October 17. 2012

Proof of Moon's Birth in Giant Impact Found in Zinc (Source: Space.com)
Water on the moon boiled away in massive quantities in a cataclysmic evaporation event during the moon's birth, bolstering the theory that a Mars-sized body collided with the Earth to form its only natural satellite, scientists say. Researchers examined rocks collected by astronauts during NASA's Apollo lunar landing missions, as well as a meteorite that originated on the moon to make the find. They looked for traces of zinc, and found the ratios of heavy to light isotopes are greater than on Earth, which suggests the moon went through an intense evaporation event early in its formation. (10/17)

Space Coast EDC Wins Prize for Promotional Effort (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast’s powerful, information-packed brochure touting Brevard County’s competitive advantages in technology, work force, quality of life and other areas received a Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council. The EDC’s 10-page brochure, “Florida’s Space Coast: America’s High Tech Titan,” competed against materials from the nation’s largest economic development organizations. The award was presented this week at the IEDC Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. Click here. (10/17)

Georgia Spaceport Effort Includes Vertical and Horizontal Launch (Source: SPACErePORT)
Georgia's spaceport effort was represented at the International Symposium on Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. State economic development officials are assisting the airport authority at St. Mary's, just north of the Georgia/Florida border. Their plan includes a new runway at the small near-coastal airport, and the purchase of two large parcels of land adjacent to the airport for vertical launch pad development (potentially for SpaceX). They have not yet begun the required environmental permitting work. Click here for a map of the spaceport site. (I'm not sure which vehicle is represented by the Q/D safety circle.) (10/17)

ESA Space Surveillance Initiative Hinges on November Summit (Source: Space News)
A long-planned European program to develop a space surveillance system for civil and military purposes is moving forward with construction of two prototype radars ahead of a mid-November meeting that will determine whether the work continues or stops in its tracks.

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Oct. 15 announced the installation of an experimental radar in Spain, with validation testing to begin in November. The radar, in development for 18 months, was built under a contract valued at 4.7 million euros ($6.1 million) with Indra Espacio S.A. of Spain.

The radar is a monostatic design, meaning its transmitter and receiver are co-located. The receiver was built by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for High-Energy Physics and Radar Techniques under contract to Indra Espacio. The institute operates Germany’s Tira Tracking and Imaging Radar space-surveillance facility, located near Bonn. Tira features a 34-meter-diameter L-band tracking antenna. (10/17)

Analysis: Demise of EADS-BAE Merger Bodes Ill for Future Deals (Source: Aviation Week)
The political issues that sank the planned merger of EADS and Britain's BAE Systems would complicate any future merger attempts by BAE, as any such transaction would have to include the firm's U.S. business as part of the package, experts say. Governments and some investors railed against the EADS-BAE deal, arguing over the control each country would have in the resulting company. (10/15)

Manufacturers to Train Veterans for Factory Jobs (Source: Reuters)
Four of the largest U.S. manufacturers on Monday unveiled plans for a new group committed to train military veterans to work in the manufacturing sector. General Electric, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin said they would provide financial support to the "Get Skills to Work Coalition." It will initially aim to train 15,000 veterans, who will be hired by the four companies or matched to other jobs. Open jobs will be listed on LinkedIn.

"I look at this as a catalyst," said GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt at an event unveiling the group in New York. "We're looking for other manufacturers to join us." The group will be managed by the Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers trade group. GE will invest an initial $6 million in the program. (10/15)

Your Presidential Vote Shouldn't be Based on Space (Source: Florida Today)
There is no good reason to cast your presidential vote based on space policy. Neither of the two major-party candidates running for the White House offers a robust, adequately funded national space policy. And, the fiscal demands facing both the president and the budget-writers in Congress by this winter will not allow a big boost.

President Obama should get credit for taking the fledgling commercial cargo and crew program in place before we elected him and doubling-down on the idea that private companies could bring innovation, agility and cost savings to space flight. And, it's becoming more clear that whoever is elected is likely to go that direction. There is a building momentum among space policy experts, aerospace contractors, elected leaders and even some entrenched NASA bureaucrats for expanding this concept.

And, how could Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan dismantle what is perhaps the most successful effort ever to privatize a once-exclusive government project? Facing the same realities as the current president, the Republicans are bound to look for ways to build on the success so far. In reality, neither side is pronouncing a passion for space exploration, at least not enough to break out of the downward trend of NASA spending and commit substantial new dollars to the civil space program. (10/17)

Aeropac Team Wins the Carmack 100k ft Amateur Rocket Contest (Source: Hobby Space)
John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace has declared Team Aeropac 2012 as the official winner of The Carmack 100kft Micro Prize. The contest was for an amateur rocket to reach at least 100,000 feet or 30.5 kilometers in altitude. The Aeropac team's rocket reached 104k ft on Sep. 11, 2012. Carmack earlier gave Derek Deville a runner-up prize for the launch of his Qu8k rocket Sep. 8, 2011. The Qu8k very likely exceeded 100k ft but the altitude measurement was not properly measured with GPS in the manner required by the contest. (10/15)

Futron Releases Space Competitiveness Index (Source: Futron)
Futron’s Space Competitiveness Index compares 15 leading space-participant nations across more than 50 individual metrics that together reflect three overarching competitiveness drivers: government, human capital, and industry. By evaluating these metrics, the Index numerically benchmarks the relative space competitiveness position of each nation. This framework allows policymakers and enterprises to pinpoint space strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities for each nation.

The U.S. remains the overall leader in space competitiveness, but its relative position has declined for the fifth straight year, as other countries enhance their capabilities while the U.S. undergoes major transitions amid significant uncertainty. The U.S. is the only country whose relative competitiveness score has declined five years in a row. Russia remains the world’s launch leader, and promises to retain that role in the near term thanks to its role in transporting astronauts and cargo to the Space Station, as well as the introduction of Soyuz launches from the European spaceport at Kourou. These strengths are offset by weaknesses in retention of human capital talent.

China performed a record number of launches in 2011, surpassing the United States for the first time, while increasing investment in technical education programs and civilian research institutes. India is enhancing its space-related technical education, while gradually progressing toward a completely self-reliant set of next generation launch vehicles. Click here. (10/17)

Australia Should Help Clear ‘Space Junk’ (Source: The Conversation)
Although Australia confines its participation in human space missions to the hosting of mission-support ground stations, the nation is heavily dependent on data from Earth-observation satellites to support numerous national security, civil, research and commercial applications which provide vital information for policy development and decision-making.

Australia has a vested interest in ensuring space remains a domain to which all nations can enjoy assured and secure access long into the future. To realize this ambition, there is an emerging international consensus, reflected in current space Code of Conduct discussions, that space junk doesn’t only need to be tracked with great accuracy, but that some larger pieces may need to be brought back to Earth or at least brought into the earth’s atmosphere where they will burn up. (10/17)

Curiosity Works Through Delays After Finding Bright Material on Mars (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Curiosity rover discovered more bright material on Mars, but scientists said Tuesday they believe the material is native to the planet. The rover dumped its second scoop of loose soil at a windblown site called Rocknest after scientists spotted the bright material, and it's now working on a third scoop.

Scientists are working to identify the material, which could be geologically interesting but isn't expected to be relevant to Curiosity's two-year mission for ancient signs of life on Mars. The rover's activities have slowed, however, because the satellite used to relay information to Earth, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, automatically went into safe mode Monday. Data can be transmitted through other methods, but it takes longer. The orbiter is expected to come back online this week. (10/17)

Space Micro Acquires Comtech AeroAstro Assets (Source: Space News)
Satellite electronics maker Space Micro will take ownership of some of the assets of Comtech AeroAstro, the small satellite and satellite-component manufacturer that fell on hard times and was shut down this summer by its corporate parent, San Diego-based Comtech Telecommunications Corp. Space Micro, also of San Diego, said the assets to be transferred include S- and X-band communications devices, sun sensors, star trackers and imaging cameras. (10/17)

Space Tourism: the Ultimate Boarding Pass (Source: New Scientist)
OK, So no one is pretending that a trip into space comes cheap. But space tourism has come a long way since American billionaire Dennis Tito paid an eye-watering $20 million for an eight-day vacation on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001. If all goes to plan, next year Virgin Galactic will welcome its first paying passengers on board flights to the very edge of space. And Virgin isn't alone. Three other companies are planning similar flights, with prices starting at $95,000.

Still expensive, but apparently not too dear for the 900 or so people who have already reserved their seats with the companies. For more adventurous types who don't mind waiting a few extra years (and have exceptionally very deep pockets), a trip to the moon will set you back $150 million. So what can a budding astronaut expect? Click here. (10/17)

NASA Seeks Nominations for Science Advisory Subcommittees (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA announces its annual invitation for public nominations for service on NASA science advisory subcommittees. These science advisory subcommittees report to the Science Committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's science advisory subcommittees. Click here. (10/17)

An Examiner Hit Piece on SpaceX (Source: PJ Media)
This is a disappointing article, from the headline, to the picture, to the extreme disingenuity and factual distortions, and omission of relevant facts throughout. I expect better from the Washington Examiner. Let’s start with the headline: “Obama funder gets insider deal at NASA.” One would reasonably infer from this that the only reason that SpaceX got the space station resupply contract was because Elon Musk has contributed to the Obama campaign. Simply put, this is nonsense. But more on that below.

The picture itself is clearly calculated to make Mr. Musk appear clueless and foolish. He is neither. And the piece itself is both misleading and factually incorrect right from the opening paragraphs...  It’s a shame to see the Washington Examiner falling for the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that have been sown for three years now by rent seekers at the traditional NASA teat of both parties, desperately trying to preserve the old socialistic NASA-monopoly space program that has cost the taxpayers a billion dollars per astronaut delivered and was responsible for the deaths of fourteen of them. Click here. (10/16)

NASA Evaluates Rescue Plans for Orion Crew After Off-Nominal Landing (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA teams are continuing to set up the mission rules for their Orion spacecraft, with the latest set of expansive “Concept of Operations (CONOPS)” outlines including scenarios for keeping a crew alive after they have splashed down at the end of a mission. The scenarios include off-nominal landings, where a crew may require rescue from remote areas of the ocean by Department of Defence (DoD) assets. (10/16)

How Singer Sarah Brightman Could Change the Face of Private Space Travel (Source: Space.com)
When singer Sarah Brightman launches to space in 2015 or so, she will likely be the most famous non-astronaut to reach orbit. Brightman has signed a deal to fly in space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in the coming years. The classical soprano is thought to be paying upwards of $35 million for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station.

She won't be the first millionaire or billionaire to make such a journey, but she will likely be the most well-known. Brightman first gained fame starring in the original Broadway cast of "Phantom of the Opera" in 1986, and has since seen success as a global recording artist, selling 30 million classical albums and receiving more than 180 gold and platinum awards in over 40 countries.

This fame could bring positive attention to the space realm and the burgeoning field of private spaceflight, said former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, current president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "Somebody like Sarah Brightman, who already has a big following that doesn't intersect much with NASA's — I think that nexus could be very valuable," Lopez-Alegria said. (10/16)

What's Baking on Titan? (Source: NASA JPL)
Radar images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal some new curiosities on the surface of Saturn's mysterious moon Titan, including a nearly circular feature that resembles a giant hot cross bun and shorelines of ancient seas. Steam from baking often causes the top of bread to lift and crack. Scientists think some similar process involving heat may be at play on Titan.

The image showing the bun-like mound was obtained on May 22, 2012, by Cassini's radar instrument. Scientists have seen similar terrain on Venus, where a dome-shaped region about 20 miles (30 kilometers) across has been seen at the summit of a large volcano called Kunapipi Mons. They theorize that the Titan cross, which is about 40 miles (70 kilometers) long, is also the result of fractures caused by uplift from below, possibly the result of rising magma. Click here. (10/16)

Blue Origin Completes Full-Power Tests on Thruster for Orbital Vehicle (Source: Flight Global)
Launch vehicle builder Blue Origin has successfully tested the thrust chamber of its BE-3 rocket engine, another key milestone under NASA's commercial crew development (CCDev) program. The test of the BE-3, a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-fuelled engine, took place "earlier this month" at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, according to NASA. The final tests ran at full power, 100,000lb of thrust.

"We are very excited to have demonstrated a new class of high-performance hydrogen engines," says Rob Meyerson, president and programme manager of Blue Origin. "Access to the Stennis test facility and its talented operations team was instrumental in conducting full-power testing of this new thrust chamber."

Blue Origin will use the engine to power its unique launch vehicle, designed to launch its crew-ready spacecraft, dubbed simply the "Space Vehicle" into low Earth orbit. While some specifications and images have been released, Blue Origin has been secretive in terms of exact design parameters and technical progress. (10/16)

Gagarin, Glenn Art Works Unveiled (Source: Houston Chronicle)
A 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and an 8-and-half-foot-tall steel panel depicting American astronaut John Glenn were unveiled at Houston’s Parks Department headquarters Monday. Why there? Because the office on South Wayside was the first NASA headquarters. (10/16)

No comments: