October 11, 2011

NASA Transfers Shuttle Endeavour Title to California Museum (Source: NBC Los Angeles)
NASA officially handed over ownership of the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center Tuesday morning, marking a return to the state in which the shuttle was developed and built 20 years ago. When the shuttle arrives to Los Angeles Airport International next spring, it will become the centerpiece of a gallery devoted to aeronautics and space exploration at the downtown museum. Endeavour will be horizontally placed in a temporary display until the permanent exhibit is built, said the science center’s president, Jeffrey N. Rudolph. It will be placed vertically when it takes its final position. (10/11)

Boeing CST-100 Begins Wind-Tunnel Tests (Source: Hobby Space)
Boeing is nearing completion of wind-tunnel testing for a new spacecraft to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station. Engineers have been testing the spacecraft, called the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100, since Sept. 17 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The test team is using a 12-inch-wide, 14-inch-long aluminum model that is about 1/14th the size of the operational space capsule that Boeing plans to build. Testing is scheduled to conclude by the end of October. (10/11)

Ex-Astronaut Challenges Rep. Denham in 10th (Source: KMJN)
Former NASA astronaut and Stockton native Jose Hernandez officially entered the race for congress Tuesday. The political rookie will run for the 10th Congressional district - setting up a showdown with freshman Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Atwater). Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) could also still play a role in this race, if he decides to run in the 10th. However, rumors have been swirling for months about his possible retirement.

Dr. Hernandez said he decided to run after hearing about Cardoza's retirement. Cardoza has not made any official statement as to his political future. Dr. Hernandez, who calls himself a moderate Democrat, says he wants to go to Washington as an example that the American dream can come true. As a child, he grew up working the fields of the San Joaquin Valley with his family. (10/11)

Wideband Global Satcom System Goes Dutch (Source: Aviation Week)
The Netherlands plans to join the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) program to increase its satellite communications capacity. The U.S. Air Force’s WGS program also includes participation from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg and New Zealand, and will have nine satellites providing worldwide coverage in 2018. The program provides guaranteed satellite bandwidth that is cheaper in the long run than that which is available commercially, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

Civilian providers cannot deliver guaranteed, continuous and secure communications, the ministry adds. The ministry foresees spare capacity being used by Dutch civil emergency services, making them interoperable with the military. The €25-€50 million ($33-66 million) cost, which includes adapting ground systems so they can use WGS communication frequencies, will be shared by the participating nations. (10/11)

Irrational Risk Aversion by NASA (Source: Open Market)
We have invested over a hundred billion in the Space Station. Whether it is worth the investment is unclear, but it is a sunk cost. The question is, what is it worth going forward? Whatever it is, NASA's position is that it is not worth the risk of a human life. This is insane. Whenever a test pilot gets into a new airplane, he is risking his life in the service of developing a new technology. No one would ever consider not doing a test flight because a pilot might be lost, and that’s for an airplane program that might have cost a few million, not tens of billions.

In a ship or a submarine, the crew are expected to sacrifice themselves to save the ship (e.g., by sealing themselves into a flooding compartment to prevent the whole vessel from being inundated). Yet we are willing to risk the loss of a hundred-billion-dollar space station to not risk the lives of three astronauts, who knew the job was dangerous when they took it?

We have people at the South Pole who cannot leave the Amundsen-Scott station for much of the year, even when gravely ill. Why isn’t NSF spending billions on an Emergency Crew Extraction Vehicle to ensure that Amundsen-Scott researchers can always get out in an emergency? There is something fundamentally, societally wrong with our national attitude toward spaceflight, and it is preventing us from opening up this frontier in any serious or affordable way. (10/11)

GAO Finds that OSTP Violated Law in Talking to China (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is in violation of a provision of the FY2011 Department of Defense and Full Year Continuing Resolution (CR) with regard to contacts with China, according to the office of Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA). Rep. Wolf chairs the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, which funds OSTP, as well as NASA, NOAA and other agencies.

GAO found that OSTP is in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act for spending $3,500 in connection with an Innovation Dialogue and a U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in May 2011 in violation of Sec. 1340 of the CR (P.L. 112-10). Since the CR prohibited the use of funds for such meetings, the expenditure was in excess of appropriated funds, triggering the Anti-Deficiency Act.

In its report, GAO says OSTP did not dispute that it engaged in activities in contravention of Sec. 1340. Instead, OSTP argued that the law was an "unconstitutional infringement on the President's constitutional prerogatives in foreign affairs." GAO insisted that "It is not our role nor within our province to opine upon or adjudicate the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes..."; that is the province of the courts. GAO went on to say, however, that "In our view, legislation that was passed by Congress and signed by the President ... is entitled to a heavy presumption in favor of constitutionality." (10/11)

NASA-Backed Space Taxi to Fly in Test Next Summer (Source: Reuters)
A seven-seat space taxi backed by NASA to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station will make a high-altitude test flight next summer, officials said on Tuesday. Sierra Nevada Corp's "Dream Chaser" space plane, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is one of four space taxis being developed by private industry with backing from the U.S. government.

For the unmanned test flight, it will be carried into the skies by WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier aircraft for the commercial suborbital passenger ship SpaceShipTwo, backed by Virgin Galactic, a U.S. company owned by Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group. The test flight was added after Sierra Nevada got a $25.6 million boost to its existing $80 million contract with NASA.

The test flight will take place from either Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert, or from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Ed Mango, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said at a community briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (10/11)

Editorial: NASA's Help-Wanted Sign for Astronauts (Source: Scripps Howard News Service)
Fifty-two years after recruiting its first class of seven "right stuff" test pilots, NASA is again putting out a help-wanted sign for astronauts. But why? The space-shuttle fleet has been consigned to history, NASA's program to develop a new orbital launch system shelved in favor of a scrum among private contractors. Despite periodic White House pledges to go to Mars or an asteroid or even back to the moon, the space program really hasn't been a high priority for decades.

The current pledge by President Barack Obama to send a new "deep space" capsule to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the mid-2030s, however sincere, faces daunting fiscal and technical obstacles. In such a climate, the downsizing of the astronaut corps by attrition is notable perhaps for how many have stuck with the space program: there were more than 150 in 2000, about 60 today. The last nine hires came two years ago and are still in training -- it takes years to learn how to run the space station, with its polyglot instructions and diverse gear. (10/11)

Brown Dwarf Bounty Hints at Odd Region of Space (Source: WIRED)
Astronomers have spotted higher-than-expected numbers of the strange celestial objects known as brown dwarfs hanging out in the cluster NGC 1333, a gas and dust cloud that harbors young stars. The results suggest that there may be something particular about the environment in NGC 1333 that causes bountiful brown dwarf formation.

Brown dwarfs are mid-range objects, too large to be considered a planet but not quite large enough to burn hydrogen and become a star. Most have a mass between approximately 20 and 80 times the mass of Jupiter and, when young, they glow brightly in infrared wavelength due to the heat of their formation.

Using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile, both of which observe the infrared, researchers spotted 30 to 40 new brown dwarfs in NGC 1333. The researchers estimate that for every two stars in the cluster, there is one brown dwarf — significantly more than in other star-forming regions. The findings appear Oct. 11 in the Astrophysical Journal. (10/11)

NASA Releases New Interactive Space Communications Game (Source: NASA)
NASA has released an interactive, educational video game called NetworKing that depicts how the Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) network operates. The release of the video game coincides with the close of World Space Week, Oct. 4-10. Developed by the Information Technology Office at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., NetworKing gives players an insider's perspective into how astronauts, mission controllers and scientists communicate during space missions. (10/11)

Far Out Plans for Ellington Airport (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Commercial space travel, deep space exploration, world class aeronautical training and a thriving business community could all come together at Ellington Airport if the director of Houston Airport System has his way. Mario C. Diaz, also the city of Houston's director of aviation, conceded a few things have to happen, but there is no lack of vision or planning.

"Ellington is an ideal location to begin to talk about making it a spaceport," Diaz said. Diaz said NASA's new Space Launch System, with promises to offer greater capabilities for human space exploration, the possibility of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University building a campus at Ellington and advancement of private sector space flight, combined with the city's robust research and business sectors could thrust Ellington into the forefront of commercial space programs. (10/11)

X-37B Vehicle Derivative Plan Revealed (Source: Aviation Week)
Amid preparations for key demonstrations of commercial cargo and crew operations to low Earth orbit, Boeing has revealed studies of scaled-up, mini-space shuttle-like variants of the reusable X-37B orbital test vehicle (OTV) which could be used to return to a runway landing. The larger derivative could be developed for potential delivery of cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS), with flight tests of the current version paving the way for a more ambitious stretched version.

The development plan is targeted at providing a larger cargo backup to Boeing’s CST-100 crew vehicle as well as a potential longer-term crew-carrying successor. “Clearly, [X-37B] is an option for cargo,” says John Ebon, vice president and general manager for space exploration at Boeing Defense, Space and Security. “There’s work that would have to be done for that to be used as crew. (10/11)

Florida Revenue Conference Gives Bleak Budget Outlook (Source: Sunshine state News)
Florida’s revenue forecast for the next budget year is bleak. And the outlook goes deeper into the red the following year. The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference is projecting that Florida’s stalled economy will generate between $857 million and $1.2 billion less next year than initially projected.

The shortfall means when legislators meet in January for the start of the regular session they will have that much less money to play with as they craft the 2012-13 budget than they put together for the current year’s $69 billion budget. The state is also looking at revenue being nearly $500 million short of projections for the current year that runs through June 30, 2012. (10/11)

Space Florida and UK-Based A|D|S Sign Agreement to Collaborate (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida President Frank DiBello and Rees Ward of A|D|S Group signed an agreement to support aerospace business development opportunities between Florida and the UK. Space Florida, Enterprise Florida and A|D|S will coordinate on messaging to UK/US governments on the need for Export Control Reform that removes unnecessary obstacles for UK/Florida business ventures. They will also develop conditions for financing special cooperative activities, and nurture bi-national business opportunities in their own markets for Florida and UK companies.

A|D|S Group Ltd. is the only UK-based trade organization recognized by the UK government as the association responsible for advancing the UK aerospace, defense and security industries. A|D|S encompasses the British Aviation Group (BAG) and also claims Farnborough International Unlimited (organizer of the Farnborough International Air Show) as a wholly owned subsidiary. (10/11)

Moses to Lead Virgin Galactic at Spaceport America (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic is pleased to announce the appointment of former NASA executive Michael P. Moses as the Vice President of Operations. Just days prior to the dedication of the company’s operational headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico, Virgin has named the highly respected human spaceflight leader to oversee the planning and execution of all operations of the company’s commercial suborbital spaceflight program at the site. (10/11)

Balloons Built for Future Frontiers (Source: MSNBC)
NASA is working with a little-known Oregon company on a variety of trial balloons, ranging from suborbital near-spacecraft to a probe that would float through the smoggy atmosphere of a Saturnian moon. The launching point for these trial balloons couldn't be more bucolic. Near Space Corp. is based in a World War II-era blimp hangar, out in the Oregon countryside, in a locale that is better-known for cheese and ice cream than for space exploration.

The company's location and its small workforce (about 15 employees) aren't the only reasons why you hear so little about them: Many of the high-altitude balloon projects that Near Space takes on are hush-hush experiments for military or commercial clients. An "aerobot" for Titan would have to stand up to temperatures around 300 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-180 degrees Celsius). Yards of Titan-worthy material are hung up in a workroom at the hangar. Click here. (10/11)

Glenn's $1.7 Million Water Bill Caused by Book Keeping Error (Source: WEWS)
The NASA Glenn Research Center reports it's now in the process of disputing a $1.7 million water bill the city of Cleveland claims it owes. The massive water bill is just a small part of the more than 70 million in delinquent accounts at the Cleveland Division of Water. The city of Cleveland said the biggest unpaid water bill belongs to the NASA Glenn Research Center; three delinquent accounts totaling more than $1.7 million. NASA Glenn blames the massive bill on a book keeping mistake by the Cleveland Division of Water. (10/11)

After New York Bait-And-Switch, Brown Asks NASA to Reevaluate Shuttle Placement (Source: Sherrod Brown)
In response to reports of a bait-and-switch regarding plans for the Space Shuttle Enterprise, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on NASA to reopen the assignment of the Enterprise shuttle to existing bids. In a letter sent today to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Brown urges Bolden to review the readiness plans for the selected sites and if those plans are lacking, seek alternative sites that are ready to take delivery, as recommended in an August NASA Inspector General (IG) report. (10/11)

Brown, Ohio Delegation to Bolden: Keep Human Spaceflight Jobs at NASA Glenn (Source: Sherrod Brown)
As NASA moves forward with the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led a bipartisan letter to NASA chief Charles Bolden—signed by the majority of the Ohio Congressional delegation—urging him to fully utilize NASA Glenn’s human spaceflight expertise as NASA finalizes the roles that each of its ten centers will play in the development of the SLS program. (10/11)

Bolden Visits Heavy-Lift Infrastructure at KSC, Sees Concept for Multi-User Pad (Source: SPACErePORT)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited KSC to tour the transportable launch platform that NASA will use for its heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS). The $145 million platform was developed for the Ares-1X mission and will be improved to support SLS. (It now seems doubtful--but perhaps not impossible--that the platform might also be used for ATK's proposed Liberty rocket.)

Bolden also attended a Community Leaders Breakfast at KSC, where local officials saw an animation of a repurposed LC-39 launch pad and Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), capable of accommodating both SLS and other commercial heavy- and medium-lift rockets. In the video, the "flexible launch capability" featured what looked like Atlas, and Delta-4 Heavy or Falcon-Heavy rockets using the VAB and launch pad (though I'm sure Liberty rockets could also be factored into the design).

As part of the KSC-managed 21st Century Ground Systems program, NASA officials described other ongoing efforts to make the Cape Canaveral Spaceport more efficient and competitive for both government and commercial missions. This includes working with the Air Force to fund improvements to the Eastern Range. (10/11)

Amateur Rocketeers Chase $10,000 Launch Prize (Source: Space.com)
A team of amateur rocketeers has launched a small unmanned vehicle into the stratosphere in pursuit of a $10,000 prize offered by computer game developer turned aerospace pioneer John Carmack. And the rocket launched by Team Qu8k (pronounced "quake") may just be the booster to beat. The amateur rocket reached well above the required 100,000 feet (30,480 meters) on Sept. 30, team members say. The team managed to recover their craft essentially intact, as stipulated in the guidelines of Carmack's "100kft Micro Prize." A GPS system glitch was the only malfunction.

Editor's Note: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is also a contender for this prize, with their Icarus rocket program. (10/11)

Up to Nine Launches Planned at Spaceport (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Denver-based UP Aerospace plans to launch up to nine new missions from state-owned Spaceport America in 2012 and 2013 under contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense, the company announced Friday. If the company carries out all nine launches, the maximum under the two contracts, UP Aerospace will match the number of missions it has flown from Spaceport America since 2006.

UP Aerospace’s SpaceLoft rocket was designed to be a reliable, low-cost and reusable vehicle able to carry small payloads to space. Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson congratulated UP Aerospace, a “forward-thinking company,” on the new launch contracts. NASA’s Launch Opportunities Program awarded UP Aerospace a contract to integrate high-tech payloads and launch them into space on up to eight flights using the company’s SpaceLoft rocket.

Neither the nature of the payloads nor the amount NASA and the DOD will pay were disclosed. The NASA contract reserves two launches and provides options to buy up to six additional flights in 2012 and 2013. The first launch for NASA is still being planned but is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2012. Under the second contract issued by the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space Office, UP Aerospace will provide a suborbital flight also planned for the first quarter of 2012. (10/11)

Here’s the Next Steve Jobs (Source: Investor Place)
With the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs, there is a huge void in the tech world. So now there is talk of who might emerge to achieve comparable success as a business leader and innovator. Some obvious candidates come to most people’s minds, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. They certainly are giants in their markets and have made a huge impact on the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Yet they still lack some key Jobsian qualities. For example, Zuckerberg and Bezos lead only one company apiece, whereas for a time Jobs ran both Apple and computer-animation studio Pixar. What’s more, neither Zuckerberg nor Bezos has pulled a miraculous comeback from the brink of disaster like Jobs did after he returned to Apple in 1997.

There is one person, however, who hasn’t gotten much media attention but actually has these qualities: Elon Musk. Musk and Jobs actually demonstrated their talent for innovation at an early age. Musk got his first computer when he was 10 years old and wasted little time learning programming. He sold his first software for $500 — when he turned 12. It was a space game. Click here. (10/11)

Illinois Company Up In Orbit for NASA Mission (Source: KHQA)
NASA has granted a Tri-State company liftoff to Mars. AirFoil Aerial Systems out of Loraine, Illinois will help provide information in the Mars Rover Project. This high tech mini-helicopter takes 360 degree aerial photos of locations and stitches them together to become an interactive picture.

"I didn't even know NASA did stuff like this. I took it for granted they built their own equipment. It was just a call out of the blue. They said, 'would you be interested in it?' and I said definitely. I wouldn't turn that down in a second," said John Ohmenus, the president of AirFoil Aerials.

He's set to ship the device out to NASA experts in Virginia Tuesday. Before leaving earth, this T-copter must go through inspections and flight modifications with both NASA and MIT experts. "NASA's looking to MIT to create a laser-based flight controller to handle the atmosphere they're going to be in," said Ohmenus. (10/10)

SpaceX ISS Berthing Decision Coming Soon (Source: Aviation Week)
Engineers at SpaceX are “very close” to finishing their analysis of the orbital and radio-interference implications of their company’s plans to piggyback two Orbcomm data-relay satellites on the upcoming Falcon 9/Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA has questions about potential danger to the ISS from the satellites and their signals, and wants more data on the piggyback plan before it clears the first SpaceX mission to deliver cargo. If the agency approves the plan, SpaceX will be allowed to try to move a Dragon cargo vehicle within reach of the station’s robotic arm so the crew can grapple it and berth it to a hatch. (10/10)

Google and Hawking Seek Space Mad Teenagers (Source: BBC)
YouTube has enlisted the help of Prof Stephen Hawking in the hunt for budding young scientists. The site - which is owned by Google - is launching a competition for teenagers to create an experiment that could be carried out in space. Two winning ideas will be tested by the crew of the International Space Station. Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently criticized science and technology education in the UK. (10/11)

Behind The Scenes: United Launch Alliance’s Horizontal Integration Facility (Source: Universe Today)
While the Horizontal Integration Facility or HIF might sound similar to the Vertical Integration Facility or VIF – the buildings requirements and lay out could not be more different. Unlike the VIF, where the Atlas launch vehicle is lifted into the vertical position for launch, the launch vehicles remain on their sides in this structure.

Upon first entering the HIF, one sees what appears, upon first glance, to be a mundane warehouse type of structure. Those similarities cease when one enters the bays that contain the Delta IV rocket. The one resting within the facility now is destined to launch the Wideband Global SATCOM or WGS satellite, currently on track to lift off from Launch Complex-37 early next year. Click here.

Editor's Note: The HIF was financed by Space Florida's predecessor agency, the Spaceport Florida Authority, under a lease-back deal with Boeing. (10/11)

The Space Police of Baikonur (Source: Pravda)
Not everyone knows that Moscow region police are guarding the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Baikonur, also called "a piece of Moscow in the Kazakh steppe" is the Russian city of federal significance. The work of the police in Baikonur has a distinctive character because the city is considered a sensitive site. The "space police" does not employ special agents, but rather, ordinary people.

Even those who have never been there know that Baikonur is a closed city. It could not have been any other way in the space industry. Both the launching pads and homes are under police control. The entry and exit to and from the city of Baikonur is carefully watched by law enforcers. This is especially true when foreign delegations visit the city. (10/11)

London to Tokyo in 90 Minutes, Via Space (Source: CNN)
A Formula One tycoon has teamed up with Dutch airline KLM to pioneer a spacecraft that will fly passengers to any city in the world within two hours. Michiel Mol, 42, a Dutch multimillionaire e-businessman, co-owner of the Force India F1 team and co-founder of the project, Space Expedition Curacao (SXC), says he has already sold 35 tickets -- at AU$97,000 (US$94,700) each -- for rides in early versions of the craft.

The Australian reported that the company would provide sub-orbital flights for space tourists from the Caribbean island of CuraƧao. The space tourism flights are scheduled to fly as early as 2014, while regular commercial flights using similar technology are not expected until at least 2030, according to the Daily Mail. (10/11)

Ex-Astronaut Says NASA 'A Little Bit Adrift' (Source: Sun News Network)
Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason is seeking signs of intelligent life but he doesn't need a telescope or a spaceship - just a window into those calling the shots in America's space program. He believes NASA's space program has veered far off course with talk of sending a manned mission to Mars.

No time in the foreseeable future will there be technology to safely fly a man six months each way to Mars or to withstand daytime temperatures that peak at -80 C. "What the hell are they smoking," Tryggvason said. Instead, he advocates a return to the moon, this time to build places where astronauts can stay for weeks at a time. (10/10)

Comette Home Damaged by Egg-Sized Meteorite (Source: Guardian)
When your name is Comette you may get used to jokes about rockets and space and planets. But French schoolboy Hugo Comette, 11, had the last laugh when of all the places, in all the countries on Earth, a piece of rock from outer space landed on his home. An egg-sized meteorite believed to be 4.57bn years old smashed through the roof of the Comette family home on the outskirts of Paris some time over the summer when everyone was away on holiday. (10/10)

Challenge to Students: Have Space Station Run Your Experiment (Source: New York Times)
Make a two-minute video. Get an experiment flown to the International Space Station. YouTube and Lenovo, the computer manufacturer, announced on Monday a science contest called SpaceLab for students around the world ages 14 to 18, and it is not quite like any other science contest. The students, who can enter individually or in teams of up to three, do not actually have to perform any experiments. Instead, they will make videos to pitch ideas for experiments that could be conducted in the zero-gravity environs of the space station. (10/10)

Astronauts as Alien Life Hunters? (Source: Discovery)
Ever since the last NASA space shuttle mission touched down in Florida on July 21, there has been a spirited debate in articles and blogs across the Internet over the future of humans in space. I'd like to offer a goal that is tangible and far overarching. On many different levels, space pioneers could focus on answering, arguably, the most profound question every asked by humans: are we alone in the universe?

The answer to this question is equally profound either way it falls. If we find life elsewhere in the solar system, then life is unequivocally a condition of the universe. Find life once it's a miracle, twice, it's a statistic. Conversely, failure to find the humblest of microbes on other worlds implies that there is something extraordinarily unique about the evolution of Earth that allowed for the emergence of self-replicating matter.

Yes, we have robots exploring the planets for traces of life as we know it, telescopes inventorying planets circling other stars, and SETI astronomers listening for the whispers of an intelligent signal beamed in out direction from across the galaxy. But human space exploration is ultimately needed to provide solid evidence for life among the planets and stars. (10/10)

Spacecraft's Scan of Mercury Reveals Strange Hollows (Source: Daily Mail)
Stunning pictures showing the first complete map of Mercury, the least explored rocky planet in the solar system, have been revealed. Space probe Messenger sent back the data showing strange 'hollows' across its surface that may hint at present-day geologic activity. Scientists say the surprising new information could rewrite current thinking about the growth of planets.

It took Messenger - an acronym for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging - six years to travel around 60 million miles to the solar system's innermost planet. Then, after three successful flybys, the NASA spacecraft entered Mercury's orbit on March 18 and started its year-long mission to scan the surface. (10/10)

Space on Earth: Testing Extraterrestrial Habitats (Source: CNN)
The Moon. Mars. Asteroids. Deep space. These are all places that humanity would like to explore. So what's the holdup? Flight hardware, money and politics aside, there's some major problems that need further study if humans are to visit or colonize anything other than Earth, most notably: habitation and survival. Humans are fragile creatures, and the environments found off-Earth are decidedly unfriendly.

We've been in space for 50 years. The International Space Station has been occupied continuously for over 10 years. We know a little bit about the physiology and psychology of living in space, at least for a few months at a time. But a round-trip mission to Mars, for example, would take much longer than even the longest-duration missions to ISS, on the order of seven months in each direction in the best case. Click here. (10/10)

Defense Cuts Will Be Higher Than Expected, AIA Says (Source: The Hill)
The debt-ceiling deal was said to include a $350 billion cut to defense spending over the next decade, but the Aerospace Industries Association is warning that the cuts will be deeper than initially expected. AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey has warned that the cuts actually will be as much as $480 billion through 2023. "That is simply more than we can sustain," Blakey said. "Our position is: no more." (10/10)

Is OMB Wiping Out Planetary Exploration? (Source: Space Review)
Fiscal pressures and policy debates between the White House and Congress could be putting the future of planetary exploration in the US in jeopardy. Lou Friedman worries that history may be repeating itself as the OMB threatens to put key planetary missions on hold indefinitely. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1947/1 to view the article. (10/10)

The Journey of 100 Years Begins With a Single Weekend (Source: Space Review)
Recently several hundred people gathered in Orlando for a symposium on an unusual topic: what will it take to be able to send a mission to another star? Jeff Foust reports on some of the issues raised regarding a long-term plan for developing a starship. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1946/1 to view the article. (10/10)

An American Fable (Source: Space Review)
Last month saw two major announcements about launch vehicles: the release of the design for the Space Launch System, and SpaceX's plans to develop a fully reusable version of its Falcon 9. Stewart Money explains why the latter announcement may be more important in the long run. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1945/1 to view the article. (10/10)

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