June 28, 2012

Summer Camp at KSC for Inquisitive Kids (Source: KSCVC)
For parents still looking for summer activities to keep their kids entertained and engaged, Camp Kennedy Space Center day camp provides young people with an inspiring week of fun and enriching space activities. At Camp Kennedy Space Center, participants have a blast by experiencing, imagining and interacting through space shuttle mission simulations, tours of Kennedy Space Center and the chance to witness firsthand the excitement and everyday challenges faced by astronauts.

The program is designed for children entering 2nd – 9th grades (ages 8 - 14) and runs Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with early drop-off offered at 7:30 a.m. Camp Kennedy Space Center is available July 2 – 6 with normal operating hours on July 4, July 9 – 13, July 16 – 20, July 23 – 27, July 30 – Aug. 3, and Aug. 6 – 10. Camp instructors are specially trained and certified teachers and educators. (6/28)

Northrop Grumman Completes Design Review for Modular Spacecraft (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman has finished a two-day Spacecraft Baseline Interim Design Review, successfully completing the Spacecraft Bus Critical Design Review (CDR) process for the Modular Space Vehicle (MSV) program. The company's spacecraft design for the MSV program is the first to implement Spacecraft Plug and Play architecture standards developed by an industry consortium in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space office.

This open architecture allows various payload modules to plug into a central spacecraft processor by means of a standardized technology, much like the way peripherals can be plugged into computers via USB ports. The reduction in complexity results in a spacecraft that is much more cost effective, modular and reconfigurable than typical space vehicles in this class. It also allows space programs to focus more resources on the payload, the heart of the mission. (6/28)

New NanoRacks’ Software Platform Speeds Customer Payloads to ISS (Source: NanoRacks)
A new software platform designed to ease the passage of payloads from earth to space was announced today at the AAS Space Station Research and Development Conference by NanoRacks, LLC, the leading company for space utilization. Payload Tracker is the first ever user-friendly tool that is specifically designed to allow customers, government officials, launch providers and others to track individual payloads through the myriad NASA safety and procedural requirements involved in launching customer project to the International Space Station. (6/28)

Virgin Galactic Completes Glide Flight Test and Motor Firing on Same Day (Source: SpaceRef)
Virgin Galactic's suborbital space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), successfully completed its first glide flight test on June 26 since a recent integration period for rocket motor systems and maintenance. Also on June 26, the spaceship's engine, RocketMotorTwo (RM2), underwent another successful full duration test fire, marking the first time the company and its partners have undertaken test flight and test firing on the same day. Both milestones prime Virgin Galactic to reach powered flight by the end of the year. (6/28)

DLR to Build Ground Segment for Data Relay Satellites (Source: Space News)
The German Aerospace Center, DLR, will build and operate the ground segment of the European Data Relay System (EDRS) under a contract with EDRS prime contractor Astrium Services. DLR has subcontracted part of the work on the three EDRS ground facilities to SES TechCom of Luxembourg. In a reversal of the usual direction of money flows in government space programs, Astrium Services has hired DLR, a government agency, to take charge of three EDRS ground facilities — the main control and data-reception centers. The contract is valued at $84.5 million through 2030. (6/28)

ATK Makes Progress with the Liberty Launch System (Source: SpaceRef)
ATK has completed a milestone for its contract with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev) and partner EADS Astrium has completed tests on tank structures for the Liberty rocket second stage. ATK is currently working on an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA for the CCDev Program but is hoping it is one of the companies selected in the next round of funding. Only 2 1/2 proposals will be funded in the third round putting pressure on the companies vying for funding. (6/28)

National Aerospace Week in September (Source: AIA)
Appreciating the importance of the aerospace industry and what it has done for America and our armed forces, both houses of Congress issued resolutions in 2010 establishing the third week in September annually as National Aerospace Week. Since its inception, National Aerospace Week has been a rallying call for companies and their employees, communities, aligned organizations, government and other groups to demonstrate their support for the industry by sponsoring numerous events nationally and locally during the week. Click here. (6/28)

Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Gets New Chief (Source: Daily Press)
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority has named a new executive director. The authority's board of directors announced Wednesday that it has selected Dale K. Nash to the position beginning July 31. He will replace Dr. Billie Reed, who has served as executive director since the authority was established in 1995.

Officials say Nash has spent nearly 30 years in the aerospace industry, most recently serving as CEO of Alaska Aerospace. He also served as director of launch operations at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Throughout his career, he has been directly involved in more than 60 space shuttle flights. Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton says Nash's experience will be a tremendous boost as the authority works to become the top commercial space port in the U.S. (6/28)

ATK Signs Teaming Agreement for Liberty Transportation Service (Source: ATK)
ATK and Astrium North America have signed a teaming agreement with NanoRacks, LLC, for NanoRacks to market opportunities for both astronaut explorers and the experiments they plan to carry into space on board the Liberty Transportation Service. The Liberty Transportation Service offers researchers world-wide the opportunity to fly into low Earth orbit with their research—either to the International Space Station, to other on-orbit space craft for human-tended operations or to use a Liberty mission on-orbit as their own unique research platform.

The Liberty team will work with NanoRacks to develop Liberty missions that allow use of low Earth orbit by non-NASA individuals, such as astronauts from other countries, as well as the delivery of innovative solutions for NASA commercial crew and cargo missions. This teaming agreement allows NanoRacks to market to explorers from around the globe a Liberty mission consisting of transportation into low Earth orbit, on-orbit operations and a safe return to Earth for up to seven people and their research and/or equipment. (6/28)

UCF Florida Space Institute Moves To Orlando (Source: Brevard Times)
The University of Central Florida’s Florida Space Institute begins a new era this week as it relocates from Cape Canaveral to a new home in the Central Florida Research Park. The center, which over the course of 22 years has conducted research and trained hundreds of students in the mechanics of building satellites, payloads and other space hardware and the science of launching them into space from facilities near the Kennedy Space Center, is moving to the UCF Partnership I Building, next to UCF’s main campus. (6/28)

MDA Shielded Against Pending Litigation in Loral Purchase (Source: Space News)
The agreement under which Canada’s MDA Corp. will buy the satellite manufacturing arm of Loral Space and Communications protects MDA from almost all potential costs associated with a pending lawsuit filed against the satellite maker by ViaSat Inc. In addition to assuring that Loral pays for possible damages or royalty payments demanded of Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the agreement calls for MDA to be reimbursed for any loss of orbital-incentive fees owed by SS/L’s customers that might be withheld in the event of a ViaSat victory. (6/28)

Chinese Astronauts Preparing for Return Tonight (Source: Space Policy Online)
China's three-person Shenzhou-9 crew is preparing to return to Earth about 10:00 pm tonight, June 28, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which will be 10:00 am June 29 Beijing time (or 02:00 GMT June 29). The crew was launched on June 16 and this is the longest of China's human space flight missions to date. Tiangong-1 will be boosted to a higher orbit until China is ready to launch the next crew, expected next year. (6/28)

5 Tiny Satellites Set for Autumn Launch from ISS (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has announced plans to launch five tiny satellites from the International Space Station's Japanese experimental module Kibo as early as this autumn. JAXA said the satellites will be carried by an unmanned H-ll Transfer Vehicle, called Kounotori or HTV-3, scheduled to be launched July 21. Astronaut Akihide Hoshide, who will stay on the ISS from July, and others will put them into orbit by using a robotic arm and a spring-propelled launcher for the first time. (6/28)

B-612 Plans Infrared Asteroid Seeking Telescope (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The B-612 Foundation plans to develop a privately-funded asteroid hunting orbital telescope. Bill Nye the Science Guy provided some early intel on the project for about 40 attendees at the monthly LA Space Salon on Wednesday. Nye described the plan as follows: The foundation will place an infrared telescope (originally called Sentinel but since renamed) into space at approximately the orbit of Venus (.7 AU). It will look out at the solar system with the sun at its back. An infrared instrument is being used because asteroids reflect well in this spectrum.

It is believed that there are as many as 100,000 Earth-crossing asteroids. Funding for the telescope is coming from investors in Silicon Valley. Nye mentioned that officials had met with Elon Musk of SpaceX, although he wasn’t clear on whether the company had agreed to launch the telescope. (6/28)

When Aliens Call, Who Will Answer? (Source: MSNBC)
If an alien civilization attempts to get in touch with us, who's in charge of figuring out what to do? "Nobody's in charge," says Seth Shostak, who is senior astronomer at the California-based SETI Institute as well as the chairman of the International Academy of Astronautics' SETI Permanent Study Group. Click here. (6/28)

Roscosmos Sets Five Space Launches for July (Source: Interfax)
The federal space agency Roscosmos plans to carry out four space launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome and another from Plesetsk, Roscosmos spokesperson Anna Vedishcheva said. "July will see the launches of the Sirius-5 satellite (July 7), the Soyuz TMA-25M space freighter on July 15, a cluster of Kanopus-B, BKA, MKA-FKI, ADS-1 and TET-1 satellites on July 22, and two satellites - Express-MD-2 and Telkom-3 - on July 25," she said. (6/28)

GAO: 17-Month Gap in Weather Forecasting is 'Best Case Scenario' (Source: Florida Today)
A projected 17-month-gap in some weather satellite forecasts later this decade could last even longer if a replacement satellite now being assembled can’t meet its launch date, an official with the Government Accountability Office said. The satellite, known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), is crucial in tracking hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather phenomena. The tracking gives emergency officials time to prepare and react, according to NOAA.

The current orbiter, launched last year, is scheduled to retire in 2016. NOAA officials are predicting it will be at least 17 months before its replacement would be operational in 2018. “If (the current orbiter) lasts less than five years and if the JPSS launch date slips, this gap could be greater.” So what’s the worst-case scenario? Fifty-three months, according to GAO. (6/28)

Elaborate Ruse May be Part of Secret Payload on Delta-4 (Source: Florida Today)
When the nation’s most powerful rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral on Friday morning with a classified spy satellite, it will do so with a little added oomph. The planned 6:13 a.m. liftoff of United Launch Alliance’s 232-foot Delta IV Heavy rocket will be the first by upgraded engines powering each of the rocket’s three first-stage boosters. “We’re getting more miles per gallon and more thrust overall due to these improvements,” said Steve Bouley of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

A question officials involved in the National Reconnaissance Office mission won’t discuss is why the extra performance is needed. One theory holds that the payload could be the last of a Cold War-era program of stealth imaging satellites designed to disguise their location, and could include a decoy sent to a different orbit. The heavy-lift Delta IV’s extra power could help send a decoy to a higher orbit. (6/28)

Cancelled: Apollo 15 and Apollo 19 (1970) (Source: WIRED)
On Aug. 5 and 13, 1970, NASA Administrator Thomas Paine dispatched letters on the future of the U.S. lunar program to the Lunar and Planetary Missions Board (LPMB) and the Space Science Board (SSB) of the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council. In his letters, he outlined three options for curtailing Project Apollo. Of these, the first (Option I) would cancel one Apollo mission, while the others would nix two.

The options he described were in part aimed at avoiding a delay in the Skylab Program, which constituted a step toward Paine’s favorite 1970s NASA goal: a 12-man Earth-orbiting space station that would be staffed and resupplied using a fully reusable Space Shuttle. Click here. (6/28)

MDA Has Record Increase After Buying Loral Satellite Unit (Source: Bloomberg)
MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. (MDA), which made the robotic arm for NASA’s defunct space shuttle, climbed the most ever after buying Loral’s commercial satellite unit to tap growing demand for mobile entertainment and smartphones. MDA jumped 28 percent to C$57.25 at the close in Toronto, the biggest increase since its initial public offering in 2000. The company, which will pay Loral $875 million, said the deal will add to earnings immediately. (6/27)

Loral Purchase Fuels MDA’s Hopes in Satellite Servicing (Source: Space News)
MDA Corp.’s purchase of satellite builder Space Systems/Loral could revive MDA’s dormant effort to build a vehicle to refuel satellites in orbit. The purchase could satisfy a longstanding MDA goal of creating a base of operations in the United States in order to get more U.S. government business for MDA’s established robotics, surveillance and intelligence divisions. (6/27)

Intelsat Epic Platform Targets Mobile Broadband Market (Source: Aviation Week)
As emerging and established satellite fleet operators bank on the promise of Ka-band broadband to deliver fast, cheap Internet service, Intelsat has remained largely unconvinced. But with demand for smartphone and tablets growing at an astonishing pace, the world's largest operator of fixed-satellite services is taking aim at the mobile broadband market nonetheless.

Intelsat says it is about to order the first of a new line of satellites, dubbed Epic, that will feature characteristics associated with the Ka-band portion of the radio frequency spectrum: High throughput, frequency reuse and the ability to utilize multiple spot beams. But the company says it will use its plethora of existing C-, Ku- and Ka-band frequency allocations to do it. (6/27)

NASA in Thailand: Mission Aborted (Source: Bangkok Post)
NASA announced Wednesday it has cancelled the August research mission it had hoped to base at U-tapao airbase after the government refused to endorse the project. According to NASA, the agency: "cancelled the SEAC4RS mission, which was scheduled to begin in August 2012, due to the absence of necessary approvals by regional authorities in the timeframe necessary to support the mission's planned deployment and scientific observation window."

The single paragraph was added to a website page which described the project in glowing terms as "something that has never been done before: probing a vast expanse of the Southeast Asian atmosphere from top to bottom" during the monsoon season. "We have, unfortunately, had to call off this airborne science mission planned for Southeast Asia this year," NASA tweeted.

In Thailand, the Democrat party on Wednesday rejected all blame for the cancellation. The scheme was scrapped after the cabinet decided to forward the project proposal to parliament for debate in August, as delivery of equipment and preparations must take place ahead of time for the research to begin in the same month. (6/27)

KSC's 50th Anniversary Events Include Nod to Past and Look to Future (Source: KSCVC)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, July 1 with a program that includes NASA officials discussing the historic spaceport and the dynamic transformation underway to support the next generation of space exploration.

Beginning the program at 2 p.m. Sunday is the panel discussion, "Kennedy Space Center: Past, Present and Future," at the Astronaut Encounter Theater. The select NASA panel is scheduled to include Carol Scott of the Program Control and Integration Office within the Commercial Crew Program, and Stu McClung of the Orion Crew/Service Module Office. At 3 p.m. Sunday at the 65-member Orlando Concert Band will present a musical salute to Kennedy Space Center with patriotic music and marches.

Completing the program is Scott Bolton, principal investigator for NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, who will take visitors on a visual journey of recent scientific discoveries made as a result of exploration of the solar system. The presentation begins at 4:30 p.m. at Exploration Space. The 50th anniversary programming is complimentary to guests with paid admission. (6/27)

New NASA Game Lets Players Build and Launch a Virtual Rocket (Source: NASA)
With NASA's Rocket Science 101, a new game designed for computers and iPad users, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to launch a spacecraft. NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, provides access to space for the studies of Earth and exploration of our solar system and the universe. Now, LSP is turning over the virtual selection, construction and launch of a mission to players who will decide the best rocket to assemble to launch a spacecraft. Rocket scientists in LSP do the same thing for real rockets and missions every day. (6/27)

Five Satellites to be Launched From Baikonur on July 22 (Source: Itar-Tass)
The launch of five satellites from the Baikonur Space Center that was put off earlier due to contradictions with Kazakhstan, on the territory of which the center is located, has been scheduled for July 22, an official at the Russian Federal Space Agency said. “The Federal Space Agency plans launching in July a block of satellites consisting of the space probes Kanopus-B, BKA, MKA-FKI, ADS-1, and TET-1,” he said. “The liftoff will take place July 22 at the Baikonur site.”

The Russian and Kazakhstani authorities had contradictions regarding the area where the debris of the launch vehicles is supposed to fall out. To settle this and some other issues, the Roscosmos director Vladimir Popovkin planned to visit Kazakhstan in at the end of May. “It’s important for us to preclude a need for getting permissions every year or for every launch,” a high-ranking source said then on the contents of negotiations between the members of Russian and Kazakhstani political leaderships regarding space exploration. (6/27)

Soyuz Light Rocket Undergoes Bench Test as Plesetsk Prepares for Angara (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Two Russian companies moved forward over the past week on development of a pair of new launch vehicles. TsSKB-Progress conducted a major test of the new light-class Soyuz-2-1c booster while Khrunichev shipped Angara components to the Plesetsk spaceport for testing.

TsSKB-Progress completed a cold bench test on the first stage of the new booster on June 22. RussianSpaceWeb.com reports that the three-day test “reportedly rehearsed all processing and fueling procedures with the rocket all the way up to the liftoff command. It involved loading of 33.8 tons of kerosene fuel and 85.2 tons of liquid oxygen oxidizer onboard the first stage of the Soyuz-1 vehicle. The second cold test cleared the way to the test firing of the rocket’s propulsion system.” (6/27)

SpaceShipTwo Glides Again (Source: Parabolic Arc)
SpaceShipTwo made its first glide flight in 9 months on Tuesday morning. The unpowered flight and landing took place at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California as the space tourism vehicle was dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. SpaceShipTwo’s last glide test took place on Sept. 29. The vehicle experienced a stall during the flight, and the pilots used the feather re-entry system to recover. The spaceship has been fitted with engine components. Scaled Composites plans a series of drop tests over the next several months leading to powered flights beginning toward the end of the year. (6/27)

Exhumed Rocks Reveal Mars Water Ran Deep (Source: ESA)
By studying rocks blasted out of impact craters, ESA’s Mars Express has found evidence that underground water persisted at depth for prolonged periods during the first billion years of the Red Planet’s existence. Impact craters are natural windows into the history of planetary surfaces – the deeper the crater, the further back in time you can probe. In addition, rocks blasted out during the impact offer a chance to study material that once lay hidden beneath the surface. (6/27)

Weighing an Alien Planet (Source: Science)
Step on a tilted scale and it probably won't read your weight right. Planet hunters have a similar problem: When they detect a planet tugging on its star, they often don't know how tilted the planet's orbit is—and so they can't measure the world's exact mass. Now, infrared spectra from the Very Large Telescope in Chile have unveiled the orbital tilt of one of the first planets ever found, allowing the researchers to derive its true mass.

Located 51 light-years from Earth, this planet—named Tau Boötis A b—is a "hot Jupiter" that whirls around its sun every 3 days, 7 hours, and 30 minutes. The astronomers discovered carbon monoxide in the planet's air. Coupled with the orbital period, the poison gas's Doppler shift reveals that the planet's orbit is tilted 45° to our line of sight and that the world itself weighs six times more than Jupiter. (6/27)

Probing an 'Invisible' Exoplanet's Atmosphere (Source: Discovery)
To study the atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system, astronomers have had two choices: pick one that flies across the face of its parent star relative to Earth's perspective (an event known as a transit), or wait for a new generation of more sensitive space telescopes that can directly capture the planet's faint light. Now, there's a third option. Using a cryogenically-cooled infrared detector on a telescope in Chile, astronomers ferreted out beams of light coming directly from Tau Boötis b, a massive planet about 50 light-years from Earth. (6/27)

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