November 30, 2011

ESA Plans Changes To Contact Phobos-Grunt (Source: Aviation Week)
Russian ground controllers were unable to send telecommands to the stranded Phobos-Grunt spacecraft Nov. 28 via a European Space Agency ground station in Australia, according to ESA officials, and the agency is now planning changes to a second tracking facility to expand opportunities for reaching the wayward spacecraft. Ground teams are modifying a 15-meter dia. antenna at ESA’s Maspalomas tracking station in the Canary Islands in an effort to establish contact with the unmanned probe during daylight hours. (11/30)

NASA Space Act Agreements Face New Limits (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA is signaling more restrictive use of Space Act Agreements (SAA), development-oriented contracting vehicles the agency has employed since 2006 to hasten development of commercial cargo and crew transportation services to support post-shuttle activities aboard the International Space Station. The coming shift is just one of the challenges to emerge this month for commercial spaceflight providers and their proponents.

The SAA changes came in response to a Nov. 17 audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress. A flexible feature of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, SAA initially enabled the agency to reimburse or share costs with nongovernmental partners to further its mission outside traditional contracts, leases and cooperative agreements. In 2006, NASA upped the ante with a third use of SAA—funded agreements with multiple traditional aerospace entities, as well as new space companies.

In the 18-page GAO report, auditors urged NASA to put more rigor into its use of SAA. Concerns include a lack of documentation justifying the agency’s use of the less-restrictive SAA rather than traditional contracts for services, as well as the agency’s level of financial commitment; insufficient clarity on how extensively agency officials are to consult the broader acquisition and risk-management policies of the agency when considering an SAA; and the absence of training for agency personnel responsible for executing SAA. (11/30)

Lockheed Martin Wins $60 Million Contract for AEHF Satellite Production Work (Source: DOD)
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $60,000,000 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for the AEHF Satellite Vehicle (SV) 5/6 long lead in preparation for the SV 5/6 production contract. The Space and Missile Systems Center, Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity. (11/16)

Vanguard Space Technologies Announces New Credit Facility With Comerica Bank (Source: Vanguard)
Vanguard Space Technologies, Inc. (Vanguard), a leading supplier of Space Qualified High Performance Composite Structural Components and Systems for Space Products, today announced the establishment of a new credit facility with Comerica Bank. The credit facility provides for borrowings for working capital requirements, capital equipment purchase and other general corporate purposes.

Vanguard is a small business specializing in the engineering, fabrication and testing of high-performance composite structures for space. Main product lines include antennas, reflectors, spacecraft bus structures, solar array substrates, dimensionally-stable optical benches, and multi-functional composite structures. (11/30)

Natural Light is First Beer in Space (Source: Huffington Post)
On Nov. 18, Natural Light became the first beer launched into space thanks the efforts of Facebook fans Danny and Rich, according to the YouTube video description. The two men approached the company with the idea, and Natural Light said "go for it, just let us know when ya shoot it off!"

The entire flight took about two hours, and the spacecraft -- named The Aluminum Fullcan -- reached an altitude of more than 90,000 ft. The Aluminum Fullcan was a Styrofoam cooler containing a vacuum-sealed, full can of Natty Light. Attached to the craft was a tracking device, a video camera and an empty can of beer for decoration. (11/30)

SLS Aims to Launch a Week After Rollout (Source:
The recently produced Concept of Operations (Con Ops) documentation has revealed the Space Launch System (SLS) will be ready to launch within a week of rollout, around a third of the average pad flow time required for the Space Shuttle. Such claims can be found in similar early documentation, even for the Saturn V, before the pad flow was extended in reality. (11/30)

NASA Exercises $289 Million Option with Boeing for TDRS-M (Source: Space News)
NASA has agreed to pay Boeing Satellite Systems some $289 million to build an additional Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). The U.S. space agency placed the spacecraft order as the first of two available contract options was about to expire. Boeing is currently building two satellites, TDRS-K and TDRS–L, under a $700 million fixed-price contract NASA awarded in 2007.

The contract gave NASA until Nov. 30, 2011 to order TDRS-M; the second option, for TDRS-N, expires Nov. 30. 2012. NASA wants to replenish the constellation of geosynchronous satellites the agency uses to communicate with the international space station and other spacecraft in near-Earth orbit. The contract option extends Boeing’s period of performance through April 2024 and will allow Boeing to retain at least 300 jobs, mostly in California. (11/30)

ATK Awarded $20 Million UltraFlex™ Solar Array Contract from Orbital (Source: ATK)
ATK was awarded a $20 million contract by Orbital Sciences Corp. to provide its UltraFlex solar arrays to power Orbital's enhanced Cygnus cargo logistics space vehicle, which is being utilized under NASA's Commercial Resupply System contract. The disk-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays measure more than 11 feet in diameter and are made of ultra-lightweight materials that provide high strength and stiffness as well as compact stowage volume. (11/30)

Ball Aerospace Selected by NASA to Study Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft (Source: Ball)
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is one of five companies that will develop mission concepts for demonstrating solar electric propulsion in space, important for NASA's future deep space human exploration missions. The five companies were each awarded study contracts up to $600K. Ball will work with NASA to define a mission concept that will demonstrate the solar electric propulsion technologies, capabilities, and infrastructure required for sustainable, affordable human presence in space. (11/30)

U.S. Space Program Is Alive and Ambitious (Source: AFCEA)
NASA's final space shuttle mission did not mark the end of U.S. space travel. Instead, scientists and engineers now have their sights set on exploring deeper into the solar system with plans to enable trips to Mars and asteroids. A plethora of projects are testing how to supply the food, liquids and fuel necessary for such journeys.

To reach the distant destinations, astronauts must have a way to generate resources while on their missions. One of the major considerations is energy, both for people and vehicles. Experts are examining the substances available in space that could be converted into oxygen or rocket fuel. Robotic exploration, such as a very recent launch to Mars, enables scientists to ascertain available materials and formulate what they can use to send people to the Red Planet.

NASA envisions an eventual Mars colony that survives by deriving energy and food from the local environment, but Miguel Rodriguez explains that many advances in technology are necessary and the effort will take years to come to fruition. He adds that to be successful, "You are going to have to translate what you do here to another planet." (11/30)

NASA Glenn to Hold Second Technology Expo (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Businesses that missed out on the NASA Glenn Research Center's technology expo in October will get another chance Friday. NASA plans to hold its second technology showcase Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Airport Marriott at 150th Street and I-71. The center's engineers will show off several technologies that they believe could be useful for local businesses.

NASA has worked collaboratively with aerospace companies for years, but the agency is now trying to reach automotive suppliers, manufacturing companies and other types of businesses. The October session focused on the auto industry with most of the displays focused on fuel-saving technologies, electric vehicle innovations and advanced computer tools that could be used to design cars. (11/30)

NASA's Apollo 13 Checklist Sells for $390,000 (Source: AFP)
A checklist used to guide the wounded Apollo 13 spacecraft home after the explosion that led to the famed "Houston, we've had a problem" call sold at auction in Texas Wednesday for just under $390,000. The checklist booklet contains handwritten calculations by Commander James Lovell to determine the spacecraft's angle of descent back to Earth and other notes.

NASA transcripts show how Lovell asked Houston to "check my arithmetic to make sure we got a good course align." The three-man crew was running out of oxygen, water and heat and only had one chance to make it home safely. The Apollo 13 Lunar Module Systems Activation Checklist fetched the highest price, at $388,375, for a piece of Apollo Space Program memorabilia that did not make it to the moon's surface, Heritage Auctions said. (11/30)

NASA Confiscates Web-Auctioned Rocket Engine (Source: New Scientist)
You can buy anything on the internet – even, until recently, a rocket engine. NASA has since confiscated the engine, which contains technology that could form the basis of missiles as well as spacecraft. But the incident highlights security concerns at the space agency . Called the RL-10, this type of engine powered NASA's Saturn-I rocket in the 1960s. That was a precursor to the larger Saturn-V, which took astronauts to the moon.

In a recent report, NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) described how in July, it confiscated an RL-10 from a man who had put the engine up for sale on an internet auction site. The person trying to sell it told investigators he bought it from someone, who in turn got it from a NASA employee. The engine is worth about $200,000. Rocket engines are supposed to be under particularly tight control at NASA: the US is keen to avoid its rocket technology winding up in the hands of countries with which it has a tense relationship, such as China. (11/30)

Raytheon is JPL's Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year (Source: Raytheon)
Raytheon has been recognized as a Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year for its contributions in support of NASA's overall small business program. As part of this year's NASA Small Business Symposium, Raytheon received the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's 2011 Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award. (11/30)

2012: Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All The (Geologic) Time (Source: NASA)
Scientists understand that Earth's magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to 'south.' This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth's poles. Many doomsday theorists have tried to take this natural geological occurrence and suggest it could lead to Earth's destruction. But would there be any dramatic effects? The answer, from the geologic and fossil records we have from hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals, seems to be 'no.' (11/30)

How to Keep Commercial Spaceflight Safe: Q&A With FAA's George Nield (Source:
The commercial space industry in the United States is in its adolescence, growing by leaps and bounds while the federal government sometimes looks on as a watchful and worried parent. But one government agency — the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose job it is to make sure the industry maintains safety standards and doesn't harm anyone on the ground — has decided in some ways to be a cheerleader for its teenage charge.

George Nield, the FAA's associate administrator for commercial space transportation, talked to at the recent International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, N.M. Nield weighed in on misperceptions about commercial spaceflight, the difficulties of regulating such a new industry and what the future may hold in store. Click here. (11/30)

Alien Planet Is Rolling Over, Forcing 4 Others to Do Same (Source:
A huge alien planet turns super-slow somersaults as it hurtles through space, dragging its four sibling planets along for the topsy-turvy ride, a new study suggests. The giant exoplanet, known as 55 Cancri d, gets tugged by a faraway companion star as it orbits its own parent star. As a result, the planet performs a flip over the course of millions of years, and the other four planets in the system follow suit, researchers said. (11/30)

Space Travel Of The Future: 7 Vehicles That May One Day Take You To Space (Source: Huffington Post)
Saturday's launch of the Mars Rover Curiosity got us thinking -- why do robots get to have all the fun in space? So we decided to bring you seven different vehicles that may one day take you to the final frontier. Expensive balloon? Check. Capsule atop a reusable launch vehicle? Check. NASA's next-generation launch vehicle? Check. Click here. (11/30)

U.S. Can't Help Russia With Phobos-Grunt Because Chinese Payload is Onboard? (Source: MSNBC)
ESA reported that its ground station in Maspalomas, Canary Islands, had been in process of upgrades to add a "feedhorn" antenna similar to the one, which enabled the facility in Perth to communicate with Phobos-Grunt. In the meantime, ESA teams at ESOC center received a request from the Phobos-Grunt team to repeat attempts of uploading commands to the spacecraft to boost its orbit.

In the meantime, reports surfaced that the US had not been able to assist Russia in tracking the Phobos-Grunt mission due to a policy issue associated with presence of a Chinese spacecraft onboard. Editor's Note: Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), a fervent critic of US relations with China, included this language in the Minibus appropriation bill, which prohibits NASA from pretty much any collaboration with China. (11/30)

Think Big – Really Big – for a Cosmic Road Trip (Source: Moscow Times)
Space buffs around the world mourned the latest Russian space disaster in which a Mars-bound probe failed to make it out of Earth’s orbit. But while President Dmitry Medvedev voiced the idea of punishing those guilty for such incidents, this $163 million cloud could have a silver lining. Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said Russia is talking to NASA and the European Space Agency about participating in future Mars expeditions and assisting in launches — reconfirming the realization that complex exploration goals can be reached only via collective effort.

This leads to nostalgia about that classic American tradition called “The Road Trip,” in which four or five students pool their resources (share the cost of gas, beer and lodging) to achieve a common goal of reaching a distant college campus, fraternity branch or spring break destination.  No one in his right mind would go it alone: more cost and less fun.

