February 29, 2012

NASA Seeking University Participants for Summer Rocket Workshop (Source: NASA)
University faculty and students are invited to join a weeklong workshop June 16-21 to learn how to build and launch a scientific experiment to space. Registration is open through May 1. RockOn! 2012 will be held at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The annual workshop is held in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.

During the program, participants will work together to build experiment payloads for a NASA Terrier-Orion sounding rocket predicted to fly to an altitude of 73 miles. The flight will take place June 21, the last day of the workshop, weather permitting. Click here. (2/29)

Seven House Republicans Call on White House to Ensure Safety of Astronauts (Source: Space Policy Online)
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) and six other House Republicans from Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, and Illinois wrote to Presidential science adviser John Holdren asking him to ensure NASA is able to impose safety standards for astronauts flying on space transportation systems developed and operated by the commercial sector. They also urged Holdren to expedite a request to Congress for another waiver to the Iran-North Korea-Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) to allow NASA to purchase additional services from Russia to support the International Space Station.

The letter follows a comment by Holdren at a Feb. 17 hearing, saying he understands that NASA would certainly have such responsibility. He said if there was a problem in the Commercial Crew agreements, "I am sure we will fix it." The letter goes on to explain that the NASA agreements do not permit NASA to impose design or safety requirements. The Congressmen ask Holdren to "heed your own advice" from the hearing and "take immediate action to remedy the situation." Click here.

Editor's Note: This continues an ongoing argument about whether NASA or the FAA should regulate the commercial human spaceflight industry. NASA is content to let the FAA establish standards/regulations (with NASA's help) and provide enforcement. Unlike the FAA, NASA is not statutorily empowered as a regulatory agency. Also, not all commercial human spaceflight missions will be launched on behalf of NASA, so unless Congress wants to establish an entirely new branch of NASA to regulate this emerging industry, it might make sense to allow FAA's existing Office of Commercial Space Transportation to do what they were designed to do. (2/29)

Two Teens Send Burrito Into Space! (Sources: NBC, @FeffFoust)
Two Kansas teens accomplished something NASA has never even attempted - launching a burrito into space! Great Bend teens Jeff Keenan and Aaron Mull spent three months researching the project and rigged a seven foot weather balloon ahead of Saturday's launch.

They attached a Go Pro camera and Keenan's own i-Phone, which was used to track the 100-thousand feet journey, to the burrito balloon. The two were even able to capture the main shot they wanted: the blackness of space, the sun in the background and the blue ozone layer of the earth. The contraption floated for ten hours before landing 100 miles away in Solomon. (2/21)

Why the Global Warming Skeptics are Wrong (Source: New York Review of Books)
The threat of climate change is an increasingly important environmental issue for the globe. Because the economic questions involved have received relatively little attention, I have been writing a nontechnical book for people who would like to see how market-based approaches could be used to formulate policy on climate change. When I showed an early draft to colleagues, their response was that I had left out the arguments of skeptics about climate change, and I accordingly addressed this at length. Click here. (2/29)

BepiColombo Mercury mission to be launched in 2015 (Source: ESA)
BepiColombo, an ESA mission to the planet Mercury in collaboration with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, is now planned for launch in a window opening in August 2015. While ESA had previously been targeting a launch in July 2014, a 2015 option has always been built in to the development plan, as part of the risk mitigation strategy. (2/29)

Exploration Mission 1: SLS and Orion Lunar Mission Outlined (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The debut of the Space Launch System (SLS) will send the Orion (MPCV) on a 7-10 day mission to the Moon, with an aim to qualify the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) and Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) Orion to carry humans into deep space. Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) involves sending Orion around the far side of the Moon, prior to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

With a launch date of December 17, 2017, the historic mission will aim to hand NASA a Christmas present of becoming a successful pathfinder for crewed flights on the new spacecraft, in turn providing a baseline for a return to exploration in deep space for the first time since the 1970s. Launch date slips are a natural part of the space launch business, although the development roadmap for the SLS shows a large amount of schedule mitigation through the key review milestones leading up to the opening mission.

Ironically, the main threat to the schedule target may be due to problems unrelated to Orion or the SLS. This is due to the law of then 2010 Authorization Act, which requires SLS and Orion to provide a back-up role for the International Space Station (ISS), in the event of major disruption in the Commercial Crew arena. This would be an undesirable situation for all concerned, not least because the 70mt SLS and BEO Orion would be vastly overpowered – and economically overpriced – for the role of lofting astronauts to the orbital outpost in Low Earth Orbit. Click here. (2/29)

Bending the Rules for Commercial, Breaking Them for NASA (Source: Hobby Space)
Scott Pace, who helped Mike Griffin design the Constellation architecture, has repeatedly taken issue of the risks of using commercial launch systems that do not have a sufficient "track record". For example: "You're probably not going to put something really expensive until you've seen seven successful flights. And you really don't have a sense of the long-range reliability... until you had about 14 flights. So, the discussion of bending... or accelerating the rules means that you will be taking risks by potentially putting people or high value cargo on before you've established a real track record."

As with the Ares I, which would have flown people by the second launch, NASA's SLS will fly people despite a track record of just one flight. Isn't that "bending the rules a bit"? Of course, NASA has no choice but to accelerate the rules because its rockets are so stupendously expensive they can't afford to build a track record. It's unlikely that the SLS will ever get even 7 flights in one particular configuration, much less 14. In response to a question about why the Atlas V's excellent track record doesn't count, Pace uses Griffin's canard about reliability and safety being different issues.

Yes, a transport composed of an unreliable rocket combined with a highly reliable abort system might be safer than a reliable rocket combined with an unreliable abort system. However, there is no reason to believe that an abort system with whichever crew module is chosen for the Atlas V will be any less reliable than the SLS/Orion's abort system. And by any empirical measure, the confidence in the reliability of the Atlas V will be far higher than in the SLS, which will have a core stage and side boosters that will never fly enough to offer any statistical evidence to prove they are either reliable or safe. Click here. (2/29)

JPL Changes Name of Mars Mission Proposal (Source: La Canada Valley Sun)
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory today announced that it was changing the name of a proposed Mars exploration mission because NASA wanted the title for a project already in development. NASA requested that the previous Mars mission name -- Geophysical Monitoring Station. or GEMS -- be reserved for an astrophysics mission known as the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer, according to JPL. The new name, InSight, stands for a mouthful -- Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- but its mission is far loftier.

The Mars lander would pack a scientific payload that includes a thermal probe, seismometer and orbital tracking system. JPL scientists would use the tools to discover the inner composition of Mars to help explain the largely unknown story of the planet's beginnings. "We chose the name InSight because we would literally peer into the interior of Mars to map out its structure," JPL the principal investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a statement. (2/29)

Shuttle 'Discovery' to Make Final Landing at Dulles (Source: WTOP)
After 39 trips in space and roughly half a billion miles, the space shuttle Discovery's final journey will end in the D.C. area, arriving at Dulles International Airport before heading off to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Weather permitting, the space shuttle will be transported from NASA's Kennedy Space Center April 17. (2/29)

New Mexico (White Sands) NASA Launch Rescheduled for March 2 (Source: SpaceRef)
The launch of NASA's Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER) has been rescheduled for 4:02 to 4:37 a.m. MST (6:02 to 6:37 a.m. EST), Friday, March 2. The launch had been postponed to give the launch team time to check the fin settings. A NASA two-stage Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket is scheduled for launch March 2 from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (2/29)

PETA Asks Kennedy Space Center to Open Chimpanzee Empathy Museum (Source: SpaceRef)
Prompted by reports that the Kennedy Space Center's budget issues have led the center to rent unused parts of its compound, PETA sent a letter today to Robert Cabana, director of the space center, to ask for permission to turn an unused shuttle hangar or other building into a museum and memorial for the chimpanzees who were abused and killed in violent crash tests and terrifying space flights by the space program.

"PETA's exhibit will show that while NASA has stopped blasting terrified chimpanzees into space and crippling them in crash tests, chimpanzees are still tormented in laboratories--and that cannot go on," says PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. "With Congress considering a bill to ban experiments on these intelligent and social animals, it's the perfect time for an exhibit about what we have done to our closest primate relatives." (2/29)

Russia to Launch World's First International Suborbital Business Incubator (Source: SpaceRef)
The Skolkovo Foundation and the International Space Transport Association will jointly develop the first international knowledge center for commercial suborbital spaceflight. The Center is to be part of Moscow's Science & Technology Park and will host three business units: (Eco) Tech, Mini Satellites & Telecommunications and Suborbital Space Flights. The Skolkovo Foundation, with President Dmitry Medvedev as Head of the Board of Trustees offers a wide range of financial support possibilities for international businesses to flourish. Click here. (2/29)

Pittsburgh Startup's Moon Mission Now Includes Mining (Source: Pittsburgh Business Times)
The to-do list from NASA continues to grow for Astrobotic Technology with the space agency awarding an additional $100,000 and one more task to the Pittsburgh company’s contract. To date Astrobotic, which aims to have the first privately developed mission to the moon, has $610,000 of funding under contract from NASA to perform various tasks for the agency. This NASA contract is doled out in pieces but in the end Astrobotic expects this funding would account for about $10 million. (2/29)

Pleas From Lawmakers Help Coca-Cola Space Science Center Get Shuttle Nozzle (Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)
A chunk of NASA history is about to land at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center. NASA is donating about $20 million worth of artifacts, the centerpiece of which is a space shuttle nozzle, a component found on the back end of a shuttle where the rocket exhaust is released. There are three nozzles on each shuttle and each is attached to an engine.

“This is not just any nozzle,” said Shawn Cruzen, the center’s executive director. “This is one that has been to space nine times on four different shuttles: Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavour and Columbia. It helped carry NASA Director Charles Bolden to space on the first ever flight of a shuttle to the MIR Space Station.” (2/29)

Republicans Probe FCC Over LightSquared (Source: The Hill)
Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded information from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government agencies on Tuesday related to their review of wireless company LightSquared. The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver last year to move forward with its plans for a nationwide 4G network, but the agency now plans to block the network after tests showed it would interfere with GPS devices, including ones used by airplane pilots.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) questioned why the FCC allowed LightSquared to get as far as it did in the regulatory process. They demanded all of the FCC's internal documents on LightSquared, including test results and communications with the company, its investors or GPS companies. (2/29)

Stratolaunch Nears Conclusion of Systems Design Review (Source: Flight Global)
Stratolaunch is to complete the systems design review (SDR) of its new launch system "in the next couple of months". That is the timeframe set out by Jim Halsell, director of Stratolaunch systems at Dynetics, which has been contracted to design the technical integration and to mate and demate procedures and systems. "We will lock down the details of the technical approach, the outer mold lines of all the systems. It's the grunt early work of designing a complex system." Major system trades and exact specifications, including information crucial to operation such as maximum gross take-off weight and required runway length, will not be finalised until the PDR. (2/29)

Utah's ATK Has HAnd in NASA's New Launch System (Source: Salt Lake Tribune)
Utah’s Alliant Techsystems said it is preparing an “inert” abort motor to fly atop the Orion crew vehicle that NASA is planning to use on a test flight in 2014. The Orion crew vehicle, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin, is being designed to fly aboard NASA’s new space launch system, the heart of which is a massive rocket that will be powerful enough to take crew and enough cargo into orbit for eventual missions to the moon, asteroids and one day to Mars. In the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent, the abort motor would be used to fling the Orion crew capsule safely away from the rocket. (2/29)

Senators Debate Even Deeper Defense Cuts (Source: AP)
Lawmakers on the Senate Budget Committee argued Tuesday over whether the Pentagon can withstand even more budget cuts, with some urging more cuts to overseas installations. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that although it is possible to cut $487 billion over 10 years as planned, deeper cuts would harm the nation's security. (2/29)

Air Force Sets Aside Sierra Nevada Contract (Source: Wall Street Journal)
In a surprise move, the Air Force has announced it is setting aside a contract with Sierra Nevada Corp. for planes bound for Afghanistan's military and that it is launching an investigation into the $355 million deal. "Since the acquisition is still in litigation, I can only say that the Air Force senior acquisition executive, David Van Buren, is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision," said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. Rival Hawker Beechcraft, which had filed suit after its design was excluded from consideration, may compete for the contract if it is reopened, a company official said. (2/29)

Virginia Launch Delays Blamed on Spaceport Authority (Source: DelMarVaNow)
Orbital Sciences Corp. Chief Executive Officer David Thompson blamed delays in the company's Antares rocket project on the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, saying there have been multiple problems in completing the launch pad and associated equipment for the rocket's planned launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. The problems have set the project back eight to nine months, Thompson said.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and the Virginia Secretary of Transportation's office did not respond by Monday afternoon to questions about the delays. The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority has charge of the spaceport, where Orbital has committed to launch missions to fulfill its contracts with NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services and Commercial Resupply Services programs. (2/28)

North Carolina Students Score in NASA Challenge (Source: Rocky Mount Telegram)
A group of Jacksonville, N.C., students has been selected to compete nationally in a NASA engineering design challenge. The eighth-graders designed a zero-gravity foot for the Robonaut 2 used on the International Space Station, and did it using Legos. Ten groups of middle- and high-school students nationwide are now moving to the next phase of the challenge. (2/29)

NASA Has Until Summer to Come Up With Mars Strategy (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Vowing to continue Mars exploration at a more measured, affordable pace after pulling out of a joint sample return program with Europe, the head of NASA's science directorate said Monday the space agency is launching a feverish study to lay the groundwork for a robotic mission to the red planet in 2018. It was welcome news at a meeting of Mars scientists outside Washington this week, but researchers may have trouble crafting a Mars mission to their liking at a cost cap of about $700 million, the figure floated by NASA science chief John Grunsfeld. (2/29)

The Long, Strange Journey of a Martian Meteorite (Source: WIRED)
In the early morning of July 18th, 2011, something unusual happened in eastern Morocco. The sky lit up, glowing and changing colors. They couldn’t possibly have known it at the time, but a few well-placed nomads were experiencing so
Linkmething that’s only happened a handful of times in recorded history: They were witnessing the terrestrial arrival of a piece of Mars. The Meteoritical Society’s bulletin reads like a police report. Click here. (2/29)

Krasnoyarsk and Canada Agree on Joint Space Business Development (Source: Itar-Tass)
The Krasnoyarsk-based company Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems (ISS) and Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) have reached an agreement on the joint development of business on the international market of geostationary satellites. The marketing agreement provides for cooperation in the development of business in the market of geostationary satellites weighing up to 1,350 kg and a payload capacity not exceeding 3 kW on the Express-1000 K platform produced by ISS and payloads manufactured by MDA. (2/29)

Garver: NASA Budget Good for Virginia and Langley (Source: Richmond Times Dispatch)
My recent visit to NASA's Langley Research Center came on the heels of the president's trip to Northern Virginia Community College to unveil his 2013 budget proposal to the nation. In recognition of the vital role that technological innovation and the aerospace industry play in advancing our nation's character and economy, the president's budget includes $17.7 billion for NASA.

This is a budget that enhances NASA's scientific and human exploration of our solar system as well as our important stewardship of the Earth. It's a budget that keeps us on course to meet the president's goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. And it's a budget that will create jobs by doubling our investment in American companies to provide access to the International Space Station and other low-Earth-orbit destinations. (2/29)

JAA to Host Cecil Spaceport Summit (Source: Daily Record)
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority will bring together aerospace executives and City and state officials March 25-26 for a Cecil Spaceport Development Summit. JAA CEO Steve Grossman said the goal of the two-day event is to educate participants about the commercial spaceport goals and needs of the area. Cecil Airport, part of the JAA’s airport system, was certified as a spaceport in January 2010. Click here. (2/29)

Canada to Review Aerospace Industry (Source: Canada.com)
Canada's federal government is reviewing its financial support for the nation's $22-billion aerospace industry, naming former industry minister David Emerson to lead the process. Emerson, also a former Canfor Corp. chief executive, will be chairman of a panel seeking to "produce concrete, fiscally neutral recommendations on how federal policies and programs can help maximize the competitiveness of Canada's aerospace and space sectors," the government said Monday. The panel will submit a report to Industry Minister Christian Paradis by December, the government said. (2/29)

Beset by Budget Cuts, US Mars Scientists Consider 2018 Mission (Source: Flight Global)
It is the job of a federal bureaucrat to put a good face on bad budget news, and on Monday, NASA science chief John Grunsfeld, just two months into his job, did his best to buck up a reeling Mars-research community. He announced that the agency would redesign its Mars exploration program and that the new architecture would include input — and money — from the human program as well as the space technology division. Grunsfeld tasked Orlando Figueroa with heading up a seven- or eight-person committee and to start developing mission concepts in the next month.

One of those concepts would be a possible $700-million mission, launching in 2018 — a particularly auspicious year from the standpoint of orbital mechanics. “This is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss,” Grunsfeld told a group of more than 100 Mars scientists attending the annual meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG). But even as Grunsfeld tried to make the best of a crummy situation, some of the attendees seemed dazed, bitter or both. “Is this the end of the Mars program?” asks Jack Mustard, a geologist at Brown University in Rhode Island, and one of the members of Figueroa’s ad hoc committee. “I hope not.” (2/29)

A Brew for the Launch Crew (Source: Air&Space)
The Cocoa Beach Brewing Company is what the U.S. trade association for brewers calls a "nanobrewery," so small all its equipment could have fit in a space shuttle payload bay. Its tasting room frequently fills wiht scientists and engineers from nearby launch facilities talking shop about payloads over pints of the brewery's Von Braun Ale. "All the legendary astronaut bars are gone," says owner Chris McCall. "We've kind of brought a bit of that back to Cocoa Beach." (2/29)

Russia Sees No Progress at Missile Defense Talks (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia has seen no progress in missile defense talks with NATO, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday. “We have no grounds to speak of progress, no grounds to say that we may agree on a [joint] document by May [when Chicago hosts a NATO summit],” Ryabkov told journalists. He also said the Russian leadership has not yet decided whether it will attend the summit. (2/29)

Embry-Riddle Presentations at Suborbital Conference (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, two ongoing research projects by Embry-Riddle faculty and students were featured. One FAA-sponsored project focuses on mitigating radiation impacts on spaceflight participants and on critical vehicle components. The other is a student-supported collaboration between 4Frontiers Corp. and Starfighters Aerospace to develop a rocket that will be air-launched from underneath a Starfighters F-104 aircraft. (2/28)

National Space Society Supports New Horizons Stamp (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society has announced its support for an effort to honor the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt with a United States Postal Service (USPS) stamp. The on-going petition effort seeks to gather 100,000 signatures by March 13, 2012. Since there is a three-year time lead for approval of commemorative stamps, the plan is to gather enough signatures for the stamp to come out in 2015, just in time for New Horizon's arrival at Pluto. Please join the hundreds of NSS members who have already signed the petition by visiting the stamp drive web site here. (2/29)

California Legislators Asked to Support Space Measures (Source: Space Politics)
Mojave's Stu Witt is asking California's state legislature to consider several pieces of legislation that would make California more competitive versus those other states and thus more likely to attract and retain those space companies. Those pieces of legislation include liability indemnification, “zero-g, zero tax” incentives, tax credits, and making it easier for the spaceport to tap state infrastructure funding.

Witt said the effort is backed by companies at Mojave as well as SpaceX and other companies in the state, and has the support within the legislature of Assemblyman Steve Knight and a few others. Their specific requests for legislation were submitted last week. They’ve tried to push for similar legislation three times in the past but failed to get it through, he said, although with term limits in the state legislature there is “a whole new cadre of characters” there that he hopes will be more receptive this time around.

Witt said that this legislation can help keep the companies that have revitalized his airport over the last decade in the state and allow them to fly from there. “The view from space, if I had a choice, I’d like to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the tip of Baja from my trip,” he said. “The view would sell itself if you have a place to fly from California, and I would like to see some of these companies have the opportunity to stay in California and operate.” (2/29)

Aerospace Firm Opening New Headquarters in Boca Raton (Source: Sun Sentinel)
Aerospace Technologies Group, Inc. opens its new corporate headquarters building on March 5 at the Research & Development Park at Florida Atlantic University. The company had previously announced its plans to move and expand to Boca Raton in November 2010. ATG, which designs and produces window shade systems for business jets and commercial airlines, employs 130 people in manufacturing, administrative, research and development roles at the Boca Raton location. (2/28)

Loral Chief Resigns from ViaSat Board (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband service provider ViaSat Inc. on Feb. 27 said Loral Space and Communications Chief Executive Michael B. Targoff had resigned from the ViaSat board of directors. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat said Targoff had also resigned from his positions on all ViaSat committees.

The resignation was not unexpected. ViaSat filed suit against New York-based Loral’s satellite manufacturing division, Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., on Feb. 1 accusing the manufacturer of stealing ViaSat intellectual property related to high-throughput broadband satellites. (2/28)

LightSquared Chief Executive Resigns (Source: Space News)
Embattled mobile broadband startup LightSquared said Feb. 28 that Sanjiv Ahuja has resigned as its chief executive officer but will continue to serve as chairman of the board. LightSquared, whose plan for a network serving North America was nixed by U.S. regulators over GPS interference concerns, named Doug Smith, currently the company’s chief network officer, and Marc Montagner, the chief financial officer, as its interim chief operating officers. (2/28)

Indian Space Scientist Resigns Over Blacklisting of ISRO Stalwarts (Source: Space Daily)
Eminent scientist Roddam Narasimha, the seniormost member of the Space Commission, has resigned to protest the blacklisting of former Indian space agency chairman G. Madhavan Nair and three others in connection with the Antrix-Devas spectrum deal, an ISRO official said Friday. (2/28)

Discovery to be Welcomed to Smithsonian in Four-Day Event (Source: Florida Today)
The Smithsonian Institution today released plans for four days of festivities to welcome the retired shuttle orbiter Discovery in April. NASA plans to ferry Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., on April 17, weather permitting. Spectators at the center and across the Washington, D.C., area are encouraged to “spot the shuttle” during its final approach to Dulles International Airport atop a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Click here. (2/28)

Asteroid Threat in 2040? Scientists Watch 2011 AG5 (Source: ABC News)
There is an asteroid called 2011 AG5, and if it follows the orbit scientists have plotted for it so far, there is a small, small chance that it could hit Earth in February 2040. Don't quit your job and sell your house just yet. Astronomers, who have been tracking the asteroid since January 2011, say it is in an elliptical orbit that could bring it somewhere near Earth in 2040. Earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter; the asteroid appears to be about 450 feet across. (2/28)

Experts: Commercial Space Day Has Not Come (Source: Aviation Week)
What will it take to get commercial human spaceflight off the ground? When will it be available and attractive to “the 99%” the Wall Street Occupiers say they represent as well as for the superrich “1%”? A group of academics and “New Space” entrepreneurs say the answers are complicated, but that it won’t hurt to have a space traveler with the common touch and a way with words.

That’s the role Anne Morrow Lindbergh played when commercial aviation was young, says Zoe Szajnfarber, an engineering-management and systems engineering professor at George Washington University. In the 1930s, Lindbergh barnstormed the country and the world with her famous husband Charles, meeting aviation enthusiasts personally and writing best-sellers about her adventures in the sky for a wider audience.

Ken Davidian, director of research at the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, had asked panelists to discuss how close private human spacecraft is to the “tipping point,” when a change becomes more likely than the status quo. For now, panelists agreed, the status quo is government-funded and operated. But there are plenty of companies pushing things toward what Alex Saltman, the director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, called a “phase transition,” as when water freezes or turns to steam. (2/28)

XCOR Lynx Fuselage Delivered (Source: Flight Global)
XCOR has announced delivery of the first flight-capable fuselage of its Lynx horizontal-takeoff suborbital spacecraft. The fuselage's delivery to the factory, a major milestone in construction of the first vehicle, took place on 17 February. The engine truss, which will hold all the XR-5K18 liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket motor and its components, is nearing completion, and is scheduled for integration with the fuselage by April. (2/28)

Minuteman III Test Launch Delayed at Vandenberg (Source: Launch Alert)
The launch of an unarmed operational test Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., has been postponed. The test launch is delayed in order to replace a test-unique tracking component used only on test missiles. The test-unique tracking component monitors missile location within geographic boundaries of the test range. This tracking system is used solely in test launches of Minuteman III missiles and does not affect the operational reliability, accuracy or performance of the system. The launch has not yet been rescheduled. (2/28)

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