September 24, 2012

EADS, BAE Will Form U.S. Firm as Part of $45 Billion Merger (Source: Reuters)
As part of their effort to win approval for their $45 billion merger, EADS and BAE Systems reportedly will create a separate entity, known as a "ring-fence company," that will allow BAE's Pentagon contracts to proceed without opening their details to the European corporation as a whole. BAE's CEO, Ian King, would be the only director of the new firm, which is being proposed as a way to satisfy U.S. security concerns. (9/23)

Congress is Too Lax on Cyberdefense, House Cybsecurity Leader Says (Source: AOL Defense)
Lawmakers don't take seriously enough the threat of cyberattack on the nation's computer infrastructure, says Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., chairman of the House Homeland cybersecurity subcommittee. After the failure of Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation, Lungren is backing the executive order that President Barack Obama plans to issue on the matter. (9/21)

Female Leadership Shaping Changes in Aerospace (Source: Washington Post)
The growing number of women in upper ranks of aerospace/defense contractors is helping shift practices and culture at those firms. In some cases, they've helped spark more flexible work schedules and in others have served to draw more young women into the industry, experts say. (9/23)

FAA: Some Florida Airports Will Have NextGen Within 3 Years (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NextGen, which has been under fire from Congress for being behind schedule and overbudget, will be implemented at Florida airports in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, as well as smaller airports in the region, says Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. NextGen will reduce an estimated $23 million in costs, 5.4 million nautical miles traveled and almost 80,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually for Florida airports and their airlines, the FAA says. (9/20)

Space Is the New Frontier of the 2012 Presidential Campaign (Source: The Atlantic)
The decidedly human undertaking that is the 2012 presidential election has taken a cosmic turn. On Saturday, at a campaign event on Florida's "Space Coast," Paul Ryan derided President Obama's handling of space exploration. "We have presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years," the candidate told the crowd. "He has put the space program on a path where we're conceding our position as the unequivocal leader in space."

The Obama campaign replied minutes later with its own statement, pointing out that Ryan, as a member of Congress, has voted against funding for NASA multiple times. It also noted that the Romney-Ryan budget cuts, if applied across the board, would cut funding for space exploration programs by 19 percent. "In the past," the campaign declared, "Mitt Romney has criticized Washington politicians for pandering to Florida voters by making empty promises about space. After his event today, it's probably time for Romney to have a talk with Paul Ryan."

A space program worthy of a great nation. Exactly. The Romney paper makes clear the extent to which NASA, for all its evolution over the past four years, has remained the same in the eyes of the public: The agency is, on some deep level, a reflection of who we are, of what we value, of what we are capable of when we decide to challenge ourselves over the stretch of time. That makes NASA a source of inspiration. But it also makes it a source of friction. And it makes our space program appealing, for both of those reasons, as an object of political gamesmanship. Click here. (9/24)

Space Florida Secures Financing for Atlantis Exhibit at KSC (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida has closed on a $62.5 million credit facility with Bank of America to support the construction of the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). Through a conduit financing and lease agreement between Space Florida and Delaware North Corp., operator of KSVC for NASA since 1995, Delaware North will use the loan to complete construction on the $73 million permanent showcase facility for the retired Atlantis Orbiter.

Slated to open in summer of 2013, the $100 million project includes the 90,000-square-foot Atlantis exhibit, orbiter display preparation, transportation, interactive exhibits and utilization of space shuttle program artifacts. The financing agreement allocates a percentage of the revenues earned from Visitor Complex concessions to provide debt service on the loan. This innovative funding agreement is an example of the robust financing capabilities the Florida Legislature has provided Space Florida. (9/24)

Uwingu Surpasses Funding Goal After Extended Deadline (Source: SPACErePORT)
Uwingu, the crowdfunding concept for sponsoring space exploration projects, has reached its goal of obtaining $75,000 from mostly small donations. The effort failed to reach this target about a week ago and extended the deadline by seven days. Among the projects to be funded by Uwingu is the SETI Allen Telescope in California. (9/24)

Navy Announces Research Vessel to be Named in Honor of Neil Armstrong (Source: USN)
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the first Armstrong-class Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) ship will be named Neil Armstrong. Mabus named the future R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) to honor the memory of Neil Armstrong, best known for being the first man to walk on the moon. In addition to serving NASA, Armstrong served as a naval aviator flying nearly 80 combat missions during the Korean War. (9/24)

Independent Review Finds NOAA Satellite Oversight ‘Dysfunctional’ (Source: Aviation Week)
An independent review panel has concluded that NOAA oversight of its weather satellite programs is “dysfunctional,” leaving the execution of its GOES-R and Joint Polar Satellite System programs an “extremely challenging” proposition. Part of the problem is that NOAA functional organizations, such as its CFO and CIO, are too involved in execution of the programs, “to adverse effect,” according to the Independent Review Team (IRT). (9/24)

X-37B Could Land in Florida Following October Launch at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source:
The U.S. military's hush-hush robotic X-37B space plane is slated to blast off again next month, Air Force officials say. The mission will test the robotic spacecraft's reusability and may eventually land on the Florida runway once used for NASA space shuttles. The X-37B space plane's next mission — called Orbital Test Vehicle-3, or OTV-3 — is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) sometime in October. (9/24)

Should We Send Humans to Mars? (Source: BBC)
Much like the interior of Antarctica, Mars remains inhospitable. For humans to live on the planet for any significant period of time would require the recycling of water and air, along with other so-called "life systems". At Concordia station in Antarctica (my current home) we use "grey water recycling" - taking the water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, bathing and dishwashing and recycling it on-site for other uses. This mirrors the system used on the International Space Station (ISS).

But there are even grander ideas that could further extend the duration of human habitation on Mars. Whether or not we find Martian life, there is a long-standing wish to "terraform" the Red Planet. This would involve artificially transforming the climate and surface to enable humans to live there without life support systems. Click here. (9/21)

NASA Funds Research Into Self-Building Spaceships (Source: tecca)
Considering the difficulties of getting even relatively small spacecraft like the SpaceX Dragon into orbit, the idea of launching larger interplanetary craft from Earth's surface seems especially daunting. To address this, NASA thinks that future spacefaring vehicles could actually construct themselves after they've launched using onboard 3D printers, eventually transforming into ships much larger and more complex than anything that could ever be built on the planet.

The space agency recently awarded $100,000 to a project called SpiderFab that aims to study this concept and ultimately produce designs for such a craft. In theory, a small vehicle could launch in a rocket carrying the raw materials needed by an onboard 3D printer. Unlike fully-assembled craft, it wouldn't need to be designed to fold up or built to withstand the extreme forces involved in liftoff and ascent into space. Click here. (9/24)

Using Artificial Intelligence to Chart the Universe (Source: SpaceRef)
Astronomers in Germany have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to help them chart and explain the structure and dynamics of the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy. The team, led by Francisco Kitaura of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, report their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Click here. (9/24)

Jemison: 'People Piece' Is Biggest Challenge In Interstellar Travel (Source:
The biggest challenge in mounting a space mission to another star may not be technology, but people, experts say. "It seems like it would be so hard, and the biggest obstacle is ourselves. Once we get out of our way, once we commit to this, then it's a done deal," said former "Star Trek: The Next Generation" actor LeVar Burton, who is serving on the advisory committee of the 100 Year Starship project.

The initiative hopes to spur the development of new propulsion technologies, life support systems, starship and habitat designs, as well as myriad other necessary innovations, to send a vehicle beyond our solar system — where no manmade object has yet traveled — and to another star. As the closest stars to the sun are still light-years away, such a feat will be daunting.

But Burton wasn't the only one who said the most difficult part of interstellar spaceflight may be corralling public and governmental support, and getting the right thinkers to work together to attack the problem. "I think the greatest challenges are going to be what the greatest challenges in anything are, and that's the people piece," said former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, who is heading the new 100 Year Starship organization, which was founded with seed money from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (9/24)

Russia’s First Private Satellite to Be Launched in 2013 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s first satellite manufactured and operated by a private firm will be launched next year, Dauria Aerospace head Mikhail Kokorich said. The DX1-class 50-kg satellite will be designed to “fine-tune a satellite platform, monitor the movement of ships in the world’s oceans and test a variety of payloads,” he said. Development of the second satellite, DRE, will start by the end of this year, he said, adding that several DRE-class satellites will be built to be used to provide space imagery. (9/24)

No Borders: Space Heroes Join Together for Epic Night (Source: GeekWire)
They were all up on stage when the cosmonaut Valery Kubasov was introduced. With a lapel full of medals he strode across stage. As he walked past Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, and almost every other living American space hero, the Soviet anthem blared out over the audience. I wasn’t alive for most of it, but for decades, the world gripped the edges of their seats as the United States and the Soviet Union stood at the constant brink of war. And yet, even during this time, there was one area where even these bitter enemies worked together — as friends. And that was the space program. Click here. (9/24)

Space Florida Awards BioCurity $100,000 at Second Annual Igniting Innovation Showcase (Source: Space Florida)
Ten high-tech start-ups had the opportunity to present their business models to national financers at the Igniting Innovation Showcase, hosted by Space Florida and the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA) in Orlando. At the conclusion of the networking event, Space Florida awarded a $100,000 check to BioCurity, selected by the judging panel as having the most potential for near-term growth and commercial success, while contributing to Florida’s economy.

BioCurity develops therapeutic solutions for cancer treatment – specifically – the company, based in New Smyrna Beach, has created a topical cream that has the ability to protect cells and tissue exposed to toxic cancer radiation treatments. RadGuard is currently in preliminary trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando.

“This event is well on its way to becoming the gold standard for networking opportunities between the investor community and Florida-based advanced stage entrepreneurs,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “The companies that presented today were all very well prepared and made a solid case for funding, tied to potential job creation and impact to Florida’s economy.” (9/22)

XCOR’s Florida Deal Worth More than $5.7 Million (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Various Florida agencies put up more than $5.7 million in “incentive value and financing” to help lure XCOR to set up a production facility and operational base for its Lynx space plane in the Sunshine State, according to the head of the state’s space development organization. The funding and incentives are being put up by Space Florida, Brevard Workforce, Enterprise Florida Inc., and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

Space Florida will provide an investment of up to $3 million. The Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program will provide nearly $1 million. And Brevard County will provide $182,400 in matching tax incentives. XCOR spokesman Bryan Campen wrote that the incentives package includes many elements, some of which are dependent on performance and will not be determined until later. “One incentive not estimated is that Florida exempts us from sales tax on fuels and propellants. This could be worth a lot more than the value mentioned.”

If demand dictates, XCOR plans to eventually produce two to four Lynx suborbital vehicles per year at a facility located in Brevard County. The company plans to have two buildings next to each other, one for production and the other for flight operations. The buildings could be reconfigured to increase flight operations or production as needed, Nelson added. (9/24)

AsiaSat Sells SpeedCast Unit for $32 Million (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on Sep. 24 said it sold its SpeedCast satellite broadband subsidiary to a private-equity group for $32.24 million (HK$251.5 million), booking a gain of about HK$135.7 million. SpeedCast reported a net profit of about HK$25 million in 2011, AsiaSat said in a submission to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. (9/24)

Warped Light Reveals Infant Galaxy on the Brink of the 'Cosmic Dawn' (Source: Science)
Astronomers have spotted a galaxy dating back to a mere 500 million years after the big bang. The galaxy, some 13.2 billion light-years from Earth, sets a new record for most distant object sighted. Such distant, ancient images are technically beyond the reach of existing telescopes. Imaging the infant universe is a primary goal of the James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2018. Yet astronomers got a sneak preview thanks to gravitational lensing: an effect in which gravity's ability to bend light turns weighty objects such as galaxy clusters into magnifying glasses for sources behind them. (9/21)

Satellite Disaster Monitoring Network Extends Services to All (Source: UK Space Agency)
Building on a decade of success in making satellite data available to users for disaster response, the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ has opened its doors even wider and is now providing universal access to the Charter during natural emergencies – a move that was initiated when the UK was leading the Charter in 2011. Any country, regardless of whether they are a Charter member, is now able to draw upon the data provided by this international network of satellites. (9/20)

UK’s Cubesat Books a Ride on Russian Rocket (Source: UK Space Agency)
UKube-1 – the UK’s first cubesat mission – has ‘booked’ its journey into space on a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket. The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan is expected to take place in March 2013. The UKube-1 nanosatellite is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia. It will allow the UK to fly educational packages, test new technologies and carry out new space research quickly and efficiently. It is envisaged as the pilot for a full national CubeSat program. (9/20)

Former NASA Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar for Glenelg Mars Rover Party (Source: BBC)
A small Scottish community is to mark Mars rover Curiosity's arrival at its namesake on the Red Planet. NASA's robot is expected to reach an area of rocky Martian terrain dubbed Glenelg next month. Back on Earth, residents of Glenelg in the west Highlands are preparing to hold celebrations on 20 October. Guests at the event will include former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar and Scotland's Astronomer Royal, Professor John Brown.

A working scale model of a NASA rover made by a group of space enthusiasts in Shetland will also feature. The ticketed event will have guided walks to nearby Iron Age homes, called brochs, and a treasure hunt using GPS technology before ending with a ceilidh. Ms Dunbar's paternal grandparents came from Scotland. Her grandfather Charles Dunbar was born in Dundee and her grandmother Mary was born close to Gardenstown, near Banff. (9/24)

NASA, We Have a Problem... Where to Sleep (Source: Scotsman)
A Highland village is struggling to accommodate top scientists who are meeting there for a NASA party next month. Glenelg in Invernesshire is to welcome several hundred space experts as they celebrate the latest mission of Mars explorer robot Curiosity. The robot is on its way to a valley, also called “Glenelg”, and, to mark the occasion, NASA has decided to throw a party with Highland residents.

But the locals are concerned that there will be nowhere for the officials to stay. There is only one inn and a limited number of chalets and holiday lets in the remote settlement, with the nearest hotel 15 miles away. John Maclean, chairman of the Glenelg and Arnisdale Development Trust, said: “NASA got in touch and suggested a party in Glenelg and asked for our help. “Now they are talking about doing a big event on Oct. 20...but accommodation could be a problem. It would be helpful if people planning to attend could give us advance warning.” (9/24)

Woman Posing as Scientist Held at ISRO Campus (Source: Hindustan Times)
A mentally challenged woman has been arrested for unauthorized entry into the high security Indian Space Research Organization premises in Bangalore, police said on Monday. Police told PTI that the 44-year-old woman has been identified as Jula N Sam, a native of Ahmedabad. Jula was arrested on September 21 for trying to sneak into a meeting being held at ISRO headquarters located at New BEL Road near Bangalore with a fake ID card, police said. (9/24)

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