Now is the time for our leaders to take the next bold step in space exploration.  The goals ahead are lofty but admirable: colonize the moon, put a human on Mars, and even go beyond our solar system. It is time to admit that no one nation can go it alone. Governments have a moral and fiscal obligation to join forces. The International Space Station has shown that cooperation brings results. It’s time to think big. Really big. We are presented with an opportunity for nations to work together on equal terms to accomplish constructive goals. (11/30)

Other Space Plans That Didn't Quite Work Out (Source: Daily Mail)
NASA launched the Curiosity, the most sophisticated Martian vehicle ever built, into space this weekend to work out if there could be life on Mars. As it begins its eight-month journey to the Red Planet, there are a huge number of books, magazines and comics from just a few decades ago that made predictions about Mankind making exactly this journey. But most of them got just a few of the details wrong. Click here. (11/30)

Despite Earmark Ban, Lawmakers Try to Give Money to Hundreds of Pet Projects (Source: Washington Post)
Members of the House and the Senate attempted to pack hundreds of special spending provisions into at least 10 bills in the summer and fall, less than a year after congressional leaders declared a moratorium on earmarks, congressional records show.

The moratorium, announced last November in the House and in February in the Senate, is a verbal commitment by the Republican leadership to prohibit lawmakers from directing federal funds to handpicked projects and groups in their districts. Lawmakers have tried to get around the moratorium by promising to allow other groups to compete for the funds. But the legislative language is so narrowly tailored that critics consider the practice to be earmarking by another name. (11/30)

FAA Searching for Space-Based ADS-B Provider (Source: Flight Global)
The FAA has issued a market survey to identify vendors who could provide a space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) service for remote mountainous areas in the US and in oceanic regions starting in 2018. One possible option would be through a new Iridium NEXT constellation which should be in place by 2018. Iridium plans to begin building the constellation in 2015 using SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicles. The constellation is to have 66 operational spacecraft and six on-orbit spares.

Satellites, built by Thales Alenia, would include ADS-B receivers that pick up ADS-B data transmitted from aircraft and relay the surveillance data to ground stations which then would route the data to the FAA. Alaskan company ADS-B Technologies also has a network the company says could provide the service based on a constellation of Globalstar satellites that will be operational in 2013. (11/30)

Air Force Extending Mission of Mysterious X-37B (Source: LA Times)
The Air Force is extending the mission of an experimental robotic space plane that’s been circling the Earth for the last nine months. The pilotless X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle, was launched in March from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. At the time, Air Force officials offered few details about the mission, saying that the space plane simply provided a way to test new technologies in space, such as satellite sensors and other components.

The military did confirm that the 29-foot space plane was slated to land 270 days later, which would be Wednesday, on a 15,000-foot airstrip at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Now the Air Force has announced that the mission has been extended, but the exact landing date has not yet been set. Some analysts have theorized that -- because of its clandestine nature -- the X-37B could be a precursor to an orbiting weapon, capable of dropping bombs or disabling foreign satellites. The Pentagon has repeatedly said it is simply a “test bed” for other technologies. (11/30)

KSC Visitor Complex Prepares for Atlantis' Arrival (Source: Florida Today)
Make way for Atlantis! The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Tuesday began clearing room for the retired shuttle orbiter when cranes uprooted the first of two white solid rocket boosters displayed prominently near its entrance for more than a decade.

The Visitor Complex hopes to receive Atlantis from NASA by this time next year, rolling it into a partially completed, $100 million exhibit building under a timeline accelerated several months from earlier plans. “There’s quite a bit of work to do even after the orbiter is there, so fitting it in in that (late 2012) time frame really works out well for us,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the complex managed by Delaware North Cos. Parks and Resorts.

After this week’s removal of the two display boosters and a rust-colored external tank from Shuttle Plaza to temporary storage at the space center, the full-size orbiter mockup Explorer should be sent to Houston within a month or so. (11/30)

Russia Mars Probe Failure Underlined by Successful U.S. Launch (Source: LA Times)
As the NASA rover Curiosity, launched from Cape Canaveral, streaks toward Mars, Russia's Phobos-Ground probe is marooned in near-Earth orbit and largely unresponsive to ground controllers' commands. Russia's space program has a bad case of the Red Planet blues.

Russian officials acknowledge that the narrow ballistic window for the spacecraft to reach Mars has closed, making it another in a series of failures for the country's space research. Since the retirement of the last space shuttle in July, U.S. astronauts heading to the International Space Station need to hitch a ride with the Russians, but officials say Russia's space program is suffering from worn-out equipment, a graying workforce and inability to attract a new generation of young specialists. (11/30)

Tyson Criticizes Common Views on Space Exploration (Source: Daily Princetonian)
Astrophysicist, former University lecturer and TV personality Neil deGrasse Tyson launched into a passionate criticism of public attitudes toward space exploration and the dominant myth that America was a pioneer in the field in a lecture on American space exploration to a packed audience in McCosh Hall on Tuesday night.

Citing Wilbur Wright’s 1901 assertion that “man will not fly for 50 years,” Tyson noted that scientists had joined the public in its skepticism about the pace of technological progress for much of the 20th century. The nation remained unwilling to predict rapid scientific advances until the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957, when Americans realized that “all the sudden, space is accessible to us,” he explained.

He says the Soviet Union was the true space pioneer. Ticking off a list of all of the space feats first accomplished by so-called Evil Empire, Tyson compared the relatively few, though significant, U.S. space-related accomplishments in the same period. The United States was not motivated to further space science by a sense of wonderment or human curiosity about the unknown, but rather by its desire to technologically outdo the Soviet Union during the Cold War. (11/30)

How Tiny Worms Could Help Humans Colonize Mars (Source:
Humanity's quest to colonize Mars could receive a big boost from some tiny worms, a new study suggests. Scientists tracked the development and reproduction of the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans through 12 generations on the International Space Station. Studying these space-hardened worms could help humans deal with the rigors and risks of the long trip to Mars, researchers said.

"We have been able to show that worms can grow and reproduce in space for long enough to reach another planet, and that we can remotely monitor their health," said Nathaniel Szewczyk. "As a result, C. elegans is a cost-effective option for discovering and studying the biological effects of deep space missions," Szewczyk added. "Ultimately, we are now in a position to be able to remotely grow and study an animal on another planet." (11/29)

Orbit-Raising Commands Fail to Budge Phobos-Grunt Probe (Source:
Plagued by an undiagnosed problem that stranded it in Earth orbit, Russia's Phobos-Grunt Mars mission remained quiet Tuesday after renewed attempts to coax the craft back into contact with ground controllers. European Space Agency officials transmitted signals to raise Phobos-Grunt's orbit Tuesday in hopes it would allow greater communications opportunities at a higher altitude. The ploy didn't work, and the probe remains in a low-altitude orbit less than 200 miles above Earth.

Details on communications attempts have come exclusively from ESA. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has not released an update on Phobos-Grunt since Nov. 24. Officials hoped raising the craft's orbit would lengthen communications passes and give engineers a better chance of recovering the mission, but the commands didn't work Tuesday. ESA said Russia requested more orbit-raising commands to be transmitted Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The outcome of those attempts will be known later Wednesday. (11/30)

China Launches Reconnaissance Satellite (Source:
A Long March rocket blasted off with a Chinese reconnaissance satellite Tuesday on an unannounced mission to collect imagery of strategic sites around the world. The Yaogan 13 remote sensing satellite took off at 1850 GMT (1:50 p.m. EST) Tuesday from the Taiyuan launching base in Shanxi province of northern China. The two-stage Long March 2C rocket placed the payload in a sun-synchronous orbit with an average altitude of about 300 miles, according to satellite tracking data. (11/30)

Europe Launches Suborbital Rocket to Test Propellant Technologies (Source: ESA)
ESA and the DLR German Space Center fired a Texus rocket 263 km into space on 27 November to test a new way of handling propellants on Europe’s future rockets. Texus 48 lifted off from the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna in northern Sweden on its 13-minute flight.

During the six minutes of weightlessness – mimicking the different stages of a full spaceflight – two new devices were tested for handling super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen propellants and then recovered for analysis. Building on over 30 years of Texus missions, flight 48 was the first to demonstrate a new technology for future launchers. (11/30)

Dark Matter Particles May Be Heavyweights After All (Source: New Scientist)
Dark matter is slowly running out of places to hide. Two new looks at the gamma-ray sky suggest that if the mysterious matter is a particle, it is heavier than 40 gigaelectronvolts, about 44 times the mass of a proton. That contradicts hints from three experiments on Earth that pointed to a lightweight dark matter particle weighing just a quarter as much, although some researchers say such featherweights are still in the running. Dark matter makes up about 80 per cent of the matter in the universe, but no one is sure what it's made of. (11/30)

Outcry Over EU Budget Plan (Source: Nature)
As Europe’s financial crisis deepens, a storm is also brewing over proposals that would change how two giant science and technology projects are funded. Both ITER — the international effort to build a fusion-energy test reactor — and an ambitious Earth-observation project called the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program are too costly to remain under the general budget of the European Union (EU), according to proposals from the European Commission.

The solution, it says, is to corral funding for both projects separately from the next general budget, which will span 2014–20. The commission suggests that the projects — along with future large-scale science programmes — be supported through new intergovernmental organizations. EU member states would fund these bodies, perhaps along with an additional, capped contribution from the EU budget. (11/30)

Passage of NASA Budget Proof Congress Capable of Tough Decisions (Source: Federal News Radio)
Future investments in science and technology projects may be at stake if Congress doesn't reduce the federal deficit, Maryland lawmakers said at a townhall at NASA's Goddard Space Center. Nonetheless, the center emerged a winner in 2012 budget negotiations, with full funding for its James Webb Space Telescope.

Lawmakers have a lot of work to do to cut trillions of dollars from the deficit in the wake of the supercommittee's failure to do just that, said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). "Without disciplined, courageous, dedicated work to get a handle on our deficit, we will not have the incredibly important resources necessary to invest in the future," he said. "That's what we do when we fund NASA: We invest in the future." (11/30)

NASA Flying High with Budget Approval, Top Priorities in Place (Source: Federal News Radio)
When a congressional conference committee passed a 2012 budget resolution for some government agencies last week, NASA ended up with a budget not far from its original request. This came in the wake of the agency receiving its first clean financial audit opinion in nine years, something that helped its credibility with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

After much talking, NASA, Congress and the White House have set the agency's top three priorities for the next five years: A) Developing a heavy-lift space launch system; B) Extending the use of the International Space Station to at least 2020; and developing the James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA was also named one of the best places to work in government in a recent survey conducted by the Partnership for Public Service. "Number five is OK, but it's not number one," Charles Bolden said, with a laugh. "Let it be known by all others ahead of us that we're coming after them. We want to be the number one best place to work in government." (11/30)

Eight Florida Companies Win Phase-1 NASA SBIR and STTR Grants (Source: SPACErePORT)
NASA has selected 260 small companies nationwide for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program Phase-1 grants, and another 40 companies (teamed with universities) for Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase-1 grants. The grant programs are intended to seed the development of innovative technologies by small businesses.

The Florida SBIR companies include: Hidden Solutions (Yulee) for Multi-Path Guided Wave Imaging for Inspection and Monitoring of Large, Complex Structures; CommLargo Inc. (St. Petersburg) for Scintillation-Hardened GPS; Mainstream Engineering (Rockledge) for Thermally-Controlled Shipping Container for NanoRack and CubeSat Payloads; Leaping Catch (Titusville) for Image Analysis of the Lift-Off Acoustic Field; Florida Turbine Technologies (Jupiter) for Rotating on Suppression; and GameSim Technologies (Orlando) for Virtual Team Training Engine and Evaluation Framework.

The Florida STTR companies include: Gordon Nelson & Associates (Melbourne) for Flexible FR Polyurethane Foams for Energy Absorption; and Keystone Synergistic Enterprises (Port St. Lucie) for Closed-Loop Control of the Thermal Stir Welding Process. The Gordon Nelson project involves collaboration with the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. (11/30)

Huntsville Companies Make NASA List for Technology Contracts (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA has placed six Huntsville-area corporations and the University of Alabama in Huntsville on its list for 10 research feasibility studies and contracts to develop technology projects. Two types of contracts are involved. The first SBIR projects are feasibility study contracts. The STTR projects actually begin developing their technology ideas. Click here. (11/30)

Virgin Galactic Leases Las Cruces Headquarters (Source: New Mexico Business Weekly)
Virgin Galactic will oversee its space flight business from a 2,500-square-foot office on the east side of Las Cruces. The company, which plans to send paying tourists to space from the New Mexico Spaceport in southern New Mexico, has rented the top floor of the new Green Offices at 166 South Roadrunner Parkway, about two blocks south of the MountainView Regional Medical Center. The office suite will serve as Virgin Galactic’s New Mexico headquarters, housing about a dozen employees to start. (11/30)

Hedgeye Chief Queues Up for Space Travel (Source: Pensions & Investments)
The Singapore-based president and chief operating officer of Hedgeye signed up to be a passenger on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which is scheduled to begin offering suborbital spaceflights in 2013. Mr. Blum also will be joining the crew of Space Expedition Curacao, a commercial spacecraft scheduled to begin services in 2014. Passengers on Virgin Galactic will pay an average of $200,000 per trip while tickets on Expedition Curacao are estimated around $95,000 per person. (11/30)

Space.Travel Introduces Destination Website for Outer Space (Source: Space.Travel)
Space.Travel launched space tourism to a new level this week with the introduction of the Space.Travel website. The website offers member-only benefits including discounts on space-related travel. The Space trip reviews section invites members to describe and post travel reviews of their experiences. These experiences or trips include among others, visiting a space center or museum, attending a space camp or launch event, experiencing weightlessness in an aircraft, or even visiting outer space itself. Click here.

Editor's Note: Still wondering if spaceflight is for you? Click here for WIRED's "universal guide for going into space." (11/30)

LinkA Horrible Thing Happened to Enos the Chimp When He Orbited Earth (Source: The Atlantic)
Few remember the second chimp launched into space by the U.S. Even fewer remember the terrible equipment malfunction that subjected the animal to 76 electric shocks in orbit. The chimps of space -- Ham, the first primate in space, and Enos, the second primate to orbit Earth -- have a special place in our memories of NASA. They paved the way for the U.S. space program by convincing biologists that animals' bodies *and* minds could function in orbit.

But there was a dark side to the missions. The chimps were the first to be trained by "avoidance conditioning" during which electric shocks were administered to the soles of their feet when the animals responded incorrectly in carrying out simple tasks. So, for example, the animals would be presented with three shapes and were trained to pick out the one that was not like the two others. They made their selections by pressing one of three levers that corresponded to the three symbols.

After Enos was in orbit, his first battery of oddity problems went as well as could be expected. After 18 problems, Enos had received 10 shocks. But on his next battery of tests, the center lever malfunctioned as did the switch controlling which question was presented. Enos, strapped into a space module orbiting the earth, was subjected to 33 shocks in a row, no matter what he did. Click here. (11/30)

Authorities Gauge Impact of Europe’s Galileo Navigation Satellite System (Source: NewsWise)
Experts have taken a look at the status of Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system, emphasizing the prospect for international cooperation, tapping into the satellite navigation business sector, and identifying key benefits for European citizens.

Secure World Foundation (SWF) brought together on November 22 leading authorities to participate in a debate on Galileo - its current status and future opportunities. The event was part of SWF’s Brussels Space Policy Round Table – a series of panel discussions that focus on significant global space events with a particular emphasis on Europe. Click here. (11/30)

Forget Asteroids—Send a Manned Flyby Mission to Venus (Source: Scientific American)
Our closest planetary neighbor is notable by its absence in many exploration scenarios. I’ve always had a nagging suspicion that when it came to choosing targets for planetary exploration, Venus has gotten the short shrift over the last two decades—-especially from NASA.

So, why not make up for this exclusion by adding our closest planetary neighbor into NASA’s destinations for astronauts to visit when their new booster and spacecraft technology comes on line in the coming decades? It seems that in the 1960s, during the height of the space race, NASA engineers had made serious inquiries about what it would take to send astronauts to Venus—not to land, but to do a manned flyby. Click here. (11/30)

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