July 10, 2012

Indian Military and Space Agencies Work to Cut Costs for Space Access (Source: The Hindu)
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are actively pursuing research on various technologies to bring down the cost of access to space, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said. “In the last five decades, Indian space, missile and aircraft technologies have matured and have tremendous integrated potential for developing world-class newer systems in the next three to four decades,” Mr. Kalam added. (7/10)

Editorial: Send Machines, Not People, to Space (Source: Design News)
Though the successful launch and docking of the Dragon capsule captured all the attention, I wondered why we still put people in space and deliver supplies to them, when machines could function equally well without sleep, water, air, and nourishment. The US and Russia have sent many robotic spacecraft to Mars to take photographs and analyze the atmosphere and surface. Lately, the possibility of manned missions to Mars has captured attention and sparked numerous debates.

So far, the majority of missions to Mars have failed. An online list of past and current missions shows 25 failures out of 45 missions. One mission went awry when teams used different units -- one English and one metric. When failures occur, it seems better to lose a robot than a manned vehicle, which would cost more in time, money, preparation, training, support, and lost lives.

A variety of unmanned spacecrafts could perform almost every task we would ask humans to do -- even research experiments. Advances in computers, communications, robotics, chemical sensors, vision systems, and guidance equipment make unmanned missions less expensive and easier to design. (7/10)

Extreme Events Convincing Many That Climate Change is Real (Source: Washington Post)
Increasingly common experiences with extreme climate-related events such as the Colorado wildfires, a record warm spring and preseason hurricanes have convinced many Americans climate change is a reality, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Friday. Many Americans had previously seen climate change as a “nebulous concept” removed from them in time and geography, said NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco.

“Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it’s having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events,” Lubchenco said. “People’s perceptions in the United States at least are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change,” she said. (7/6)

AIAA to Hold Capitol Hill Dialogue on Deep Space Exploration (Source: AIAA)
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will sponsor a panel discussion: “Deep Space: Relaunching American Exceptionalism” on Tuesday, July 24 on Capitol Hill. This luncheon event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street, Washington, D.C. 20003.

The panel will examine the next steps in deep space exploration for the United States, the medical barriers that must be overcome before increased exploration is possible, and the costs and benefits of relying on robotic rather than human exploration. Other topics of discussion will include possible exploration destinations, the future of international partnerships for exploration, and possible fuel sources for exploration missions. (7/10)

Scientists, Know Your Budget Process (Source: Space News)
I have a message to convey to the space science community: If you are seeking or receiving government funding for your research, then you need to know how government funding works. On Feb. 28 I attended a meeting of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group to hear what space scientists and NASA officials had to say about the cut in funding for NASA’s Mars program proposed in President Obama’s budget request for the 2013. I was appalled, though not surprised, at the level of ignorance about the federal budget process displayed by some scientists there.

There’s no excuse for this ignorance. If you’re old enough to vote and pay taxes, you should know something about how your government works. A good description of the federal budget process can be found in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11, Section 10 (2008). A brief introduction to the federal budget process is available from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. I vouch for the reliability of both of these sources. (7/9)

Missile Defense Chief Abuses Staff, Internal Report Says (Source: Space News)
In a scathing internal report obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. Defense Department Inspector General's Office says Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, regularly bullied and screamed at his staff and mismanaged his office, and recommends "corrective action."

The May report, which was not made public, found that O'Reilly "engaged in a leadership style that was inconsistent with standards expected of senior army leaders," resulting in the departure of at least six senior staff members. The 37 witnesses whom the Inspector General's Office interviewed about O'Reilly described him as "condescending, sarcastic, abusive," his leadership style as "management by blowtorch and pliers," and his staff's predicament as "beaten wife syndrome." (7/5)

Harris CapRock, Astrium Services To Offer UHF Solutions (Source: Space News)
Harris CapRock Communications is teaming with Astrium Services of Europe to provide managed network services using ultra-high frequency (UHF) satellite capacity to international and U.S. government customers, Harris CapRock announced July 10. The companies signed a multiyear agreement in June to provide the service starting in the spring of 2013. The service initially will use UHF capacity aboard Britain’s commercially operated Skynet fleet of military communications satellites. (7/10)

First Trade In Space (Source: HobbySpace)
Dutch Space Tourism company, Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) and world-renowned financial markets trader Anton Kreil are about to make a giant financial leap and go one step beyond. Kreil has announced that he will attempt to become the first person in history to make a financial markets transaction in Space, when he hops aboard the XCOR Lynx MKII shuttle with SXC in 2014. (7/10)

Major Advance Towards the Next Jet Engine (Source: HobbySpace)
Reaction Engines Ltd. , a UK based company, has successfully completed another series of tests of the key component for a new engine, SABRE, that will enable aircraft to fly anywhere on Earth in under 4 hours, or directly into space and back to deliver satellites and other cargo.

The SABRE engine is capable of operating as a jet engine and a rocket engine, powering aircraft at up to five times the speed of sound within the atmosphere or directly into Earth orbit at twenty-five times the speed of sound. Its ground-breaking technology – an air pre-cooler - is designed to cool continuously the incoming airstream from over 1,000⁰C to minus 150⁰C in less than 1/100th of a second (six times faster than the blink of an eye), effectively doubling the current technical limits of jet engine speeds. (7/10)

Utah Aerospace Company Rocket Crafters Coming to Titusville (Source: Florida Today)
Rocket Crafters Inc., the Utah aerospace company that announced today it plans to relocate to Titusville, could be up and running in its temporary facility near Space Coast Regional Airport by the fourth quarter of this year. At a ceremony this afternoon at the airport, excited Titusville officials welcomed the company – once known only as Project Speed -- to town, a major dose of good news in an area still feeling the effect of last year’s shuttle program shutdown.

Rocket Crafters holds licenses for advanced hybrid rocket and aerospace composite technologies as well as proprietary hybrid rocket design and analysis software. It hopes to develop and commercialize a new hybrid rocket propulsion technology and leverage an ultra-lightweight, advanced composite material to manufacture dual-propulsion – jet and rocket -- suborbital space planes. (7/10)

Defense Industry is Bracing for Sequestration Cuts (Source: Bloomberg)
Defense and aerospace firms are preparing for the possible effect of massive sequestration cuts to the U.S. defense budget, planning for layoffs or factory closures that could come this fall. "It's coming at us like a freight train," said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. "We're not talking about theoreticals." (7/10)

Defense Budget Cuts Could Affect November Campaigns (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Defense contractors may issue sequestration-related layoff notices just ahead of the November elections, making cuts a key campaign issue for both parties. "Everybody feels it when you take this money out of the economy," said Stephen Fuller, a George Mason University professor who wrote a study for the aerospace industry predicting that sequestration would eliminate more than 1 million jobs. (7/10)

What Really Happens When You Get Sucked Out of an Airlock (Source: Gizmodo)
Smooth move, Dave. You've done pissed off the ship's Nav-com enough to warrant bailing out of an airlock. Now, find yourself in the cold embrace of interstellar space sans helmet. Here's what you have to look forward to during your last few moments alive. Click here. (7/10)

Protest Stalls Goddard Support Contract (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. is protesting a $400 million NASA engineering services contract awarded to SGT Inc. in May to support the Joint Polar Satellite System and other projects at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The Joint Polar Satellite System is the next-generation U.S. polar-orbiting weather satellite system. SGT underbid Orbital and QinetiQ North America of Fairfax, Va., to win the Omnibus Multidiscipline Engineering Services (OMES) contract, a five-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.

Orbital formally protested NASA’s decision June 18 to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which has until Sept. 26 to resolve the case. NASA’s response to the complaint is due July 18, with Orbital’s comments due 10 days later, according to the congressional watchdog agency, which handles contract bid protests. (7/10)

Earthrise Space Inc. Announces Florida Space Institute as New Omega Envoy Partner (Source: Earthrise)
Omega Envoy, the Florida team competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP), and its parent company, Earthrise Space Inc. (ESI) are proud to welcome the Florida Space Institute (FSI) as a new partner. FSI will provide critical test and spacecraft integration equipment for the team’s use. This will include the use of a clean room, as well as vacuum and thermal chambers. (7/10)

NanoRacks Investigates Payload Problem (Source: SpaceRef)
Recently the hardware that was launched on SpaceX returned safely on Soyuz. As the schools receive the MixStix and begin to analyze the results, we are learning that many of the projects were not activated while on the International Space Station. CTO Michael Johnson has pulled together a team that will coordinate with NASA to determine whether this was a hardware error or flaw in the program procedure. Per our custom, we are re-flying the research projects at no cost and will let the community know once our investigation is completed. (7/10)

SpaceX Flight Carries Student Project, But it Never Activates (Source: Baltimore Sun)
Whatever goes up must come down — just not always in the condition one hoped. That's the lesson Paul Warren, the 16-year-old from Maryland whose science experiment was launched into space in May, learned Friday when the materials of his project — test tubes, packing liquids and roundworms by the thousand — returned after having spent nearly seven weeks aboard the International Space Station. The experiment, he learned, had never been activated.

Per instructions from NanoRacks, the Houston company that works with NASA to integrate such deliveries, Warren packed his worms, or C. elegans, into a glass ampule, or tube, then packed that tube into a larger one containing a liquid "growth medium" for the worms. An astronaut aboard the space station was to crack the outer ampule in a way that would release the worms into the surrounding liquid. It never happened. (7/10)

Russian Space Firm Suspected of $17 Million Fraud with GLONASS (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian police have opened a criminal investigation into the alleged misuse of 565 million rubles ($17 million) of state funds set aside for the country's satellite navigation system. The Interior Ministry's anti-corruption department has "unearthed facts of the unreasonable spending of 565 million rubles, earmarked by the state for the development of the space system Glonass," the body said.

Senior officials at the company Russian Space Systems, a contractor to the Glonass project, are suspected of the signing fake contracts with commercial firms. Russian Space Systems has dismissed the accusations. Its offices are currently being searched by police. (7/10)

Once-Derided Climate-Change Satellite May Launch With New Goal (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
An Earth observation satellite conceived by former Vice President Al Gore — but banished to a Maryland warehouse by foes of climate change after George W. Bush beat Gore for the presidency — could get a ride into space as early as 2014. NOAA wants about $23 million next year to continue a quiet reboot of the satellite, and spending bills circulating in Congress show that lawmakers — so far — are willing go along with it.

But given the satellite's history, supporters won't breathe easy until the Deep Space Climate Observatory rises from a launchpad. The probe's tale begins in 1998 at MIT, where Gore outlined the concept for a NASA satellite that could continuously monitor Earth — and beam back pictures 24-7 — from an orbit 1 million miles away. The reason for million-mile orbit was twofold. The satellite's instruments could make large-scale observations about global climate change. But as important to Gore, the satellite would offer environmentalists a live view of the planet similar to the iconic "Blue Marble" photo of Earth taken during the Apollo.

NASA spent about $100 million on the satellite — only to see its launch delayed and ultimately canceled after Republican leaders in Congress raised questions about its cost and scientific worth. Among them was former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-FL, who said the so-called "GoreSat" was nothing more than an expensive "screensaver" and dismissed its possible contributions to climate-change science. Now running for U.S. Senate, Weldon reiterated his concerns. "It was a pet project of Al Gore's," he said. "I think it's still questionable." (7/10)

Power Plant in Space Soon (Source: Deccan Herald)
Former president of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Monday said the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were actively pursuing research in various technologies to bring down the cost of access to space to make the vision to set up a space-based power plant at an economically viable cost.

Inaugurating the six-day ‘Space Festival 2012’ at Bharathiar University (BU) here, Dr Kalam said, “The cost of space-based power plant would be very high given the current technologies, that is, ranging somewhere between $10 billion and $100 billion for an average plant size. To make the plant economically sustainable, the cost must be reduced.”

There were three major focus areas in the space-based solar power plant. First component was the space-based solar power plant. The second was the earth-based collection system and, finally, the medium of transmission from space to earth. A multi-pronged approach was required to reduce the cost, Dr Kalam said, and suggested that by smart designing of the material used for solar power plant, the weight of solar panels could be brought down to 1 kg per KW from the existing 20 kg per KW. Click here. (7/10)

Armenia To Buy Commercial Telecom Satellite From Russia (Source: Aviation Week)
Armenia is planning to order a commercial communications satellite from Russia under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed July 9 during the Farnborough air show. Vladimir Popovkin, director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said the satellite — Armenia’s first — is expected to carry 15 transponders, though details of the satellite’s development and launch are still being negotiated. Popovkin expects a contract to be signed by year-end. (7/10)

Terminal Velocity Aerospace Offers Reentry Services (Source: SpaceRef)
Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) announced operation today as a new venture dedicated to improving reentry safety and furthering the utilization of outer space. TVA offers small protective devices for data collection during reentry breakup events, and for safe return of small payloads from space.

Our current knowledge of how reentry and breakup occurs is limited because of the difficulty in directly observing reentry events. There is little data available to calibrate reentry models, improve our ability to predict the reentry breakup process, or develop design criteria for future space hardware. This represents a measurable, and increasing, safety risk to people and property.

"Terminal Velocity is proactively working to reduce the uncertainty associated with atmospheric reentry and breakup of spacecraft and launch vehicle stages," said Dominic DePasquale, the company's CEO. "Our products directly address the needs of the reentry safety and design communities." TVA's first product, RED-Data, is currently available. RED-Data provides unparalleled insight into the physics and dynamics of atmospheric breakup of reentering spacecraft and debris. (7/10)

Aerospace Propulsion Company Plans Move to Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
A U.S. company involved in developing new technologies for jet and rocket propulsion systems and the suborbital space aircraft that could use them has selected Titusville as its future home. The company, known only as Project Speed, will be identified and its growth plans unveiled at a ceremony at 2 p.m. today at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville. The victory for Brevard, which beat out offers from multiple states, including New Mexico and Colorado, is a potentially important milestone in the emerging private-sector aviation and aerospace sectors, officials believe.

The company is heavily involved in developing aircraft and propulsion systems. It would equip the aircraft with both jet engines and rockets that, following a suborbital flight path, could turn a 9-hour commercial jet flight into one that takes 90 minutes. Though there is much work to be done, Greg Weiner said the successful development of the company’s technologies could be akin to the leap from propeller-powered airplanes to jets. (7/10)

IAI to Launch New 5-Ton Amos Satellite (Source: Space Daily)
Israel's Spacecom Satellite Communications plans to replace the Amos-2 commercial communications satellite with the 5-ton Amos-6 craft to be built by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Jewish state's leading defense and aerospace company. The $200 million Amos-6, Israel's 14th satellite since its first successful launch in September 1983, is scheduled for liftoff in the first quarter of 2015. (7/6)

Inside Brooklyn's DIY Spacesuit Company (Source: WIRED)
In a dorm room-sized office near Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, a lanky man in an inflated spacesuit dances. He hops, shimmies and boogies. He stretches his arms, sweeps his hands over his head, twists his torso and lifts a bent leg in the air. At one point he lurches over, as if to scoop up a rock on Mars. The guy in the spacesuit is artist and designer Ted Southern. Videotaping his performance is Nikolay Moiseev, a Russian mechanical engineer and Southern’s partner in founding Final Frontier Design, a startup company that hopes to craft affordable yet highly capable spacesuits for a burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry. Click here. (7/9)

A Satellite Battle Over the Eastern Skies (Source: Wall Street Journal)
For European satellite company SES, the Asian sky's the limit. Faced with well-developed and largely saturated markets in Europe and North America, global satellite operators are looking east, where they seek fresh impetus for growth in Asia's middle-class consumers and burgeoning enterprises. Satellite television is a key battleground. Operators say the region's rapid consumption growth will pay rich dividends in the direct-to-home TV segment—some 9,000 channels are expected to air in Asia by 2016, up from 2,000 channels today.

Already, SES—the world's second-biggest satellite operator by revenue—is leading the charge, carrying the most paid direct-to-home channels in Asia, with nearly 650 channels as of June. The group serves about 20 million direct-to-home pay-TV subscribers in the region, more than any of its peers. (7/8)

U.S. Space Community Reacts Warmly to China's Shenzhou-9 Launch (Source: Xinhua)
Reaction to China's successful, first manned space docking with the launch of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft was loud and clear from the U.S. space community: "Congratulations! " "We're very proud that China has joined us in space," said astronaut Michael Fincke, referring to China's June 16 launching of Shenzhou-9 and the safe return last week of its crew of three, including China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

Kenn Gold, working in space technology since 1989, is developing software through his Maryland-based company, Emergent Space Technologies, to transform a communications radio to a navigation receiver by altering its software. He hopes to launch his platform by July 20, and have the technology ready for space next year. "The United States is so far down in the world in science and technology that we need all the help we can get," he said. " Everybody knows the next man on the moon will be Chinese. That's a fact."

CASIS Director of Marketing and Communications Bobby Block linked the future decision to include China and the recent decision to partner with Russia. "Many years ago the U.S. made the decision to launch a space station with Russia because we understood the geo-political importance. There are people who see similar benefits with China, but others are cautious," Block said. "When we have more superpowers involved, that makes the partnership more significant. The ISS is a good example of what can be achieved when we put our differences aside and work together," he said. (7/9)

Aerojet Planning European Space Propulsion Subsidiary (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet has entered the final planning of the formation of a European subsidiary to serve the needs of the European space industry. The new company, European Space Propulsion, will use indigenous manufacturing and engineering talent to produce proven in-space thrusters and propulsion systems. European Space Propulsion is planned to be based in Northern Ireland and work will be done in partnership with Thales Air Defense Limited in Belfast. (7/9)

ILS Proton-M Launches with SES-5 Satellite (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their Proton-M rocket on Monday. Lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was on schedule at 18:38 GMT, with the Proton’s Briz-M Upper Stage now tasked with deploying the large telecommunications satellite into its desired orbit after nine hours of flight. (7/9)

Ariane 5 Lofts European Weather Satellite, EchoStar 17 (Source: Aviation Week)
The third in a series of advanced European weather satellites and the U.S. EchoStar 17 telecommunications satellite soared into an elliptical transfer orbit July 5, rising in tandem atop an Ariane 5 from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, each bound for a geosynchronous perch.

The liftoff, at 5:36 p.m. EDT (23:36 CEST), had been postponed from June 19 for checks of the EchoStar 17, following solar array deployment difficulties experienced by the Intelsat-19 spacecraft lofted May 31 aboard a Sea Launch rocket. Both communications spacecraft employ similar solar array deployment mechanisms provided by the U.S. satellite maker Space Systems/Loral. (7/9)

NASA's Call to Arms Getting Big Responses (Source: Xinhua)
Humankind's journey into the stars got a big boost last week as the result of the first annual International Space Station (ISS) conference in Denver, where NASA and its associates told the global scientific community it wants more involvement at the station. "We had tremendous feedback from the conference, not just from the scientists but from the investment community," said Duane Ratliff, Director of Operations and NASA Liaison for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

One year ago, CASIS was hired by NASA to solicit, analyze and implement proposals from scientists and researchers around the world who are interested in microgravity. With an annual budget of 15 million U.S. dollars and only 3 million dollars earmarked toward research, inquiries from American investors have CASIS officials buzzing with excitement.

"We're talking to various investors," said Bobby Block, CASIS Director of Marketing and Communications. "We're making headway with capital funds groups and corporations interested in projects they might be able to get involved with, some looking at a return on their investment level, some the commercial potential, some from a marketing perspective. (7/9)

Space for Dessert? (Source: ESA)
All chefs know that preparing the perfect chocolate mousse is one part science and one part art. ESA’s microgravity research is helping the food industry understand the science behind the foams found in many types of food and drink such as meringues and coffee. Not all foams are created equal. Consumers expect a chocolate mousse to keep its structure and taste on the journey from the supermarket to their fridge. But the froth on some drinks would seem strange if it did not disappear after a few minutes.

Foams are easier to study in weightlessness because the bubbles are evenly spread rather than the larger bubbles floating to the top. ESA has been investigating foams since the 1980s. Our knowledge and knowhow caught the attention of food company Nestlé over 10 years ago. (7/9)

Europe Clears the Air (Source: ESA)
Satellite measurements show that nitrogen dioxide in the lower atmosphere over parts of Europe and the US has fallen over the past decade. More than 15 years of atmospheric observations have revealed trends in air quality. As the world’s population increases, economies in many countries are also growing and populations are concentrating in large cities. With the use of fossil fuels still on the rise, pollution in large cities is also increasing.

Nitrogen dioxide is an important pollutant in the troposphere, the lowest portion of our atmosphere. Satellite observations of it began with the launch of the ERS-2 satellite in 1995 and its GOME instrument, originally designed for monitoring atmospheric ozone. Monitoring continued with the Sciamachy sensor on Envisat, OMI on NASA’s Aura and GOME-2 on Eumetsat’s MetOp. (7/9)

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