October 13, 2011

Space Florida Signs Agreement with Spain's INTA (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida President Frank DiBello and Jaime Denis, Director General of the Instituto Nacional de T├ęcnica Aeroespacial (INTA), signed an agreement to jointly pursue opportunities between Florida and Spain in the aerospace sector. Space Florida and INTA hope to form a joint venture commercial business that will become a world leader in small satellite development, manufacturing, sales, R&D and launch. (10/13)

Florida and Spain Launch Agreement for Small-Satellite Research (Source: UF)
The University of Florida has helped to forge a deal between the Kingdom of Spain and the state of Florida initiating the groundwork for collaborative research that could boost the state’s aerospace industry. A team from UF’s Department of Astronomy initiated the arrangement that creates a collaborative research initiative between scientists in Spain and Florida working in small satellite technology, agriculture biotechnology, and the science of aging.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Cristina Garmendia, Spain’s minister of science and innovation, will sign an official agreement to launch the project Friday in Madrid. Win Phillips, UF senior vice president and chief operating officer, also will attend. (10/13)

Oklahoma’s Space Mission Continues Despite Budget Cuts, a Bankruptcy and New Competition (Source: NPR)
The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority was created in 1999 with the vision of Oklahoma as the national pacesetter in the emerging commercial space industry that would make space tourism a reality. Thirteen years later, the agency barely clings to life. The authority has been a victim of state budget shortfalls like most other state agencies, going from an appropriation of about $1 million back in 2003 to just less than $400,000 for fiscal year 2012. OSIDA was lucky to get that. Gov. Mary Fallin backed off a plan last legislative session to eliminate the agency. (10/13)

French: Sub-Prime Crisis Killed Rocketplane (Source: NPR)
“I bet the ranch on space,” Rocketplane owner Geroge French Jr. said. “I went into personal bankruptcy after it was all over.” French says the sub-prime mortgage crisis hit just as he was about to secure $500 million for a NASA funding benchmark. “The vice president of the bank actually put his arm around me and said, ‘don’t worry, George, we’re gonna raise this money for you,”’ French said. “When Wall Street blew up, virtually everybody, including the big banks, was involved in the sub-prime loans. And so all the money in New York puckered up. Period.” (10/13)

Virgin Galactic Signs Deal with NASA for Research Missions on SpaceShipTwo (Source: SpaceRef)
Virgin Galactic has confirmed an order from NASA for up to three charter flights on its privately-built spacecraft to provide opportunities for engineers, technologists, and scientific researchers to conduct cutting-edge experiments in suborbital space. The agreement calls for NASA to charter a full flight from Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, and includes options for two additional charter flights. If all options are exercised, the contract value is $4.5 million.

This arrangement dramatically increases the access researchers currently have to space. Each mission allows for up to 1300 lbs of scientific experiments, which could enable up to 600 experimental payloads per flight. Virgin Galactic will provide a Flight Test Engineer on every flight to monitor and interact with experiments as necessary, a capability that has never before been available on suborbital vehicles. If requested, these experiments can be quickly accessed after landing, a feature critical to many types of experiments. (10/13)

Satellite Servicing Venture Jockeys for U.S. Government Business (Source: Space News)
A U.S.-Canadian venture that has raised some $480 million to refuel telecommunications satellites in orbit appears to be foundering because of uncertainties about U.S. government reaction to it, project managers said Oct. 12. T To enhance the appeal of its Space Infrastructure Services (SIS) proposal to the U.S. government, Canada’s MDA Corp. has agreed to scrap the Russian hardware initially selected as the refueling spacecraft, and abandon a Russian rocket as well, in favor of U.S. hardware.

Whether that will be sufficient to permit MDA and its partner, Intelsat General Corp. of Washington, to bid for future U.S. government contracts for satellite in-orbit servicing remains unclear. What is already certain is that using U.S. gear will increase the cost of putting an SIS system into service and put a strain on the project’s already stressed business model. (10/13)

Officials Worry State Spaceport Infrastructure Cash Won't Materialize (Source: Florida Today)
The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) expressed alarm that $15 million in state funding for Kennedy Space Center infrastructure upgrades may not materialize. The Florida Department of Transportation did not include any money for KSC transportation upgrades, such as road improvements, in its draft 2012-17 work plan. TPO members fear the $15 million loss would jeopardize commercial space projects -- and potential jobs.

