April 28, 2012

California Governor's Office Shows Some Love to Mojave Spaceport (Source: Parabolic Arc)
“California can have either all the regulation or all the business, but it can’t have both.” That was the message delivered to a high-level state official who visited the Mojave Air and Space Port last week to see what Sacramento can do to help keep the burgeoning commercial space industry from moving to other states with fewer regulations, lower taxes and financial incentives. David Knudsen of the Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Economic Development visited last Tuesday, meeting with airport officials and the heads of the some of the NewSpace companies operating at the desert spaceport.

The warning about choosing between regulations and business was delivered by XCOR CEO Jeff Greason during a 20-minute meeting at the hangar where the company is building its suborbital Lynx space plane, Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stuart Witt said. Knudsen also met with Masten Space Systems Founder Dave Masten and officials at the National Test Pilot School during his one-day visit.

Knudsen spoke briefly at the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) Board of Directors meeting. He said he was very excited to learn what was going on in Mojave, and that he was looking forward to partnering with the airport in the future. Knudsen mentioned no specifics and had to leave the meeting early. Witt said that Knudsen told him he had no idea how much was happening in Mojave, and that he would report his findings back to the governor’s Cabinet. However, Knudsen warned that there’s only a limited amount the state can do given current fiscal and policy constraints, Witt added. (4/28)

Virgin Group’s Alex Tai to Set Up Shop in Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A company led by the Virgin Group’s Director of Special Projects Alex Tai is the Mojave Air and Space Port’s newest tenant. Last week, the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors authorized Mojave Air & Space Port CEO Stu Witt to finalize a lease for Tai’s company, Super Sonic Jet, Inc., of Nevada. Tai plans to house a small fleet of Eastern Bloc fighters in Building 70, a hangar adjacent to the airport’s Administration building.

Witt said that the company plans to store three MiG-21 and one Aero L-39 Albatros fighters in the hangar beginning on May 1. He said Tai and other pilots will be flying the aircraft out of Mojave for recreational purposes. The two-year lease requires a monthly payment of $6,893 for a total of $82,725.60 for the year. The agreement includes six, two-year renewal options. (4/28)

Mojave Becomes the Global Expert in Spaceports (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Mojave Air and Space Port has developed a profitable consulting business: advising other groups about how to build and operate their spaceports. Officials from the California spaceport have provided advice to spaceport operators in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Sweden and the Caribbean island of Curacao, said Mojave CEO Stuart Witt.

Last week, the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors approved partnering agreements with two companies vying to provide services to Colorado officials who want to turn Front Range Airport outside of Denver into a spaceport. The consulting companies are HRD and Scott Brown, Inc.

Witt and other official from the spaceport would be team members who would provide advice in various areas of expertise, including: spaceport operations; business development; spaceport licensing; environmental issues; facility analysis and design; and public relations. (4/28)

Possible Launch Dates in 2012 for Copenhagen Suborbitals (Source: WIRED)
Everybody at Copenhagen Suborbitals is beginning to feel the heat! The countdown on our web-page, indicating the opening of our launch window, says 33 days and five launch missions have to be carried out until it closes again ultimo august. The previous years we have only had one major launch and only one launch window. Since we have five launches this summer we had to change our rules of engagement for weekends only in order to have as many essential crew members available.

Our most important partner in crime for these sea launches are the naval home guard. They provide the mission control ship MHV903 and has extensive experience with range safety control and recovery operations. We have asked them for all available weekends in June, July and Aug and those dates are listed here. (4/28)

Space Enthusiasts Send Star Trek Captains Picard and Kirk Into Near Space (Source: SpaceRef)
Space enthusiasts and student engineers will gather on May 5 to boldly go where no Star Trek character has actually gone before, accompanied by Star Trek's finest: Captains Jean-Luc Picard and James Tiberius Kirk. A team of more than a dozen individuals, backed by over 100 donors on Kickstarter, will launch models of the iconic science fiction characters standing atop their respective starships into space riding a high-altitude balloon to a height of 120,000 feet, an altitude just shy of the high-altitude balloon world record. (4/28)

A New Era for the Space Coast (Source: Tampa Bay Times)
The SpaceX launch scheduled for May 7 demonstrates the potential for private companies to use Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and nearby Kennedy Space Center for new endeavors. State leaders say there is no other choice. Florida has always competed with other states for a chunk of the global space industry. But those efforts became even more important when President George W. Bush announced the end of the space shuttle program.

