July 22, 2012

zero2infinity One Step Closer to Manned Flight (Source: Bloon)
zero2infinity just entered into an agreement with Final Frontier Design and became one of the first in line to buy a pressurized space suit. The aim of FF, is to develop the next generation of space suits for the new commercial space industry. They have already made pressurized astronaut gloves and two complete suit prototypes and are now seeking NASA flight certification; they will start delivering suits in January 2013. Once pressurized space suits are delivered, zero2infinity will evaluate them in some tests for the use in the first manned balloon test flight in 2013.

We hope that this is the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration with Final Frontier Design. zero2infinity plans to start scientific commercial flights as early as September 2012 with at least 4 flights planned for 2013. These flights can serve as a platform for conducting scientific experiments in Near-Space such as Earth and Space observation, atmospheric physics, micogravity and supersonic flight studies by conducting drop tests. (7/22)

India Plans Third Launch Pad (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is reportedly trying to secure government go-ahead to set up a third launch pad at the Sriharikota spaceport. Sources said ISRO chairman Dr Radhakrishnan is pushing hard for this, though the space agency chief was not available for comment. The space agency also has plans to build an integrated assembly facility near Sriharikota, a multi-mission ground station in Hyderabad and a spacecraft center in Chitradurga in Karnataka. (7/22)

NASA Wallops Suborbital Rocket Launch Scheduled For July 23 (Source: NASA)
NASA has scheduled the launch of an inflatable heat shield technology demonstration flight from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility for Monday, July 23. The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) is to be launched on a Black Brant XI sounding rocket and is projected to splashdown approximately 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras. (7/22)

Soyuz Launches Five Satellites (Source: SpaceToday.net)
A Soyuz rocket launched five small satellites on Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The payloads included the MKA-PN1 and Canopus-B remote sensing satellites for Russia, the BKA imaging satellite for Belarus, the TET-1 technology demonstration satellite built by the German space agency DLR, and exactView-1, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) satellite built by SSTL in the UK for Canadian company exactEarth. The launch had been blocked earlier this year by Kazakh officials because they had not yet approved the launch trajectory for the Soyuz, which would drop stages in different areas than a typical Soyuz launch from Baikonur. (7/22)

Virgin Galactic Deal Puts Space Into Reach (Source: Seattle Times)
Tukwila-based Spaceflight, an orbital delivery service (think UPS for space), announced a deal to launch small satellites from Virgin Galactic's Launcher One, an aircraft that serves as an aerial launchpad. Before the deal, Spaceflight could only send cargo that was piggybacked on larger satellites and released at their desired orbit. Now with the deal, Spaceflight can launch its client's cargo to the precise orbital level from Launch One.

Melissa Wuerl, Spaceflight's head of business development, says it can be a challenge to persuade owners of large multimillion-dollar satellites to allow Spaceflight's smaller cargo to tag along. "You had to convince them that your small satellite wouldn't damage theirs," she said. For penny-pinching cargo shippers, prices go as low $125,000 to send a one kilogram package slightly larger than a Rubik's Cube into a low orbit. At the other side of the spectrum, costs go as high as $19.9 million for satellites that weigh up to 300 kilograms. (7/21)

Bus Tours Help Tell NASA's Story at Marshall (Source: Huntsville Times)
Nothing short of a manned mission to Mars or an asteroid will get the public as fired up about NASA as the moon landings did four decades ago. Space buffs need a cosmic cheerleader to boost public support for a strong and robust space program. Resuming bus tours of Marshall Space Flight Center is one way Huntsville's U.S. Space and Rocket Center will do that.

The bus tours resumed Friday after they were discontinued following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The space museum deserves credit for making that happen. With thousands of visitors streaming through the U.S. Space & Rocket Center annually, enlightenment to all that futuristic stuff can help rally public support. (7/22)

NASA Launch Postponed -- Test Article To Splashdown Off North Carolina Coast (Source: NASA)
Due to bad weather and rough seas off the coast of North Carolina, NASA has postponed Sunday's launch attempt of an inflatable heat shield technology demonstration flight from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility. The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) is to be launched on a Black Brant XI sounding rocket and recovered approximately 100 miles east off Cape Hatteras. Following a weather briefing Sunday afternoon, a decision on a Monday, July 23, launch attempt will be made by mission managers. (7/22)

Goldilocks Planet Orbits Into Hot Debate (Source: USA Today)
Goldilocks, like most fairy tales, offers children a lesson and a happy ending. Whether a Goldilocks planet offers astronomers something similar still hangs up in the air, with the story's latest chapter just opened. Dubbed Gliese (Glee-zuh) 581g, the Goldilocks planet appears to circle the red dwarf star Gliese 581. A red dwarf is a star less than half the weight of our sun and relatively cooler. The planet's orbit puts it a distance considered neither "too hot" nor "too cold" for oceans. That is what led astronomer Paul Butler to describe Gliese 581g as "the most Goldilocks planet yet found" after its 2010 discovery.

Plenty of planets have turned up in astronomical surveys over the last decade or so, nearly 800 confirmed ones, according to a list kept by the Paris Observatory. But planets orbiting their stars at "habitable zone" distances, where oceans and perhaps life could thrive, remain special, with only a handful confirmed since 2009. Along with the fact that Gliese 581 is very close by astronomical standards, only about 20.3 light years or 120 trillion miles away, that's why the Goldilocks planet was such a big deal. (7/22)

Enterprises Sprout as Economic Effects of the Shuttle Wane (Source: Florida Today)
Astronauts and race drivers share a need for fire-resistant clothing that includes a cooling system. So when a Brevard company needed cooling vests for NASCAR drivers, it turned to Deborah Coombs and Kimberly Phillips. The sisters were familiar with the desired material, CarbonX, a soft, fireproof fabric they knew from when they designed and stitched intricate covers, heat-shields and pads for NASA’s space shuttles.

Businesses are re-inhabiting real estate near the space center. Former shuttle workers are starting the businesses they’ve dreamed of, putting their skills to work in new ways. And entrepreneurs with no connection to the space program are moving forward, undeterred by what has come before and optimistic about the future. There’s Jim Fletcher, an engineer who is designing a portable solar array that can be used in emergencies.

And Scott Simon, a BCC student who, with 13 employees, is opening a company built around the concept of a financial management system —including a cash register — that operates via the Internet. Even Space Shirts, the long-standing T-shirt business on Courtenay Parkway, pivoted. The company now prints and sells a line of shirts celebrating space history and shuttle missions past. A year ago, this was hard to imagine. (7/22)

Posey Elaborates on Space Positions (Source: Florida Today)
You might not like all of Congressman Bill Posey’s votes or positions. But it’s worth knowing his reasons for them. Posey, R-FL, voted to speed NASA’s selection of private contractors to fly astronauts and cargo into orbit — before we see what all the competitors can do. He voted to cut short the demonstrations and pick two out of the eight competitors. Why?

"There’s a finite amount of money for space and there should be a minimal number of goals," he said." Going to the moon should be a goal. I look at it like building a house. Let’s say you have $100,000. Do you hire one contractor to build your $100,000 house? Or do you hire four contractors and say, see how far you can go for $25,000 each? Do we want to fund 100 companies and see what they can do? You can spend too much time shopping and not enough time building."

Why does he think it's so important to return to the Moon? "The moon, first and primarily, is the military high ground. We know the Russians want to colonize the moon. The Chinese are going to colonize the moon — they’ve said so. In the (Republican presidential) debate, Gingrich said he wanted to colonize the moon. Romney said he’d fire someone who recommended that. Ron Paul, at least, mentioned national security before saying we should send politicians to the moon." (7/22)

We Have Stopped Dreaming (Source: zazenlife.com)
In my lifetime there has been no inspirational event to unite us all to believe in the future. My lifetime has been full of war, death, destruction, terrorism, economic crisis, and debt. We have stopped dreaming about the future. When everyone was looking into the sky a few months ago to watch the space shuttle Enterprise land at JFK, I think I was the only one truly disappointed. I saw it as the end of an era, the end of dreaming about the universe and the potential of the human race. NASA has no foreseeable future plans because the NASA budget has taken the biggest hit in its history.

In 1974 we were expecting to be walking on Mars before 1990, today the expectation is 2050 and that’s if NASA gets a budget and starts working on it heavily right now. What have we got to inspire us today? The most recent episode of Glee? Justin Bieber? The Jersey Shore? There is nothing about the present or future of the United States I am inspired by. We have nothing to look forward to and no prospects. (7/22)

No comments: