October 31, 2011

China Launches Unmanned Shenzhou 8 for First Space Docking (Source: Space Daily)
China said it successfully launched an unmanned spacecraft on Tuesday, taking its next step towards the goal of building its first space station by 2020. The Shenzhou VIII blasted off from the Gobi desert in China's northwest, the state Xinhua news agency said, separating from its carrier rocket, a modified Long March-2F, about 200 kilometers above the earth. (10/31)

China Mulls Over Sending Female "Taikonauts" Into Space (Source: Space Daily)
The two female astronauts, both airfreighter pilots before their enrollment, are from the second batch of astronauts from late 2009 and early 2010, according to Chen. China is considering sending female astronauts into space during its space docking missions next year, a chief designer for the astronaut program said Monday. Two female astronauts have been selected for possible flights when spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and -10 are scheduled to dock with space lab module Tiangong-1 in 2012, said Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China (ACC). (10/31)

FAA Expands its Role in Florida NextGen Test Bed (Source: ERAU)
The FAA has doubled the size of the Florida NextGen Test Bed, where researchers from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and aerospace partners are demonstrating new technologies that will help transform the nation’s air traffic system to increase safety, efficiency, and capacity for the flying public. The expanded facility, located at Daytona Beach International Airport, will officially open Nov. 7 with a field hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chaired by U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL).

The FAA administers the Test Bed, which has been expanded to 10,000 square feet, and provides guidance for NextGen proof-of-concept programs. Embry-Riddle manages the facility, conducts research there, and coordinates the work of engineers from industry and government agencies. In addition to Embry-Riddle, other research partners are ATH Group; Barco; The Boeing Company; Computer Sciences Corp.; County of Volusia; Daytona Beach International Airport; ENSCO Inc.; Frequentis; General Electric; Harris Corp.; Jeppesen; Lockheed Martin; Mosaic ATM Inc.; Saab-Sensis Corp.; and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. (10/28)

Embry-Riddle Alumnus Astronaut Dan Burbank Ready for Six-Month ISS Mission (Source: ERAU)
NASA astronaut and Embry-Riddle alumnus Daniel C. Burbank, along with cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov, will blast off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur spaceport on Nov. 13 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft heading to the International Space Station (ISS). Burbank will spend six months on the ISS as a flight engineer for Expedition 29 and as the commander of Expedition 30. Previously he was a crewmember on space shuttle missions STS-106 in 2000 and STS-115 in 2006.

Another NASA astronaut and Embry-Riddle alumnus, Ron Garan, concluded his own six-month tour of duty on the space station in September 2011. Among his duties on the station as a flight engineer with Expeditions 27 and 28, he assisted the final two space shuttle missions as they delivered equipment for the station, and he performed a spacewalk. He previously visited the ISS in 2008 with the STS-124 space shuttle mission, during which he performed three spacewalks. Both Burbank and Garan received Master of Aeronautical Science degrees from Embry-Riddle.

They are the first Embry-Riddle graduates assigned to long-duration space missions. In another landmark event for the University, earlier this year Embry-Riddle alumni astronauts Al Drew and Nicole Stott visited the ISS during the STS-133 space shuttle mission, the first time that two Embry-Riddle alumni served together in space on the same mission. Current astronaut Terry Virts and former astronaut Susan Kilrain are also Embry-Riddle graduates. (10/31)

The HEXAGON and the Space Shuttle (Source: Space Review)
In the 1970s, the Air Force looked at the Space Shuttle as more than just a vehicle for launching military satellites. Dwayne Day discusses studies that examined the feasibility of using the shuttle to service or return to Earth reconnaissance satellites. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1960/1 to read the article. (10/31)

Fear of a Chinese Moon (Source: Space Review)
In a speech earlier this month, space entrepreneur robert Bigelow suggested that China was on a path to effectively claim the Moon as Chinese territory within 15 years. Jeff Foust reports on Bigelow's comments and a critical analysis of them by Chinese space experts. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1959/1 to read the article. (10/31)

A New Policy Typology to Better Understand the Goals of China's Space Program (Source: Space Review)
Western space experts have struggled to apply policy formulations intended to describe American space programs to China's space efforts. Danny Houpt describes an alternative set of policy typologies that may better fit China's space policy. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1958/1 to read the article. (10/31)

FAA Spaceflight Center of Excellence Plans Technical Meeting on Nov. 9-10 (Source: SPACErePORT)
An inaugural Technical Meeting of the FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation will be held on Nov. 9-10 in Boulder, Colorado. The meeting will feature presentations on the findings from the various university partners with funded research tasks. Multiple Florida universities are members of the Center. I will be attending the meeting for Embry-Riddle. Visit www.coe-cst.org for an agenda, registration, and other information. (10/31)

Florida Offers Incentive Funding for Boeing Jobs at KSC (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
"Today I'm happy to announce that the Boeing company has selected Florida for its commercial crew program office," said Boeing's John Mulholland. "In addition, we plan to manufacture, test and operate Boeing's CST-100 in this facility, OPF 3, and we will launch from right here." He made the announcement in front of a crowd that included Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida democrat who has played a key role in boosting NASA's post-shuttle budget, Rep. Bill Posey and Rep. Sandy Adams, both Florida Republicans.

Space Florida's Frank DiBello said the "fundamental baseline is a use agreement that we've negotiated with NASA for the facility, for access to the facility... We have some engineering studies underway to determine the kinds of engineering changes that are necessary to repurpose the facility and the total package of incentives, capital investment from the state and possible financing is in the neighborhood of $40-50 million... There could well be access to financing beyond that depending on the nature of the work to be done."

KSC Director Robert Cabana said the deal was a win-win arrangement for the government. "There is no financial exchange of funds between space Florida and KSC," he said. "We are turning over the use of the OPF bay three, which NASA no longer has a definitive need for and that we do not have funding to maintain. We would be tearing it down, so we are allowing Space Florida, through this use agreement, to have it for 15 years ... at no cost to NASA." (10/31)

Boeing Deal a Victory for Both Obama and Scott in Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
Monday's announcement that Boeing will base its CST-100 commercial space capsule program (including over 500 jobs) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is a positive sign that President Obama's plan for commercial human spaceflight is moving in the right direction, especially in the electoral battleground state of Florida, where thousands of Space Shuttle jobs have been lost. A supportive quote from President Obama was featured in the deal's announcement by NASA.

Meanwhile at KSC, Republican Gov. Rick Scott was also happy to take credit, based on his policies and investments aimed at aerospace job creation, implemented via Space Florida. And Republican Congresswoman Sandy Adams, whose district includes KSC, said at the event that NASA's Commercial Crew program is the best hope for consistent American access to space.

Space Florida is in the middle of this, fulfilling its role as a space transportation authority by maximizing commercial access to critical infrastructure at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The state agency hopes to chart a course through tumultuous political seas, where Republican politicians are loathe to support President Obama's policy initiatives, and GOP presidential candidates are slowly developing their own space policy platforms that may or may not be consistent with Florida's interests. (10/31)

Nature's Laws May Vary Across the Universe (Source: PhysOrg.com)
One of the most cherished principles in science - the constancy of physics - may not be true, according to research carried out at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge. The study found that one of the four known fundamental forces, electromagnetism - measured by the so-called fine-structure constant and denoted by the symbol ‘alpha' - seems to vary across the Universe.

"The results astonished us," said Professor Webb. "In one direction - from our location in the Universe - alpha gets gradually weaker, yet in the opposite direction it gets gradually stronger." "The discovery, if confirmed, has profound implications for our understanding of space and time and violates one of the fundamental principles underlying Einstein's General Relativity theory," Dr King added.

"Such violations are actually expected in some more modern ‘Theories of Everything' that try to unify all the known fundamental forces," said Professor Flambaum. "The smooth continuous change in alpha may also imply the Universe is much larger than our observable part of it, possibly infinite." (10/31)

ATK and Air Force Successfully Test New Large Class Stage III Rocket Motor (Source: ATK)
ATK and the U.S. Air Force successfully tested ATK's newly developed Large Class (92-inch diameter) Stage III solid rocket motor at the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tennessee. The Stage III motor is designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 85,000 feet. In order to accurately test the motor's performance the static fire was conducted at AEDC using a vacuum chamber specially designed to simulate upper atmospheric conditions. Preliminary data show all channels of data were collected, and performance appears to be within predictions.

The high-performance motor was developed by ATK for the Large Class Stage III program and uses emerging technologies from other Air Force developmental programs including the Propulsion Application Program and Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology. The contract is managed out of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Hill Air Force Base.

The Large Class Stage III program is conducted under the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Demonstration/Validation Propulsion Applications Program funding to support the demonstration of technologies applicable to future strategic programs. (10/31)

Star Lab Air-Launch Venture Announced at KSC (Source: 4Frontiers)
4Frontiers Corp. on Oct. 27 revealed their Star Lab launch vehicle, with a successful flight test at KSC while attached to a Starfighters F-104 supersonic jet. The mock-up vehicle included on-board sensors to provide data for the next stages of design, development and validation for the small-payload air-launch system. The rocket development project has been supported by students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Central Florida. Starfighters Aerospace is a key partner in the Star Lab program, providing engineering support and "first-stage" flight for the rocket. Click here for photos. (10/31)

Boeing to Build Commercial Spacecraft at Kennedy, Create 550 Jobs (Source: NASA)
In an innovative agreement that will create new jobs, NASA today announced a partnership with Space Florida to exclusively occupy, use and modify Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility-3, the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility and Processing Control Center.

"The next era of space exploration won't wait, and so we can't wait for Congress to do its job and give our space program the funding it needs. That's why my Administration will be pressing forward, in partnership with Space Florida and the private sector, to create jobs and make sure America continues to lead the world in exploration and discovery," President Barack Obama said.

Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency of the state of Florida, is leasing the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 to the Boeing Company to manufacture and test the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft, creating up to 550 jobs along the Space Coast. The 15-year use permit deal is the latest step Kennedy is making as the center transitions from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport. (10/31)

Skeptic Finds He Now Agrees Global Warming is Real (Source: AP)
A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly. The study of the world's surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of "Climategate," a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists.

Yet he found that the land is 1.6 degrees warmer than in the 1950s. Those numbers from Muller, who works at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, match those by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. He said he went even further back, studying readings from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. His ultimate finding of a warming world, to be presented at a conference Monday, is no different from what mainstream climate scientists have been saying for decades. (10/30)

Quantum Sensors: A Coming Space Revolution (Source: Aviation Week)
It is as difficult for the human mind to comprehend the world of the very small—-the mysterious, uncertain, quantum world of atoms and particles, for which common sense is of no help—-as it is for us to grasp the enormous vastness of space. Advances in rocketry and aviation have been stunning, while a fundamental understanding of the quantum world has given us the transistor and Moore’s Law, the Internet and cell phones. Remarkably, these two independent factors from the worlds of large and small may be multiplied. Click here. (10/31)

Qu8k Rocket Vies for Sky-High Prize (Source: USA Today)
Think the days of Rocket Boys, the JFK-era memoir about amateur launch-pad derring-do, are over? Those days are still with us, judging from the recent launch of the "Qu8k" amateur rocket, which reached nearly 19 miles altitude last month. And from one red-hot competition for an amateur rocket trophy, the Carmack 100kft Micro Prize, a $10,000 award for rocket builders.

"There's a real community of people out there doing serious rocketry," says engineer Derek Deville of Miami, a member of the Qu8K rocket team "There is nothing like building your own rocket." To win the $10,000 prize, an intrepid band of heroes must not only launch a rocket above 100,000 feet (nearly 19 miles high) and recover the rocket parts within 24 hours, but record a GPS track of the flight, including one showing the altitude. Video of the launch is required, as well. Click here. (10/31)

China, Germany to Conduct Space Experiments on Shenzhou-8 (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese and German scientists will conduct 17 life science space experiments on the Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-8, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program said here Monday. "Chinese and German scientists will conduct 17 research programs aboard Shenzhou-8," spokeswoman Wu Ping said at a press briefing at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gobi Desert.

The unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft is scheduled to be launched at 5:58 a.m. Tuesday at the center and will dock with China's first space lab module, Tiangong-1, Wu said. "Among the research programs, 10 will be dominated by China and six by Germany, and the two sides will jointly carry out one program," Wu said. Zhao Liping, one lead designer for the Shenzhou-8 space application system, said the Sino-German joint program is research on an enclosed space ecosystem. (10/31)

China to Conduct Another Manned Space Mission by 2012 (Source: Xinhua)
A China manned space program spokeswoman said China is going to conduct another manned space mission by 2012. She said China plans to launch in 2012 spaceships Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, which are expected to dock with China's first space lab module, Tiangong-1. "At least one mission of the two will be manned," Wu said. The crew members have already been selected for the possible space docking mission in 2012 and are being trained for manual docking skills, Wu said. (10/31)

China's Spaceport Upgraded Ahead of Shenzhou-8 Mission (Source: Xinhua)
China has upgraded its satellite launch center in the northwest Gobi desert to ensure that the launch of the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, scheduled for early November, goes smoothly. Beijing Special Engineering Design and Research Institute, the main designer of the launch system used at the Jiuquan spaceport, renovated and upgraded the equipment at the site shortly after the launch of space lab module Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, in late September.

"The new equipment and technologies have dramatically increased the reliability of satellite launches and greatly shortened the time for launch preparation," Sun told Xinhua. Sun said the replacement of a wireless signal transmission system with one using optical fiber has improved the quality of voice and image transmission. In the meantime, the launch site has tweaked its methods for testing the spacecraft and the rocket, shortening the preparation time needed while ensuring the safety of the launch, according to Sun. (10/31)

China Prepares for Unmanned Space Launch (Source: BBC)
China says it will launch a unmanned spacecraft on Tuesday that will dock with a capsule already orbiting the Earth. A rocket carrying Shenzhou 8 will blast off early in the morning from the Gobi Desert and rendezvous with the Tiangong 1. The space capsule was launched in late September and has already been moved into position. China is practicing docking in order to build a space station by 2020.

Shenzhou 8 is due to be launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province at 05:58 (21:58 GMT). The docking - which will take place 343km above the Earth - will happen within two days of the launch. China came late to the space race: it launched its first manned mission in 2003 and carried out its first space walk only three years ago. It maintains that its aims are purely peaceful. (10/31)

World's Most Powerful Laser to Tear Apart the Vacuum of Space (Source: Telegraph)
Due to follow in the footsteps of the Large Hadron Collider, the latest "big science" experiment being proposed by physicists will see the world's most powerful laser being constructed. Capable of producing a beam of light so intense that it would be equivalent to the power received by the Earth from the sun focused onto a speck smaller than a tip of a pin, scientists claim it could allow them boil the very fabric of space – the vacuum.

Contrary to popular belief, a vacuum is not devoid of material but in fact fizzles with tiny mysterious particles that pop in and out of existence, but at speeds so fast that no one has been able to prove they exist. The Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility would produce a laser so intense that scientists say it would allow them to reveal these particles for the first time by pulling this vacuum "fabric" apart. They also believe it could even allow them to prove whether extra-dimensions exist. (10/30)

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