May 13, 2012

A Solution for Medical Needs and Cramped Quarters in Space (Source: Space Daily)
Imagine you're an astronaut exploring the surface of Mars, when suddenly you fall ill or injure yourself. As your team struggles to get you safely back to base, you become seriously dehydrated. With their trusty - and ingenious - kit, the medical officer hooks into the drinking water supply, using it to create a saline solution that they can inject directly into your blood stream for quick and safe rehydration.

That's the idea behind the Intravenous Fluid Generation for Exploration Missions, or IVGEN, investigation that was conducted on the space station over five days in the spring of 2010. Since standard IV fluid bags used in hospitals would be too costly to send and hard to keep from spoiling on long-duration space missions, the ability to make fresh saline right from the drinking water supply could save the day in emergency scenarios. Click here. (5/14)

XCOR Lynx Mark I Taking Shape In Mojave (Source: Aviation Week)
Four years after the rocket-powered Lynx project was unveiled at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the presence here of a full-scale vehicle mockup at the Spacecraft Technology Expo reveals two fundamental truths about the “new space” market.

Firstly, propelling a privately developed spacecraft to suborbit is extremely difficult. When it first announced the project in March 2008, XCOR Aerospace hoped to be flying within two years, yet is only now assembling the first Mark I vehicle at its Mojave, Calif., facility. The company's long journey to suborbit is partly reflected in the many detailed design differences between the mockup and the artist's concept of 2008.

Secondly, the project shows staying power while underscoring XCOR's determination and the resilience of the market. Despite the challenges and the sluggish economy, the company continues to find support and raise funds. XCOR holds more than $60 million in backlog orders and recently closed a $5 million round of equity funding from new and previous investors, including Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and well-known technology “angel” investors such as Esther Dyson. (5/14)

From Earth to Mars, at the Armory (Source: New York Times)
If you wanted to find a good place in Manhattan from which to plan a manned mission to Mars, the studio of the artist Tom Sachs might not be the first place you would look. On a stretch of Centre Street at the edge of SoHo that has achieved the antique polish of so many fashionable downtown blocks, the storefront studio stands out as a holdover from the neighborhood’s pre-money past.

The main entrance is barricaded by a rusted metal cage and gate, behind which there is a beaten-up buzzer and a hand-scrawled sign that says, unhelpfully, “Brancusi.” If you didn’t know an artist and his assistants worked there, you could easily mistake the interior — encrusted with power tools and cubbyholes and bad fluorescent light fixtures — for a wholesale hardware supplier.

During a recent visit Mr. Sachs and his studio manager attempted to show off a scale model of the Saturn rocket that launched a generation of men to the Moon. But just as a demonstration was about to get under way to create a smoky, realistic-looking liftoff on a small video screen, power to the model went kaput. A space heater wired up in an old Winnebago parked out front had tripped a circuit breaker in the studio. “That’s crazy,” Mr. Sachs said, staring ahead in disappointment. “We’ve got to get it on a dedicated circuit. That should not happen.” Click here. (5/9)

Appropriations Amendment Cuts $126 Million from NASA (Source: Space Politics)
Members of the House of Representatives narrowly accepted an amendment late Tuesday night cutting NASA’s budget by $126 million. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), transferred $126 million from NASA’s Cross-Agency Support account to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program in the Department of Justice. The amendment passed 206-204, with 61 Republicans joining 145 Democrats in support of the amendment.

The amendment was one of several debated on the House floor during the day and evening Tuesday that sought to transfer money from NASA, particularly the Cross-Agency Support account, to other programs in the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. It was, though, the only one to pass. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the CJS appropriations subcommittee, was clearly exasperated by those proposed amendments, noting the Cross-Agency Support account supports many critical NASA activities and is not, as it might appear, to be some kind of slush fund. “I think they need to change the name” of that account, he said at one point in the debate Tuesday evening. (5/9)

Picking a Crew for Mars (Source: WAMC)
In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Jason Kring of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University describes the known and unknown challenges of long-term space flight. Jason Kring is an assistant professor of human factors and systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His research interests include spaceflight human factors and behavioral health and human performance in extreme environments. He is the current president of the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments. Click here. (5/7)

A Terrible Vote on Spaceflight (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is on budget, on schedule and ready to show us something new and exciting in human spaceflight for the first time since today’s fortysomethings were in grade school. But the U.S. House, including both representatives from Brevard, voted last week to wreck the program — nine days before the high-stakes launch of a “commercial crew” rocket and capsule from the Cape.

For those just tuning in, an assortment of privately developed flying machines are scheduled to begin key test launches this week, competing for a contract to carry U.S. astronauts into orbit. Privatization has sparked the aerospace version of a TV season of “The Apprentice,” pitting a capsule designed by a PayPal inventor against a mini-space shuttle and a classic rocket that up to now has launched only satellites. Seven companies, four with NASA seed money, have moved as fast as the early Mercury and Apollo programs, but at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers.

Now, Congress wants to cancel the show midseason. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars in Space Act grants taxpayers have invested in SpaceX, Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corp. and Blue Origin. Only if NASA stays the course do taxpayers get a satisfactory return. “Ending competition by down-selecting to a sole commercial space company could double the cost of developing a privately built human spaceflight system … It will leave us in the same position we find ourselves today — having only one option for getting our astronauts to the space station,” said Charlie Bolden. (5/13)

Editorial: Posey, Adams Join Move to Crush Private Space Competition (Source: Florida Today)
What I can’t understand is why House members, including Reps. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, and Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, would vote to halt the only bargain NASA has going. This year, NASA spent $406 million on four companies to build new spacecraft, with another three developing rockets and components for free. Before Thursday’s vote, the House had boosted investment in the privatized rocket program to $830 million.

By comparison: A single space shuttle launch cost at least $500 million; Congress spent $338 million on the launch tower alone for planned mega-rocket missions to the moon and Mars; it is spending $1.45 billion per year to build that Space Launch Systems rocket; and it’s spending another $1.5 billion on its Orion capsule.
Why would Posey and Adams vote to stop that?

Posey told FLORIDA TODAY he would be willing to narrow the contest to two competitors, but voted for the bill because he’s afraid impatience in Congress could lead to cuts. Adams said something about getting “the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.” But if they want lower costs and a fast track to space, Congress should leave NASA’s competition alone. (5/13)

Congress Could Kill Rocket Builders' New Space Race (Source: Florida Today)
You should be concerned about a Congressional vote this week for NASA to immediately end its successful competition among multiple contractors vying to deliver a new, privatized system to carry astronauts to and from the space station. So far, a layered approach with multiple companies competing to build a new space transportation system is showing signs of working.

Private firms are competing against one another, with potentially lucrative contracts as a prize. They are coming up with innovative ways to design and operate a human space transport that would have cost billions more and already be years behind schedule, if it were developed under NASA’s old way of doing business, with one big contractor handed a single multi-billion dollar contract.

The new model of private competition is pushing the companies to: Create a system that can be ready sooner than someone else’s offering; Develop a spaceship that can be proven to be safer than another company’s contender; and Find ways to reduce development, launch and operations costs by more than some other innovator might. (5/13)

Space Florida Working to Expand FAA-Licensed Capabilities at Launch Facilities (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida will finalize an Environmental Assessment (EA) this summer that will enable the expansion of its two launch sites at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Launch Complexes 36 and 46. The EA supports the expansion of LC-36 – specifically Pad B – to enable static test firing of all varieties and sizes of rocket motors and launch of university-developed or other small sounding rockets. It will also assist the FAA in approving both LC-36 and LC-46 for a joint Launch Site Operators License.

The EA is being conducted by Florida-based RS&H, and was made possible by a Defense Infrastructure Grant allotted to Space Florida for this fiscal year. Currently, Masten Space Systems is slated to utilize LC-36A in June for test launches of their liquid-fueled, small-lift reusable vehicles. The NASA Orion abort test booster and Lockheed Martin have both also publicly stated interest in utilizing LC-46 as a launch location. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force recently awarded Space Florida an IDIQ contract for Minotaur launches at LC-46.

Launch providers interested in utilizing pads on LC-36 or LC-46 could test or fly as soon as a year after requesting permission. The EA will analyze the impacts associated with the following launch vehicles: Athena-1 and Athena-2, Minotaur, Taurus, and other Castor-120-based or Minuteman-derived booster vehicles; Peacekeeper-derived booster vehicles; and small sounding rocket launch vehicles; liquid propellant medium class launch vehicles with a solid propellant second stage, and a bipropellant third stage; vertical Take-off and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicles similar to Masten Space Systems’ G Class Launch Vehicle; and Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle Ascent Abort test flights. (5/11)

Intelsat Reports First Quarter Results (Source: Intelsat)
Intelsat S.A. reported revenue of $644.2 million and a net loss of $24.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2012. The company also reported Intelsat S.A. EBITDA, or earnings before net interest, loss on early extinguishment of debt, taxes and depreciation and amortization, of $481.2 million, and Intelsat S.A. Adjusted EBITDA of $496.7 million, or 77 percent of revenue, for the three months ended March 31, 2012. (5/8)

Loral Reports First Quarter Results (Source: Loral)
Combined segment revenues and Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter were $483 million and $155 million, respectively, which compared to $486 million and $195 million, respectively, in the first quarter of 2011. Loral's revenues and Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter after eliminating all of Telesat's results were $287 million and $6 million, respectively, compared to $280 million and $35 million respectively, in the first quarter of 2011. Loral reported net income of $8 million in the current quarter compared to net income of $68 million for the first quarter of 2011. (5/9)

India's First Student Rocket Successful (Source: IBN)
Bad weather forced the launch schedule to be tweaked a little bit, but India’s first ‘student rocket’ successfully took to the leaden skies from Thumba late Friday evening. And if things work out, Thumba would witness a student rocket launch every year. Built by BTech students of ISRO’s Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Valiyamala, the ‘Vyom’ sounding rocket lifted off at 7.25 p.m., 55 minutes late. The launch went off perfectly, IIST director K S Dasgupta said. (5/12)

Florida Space Grant Consortium Supports Florida Teams in Lunabotics Competition (Source: FSGC)
The NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium is proud to announce its support of five teams from Florida universities that are competing in the Third Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The competition will be held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex May 21-26. This nearly week-long event is designed to promote and retain student interest in STEM fields. The challenge is for students to design and build an excavator, called a Lunabot, which can mine and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 10 minutes.

The supported teams are from Florida International University, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. There are 44 teams competing in this year’s Lunabotics Competition. Of those, seven originate from Florida. (5/12)

K&L Gates Deploys Large Lobbying Team for New Client SpaceX (Source: BLT)
An ex-U.S. senator and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives now at K&L Gates are advocating for a reusable spacecraft manufacturer, according to a lobbying registration filing the law firm submitted to Congress on Thursday. Former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA), a Seattle-based K&L Gates of counsel, and ex-Rep. James Walsh (R-NY), a government affairs counselor at the firm's Washington office, are lobbying for SpaceX on "NASA commercial cargo and commercial crew programs," the registration paperwork shows. (5/11)

"Space Station" Launches a New Kind of Museum (Source: W Foundation)
With an emphasis on space exploration, and how its discoveries in science and technology have benefited all of mankind, the "Space Station" museum in California was designed to be truly different: First, Admission is free and 100% privately funded through donations from local businesses, in-kind support from local businesses, and individual donations. Second, in order to keep costs contained, the museum is 100% volunteer staffed and is open three days a week or by appointment. Third, exhibits are changed four times a year by the volunteer staff to help encourage visitors to frequently return. And last, but not least, the public is given a unique, tactile experience as they are allowed to touch some of the space-flown artifacts. (5/11)

Amusement Park Physics with a NASA Twist (Source: NASA)
NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will participate in the annual Math & Science Days at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio with educational activities such as poster displays, hands-on demonstrations and briefings. Glenn's engineers and scientists will offer a variety of daily activities, presentations and educational materials Monday through Friday, May 14-18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for students and teachers. Schools from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania are expected to attend. (5/11)

ATK Project Could Bring Jobs for Northern Utah (Source: HJ News)
News that Alliant Techsystems has developed a new space vehicle from the ground up could mean future engineering and aerospace jobs for Northern Utah. ATK officials say the Liberty program can run as a sustainable business and create thousands of jobs from New York to Utah to Florida's Space Coast. (5/10)

Deep Space Mine (Source: Slate)
How did the tech world respond to the Planetary Resources announcement? It yawned, rolled over, and returned to its collective dream about the next hot social-media startup. My message to the tech world: Wake up! This is outer space we’re talking about! This is awesome! Though the solar system’s main asteroid belt is prohibitively far away, the near-earth region of outer space is chock-full of asteroids—-tens of thousands at least 50 meters in diameter. Those asteroids, Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson says, are lousy with platinum. Platinum is worth $1,500 an ounce.

The math isn’t exact, but the potential value of the resource could be counted in the trillions of dollars. And that’s not including the other possible finds, including gold, rare-earth minerals, and water—which would be an essential ingredient if outer space is ever to sustain human colonies. (The hydrogen and oxygen could also come in handy for rocket refueling stations.) Anderson assures me this is all within the realm of possibility. Amazingly, the nation’s brightest space minds seem to agree with him. (5/11)

Chariot Of The Space Gods (Source: Irish Times)
Buying anything on eBay (other Internet auction sites are available) is always a bit of a leap into the unknown. You are putting yourself into the hands of the seller, relying on their knowledge and honesty to provide you with a product as advertised. It’s not a perfect system, but for small things it’s fine. After all, bid on a Ralph Lauren shirt and you’ll only be down €20 if it turns out to actually be from Ralf Loren. But bidding $250,000 for a car, sight unseen? Now that really is a giant leap into the unknown.

Which is kind of appropriate as, apparently, the item bid up to that stratospheric level is a 1967 Corvette whose first owner was none other than Neil Armstrong. It’s not as if the ‘Vette is in sparkling condition. In fact it’s mostly a wreck; complete but hasn’t run since 1981 according to the vendor. And while Armstrong’s name is in the log book, it’s worth pointing out that Neil took delivery of this car in 1967 when he was a junior astronaut, after his first flight into space on Gemini 8 but two years before the famed Apollo 11 flight. Furthermore, Armstrong sold the car on to a fellow NASA employee in ’68 so the car has, at best, only a tangential link with mankind’s giant leap. (5/11)

Russia to Track Alcohol Transport From Space (Source: Itar-Tass)
The federal service for the alcohol market regulation has prepared a draft government resolution to impose tight control over transportations of ethyl alcohol and alcohol-containing products. A special automated system will be created for the purpose. It will cost over 97 million roubles. The funds are expected to be allocated from the country's budget, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote on Saturday.

The document is placed in the Economic Development Ministry's official website for public consultations that will last till May 23. The system will have information about transportations of alcohol and unpacked alcohol-containing products with ethyl alcohol content exceeding 25 percent. The electronic data will be sent to the federal service through satellite navigation systems. Experts do not rule out that the GLONASS and GPS systems will be used. (5/12)

WGS Expansion Envisioned (Source: Aviation Week)
The Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) constellation will have 10 satellites and the U.S. foresees having more nations join the program, a senior U.S. Air Force official says. “Ten satellites is the official program level,” David Steare, lead at the U.S. Air Force’s milsatcom international engagement, space and cyberspace division, told delegates at the MilSatCom Asia conference in Singapore. He says this is the first time the total number of satellites planned for the program has been publicly disclosed. (5/11)

Sponsors To Push Export Control as Part of Defense Authorization Bill (Source: Space News)
Legislation aimed at relaxing U.S. export controls for satellites and related components could come before the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as May 16 as part of the 2013 defense authorization bill. Satellites and satellite components are currently on the U.S. Munitions List, making them military technologies whose export is tightly regulated by the State Department. Nonmilitary and so-called dual-use technologies are subject to the less-restrictive Commerce Control List administered by the U.S. Commerce Department. (5/11)

Nigeria to Commercialize Satellite Services (Source: Xinhua)
The newly-launched earth observation satellite, NigeriaSat-2, is now set for commercial activities, a top government official has said. Director-general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) Mohammed Seidu disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, adding that Nigeria's first satellite in orbit NigeriaSat-1 is to be decommissioned soon. (5/11)

SpaceShipTwo to Resume Flight Tests as Early as June (Source: Flight Global)
Virgin Galactic expects to resume flight tests of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle as early as June from manufacturer Scaled Composites' facility in Mojave, California. "We'll have some drop tests over the summer, I think in July, maybe June. We'll have to see how it goes, but basically over [the third quarter] we'll have a lot of drop tests," says Virgin Galactic. "[Those tests] will have some of the new equipment but mostly that will just be continuing through the aerodynamic, subsonic flight test regime." (5/11)

U.S. Seeks Alternate Satellite Terminal Bids (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. Air Force said on Friday it is still in talks with Boeing Co about revamping a troubled multibillion-dollar program for next-generation satellite terminals, but has now formally invited other companies to submit alternate bids. The move is part of a drive by Air Force officials to crack down on cost increases that have plagued satellite programs for over a decade. It puts additional pressure on Boeing to finish development of the program or risk losing it to another bidder. (5/11)

NASA's Budget Woes Require Tough Space Tech Balancing Act (Source:
With NASA facing tight budget constraints, the space agency must strike a balance between devoting funds to keep existing missions and spacecraft operating, while also investing in new technology and innovation for future exploration, an agency official said this week.

"Our spacecraft are lasting longer, our spacecraft are doing very noble science, but they're very expensive to operate, so you can't have the money both to operate systems for much longer than their expected operating life, and have the money to invent the next generation of spacecraft and scientific instruments as you go forward," said Eugene Tattini, deputy director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "So that's kind of the good news, bad news thing." (5/11)

Huge Dead Satellite May Be Space Junk for 150 Years (Source:
An enormous Earth-observing satellite that was officially declared dead in space Wednesday may stay in orbit for the next 150 years, posing a threat to other spacecraft zipping around our planet. The $2.9 billion Envisat spacecraft, which is about the size of a school bus, went mysteriously silent about a month ago after 10 successful years of studying our planet from orbit. The European Space Agency (ESA) announced Wednesday that it had given up hope of recovering the satelite, which died a year before its planned 2013 decommissioning. (5/11)

Land for New Indian Launch Pad Ready (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
The Krishna district administration came forward to allot 321 acres of land near Gollalamoda near Nagayalanka in Krishna district for setting up a satellite launching pad by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The revenue officials sent necessary proposals to the central government in August last year and are waiting for central government’s clearance for the project. Speaking to this newspaper, joint collector Dr Gaurav Uppal said that they wrote to the central government for a clarification on the project. He said the ISRO officials also visited the place to study the feasibility report for the rocket launching pad. (5/13)

India’s Cryogenic Engine Test Successful (Source: Deccan Herald)
In a major step, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Saturday successfully tested the indigenous cryogenic engine to be used to propel the country’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The test was conducted at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Center. “The acceptance test of the indigenous cryogenic engine for the forthcoming GSLV-D5 flight was conducted successfully for 200 seconds at 5:10 pm...,” an ISRO statement said. “The performance of the engine was as predicted,” it said. (5/12)

Teledyne Brown and Aerojet Alliance a Marriage Made in the Heavens (Source: Huntsville Times)
Call it a marriage made in the heavens. Last June at the Paris Air Show, Teledyne Brown Engineering and Aerojet announced a partnership to, essentially, "put the rocket back in Rocket City" by manufacturing rocket engines in Huntsville. Now the two are ready to take the next step and will unveil Aerojet's AJ26 liquid rocket engine Monday at Teledyne's manufacturing facility on Sparkman Drive.

Executives from the companies will join Gov. Robert Bentley and other elected officials at the ceremony. "I'm pleased that people are recognizing the work here," said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet's vice president, Space and Launch Systems. (5/13)

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