October 30, 2011

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.

The UF astronomy department initially became interested in collaborating with Spain because of its small-satellite program. As the relationship grew between the two, it became clear that there were other possibilities for partnering. “Spain has had a successful program that has built and flown small satellites for years,” said Peggy Evanich, a former NASA programs manager who now works with UF’s astronomy department to build relationships between the university and industry leaders. “But they don’t have their own launch facilities.” They were using facilities in Russia and France, she said. (10/26)

Spaceport Sweden Launches its First Space Tourism Experience (Source: Spaceport Sweden)
Spaceport Sweden has collaborated with the ICEHOTEL, Kiruna Airport and Scandinavian Airlink to launch an exclusive space tourism experience that will allow clients to get an even closer look at the magical and mythical northern lights. The Northern Light Flight experience starts at ICEHOTEL with a short presentation about the northern lights and a transfer to Spaceport Sweden where an airplane with seats for nine passengers each with a window will take clients above the clouds. The flight will last approximately 1 hour.

The premier flight takes place on the 15th January 2012 and there will then be three more flights on the 5th, 12th and 19th of February. The flights can be booked via icehotel.com as of 19th of October 2011. There are three types of package deals to choose between: a standard, deluxe and a charter package deal that is bookable all days between 1st of January and 15th of March 2012. (10/25)

Mojave Air & Space Port and Spaceport Sweden Sign Agreement (Source: Spaceport Sweden)
An agreement with the aim to mobilize, stimulate and facilitate the growth of the commercial suborbital human spaceflight industry across boarders at Kiruna, Sweden and Mojave, California, US was signed on Oct. 21 in San Francisco by Mojave Air and Space Port CEO, Stuart Witt and Spaceport Sweden CEO, Karin Nilsdotter. They will engage in cross-boarder projects to involve evaluating and testing spaceport systems, methods, and processes, and developing joint marketing and sponsorship of events aimed at strengthening the role of commercial spaceports for space travel, education and economic growth. (10/27)

Spy Satellite Engineer's Top Secret Is Revealed (Source: NPR)
Every day for decades, engineer Phil Pressel would come home from work and be unable to tell his wife what he'd been doing all day. Now, Pressel is free to speak about his life's work: designing cameras for a top-secret U.S. government spy satellite. Officially known as the KH-9 Hexagon, engineers called it "Big Bird" for its massive size. Until the government declassified it last month, Hexagon had been a secret for 46 years.

"The challenge for this satellite, to design it, was to survey the whole globe," Pressel says. It was a grand challenge for Pressel. Born in Belgium, he survived the Holocaust as a young boy when a French family hid him from the Nazis. Pressel says he never expected to come to America, much less become an engineer on a top-secret American spy satellite. Hexagon's main purpose was, in a way, to prevent wars. It was designed to spot Soviet missile silos and troop movements.

"It permitted President Nixon, in the early 1970s, to sign the SALT-1 treaty, the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty," Pressel says. Photos sent down from Hexagon enabled the U.S. to verify the Soviet Union's claims about its weapons stockpiles. Those photos themselves were a technological marvel. "It was the last film-recovery system used for reconnaissance," he says. Each Hexagon satellite launched with 60 miles worth of film and an immensely complicated electromechanical system that controlled the cameras. (10/30)

With Progress in Orbit, Crewed Flights Set to Resume (Source: Florida Today)
A Russian cargo spacecraft was safely deployed in orbit on Sunday, setting the stage for the launch of a new crew to the International Space Station in two weeks. No problems were reported this time with the nearly nine-mintue climb to orbit. The Progress 45 spacecraft is loaded with nearly three tons of food, water, fuel and supplies. It's scheduled to dock at the station's Pirs compartment on Wednesday. (10/30)

NASA Should Put KSC First (Source: Florida Today)
Yes, Florida officials are making a ruckus about the substantial sums of money being spent for a possible expansion of the NASA launch site on Wallops Island in Virginia. It’s the job of Space Florida to fight for aerospace jobs and investment here. It’s the duty of Space Florida officials, as well as other public and private leaders from this county and the state, to advocate for the good reasons to launch future spaceflight systems from the excellent, existing and underutilized facilities at Cape Canaveral.

But the concerns that Brevard and Florida officials are raising about spending money on new facilities in Virginia is not just a parochial concern. It’s not just about jobs in one community in Florida. It’s basic good sense for the government, and its industry partners, to utilize existing facilities rather than spending millions — or even billions — of dollars building similar facilities in other states. The push by some members of Congress who might secure jobs from new development in Virginia is just a pork project. (10/30)

Collision Course: The Space Rocks that Threaten Our Lives (Source: Telegraph)
When Paul Chodas and Steve Chesley arrived at JPL on Oct. 6 2008, they assumed it would be a normal day. But it would prove to be anything but. The scientists worked for NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) program, a team tasked with identifying comets, asteroids and meteors that potentially pose a threat to Earth. On that Monday morning, Chodas noticed an asteroid about the size of a truck beyond the moon’s orbit. It was on a collision course with Earth. Click here. (10/30)

Couple Considers Legal Action Against Spaceport America Over Dry Well (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
A Cutter, N.M., couple is considering legal action against Spaceport America, after a stalemate over a groundwater well that went dry during spaceport construction. Meanwhile, supplemental water deliveries to the remote home of Jim and Sylvia Smith have stopped, said Jim Smith and a spaceport official. "I think I'm just about ready to turn it over to the lawyers and go that way," said Jim Smith, in his early 70s. "I don't want to; I never wanted to. I hate that."

The Smiths had been in negotiations with Spaceport America Director Christine Anderson since March of this year, shortly after she started the job. Anderson said the spaceport has proposed a couple settlements, including to re-drill the well up to 500 feet deep at a site of their choosing on the Smiths' property. But Jim Smith turned that down, she said, and instead asked for $40,000. The spaceport then offered him that amount via a structure that would have required him to become a spaceport vendor, "and he didn't want to do any of that." (10/30)

Herman Cain on Space: 'It Will Be Reversed Back to Where it Should Be' (Source: Huntsville Times)
Herman Cain took a strong pro-space stand on Saturday before speaking to the Alabama Federation of Republican Women in Huntsville. Cain, seeking the GOP nomination for president, said: "I was disappointed when President Obama decided to cut a significant part of the space program... Kennedy had a vision to say by the end of the 1960s America would walk on the moon. He inspired this nation. We admired that objective because of (the) enteprenurial spirit. The companies stepped up because of his vision."

Cain said he believes Americans are still inspired by the space program. He believes, too, that Americans took a dim view of sharing the International Space Station with the Russians. "When President Obama decided to cut, it put the United States in a position that we don't like," he said. "We don't like to have to thumb-ride with the Russians when we were the first ones and the leaders in space technology. "It's not just about getting to the moon and outer space. The space program inspires other technological advances to business and the economy. In the Cain presidency, it will be reversed back to where it should be." (10/30)

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