June 2, 2012

New Entrepreneur Classification System (Source: Pando Daily)
The fifth type ("World Changers") are people who are working on foundational technologies and big risks that fundamentally change our lives. Their work forms the basis on which the rest of us build, such as microchips, routers, biotech, nanotech, and platform level software. The work of these entrepreneurs encompasses everything from building the backbone of the internet to inventing an artificial heart that will keep us alive. This group will now be designated by the letters WC for “World Changer.” With the exception of the sixth group, nobody else should claim to be a WC. The sixth type consists only of Elon Musk. He will be designated by the letters EM for Elon Musk. No additional explanation is required. Click here. (6/2)

Florida, Colorado, and Hawaii Teachers Win Space Foundation Scholarships (Source: Space Foundation)
Three educators have been awarded scholarships from the Space Foundation to attend Space Across the Curriculum teacher professional development classes in Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer. These week-long intensive graduate-level courses for pre-K - 12 educators are led by Space Foundation education staff and provide space-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content that is instantly transferable to the classroom.

Donnika Jones, a teacher with Pinellas County Schools, was awarded the Dr. Catherine Pedretty Space Scholarship for Teachers. Jones teaches fourth and fifth grade classes at the Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr., Elementary School Center for Mathematics and Engineering. (6/2)

Bay Area Travel Agents Booking Space Flights (Source: Hercules Patch)
As a Bay Area luxury travel agent for more than three decades, Lynda Turley Garrett never thought she'd be selling trips to outer space. For the past five years, however, the president of Alpine Travel in Saratoga has been doing just that as an accredited space agent — one of five in the Bay Area. Through Virgin Galactic, Garrett has sold three tickets to future astronauts. Although the date of lift-off for the craft, which can carry six passengers and two pilots, is uncertain Garrett said space travelers should expect the suborbital trip to blast off within the year or so. (6/2)

Editorial: Space Science Taking Hits (Source: The Advocate)
The launch of SpaceX, an American commercial rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station, has been hailed as a big step in exploring space through private enterprise. Many people hope that private enterprise will help America retain a strong presence in space at a time of strained budgets for NASA, the nation’s primary government space agency.

NASA has scrapped the shuttle program, and until the agency has a replacement space vehicle in several years, American astronauts will have to hitch a ride to the International Space Station with the Russians. That development would have been unthinkable a generation ago, and we see it as a sad state of affairs for a country that’s supposed to be a global superpower. (6/2)

Editorial: Move Private Space Launch to Better Texas Site (Source: Beaumont Enterprise)
Most Texans are undoubtedly thrilled that SpaceX wants to launch rockets from Texas. It just needs a better location than the middle of a park and wildlife refuge. Unfortunately, that's what SpaceX wants to do. It has leased 49 acres near Brownsville on the Gulf coast that are surrounded by Boca Chica State Park and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sent a letter to the FAA protesting the location because of "noise, heat, vibration, fencing and hazardous material spills" from the project. There has to be a better place on the coast for this. State officials should work with SpaceX to find it and keep Texas on the forefront of space exploration, whether it's public or private. (6/2)

Intelsat 19 Satellite Fails To Deploy Solar Array (Source: Space News)
The Intelsat IS-19 satellite launched May 31 has failed to deploy one of its two solar arrays, Intelsat announced late June 1 – an anomaly that has affected other Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)-built satellites and is likely to have ripple effects on two others preparing for launch in the coming weeks. Intelsat, in its statement, said only that there was a “delay” in the deployment of one of the arrays. (6/2)

Fired JPL Worker Seeks $1.36 Million (Source: Pasadena Sun)
David Coppedge says he lost his job because of his religious views. A man claiming he lost his job at Jet Propulsion Laboratory because he voiced support for the theory of intelligent design of the universe is seeking $1.36 million from the NASA lab, according to court papers filed as the case winds down.

David Coppedge, a former lead systems administrator on the Cassini project to Saturn, is seeking $860,000 for lost wages and $500,000 for emotional distress damages. At trial in March and April, attorneys for Coppedge claimed his discussions of intelligent design with co-workers led to discipline that improperly curtailed his speech rights and amounted to religious discrimination.

JPL attorneys, in a final round of briefs filed to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige in May, say Coppedge was a problem employee who failed to prove his case at trial and is entitled to no compensation. Hiroshige is expected to issue a ruling by June 8. (6/2)

Dutch Group Planning for Mars Settlement by 2023 (Source: PC Magazine)
The successful completion of the SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, as well as the ongoing developments at Virgin Galactic have apparently set off a trend. Despite the enormous difficulty and expense related to space travel, a Dutch group has announced plans to set up a small living station on Mars by 2023. The group effort, dubbed Mars One, is led by Bas Lansdorp, a researcher from the Netherlands with a Masters in Science from Delft University of Technology. The plan is to send a communications satellite to the planet by 2016 and after several stages finally land humans on Mars for permanent settlement in 2023. (6/2)

Private Space Flight Opening Doors for Southwest Research Institute (Source: San Antonio Business Journal)
The successful launch and docking of a private space craft with the International Space Station last month will greatly expand access to space travel for basic research by nonprofit groups such as the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Alan Stern, assistant vice president of the space division for SwRI, says competition from multiple private vendors should lower the costs associated with space flights and provide more opportunities to conduct orbital and sub-orbital experiments. (6/2)

"Stuff Monsters Like" Joins the Space Race Against Russia (Source: Hobby Space)
We’re buying the Moon. And if you help us raise the money, you can come live there too. The creators of Stuff Monsters Like announce a June, 2012 Kickstarter campaign to purchase the Lunar surface, construct a Moon base, and write a folk album. Time is of the essence, because the Russians have announced their plans to permanently live on the Moon too. Many people have asked if Stuff Monsters Like is for real.

“Hell yeah, we’re for real,” said site creators Sarah Giavedoni and Jim MacKenzie as they waved the American Flag. “Now with Russia entering the race to the Moon, this just got interesting.” Stuff Monsters Like’s fundrasing campaign will run June 1 through June 30. The blog is asking for $578 billion to complete their entire journey and album. Kickstarter has limited them to asking for just over $21 million for their first round of fundraising. The bloggers will use the funds to travel to the moon, build the moon base, and write a folk album entitled “Lunar Aid 1985.” Click here. (6/1)

NASA Wallops Sending Unmanned Aircraft Over Hurricanes This Year (Source: SpaceRef)
Beginning this summer and over the next several years, NASA will be sending unmanned aircraft dubbed "severe storm sentinels" above stormy skies to help researchers and forecasters uncover information about hurricane formation and intensity changes. Several NASA centers are joining federal and university partners in the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) airborne mission targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin.

NASA's unmanned sentinels are autonomously flown. The NASA Global Hawk is well-suited for hurricane investigations because it can over-fly hurricanes at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet with flight durations of up to 28 hours - something piloted aircraft would find nearly impossible to do. Global Hawks were used in the agency's 2010 Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane mission and the Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) environmental science mission.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate Global Hawk aircraft will deploy to Wallops Flight Facility from their home base at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington is establishing a Global Hawk operations center for science operations from Wallops.. "With the Global Hawks at NASA Dryden in California, NASA Wallops will become the 'Global Hawk - Eastern' science center." (6/1)

ViaSat Accuses Loral of Orchestrating Patent Infringement (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband hardware and services provider ViaSat Inc. is renewing its attempt to draw Loral Space and Communications into ViaSat’s lawsuit against satellite builder Space Systems/Loral, saying the New York-based parent company is the brain that guides Loral’s every move. ViaSat says that if Loral is allowed to remove itself from the lawsuit for patent infringement and breach of contract, it will continue to infringe on ViaSat’s intellectual property by closing satellite deals on Loral’s behalf. (6/1)

U.S. Air Force Spending $123.5M Weather Sat Funding on Tech Studies (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force intends to spend the $123.5 million appropriated in 2012 for a next-generation weather satellite system on studies of advanced sensor technologies and alternative constellation architectures, a service official said. The service submitted its plan for utilizing the funds to Congress April 3. Lawmakers have given no signal of opposition to the plan and the Air Force is preparing a solicitation for industry support of the design studies.

The Air Force will examine advanced electro-optical-infrared and microwave sensor technologies for the next-generation system. The service also will take a look at alternative mission architectures including a disaggregated approach in which sensors are dispersed among several small satellite platforms rather than loaded onto larger platforms. The Air Force also wants to consider alternatives to the polar orbit that weather and mapping satellites traditionally use because of the global coverage it provides. New technologies might make these alternative orbits feasible. (6/1)

SpaceX Expects Falcon 9 Hat Trick To Open Door for U.S. Military Payloads (Source: Space News)
With the third successful flight of its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX may find the door to a long-desired but recalcitrant customer cracking open — the U.S. military. SpaceX's recent Dragon/ISS success not only laid the groundwork to begin working off its 12-flight, $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly ISS cargo, it also demonstrated the rocket’s reliability, a condition for competing to launch U.S. national security payloads under guidelines unveiled last year.

The U.S. Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office and NASA jointly developed a strategy to certify new commercial launch vehicles in an attempt to draw competition for future launch contracts. “The new entrant criteria did say three launches are required before certification can happen for national security payloads,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham said. “It’s a lot more complicated than, ‘If you do three successful launches, you’re certified,’” Air Force spokeswoman Tracy Bunko said. “Some of the criteria depend on what technical data is available from those launchers."

"One thing we’ve told [interested companies] all along is that there’s no way they’re going to get completely certified using government launches. It has to be a mix of government, civilian and commercial," said the Air Force spokeswoman. Near term, Denver-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) will maintain its monopoly on U.S. military launch business with its Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets. (6/1)

Rapper Finds His Muse in the Stars (Source: Wall Street Journal)
On an early May afternoon in the offices of Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, a model of Saturn caught the eye of a 45-year-old high-school dropout, and a lyric was born. "I thought, this is probably the longest spinning record in the world," said GZA, the hip-hop artist and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, referring to the ring system surrounding the planet. About a week later, the words crystallized and he offered them over a vegetarian lunch on the Upper West Side.

"God put the needle on the disc of Saturn / The record he played revealed blueprints and patterns," he rapped in his signature rhythmic baritone, offering a taste from his forthcoming album, "Dark Matter," an exploration of the cosmos filtered through the mind of a rapper known among his peers as "the Genius." (6/1)

Europe Seeks Competition For New Launcher (Source: Aviation Week)
When the European Space Agency's council of ministers meets this fall to hash out a new multiyear budget, one of the key challenges it will face is how best to maintain Europe's independent access to space. With potentially billions of euros in development funding at stake over the coming decade, ESA ministers must weigh the merits of continuing work on an upgrade of Europe's current Ariane 5 launch vehicle against a French proposal to begin work on a successor to the heavy-lift rocket.

The debate will be shaped largely by the cash-strapped circumstances of ESA member governments, most of which are demanding an end to periodic Ariane 5 price supports. In addition, council ministers representing the 19-nation agency will seek to maintain Europe's technological independence from other space powers, even as ESA embarks on a more competitive approach to launcher procurement that could upend three decades of industrial policy in an effort to lower costs. (6/1)

Space Cases: The Weirdest Legal Claims in Outer Space (Source: WIRED)
In January, a Quebec man named Sylvio Langvein walked into a courthouse in Canada and filed a suit declaring himself owner of the planets in our solar system, four of Jupiter’s moons, and the interplanetary space between. By way of explanation, Langvein said he wanted to collect planets the same way that others collect hockey cards, and also prevent China from establishing outposts above his head.

The judge overseeing the case, Alain Michaud, dismissed it in March, calling Langvein a “quarrelsome litigant” whose paranoid actions were an abuse of the Canadian legal system. (This was Langvein’s 45th lawsuit.) The case is bizarre, but not unprecedented. “Every now and then, someone thinks no one has claimed the moon before, and then rushes to claim it,” wrote Virgiliu Pop. “Humankind has a short collective memory, so the claimant is able to create some buzz before the story dies out — to be followed by a similar story, years later.”

As we enter an era when people are seriously advocating that the U.S. establish property rights on the moon and scholars debate the legality of mining asteroids, it’s interesting (and relevant) to look back at the people who have tried to assert ownership of the moon, Mars, other planets, and stars throughout history. Click here. (6/1)

Government and Space: Lead, Follow, and Get Out of the Way (Source: Huffington Post)
2012 will be seen as the beginning of the frontier era in space. By 2030 there will be people on the Moon, on Mars, and in the free space between worlds. The first permanent communities beyond Earth will be founded, the first major products and inventions created there will have long since changed the markets and medical establishments of the planet, the first harvests of resources and energy from space will begin, and the first fortunes based on frontier-related activities in space will be made.

2012 will see those committed to settling space (O'Neillians) begin orbital delivery operations, private microgravity experiments on the space station, and sub-orbital, commercial, human space-flight tests. Recently, the revolution jumped another level, as a commercial space-station company announced it is partnering with a commercial spaceflight firm, thus completely eliminating the government from the equation.

And yet, even as some of today's savviest and wealthiest business leaders begin to dive into this new ocean of possibility, many of yesterday's space heroes, our government and political class, don't get it. The irony should not be lost that this same year, a presidential candidate got laughed off the campaign stage for suggesting a human colony on the Moon -- just days before a group of American entrepreneurs worth tens of billions of dollars announced plans to mine asteroids. Click here. (6/1)

Commercial Space Race Heats Up in Dragon's Wake (Source: EE Times)
The successful conclusion of the first commercial supply mission to the International Space Station this week also prompted a wave of announcements from a growing list of commercial space companies vying for NASA contracts and space tourist customers. Most notably, the normally secretive Blue Origin startup launched by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos disclosed on Thursday, the same day a SpaceX spacecraft returned from a supply mission to the space station, that it had completed a NASA review of its proposed orbital spacecraft.

Blue Origin and others are competing with SpaceX for a NASA commercial crew contract. Rob Meyerson, Blue Origin’s president, said in a statement that the review means the company can moved ahead to complete is rocket and spacecraft designs. The company is proposing a reusable rocket and a “biconic” spacecraft that would be upright at launch but oriented horizontally for reentry. The horizontal orientation would give the spacecraft the same “lifting body” properties used for reentry by the winged space shuttle.

Another competitor for the NASA contract, Sierra Nevada Corp. (Louisville, Colo.) said this week it had completed “captive carry” test of its Dream Chaser vehicle. A full scale version of the spacecraft was carried aloft to gauge flight characteristics as part of a NASA test program. The company said it expects to being autonomous approach and landing tests later this summer at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (6/1)

Commercial Crew Vehicles Will Use New Docking Standard (Source: Aviation Week)
Before the SpaceX Dragon can begin carrying crews to the International Space Station (ISS), it must deliver a new docking mechanism that astronauts will affix permanently in the spot where space shuttles once connected to the orbiting laboratory. That is good news and bad news or SpaceX. The company can add 750-1,000 lb. of payload to its commercial cargo manifest for the ISS. But any competitor with a docking mechanism that meets the emerging International Docking System Standard (IDSS) will also be able to use it.

The cargo version of Dragon that last month became the first commercial vehicle to reach the ISS includes a “trunk” for unpressurized cargo—a unique capability that will find a market niche that NASA once filled with the space shuttle's payload bay. But before it can begin flying astronauts in Dragon's pressurized compartment, SpaceX engineers must change the way their vehicle connects with the space station—from the grapple-and-berth technique used May 25 to a shuttle-style docking.

“In the event that the crew needs to leave for some reason, you don't want to be dependent on a system on the ISS like the arm,” says Skip Hatfield, manager of the development projects office for the ISS program at Johnson Space Center (JSC). “You want to be able to jump in the thing and just depart, in case you're having a bad day, so to speak.” (6/1)

Spaceflight Federation Highlights Recent Commercial Space Achievements (Source: CSF)
This has been an incredible couple of weeks for the companies in the commercial spaceflight industry. Our members are working toward a common goal of opening spaceflight up to the public and expanding NASA’s reach, which will create high-tech jobs in the U.S. while building innovative technology that will improve life on Earth. SpaceX achieved a historic first, and in just the ten days while they were in orbit, many other companies hit milestones or announced new initiatives. Click here to review some recent accomplishments. (6/1)

Group Wants SpaceX to Abandon Brownsville Launch Plans (Source: Brownsville Herald)
An environmental group has launched a petition drive to stop SpaceX from building a launch pad in the Cameron County/Brownsville area. Environment Texas says the rocket launch would endanger the wildlife in the Boca Chica beach area, which is the site SpaceX is considering in Texas.

“I love the space program as much, if not more, than anyone, but launching big, loud, smelly rockets from the middle of a wildlife refuge will scare the heck out of every creature within miles and sprays noxious chemicals all over the place. It’s a terrible idea and SpaceX needs to find another place for their spaceport,” said Luke Metzger, Environment Texas director.

The Brownsville Economic Development Council is working with SpaceX officials, and has said the company could bring about 600 direct jobs to the area with a minimum annual salary of $55,000. The salaries would be about 80 percent above the county’s average wages. (6/1)

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