DOT officials said they can fund fewer projects because of dwindling tax revenues, which may drop nearly $900 million statewide this year. Final decisions on Brevard County space funding will occur during the coming months. Editor's Note: Space Florida and Brevard County space advocates have been successful in recent years in obtaining Florida Department of Transportation funding for a variety of spaceport projects. (10/13)

NASA Planning for Another INKSNA Waiver (Source: Space Politics)
Three years ago, there was considerable pressure on Congress to approve a waiver for NASA to the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA). That 2008 provision extended NASA’s waiver from INKSNA, allowing it to continue purchasing Soyuz and Progress flight services from Russia until 2016. While that waiver doesn’t expire for nearly five years, NASA officials are already planning what kind of new extension to that waiver the agency will require. In testimony before the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee Wednesday, NASA associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said that NASA expected it would need some kind of extension.

“We think an exception to the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act is needed, and is needed even if we don’t need to purchase Soyuz seats,” he said. Some kind of waiver extension will be needed for “basic operations”, such as minor services provided by Russia for routine station operations, regardless of whether one will be needed for purchasing Soyuz seats, Gerstenmaier explained. “We’re working the appropriate exception through the administration,” Gerstenmaier said. “We need that in place some time probably in late 2012, early 2013.” (10/13)

What Is Jeff Bezos Building Out There? (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Blue Origin may not be able to keep its activities under wraps for much longer, says one aerospace executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Blue Origin received $3.7 million in 2009 from NASA to develop a crew-carrying capsule, and another $22 million is on the way. "I get why they’re so secretive. It’s a competitive business environment. But we’ll ultimately see them open up a little bit. They’re taking public money, so they’ll have to at some point."

Blue Origin’s secrecy didn’t earn it any friends with local law enforcement. Culberson County sheriff Oscar Carillo says no one from Blue Origin notified him about the launch, and that he wasn’t happy about it. "This thing caught the dispatcher off guard. Someone called in who thought it was an airplane that exploded and was falling to the ground," Carillo says. "We were completely left out of the loop. Totally in the dark. And that’s a problem for us."
We dug around for information about Bezos’ project and here's what we found. (10/13)

GSLV Flight with Indigenous Engine Likely in 2012 (Source: Economic Times)
The next flight of the geostationary launch vehicle (GSLV) with indigenous cryogenic engine is likely in the second quarter of next year, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said. "We have a major task ahead of us... development and perfection of indigenous cryogenic stage. We are making good progress and we plan to have the next flight of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic engine in the second quarter of 2012," the ISRO chief said. (10/13)

10 Goofs in Space (Source: Air & Space)
They are among the most highly trained people on Earth, working with some of the most complex machinery ever invented. But astronauts and cosmonauts are only human, and sometimes—whether through faulty equipment, operator error, or just plain bad luck—things can go awry in space. Although almost every U.S. and Russian space mission over the past half-century has been successful, a few are remembered for what didn’t go right. Click here. (10/13)

New Scholarship to Encourage Female Aerospace Engineers (Source: ERAU)
Southwest Airlines officials visited their alma mater’s Daytona Beach campus to present a $50,000 check endowing a new scholarship for undergraduate engineering students. Recruiting engineers is a constant challenge for Southwest Airlines, whose 700 aircraft perform more than 4,000 flights per day. He noted that only four of the 70 engineers at Southwest are women. "Given that the engineering programs at Embry-Riddle are second to none, this scholarship makes perfect sense.”

The scholarship program will help grow female enrollment to achieve a better gender balance both at Embry-Riddle and in the industry, but the partnership has other benefits as well. “We want every talented student to be able to go to school here regardless of their financial situation,” said the Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Maj Mirmirani.

The first award from the scholarship fund, $2,500, will go to an Embry-Riddle student who definitely could use financial assistance, Gloria King of Flagler Beach, Fla. “Right now I’m working three jobs to put myself through school,” said the senior, “so I’m very grateful for this award that will help me finish my bachelor of science degree in Aerospace Engineering.” (10/12)

JSC Contest Offers Rover Ride (Source: Friendswood Journal)
Space enthusiasts are invited to show their support for Johnson Space Center and help JSC celebrate its golden anniversary with a special Twitter trivia challenge. One lucky winner will get to take a ride in NASA’s Space Exploration Rover alongside an astronaut. (10/13)

Future of Space Travel Launches at New York City Museum (Source: Broadway World)
The American Museum of Natural History announces Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, a new exhibition that offers a vision of the future of space travel as it boldly examines humanity's next steps in our solar system and beyond. The exhibition features a re-creation of a lunar habitat, a model of a space elevator rising up from the surface of the Moon, one of the world's largest color holograms depicting 1,000 exoplanets, and engaging, immersive simulations. (10/13)

Orbcomm Satellite Launched Aboard Indian Rocket (Source: Telecom Paper)
Satellite data communications company Orbcomm has launched its VesselSat1 satellite, an Automatic Identification Service (AIS) enabled satellite built by LuxSpace. VesselSat1 launched aboard an Indian PSLV rocket. After completion of in-orbit testing and check-out, VesselSat1 will expand the coverage of Orbcomm's satellite AIS service in the equatorial region. This satellite will also provide additional capacity, higher refresh rates and improved message delivery speeds for Orbcomm AIS users worldwide. (10/13)

Lawmakers Told Shuttle Restart Questions are Years Too Late (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
During Wednesday’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee hearing the question on restarting shuttle was once again dismissed out of hand. While General Stafford correctly identified the long pole was the restart of External Tank production at Michoud, Admiral Dyer was dismissive, claiming this had been previously looked into and that the question would have only been “interesting” if it had been asked three or four years ago.

An ASAP 2011 Third Quarterly Report quoted an exchange between Scott Spencer, co-author of an open letter to the NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, with the ASAP board. Mr Spencer had requested that the ASAP issue an immediate recommendation for NASA, Congress, and the White House to reverse the decision to retire the Space Shuttles. This request received a negative response from Admiral Dyer, head of the ASAP and a steadfast opponent of additional shuttle missions. (10/13)

Colorado Center to Prepare Student Space Experiments (Source: Daily Camera)
A University of Colorado space center will play a key role in a new international contest that challenges students to design science experiments -- which will be judged by a panel that includes physicist Stephen Hawking. Then, the winning entries will be conducted in space.

BioServe Space Technologies, headquartered in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department, will be responsible for turning the winning proposals into flight-ready experiments that can be launched safely and conducted on board the International Space Station, said Stefanie Countryman, BioServe's business manager and outreach coordinator. (10/13)

Pluto Probably Slightly Larger Than "Twin" Eris (Source: MSNBC)
It's been almost a year since astronomers suggested that Eris, the icy world whose discovery prompted Pluto's controversial reclassification in 2006, wasn't as big as they originally thought. Now the official word has leaked out unofficially: Pluto just might be the largest dwarf planet after all — although Eris is still seen as more massive.

Here are the statistics: Based on measurements made last November during the dwarf planet's occultation of a faraway star, Eris' diameter is estimated at 2,326 kilometers (1,445 miles). A similar set of measurements, published in 2009 estimated that Pluto was at least 2,338 kilometers (1,453 miles). When you include the margin of error, Pluto is essentially Eris' equal in size.

Although Pluto and Eris are roughly the same size, Eris is more massive, which implies it's "mainly composed of rocky material, with a relatively thin ice mantle," the astronomers say. They suggest that Eris once had a thicker layer of ice, most of which was "blasted away" as the result of a catastrophic cosmic collision. (10/13)

New Space Center for Indian Undergraduates at SRM University (Source DNA)
Wednesday’s successful launch of SRMSAT, a nano-satellite built by students of the SRM University, marks the beginning of a new era in space sciences in India. A Center for Space Sciences offering undergraduate courses and research facilities will soon be set up at the SRM campus. Discussions were on with scientists of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) about the content of courses and syllabus. (10/13)

PSLV Launch Delayed by a Minute to Avoid Space Collision (Source: NDTV)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) delayed the launch of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C18 (PSLV-C18) ferrying four satellites by 60 seconds to prevent it from colliding with space debris. "Around 13,000 space debris are being tacked worldwide by space agencies. The data is collated by NASA. This data is made available to space agencies," said an official, who did not wished to be named. (10/13)

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