June 19, 2012

ILS Proton Launch of SES-5 Satellite Postponed (Source: ILS)
The launch of an ILS Proton launch vehicle with the SES-5 satellite was postponed today for technical reasons with the launch vehicle. The satellite is being launched for SES of Luxembourg and was built by Loral. The launch date will be determined at a later time. On June 18, Khrunichev engineers at the launch site received an out of tolerance telemetry reading on a first stage subsystem during pre-flight testing. However, based on additional pre-flight testing performed on June 19, it was determined that further investigation is necessary, requiring the launch vehicle be returned to the processing hall for additional testing. (6/19)

Seminar to Promote Pursuit of SBIR/STTR by Space Coast Companies (Source: TRDA)
The TRDA offers business development boot camps, workshops, and grant proposal development seminars that are focused on business plan development, raising capital, and operational planning for migrating great technologies into high-growth technology businesses. On June 28, a free seminar will focus on getting involved with the federal SBIR/STTR grant programs. Click here for information and registration. (6/19)

NASA To Fund Wind-monitoring Smallsat Constellation (Source: Space News)
NASA has selected a wind-monitoring microsatellite constellation as its next Earth Venture-class mission, the agency announced June 18. The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), led by principal investigator Chris Ruf of the University of Michigan, will launch eight small satellites aboard a single launch vehicle. The CYGNSS constellation will measure ocean surface winds during tropical storms and hurricanes using direct and reflected GPS signals. Mission costs are capped at $151.7 million over five years. (6/19)

Intelsat’s IS-19 Sustained Permanent Solar Array Damage (Source: Space News)
The Intelsat IS-19 telecommunications satellite has sustained permanent damage to its south solar array that will cut the power delivered to the satellite’s payload despite the array’s recent deployment. The array remained stuck in stowed position 13 days after its May 31 launch. But while its deployment will make it easier for Intelsat to fly the satellite and will reduce excess fuel consumption, the damage the array sustained at some point during the launch will reduce its electrical output by a yet-undetermined percentage.

One official said it looked like half the array’s power-generating capability might be intact, which would mean IS-19 has 75 percent of the total electric power it was designed to use during its 15-year life. Sea Launch said after the launch that sensors inside the rocket’s fairing detected an unexplained pressure event 72 seconds after launch — similar to an event that occurred in 2004 with the launch of another Loral satellite whose solar array never deployed. (6/19)

Russian Rocket Scientist Who 'Spied for China' Freed (Source: RIA Novosti)
The former head of a Russian rocket technology firm who was jailed in 2007 for selling state secrets to China has been released on parole. Igor Reshetin, the former director of TsNIIMASH-Export, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years - later reduced to seven on appeal.

Reshetin's father, Andrei Reshetin, told the radio station on Monday that he already was with his family. Reshetin was charged with illegally selling state-controlled technology to a Chinese firm and with stealing 30 million roubles ($925,000) through a scheme involving bogus companies. Several of his colleagues were also jailed. (6/19)

Via Satellite: Staying In Touch at Sea (Source: ESA)
Working on the high seas can be lonely, separated from friends and family for weeks at a time. Communications via satellite close this gap by providing the means to stay in touch. Now, with ESA's support, contacting shore is easier. Increasing demands on day-to-day ship operations require reliable connections regardless of a vessel's position. Updating weather information, planning routes and boosting crew morale with calls and emails from home all depend on satcoms.

Now, ESA has helped to improve Inmarsat's FleetBroadband system: instead of a single call, the same terminal now offers up to nine simultaneous telephone calls. This unique development separates the crew's personal use from operational communications while on the high seas. Crewmembers and passengers can now make personal voice calls away from the bridge, all at the same time. The improved service also allows '505' emergency calling that connects a vessel immediately to a maritime rescue center. (6/19)

SpaceX Success Gives Commercial Spaceflight A Boost (Source: Aviation Week)
Rep. Steven Palazzo wants to set the record straight, after Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren declared that the Obama administration made possible the successful flight of the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule to ISS and back. “The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program was proposed by the Bush administration in 2005 and authorized by Congress,” says Palazzo, the Mississippi Republican freshman who chairs the House Science space and aeronautics subcommittee. "...Let the record be clear.”

Palazzo is right, of course. But now that SpaceX has demonstrated it can fly to the space station with pressurized and unpressurized cargo, and bring pressurized cargo back to Earth, there is plenty of credit to go around. Even Michael Griffin acknowledges that President Barack Obama upped the ante to $500 million a year from $500 million total funding.

Palazzo's colleague, Frank Wolf (R-VA) who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee, agreed to soften the House position in conference committee negotiations with the Senate, allowing NASA to pick “2.5 program partners”—-two proposals for a full share of federal seed money to develop commercial crew vehicles, plus another company that will receive a “partial award.” (6/18)

Virginia Rocket Launch Carries 17 Educational Projects (Source: WTOP)
Those living or working on the Eastern Shore and along the Chesapeake Bay will be able to catch a glimpse of a rocket launch Thursday morning. The launch will take place at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Seventeen educational experiments will be on board the 35-foot-rocket which will be launched to an altitude of 75 miles between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on June 21. College students and professors from across the country built the experiments. When the rocket returns, they'll conduct data analysis and discuss their results. (6/19)

NASA's Bubble-Headed Super Guppy Cargo Aircraft (Source: Seattle Times)
NASA's Super Guppy, a cargo plane used to transport large parts of space shuttles, will fly to Seattle on Saturday. The distinctive-looking bubble-headed aircraft is a modified Boeing Stratocruiser that dates to the 1960s. "There are new aircraft that could replace it, but we don't have the budget for that," said David Elliott, NASA's Super Guppy project manager. (6/18)

Giant Celestial Disk Hard to Explain (Source: Science News)
About 80 light-years away, an enormous, dusty ring swirls around a sunlike star, with a defined inner edge that is probably sculpted by a planet orbiting at 140 times Earth’s distance from the sun. A planet located so far from a sunlike star presents an astronomical conundrum. “How do you get a planet out that far? We don’t know how to form something out there,” said astronomer Karl Stapelfeldt of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Stapelfeldt and a team led by John Krist of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory used the Hubble Space Telescope to study 10 stars suspected of hosting large debris disks. Hubble saw a ring around only one, HD 202862. Everything about the dusty circle — the biggest ever observed around a solar cousin — is huge. In places, the ring itself is 70 times wider than the Earth-sun distance, called an astronomical unit. From end to end, the debris disk is roughly 400 astronomical units long. (6/18)

NASA Extends Zero-G Flight Contract (Source: NASA)
NASA/JSC intends to procure microgravity flight services from Zero Gravity Corporation. The Microgravity Services Contract between NASA and Zero G Corporation (ZGC) expires on December 31, 2012. NASA has a requirement to extend the performance under the current contract for one year with an option to extend the contract for an additional six months. (6/19)

NASA Says ‘No’ to Space Traffic Cop Role (Source: CT Tech Junkie)
NASA officials appear to realize that the space agency’s role may be changing with the arrival of privately operated spacecraft, but they insist they don’t plan to become a regulatory authority for space flight any time soon. They even suggested Monday during a conference call with reporters that they will not play the role of orbital traffic cop as private spacecraft launches become more common in the years ahead.

Instead, NASA says any regulatory authority on commercial spacecraft will rest with the Federal Aviation Administration-—at least for now. The FAA regulates air travel, apparently even if the aircraft is a rocket headed to orbit. But the question left unanswered was what happens after that spacecraft leaves the atmosphere. Will any billionaire have the opportunity to launch a craft that might collide or otherwise damage spacecraft belonging to NASA or other nations?

“We’re not going to speculate on where things are going to go in a regulatory context in the future, ” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta on the June 18 call with reporters, “At this point we’re focused on how we appropriately permit commercial launches for the reasons of safety.” While some would expect this new frontier to be heavily regulated, it appears that for now it will largely mirror the “wild west” of the 19th century American frontier—once the spacecraft leaves the atmosphere that is. (6/19)

Iridium, Nav Canada Create Air Traffic Management Venture (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite operator Iridium Communications is creating a joint venture with Nav Canada to provide global aircraft tracking services using specially designed terminals on Iridium’s second-generation constellation to be launched starting in 2015. Iridium said it had selected Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida, to provide terminals — called ADS-B 1090 MHz Extended Squitter receivers — to be installed on space that Iridium has set aside for third-party payloads on its next generation of 66 operational satellites and six in-orbit spares.

ITT Exelis of McLean, which already provides ground-based ADS-B broadcast towers as part of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s ongoing upgrade of its air-traffic management system, is providing systems engineering to the new joint venture, called Aireon LLC. ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, is based on high-integrity GPS navigation satellite signals. (6/19)

FastForward Project Seeks Opinions on Point-to-Point Spaceflight (Source: Hobby Space)
The FastForward Project is inviting members of the general public, and the aerospace community in particular, to participate in a brief online survey. The survey seeks opinions and perceptions related to future ultra-high speed point-to-point (PTP) services for passengers and priority cargo. The brief survey can be found online at: http://www.fastforwardproject.com/survey. The results of the PTP survey will be posted to the FastForward Project’s website once complete. (6/18)

Harris-Built Satellite Devices to Bring Enhanced Safety to Air Travel (Source: Florida Today)
Traveling by air will be made safer by a device to be built by Harris Corp. in Brevard County and attached to a constellation of communications satellites. Harris officials joined other company leaders at 9:30 this morning in the National Press Club in Washington D.C. to announce a program in which a Harris-built payload, about the size of a cat carrier, will be attached to the bottom of 81 communications satellites from the McLean, Va.,-based satellite communication company Iridium.

The units will operate independently to track aircraft for the FAA, with the space-based system giving controllers a global view of airline traffic, eliminating dead spots over oceans and mountain ranges and allowing aircraft to fly on more direct routes. “We believe it’s something that will transform air traffic,” said Bill Gattle, vice president of Harris Space Communication Systems. (6/18)

CASIS Supports STEM Program with PGA (Source: CASIS)
Combining instruction in the principles of both science and golf, 20 Title I students from St. Lucie County Schools will take part in the first-ever PGA STEM Enrichment Camp at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance this week, June 18-22. The five-day camp is a partnership between St. Lucie County Schools, The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance.

The program is designed to introduce upcoming seventh and eighth grade students, who attend schools with high percentages of children receiving free or reduced lunches, to three hours a day of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—activities relating to the physics of golf, followed by two hours of daily golf instruction. CASIS will provide engineers each day, and retired NASA Space astronaut Jon McBride is scheduled to speak on June 22 on the importance of STEM careers, so students can make the connection between the activities they are conducting and opportunities for the future. (6/18)

A Career Waiting for E.T. to Phone (Source: New York Times)
It was 1990, and NASA was getting ready to undertake a survey of the 1,000 nearest stars, looking for radio signals from aliens. Dr. Tarter, then 46 and a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., was in charge of it. “I can’t say what they will be like,” she sighed, when asked to speculate about the nature and motives of these putative aliens.

She was far too busy worrying about how to recognize a signal, not to mention how to avoid being fooled by the kid next door or a stray weather or spy satellite. For some three decades, Dr. Tarter, now 68, has been the person most likely to be the first to know if we make contact with E.T. — the one who will sound the alarm, spreading the news that We Are Not Alone. (6/18)

The Universe’s Lost Lithium (Source: Sky & Telescope)
A new research paper might add to a problem that’s had astronomers baffled for 30 years: the universe doesn’t have enough lithium. As the third element in the periodic table, lithium is one of a few elements that have an abundance closely tied to processes just after the Big Bang. Detailed models of big bang nucleosynthesis predict certain levels of these elements, such as hydrogen and helium, and for the most part these models closely match what observers see in the cosmos.

But 30 years ago, scientists reported that the isotope lithium-7 was far rarer in old, metal-poor stars in the Milky Way’s halo than it should be. These stars formed in our galaxy’s early days, back when its chemical makeup more or less matched what existed after the universe’s birth. Relatively cool and with poor mixing between surface and interior, such stars should have lithium-7 levels in keeping with primordial abundances. Click here. (6/18)

Space Agreement Can Launch Ohio Jobs (Source: WDTN)
History was made today and at least one Ohio congressman believes it can lead to jobs in the Miami Valley. The FAA and NASA have signed an agreement designed to make future commercial spaceflight safe and the standards consistent. Ohio Congressman Mike Turner sees a bright future for the Dayton region because of this agreement. He authored legislation that is moving through Congress now to bring together not only NASA and the FAA, but the Air Force as well.

Representative Mike Turner said, "We know that with the Air Force they have the experience, expertise on unmanned, operating unmanned vehicles. NASA of course has the issue of space, and FAA has the ability working with the commercial sector. As we get all of them cooperating and working together we know that it could mean jobs back here at home." Turner expects his legislation to become law this year. (6/18)

Russia Resorts to Small Satellites (Source: Voice of Russia)
These satellites can effectively solve tasks set before them in space, but it will be a lot cheaper to put them into orbit using light rockets. The geo-centric satellites need powerful data relay systems and consequently, heavy batteries for power supply. These are multi-ton satellites. However, the weight can be reduced by miniaturizing the service systems. Russia launched its first nano-satellite in 2005, says general director of the Russian Space Systems Company, Yuri Urlichich. (6/18)

Oriental Beauty in Space -- Fiyta's First Wristwatch Designed for Female Astronaut (Source: Flyta)
China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft has carried three astronauts into space, declaring the country's vision of becoming the world's aerospace leader and capturing the whole world's attention. On the historic spaceflight, a heroine, representing the dignity and pride of hundreds of millions of Chinese women, became China's first female astronaut. She demonstrated her calm, persistence and bravery when faced with challenges in space, showing the world the beauty of oriental women. Fiyta's Aeronautics Collection, serving as a timekeeper for a space mission again, was present to explore space with China's first female astronaut. (6/18)

China Space Race Will Not Be With NASA, But With SpaceX (Source: PolicyMic)
This weekend, China became the third country in history to have a space base in orbit. Some say this means almost nothing for the U.S., while others insist it's time we start training our Space Marines for Operation Enduring Lunar Freedom. In reality, the implications of China's move could be a much cooler third option: a new space race between the Chinese government and U.S. startups.

But why not a space race between the Chinese government and the U.S. government? Well, because that’s ridiculous. As with every other attempt to make China our new mortal enemy to fill the hole in our hearts left by the USSR, trying to fabricate competition between the U.S. and China in space does not work. China’s current mission will put them where we were roughly 50 years ago. Some have made a tortoise-and-the-hare analogy, but it simply does not apply. Yes, NASA has slowed down along with its slowing budget, but with the new Space Launch System (SLS), America will be sending people to asteroids and Mars around the time China is going to the moon.

So onto the more interesting race: China vs. U.S. companies. While China is 50 years behind the U.S. government, they are much more comparable to U.S. companies. It was only a couple of weeks ago that SpaceX made history by becoming the first private company to successfully dock a space module to a station in orbit. This means they are roughly 10-15 years behind the Chinese government, but they could gain fast. (6/19)

Repair Work Starts on Saturn V Rocket Hit by Bullets (Source: Huntsville Times)
Repair work started this morning on damages done to the historic Saturn V rocket last month when someone fired gunshots into the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Bullets pierced three windows in the Davidson Center on May 3 and hit the rocket twice. Tim Hall, the space center's strategist, said today the repair project should be finished by noon Tuesday. (6/19)

Next Giant Leap Arrives at Kennedy Space Center on July 2 (Source: America Space)
On July 2, the main structure of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Orion will be delivered from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility located in New Orleans, where engineers have been busy constructing the main structure of the spacecraft. Orion’s delivery to KSC will mark a critical milestone in the preparation for its first test flight currently scheduled to take place in 2014. (6/19)

Secret US Spaceplane Shows China the Future (Source: New Scientist)
China's space agency took the plaudits for successfully docking its crewed Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with its orbiting lab Tiangong-1 today, but the feat was slightly overshadowed by the weekend landing of the US X-37B spaceplane, which after a record-breaking orbital flight of 469 days showed just how far China has to go to catch up with advanced spacefaring nations.

At no point has the USAF revealed the craft's purpose: in addition to spacecraft surveillance, it could deploy a robot that repairs (or disables) satellites in orbit, say some, while at the darker end of the spectrum of possibilities - it was a DARPA project in its early days - it could carry a warhead, using its drone homing capability to provide surprise precision strike from orbit. But whatever it is for, the X-37B seems to be a triumph of spacecraft reusability, the holy grail of latter-day western spaceflight. (6/19)

Hangar One, Bay Area's Most Famous Skeleton, Nearly Naked (Source: Mercury News)
When viewed from Highway 101, the deconstruction of Moffett Field's Hangar One resembles dozens of white ants tearing the flesh off a metal caterpillar. For the last nine months, workers rappelled down the outside of the hangar to remove sections of contaminated steel and redwood siding. In the next few weeks, the hangar will have morphed into a huge steel skeleton, which it will remain for the foreseeable future, frozen in time by weather sealant and government indecision.

"It's looking real good," said Bernard McDonough, a docent at the nearby Moffett Field Museum. "We're surprised how nice it looks." The view is also great for the workers who can be as high as 20 stories off the ground. "You can see a lot," said Greg Jarzynsky, a safety specialist who spends 10 hours a day more than 100 feet off the ground. "Some days you can see to San Fran and just about to the Bay Bridge." Click here to see how they're deconstructing the hangar. (6/18)

Canada Makes Trade Mission to Russia for Space Sector Opportunities (Source: Spaceref)
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade led by Minister Ed Fast recently concluded a successful trade mission to Russia that included several companies and organizations from Canada's space systems sector. Along for the trip from the space systems sector where ABB, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), Neptec Design Group, the Canadian Space Agency and the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. (6/18)

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