October 1, 2012

Rocket Crafters Featured at Nov. 16 MSRP Event (Source: MSRP)
Ronald Jones, the President and Chief Technology Officer for Rocket Crafters, Inc. will be the keynote speaker at the Missile, Space and Range Pioneers (MSRP) Fall Banquet on Nov. 16 at the Cocoa Beach Hilton. The Fall Banquet also known as the Rocket Reunion, will allow Mr. Jones to explain Rocket Crafters’ move to Space Coast Regional Airport and their next-generation hybrid rocket motors, dual propulsion jet/rocket aircraft and suborbital spacecraft. In addition, two Florida Tech students teams funded by the MSRP will present their projects for the 2012-2013 school year. Click here for details. (10/1)

The Cislunar Gateway With no Gate (Source: Space Review)
According to recent news reports, NASA is working on plans for a "gateway" station at the Earth-Moon L2 point. John Strickland describes why such a facility could be useful, but also why NASA's approach to it may be doomed to fail. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2165/1 to view the article. (10/1)

The Google Lunar X PRIZE at Five: Can it Still be Won? (Source: Space Review)
Five years ago last month, Google and the X PRIZE Foundation announced a $30-million prize competition for a commercial lunar mission. With the prize not yet claimed, Jeff Foust reports on the prospects various teams have for winning the competition before it expires at the end of 2015. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2164/1 to view the article. (10/1)

Canada Poised To Award Radarsat Constellation Contract (Source: Space News)
Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean on Oct. 1 said the Canadian government is on the verge of contracting with industry for the full-scale development of the three-satellite successor mission to Canada’s Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2 Earth observation spacecraft. (10/1)

New Private Rocket Arrives at Virginia Launch Pad for Tests (Source: Space.com)
A private rocket NASA is counting on to make robotic cargo flights to the International Space Station achieved a key milestone on Oct. 1, as its first stage rolled out to its Virginia launchpad for the first time. The first stage of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket arrived today at its pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), which is located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.

The move marks the beginning of on-pad preparations for a series of important trials with Antares that will take place over the next few months, Orbital officials said. The company aims to perform hot-fire tests of the first stage in four or five weeks, followed by Antares' first test flight about a month later. If all goes well, Antares will then launch Orbital's unmanned Cygnus capsule on a demonstration mission to the space station, officials said. (10/1)

Dennis Diemoz joins Excalibur Almaz USA as New President (Source: Excalubur Almaz)
Excalibur Almaz has named Dennis K. Diemoz as the company's president. He has also been appointed to the EA Board of Directors. Mr. Diemoz provides a rich history of aerospace industry executive management. Most recently he was Vice President & General Counsel of United Space Alliance, LLC (USA) from its inception until his retirement in January of 2009, at which time he was responsible for the audit, export control, legal, security & technology protection functions. (10/1)

Sun Shock Waves: New Theory Could Predict When Planets Form (Source: Space.com)
Our solar system's planets may have formed at differing times, determined by shock waves flowing from the young sun, one astronomer suggests. This theory posits that Earth is one of the youngest planets in the solar system, along with Mercury, Venus and Mars. "Studying the brightness of stars that are in the process of forming could give indications as to the intensity of stellar shock waves...In this way we may be able to predict the location of planets around far-flung stars millions of years before they have formed."

The first series of protoplanetary rings, formed at about the same time as the sun, eventually created Uranus and Neptune, Abdylmyanov suggests. About 3 million years later, the sun would have generated the debris ring that became Saturn, and in half a million years more, Jupiter's debris ring might have come to be. Subsequent shock waves could have produced the asteroid belt and then the protoplanetary rings for Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. (10/1)

1,000 Layoffs at Rockwell Collins Possible with Sequestration (Source: KCRG)
Pending sequestration cuts to defense may prompt Rockwell Collins to lay off up to 1,000 employees, the aerospace electronics firm says. The company in the past three months cut 250 jobs. The firm could avoid a large portion of the possible layoffs if it secures a significant commercial contract, CEO Clay Jones has told employees. (10/1)

White House: Defense Firms Don't Need to Send Pink Slips (Source: The Hill)
The Obama administration again has told defense firms that they shouldn't issue layoff notices because of sequestration and additionally has offered a deal, this blogger says: The government will pay for companies' legal expenses if they have sequestration-related layoffs -- but not if they ignore White House guidance and issue layoff notices. GOP lawmakers criticized the latest guidance as politically motivated, because the notices would go out just ahead of the November election. (9/28)

It's Launch Week for Delta 4 to Upgrade GPS Constellation (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Shooting for a morning blastoff Thursday, a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket and Global Positioning System satellite payload will undergo a final technical assessment today and their readiness review tomorrow before entering into countdown operations Wednesday night. Liftoff is scheduled for 8:10 a.m. EDT (1210 GMT) at the start of a 19-minute launch opportunity. The window is timed to deliver the GPS 2F-3 satellite directly into Plane A of the navigation network 11,000 miles above Earth. (10/1)

Gateway L-2 Mission: Opening Cislunar Space or Dead End? (Source: Spudis Lunar Resources)
A recent report by the NASA human architecture team has given us a glimpse of the agency’s thinking about future missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Interest is focused on sending human crews to a “Gateway” outpost stationed at the gravitationally stable Earth-Moon L-2 point. The facility, built with plans and parts derived from the construction of the International Space Station, would slowly circle the L-2 point in a halo orbit. From its “hovering” position over the lunar far side, it would be in direct communication with Earth.

Astronauts stationed at the L-2 Gateway would communicate with robotic spacecraft on the surface of the lunar far side – directing rovers to collect samples and emplace geophysical and astronomical equipment. An L-2 Gateway station could be a staging point for future human missions to the lunar surface, near Earth asteroids, and to Mars and its moons.

The first step to becoming a true space faring species is the ability to routinely and frequently access various levels of cislunar space. Occupying these areas solves part of the problem, getting to and from these various places (rocket firings) creates capability. Rockets need propellant – to fuel and refuel. How, and from where, would this propellant be supplied? The idea that we can assemble caches of rocket fuel in space for use by vehicles going to and from LEO has been around for years. To work, that vision banks on breakthroughs to lower the current cost to LEO. Click here. (10/1)

Obama, Romney Visions for Space Vary Little (Source: Florida Today)
Mitt Romney belittles President Barack Obama’s policy for human space exploration as incoherent, disjointed and defeatist. But Romney’s own broadly worded plan, released late last month, departs from the administration’s vision in only one key aspect — by making it clear that spending on NASA would at best stay flat. Both candidates support continuing the teamwork between NASA and private aerospace companies in developing a new vehicle to take crew and supplies to the International Space Station now that the shuttle has retired.

Both envision a grander plan for space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, though it’s not clear if Romney would continue funding Obama’s plans for a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s. And Romney’s plan makes no mention of reversing Obama’s decision to scrap the Constellation return-to-the-moon program that was backed by former President George W. Bush.

Romney’s proposed space policy “doesn’t differentiate between the president’s program ... other than to say: ‘Obama — bad. I’ll do a better job,’” said Dale Ketcham, director of the Spaceport Research & Technology Institute at the University of Central Florida. “There isn’t anything that they have proposed doing that the president isn’t already very much doing.” Click here. (10/1)

Proposed Space Boat Could Explore Lakes On Saturn's Moon Titan (Source: Space.com)
While rovers are ideal for exploring Mars, a boat is best for Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Scientists are proposing a new mission to explore this alluring world that would send a floating probe to land in a lake on Titan. Titan, the largest of the more than 60 natural satellites of Saturn, is covered in seas, lakes and rivers of methane, and hosts a thick atmosphere, making it one of the most Earth-like bodies in the solar system. Smaller than Earth but wider than Mercury, Titan is in many ways more like a planet than a moon. (10/1)

Editorial: Water on Mars (Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal)
If there were such an entity as a Martian real estate agent, the cap would be off the smiling agent's pen and the sales contract slid confidently in front of John Grotzinger for an immediate closing. Grotzinger is the top scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory, which has operated the lunar rover and explorer Curiosity since it landed in August. A key goal of that mission was to find a site for a possible Mars base and NASA's scientists announced last week that it had located a "habitable" site.

The site, an ancient streambed, offers nearly conclusive proof that there was flowing water on Mars — in the form of rounded pebbles that were smoothed by being washed 20 to 25 miles down a stream of fast-flowing water that might have been waist deep. Confirmation of water flows was a key goal of the mission. As for finding a site for a possible future base, Curiosity located what in wetter times might have been a gravel bar in a river.

Cynics will say trust the government to set up shop in a flood plain but the last water flow may have been "several billions years ago," according to one scientist. Nevertheless, these areas that once held water are the best places to search for organic compounds, especially carbon-based ones that could indicate the presence of life at one time. (10/1)

Editorial: New Mexico Lawmakers Must Launch Competitiveness (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Spaceport America's $209 million taxpayer-funded price tag should keep it close to the front of voters’ and legislators’ minds. Because so far the investment isn’t paying off when it comes to launching a competitive product in the exploding market of commercial space travel. Spaceport America is still trying to get other ancillary companies to join Virgin Galactic and two rocket companies that send vertical payloads into space.

Until that happens, is it any wonder the only related development has been a single Holiday Inn Express, 25 miles away? And is that where the more than 500 folks who have plunked down $200K each to climb aboard a spacecraft will likely stay? XCOR Aerospace has rejected New Mexico twice in favor of Texas and Florida. RocketCrafters Inc. passed on New Mexico for Florida. SpaceX is considering putting a plant with $50 million in annual salaries in Texas.

So far lawmakers who granted Virgin Galactic a permanent liability exemption have declined to extend it to suppliers as well. TorC Mayor John Mulcahy says “the issue is informed consent legislation. We need to get that passed.” Until then, those suppliers are going somewhere else and creating the synergy needed to make that other state’s spaceport investment attractive to private development, profitable for all involved and an economic driver for the economy. (10/1)

Near-Space Tourism Balloon Runs Test Launch (Source: Space.com)
A new tourist experience could be provided within five years by a huge balloon that offers stunning views of the horizon and the blackness of space. The designer tested the launch procedure last month, using a smaller version of the helium balloon and its passenger pod. The May 29 test was halted when a wind gust damaged the balloon's envelope. The video description of the launch test said a repeat test of the balloon, designed by the Spanish company Zero 2 Infinity, is "scheduled soon."

The "bloon," as the company calls it, would carry a pressurized pod for two pilots and four passengers as high as 22 miles (36 kilometers) up. That "near-space" experience would be well below the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude considered the edge of space but still high enough for passengers to see the Earth's curved horizon, the thin blue atmosphere, and black space, even in daylight. (10/1)

Some Shuttle Diplomacy Helped Bring the Endeavour to L.A. (Source: LA Times)
The sky was no limit for the space shuttle program in 1991. Three shuttles orbited Earth regularly, and a fourth, Endeavour, had just rolled off a Palmdale production line. With construction of the International Space Station looming, the future was bright for NASA's prized fleet. The space agency planned to use the shuttles for many years, perhaps decades. But Ken Phillips was already thinking ahead.

Phillips, aerospace curator of the California Science Center, made an audacious proposal to his boss that year: Acquire one of the shuttles. Someday. Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph pounced on the idea. By August 1992 — three months after Endeavour's maiden voyage — Rudolph had blueprints showing a retired orbiter perched upright in a yet-to-be-built wing of the museum devoted to air and space exploration.

Even as long-range plans go, this was a doozy — "pie in the sky," Phillips recalled recently. But two decades later, the shuttle sketched in those blueprints sits in a hangar at Los Angeles International Airport, awaiting a two-day celebratory crawl over city streets to its permanent home at the Exposition Park museum. (10/1)

Russia's Space Industry Meets Problems Inherent for 5-7 Years (Source: Itar-Tass)
The space industry suffers from problems that were inherent in the sector 5-7 years ago, Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin said in a live broadcast of the programme "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov" on the Russia-1 TV channel. "All the equpment that malfunctioned over the past 18 months (there were seven setbacks in this country) was made not today or yesterday but much earlier. At present, we, unfortunately, encounter problems which were inherent in the space industry five, six, seven, and ten years ago," Rogozin said.

He emphasized that a technological backwardness of enterprises poses the biggest problem. His opinion is that a high quality of output can be achieved only provided there is "clarity of purpose in one's mind", a single technological policy, and new machine tools. "It is essential to bring into being a different system of quality control when you monitor the fabrication route, not the end product," Rogozin said, adding that with this end in view the space industry should switch over to a new process equipment. (10/1)

Spaceport Tour Guides Share Space History (Source: Florida Today)
John Hilliard talks about the space program like a grandfather talking about his grandchild. And like that grandfather who will proudly show off photos of the grandkids to anyone who wants to see, Hilliard enthusiastically shares 48 binders, each 4 inches thick, full of information and photos of spacecraft. The 74-year-old began collecting photographs of airplanes and missiles and first developed an interest in space and aviation when he was a teenager.

The volumes of photographs document launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a project he is undertaking on his own time, hoping to complete a chronicle with photos of every launch from both locations.

Hilliard also is a walking history book, sharing the volumes of information in his memory with hundreds of people he guides along the 45th Space Wing’s public tours of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He is one of seven volunteer tour guides whose own experiences enrich the free tours. Click here. (10/1)

NASA Alumni League Luncheon on Oct. 16 (Source: CCTS)
The Florida Chapter of the NASA Alumni League hosts its Monthly Luncheon Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at the Radisson Resort at the Port. Social begins at 11:00AM, and buffet Luncheon at 11:45AM. Cost is $16 per person. For reservations please contact Suzanne Jamieson at 452-2633 no later than 6PM, Sunday, October 14,2012. Click here. (10/1)

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