October 5, 2011

Archaelogist Protects History at Spaceport (Source: Airman)
At first glance, Thomas Penders' job with the 45th Space Wing may seem like walking a tightrope. As an aerospace archaeologist and cultural resource manager at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, he ensures the 45th Space Wing can continue to be America's premier gateway to space through unhindered development on the Cape. On the other hand, he has a responsibility to protect the Cape's 5,000 years of history from that very development.

The two missions, however, go hand-in hand. Penders has one goal in mind: to help ensure the 45th SW and the Air Force are stewards of the past while continuing their space mission. He must survey each of the Cape's 16,000 acres before a construction project must be stopped because excavators have found a pre-historic migratory camp, a 150-year-old unmarked grave or part of a 50-year-old launch complex buried by vegetation. Click here. (10/5)

Europe to Lead Daring Sun Mission (Source: BBC)
Europe is to lead the most ambitious space mission ever undertaken to study the behaviour of the Sun. Known as Solar Orbiter, the probe will have to operate a mere 42 million km from our star - closer than any spacecraft to date. The mission proposal was formally adopted by European Space Agency (ESA) member states on Tuesday. Solar Orbiter is expected to launch in 2017 and will cost close to a billion euros. NASA will participate, providing two instruments for the probe and the rocket to send it on its way. (10/4)

Foundation Plans Gemini Anniversary Dinner (Source: ASF)
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) cordially invites you to join us and more than 30 American heroes for an evening of celebration at the Gemini XII 45th Anniversary Dinner on November 5, 2011 at the Radisson Resort at the Port in Cape Canaveral, Florida, honoring crewmembers Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell and the final mission of the Gemini program. Click here for information. (10/5)

Florida Launch Manifest Remains Weak (Source: SPACErePORT)
If all goes well through the end of December, we will have a total of 11 launches in 2011 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the same as 2010. (Based on recent reports, though, it is possible that we'll have only 10 because the next SpaceX Falcon-9 mission could slip into 2012.) The already-completed launches include three Space Shuttles, three Atlas-5, two Delta-4, and one Delta-2. Still to come are another Atlas-5 in November and the erstwhile Falcon-9 in December. None of these 2011 launches are for commercial customers.

An early look at the 2012 manifest shows seven launches, including four Atlas-5, two Delta-4, and one Falcon-9. SpaceX's online manifest suggests that as many as five additional Falcon-9 missions could be launched in 2012, including two commercial (non-ISS re-supply) missions. Editor's Note: With the world's most capable spaceport and arguably the best stable of rockets, one wonders why we can't win more commercial launch business. (10/4)

English Language the Latest Casualty of Space Race (Source: FOX News)
Along with training in spacewalks, robotics, and piloting a spaceship, NASA is requiring that all future astronauts learn to speak and read Russian. The rules are plain and simple: If you flunk the foreign language requirement, you can't go into space.

A handful of NASA astronauts have taken Russian language training since the U.S. and the Soviet Union began work on the Mir space station in the '80s, Duane Ross, manager for astronaut candidate training, told FoxNews.com. But in 2009, the space agency revamped its rules -- and now all U.S. astronauts will have to learn Russian.

Editor's Note: Typical FOX reporting. This requirement was established in 2009, with the U.S. expecting to be reliant on Russian Soyuz rides to the Space Station for the foreseeable future. Never mind that cosmonauts and astronauts from other nations are required to learn English. (10/5)

Rep. Adams Explains HUBZone Bill in Constituent Letter (Source: SpaceKSC Blog)
In response to a constituent's correspondence, Congresswoman Sandy Adams (R-FL), whose district includes Kennedy Space Center, explained her legislation designed to promote post-Shuttle job growth through a federal HUBZone designation for the entire county...

"This program does not designate federal dollars to be specifically used for Brevard County and it does not cost the government any additional money, it simply gives a competitive advantage to those small businesses that qualify for the program. For example, if the Department of Defense was going to spend $100 million on rocket development, the HUBZone program sets a goal of awarding $3 million to a HUBZone company anywhere throughout the nation."

"If the Congress decides the Department of Defense will only spend $50 million on rocket development, then the goal is to award $1.5 million to a HUBZone company. I believe there are many creative ways to grow jobs on the Space Coast and throughout the country, this bill is one such answer. It will not cost taxpayers any additional money and it will stimulate growth in Brevard County by giving small businesses on the Space Coast a small advantage in federal contracting dollars." Click here. (10/5)

Judge Won't Dismiss Lawsuit Against Apollo 14 Astronaut (Source: Palm Beach Post)
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell is going to have to fight the government's efforts to force him to return a space camera he brought back from the moon in 1971. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hurley on Monday rejected the 80-year-old suburban Lake Worth man's request to dismiss the lawsuit federal officials filed against him in June.

Mitchell argued that the government waited too long to get the 16-millimeter data acquisition camera back. Hurley disagreed. "It is well settled that the United States is not bound by (a four-year) state statutes of limitations," Hurley wrote, quoting an appeals court ruling. Further, he said, if the camera was a gift, as Mitchell claims, he's going to have to prove it.

The government sued the father of West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell after it discovered he was trying to sell the camera through a New York auction house for at least $80,000. Reader Comment: The government spends tax payer money to sue this guy for the $80,000 camera he may or may not have stolen 40 years ago. Hey government, why not sue Goldman Sachs and the other wall street criminals who stole nearly $1,000,000,000,000 3 years ago? (10/5)

The Plan to Bring an Asteroid to Earth (Source: WIRED)
Send a robot into space. Grab an asteroid. Bring it back to Earth orbit. This may sound like a crazy plan, but it was discussed quite seriously last week by a group of scientists and engineers at the California Institute of Technology. The four-day workshop was dedicated to investigating the feasibility and requirements of capturing a near-Earth asteroid, bringing it closer to our planet and using it as a base for future manned spaceflight missions.

This is not something the scientists are imagining could be done some day off in the future. This is possible with the technology we have today and could be accomplished within a decade. A robotic probe could anchor to an asteroid made mostly of nickel-iron with simple magnets or grab a rocky asteroid with a harpoon or specialized claws (see video below) and then push the asteroid using solar-electric propulsion.

For asteroids too big for a robot to handle, a large spacecraft could fly near the object to act as a gravity tractor that deflects the asteroid’s trajectory, sending it toward Earth. “Once you get over the initial reaction — ‘You want to do what?!’ — it actually starts to seem like a reasonable idea,” said engineer John Brophy from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who helped organize the workshop. (10/5)

NASA Irons Out Details for Commercial Astronaut Flights at Florida Meeting (Source: Florida Today)
NASA and space industry partners met Tuesday to discuss how they’ll develop commercial systems for flying astronauts, covering details ranging from crew safety to who would provide the astronauts’ food. The meetings followed up last month’s release of roughly 300 updated requirements NASA plans to enforce for the commercial rockets and spacecraft that it hopes will safely ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station by late 2016.

“We look at these things as the architectural foundation for any person to fly on a vehicle, whether it’s NASA or non-NASA,” said Ed Mango, manager of the Commercial Crew Program office at Kennedy Space Center. “We think it’s mutual that in the end we need to make sure whatever person flies on that vehicle is going to fly safe.” (10/5)

Dark Discussion Ahead for Europe and US (Source: BBC)
It couldn't have been planned better. Just as the Nobel committee was announcing its physics award would go to the research that identified the "accelerating expansion of the Universe", delegates to the European Space Agency were sitting down in Paris to approve a mission to investigate "dark energy" - the very thing thought to be pushing the cosmos apart at a faster and faster rate. ESA's Euclid telescope will endeavour to get some answers. It will launch in 2019 and map the spread of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

What's interesting from the perspective of this column is that it is Europe and not America that is launching this space mission. You would have thought it would be the US announcing such a mission. They certainly have the concept on the drawing board - it's called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFirst. And a recent influential panel identified WFirst as the top priority mission for the coming decade.

But one of NASA's other missions is keeping it from being implemented. That other mission is the James Webb Space Telescope, which is costing so much money ($8.7 billion total cost) it has forced the Americans to delay WFirst until perhaps the 2020s. (10/5)

NASA Leaning Toward Four Engines for Initial SLS Rockets (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Space Launch System (SLS) is undergoing final refinements – known as trades – on a preferred baseline for the opening flights, with documentation showing a preference to debut the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) with four RS-25s on the core stage, instead of three. Should this become an approved configuration, it would allow for full utilization of the propellent that can be contained inside the stretched core. (10/5)

Let's See if ViaSat's Growth Is for Real (Source: Motley Fool)
ViaSat carries $198 million of goodwill and other intangibles on its balance sheet. Sometimes goodwill, especially when it's excessive, can foreshadow problems down the road. Could this be the case with ViaSat? Before we answer that, let's look at what could go wrong. Goodwill is simply the difference between the price paid for a company during an acquisition and the net assets of the acquired company.

The problem with inflating your net assets with goodwill is that it can -- being intangible after all -- go away if the acquisition or merger doesn't create the amount of value that was expected. That's what happened in AOL Time Warner's case. It had to write off most of the goodwill over the next few months, and one year later that line item had shrunk to $37 billion. Click here. (10/5)

Europe Wants Space Situational Awareness (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Strong agreement was voiced on the need for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) by delegates representing a wide range of European-level and national stakeholders at an SSA seminar in Warsaw while exchanging views and ideas on the future direction of Europe's capabilities. The event was co-sponsored by ESA and aimed at fostering discussions on defining Europe's future SSA capabilities. The strong level of interest and participation made it one of the largest such gatherings to date. (10/5)

Europe to Lead Daring Sun Mission (Source: BBC)
Europe is to lead the most ambitious space mission ever undertaken to study the behaviour of the Sun. Known as Solar Orbiter, the probe will have to operate a mere 42 million km from our star - closer than any spacecraft to date. The mission proposal was formally adopted by European Space Agency (ESA) member states on Tuesday. Solar Orbiter is expected to launch in 2017 and will cost close to a billion euros. NASA will participate, providing two instruments for the probe and the rocket to send it on its way. (10/4)

One Man's Mission to Put Ugandans in Space (Source: CNN)
You could say Chris Nsamba has always been something of an overachiever. By the age of 16 he'd already won three science competitions for adults. Now in his late 20s, the Ugandan is still dreaming big: He hopes to build and launch the first African manned shuttle into space. "The mission is about advancement in space technology as a continent and what we can contribute towards that growth," he said. While the group's plans are ambitious, they are starting with the first Ugandan designed and built aircraft. (10/4)

Russia, Ukraine to Study Ionosphere Together (Source: Voice of Russia)
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to carry out a joint project in space exploration industry. Called ‘Ionosat’, the project is aimed to help scholars in exploring the Earth`s ionosphere, said the head of the Russian-based Institute of Earth magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio waves. (10/4)

Crisis Could End Space-Age Dreams for European Space Agency (Source: The National)
The 46th successful launch of the Ariane 5 took place last month from French Guiana. That mission sent into orbit two communications satellites designed to boost television services in the Middle East and North Africa, and North America and the Caribbean. Ariane 6 is due to enter service some time after 2020.

Across Europe, about 30,000 people are said by the ESA's head of communications, Doblas Fernando, to depend directly on the agency for work, with up to 10 times as many jobs springing from indirect, knock-on activity. But in the climate of austerity and apprehension that confronts Europe this year, concern is inevitably being voiced on whether such projects are an expensive luxury. The ESA's budget for this year alone is €4bn.

The Public Service Europe website reported that the timing of this month's launches raised questions about "the value of spending billions on space research, technology and exploration at a time of financial crisis, as governments are forced to slash spending amid speculation about the very future of the single currency". (10/5)

India in a New Space League (Source: Times of India)
Tests of a rocket that could soon propel India into a unique space league in the world are underway. India terms the development as a big milestone. The GSLV-III or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, is a launch vehicle currently under development by the Indian Space Research Organization. GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500 to 5000 kg. It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. (10/5)

NASA Receives Award For KSC Engineering Project (Source: SpaceRef.com)
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) presented the Florida Project of the Year award on Tuesday to the crawlerway system evaluation team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Cape Canaveral branch of the ASCE nominated the team for its project, the Crawlerway Evaluation to Support a Heavy-Lift Program. The crawlerway is a 130-foot-wide, specialty-built roadway between Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where rockets and spacecraft are prepared for flight, and Launch Pad 39A and 39B. (10/4)

Rocketplane Kistler Assets to be Auctioned (Source: NASA Watch)
On October 27, Heritage Global Partners will auction the assets of Rocketplane Kistler. Subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Approval, this will be a Bulk Sale Offering of Capital Equipment, Patents, Rights, and Technology of Rocketplane Inc., an advanced developer of a fully reusable space transportation vehicle. Click here for information. (10/4)

NASA, Google, and Lenovo Team Up for ISS Educational Project (Source: NASA Watch)
In the very near future NASA, Google, and Lenovo are set to announce an interesting educational project. As I understand the gist of the effort, students will be asked to come up with ideas for experiments that can be performed on the ISS and submit a video via YouTube that describes their idea. Winners will be selected and the experiments described in the videos will actually be performed aboard the ISS. This is an interesting way to get novel ideas onboard the ISS - and possibly to spark careers. Moreover, it is a way to show that the ISS has utility beyond the experiments proposed by a small cadre of insiders. (10/4)

JWST Killing Nobel Prize Caliber Science (Source: TPS)
We at TEA Party in Space have been railing against JWST because not only is fiscally irresponsible, but it also kills science. A New York Times article has detailed how JWST is killing the morale and killing science, some of which is Nobel Prize worthy. JWST is bad for astrophysics. How many webinars can they push on the American taxpayer before we say enough?

Here is just an abbreviated list of JWST victims: Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA); Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF); Space Interferometry Mission (SIM); and International X-Ray Observatory. The reality is that James Webb is destroying astrophysics and leaving nothing in its wake. The sooner we have intellectual honesty with JWST and end this program, the sooner the United States, NASA, and SMD can move on and begin doing the nation's business in astrophysics.

Until then, its just a waiting game. Until then, our nation's best and brightest will move on to other disciplines. No one in their right mind is going to wait for JWST when they could be studying something meaningful... unless you are a government bureaucrat who lives off of JWST. (10/4)

ZERO-G Offers Price Promotion (Source: ZERO-G)
Purchase a ZERO-G Gift Certificate, good for one seat on a scheduled ZERO-G flight, for only $3,950. Act fast, there are limited certificates available at this incredible price. The regular list price is $4,950, meaning you can save $1,000. Three of the upcoming flights are planned from Florida, including two from Cape Canaveral on Nov. 12 and Dec. 13, and one from Miami on Jan. 14. Click here for information. (10/4)

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