July 2, 2012

ATK Announces Independent Assessment Team for Liberty (Source: ATK)
ATK and the Liberty program announced an independent assessment team and their first tasking to advise the company on development of its commercial human certification plan for the Liberty system, which includes the launch vehicle, upper stage, abort system, composite spacecraft, ground and mission operations, crew and passenger training and a test flight crew.

The FAA is authorized by Congress to regulate commercial human spaceflight. Over the next few years, the FAA will use a phased approach to regulating the crew and passenger safety of the emerging commercial human spaceflight industry. In the meantime, and in the absence of specific government human certification standards, the developers themselves must look to NASA and International Partner human spaceflight best practices and lessons learned to develop their own design and operations criteria.

Developing the Liberty-specific commercial human certification plan early in the program ensures the system will be designed from the outset to ensure flight crew and passenger safety. Liberty’s independent assessment team is led by Bryan O’Connor with team members Ken Bowersox, Kevin Leclaire and Alain Souchier. This team brings former space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) commanders together with experts in NASA Safety and Mission Assurance, commercial space business and cryogenic engine development. (7/2)

US Atom-Smasher 'Strongly' Hints at Finding God Particle (Source: AFP)
US-based physicists reported finding strong hints of the Higgs boson, the elusive "God particle" that is believed to give objects mass, but said European data is needed to confirm any potential discovery. If physicists can confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, the last missing piece in the standard model of physics, the announcement would rank among the most important scientific breakthroughs of the last century. The final findings from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois, will be followed by the announcement of more definitive results from a potent European atom-smasher on Wednesday. (7/2)

Embry-Riddle Official Tasked With Research Park Development (Source: ERAU)
The development of Embry-Riddle’s 90-acre Aerospace Research and Technology Park in Daytona Beach has gained new impetus with the hiring of Dr. Rod Casto as associate vice president for research and innovation. Casto most recently held that same title at the University of South Florida (USF), as well as serving as the executive director of the USF Research Foundation.

“The Embry-Riddle research park will create hundreds of jobs by bringing together aviation and aerospace companies, universities and government agencies to collaborate on solving real-world problems,” said Embry-Riddle President Dr. John Johnson. Among partnerships in the works, Embry-Riddle and the University of Florida may establish a center of excellence in the park to conduct research on unmanned aircraft systems and robotics, which are robust areas of study at Embry-Riddle.

Attracting those companies will be easier now that Florida lawmakers have approved an $8.97 million grant the university will use to begin clearing land, building roads and putting up signs. The research park has one tenant so far, Larsen Motorsports, which opened its High-Performance Vehicles Research and Development Center earlier this year. The park, located south of the Embry-Riddle campus and close to Daytona Beach International Airport, is expected to be fully built out in 10 years. (7/2)

Private Company Will Work With NASA Equipment (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Melbourne-based Craig Technologies and NASA have reached agreement on a deal that will allow the company to take possession of 1,600 pieces of machine shop and lab equipment used in the space shuttle program. The company intends to use it to service private companies' space ventures. The deal, reached last week, gives the company full use privileges of the equipment currently housed at the 160,000-square-foot NASA Shuttle Logistics Depot that was run by United Space Alliance in Cape Canaveral.

Craig Technologies, founded by Carol Craig, intends to win contracts with the bevy of private companies now planning space programs from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as the Cape becomes the new "Space Port" for commercial space programs. The equipment ranges from welding benches to high-tech vibration labs, and aeronautics electronics engineering stations to "clean room" assembly stations. The company also is charged with preserving the equipment for "current and future mission support."

"Allowing the capability to be maintained and enhanced along with opening it to other industries ensures a long-term outlook that benefits all interested parties including new and existing businesses," Craig stated. Craig Technologies will formally take possession of the equipment, all of it on loan from NASA, Jan. 1. (7/2)

India to Build Third Launchpad at Sriharikota (Source: Times of India)
With plans for 60 missions over the next five years, ISRO will develop a third launchpad at its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh to meet the growing demand. The new launchpad would help ISRO augment the frequency of missions, which was necessary to meet its ambitious targets.

"We plan to launch 24 missions over the next 24 months, which include our communication satellites and some foreign payloads," he said, adding that over a five year period, the space agency has plans to launch 60 missions. The new pad could also be used for launching Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) carrying heavier satellites as also by the reusable launch vehicle, India's own version of a space shuttle. (7/2)

NASA to Launch Suborbital Science Mission in New Mexico (Source: NASA)
On July 5, NASA will launch a sounding rocket mission from White Sands in New Mexico. The Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Investigation (SUMI) will study the intricate, constantly changing magnetic fields on the sun in a hard-to-observe area of the sun's low atmosphere called the chromosphere. The primary objective of the SUMI experiment is to test the technologies that have been developed for making magnetic field measurements in the upper chromosphere/ lower transition region.

Transition region magnetic field measurements are very important, but the most important Zeeman sensitive lines are in the ultraviolet which are impossible to observe from the Earth. SUMI plans to make exploratory polarization measurements in this region to develop the scientific tools to analyze and convert our polarization data into vector magnetic field measurements and to use this data in determining the sensitivity requirements for space-based missions. (7/2)

Jemison Talks Science in Obama Campaign Visit (Source: SPACErePORT)
Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison (now heading the DARPA 100-Year Starship project), visited Advanced Magnet Lab (AML) on Florida's Space Coast to promote the Obama administration's support for science, technology and space exploration. AML is a direct beneficiary of current energy policies and programs, with their focus on superconductivity and other electromagnetic technologies. AML chief Mark Senti is a right-leaning registered Independent, but he made a point of praising President Obama's energy policies and programs. AML has done space-focused work for both NASA and the military, including on magnetic shielding approaches for long-duration deep-space missions. (7/2)

DARPA Awards Air-Launch Contracts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
DARPA has awarded six contracts for its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to produce a rocket capable of launching a 100-pound satellite into low Earth orbit for less than $1 million. Winners include Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing for launch system design/development, and Northrup Grumman, Space Information Laboratories, and Ventions LLC for enabling technology development.

The launch platform is to be a “fundamentally unmodified” aircraft. “We do not want an aircraft dedicated to the mission. That is key to the affordability of ALASA,” he says. Apart from software, DARPA’s goal is that the aircraft “does not have any modifications preventing it from performing its primary mission.” DARPA’s goal is not only an air-launch system that can place a 100-lb. satellite in low Earth orbit for $1 million, but one that requires just 24 hr. from call-up to integrate and launch the payload , with the ability to replan the launch in flight and relocate the aircraft to a different airport on short notice. (7/2)

Bill Nye: U.S. Risks Losing its Space Edge (Source: CNN)
Years before Bill Nye became the Science Guy, he was a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University, where he took a course with astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan, who was instrumental in the planning of NASA missions to other planets and became widely known for his research, writing and public television series, was one of the founders of the Planetary Society. And his student dutifully signed up to become a member. "I've been a member for over 30 years. And now I'm the head guy. It's quite odd," Nye said.

So today, the bow-tied, jauntily professorial Nye has a new role aside from his television work as a popularizer of science: As the society's chief executive, he's become a leading voice against the Obama administration's proposed $300 million cut in NASA's planetary exploration budget. And it's a subject about which he's passionate. "This is a deep, deep concern. All the budgets are being cut. We gotcha, budgets are being cut, budgets are being pulled back, yes, yes, all good," he says, acknowledging the pressure to cut spending.

"But investment in space stimulates society, it stimulates it economically, it stimulates it intellectually, and it gives us all passion. Everyone, red state, blue state, everyone supports space exploration. So I understand the budget has got to be cut, but something has gone a little bit wrong." Nye says the planetary exploration budget, facing a reduction of 21% from this fiscal year's budget, is taking a deeper cut than other parts of NASA. His worry is that the U.S. is in danger of losing its unmatched scientific expertise to plan and execute missions to other planets. (7/2)

Former Astronaut Alan Poindexter Dies in Accident at Florida Beach (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Former NASA astronaut Alan Poindexter died Sunday from injuries sustained in a jet ski crash in Florida. He was 50 years old. Poindexter, a two-time space shuttle flier, was jet skiing with his sons near Pensacola Beach, Fla., when the accident occurred. "At about 1:30 p.m., Poindexter and his son were sitting still on the jet ski when Poindexter's oldest son, 26-year-old Zachary, crashed into them on a separate jet ski," the Pensacola News Journal reported. Poindexter later died of his injuries after being airlifted to a nearby Baptist Hospital. (7/2)

First All-Female Emirati Engineering Cohort Returns from NASA (Source: Zawya)
The Arab Youth Venture Foundation (AYVF), the innovative not-for-profit educational consultancy founded in UAE in 2007, best known for its Space Act Agreement for Middle East educational programs with NASA, today announces the successful return of its first all female UAE NASA intern co-hort, raising the total number of historic Emirati interns to 16.

The three outstanding UAE students, Hayam Al Blooshi and Ghena Al Hanae from Abu Dhabi, and Maryam Yammahi of Fujeirah, conducted mission based research at NASA in areas relating to Mars exploration rovers, water based absorption impacting to space suit design, and waste-water treatment. To date, of the 16 UAE NASA interns, fifty percent (50%) have entered their professional careers in industry. Thirty percent (30%) will enter their Engineering master's programs at leading schools such as Stanford University, Cornell University, Columbia University, and Masdar this fall. Twenty percent (20%) remain in UAE universities. (7/2)

Ancient Mars Water Existed Deep Underground (Source: Space.com)
New evidence that water on Mars existed deep underground during the first billion years of the Red Planet's history has been found in rocks blasted out of Martian craters by ancient collisions, a new study finds. Researchers using observations from the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) studied rocks on Mars that were ejected from impact craters. They found that underground water persisted deep below the planet's surface for prolonged periods during Mars' early existence.

Astronomers can glimpse back into the history of a planet by studying impact craters, which act as natural recorders of the planetary surface. Essentially, deeper craters allow scientists to probe farther back in time, the researchers said. (7/2)

New Intelsat Satellite Will Only Receive Partial Power (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Officials expect the Intelsat 19 communications satellite will suffer permanent performance degradation from a damaged solar array which finally popped loose in June after early attempts to deploy the panel failed. The satellite's south solar array stayed folded against the spacecraft following its deployment from a Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket June 1. The north solar array unfurled as planned.

Intelsat confirmed the solar panel unfurled June 12, and engineers began activating the satellite's communications payload to determine how much of the craft's original mission could be accomplished. Data received from Intelsat 19 indicate the south solar array is damaged, and the power available to the satellite will be reduced. (7/2)

Far Side of the Moon Offers Quiet Place for Telescopes (Source: New Scientist)
Astronomers are seeking a quiet spot from which to observe the universe's "dark ages". This was an epoch in the development of the cosmos, which lasted for a few hundred million years after the big bang, before stars and galaxies began to form. The only way to observe the dark ages is to look for faint radio signals from neutral hydrogen - single protons orbited by single electrons - which filled the early universe.

Telescopes on Earth, such as the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia, are searching for such signals, at frequencies above 100 megahertz. This can probe the universe back to 400 million years after the big bang. To explore even earlier times, telescopes need to receive radio waves at frequencies below 100 megahertz. Interference from radio sources on Earth such as FM radio and the planet's ionosphere can mess up these signals. "You get to the point where the ionosphere is just a hopeless barrier," says Dayton Jones. "You have got to go to space, and the most promising location by far is the far side of the moon." (7/2)

Space Exploration: Staring Into the Dark (Source: The Guardian)
The European Space Agency – of which, for the time being, the UK remains a fully engaged member – has quietly cleared for takeoff a space mission to address the biggest question of all: what is the universe made of? Galaxies, stars, black holes, asteroids, planets and people together add up only to a trifling 4% of all that there is: the remaining 96% is mysterious and very dark.

The agency's Euclid is an optical and infrared space telescope that will be launched in 2020, to spend six years a million miles beyond Earth, measuring with subtle techniques and exquisite precision the geometry, distribution and acceleration of billions of galaxies across distances that extend 10bn years back in time. (7/2)

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