September 6, 2012

Becoming an Astronaut: Frequent Travel May Be Required (Source: Economist)
Becoming an astronaut sounds to most like something only small children and fighter pilots would seriously aspire to. Preparing to be one would be like getting ready to win the lottery or be hit by a meteorite. So, despite longing to float free among the stars ever since she can remember, your correspondent long ago took her fascination with the cosmos in a different direction and became an astrophysicist. Yet here she is, filling in the paperwork NASA requires from people it deems "highly qualified" applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Class of 2013.

Last year, at an astronomy meeting, Babbage bumped into an astronaut she had last seen on NASA's live spacewalk webcast, climbing into the Hubble space telescope. Himself an astrophysicist, John Grunsfeld worked on the Hubble three times. After a mildly embarrassing display of fawning adulation, Babbage told him she would love to be an astronaut and asked if it was crazy to apply. He said it would be crazy not to. So when the call for applications appeared a few months later—publicized on geeky websites and an equally science-heavy Facebook feed—the decision was a no-brainer. Click here. (9/6)

Examining Romney’s ScienceDebate Space Answer (Source: Space Politics)
Yesterday ScienceDebate 2012 released answers to a series of questions on science topics provided by the Obama and Romney campaigns. The answer from the Romney campaign to the space question is worth reading since it offers a little bit more perspective on the campaign’s views on space and what a Romney Administration might do. The key takeaway from the answer is that a Romney Administration would seek to refocus NASA in as-yet-unspecified ways, but would not necessarily seek to increase NASA’s budget to carry out those revised priorities. Click here. (9/5)

SpaceTEC Partners Gains International Accreditation for Aerospace (Source: SpaceTEC)
Every successful technical project is driven by its success in filling the need for a workforce trained in hands-on skills and new technologies. The challenge is to find the best ways to qualify technical personnel, and SpaceTEC Partners, Inc. (SPI) has done that. The International Certification Accreditation Council (ICAC) has approved a program accreditation for credentials offered by SpaceTEC. SPI was able to establish a consortium comprising senior personnel from academia, industry, and government to shape and nurture the technical workforce of the future for aerospace.

Together they developed and implemented industry-based performance standards, an articulated post-secondary technical curriculum, a national infrastructure, and a fee-based hands-on certification program that is credit-bearing and internationally accredited. They have now expanded that process to embrace industries nationwide. Click here for information on what SPI does and how it can impact your career, your workforce, your programs, and your future contracts using industry-driven hands-on personnel certifications addressing the key competencies needed by today's technicians. (9/6)

ATK and ULA Successfully Test GEM-60 Motor, Validating New Nozzle (Source: ATK)
ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted a successful cold-temperature ground test today of a Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM-60) solid rocket motor used to boost ULA’s Delta IV launch vehicles. The 60-inch diameter and 53-feet long motor, which was chilled to a core temperature of 30°F, performed as designed, producing approximately 270,000 pounds of thrust and burned for 90 seconds. The test was the second in a series to qualify new fixed and vectorable nozzles manufactured by ATK for flight readiness. (9/6)

Space Coast & Central Florida Crowdfunding Challenge (Source: SCEC)
The Space Coast Energy Consortium (SCEC) is announcing the opportunity for companies in the Space Coast and Central Florida to take part in the inaugural Space Coast Crowdfunding Challenge. The Challenge is an innovative funding platform that the SCEC is developing in partnership with RocketHub (, an international crowdfunding web based community portal. Click here for information. (9/6)

Thumbs Up and Down for Space Policy Pronouncements (Source: Florida Today)
Thumbs down: To the Republican National Committee and Romney strategists for copping out on space, a critical economic issue to Central Florida. For two years, Republicans have trashed President Barack Obama for canceling Constellation, not extending thousands of shuttle jobs and relying on the Russians for lifts to the International Space Station until private U.S. rockets can do so. But given a chance to do better, Republicans and their nominee endorsed a platform that calls for the same things.

Thumbs up: To the Democratic National Committee for claiming ownership in Charlotte of Obama’s plan for space — namely his privatizing of missions to orbit while focusing NASA on harder missions. Both parties’ plans describe spaceflight as important to innovation and science education. The Democratic platform differs in that it includes NASA as part of a national doubling down on research and development. Republicans favor corporate tax cuts to encourage private-sector innovation. (9/5)

SpaceShipTwo is Preparing for Rocket-Powered Flights (Source: Aerospace Daily)
Scaled Composites is preparing to conduct powered flight tests of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. The suborbital spacecraft has completed testing for the glide flight envelope, and it is on track to begin rocket-powered flights this year. The company expects to begin passenger flights by the end of next year. (9/5)

Neil Armstrong to be Buried at Sea (Source: AP)
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, will be buried at sea. A family spokesman said Thursday no other details on the timing or the location of the burial were available. Armstrong was a Navy fighter pilot before joining the space program. A public memorial service will be held at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 13. It will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. But reservations still must be made through NASA. (9/6)

Texas SpacecX Spaceport Could be Boon for South Padre Island (Source: The Monitor)
Cocoa Beach, Fla., was once a small resort community with fewer than 3,000 people and a handful of mom-and-pop hotels. Then NASA came to nearby Cape Canaveral. “That changed everything,” said former Cocoa Beach Mayor Joseph Morgan, 76. “All of a sudden, this quiet little town became almost a boomtown.”

South Padre Island stands to become the next Cocoa Beach, community and business leaders say, as Space Exploration Technologies — a private, California-based company better known as SpaceX — eyes the Boca Chica Beach area for a possible home to a new spaceport.

If that happens, the Island would become a year-round destination as tourists flock here to witness the spectacle of a rocket launch, business leaders say. And it would mean an influx of high-paying jobs, creating a “spillover” of cash into the Island economy as engineers and technicians spend their money on Island attractions, creating even more jobs. (9/5)

NASA 'Doubles Down' in Loveland Colorado (Source: Reporter-Herald)
NASA's new earthbound mission could make Colorado a center for technology innovation that "will make the Silicon Valley look old-fashioned," a senior space agency administrator told a Loveland gathering Wednesday. And Loveland, after 18 months of false starts and faded hopes, still remains the strongest candidate to act as the principal hub for a tech manufacturing renaissance.

NASA sent a team of nine research center managers and scientists from throughout the nation to Loveland for a daylong series of meetings with Colorado businesses, most of them from Northern Colorado, in a renewed push to resurrect the spirit of ACE. The Aerospace Clean Energy Manufacturing and Innovation Park, or ACE, was announced in April 2011 as a project to turn the former Agilent Technologies campus into a high-tech beehive with thousands of jobs and scores of companies.

In picking up the pieces of that star-crossed project, a top space agency technology manager said hope lives for its renewal. And she knew just how to reintroduce NASA to the city and the state. "How many of you are frustrated because we've been talking about this for two years?" asked Diana Hoyt, innovation manager for the space agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Hands went up among hundreds of attendees at a city-sponsored business breakfast. (9/6)

NASA Delays Virginia Rocket Test Flight (Source: WSET)
A problem in the payload has delayed the test flight of a suborbital sound rocking from NASA's Wallops Island Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The space agency says the problem would have interfered with transmission of data during the flight. The launch was scheduled for Thursday morning. NASA says a new launch date hasn't been determined. The three-stage vehicle's flight is meant to support high-altitude space science research. (9/6)

Amazing Solar Eruption Ever Recorded Is Even More Terrifying In Video (Source: Gizmodo)
The video of this "magnificent CME"—-as NASA calls it—-was recorded on August 31, 2012. The video was created by NASA's Scott Wiessinger, the NASA Goddard Space Center's Helio and Astrophysics Video Producer. He told me he started from 4K ultra-high definition square frames, cropping them in the final video. He also included views from the SOHO and STEREO satellites. Truly amazing. Click here for a photo with an insert of Earth to show scale. Click here for the video. (9/6)

Annual Canadian Space Summit to be Held in November (Source: SpaceRef)
The 2012 Canadian Space Summit will be held in Ontario Nov. 14-16. This is the annual meeting of the Canadian Space Society. This year, the sponsor is the Center for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) at the University of Western Ontario. The theme of the 2012 Canadian Space Summit is Bridging Communities: Unifying the Canadian Space Sector. (9/6)

Raytheon Recognizes 'Math Hero' Teachers Nationwide (Source: SpaceRef)
Raytheon is ringing in the school year by honoring 32 teachers nationwide with MathMovesU Math Heroes Awards. The honor recognizes outstanding work with students in math using interactive and creative learning initiatives. Each Math Hero receives a $2,500 award and a matching grant for his or her school. Winners were selected based on compelling submissions from nominators on the effective and creative ways teachers work with students in math, drawing on new and advanced approaches.

Three of the winning teachers are in Florida, including Natalie Briggs of Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg; Jason Williams of John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg; and Rebecca Lee of Timber Creek High School in Orlando. Nominations for the 2013 Math Heroes Awards program will open in March 2013. For more information about MathMovesU scholarships, please visit (9/6)

A Report on President Obama's Accomplishments with the Space Community (Source: SpaceRef)
President Obama has been a champion, laying the groundwork for an ambitious and sustainable NASA program that is equipped for the exploration and innovation of the future, and today. Obama for America-Florida announces the release of accomplishments President Obama has chartered for the space program through his first term in office.

From continued investments in deep space exploration to extending the life of the International Space Station, the President understands this nation must press forward, ensuring a future of investment in a suite of innovative space technology research efforts that will enable bold science and exploration missions in the future. America is strongest when we invest in the long-term, and with the President, the future of NASA and further space adventures are more secure years down the road.

Editor's Note: The report lists accomplishments that include (but aren't limited to) adding Space Shuttle flights to extend the program into 2011, extending the ISS beyond 2016, improving private-sector spaceflight, expanding Earth science programs, and support for exploration beyond Earth's orbit. Click here. (9/6)

Embraer Plans to Expand Jet Assembly on Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
Embraer Executive Jets, based at Melbourne International Airport, will begin assembling a new jet at its operation in Melbourne. The expansion will likely lead to more jobs. "One of the interesting things about this company," said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Holding Co., "is that where we go, we grow." Embraer currently employs 230 people in Melbourne, where it assembles the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 business class jets. (9/6)

KSC Marks 'Topping Out' of Future Atlantis Exhibit (Source: Florida Today)
Bearing handwritten messages like “Welcome home,” “Our very own” and “May you always be preserved and protected,” a 38-foot beam was hoisted into place Wednesday to top off the future home of space shuttle Atlantis. A crane lifted the nearly 2,000-pound steel beam 116 feet up to the highest point on the $100 million facility, the peak of a sweeping arc facing the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

An American flag and short cypress tree were mounted on the beam, following the tradition for such “topping out” ceremonies. Journeyman ironworker Bobby Corley of Kissimmee helped bang home four bolts that secured the beam. “Awesome,” he said afterward of the experience. "Most of us have been out here since the first column was stood up and watched it come up out of the ground, so it’s been a memorable job.” Atlantis is two months from a daylong, 9.8-mile journey outside KSC’s gates to its 90,000-square-foot retirement home. (9/6)

Let the Space Games Begin! (Source: ESA)
Mini satellites floating in the International Space Station are on their marks. Competition rules for the Zero Robotics space game will be unveiled on Saturday with a webcast live from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA. The Zero Robotics high school tournament challenges students to write algorithms that control Spheres − short for Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites – on the International Space Station. The volleyball-sized satellites have their own power, propulsion and navigation systems. (9/6)

Uwingu Announces Two New Corporate Sponsors: Space Daily and Parabolic Arc (Source: Uwingu)
Uwingu, LLC announces today two new corporate sponsors have partnered with Uwingu: Space Daily and Parabolic Arc. Both companies are space-themed media outlets whose sponsorships are based on in-kind media messaging about Uwingu and its mission. Uwingu is a space-themed, for profit start up with a mission to create a new funding stream for space exploration, research, and education efforts around the world. Click here. (9/6)

Iran Finds Placeholder Satellite for Contested Orbital Slot (Source: Space News)
The Iranian government has found a satellite operator willing to lease or sell it an in-orbit telecommunications satellite to move to an orbital slot to which Iranian rights expired in July, the Iranian government has told international regulators. The status of Iran’s claim to the slot, at 34 degrees east, will be decided the week of Sept. 10 at a meeting in Geneva of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Radio Regulations Board, which will have final say on whether Iran should be given yet another chance to fill the long-vacant position. (9/6)

Iran Space Program Update (Source: SpaceRef)
Considering the changes in the Iranian space organization during the last decade, it was amazing to find a complete stand of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) at the exhibition of the International Astronomical Congress in Cape Town last fall. This kind of openness was not in concert with the organizational changes that were signified by the more military control of the space scene and space organizations in Iran during the last five years.

The ISA, founded in 2004, originally was set up in the form of an autonomous civil organization. It was mandated to follow and implement the strategies authorized by the Space Supreme Council. However, being in charge of the space program apparently necessitated control of knowledge and research, cumulating in ISA annexing space related institutes. This led to successive program leadership with a military background and specific tasks were transferred from the private and civil sector to military control. Click here. (9/6)

Europe’s ‘TV Without Borders’ Regulations Help Iran Dodge U.S.-led Embargo (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES’s experience with an Iranian satellite television network in Europe illustrates the complexities of applying the U.S.-led embargo on commercial transactions with the Iranian regime and those deemed to be serving it. Under Europe’s Television Without Borders regulations, SES is obliged to provide, without discrimination, access to its satellites to all those that have a valid broadcast license from one of the 27 nations of the European Union.

Long before Iran became an issue, Luxembourg-based SES became aware of how slippery these regulations can be given the diverse interests of Europe’s individual nations. Early in the company’s life — the company’s first satellite was launched in 1988 — it faced resistance from several European nations fighting to prevent private-sector television broadcasters from encroaching on the protected national markets of state-owned networks. (9/6)

President Obama Plans Space Coast Visit on Sunday (Source: Florida Today)
President Barack Obama will rally his supporters early Sunday at the Melbourne campus of Florida Tech. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., his campaign said today. They did not announce when the rally, which the campaign is billing as a “grassroots event,” will start. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required.

Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher has been contacted about meeting privately with the president, and has submitted information needed for security clearance. Fisher said he plans to talk with the president about the space program and jobs. He met with the president during Obama’s most recent visit to Brevard, in April 2010, when the president announced a new space exploration strategy at Kennedy Space Center. (9/6)

Space Locals Event Planned on Oct. 6 by Space Coast NSS Chapter (Source: NSSFL)
The next NSSFL "Space Locals" event will take place on Saturday, October 6, at 2:00 PM at the Courtyard Marriott Cocoa Beach featuring Mr. Ruben David Nunez of Earthrise Space, Inc., a non-profit research institution dedicated to developing space technology. All are welcome to attend at no cost. Light food will be provided.

NSS Space Locals features space professionals who work locally for the benefit of space science or the space industry in our area. Unlike a traditional lecture series, these talks will be part lecture and part group discussion. All present are welcome and encouraged to participate regardless of one's training or background. This will be an opportunity for anyone in our community to learn about and express opinions on the topic of the month. (9/5)

Astronaut Tom Jones to Discuss Asteroid Mining at Cape Canaveral Museum (Source: @spaceksc)
On Monday evening September 10, while he’s in town for our Astronaut Encounter at the KSC Visitor Complex, astronaut Tom Jones will appear at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum’s History Center to talk about Planetary Resources and their plans for asteroid mining. Although this is nominally a meeting for the docents, the public is welcome and invited. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM; the speaker usually begins around 7:30 PM. After the presentation, Tom will be signing copies of his book Sky Walking which the History Center gift shop has stocked for the event. (9/6)

Russia Extends U.S. Agreement on Tax-Free Space Goods (Source: Space Daily)
Russia's Cabinet of Ministers has instructed the Foreign Ministry to extend for an additional five years an agreement with the U.S. government on the tax-free delivery to and export of goods and technology from Russia necessary for bilateral cooperation in the space industry, according to a statement posted on the Cabinet's Web site on Tuesday.

The bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia on the exemption from customs tariffs in the space industry was signed on December 16, 1994. The original agreement has been extended several times at 5-year intervals. The current agreement will be reviewed in August 2016 for a possible new 5-year extension. (9/3)

Aqueous Immersion Space Surgery to be Microgravity Tested (Source: Space Safety)
The longer a space mission lasts and the further it travels from Earth, the more prepared its crew must be to deal with medical emergencies on its own. That was on the minds of a group of researchers composed of medical doctors and engineers as they considered taking their Aqueous Immersion Surgical System to space.

The system is composed of a clear dome that can be placed in watertight contact with skin, enclosing the wounded area. The dome is filled with a sterile saline solution with controllable pressure. Watertight ports are used to introduce instruments into the dome and gloved armports allow the operator to apply them. Click here. (9/5)

NASA Funds Study of Sideways Flying Supersonic Plane (Source: Space Safety)
NASA has approved a $100,000 grant for development of a supersonic plane concept pioneered by Gecheng Zha, a professor at the University of Miami. Called the Supersonic Bidirectional Flying Wing, the concept addresses the main conflict in supersonic design: a supersonic vessel needs large wings to get off the ground, but small wings to achieve supersonic speeds. Zha has dealt with this problem by the simple expedient of creating two sets of wings. The wings are positioned at 90° to each other. Once the plane has taken off using the longer wings, it rotates and uses the lower drag wings to go supersonic. Click here. (9/5)

Chinese Use Space Radiation to Mutate Food Crops (Source: Space Safety)
Exposure to radiation is one of the well-studied hazards of spaceflight. But what if you could turn that hazard to advantage? That’s what China has attempted to do by sending plant seeds to space, then cultivating the resultant mutations. In early experiments begun in 1987 Jiang Xingcun, a scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered that spaceflight can increase mutation rates by hundreds of times that experienced on Earth. 12% of seeds sent to space in satellites manifested mutations of some kind in such experiments. Click here. (9/4)

Russia Spends $1 Billion on New Cosmodrome While Agency Investigation Continues (Source: Space Safety)
Russia began construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in 2011. The Cosmodrome, which is slated for completion in 2018, is intended to replace the well-known Baikonur Cosmodrome for future Russian launches. Although Baikonur’s location is highly useful due to the sparse population surrounding the area and its longitudinal location, there have been tensions between its Kazakh host and Russia ever since the countries were separated following dissolution of the USSR.

The total cost of the project was estimated to amount to $10 billion. In televised remarks on August 31, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin indicated that $1 billion would be spent on the construction effort in 2012 alone. “Only the existence of several space launch pads would guarantee Russia a full independence in space activities,” said Putin. Click here. (9/4)

Mankind's Messenger at the Final Frontier (Source: AFP)
It looks like a dustbin lid strapped to a cluster of fishing rods. Its computer is so puny it could not even start up your iPhone. And if E.T. wants to listen to the message it brings, he'll need a gramophone to play it on. But in the history of space exploration, there is not a probe that can touch the glittering career of Voyager 1, mankind's first messenger to the cosmos. Thirty-five years after it was launched, the doughty explorer is on the brink of leaving the Solar System and heading into the deep chill of interstellar space. (9/5)

Lockheed Air-Traffic Upgrade Now On Track, FAA Chief Says (Source: Bloomberg)
A $2.4 billion replacement of U.S. air-traffic control computers that’s been plagued by delays and cost overruns will be completed within its revised budget and 2014 deadline, said Michael Huerta, acting chief of the Federal Aviation Administration. Huerta said the project, led by Lockheed Martin Corp., has overcome early flaws that caused a three-year delay and a cost increase of more than $300 million.

The project called En Route Automation Modernization, or ERAM, is supposed to almost double the number of planes air- traffic control centers can track simultaneously. It forms the heart of NextGen, the long-term, $40 billion effort to transform the U.S. air-traffic system to one based on satellite technology from one relying on radar. (8/31)

Smithsonian Shows Neil Armstrong's Gloves, Visor (Source: Huffington Post)
Neil Armstrong's space suit gloves and visor worn during his historic first walk on the moon are going on temporary display at the Smithsonian Institution following the pioneering astronaut's death. Both are usually kept in storage. They were designed to address the hazards of working on the lunar surface. Armstrong's helmet had two visors for moon walks, one with a gold reflective coating for UV protection and one with thermal protection.

Astronauts Take a Spacewalk, Fix a Power-Switching Box (Source: The Hindu)
Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her Japanese colleague Akhihiko Hoshide, armed with improvised tools, on Wednesday successfully installed a critical power-switching box at the International Space Station on their second attempt. To do that they had to undertake spacewalk that made Ms. Williams the world’s most experienced female spacewalker.

NASA’s Williams and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s flight engineer Hoshide successfully completed the installation of a Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU). The installation was hampered last week by a possible misalignment and damaged bolt threads, NASA said.

During their spacewalk last week, the 46 year-old Williams and Ms. Hoshide were unable to install the new MBSU. They ventured outside in orbit again on Wednesday to finish the job. NASA said the astronauts are now moving on to a get-ahead task postponed from last week’s excursion. Ms. Williams and Ms. Hoshide used improvised tools while installing the MBSU. The tools were used to clean the bolts and receptacles and repair the bolt threads, NASA said. (9/6)

NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Sets Sail for Ceres (Source: America Space)
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft left the massive asteroid Vesta for its next destination – the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn is unique in that it can break orbit from one celestial body and head to another destination. Dawn left Vesta on Sept. 5. Dawn will not reach Ceres until 2015. The ion propulsion system which drives the spacecraft is slow and steady compared to conventional chemical rockets. However, the Ion engine can run for far longer compared to regular rockets and thus allows Dawn to accomplish feats other spacecraft are incapable of. (9/5)

Universe is Still Missing its Lithium (Source: Sky & Telescope)
The universe still has a lithium problem. That’s the implication of a paper by researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois. Processes just after the Big Bang ought to have created certain amounts of elements such as hydrogen, helium, and lithium.

Astronomers already knew the universe has far less of the isotope lithium-7 than it should — studies of the old stars that surround the Milky Way in a halo show that they have at most one-third the amount of lithium-7 predicted by careful models of what happened in the newborn universe. Some stars in the Milky Way’s disk do have more lithium-7, but such stars are generally thought to be younger than the halo stars and are therefore polluted by heavy elements made later in the universe’s history. (9/6)

Disintegrating Alien Planet Has Comet-Like Tail (Source:
Astronomers have found a dusty tail streaming off a faraway alien planet, suggesting that the tiny, scorching-hot world is indeed falling apart. In May, researchers announced the detection of a possibly distintegrating exoplanet, a roughly Mercury-size world being boiled away by the intense heat of its parent star. Now, a different team has found strong evidence in support of the find — a massive dust cloud shed by the planet, similar to the tail of a comet.

Both studies used observations from NASA's Kepler space telescope, which spots alien planets by flagging the telltale brightness dips caused when they pass in front of their parent stars from the instrument's perspective. The unfortunate alien planet lies about 1,500 light-years away from Earth. It sits very close to its host star — completing an orbit every 15 hours — and is therefore incredibly hot, with surface temperatures estimated to be around 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,982 degrees Celsius). (9/5)

Photographer Snaps Amazing View of Sun with Hot Telescope (Source:
With a camera too hot to touch, an amateur astronomer captured this brilliant image of vast solar filaments winding across the surface of the sun. “Taking solar pictures such as this one requires you and your equipment to be outside in the direct sunlight. I was trying to use an umbrella for shade and also using towels to help keep the direct sunlight off of my camera and computer," said astrophotographer Brett Dahl, who captured the image. "The camera was getting so hot that it would literally burn my fingers when I tried to reposition it." Click here. (9/5)

SpaceX Could Be ‘Game Changer' for Texas Students (Source: Brownsville Herald)
Listen to Dr. Frederick Jenet talk about the physics and radio astronomy program at UTB-TSC and it’s suddenly no surprise that a world-class company like SpaceX would be interested in Brownsville. “We have students getting up at 3 a.m. to control the world’s largest radio telescope in Puerto Rico. They understand the pressure of a deadline in a real-world environment,” Jenet said via Skype from a conference he was attending in Sydney, Australia.

“What they’re doing is actual scientific research. What they’re doing is advancing our knowledge of the universe, and they know how to work together as a team.” The idea of rockets being launched on missions into space over the Gulf of Mexico from a site near Boca Chica Beach is not far-fetched. “It has the potential to be a game changer for Brownsville, but it has always been in the game plan — which is to develop a very good group of students doing hands-on research under a world-class faculty." (9/5)

Former U.S. President Backs 100 Year Starship (Source: Discovery)
The light-years between the stars is vast -- a seemingly insurmountable quarantine that cuts our solar system off from the rest of the galaxy. But to a growing number of interstellar enthusiasts -- and a former U.S. president -- interstellar distances may not be as insurmountable as they seem. On Sept. 13, an international group of big thinkers will descend on Houston, Texas, to discuss one very big idea: making interstellar travel possible within the next 100 years.

So, next week will see the 100YSS 2012 Public Symposium kick off in Houston, marking the beginning of a century of work striving to push mankind out of the solar system and on a journey to becoming an interstellar civilization. Former President Bill Clinton has even stepped in to serve as the symposium's Honorary Chair. In a statement, Clinton said: "This important effort helps advance the knowledge and technologies required to explore space, all while generating the necessary tools that enhance our quality of life on earth." (9/5)

Strange Star in Nearby Cluster Resists Aging (Source:
One weird member of a nearby glob of stars in the Milky Way appears to posses the secret to eternal youth, scientists say. This glob, scientifically known as a globular cluster, is shown in a new picture from the European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The photo shows the glowing orb of tens of thousands of ancient stars, all thought to have formed in the universe's distant past.

But one star shows surprising signs of youthfulness. Astronomers can gauge the age of stars by the chemical elements revealed in their light. Stars formed long ago, when the universe was young, generally contain few heavy elements, because the universe hadn't yet accumulated enough of these. And some light elements, which were present when ancient stars formed, are depleted as stars age. Click here. (9/5)

Explosion of Galaxy Formation Lit Up Early Universe (Source: UC Berkeley)
New data from the South Pole Telescope indicates that the birth of the first massive galaxies that lit up the early universe was an explosive event, happening faster and ending sooner than suspected. Extremely bright, active galaxies formed and fully illuminated the universe by the time it was 750 million years old, or about 13 billion years ago, according to Oliver Zahn, a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP) at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the data analysis. (9/5)

NASA's Crawler Transporter Gets Upgrade (Source: WMFE)
At the Kennedy Space Center retired Space Shuttles are being readied for museums. But there's one piece of equipment at Kennedy that's even older and it's not going away. Nasa's massive crawler transporter is getting an upgrade for carrying the next generation of deep space rockets and spacecraft. It's the only machine with enough muscle to move Apollo rockets and space shuttles out to the launch pad, and after nearly 50 years on the job NASA's decided there's still no better way to transport heavy loads than the crawler. Click here. (9/5)

Let’s Let NASA Fly On (Source: Orange Coast College)
Like the rest of the country, we at Orange Coast College have grown weary of budget battles. A malaise over spending has set in. To many, NASA has become an unaffordable indulgence, to others it’s already irrrelevant. The Mars landing was just another Yahoo news story. Currently, the U.S. budget allocates half a penny to NASA for every dollar it spends. Even that is slated for further cuts. On the NASA budget I stand in solidarity with Neil de Grasse Tyson: double it to a penny — a penny out of every dollar the government spends.

The country’s economic stasis will not be broken with smoke plume factories, but with highly technological innovations that can not be outsourced to machines or low skilled workers. The future is scary. Not enough Americans graduate in the STEM fields, leading to a shortage of skilled labor and educators. The truth is many of our brightest went into finance rather than physics and ended up on Wall Street.

Today, our economic woes are the cause of financial innovation, while the greatest period of economic growth came from innovation in science. NASA plays a central role in that. From GPS that students use to text in class to the CAT scans that diagnosis our illness, there is a cross pollination in science, where one field discovers something totally unrelated to another field. These discoveries change our world. Our country is founded on pushing the frontiers. The final frontier awaits us. (9/5)

Loveland, NASA Officials Approach Liftoff with Business Initiative (Source: KUNC)
How do you turn space technology into earth-bound products for businesses and consumers? That's the question Loveland business leaders and NASA officials batted around today during the Innovation and Technology Showcase, designed to explore so-called “technology transfers”. The event drew more than 250 people to the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation & Technology—the former and largely empty campus of Agilent Technologies.

The goal, says Loveland Department of Economic Development’s Betsey Hale, is to bring businesses and NASA together to explore collaborations. The city is reinvigorating its partnership with NASA after a bid to create the Aerospace and Clean Energy Innovation Park in Loveland soured last March. Since then the city has put up $150,000 to float a tech transfer initiative for about 25 local companies. (9/5)

Will Next 'Solar Max' Fry Electronics? (Source: EE Times)
The combination of the approaching “solar maximum” and the deployment of a new generation of compact yet vulnerable satellite electronics has space weather experts gearing up their efforts to prevent disruptions to communications, navigation and other vital networks. The 11-year cycle of maximum solar flare activity is expected to peak in 2013 or 2014. One of the largest solar flares in years hit the Earth in March, but NASA observers reported that its impact on the power grid and communications was limited based on the angle at which it hit Earth.

As the sun begins flinging greater amounts of high-energy protons, ions, ultraviolet radiation and other energetic particles towards Earth, the latest generation of satellites stuffed with compact, low-power electronics will undergo a sort of trial by fire. A fundamental problem, experts said, is that dielectric materials used to make low-power space components can be penetrated and damaged by high-energy particles cast off by the sun. (9/5)

Russia, U.S., China Clocked Similar Times Between Space ‘Firsts’ (Source: Space News)
Russia, the United States and China took remarkably similar amounts of time — between 11.5 and 13.6 years — from their first launches of animals to when their astronauts first docked with habitable unmanned modules, according to the Secure World Foundation (SWF). SWF said it performed the analysis following a widely held misimpression that China, the latest to have performed the feat — the Shenzhou 9 mission in June of this year — has moved much faster than Russia and the United States in manned space.

SWF acknowledged that there are lots of ways of measuring progress in manned space programs, and that the three nations did not follow the same routes to being able to prove their ability to send astronauts to space station modules. But using this particular metric, despite the nearly half-century between the Russian and U.S. efforts and that of the Chinese, the three nations’ accomplishments appear to be not so different. (9/5)

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