Company Move to KSC (Source: Space Florida)
Cella Energy Limited has received a new round of financing led by a $1 million investment by Space Florida. These funds are part of a larger equity raise by international institutions and other qualified individual investors that will support the development of four proof-of-concept projects for Cella’s new safe, low-cost hydrogen storage technologies. The funds will also be used to expand operations and provide employment opportunities, both in the UK and in Florida.

Cella’s ground breaking technology could lead to lower priced fuel at the pumps, but moreover could improve energy security in the European Union, the United States and throughout NATO. Cella plans to develop its safe, low-cost hydrogen storage materials both at the UK Governments’ prestigious Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, UK and in a new facility at KSC. The KSC location is expected to hire up to 10 new employees by the end of 2011.

Over 30 years NASA-KSC has become one of the largest users of hydrogen, and has built up unique expertise in this area. Cella’s technology allows hydrogen to be stored without high-pressure tanks and other potential safety hazards normally involved with hydrogen gas. Editor's Note: Cella will be housed alongside CASIS (the ISS National Lab manager) in KSC's state-built Space Life Sciences Lab. (9/28)

Time to Reconsider the Nuclear Option for Spaceflight (Source: MSNBC)
For weeks to come, NASA will be working with the aerospace industry on its plans to develop its new super-sized rocket for missions back to the moon, the nearest Lagrangian point, asteroids, Mars and other ports of call in deep space. The agency will be working with the latest technology, as well as innovations yet to be invented. Some even dare to whisper rocketry's N-word: nuclear.

There’s little doubt that NASA can build a heavy-lift rocket to fly astronauts beyond Earth orbit, but can the agency build one that can reach deep-space ports without going nuclear? "Nuclear propulsion should be included when considering deep-space travel," said Princeton physicist Gene H. McCall, retired chief scientist for the Air Force Space Command and a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "The engines could also be used for years as a power source for establishing a base on the moon or Mars, or any long-term base where gathering power from the sun would be difficult.” (9/28)

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