The total jobs lost in Florida: somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000, depending on who's counting. The majority are in Brevard County, where the aerospace industry accounts for roughly 25 percent of all jobs, according to some estimates. State and federal government officials, workforce and economic development agencies and local business leaders have spent years preparing for the massive layoff and charting the next era for Florida's space industry.

Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, said the new goal is to recruit a more diverse array of space-related businesses. "We have been solely, and only, a launch site," she said. "We want to bring more research and development here and more assembly work." Click here. (4/28)

Texas' Huge Snub by NASA (Source: Wichita Falls Times Record)
The last flight of Enterprise Friday reminded me that New York got the shuttle and Texas got the shaft. Now that the space shuttle program is over, the four remaining shuttles have been distributed to museums around the country. Texas, home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, did not get one. So why did Texas lose out?

Some have claimed it all goes back to politics. The places where the shuttles are being placed — aside from the Smithsonian — are California, Florida and New York. All are crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election hopes. Obama denied the White House exerted any influence on the decision, saying the choice was entirely up to NASA. Maybe so.

A former space shuttle program manager, Wayne Hale, said Texas didn't get a shuttle because it didn't deserve one. He wrote, " ... Houston is blasé about the shuttles. Houston and Texas have come to regard NASA and JSC as entitlements." I hope that boy didn't retire in Texas. (4/28)

Fifth Minotaur Rocket to be Launched in 2013 (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
The U.S. Air Force plans to launch a fifth Minotaur I rocket from NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2013. Orbital Sciences announced the Air Force has ordered the launch vehicle for its ORS-3 Enabler mission for the Operationally Responsive Space Office of the Department of Defense. The Enabler mission will be the fifth such mission launched from the spaceport since 2006, when TacSat-2 was conducted from Wallops, followed by NFIRE in 2007, TacSat-3 in 2009 and ORS-1 in 2011. (4/28)

SpaceX Plans Rocket Engine Test (Source: America Space)
On Monday, SpaceX will take the final step on the road to orbit before launching one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets May 7. The NewSpace firm will conduct what is known as a static test fire of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines. During this test, the engines will be ignited in a final test before the upcoming launch. The Falcon 9 will essentially go through everything that the rocket will need to do on launch day – except conduct liftoff. For those wanting to view the static test fire, they need only visit www.spacex.com. SpaceX will kick things off at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The test fire itself is slated to take place at 3 p.m. EDT. (4/28)

Moon Base, Deep Exploration Among Russia’s 2030 Goals (Source: Russia Today)
Landing on the Moon and building a base there are among the goals set by the Russian space agency in their new 20-year outlook. This comes as part of a draft space exploration strategy proposed by the Federal Space Agency.
Before a Moon landing, a Russian spacecraft would fly circle it as part of a "demonstration" mission. After 2030, there would also be a so-called Moon orbital base for visiting spacecraft, maintenance of large space vehicles and orbital transfer vehicles in low Earth orbits. The strategy would also involve setting up orbital groups of space vehicles. The 2030 breakthrough also involves large-scale exploration of near-Earth space and the Moon, as well as a manned flight to Mars. (4/28)

Embry-Riddle Student Teeam Wins EPA Award for Solar-Powered Water Purifier (Source: ERAU)
A team of eight engineering students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that designed and built a new kind of water purifier has been named one of the 15 winners of the 2012 People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) national competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The students will receive a $90,000 EPA grant to refine and patent their device, a solar-powered water purification system that can fit into a backpack for easy transport to disaster-stricken areas around the world. The design is based on two stand-alone water purifiers the students built and installed in Haiti after that nation’s 2010 devastating earthquake. (4/27)

New Particle Discovered at CERN (Source: Science Daily)
Physicists from the University of Zurich have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. A new baryon could thus be detected for the first time at the LHC. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks. Click here. (4/27)

PWR Reducing Manufacturing Space by More than Half (Source: Space News)
With business volume down sharply following the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet, liquid propulsion provider Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) is reducing its production footprint by more than half, mostly in California, company officials said. Jim Maser, PWR’s president, said that by the end 2013, the company will have shrunk its factory floor space from 189,000 square meters to less than 90,000 square meters. PWR has sprawling manufacturing and test facilities in Canoga Park, Calif., where it is headquartered, but Maser said operations in West Palm Beach, Fla., also are being consolidated. (4/27)

RapidEye’s Chinese Suitors Scared Off by a Single Word: ITAR (Source: Space News)
Former RapidEye AG Chief Executive Wolfgang Biedermann remembers the day a large Chinese delegation arrived in Brandenburg, Germany, to try to purchase his struggling company and its five in-orbit Earth observation satellites. The time was mid-2011 and RapidEye’s financial backers had decided to file for the German equivalent of the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

RapidEye’s satellites, launched in mid-2008, were in good health, but the company’s owners were worried that its debt load was more than advisable. The bankruptcy proceedings, they reasoned, would allow a fresh start under new ownership. Enter the Chinese. “I recall we were giving them the presentation and one of our slides mentioned the word ‘ITAR.’ We did not focus on it but they did and really the whole thing deflated for them at that point.” (4/27)

Chinese Space Know-how Threat To U.S., Taiwan (Source: Aviation Week)
China’s growing capabilities in space could undercut any U.S. military response if Beijing resorted to force to bring self-ruled Taiwan into its fold, a study released April 27 by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission said. China’s military is rapidly boosting its space programs to advance Communist Party interests “and defend against perceived challenges to sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the 84-page report by the Project 2049 Institute, a research group on Asia-Pacific security issues.

China has claimed Taiwan as its own since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary. Washington, under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, considers any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by “other than peaceful means ... a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” (4/27)

UCF Project Among NASA STTR Phase-2 Grant Winners (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected ten proposals from small business and research institution teams to continue work on innovative technologies that could advance future missions. The Phase II winners in the agency's Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program now can enter negotiations for possible contract awards, with a total for all projects of approximately $7.49 million. In Florida, Mnemonics Inc. of Melbourne will work with the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Wireless SAW Sensor Strain Guage & Integrated Interrogator Design. (4/27)

Key Tests for Skylon Spaceplane Project (Source: BBC)
UK engineers have begun critical tests on a new engine technology designed to lift a spaceplane into orbit. The proposed Skylon vehicle would operate like an airliner, taking off and landing at a conventional runway. Its major innovation is the Sabre engine, which can breathe air like a jet at lower speeds but switch to a rocket mode in the high atmosphere. Reaction Engines Limited (REL) believes the test campaign will prove the readiness of Sabre's key elements.

This being so, the firm would then approach investors to raise the £250m needed to take the project into the final design phase. "We intend to go to the Farnborough International Air Show in July with a clear message," explained REL managing director Alan Bond. "The message is that Britain has the next step beyond the jet engine; that we can reduce the world to four hours - the maximum time it would take to go anywhere. And that it also gives us aircraft that can go into space, replacing all the expendable rockets we use today." (4/27)

ULA May Build Rocket Stage for Deep Space (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance, the Centennial-based rocket company, is being eyed to provide the top stage of the new rocket being built to carry U.S. astronauts on deep-space missions. Boeing, prime contractor for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, is exploring using the upper stage of a ULA-made rocket known as the Delta IV Heavy for the earliest flights of the rocket being designed to carry the Orion space capsule. (4/27)

ESA Favors Upgrading Orion over Building In-orbit Service Tug (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) is proposing that its 19 member governments finance development of a module to power NASA’s Orion crew transport vehicle and limit work on a competing proposal — a robotic vehicle that would perform multiple tasks in low Earth orbit — to initial studies. Development of this vehicle, whose chores would include removing dead satellites and rocket stages from orbit, would accelerate starting in 2015, according to the ESA proposal. (4/27)

Overflight Dispute Postpones Launch of European Weather Satellite (Source: Space News)
The scheduled May 23 launch of Europe’s Metop-B polar-orbiting meteorological satellite has been indefinitely postponed following a dispute between Russia and Kazakhstan over rocket debris on Kazakh territory, according to European government and industry officials. Metop-B, built by Astrium Satellites of France, was shipped to Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 5 in preparation for a launch aboard Russia’s Soyuz 2.1a rocket. (4/27)

Orion Work Helps Lockheed Martin Space Systems Post Quarterly Gains (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin Space Systems on April 26 reported modest increases in revenue and profit for the three months ending March 25, saying sales from work on NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle more than overcame the drop in space shuttle revenue after the vehicle’s retirement. Operating profit rose to 12 percent of revenue as the company successfully eliminated risks from unnamed government satellite programs despite slightly lower equity earnings from two 50 percent-owned affiliates, United Launch Alliance and United Space Alliance. (4/27)

Braun: Federal Investment in Innovation Drives Leadership in Space (Source: The Hill)
In a Hill editorial on March 27, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) stated that since the retirement of the space shuttle last year, America has fallen behind in the battle for the ultimate high ground — space. He pointed to China’s plans for an increased number of rocket launches and its ambitions for more sophisticated Earth satellites and exploration of the Moon in stating that NASA is falling behind. These metrics, however, do not define the high ground or our nation’s technological capability to efficiently utilize this domain.

Preeminence in space, and the economic and national security implications that follow, are not simply measured in terms of a number of rocket launches, but rather by the depth and breadth of a nation’s space capabilities and the skill and expertise of personnel that flexibly adapt these capabilities to new missions and new frontiers. This century will be won by those who innovate, seek breakthroughs and develop new technologies and new industries. Reaching for grand technological challenges, engineers and scientists across this country stand on the cusp of dramatic advances in materials, information technology, energy and biomedical science. Click here. (4/27)

John Glenn to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Former Ohio Sen. and astronaut John Glenn will be among 13 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama announced Thursday. Glenn, a 90-year-old native of New Concord, Ohio, served as a Democratic U.S. senator for 24 years. Before that, he was an astronaut and U.S. Marine aviator who served in World War II and Korea. Fifty years ago, he became the first American to orbit the Earth. In 1998, at age 77, he became the oldest person to visit space. Glenn said in an interview Thursday that he was surprised when the White House called him a few weeks ago to inform him that he would receive the medal. (4/27)

Florida Space Industry Struggles to Survive (Source: WCTV)
For 50 years, it's been a critical part of Florida's economy. But now our space industry is struggling to survive. The retirement of the shuttle program has left thousands of workers jobless. And, it's also called into question whether Florida's days as America's pre-eminent space state are over. Tim Pickens works at Dynetics, a NASA contractor in Huntsville, Alabama. He's committed to reviving Florida's space industry, not least because his company depends on it.

Now that manned missions launching from Cape Canaveral are no more...He says it'll be up to a handful of private space flight companies to help inspire a national movement. "People are going to say, 'NASA, what's the vision? Where are we going?' and then, they need to be looking at air breathing technology, you know, hypersonics, and you know, 'how do i get my ride from New York to LA In 15 minutes?'

Pickens says only the government can pioneer that kind of technology, and if enough people ask for it, Washington will pay for it. But, there's no guarantee manned launches will return to Florida. That's why Farrukh Alvi spearheads a research hub aimed at using space technology in other ways. Areas like green energy and biotech - they could be a big part of America's economic future. And, in the end, blasting off from Texas and New Mexico may not be possible...Because of Florida. (4/27)

NASA's New Spaceship Arrives at KSC for Tests (Source: Discovery)
It's not going into space, but the mock-up Orion capsule, which arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week, at least is a sign of a post-shuttle life. The vehicle comes to Florida from manufacturer Lockheed Martin's plant in Colorado to serve as a test vehicle for the ground processing systems under development for NASA's next human space program, which is designed to fly astronauts to the moon, asteroids, Mars and other destinations in deep space, beyond the space station's 240-mile-high orbit. NASA's first test flight of an Orion capsule is scheduled for 2014. Click here. (4/27)

US Space Start-up Launches Recruitment Drive (Source: FOX News)
Looking to reboot your life? A new asteroid mining venture backed by Silicon Valley titans and filmmaker James Cameron is hiring. Planetary Resources is now accepting applications for a "few good asteroid miners," to help the firm find new ways to "explore space beyond Earth orbit." "Bottom line -- we build spaceships and explore asteroids. If you need any other motivation to apply, don't bother," the site states.

Company representatives did not respond to FOXNews.com requests for specific job details, such as how much an asteroid miner will earn or what qualifies one for such an out-of-this-world job. But one insider familiar with the company's plans doubts they are looking for miners at all. "They aren't hiring asteroid miners," he told FOXNews.com. "They're hiring aerospace engineers to design a low-Earth orbit micro-satellite space telescope to look for asteroids." (4/27)

What We Learned From North Korea's Rocket No-Show (Source: MSNBC)
Looking back on what we were shown — and what was not shown — during our unprecedented press tour of North Korea's space facilities, I realize that both these aspects of reality had lessons for us. The very absence of some expected features of the trip strongly indicated the presence of important features of North Korea. our NBC team was shown and told a lot about their space satellite plans — and just as obviously, not shown and told a lot. But disclosure of some things often betrayed attempts to hide other things. Click here. (4/27)

BRPH: The Old and the New in Spacecraft Facilities (Source: SpaceRef)
With nearly 50 years of experience in this field under its belt, BRPH finds itself positioned well from an industry standpoint, as well as geographically - the firm's headquarters in Melbourne, Fla. is just an hour south of KSC on the Space Coast. (They also have offices in Atlanta, Charleston, S.C., Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.) The company bills itself as an architecture, engineering design and construction services firm with specialties that include the demanding field of space architecture.

At KSC alone, its past work includes the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator ride, the Visitor Complex, and preliminary design work for the defunct Constellation program, specifically examining how to change the shuttle facilities to accommodate the Ares rockets. In Wallops, Va., it did construction management contracted by Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, working with Orbital Sciences Corp.

Some of its international clients include the Japanese Space Agency (consulting) and the Indian Air Force (to do aircraft hangers for C-130J aircraft). But BRPH's work extends far outside of the Space Coast. In North America, it's worked in latitudes as high as Alaska, where it designed and constructed several facilities at the Kodiak Launch Complex, including the launch pad, control center and other buildings. (4/27)

How Long Has Titan Been a Hazy Methane Moon? (Source: Discovery)
Saturn's moon Titan is one of the most scientifically interesting spots in the solar system. The second-largest moon after Jupiter's Gannymede and bigger than the planet Mercury, it's shrouded beneath a thick, smoggy atmosphere rich in methane creating a greenhouse effect and constantly unloads complex hydrocarbons that rain down on the surface. Click here. (4/27) http://news.discovery.com/space/just-how-long-has-titan-been-a-hazy-methane-moon-120427.html

GOP Wants to Study East Coast Missile-Defense Site (Source: Reuters)
Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee this week said they wanted to examine an East Coast location for a third missile-defense site. Two other sites already exist, in Alaska and California. The interceptors are meant to defend against possible missile attack from nations such as North Korea and Iran.

Editor's Note: During the early 2000s, the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was intended to ultimately to host a missile defense capability, but the East Coast requirement diminished as requirements grew for Pacific Rim missile protection, based on anticipated threats from North Korea. (4/27)

Restructured JWST Making Progress, Again (Source: Aviation Week)
It has been through some tough times, but now the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project has pulled up its socks and is slogging through one of the most complex space engineering efforts ever attempted. Some 1,000 engineers and technicians in the U.S.—-and more in Europe and Canada—-are working on the massive instrument with a new approach that managers believe will pull everything together for a 2018 launch, without the overruns and schedule slips that threatened to kill the program two years ago. (4/27)

No comments: