September 10, 2012

CubeSats Get Big (Source: Space Review)
While interest in smallsats has been growing in general, perhaps the fastest-growing part of that sector has been very small CubeSats. Jeff Foust reports on the reasons these satellites are attracting interest, from increasing technical capabilities to improved access to space. Visit to view the article. (9/10)

Perspectives on NASA's Strategic Direction (Source: Space Review)
As an independent group examines options for NASA's long-term future, what does industry think? Frank Slazer offers the views of one industry organization on NASA's goals as well as its fiscal threats. Visit to view the article. (9/10)

Iran Saves Earth, Details at 11 (Source: Space Review)
Iran's space program could benefit from some good publicity, but they appear to be taking an odd approach to getting it. Dwayne Day describes a unusual children's book created by the country's space agency. Visit to view the article. (9/10)

Making Mars a Nicer Place (Source: Space Review)
While Mars is not a particularly hospitable world today, some have advocated terraforming the planet to allows humans to more easily live there. Eric Choi examines how the concept of terraforming Mars has evolved in science fiction over the years. Visit to view the article. Editor's Note: And here's a NASA graphic on terraforming Mars. (9/10)

100-Year Starship: Symposium Focuses On Interstellar Space Travel (Source: Huffington Post)
Scientists, visionaries, entertainers and the public will gather in Houston this week for the 100-Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss space travel to another star. Interstellar travel is significantly more difficult than spaceflight within our solar system, because the distances involved are vast. For example, at its farthest, Mars is about 20 light-minutes away from Earth, and even Pluto is only about 4 light-hours distant. But the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, is more than 4 light-years from Earth, meaning a vehicle traveling at light-speed would take 4 years to arrive. Click here. (9/10)

Astrium Hopes Near-global X-band Coverage Will Draw U.S. Govt Business (Source: Space News)
Astrium Services, which owns Britain’s Skynet 5 X-band military telecommunications satellites, hopes to leverage the coming launch of an X-band payload on a commercial satellite to offer the U.S. government near-global coverage in X-band, Astrium Chief Executive Eric Beranger said. Astrium Services has ordered a fourth Skynet 5 satellite, Skynet 5D, which is scheduled for launch in December.

Also scheduled for launch late this year is the Anik G1 satellite owned by satellite fleet operator Telesat of Canada. Astrium has leased Anik G1’s X-band secondary payload for the satellite’s full 15-year life. With Anik G1 and Skynet 5D in operation, Astrium Services will come close to ringing the world with X-band coverage. (9/10)

NASA's 'Mighty Eagle' Robotic Prototype Lander Aces Major Exam (Source: SpaceRef)
Completing this round of flight test objectives, the "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander, flew to an altitude of 100 feet and descended gently to a controlled landing during a successful free flight Sept. 5 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Guided by autonomous rendezvous and capture software, the vehicle located an on-the-ground target using its onboard camera and flew to it. Last week's flight followed a pre-programmed flight profile, but today's operated "closed loop," with the vehicle seeking and finding its target using the onboard software to guide the flight. (9/10)

CASIS and Merck Collaborate to Conduct Disease Research on ISS (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is collaborating with global healthcare company Merck to conduct cutting-edge therapeutic research on board the ISS in 2013. The ISS-based research will focus on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (MABs), which are engineered proteins designed to bind to targets that cause disease, potentially allowing greater specificity than conventional therapies with fewer side effects.

Scientists involved in the study hope that this research could ultimately lead to the development of new drugs and therapies to treat human immunological disease, as well as attract additional scientists wishing to conduct advanced research in space. "We at Merck are excited to work with CASIS and explore the microgravity effects on several bio-processing applications within the unique environment of the ISS National Lab," said Paul Reichert, Chemistry Research Fellow, Merck Research Laboratories. (9/10)

Russia Denies 'Systemic Crisis' in Space Industry (Source: Space Daily)
Russia's space industry is not in crisis despite some local problems, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday. "There is no systemic crisis in the Russian space industry; we have problems with some firms, in some sectors," said Rogozin, who oversees the military-industrial complex in the Russian government.

The government's military-industrial commission and the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos are working hard to eliminate those problems, he said, adding that they include technology, personnel and discipline. Russia has recently experienced a number of unsuccessful space launches, losing several commercial satellites and the Phobos-Grunt Mars mission. (9/10)

Arianespace Concurrently Manages Six Missions with Ariane 5 and Soyuz (Source: Space Daily)
Arianespace is managing concurrent activities for six different upcoming missions, underscoring the company's capability to accommodate a diverse range of payloads for customers worldwide, and marking a world's first in the launch services sector.

These missions will utilize two members of Arianespace's launcher family: the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and medium-lift Soyuz, involving flights with telecommunications relay platforms for geostationary transfer orbit delivery; constellation navigation satellites to operate in circular medium Earth orbit; a high-resolution optical spacecraft for delivery to Sun-synchronous orbit; a meteorological satellite for polar orbit, and a low-Earth mission carrying the next large resupply craft to the International Space Station.

"What we see today is the result of Arianespace's multi-year efforts to put resources in place for the management of a true launcher family, as well as the know-how to operate this family in meeting the needs of our customers worldwide," explained Louis Laurent, the company's Senior Vice President - Programs. (9/10)

More Chinese Satellite Launches Planned for Upgrading Maritime Monitoring (Source: Space Daily)
China plans to launch eight more satellites by 2020 to further improve the country's maritime monitoring network, a national English-language newspaper reported Thursday. The planned launches will include four satellites for observing sea color, two for observing ocean currents, and two maritime radar satellites, according to the China Daily report, quoting official sources. (9/10)

Embry-Riddle Supports Spaceport Planning (Source: SPACErePORT)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's College of Business has introduced multiple spaceport-related projects and topics into upper-level classes, including the addition of space as a transportation mode for multimodal efficiency studies, and the assessment of public-private partnership models for spaceport management. The projects and content are an outcome of Embry-Riddle's support to Kennedy Space Center's master planning effort and they may contribute to future development at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and other spaceports nationwide. (9/10)

Florida Space Institute Hosts Seminar Series (Source: FSI)
The Florida Space Institute will host a weekly seminar series beginning in the Fall of 2012. The seminar series is open to UCF researchers, administrators, and students, NASA-KSC personnel, FSI member institutions and FSI employees. Todd Bradley of FSI administers the seminar series that is held in the Partnership I building located in Research Park, adjacent to UCF. Click here. (9/10)

UCF Students Showcase Regolith Experiment (Source: Suborbital Coalition)
Chris and Niko are students at the University of Central Florida in the Center for Microgravity Research and Education (CMRE). The CMRE provides graduate and undergraduate students with experience in design, fabrication, and operation of microgravity experiments. These guys have been developing an experiment to observe the effects of regolith during a low-velocity impact on space equipment in a microgravity environment. The experiment is called PRIME, an acronym for the Physics of Regolith Impacts in Microgravity Experiment. Click here. (9/10)

Defense Firms are Mum About Possible Layoff Notices (Source: The Hill)
It's unclear if major defense contractors will send out layoff warnings before the November election, with some industry watchers saying firms will use the Labor Department's guidance as a reason not to issue the notices. The Labor Department issued a memo saying the standard 60-day-notice layoff warnings weren't necessary before possible sequestration cuts, but some firms, such as Lockheed Martin, have indicated they are likely to issue them. (9/9)

Presidential Race Highlights Differences in Thinking on Defense (Source: Defense News)
Democrat President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are highlighting their different approaches to defense spending, with Obama accusing Romney of deficit-spiking spending plans and Romney talking about the need for larger military budgets. It's unclear if their stances will influence voters: Polls show voters are more focused on economic issues than on defense issues. (9/8)

Supersonic, Futuristic Flying Wing Design Wins Prestigious NASA Grant (Source: ZeitNews)
Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in only four hours aboard a fuel-efficient supersonic jet that looks like something right out of Star Wars. Such a plane could become reality in the next two to three decades, thanks to the efforts of a University of Miami aerospace engineering professor, with support from researchers at Florida State University. The project has just been awarded a $100,000 grant from NASA’s prestigious Innovative Advanced Concepts program, allowing Zha and colleagues to continue development of their high-tech, futuristic plane. Click here. (9/4)

Obama, Romney Unlikely to Share Bush’s Space-Travel Ambitions (Source: Washington Times)
Kicking off the campaign season in early 2004, President Bush had two big ideas: pursue an immigration bill in Congress, and vow to put a man back on the moon by 2020 as a precursor to “human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.” But that was eight years ago, before a dismal economy and a disastrous federal budget grounded his celestial ambitions.

Advantageous as it may have been for a standing Republican president to have dreamed of the moon two elections ago, it’s a call unlikely to emerge this campaign season from either President Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama, traveling in Florida on Sunday, did raise the issue by saying he has laid the groundwork for 21st-century space exploration. Space ambitions get little attention outside of Florida and sometimes don’t play well even inside the state. Click here. (9/10)

How Private Spaceships Will Inspire Future Generations (Source:
As a new fleet of private spaceships prepare to take flight by 2015, the age of commercial spaceflight may be just around the corner. With the idea of space vacations no longer the stuff of science fiction, the rise of commercial spaceflight could be a crucial game changer for the aerospace industry. This type of high-profile paradigm shift may be just the kind of excitement that is needed to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and space explorers. (9/10)

Obama on Space Coast - a Matter of Perspective (Source: SpaceKSC)
Just my opinion, but I think the best strategy for the President to make a space statement would be to return to KSC in October for the first SpaceX commercial cargo flight to the Space Station under its new Commercial Resupply Services contract. It would be the administration's opportunity to declare victory for its competitive, innovative approach to accessing low Earth orbit. Even so, many locals wouldn't care, because they view NASA as a government guaranteed jobs program.

They couldn't care less about innovation and efficiency. So an October visit shouldn't be viewed as a vindication. It should be viewed in the context of the "forward" message at the core of the Obama campaign. We're not going back to the old way of doing things at NASA, with programs that go billions over budget and fall years behind schedule while protecting jobs with contractors that donate to election campaigns. We're liberating space from government control, opening low Earth orbit to the private sector and creating a new economy.

It may not appeal to the Republicans and Tea Partiers who dominate north Brevard County politics. But it will appeal beyond Brevard County to those across the nation who are inspired by 21st Century technology and achievements such as the Curiosity rover on Mars. Editor's Note: Don't count on that October visit. Too much risk that a launch failure would put the whole policy in a negative light. (9/9)

Environmentalists Sweat Texas Spaceport Proposal (Source: Austin Statesman)
A rocket launch site proposed for a South Texas Gulf Coast beach is drawing grumbles from environmental activists as federal officials prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposal. The FAA can grant or refuse SpaceX its license for a Cameron County launch site space center on Boca Chica Beach. South Texas conservation groups have expressed concern for such a project to be developed at the proposed Cameron County site.

"Basically we're in favor of the project, but we would like it to be somewhere else in Texas because putting a rocket launch facility in an area that is surrounded by a wildlife refuge and is almost immediately adjacent to a beach where endangered sea turtles nest doesn't seem like a wise idea," Jim Chapman of the Frontera Audubon Society told The Herald. (9/9)

India: An Idyllic Spot Turned Spaceport (Source: IBN)
The island housing India’s only spaceport from where ISRO’s historic missions have lifted off over the years, should ideally have been turned into an idyllic holiday spot. Had it happened, the 43,360 acre land with a 50 km long pristine beach, thick green foliage, wild animals and sandwiched between the blue sea and an expansive lake, visited by birds from around the world, would today be swarming with tourists and not scientists and journalists.

But then, it is doubtful if the spot could have been made accessible through the 17 km road that cuts through the Pulicat lake, connecting the island with the busy Chennai-Nellore highway. The road was laid after the island caught the eye of the first batch of space scientists, who were led by Vikram Sarabhai, in 1969, the year in which Neil Armstrong took that ‘small step for a man but a giant leap for mankind’. (9/10)

India: Benefits Justify Costs of Space Missions (Source: IBN)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday heaped praises on ISRO and put up a spirited defense of India’s space program, saying the expenditure over the years had provided a number of benefits to the nation. He affirmed his government’s commitment to continue supporting ISRO in its coming endeavors. “Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space program and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilized elsewhere,” said Singh.

“This misses the point that a nation’s state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess. The founding fathers of our space program faced a similar dilemma, but they persevered in pursuing their vision. When we look at the enormous societal and national benefits that have been generated in diverse fields, there can be no doubt that they were right. (9/10)

Civil Space Policy for the Next Administration (Source: Gatestone Institute)
It needs to be clearly understood that America's civil space program is just as much an instrument of power as the U.S. Navy or the State Department. It is to be hoped that the President and Congress will recognize this fact. Other nations are not waiting for the US to decide what kind of space policy it wants. China wants the U.S. to know it is winning a new space race with the United States.

In January 2013, whatever the new administration, it will almost certainly not consider civil space policy to be one of its top priorities – civil space being the government's non-military space program. The most important part of that is NASA; other parts include NOAA for civilian weather satellites and the FAA office of commercial space transportation for licensing commercial space launches.

If, in the first few weeks, space questions arise at all, restoring the 22% (or more) cuts made by the current administration to America's military space programs will take precedence over decisions on the future of NASA. The E
uropean Space Agency has, at least for the moment, given up on major new cooperative space exploration programs with NASA. Further, the confused management of the US Space Agency has discouraged most of the world's space organizations from joining with Americans on any serious new projects. Click here. (9/10)

Future Pad Escape Options – From Slidewires to Roller Coasters (Source:
Evaluations into pad escape options for the crewed vehicles of the future are currently taking place, with the Space Launch System (SLS) employing a trade study that includes the spectacular Roller Coaster Emergency Egress System (EES), while the United Launch Alliance (ULA) may opt for a Shuttle slide wire concept for their crewed Atlas V. Click here. (9/10)

Early Mars May Not Have Been Hospitable to Life After All (Source: Cosmos)
Instead of a warm, wet and possibly life-bearing planet as some scientists contend, early Mars may have been a hostile and volatile place with frequent volcanic outbursts, according to a new study. Earlier research had theorised that certain minerals detected on the surface of the Red Planet indicated the presence of clay formed when water weathered surface rock some 3.7 billion years ago.

This would also have meant the planet was warmer and wetter then, boosting chances that it could have nurtured life forms. But new research by a team from France and the United States said the minerals, including iron and magnesium, may instead have been deposited by water-rich lava, a mixture of molten and part-molten rock beneath Earth's surface. Clay cannot be used to prove liquid water.

clay minerals can be formed from precipitation of lava. The same process has also occurred at other locations on Earth, including the Parana basin in Brazil, said the study in Nature Geoscience. "To crystallize, clays need water but not necessarily liquid water. In other words, clays are not exclusively typical of soils or altered rocks; they may crystallize also directly from magmas," Alain Meunier said. (9/10)

Mojave Spaceport Official Becomes Spaceflight Federation Chairman (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has elected Stuart Witt as the next Chairman. Witt was nominated and elected by CSF’s Executive Board of Directors, whose members span the industry. Witt succeeds Eric Anderson, who has completed his appointed term. Anderson will continue to serve as a CSF Officer and member of the Board. Witt, one of CSF’s founders, is the CEO of the Mojave Air & Space Port, which was designated as the nation’s first inland spaceport and is the birthplace of our nation’s commercial space endeavors. (9/10)

If the Mars Rover Finds Water, it Could be H2 ... Uh Oh! (Source: LA Times)
For all the hopes NASA has pinned on the rover it deposited on Mars last month, one wish has gone unspoken: Please don't find water. Scientists don't believe they will. They chose the cold, dry equatorial landing site in Mars' Gale Crater for its geology, not its prospects for harboring water or ice, which exist elsewhere on the planet. But if by chance the rover Curiosity does find H2O, a controversy that has simmered at NASA for nearly a year will burst into the open. Curiosity's drill bits may be contaminated with Earth microbes. If they are, and if those bits touch water, the organisms could survive. (9/10)

No comments: