October 14, 2011

Your World of Tomorrow: Beaming Renewable Energy From Space (Source: Utility Products)
Today, approximately 80% of global energy demand is fulfilled by exploiting fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas. By the end of 21st century, entire storage of fossil fuels is expected to be consumed. The problem of fossil fuel exhaustion and global warming can definitely be overcome by the use of alternative unconventional energy resources. Solar emission is a colossal source of unlimited supply of green energy in form of heat and light.

The contribution of solar energy in power production is just only 0.03% of the total world energy. In order to improve the efficient and economical utilization of solar energy, research is in process. In this direction, the SBSP (Space-Based Solar Power) concept has been put forward for exploiting the solar energy from space to convert it into valuable electricity. Space solar energy has been found more resourceful for green power production purposes over the terrestrial solar rays and other energy resources. Click here. (10/13)

Florida Cabinet Meeting Planned on Oct. 18 at KSC (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Cabinet, which includes the state's Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services, will meet at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 18. The meeting includes a presentation by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll on Space Florida, and a discussion of the redevelopment of Kennedy Space Center. Click here for an agenda. (10/14)

Annual NASA KSC Sponsored Business Expo Set For Oct. 18 (Source: NASA)
Business leaders interested in learning more about government contracting and what local and national vendors have to offer should attend the "Business Opportunities Expo 2010" on Oct. 18. The expo runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Cruise Terminal 3 at Port Canaveral. Admission is free and open to the public. The annual trade show is sponsored by NASA Kennedy Space Center's Prime Contractor Board and the 45th Space Wing and Canaveral Port Authority. It will feature about 175 business and government exhibitors from across the nation and Brevard County. For more information, visit the expo website at: http://expo.ksc.nasa.gov. (10/14)

Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Solved by Special Relativity (Source: MIT Technology Review)
It's now been three weeks since the extraordinary news that neutrinos traveling between France and Italy had been clocked moving faster than light. The experiment, known as OPERA, found that the particles produced at CERN near Geneva arrived at the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy some 60 nanoseconds earlier than the speed of light allows.

The result has sent a ripple of excitement through the physics community. Since then, more than 80 papers have appeared on the arXiv attempting to debunk or explain the effect. It's fair to say, however, that the general feeling is that the OPERA team must have overlooked something. Today, Ronald van Elburg at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands makes a convincing argument that he has found the error. Click here. (10/14)

Hughes and ViaSat To Order New Satellites within a Year (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband providers ViaSat and Hughes expect to purchase big Ka-band satellites within the next year to back up and expand their existing and soon-to-be-deployed capacity. Hughes’ priority for a second model of its Jupiter satellite now under construction appears to be to duplicate its North American success, in Brazil, India or China. ViaSat’s expected order of a ViaSat-2 spacecraft would provide in-orbit backup for the company’s North American business. (10/14)

New Entrant Certification Strategy Announced (Source: USAF)
The U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Oct. 14 their strategy for certifying commercial launch vehicles that could compete for future contracts for space launch missions to include Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, class launches.

The new entrant launch vehicle certification strategy is the latest step in a cooperative effort by the Air Force, NRO and NASA to further enable competition and expand the number of companies who are qualified to launch these missions. The risk-based certification framework is consistent with the existing NASA policy directive that allows new launch providers to compete for NASA non-crewed missions in all vehicle classes.

This framework allows each agency to consider both the cost and mission of the payload and its confidence in the launch vehicle. Payloads with higher risk tolerance can be flown on launch vehicles with a higher risk category rating, thus providing an opportunity for new entrant providers to gain experience launching government payloads. (10/14)

SpaceX Ready to Compete for Upcoming DoD Launches (Source: SpaceX)
The U.S. Air Force issued a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NRO and NASA that serves as a joint agreement on the process they will use to allow new companies to compete to provide launch services. The MOU will be followed by detailed guidance for prospective new entrants. “SpaceX welcomes the opportunity to compete for Air Force launches. We are reviewing the MOU, and we expect to have a far better sense of our task after the detailed requirements are released in the coming weeks,” said Adam Harris, SpaceX Vice President of Government Affairs.

The Air Force is the largest launch customer in the world, but is currently served by a monopoly provider whose prices have consistently risen. Equitable criteria for new entrants, coupled with meaningful opportunities for competition, would save the American taxpayer billions. “Fair and open competition for commercial launch providers is an essential element of protecting taxpayer dollars,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. “Our American-made Falcon vehicles can deliver assured, responsive access to space that will meet warfighter needs while reducing costs for our military customers.” (10/14)

Shuttle Pink Slip in Hand, LA Planning 'Mother of All Parades' for Endeavour (Source: CollectSpace)
Space shuttle Endeavour's transfer from NASA to the California Science Center for its public display was signed and sealed on Oct. 11. Now all that remains for the retired orbiter is for it to be delivered — a feat local leaders promise will be as large a spectacle as it is a challenge. "This is going to be a big, big event and a big, big object, and it is going to be a lot of work to get it but we couldn't be prouder," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Endeavour's delivery from KSC to the west coast is not expected until next fall. Endeavour will be carried atop a modified Boeing 747. Once on the ground at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the shuttle will hit the road for the science center. "It is going to circle [flying above] the LA area three times and then we're going to have a parade. The mother of all parades!" Villaraigosa announced. "People will be lining up the street from LAX through the great city of Inglewood, down Martin Luther King Boulevard — it is going to be a sight to be seen." (10/14)

Astrotech Subsidiary Awarded $2.2 Million Task Order for NASA Mission (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech has won a fully-funded task order under the previously announced IDIQ contract for payload processing support at the Eastern Range. The Company will provide facilities and payload processing services from its Titusville, Florida location in support of NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission scheduled to launch in September 2012. (10/14)

NASA Books 1st Flight From New Mexico Spaceport (Source: AP)
NASA has booked a charter suborbital flight from Virgin Galactic's spaceport operations in southern New Mexico. Virgin Galactic announced Thursday that the agreement calls for NASA to charter a full flight from the company, and it includes options for two additional flights. If all options are exercised, the contract is worth $4.5 million. Virgin Galactic says each mission allows for up to 1,300 pounds of scientific experiments. (10/14)

NASA's Tentative Suborbital Flight Schedule (Source: J. Foust)
During an FAA COMSTAC meeting in Washington on Friday, NASA provided some insight into the agency's plans for suborbital research flights aboard expendable and reusable rockets and balloons. NASA plans 10 flights with Masten aboard their Xaero vehicle by the end of 2012; seven balloon-assisted missions with Near Space Corp. in 2012; one UP Aerospace SpaceLoft-XL launch in 2012; and one Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight in 2013. The 19 flights would carry as many as 64 payloads. (10/14)

NASA Gearing Up for Orion Test Flights as Early as 2013 (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is gearing up for two flight tests of the Orion spacecraft at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The space agency soon will decide which to launch first: an atmospheric re-entry test or a low-altitude transonic-abort emergency escape mission. The atmospheric re-entry test might be flown first because the Orion capsule for that mission then could be re-used for the low-altitude abort test. The first test is targeted for launch in late 2013 or early 2014. The second would follow in 2015 or 2016.

The tests follow a 2009 launch-pad abort test performed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The intent is to show Orion can be safely flown during two of the most critical periods of a mission. For the transonic abort test, the first stage of a Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile will blast off from Space Florida's Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, propelling an Orion capsule over the Atlantic Ocean. About a minute into flight, the Orion launch abort system will be activated. Parachutes will carry the Orion to a splashdown in the ocean.

The atmospheric re-entry test, which would Carry Orion aboard either a Delta IV Heavy or Atlas V to an altitude of about 4,600 statute miles and a speed of about 20,400 mph before splashdown in the Pacific. That’s about 85% of the 24,000 mph the capsule would reach during an atmospheric re-entry after a moon mission. This will test the Orion heat shield and guidance, navigation and parachute systems in more dynamic environment than a return from a mission in low Earth orbit. A team from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center would perform the Orion recovery operation. (10/14)

Ceremony Planned for Space Coast Energy Grant Award (Source: Space Florida)
John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development on Oct. 25 will present the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award to the Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator (CEJA) team. With Space Florida as the lead, the partnership includes Brevard Workforce Development Board, the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA), and the Space Coast Energy Consortium.

The grant award of $2.14 million is a collaboration to elevate, integrate and accelerate the development of the Space Coast Clean Energy Cluster that has emerged in East Central Florida through the extension of the workforce, industry and innovation capabilities in the region's mature aerospace cluster. The ceremony will take place from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM at the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral. (10/14)

ESA Invites Russia To Join ExoMars Program as Full Partner (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) has invited Russia to join the U.S.-European Mars exploration program in a last-ditch attempt to save the project from being cut in half. The agency is asking for a definitive response from Moscow by late January, at which point ESA will decide whether to maintain its ExoMars program as a two-launch effort with Russia as a new partner alongside NASA, or reduce it to a single launch, with NASA, of a jointly built Mars rover in 2018.

In particular, ESA is hoping Roscosmos will join the U.S.-European program as a full third partner and provide a Proton rocket launch for a European-built Mars telecommunications orbiter and an entry, descent and landing system in 2016. Until several weeks ago, ExoMars featured a NASA-provided launch of the telecommunications orbiter and other experiments in 2016. NASA has since informed ESA that its budget outlook is too clouded to be able to commit to the 2016 launch. (10/14)

Space Companies Hatch Plans for Reusable Rockets (Source: MIT Technology Review)
For decades, companies and space agencies have sought to develop launch vehicles that can be reused. A rocket that could be used dozens or even hundreds of times would reshape the economics of spaceflight by slashing the cost per launch. NASA aimed to do just this with the space shuttle, but the vehicle failed to achieve the promised cost savings. Now two prominent commercial space companies have announced plans for reusable launch vehicles, and their progress is notable. Click here. (10/14)

ASU in Space: 7 Current Missions, More in the Wings (Source: ASU)
Arizona State University is no stranger to space exploration missions. Whether to Mars or other solar system targets, its involvement with NASA planetary exploration began in the 1970s and at present, professors and researchers from ASU’s School of Earth and Space have instruments on board or play a significant role with six NASA missions and one European Space Agency (ESA) mission. Others are in the wings. Click here. (10/14)

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