July 27, 2012

Space Exploration Focus of Event at Florida College (Source: Hometown News)
Children have held the market on curiosity for generations, but a NASA rover on Mars is looking to take that spot. On Aug. 6 at 10:30 a.m., the Indian River County Main Library and the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will present "Curious about Curiosity: A Celebration of Mars Exploration." The event will take place at the Richardson Center on Indian River State College's Mueller campus in Vero Beach.

Throughout the summer, the children's department of the library has offered the Florida Library Youth Program to area elementary-age students, which includes a science-focused curriculum on Mars and space exploration. The day will be particularly auspicious because it is the morning NASA's Curiosity rover is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars after an eight month journey from Earth, said Patti Fuchs, children's librarian and event coordinator. (7/27)

Florida Companies Urged to Pursue DOD Rapid Innovation Fund Opportunities (Source: FFCA)
Congress has established a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) to encourage the Department of Defense to better utilize small businesses to provide for the rapid, responsive acquisition of innovative technologies that address some of our most pressing national defense needs. The program "is seeking projects that address innovative technology that resolve operational challenges or other critical national security needs, and has a demonstrated path into a defense acquisition program. Click here. (7/27)

NASA'S Chief Technologist Visits Space Florida's Space Life Sciences Lab Monday (Source: NASA)
NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck will visit Space Florida's Space Life Sciences Lab, located just outside of NASA Kennedy Space Center's security gates, on Monday, July 30 at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Peck will meet with Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello and small business leaders to discuss collaborative partnerships with NASA. (7/27)

For Life's Evolution, Stellar Chemistry Matters (Source: Science)
Planetary scientists agree that a planet's distance from its parent star is of paramount importance for creating conditions where liquid water might spur life. But what about the host star's chemical makeup? A paper in press at The Astrophysical Journal Letters argues that a greater abundance of carbon, sodium, magnesium, and silicon should be a plus for an inner solar system's long-term habitability.

That's because the abundance of these elements make the star cooler and cause it to evolve more slowly, thereby giving planets in its habitable zone more time to develop life as we know it. The stellar abundance of oxygen, in particular, seems crucial in determining how long newly formed planets stay in the habitable zone around their host star, the researchers report. If our own sun had a lower abundance of oxygen, for example, Earth would have left the habitable zone a billion years ago, well before complex organisms evolved. (7/27)

Orbital Identifies Antares/Cygnus Facilities on Wallops Map (Source: Orbital)
Significant launch site development has taken place at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This aerial map shows the location of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's (MARS) Pad 0A, from which our COTS and CRS missions will launch, as well as the Horizontal Integration Facility, and Building H-100 Payload Processing Facility on the Wallops main base where Cygnus will be integrated prior to mating with the Antares rocket. Click here. (7/27)

GenCorp to Keep Rocketdyne Separate From Aerojet (Source: Flight Global)
GenCorp says it will keep Rocketdyne, which it intends to purchase from Pratt & Whitney in a $550 million deal, separate from its existing Aerojet rocket manufacturing operation, despite some duplication of capabilities between the two. Although Aerojet and Rocketdyne work within the same small field, the companies rarely compete directly.

"There is less than 10% overlap between the two companies," says a senior Aerojet executive. "The first blush for people is that we're tooth-and-nail competitors, but the truth is we seldom compete on any R&D work." One exception is the advanced SLS booster competition, in which both Rocketdyne and Aerojet proposals were selected for further study. GenCorp has yet to decide whether to support Rocketdyne's reborn F-1 or Aerojet's concept booster - or both. (7/27)

DigitalGlobe, GeoEye Deal Could Protect Colorado Jobs (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Colorado-based DigitalGlobe’s $900 million victory in the buyout deal between the nation’s only commercial satellite imagery companies is expected to preserve a lot of aerospace jobs in the Denver area. DigitalGlobe is acquiring its rival, GeoEye, based in Virginia. The merger is expected to lead to some layoffs, but the deal is likely to preserve Denver-area jobs that might have been lost had GeoEye been the acquirer or began struggling to maintain its business. (7/27)

Department of Defense Could Lay Off Civilians, Pentagon Says (Source: The Hill)
A Pentagon official testified Thursday before Congress that the Department of Defense may have to lay off civilian employees because of possible sequestration. The employees would receive layoff notices days before the November elections due to federal reporting requirements. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-VA, estimated that up to 200,000 civilian workers could lose their jobs under sequestration. (7/26)

Raytheon Reports $472 Million Profit for Q2 (Source: Bloomberg)
Raytheon has raised its forecast for full-year profits to $5.15 to $5.30 a share. Raytheon reported $472 million in net income for the second quarter, compared with $430 million for the same quarter the previous year. "We've been managing the company from a cost-efficiency standpoint for a number of years. I'm quite comfortable with how we'll perform in the future," said Chief Financial Officer Dave Wajsgras. (7/27)

Raytheon's Space Fence Technology Ready to Track Space Debris (Source: Raytheon)
The U.S. Air Force and Raytheon have completed the preliminary design review (PDR) contract of the Space Fence program. Space Fence is capable of detecting more and much smaller objects in low earth orbit to provide greater accuracy and timeliness to meet warfighter space situational awareness requirements. "By building a working Space Fence prototype and employing innovative approaches Raytheon brought to the table, we demonstrated to the U.S. Air Force a cost-effective system that can track a multitude of small objects in space." (7/27)

NASA X-Ray Concept Inspired from a Roll of Scotch Tape (Source: NASA)
The inspiration behind NASA scientist Maxim Markevitch's quest to build a highly specialized X-ray mirror using a never-before-tried technique comes from an unusual source: a roll of Scotch tape. Markevitch and a team of X-ray optics experts at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., have begun investigating the feasibility of fashioning a low-cost mirror from plastic tape and tightly rolling it like the sticky adhesive commonly found in most homes and offices.

"I remember looking at a roll of Scotch tape and thinking, 'was it possible to use the same design for capturing hard X-rays,'" Markevitch recalled. "I talked with a few people, and to my surprise, they didn't see any principal reasons why it couldn't be done." With funding from NASA's Center Innovation Fund, the team now is pursuing Markevitch's "early-stage" idea and has already begun testing candidate materials that could be fashioned into a rolled mirror capable of collecting X-rays. (7/27)

Japanese Cargo Ship Reaches Space Station (Source: CBS)
Wielding the International Space Station's robot arm, astronaut Joseph Acaba captured a Japanese cargo ship early Friday, one week after launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. With the HTV-3 spacecraft firmly locked to the end of the arm, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide took over, maneuvering it to an Earth-facing port on the station's forward Harmony module for berthing. "HTV capture is complete," Hoshide called down after the spacecraft was grappled at 8:23 a.m. EDT. (7/27)

Why Sally Ride's Sexuality Really Matters (Source: New Scientist)
America's first woman in space blazed a trail for equality in the sciences thanks to her sex and her sexuality. My girlfriend was the one who pointed out to me that Sally Ride had a female partner. I was a mess on Monday when I learned that Ride, who became the first American woman to fly in space in 1983, had died. I had no idea she was even sick – at her request, NASA had kept her 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer secret.

Ride was one of my childhood heroes. I dressed as her for Halloween when I was aged eight and my lifelong passion for space was first budding. Ride's legacy is mostly one of inclusion: bringing more women into science, encouraging girls to think they can do anything. She was a living example of how to crush gender stereotypes, even as she dodged sexist questions from the media. Thanks to her, I grew up in a world where my sex was not a barrier to the stars.

It runs even deeper for me, as a science writer. When I found out she had double majored in physics and English in college, I felt an intense feeling of identification – she was like me. I too loved both science and words, and felt a bit of tension about it – but if the first American woman in space could cross that line, I could too. This is why I think Ride's sexuality matters. If her gender matters for diversity reasons, her sexuality matters too, for the same reason. Role models only work if you see yourself reflected in them. (7/27)

How NASA Launched the 2012 Olympics 12 Years Ago (Source: HobbySpace)
The Olympics officially launch today (July 27) in London, but it was a NASA mission from 12 years ago that first lifted off to space with 2012 Summer Games' memorabilia. Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on May 19, 2000, on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station. The STS-101 mission came a few months before the start of the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia. To pay tribute to the international nature of the Games, the shuttle's crewmates carried a banner for the Olympics and a replica of the 2000 Sydney Torch.

But the flag and flameless beacon weren't the only items commemorating the Olympics that were on board Atlantis. Stowed inside a locker was a small package of souvenirs for the Summer Games set to take place 12 years into the future — though not in London. As Atlantis orbited, Houston was in the running to be the U.S. Olympic Committee's bid city to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. NASA, in support of bringing the Olympics to Houston — home of Mission Control and the U.S. astronaut corps — launched aboard Atlantis 1,000 lapel pins for the Houston 2012 Foundation. (7/27)

Moon Formation: Was it a 'Hit and Run' Accident? (Source: BBC)
Scientists have proposed a fresh idea in the long-running debate about how the Moon was formed. What is certain is that some sort of impact from another body freed material from the young Earth and the resulting debris coalesced into today's Moon. But the exact details of the impacter's size and speed have remained debatable.

Researchers suggest that the crash happened with a much larger, faster body than previously thought. Such theories need to line up with what we know about the Moon, about the violent processes that set off the creation of moons, and what computer simulations show about the more sedate gravitational "gathering-up" that finishes the job. Click here. (7/27)

More Details on Armadillo's FAA License (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Neil Milburn of Armadillo Aerospace answered questions from reporters after the announcement that the FAA has granted the Texas-based company a reusable launch license for the STIG-B rocket. The FAA license for reusable STIG-B flights is for two years, with a flight set for Aug. 25–26. The STIG-B rocket is 20 inches in diameter and 34 feet long (STIG-A was 15 inches in diameter and 30 feet long) and is capable of launching payloads of 50 kg (110 pounds) to 100 kilometers suborbital altitude.

Armadillo wants to fly STIG-B rockets once per month, for a total of 24 launches under the FAA license. They view STIG-B as a testbed for a suborbital human space vehicle that would include eight rockets. Although STIG-A flew under an FAA waiver, STIG-B cannot because they will be flying commercial payloads. They have spent a small fortune on Honeywell sensors to carefully measure the precise mico-gravity environment on the flights (7/27)

Public Invited to NASA Celebration (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
The public is invited to join in the 30th anniversary celebration of the NASA Visitor Center at the Wallops Flight Facility from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., July 28. The NASA Visitor Center opened In July 1982 and has hosted more than 1.4 million visitors, providing an insight to the research conducted at Wallops and throughout the nation's space agency. (7/27)

A Pulsar With a Tremendous Hiccup (Source: Max-Planck)
Pulsars are superlative cosmic beacons. These compact neutron stars rotate about their axes many times per second, emitting radio waves and gamma radiation into space. Using ingenious data analysis methods, researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics and for Radio Astronomy, in an international collaboration, dug a very special gamma-ray pulsar out of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The pulsar J1838-0537 is radio-quiet, very young, and, during the observation period, experienced the strongest rotation glitch ever observed for a gamma-ray-only pulsar. Click here. (7/27)

US EX-IM Gives Loans and Guarantees for Satellite Construction (Source: Flight Global)
The US Export-Credit agency and loans organisation, the US Ex-Im bank, has agreed to provide a loan guarantee to $922 million of loans for the construction of three Mexsat satellites for Mexico. The three Mexsat communications satellites are being built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. Orbital Sciences which is acting as a subcontractor to Boeing with the Orbital Sciences' Star 2.4 (Geostar 2) bus design being used for the satellites.

In a separate agreement, the US Ex-Im bank is also providing a direct loan of $281 million to the Australia-based firm, Jabiru Satellite Ltd, for the construction by Lochheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of the communictions satellite, Jabiru-1,and its associated ground equipment. (7/27)

Inmarsat, Israeli Group Spar over Iran Links (Source: Space News)
Allegations by an Israeli legal group that mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat is selling prohibited communications to Iranian government-controlled oil tankers and other ships has once again raised the issue of the liability limits of a satellite operator with a global customer base whose identity is often not disclosed.

In a July 25 letter to London-based Inmarsat, Tel Aviv-based Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center said Inmarsat is continuing to provide mobile satellite links to vessels that have been identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as owned or controlled by Iranian interests. The U.S. government has imposed a series of sanctions against commercial dealings with Iran, but has not been able to win United Nations support for the policy. (7/27)

SES Profit Buoyed by HD, Emerging Market Demand (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES on July 27 reported a 4.8 percent increase in revenue and a 5.3 percent increase in gross profit for the six months ending June 30, saying emerging-market demand and Europe’s appetite for high-definition (HD) television remained strong. The North American market, as expected, showed almost no growth, but SES said it has been able to redeploy satellite assets over the North American arc to Latin America to capture the growth there. (7/27)

NASA Selects Contract For Water And Waste Water Revitalization (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected RTD Construction, Inc., of Zephyrhills, Fla., to provide construction services for the revitalization of Kennedy Space Center's water distribution and waste water collection systems. The maximum potential value for the two-year fixed price contract is approximately $25.6 million.

RTD Construction, Inc. will replace more than 125,000 feet of existing water mains and various water valves, hydrants, fittings and connections. The company also will replace or refurbish 33 sewer systems and replace more than 25,000 feet of sewer pipes and associated electrical and communications systems and wiring. (7/27)

Air Force To Delay EELV Block Buy (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force will delay a planned bulk order of Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets from United Launch Alliance (ULA) at least a year, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Air Force was expected to award ULA a contract this summer for a total of 46 rockets to cover military launch needs from 2013 to 2017. However, the service now plans to award a single-year bridge contract no sooner than October, according to the July 26 report, “Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy.” (7/27)

New Plan Takes Shape to Fashion Space Junk Into Satellites (Source: Space.com)
The U.S. military is moving along with plans to recycle space junk into new, working satellites. Several engineering companies announced new agreements with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency yesterday (July 25). The deals offer a glimpse into the technology to be incorporated into the final project.

DARPA is researching how to harvest working antenna, solar arrays and other parts from otherwise broken satellites that are still in geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles (35,406 kilometers) above Earth. The military agency wants to build satellite "mechanics" that can go into space, remove working parts from non-working communications satellites, and then transfer the parts onto new, very small satellite base structures that DARPA calls "satlets." (7/27)

Germany Says European Space Contribution To Equal or Surpass 2008 Level (Source: Space News)
The German government has indicated that it will be able to contribute just as much to Europe’s space program at a meeting of European space ministers in November as it did at the previous meeting in 2008, and perhaps a bit more, the head of Germany’s space agency said. More specifically, Germany’s de facto space minister has told the European Space Agency (ESA) that Germany is fully behind a planned $2 billion, four-year investment in Earth observation missions, ESA’s Earth observation director said. (7/27)

No comments: