October 26, 2012

Missile Defense System Engages Five Targets Simultaneously During Largest Flight Test (Source: MDA)
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and other military partners successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets. An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time.

All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted its first Medium Range Ballistic target in history, and PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a Short Range Ballistic Missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water.

An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. Editor's Note: The E-LRALT rocket was developed by L-3 Coleman Aerospace in Orlando. (10/25)

Raytheon Increases 2012 Profit Forecast (Source: Reuters)
Raytheon reports that it has increased its 2012 profit expectations, citing efficient operations and cost-cutting measures. Raytheon's third-quarter profit rose less than 1%, but growth is expected to increase through the end of the year. (10/25)

NASA Leader Reportedly is Frustrated with Space Policy (Source: Examiner)
The cancellation of the Constellation program and the somewhat muddled space exploration program that replaced it has not made the president popular with NASA employees and with many aerospace workers. Bolden hitherto has publically supported the president’s program, even under angry questioning from members of Congress. Privately, it appears that the former astronaut and retired Marine general is as frustrated as the people who work for him at the direction – or lack thereof – of space policy under the current president. (10/25)

House Committee Calls for GAO Review of NASA Export Control Compliance (Source: Space Policy Online)
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) is calling for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review NASA's export control policies. Broun chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.

Broun's letter to GAO refers to "allegations that NASA centers have allowed unapproved individuals access to sensitive technologies," but does not specify who or what is involved other than referencing "an ongoing investigation at Ames Research Center" that Broun asks to be included in the review. Broun, a medical doctor, stirred controversy recently by proclaiming that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" according to Politico. He is unopposed for reelection. (10/25)

Scientists Could Aim Derelict Telescope for Moon Impact (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The European Space Agency's Herschel space telescope, due to end its mission observing the infrared universe in March, may be sent on a crashing course toward the moon next summer to search for water embedded beneath the lunar surface, according to scientists. Suggested by an international team of more than 30 planetary scientists, the scenario is still working its way through ESA's advisory machinery before a final decision is taken by the end of the year by the agency's director of science. (10/26)

State Wants Shiloh for Commercial Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida officials have been meeting with government officials and environmental groups in Brevard and Volusia Counties to promote plans to transfer of 150 acres of NASA property north of Kennedy Space Center to develop a new commercial launch complex. The new spaceport site could accommodate SpaceX and/or another unnamed launch company. Click here for a video about Shiloh, produced by Florida Today. (10/26)

‘Space Hotel a Reality Within 10 Years’ (Source: Russia Today)
Space tourism and precious metal mines on asteroids are not as far off as you might think, Space Adventures’ Eric Anderson told RT. He says within ten years there will be the first hotel in orbit, and eventually, people will live in space. "I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that there will be a space hotel within the next ten years, in orbit around the Earth...There is an incredibly good business plan behind it, because millions of people want to go to space, and because the technology to provide such a hotel is getting closer and closer every day in terms of cost effectiveness."

"All the market studies that have ever been done will show you that 40 per cent of the general public wants to go to space in their lifetime. It just has to reach a point where they can afford it and it is safe enough for them to feel that they are not risking their lives excessively do it. But I do think the tourism market is a catalyst. It is not by any stretch the only reason we would go to space. We will go to space for resources: we will mine the asteroids, will get precious metals like platinum-group metals from asteroids." Click here. (10/26)

NASA Testing a Space Capsule/Helicopter Hybrid (Source: WIRED)
NASA engineers are testing out a new version of an old idea: fitting rotary wings to a space capsule for a helicopter-like re-entry method. The result could be a spacecraft that would be more maneuverable than the current capsules that return to Earth under parachute, though not as maneuverable as the space shuttle orbiters.

The rotor blades would not be powered as they are in a helicopter, but instead would turn thanks to the air passing over them as the capsule drops. This method would be similar to an autorotation, which is how helicopter pilots control their descent if they lose an engine. And after tens of hours of practice, a helicopter pilot can make a very soft, pinpoint landing, sans power using this same technique. The hope is that the autorotation technique would provide much more capability to maneuver than the parachutes. (10/25)

Deferred Dreams of Mars (Source: Technology Review)
I found that Mars wasn't an entirely happy subject in Houston-—especially among people who believe that humans, not only robots, should be exploring there. In his long but narrow office in the main building of the sprawling Houston center, Bret Drake has compiled an outline explaining how six astronauts could be sent on six-month flights to Mars and what they would do there for a year and a half before their six-month flights home. Click here. (10/24)

Paintballs May Deflect an Incoming Asteroid (Source: MIT)
In the event that a giant asteroid is headed toward Earth, you’d better hope that it’s blindingly white. A pale asteroid would reflect sunlight — and over time, this bouncing of photons off its surface could create enough of a force to push the asteroid off its course. How might one encourage such a deflection? The answer, according to an MIT graduate student: with a volley or two of space-launched paintballs.

Sung Wook Paek, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says if timed just right, pellets full of paint powder, launched in two rounds from a spacecraft at relatively close distance, would cover the front and back of an asteroid, more than doubling its reflectivity, or albedo. The initial force from the pellets would bump an asteroid off course; over time, the sun’s photons would deflect the asteroid even more. (10/26)

Road Trip! The Interstellar Kind (Source: Discovery)
Historically, conceptual interstellar travel has lent itself to visions of grandiose 'worldships,' replete with acres of rolling hills, lakes, and suburbs nestled within the largest metallic superstructures ever imagined. However, such massive designs are inevitably met with dismissal; if for nothing else due to their incomprehensible scale (some vessels have been proposed in excess of 20 miles in length).

By focusing on the delicate balance between the need for survival and the desire for mental stimulation, but with cognition of technological feasibility, perhaps a more attainable vessel architecture begins to emerge. Rather than proceeding with the idea of developing an outsized 'worldship,' this article aims to stimulate discussion in search of the design equilibrium for a smaller vessel conceptually referred to as a 'Colonized Interstellar Vessel', or CIV. Click here. (10/25)

South Korea's Space Shot Scrubbed by Fuel Leak (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
South Korea on Friday delayed the launch of a small satellite launch vehicle after detecting a leak in the fueling system for the rocket's Russian first stage, according to media reports. The Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle, or KSLV 1, was being prepared for liftoff Friday from the Naro Space Center, a facility about 300 miles south of Seoul.

The 108-foot-tall rocket was aiming for its third try to loft a small satellite into orbit after two identical launchers failed in flights in 2009 and 2010. According to the Yonhap news agency, engineers will remove the two-stage rocket from the launch pad to replace a seal, delaying the launch at least three days.

The KSLV's first stage is built by Russia's Khrunichev. Its RD-151 main engine burns kerosene and liquid oxygen. The leak was detected at the interface between the first stage and the launch pad's fueling system during standard prelaunch checks before the KSLV's launch window, which extended from 2:30-6:00 a.m. EDT. Because the rocket must be moved from the launch pad to fix the problem, launch will be pushed back at least three days. (10/26)

China Eyes New Rockets for Space Station, Moon Missions (Source: Space.com)
China is making progress in creating a new line of launchers for advancing its space station plans, as well as bolstering its capability to land robots — and possibly humans — on the moon. Earlier this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced it had successfully conducted a 200-second test firing with the Long March 5 rocket's 120-ton-thrust liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene engine. The engine is far more powerful than the 75-ton-thrust engines of the rockets used to launch China's piloted Shenzhou spacecraft.

The China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) Office has noted that the high-performance engine is the first kind of high-pressure staged combustion cycle engine for which China has proprietary intellectual property rights. It is non-toxic, pollution-free and highly reliable, the CMSE stated, adding that the engine makes China the second country in the world, after Russia, to grasp the core technologies for a LOX/kerosene high-pressure staged combustion cycle rocket engine. (10/25)

India's DRDO Preparing for Hypersonic Test (Sources: IHS, Parabolic Arc)
India is planning to conduct the first flight trial of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) in the next 12 to 18 months. The HSTDV program aims to produce a hydrocarbon-fuelled scramjet test article capable of Mach 6-7 and autonomously guided flight. The HSTDV will pave the way for a hypersonic cruise missile and platforms that can perhaps be applied to other tasks, such as very high-speed reconnaissance. Initial ground tests with the kerosene-fuelled scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) have been completed and the propulsion system is now being integrated with the air vehicle. (10/24)

McCain Was Against Mars Mission Before He Was For It (Source: Space KSC)
Sen. John McCain told a Space Coast rally on Oct. 24 that NASA should focus on a human mission to Mars. McCain said NASA again needs to concentrate on a single project the American people can rally behind: “Let’s focus on putting a man or a woman on Mars. Let’s focus on that.” I found this odd, because McCain was one of the first critics of President George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, which came to be known as Constellation.

After the VSE speech, McCain chaired a hearing where NASA chief Sean O'Keefe presented the VSE details.. Here's what McCain said in the opening remarks: "I'm very curious to hear how [NASA] can implement the President's proposal with the very limited resources that have been proposed. Two days ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deficit in Fiscal Year 2004 would reach $477 billion...Needless to say, the $12 billion that the Adminstration has suggested be spent over the next five years falls far far short of what might actually be required to return to the Moon and reach for Mars and beyond."

Eight years later, in an era of trillion-dollar annual deficits, McCain calls for sending a person to Mars but doesn't talk about how to pay for it. A human Mars flight would cost a lot more than a return to the Moon. Pandering and hypocrisy are nothing new during an election, but McCain's throwaway line for his Space Coast audience got me to thinking about a more fundamental question. Click here. (10/26)

Space Florida Represents State in Gulf-States "Aerospace Alliance" (Source: SPACErePORT
Space Florida's Frank DiBello moderated a panel on space-related programs and opportunities for the Gulf States of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi during an Oct. 25-26 summit of the Aerospace Alliance. Florida recently became a full member of the Alliance, who's four states include four NASA installations, 44 members of the U.S. House of Reprentatives, 8 U.S. Senators, and 52 Electoral College votes.

The mission of The Aerospace Alliance is to establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world-class aerospace, space, and aviation corridor. The Aerospace Alliance is a 501(c)(6) private/public organization whose members advocate for policies, programs and specific aerospace projects on the local, state and national level. Click here for information. (10/26)

South Korean Military Plays Important Supporting Roles in Rocket Launch (Source: Yonhap) -
The military is playing important supporting roles in South Korea's space rocket launch set for Friday, with Aegis destroyers assigned to track its path, and patrol ships, fighter jets and commando units put on guard and other missions. The Navy will have two Aegis warships with an advanced radar system follow the flight path of the two-stage Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), known as the "Naro-1," after it takes off from Naro Space Center.

One of the two ships, The King Sejong, is responsible for tracking the rocket from the beginning until its second stage ignition, while the other, The Seoae Ryu Seong-yong, will follow it thereafter until combustion is over, officials said. Also taking part in the tracking mission are a Korea Aerospace Research Center tracking facility on the southern island of Jeju and Coast Guard ships. The Navy also mobilized a naval escort ship, two speed vessels, a patrol aircraft P-3C and a Lynx helicopter to guard the waters off the space center and help evacuate civilian vessels from the area. (10/26)

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