February 11, 2012

NY Plans Space License Plate, Funding Mechanism for Enterprise Display (Source: New York Post)
Houston, New York here. We have a problem. The Enterprise has not landed. Almost a year after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum would be the final destination of the space shuttle Enterprise, it hasn’t happened. Contributing to the problem are the limited display space at the Intrepid, land-use disagreements with a state agency and the expense of constructing a proper home for this icon of American ingenuity, technical superiority and global strength.

Many other cities competed for the four space shuttles NASA has retired. It would be a disgrace if the decision were reversed. New York must do all it can to ensure that the Enterprise lands on the Intrepid; we can all take part in this effort. The reasons are etched in the history of our nation’s space program — with New York’s role front and center. That is why I have introduced legislation that will help commemorate New York’s role in space exploration and help raise the needed revenue to secure that the Enterprise finds its final destination in our state.

The legislation creates the Explore the Cosmos New York Fund. Through voluntary donations made via a check-off box on state tax forms and the sale of a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued custom commemorative license plate, New Yorkers can show their support and pride. Click here. (2/11)

California Aerospace Workers Brace for NASA Cuts (Source: U-T San Diego)
Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are bracing for an announcement of NASA's budget in anticipation of major cuts. Congressman Adam Schiff of Pasadena says he had a tense meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Thursday. Schiff says planetary science and the Mars program are expected to face "absolutely devastating" cuts.

Schiff says if joint missions with the European Space Agency are scrapped, JPL will likely be deeply affected. JPL spokeswoman Veronica McGregor says the company laid off about 240 employees between 2010 and 2011 because of previous budget cuts. Schiff vows to fight the newly anticipated cuts. (2/11)

Satellites Spot Syrian Violence From Space (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The U.S. State Department says satellite imagery of Syria shows escalating violence between government and rebel forces as the regime deploys armored divisions and artillery against major cities. Images posted on the State Department's Facebook page Friday appear to show artillery batteries, armored vehicles, widespread fires and evidence of shelling in several Syrian cities.

Commercial satellite operator DigitalGlobe tasked its satellites to snap aerial imagery of Homs, a city in western Syria with a population of about a million people. Homs has been the epicenter for many of the clashes between powerful government forces and protesters. Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, said the images offer proof of the brutality of the attacks. (2/11)

Orion Hoping for Success With Second Generation Parachute System (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Orion teams are in the final stages of preparing for the first Generation II Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV2) airdrop at the end of this month. Following the failure of the last Capsule Parachute Assembly System (CPAS) test, the new system will be hoping for a successful outcome, when the vehicle is deployed out of the back of a C-17 aircraft over the US Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. (2/11)

California Company Develops Range Tracking Alternative (Source: Santa Maria Times)
A device created by a small business in Santa Maria could change the way Atlas 5 and Delta 4 boosters are tracked upon liftoff. The Vehicle Based Independent Tracking System, or VBITS, was developed by Santa Maria-based Space Information Laboratories, and its debut is scheduled for launch on a rocket this month in Florida. VBITS will allow crews to track rockets using GPS satellite technology instead of old-fashioned radar. The first of three required test flights is scheduled for Feb. 16 aboard a ULA Atlas 5 rocket launching from Florida. Click here. (2/11)

Space Tourism Pioneer Robert Citron Dies (Source: UPI)
Robert A. Citron, a space visionary who helped commercialize space, died Jan. 31 of complications of prostate cancer. After a varied career that included founding an adventure travel agency, building satellite tracking stations and producing television documentaries, Citron began to focus on space in the early 1980s. In 1983 he developed Spacehab, a pressurized module that fit inside the cargo bay of the space shuttle and was used to hold scientific experiments on more than 20 space shuttle missions.

One of Citron's most important contributions was showing the private sector could create space hardware far more cheaply than the government, constructing two Spacehabs for $150 million, far less than NASA's estimates of $1.2 billion, experts said. "The power of Bob's ideas, technical designs and business concepts made space business, including businesses involving humans in space, more real," said James A.M. Muncy, a space policy consultant in Washington. (2/11)

Danger of Shelving a Project That Inspires and Intrigues (Soure: Scotsman)
In a world where people are worried for their jobs, pensions and public sector pay, it might superficially appear that a few scientists fighting for the exploration of Mars is indulgent, even detached. However, with the space sector growing at 10 per cent in the UK alone, the exploration of space is part of the future economy.

To savagely cut the one part of it that draws enormous public inspiration and drives many young people into engineering and science, and to do it in such a way that not only destroys US science, but could cripple European planetary exploration, is, as the NASA associate administrator for science said when he quit over these decisions, “irrational and unjustified”. (2/11)

Hawaii Student-Built Satellite Selected for NASA Launch (Source: KHON)
NASA announced Friday that a nanosatellite designed by University of Hawaii students is one of 33 selected to fly on NASA missions planned during 2013 and 2014. This is the second year in a row that NASA has selected a nanosatellite from the UH Mnoa College of Engineering's Small-Satellite Program. The first CubeSat, which was selected last year and is manifested for an upcoming NASA launch, is intended to be a demonstration mission lasting less than a year. The second CubeSat is intended to incorporate lessons learned from the first mission, and placed in longer-lasting orbit. (2/11)

What Has NASA Done For You Lately? Lots (Source: MSNBC)
Amid the storm brewing over cuts to NASA's budget for the coming year, the space agency has published its annual reminder that the things it builds to explore the universe also lead to amazing "spinoffs" — innovative technologies and products used here on Earth. The reminder is a booklet, itself called Spinoff, that reveals NASA's ties to everything from more efficient solar cells to software that makes data crunching a much speedier process to an online video game that's inspiring future engineers. Click here for some tech examples. (2/11)

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Forms Suborbital Coalition (Source: CSF)
As the commercial spaceflight industry prepares for its first commercial launches, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation is announcing the creation of a new coalition to bring suborbital spaceflight to students, teachers, researchers, and companies across the country. This week’s passage of legislation to ensure a stable regulatory climate for commercial spaceflight was the starting gun, and regular commercial service is expected within two years.

A number of companies will soon begin to offer routine, safe and affordable flights to space, and these flights are an unprecedented opportunity for scientists, students and the public to fly themselves and experiments they design to space. The Coalition will consist of suborbital companies, science and education organizations, and others who are committed in bringing this grand new adventure in space to people across the country. Click here. (2/10)

Masten Advances Flight Testing at Mojave Spaceport (Source: Hobby Space, Masten)
After rigorous adherence to Masten's "modify, test, modify" philosophy, Xaero has finally been unleashed from the safety tether, and performed a successful free flight hover. Improvements to our control algorithms were validated under tether earlier in the week, followed by careful analysis of Xaero's flight performance. Xaero is a reconfiguration from the Xoie platform that won Level II of the Lunar Lander Challenge. Masten expects Xaero to begin higher altitude and higher speed flights in coming months.

Xaero takes off and land vertically in the same place it launches from. The flight profile consists of launch, acceleration to Mach 0.9 throughout the majority of atmospheric resistance, then going full throttle before shutting off the engine. During parabolic coast phase the payload experiences microgravity. As the vehicle descends back into the atmosphere and gains speed the coast phase ends. At this point the rocket stabilizes itself and falls towards the ground engine-first before the engine re-lights and lands the vehicle on the same pad used for takeoff.

Editor's Note: Having received safety approvals for operating at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Masten was expected last year to commence operations at Space Florida's Launch Complex 36. Click here to see their latest test in Mojave. (2/10)

U.S. Officials Mull Standards in Wake of LightSquared Controversy (Source: Space News)
U.S. transportation and telecommunications officials hope to develop technical standards that would allow companies planning broadband networks using mobile satellite services frequencies to tailor their systems to avoid disrupting GPS applications. The proposal comes amid the still-simmering controversy over LightSquared, whose plans for a mobile broadband network serving North America have been upended by GPS interference concerns. LightSquared has invested some $3 billion in its satellite-terrestrial network and has a satellite in orbit, but now faces what might be an insurmountable regulatory roadblock. (2/10)

NASA, Caltech Mull Over Unique Satellite Donation (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
NASA cut off financial support for operations of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer this week, but the California Institute of Technology is negotiating to assume ownership of the ultraviolet space telescope to continue its survey of the cosmos. Also known as GALEX, the satellite was placed in standby mode Feb. 7 after collecting its last science observation for NASA. The space agency is suspending its budget for the mission after a review of operating missions by senior astronomers ranked GALEX lower than other projects seeking a limited supply of funding. (2/10)

NASA Hosts Events to Celebrate 50 Years of Americans in Orbit (Source: NASA)
In celebration of 50 years of Americans in orbit, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will host several events Feb. 17 and 18 that will air live on NASA Television. On Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. EST, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana will host an employee presentation on NASA TV with the first two Americans to orbit Earth, Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. On Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first U.S. orbital mission. Three months later, on May 24, Carpenter became the second American in orbit.

At 3 p.m., NASA TV will air a news conference with Glenn and Carpenter. The event will take place at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in the Mercury Mission Control exhibit. On Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Glenn and Carpenter will participate in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex honoring all who made NASA's Project Mercury possible. The "On the Shoulders of Giants" program will include remarks from Cabana, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and astronaut Steve Robinson. (2/10)

NASA Seeks Game Changing Technology Payloads for Suborbital Research Flights (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking proposals for small technology payloads that could fly on future NASA-sponsored suborbital flights. These future flights will travel to the edge of space and back, testing the innovative new technologies before they're sent to work in the harsh environment of space. NASA's Game Changing Opportunities research announcement seeks proposals for payloads, vehicle enhancements and onboard facilities for payload integration that will help the agency advance technology development in the areas of exploration, space operations and other innovative technology areas relevant to NASA's missions. (2/10)

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