January 1, 2012

DiBello: Aerospace Industry is On The Move (Source: Florida Today)
“2012 should be a great year for Florida’s aerospace industry,” Space Florida's Frank DiBello says. “In spite of challenging economic times globally, major markets receding with significant jobs lost and federal budgets tightening worldwide, Florida’s aerospace industry continues to benefit from industry realization that Florida offers significant advantages for next-generation growth and expansion.”

He says the state is set to capture new aerospace jobs in the fields of design, engineering and support, new spacecraft development, new launch systems and unmanned aerial vehicles, among others. He said supply chains supporting those industries will grow in Florida as a result. He predicts continued diversification of the aerospace sector. “We are on the move, and the rest of the world’s aerospace stakeholders know it,” DiBello says. (1/1)

Orbital Junk Threatens Future of Space Travel (Source: National Post)
The alerts from U.S. Strategic Command now arrive every couple of weeks — warnings that space junk is hurtling toward one of Canada’s multi-million-dollar satellites. The mathematical whizzes at the Canadian Space Agency assess the odds of their spacecraft being hit by the debris, much of it from missile tests, rocket launches and mid-orbit collisions. More often than not, they sit tight.

But five times this year the space agency has fired up the thrusters on Canada’s $500-million Radarsat satellites to move them out of harm’s way. “The numbers of near-misses are going up, rather alarmingly,” said David Kendall, the CSA’s director general of space science and technology. (1/1)

NASA Space Artifacts Command Top Dollar (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
More than 40 years ago, it was priceless. The 70-page checklist — hastily updated after an in-space explosion — enabled the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 to turn their lunar module into a lifeboat and survive what was nearly a deadly disaster.

So when officials at Heritage Auctions obtained the three-ring binder from the personal collection of Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, they expected it to fetch top dollar — but still were stunned by the final bid of nearly $390,000. "That was an amazing price," said Michael Riley, senior historian at the Dallas-based dealer.

And he said the sale, to an anonymous bidder, is emblematic of why space collectibles continue to do well even in tough economic times. Insiders estimate space collectibles — the real NASA stuff, not lightsabers from that universe far, far away — account for as much as $10 million in sales annually. That's expected to grow as artifacts from the space-shuttle program — which ended last summer — hit the market. (1/1)

Second NASA Probe Enters Lunar Orbit (Source: Al Jazeera)
The second of twin Grail satellites to study the moon in unprecedented detail enters lunar orbit. Grail is expected to help researchers better understand why the moon is asymmetrical and how it formed [AFP]
The second of two NASA spacecraft has entered orbit around the moon, giving the space agency a double success as 2012 got underway. (1/1)

Uncommon Science Projects are Common at Marshall in Huntsville (Source: Huntsville Times)
Living in Rocket City, USA, it's not uncommon to hear someone say, "In that building, they're working on something that's never been done before." That about sums up Huntsville doesn't it? Often people are referring to the most recent propulsion system Marshall is developing. But there are many space technologies being worked on in Huntsville that don't have anything to do with rocket engines. Click here. (1/1)

Webb Telescope Mirror Work Reflects Well on Marshall in Huntsville (Source: Huntsville Times)
When NASA needed to perform critical tests on the mirrors for its next great space telescope, it turned to Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center. Known for rocket propulsion, the center that engineered and managed the space shuttle's main engines, is also a grab bag of scientific and technical expertise and home to amazing facilities with varied technical and scientific abilities.

Consider the needs of the James Webb Space Telescope. The heart of the $8 billion Webb is an array of 18 4-foot-wide hexagonal mirrors. They will ride to the telescope's ultimate destination 1 million miles from Earth. To make sure they are ready for flight, NASA decided to subject them to ingenious tests in a simulated space environment. Enter the Marshall X-ray & Cryogenic Test Facility. Marshall technicians managed each test series.

When the tornadoes of April 27 shut down power to the center, Marshall technicians managed temporary power to keep a test going. The mirrors aren't Huntsville's only contribution to Webb. A few miles from Marshall, technicians at ManTech International are producing five sunshields to protect Webb from the sun's heat. (1/1)

Known for Propulsion, Marshall is Home to Many Other Science Projects (Source: Huntsville Times)
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is probably not the NASA center most people think of first for science. Marshall is better known for the propulsion systems that have lifted rockets from the Saturn V to the space shuttle into space. NASA centers better known as science hubs include New York's Goddard Institute of Space Studies and California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

But Marshall's portfolio lists serious work in earth and space science ranging from astrophysics and weather research to satellite probes of the Earth and solar system. Science happens in laboratories at the center on Redstone Arsenal and at the sprawling National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) on Sparkman Drive across from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Click here. (1/1)

Jet Propulsion Lab Ushers in New Year with Moon-Mapping Project (Source: LA Times)
At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the New Year's celebration will have to wait — until 2:05 p.m. Sunday, to be exact. That's when the second of two NASA spacecraft is expected to enter the moon's orbit on a $496-million mission scientists hope will provide unprecedented insight into the interior composition of Earth's closest neighbor.

On Saturday afternoon, the first satellite constituting the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory successfully entered the moon's orbit after a 3 1/2-month trip from Earth. The solar-powered GRAIL twins, each about the size of a washing machine, are expected to map the moon's gravitational field. The data will allow scientists to deduce the moon's structure down to its core and shed light on how Earth and the solar system's other rocky planets developed. (1/1)

Stephen Hawking at 70: Still the Brightest Star in the Scientific Universe (Source: Guardian)
Stephen Hawking's discovery in 1974 that black holes emit thermal radiation due to quantum effects was one of the most important results in 20th-century physics. This is because it unified three previously disparate areas of physics – quantum theory, general relativity and thermodynamics. Like all such unifying ideas, it is so beautiful that it almost has to be true, even though it has still not been experimentally confirmed.
The renowned physicist John Wheeler once told me that just talking about it was like "rolling candy on the tongue". At the time of the discovery, I was working with him as a PhD student in Cambridge and I count myself as very fortunate to have had a ringside seat during these developments. Click here. (1/1)

Space Program's Survival Faces 3 Key Threats (Source: Florida Today)
Saving the space program is important to me, and to many of you. Launching people and spacecraft from our soil to Earth orbit is important to United States’ leadership around the world and to our national security. A thriving, bustling spaceport is critical to a healthy, growing economy in Brevard County and across Central Florida. Venturing farther into our solar system is fundamental to expanding human knowledge.

The importance of the transition demands more attention, so the focus of this column throughout this new year will narrow to one topic: saving the space program. That sounds big and broad because it is, but there are three main threats to the space program successfully navigating this post-shuttle period of transformation.

A clear, simple mission. Few goals are clearer than this: “Land a man on the moon and safely return him to the Earth.” That was NASA’s goal. Today, ask 10 NASA managers, employees or contractors to state the agency’s mission, and you’ll get 10 different answers. None will be so succinct. Click here. (1/1)

Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton: Space Wing Set for New Missions (Source: Florida Today)
The military’s local launch teams have a busy calendar of 11 scheduled missions (more are always possible), cementing the spaceport’s status as “the world’s premier gateway to space,” Cotton says. Launches include national security spacecraft critical to improved communications, including a new breed aimed at boosting mobile communications. Among the highest profile flights from the Cape will be the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft’s first mission to the International Space Station.

Cotton says the wing’s airmen, including its rescue units, will continue to be deployed worldwide. “Our wing will continue to do what it can to be great stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and seek to be as efficient and effective as possible in this challenging environment,” Cotton says. “I am confident in our people and their dedication to our vital mission. I am pleased to be leading a great team of people in one of the most supportive communities in which I have served.” (1/1)

Cabana: Commercial Space Program a Priority for KSC (Source: Florida Today)
“The New Year brings many challenges, but the KSC team is ready,” its director says. The commercial crew program, based at KSC, is starting on efforts to provide a commercial launcher and spaceship by around 2015 to get astronauts to the space station. The center’s ground systems are being revitalized to support NASA and private missions. And the agency continues to plan for launch of science missions from Cape Canaveral.

“Shuttles Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery are being prepared for future public display, where they will inspire NASA's next generation of explorers,” Cabana says. “Our visitor complex will break ground for Atlantis’ new home in January.” KSC will partner with Florida Institute of Technology to host the International Space University, bringing to Brevard “some the best and brightest in the aerospace industry.” (1/1)

No comments: