March 28, 2012

California Delta-4 Launch Delayed to Friday (Source: Launch Alert)
The launch of a Delta IV carrying a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is delayed 24 hours. During close out for launch, the team observed an upper stage engine condition that will require additional time for review. The launch is set for Friday, March 30 from Space Launch Complex-6 at 3:38 p.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The weather forecast for March 30 shows a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. (3/28)

Where is Space? (Source: IP in Space)
Ask a four year old “Where is space?” and they will likely reply “Up there!” Look in the Outer Space Treaty or virtually any other US law relating to space for a definition of “where is space?” and you’re not going to do much better than the four year old’s answer. Obviously the Earth ends and space begins somewhere but today, as it has been for the entirety of humanity’s manned and unmanned exploration of “up there”, there is no international legal definition of space; no clear indication of where space law applies! This ambiguity is a potential source of confusion and unease for aerospace companies and space farers because different nations (or the same nation) may apply different laws to the physically identical vehicles and flight profiles and may attempt to apply their laws to satellites in orbits that overfly their soil.

Within a year of the first ballooners taking to the skies, governments began applying the rule of law to flying vehicles. Long standing international law recognizes that all countries have the right to control the airspace above their lands, but somewhere above all nations airspace ends and space (or outer space, if you prefer) begins. Different laws apply which assert that this area “shall be free for exploration and use by all.”

Internationally, there is not yet an established boundary marking where space begins. International efforts to define where space begins take three different approaches. The first approach seeks to define where space law applies from a physical prospective. The secod approach is functional, applying space law based on the characteristics of the vehicle involved. The third approach is to legally define space from an arbitrary standpoint that serves one or more sovereign nations’ interests, or definition by fiat. Click here. (3/28)

Bezos Hopes to Recover Saturn-V Engines From Atlantic Floor (Source: Bezos Expeditions)
Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. I was five years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration. A year or so ago, I started to wonder, with the right team of undersea pros, could we find and potentially recover the F-1 engines that started mankind's mission to the moon?

I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor. We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in - they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see.

Though they've been on the ocean floor for a long time, the engines remain the property of NASA. If we are able to recover one of these F-1 engines that started mankind on its first journey to another heavenly body, I imagine that NASA would decide to make it available to the Smithsonian for all to see. If we're able to raise more than one engine, I've asked NASA if they would consider making it available to the excellent Museum of Flight here in Seattle. (For clarity, I'll point out that no public funding will be used to attempt to raise the engines, as it's being undertaken privately.) (3/28)

NASA Faces Serious Challenges Keeping Space Station Relevant (Source: Network World)
The International Space Station might be a case of "if you build it they may not come" according to a government watchdog report out this week. The report states that the space agency has done a credible job of helping build the ISS (with a $50 billion investment) to last for years to come, but adds that there's a serious question as to whether or not it will be able to service the station and productively use it for science.

That was the conclusion of the Government Accountability Office report that found NASA and the ISS program face three major challenges: NASA must be able to transport cargo and crew to and from the ISS; NASA must ensure that the management of the ISS national laboratory results in effective utilization of the station for its primary purpose-scientific research; and the space agency must ensure that replaceable spare parts are available and that the ISS is structurally sound and can safely continue operations. (3/28)

Stephen Hawking Accepts Prestigious NSS Award (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephen Hawking as the 14th recipient of NSS's Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award will be presented to Dr. Hawking at a special ceremony at the Cooks Branch Conservancy in Montgomery, Texas on Wednesday, March 28 and is given in recognition of his outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement. (3/28)

Mikulski Chairs NASA Oversight Hearing (Source: Sen. Mikulski)
"Frugal times demand a frugal space agency. Our space programs must be affordable, balanced and wisely managed to gain support in frugal times," Chairwoman Mikulski said. "But make no mistake, NASA's mission is worth our passion...As Chairwoman, I have three priorities for NASA," Chairwoman Mikulski said. "First, is to implement a balanced space program. How will NASA move forward with the program Congress authorized and funded? Second, is to be an economic engine. How is NASA putting America to work out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building? Third, is oversight and accountability. How is NASA ensuring our tax dollars are spent wisely?" (3/28)

Stott Featured at Embry-Riddle Chicago Event (Source: ERAU)
You are invited for a very special evening with Embry-Riddle alumni and friends at the Mid-America Club in Chicago. Join us for a meet and greet session, followed by our featured keynote speaker, astronaut Nicole Stott, ('87, DB). Stott, who recently joined the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees, will meet with our alumni and share stories about her experiences in space. Last year, Stott served as a mission specialist on the STS-133 flight to the International Space Station on one of the last space shuttle launches. Click here. (3/28)

Is It Snowing Microbes On Enceladus? (Source:
In a series of tantalizingly close flybys to the moon, named "Enceladus," NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed watery jets erupting from what may be a vast underground sea. These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon's icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is uniquely accessible in all the solar system.

"More than 90 jets of all sizes near Enceladus's south pole are spraying water vapor, icy particles, and organic compounds all over the place," says Carolyn Porco, an award-winning planetary scientist and leader of the Imaging Science team for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. "Cassini has flown several times now through this spray and has tasted it. And we have found that aside from water and organic material, there is salt in the icy particles. The salinity is the same as that of Earth's oceans." (3/28)

Holdren to Attend "Built to Last" Meeting in Orlando (Source: SPACErePORT)
A White House Community Partnership Summit is planned for Orlando on March 30. The event will include John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The event seems to have an overarching focus on the President's "An America Build To Last" blueprint. Aerospace and space industry competitiveness may be a topic of discussion. (A smaller gathering on the Space Coast is planned for tomorrow. Details to follow.) (3/28)

In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Innovate (SourcE: CBC)
"I wouldn't have known what to say about how important space exploration is if we didn't already have evidence of how important it once was," said Tyson. He cites the golden age of space exploration in the 1960s, in which the Apollo race to the moon took place amid one of the most turbulent decades the United States has ever faced. "We were fighting a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and a hot war in Southeast Asia. That was a bleak decade. Meanwhile, people are still dreaming about tomorrow, they're thinking about what a new world might be," he said. "All this is going on while we're going to the moon, a historically unreachable goal...if you can go to the moon, you can probably do anything.

But what is space travel good for, other than inspiration regarding what the human race can accomplish? "When you innovate, you pump an economy like no other force of nature can," Tyson said. In the '60s, the American space program was driven almost entirely by competition with the Soviet Union. "War is the number one driver of the expenditure of human capital in the history of the world. Once you understand that about the Apollo program, it's obvious why we didn't continue on to Mars."

But Tyson doesn't want an international threat or conflict to be the driver for going back into space. "The way to do it is to recognize how it can pump and stoke an economy. And if you're not seduced by the urge to discover, I'm not going to twist your arm," he said. "But I will tell you that if you don't discover, you are mortgaging the future of your country and its financial health. Because you're not embracing the force that innovations bring to the economy." (3/28)

Fundamental Steps Needed Now in Global Redesign of Earth System Governance (Source: Science Daily)
Some 32 social scientists and researchers from around the world have concluded that fundamental reforms of global environmental governance are needed to avoid dangerous changes in the Earth system. The scientists argued in the March 16 edition of the journal Science that the time is now for a "constitutional moment" in world politics. Research now indicates that the world is nearing critical tipping points in the Earth system, including on climate and biodiversity, which if not addressed through a new framework of governance could lead to rapid and irreversible change. (3/16)

Colorado Spaceport Will Make the World a Smaller Place (Source:
The world is shrinking fast. If the promoters of the Front Range Spaceport are successful, you (or a piece of precious cargo) can get from Colorado to Australia on a suborbital spacecraft in 2½ hours - it takes more than 18 hours in a jetliner. How about Tokyo in less than 2 hours, or Paris in 1½ hours? The fare is projected to be about $200,000. In case you think this is all just science fiction, let me tell you about SB35 that recently passed the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives with unanimous votes. Gov. John Hickenlooper probably will sign the bill next week. (3/28)

Space Station’s Near Miss Underlines the Dangers of Debris in Space (Source: Daily Beast)
On a Saturday when most Americans were enjoying an early spring weekend, the six astronauts aboard the international space station had a very close encounter. A discarded fragment of a Russian-made rocket-booster nearly collided with the space station. The March 24 incident was serious enough, according to NASA, for the six astronauts (three Russians, two Americans and a Dutchman) to take safety precautions and move to the escape capsules.

“It basically forced the astronauts on the space station to take cover because of the potential fear that it could hit the space station,” Frank Rose, the State Department’s most senior diplomat working on space policy, told The Daily Beast in an interview. Noting that the rocket booster was hurtling through space at 17,500 miles per hour, Rose said, “Had that hit the space station, it would have done catastrophic damage.”

Rose, whose formal title is deputy assistant secretary of state for space and defense policy, is trying to forge an understanding between space-faring nations to agree not to intentionally create space junk, or the debris created when satellites, rockets, and other man-made objects in orbit collide. Earlier this year the Obama administration decided to pursue an international code of conduct for space-faring nations that would commit countries to refrain from intentionally create space debris. (3/28)

Space Travel is No Form of Progress if All We Get is Shrimp Eyes (Source: Norwich Evening News)
Frankly, I’m still smarting over all those lies we were told at primary school about how we’d all be living on the moon in the year 2000 and flitting about in hover cars. It’s 2012 and I still don’t have a personal robot, a rocket jet-pack or a holiday let on Mars and this is despite the fact that MY UNCLE WORKS AT NASA. You normal Earthlings, who don’t have an Uncle that works at NASA, must surely be even further back in the queue for disintegration guns, hover-boards or holographic communication screens.

Dr Lewis Dartnell, from the University College London, has burst the space bubble, meaning that only the terminally masochistic would consider signing up to a long period away from earth. “With very little effort required to move around in microgravity, future spacemen and women are likely to become pretty chubby. Also with no need for hair to insulate the head or eyelashes to flick dust from their eyes, future humans may become totally hairless,” he said.

Recent brain scan research on NASA astronauts who have returned to Earth after more than a month in space have revealed eye deformities caused, scientists believe, by “intercranial hypertension”. The longer you stay in space, the shorter your eyeballs get. Spend a year in space and you come back with eyes like full stops in the smallest font imaginable. (3/28)

Yuri's Night Approaches (Source: Yuri's Night)
Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In 2004, people celebrated Yuri's Night in 34 countries in over 75 individual events. The goal of Yuri's Night is to increase public interest in space exploration and to inspire a new generation of explorers. Driven by space-inspired artistic expression and culminating in a worldwide network of annual celebrations and educational events. Click here. (3/28)

Mirrors in Space for Low-Cost Terrestrial Solar Electric Power at Night (Source: Next Big Future)
A constellation of 12 or more mirror satellites is proposed in a polar sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 1000 km above the earth. Each mirror satellite contains a multitude of 2 axis tracking mirror segments that collectively direct a sun beam down at a target solar electric field site delivering a solar intensity to said terrestrial site equivalent to the normal daylight sun intensity extending the sunlight hours at said site by about 2 hours at dawn and 2 hours at dusk each day. The proposed system is cheaper because it does not convert to electricity. It is only mirrors that shown on ground based solar farms at night. Click here. (3/28)

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two Relies on Carbon Composites (Source: Design News)
Virgin Galactic has been working on perfecting its second-generation SpaceShip Two prototype commercial spaceship, made primarily of carbon composites, for more than two years. Recently, Virgin Galactic test pilot David Mackay reportedly told attendees of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference that the company hopes to perform suborbital tests of the spaceship during 2012. Mackay said that Virgin hopes to install the rocket motor and start powered flight testing of the spaceship during the later part of the year.

SpaceShipTwo is being built and tested by The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Scaled Composites. Scaled Composites, owned by Northrop Grumman, is a specialist in the design, tooling, and manufacturing of aircraft, as well as of specialty composite structures. It also does developmental flight tests of both air and space vehicles. (3/28)

Astrium Awarded Two Satellite Contracts by Russia's RSCC (Source: Astrium)
Astrium, Europe’s number one space company, has been awarded two contracts from the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) for the delivery of two telecommunication satellites Express AM4R and Express AM7. Astrium will build the satellites based on the Eurostar E3000 platform and a Khrunichev-built Proton launcher will deliver them to orbit in 2014. (3/28)

NASA Selects 3 UCF Projects For Flight Opportunities Program (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA's Flight Opportunities Program has selected three University of Central Florida cutting-edge space technology projects for flights. The UCF projects were among 24 NASA chose for its program this month. NASA will pay for all projects to fly on a suborbital rocket, high-altitude balloon or on a parabolic airplane. UCF Associate Professor of Physics Joshua Colwell submitted three proposals to NASA, which selected all three. Two experiments will fly on a suborbital rocket and one will fly on parabolic airplane flight, which provide brief periods of weightlessness. Several UCF students and graduates are working on the projects. (3/28)

Delta 4 Poised for One Last 'First Flight' Milestone (Source:
A maiden flight of sorts for the lone configuration of the Delta 4 rocket that has not yet been utilized will take to the skies from America's western spaceport Thursday afternoon, weather permitting, on a mission carrying a classified spy satellite. Comprised of medium- to heavy-lifting vehicles, the Delta 4 family has five members with increasing levels of performance for hauling larger and more massive payloads to any desired orbit.

Since debuting in November 2002, rockets with no strap-on solid motors, some with two boosters and others with the maximum of four, nose cones in both four- and five-meter diameter options, and the mighty triple-barrel version with three core stages strapped together have flown successfully.

Now, this week's flight will put the puzzle pieces together to form the Delta 4 Medium+ (5,2) rocket, a towering 217-foot-tall launcher with a hydrogen-fueled first stage and two solid-propellant boosters mounted on the sides, a cryogenic upper stage and nose shroud five meters wide. (3/28)

Museum to Host Connecticut Space Day (Source: CT Post)
Anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and been dazzled by the beauty and immensity of our solar system will want to consider participating in NASA's Connecticut Space Day, which takes place Sunday, April 1, in Bridgeport. Hosting this year's celebration is the Discovery Museum and Planetarium, which will offer free museum admission throughout the day in addition to a host of free lectures and activities. (3/28)

Super-Earth Alien Planets May Hang on to Life More Tightly (Source:
Life may not get blasted off any of the known "super-Earth" worlds as readily as it can from our planet, scientists find. The discovery suggests that any intelligent aliens that develop on such planets might find it hard to rocket off them and travel to other worlds as well, researchers added. Now scientists find that, in contrast to our solar system, the exchange of living microbes between super-Earths and other planets in their systems is not likely to occur. "It is very difficult for materials to spread throughout that system in the same way it could take place in our solar system," said study co-author Jay Melosh. (3/28)

McBride: Obama’s NASA Budget Cut ‘Stupid’ (Source: Indian Express)
Captain Jon McBride, a long-serving pilot of NASA spaceships, termed the Obama administration's proposal to cut budget for it's Mars exploration and scrapping of the plan of returning to moon “stupid” and said the US would lose its prominence in science if this trend continues. “That is stupid. NASA gives highest return on investment. It returns seven dollars on every dollar invested on it. It has invented 40,000 technologies. If I were president, I would not have done that.” The West Virginian was talking to Indian Express on the sidelines of a function at a school here on Tuesday. (3/28)

NASA to Train 35 UAE High School Students (Source: Gulf Today)
Thirty five UAE's students from different high schools are joining, next week for the first time, an intensive training program in aerospace engineering at Houston School, Lead Aerospace Engineer at NASA - Johnson Space Center in the United States. Hussain Al Ansari, CEO of Space Ed-Ventures and Vice President at Arab Youth Venture Foundation said that all the necessary arrangements have been completed for the Emirati students to join Houston School by the end of March to attend the intensive training program specially prepared for students of ages between 12 to 18 years. (3/28)

'It is Time to Travel Beyond the Moon' (Source: Gulf Daily News)
It is time to go beyond the Moon and set up a space station in Mars, NASA astronaut Marsha Ivins said, as she gave career advice to students in Bahrain last night. As missions to Moon have been cancelled, "the future is looking beyond it to go to Mars, the journey which takes six months" the veteran of five spaceflights said at the Isa Cultural Hall.

The event was organized by the Bahrain Astronomical Society, in co-operation with the US Embassy. Educators, doctors, students and young professionals attended. She spoke about the history of spaceflights and shared her as an astronaut. She logged more than 1,318 hours in space and left NASA on December 31, 2010. (3/28)

American Astronaut Marsha Ivins Inspires Audiences to Reach for the Stars (Source: US Consulate in Jerusalem)
The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem hosted NASA Astronaut Marsha Ivins for a March 18-20 visit to the West Bank and Jerusalem, during which she shared personal photos taken from space and discussed her experiences with audiences of students, academics, scientists, and others interested in learning about space travel. Ms. Ivins, one of few female astronauts worldwide, visited the region as a part of the Consulate General's March celebration of Women's History Month. (3/18)

Former NASA Astronaut Marsha Ivins in Jordan (Source: U.S. Embassy in Jordan)
The U.S. Embassy in Amman will host former NASA astronaut Marsha Ivins from March 21-26, 2012, for a number of lectures and workshops in Aqaba, Ma’an, Tafeeleh, Irbid, Mafraq and Amman, to meet and inspire Jordanian youth and share through presentations her experience as a pioneer woman astronaut in space exploration and space research. Ms. Ivins, who is a veteran of five space flights, has recently retired from NASA in 2010. Marsha Ivins spent over 1318 hours in space to perform a study in the field of space engineering. (3/18)

Obama Nominates Huerta as FAA Administrator (Source: The Hill)
President Barack Obama has nominated Michael Huerta, interim chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, to a full five-year term. Huerta stepped in as interim administrator of the agency after former Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned. Huerta's nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. (3/28)

Lt. Gov. Carroll: Space Industry ‘Critical’ for Jacksonville Area, State (Source: Jacksonville Daily Record)
Advocates of the commercial space industry see opportunities with the end of the space shuttle program and some say one of those is in Jacksonville. Cecil Airport, certified as a spaceport in January 2010, hosted Cecil Spaceport Development Summit on Monday. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll told attendees the space industry and its possibilities were “critical for our area and the state of Florida” for economic development and global competition in a targeted growth industry.

She said the space tourism industry attracts global customers who travel to an area with their families for months at a time for training and spend money. Carroll said that requires investment in attractive infrastructure and she asked chamber members to support development within the community. “Now is the time for Northeast Florida to get on the map,” she said of the industry’s growth. (3/28)

DOD Starbase Program Will Teach Math, Science in Montana (Source: KRTV)
Great Falls, Mont., students will get a hands-on dose of math and science through the Department of Defense's Starbase program, which is scheduled to launch within a week. The program offers students a chance to use cutting-edge technology, including a flight simulator. Editor's Note: There are three DOD Starbase programs in Florida, two near Pensacola and one in Jacksonville. Click here for information. (3/28)

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