November 10, 2012

Dynetics and PWR Aiming to Liquidize SLS Booster Competition (Source:
One of the most famous rocket engines in history – the Apollo/Saturn’s F-1 – could one day fly again, providing Alabama company Dynetics, teamed with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), win the advanced booster competition for the Space Launch System (SLS). Their liquid booster approach would advance SLS’ capability to launch payloads of 150mt to orbit. Click here. (11/9)

Failure Investigation Now Focusing on Satellite Design (Source: Space News)
The investigation into solar-array damage on the Intelsat IS-19 telecommunications satellite has cleared the Sea Launch vehicle from responsibility and is focusing on the Loral-built spacecraft. The unusually long investigation — the satellite was launched in May and had trouble deploying one of its two solar arrays upon separation from the rocket — has led to concerns in the industry that the inquiry would end the same way as a 2004 investigation into a similar anomaly.

That investigation issued conclusions that assigned clear blame to nothing in particular. Sea Launch and Loral continued their operations and between 2004 and 2012 seven Loral satellites were launched without a problem. This time around, both Sea Launch and SS/L said they were determined to push the failure investigation as far as possible to determine what happened. The two companies divided the cost of an independent review board headed by Jack R. Wormington, formerly of the Aerospace Corp. (11/9)

How Has SpaceX Shaken up the Local Aerospace Business? (Source: LA Observed)
Elon Musk's company is hiring lots of people (close to 2,000 workers at last check) and snapping up most all available property near the giant Hawthorne headquarters. It also leads the way in the privately funded space business. Still, the company remains a work in progress - as does the refashioned space business. Establishment war horses like Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop are trying to figure out how to co-exist with the upstart SpaceX, whose business model is radically different from the way aerospace has worked for decades. Click here. (11/9)

China to Launch Manned Spaceship in June (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch another manned spacecraft Shenzhou-10 in early June 2013, a lead space program official said. Like in the Shenzhou-9 mission, the crew might include two men astronauts and a woman, who are scheduled to enter the Tiangong-1 space lab module, Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, said on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

"They will stay in space for 15 days, operating both automated and manual space dockings with the target orbiter Tiangong-1, conducting scientific experiments in the lab module and giving science lectures to spectators on the Earth," he said, adding that the selection for the crew will begin in early 2013. (11/10)

Griffin: Huntsville Should Harness PNT Market (Source: Huntsville Times)
There is plenty of room for Huntsville to harness the commercial space market, and opportunity lies more with utilizing data than it does with building shuttles, according to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. Griffin, who served as NASA administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said one of the most promising global markets is for space-based positioning, navigation and timing. For 2013 alone, forecasts for the PNT market is valued around $10 billion, with an annual growth rate of 12 percent. PNT refers to GPS, GPS augmentations and other global navigation satellite systems. (11/10)

Editorial: So Many Planets, So Few Telescopes (Source: LA Times)
Over the last few weeks, astronomers announced not one but two extraordinary discoveries in the ongoing search for planets orbiting stars beyond the sun. The first was a world about the size of Neptune, 5,000 light-years away, whirling around in a solar system with four stars. The second was an Earth-size planet right next door in the Alpha Centauri system — three stars that orbit one another not thousands or hundreds but a mere four light-years from our solar system.

With a surface temperature of 2,000 degrees or so, this planet's surface is probably molten, but its presence implies, tantalizingly, that there could be more. All of this is exciting and wonderful, but it's a far cry from the discoveries astronomers thought they would be making by now. Back in the mid-1990s, when the first "exoplanets" (extrasolar planets) were found in distant star systems, NASA talked boldly about the new generation of powerful telescopes it was planning to build, in large part to hunt for alien worlds, especially those in balmy, life-friendly orbits. Click here. (11/10)

NASA's Looking at Options for SLS' Cargo Configuration (Source: America Space)
NASA is continuing to take steps towards building its Space Launch System (SLS), the mammoth rocket that promises to surpass the Saturn V for size and power. Last week, the agency began looking at ways to make it even bigger, specifically its cargo capacity. In a Request for Information (RFI) published last Thursday, the agency put out a call for information on possible payload adapters and fairings already available in commercial industry to use with the SLS.

The SLS is poised to be an excellent workhorse for future missions, in large part because it’s so flexible. The initial Block 1 and Block 1A versions will be able to lift 70 metric tons into Earth orbit and use a small “kick” stage to punt the payload to further destinations. Later incarnations of the SLS – the “evolved” rocket – will be able to lift 130 metric tons into orbit. All three versions will be able to carry crews or cargo, depending on a mission’s demands, to destinations like the Moon, Mars, and even LaGrange points. Click here. (11/10)

SpaceX Gears Up for Launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base (Source: Space News)
As Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) ramps up for regular cargo runs to the international space station from Florida, a new launch site to put satellites into polar orbits from California is on track to debut next year. The company, which in October completed the first of 12 planned space station resupply flights under a $1.6 billion NASA contract, is refurbishing Space Launch Complex-4 (SLC-4) East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, located 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

“It will be online early next year,” SpaceX’s commercial crew project manager, Garrett Reisman, said at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in New Mexico last month. The launch complex, originally built for Atlas rockets, was modified in the 1970s for the military’s Titan boosters. It was last used for a Titan 4 launch in October 2005. SpaceX plans to use the pad to launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. (11/9)

U.S. Air Force Plans Annual Piggyback Flights Starting in 2014 (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is preparing to establish a new service for secondary payloads. Starting in 2014, the service plans to conduct annual flights of an adapter designed to mount six secondary payloads on Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs), the rockets the U.S. government relies on to send large satellites into orbit. (11/9)

UK to Invest Extra £300m in Space Science Research (Source: Guardian)
The UK will host the European Space Agency's headquarters for telecoms satellite monitoring, the chancellor George Osborne announced on Friday. The move is part of an extra £300m to be invested in space science research by the government over the next five years. Osborne made the announcement at the Royal Society in London, in his first major speech on the Treasury's ambitions for science and technology. In the address, Osborne outlined eight areas of technology in which he wanted the UK to become a world leader. (11/10)

China's Mystery Space Plane Project Stirs Up Questions (Source:
As the next secretive flight of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B mini-shuttle draws closer, analysts are keeping a close eye on China’s own potential space plane, the Shenlong. Last year several Chinese media outlets reported a test flight of the Shenlong space plane that apparently included its airdrop  from an H-6 bomber. But the nature of the Shenlong project's testing, as well as what the robot vehicle truly represents, remains sketchy.

Several China watchers in the U.S. have taken a stab at what the Shenlong (Mandarin for "Divine Dragon) might mean, with some experts conjecturing that the craft is simply a tit-for-tat response to the unmanned X-37B space plane. "Shenlong is China’s effort to develop a re-entering aerodynamic spacecraft, similar to the space shuttle or the X-37B but much smaller than either," said Mark Gubrud, a postdoctoral research associate in the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University. (11/10)

Colors of ExoEarths Could Indicate Habitability (Source: Astrobiology)
In the rapidly advancing field of exoplanet research, it always helps to be one step ahead. A handful of rocky exoplanets have been discovered to date, and it is only a matter a time before the floodgates open and the number of known terrestrial exoplanets skyrockets. These planets could bear alien life, but how do we know which ones are worthy of a detailed inspection?

The most basic criterion when looking for habitable planets is that they should have liquid water, as liquid water is essential for life as we know it. Another criterion is to search for habitats in which life is known to exist on Earth, and a new study by Siddharth Hegde and Lisa Kaltenegger at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany has revealed a method that will do just that. By identifying the colors of environments known to be a haven for extremophiles on Earth, it is possible to search for similar environments on planets that are akin to our own. (11/10)

Revenue Boost for Astrium (Source: Aviation Week)
EADS Astrium reported sharply higher revenue in the first nine months of the year, due largely to the December 2011 acquisition of mobile satellite services provider Vizada. The company’s revenues for the period rose 14% to €3.9 billion ($4.9 billion), up from €3.4 billion in the first nine months of 2011. Order intake reached €2.9 billion over the first nine months of the year, up from €2.3 billion in the same period the previous year, an increase of 23% attributed to solid services activity. (11/10)

Plans for Wallops Research Park Look “To Infinity and Beyond’ (Source: East Shore Post)
Accomack supervisors committed Wednesday to borrowing up to $4 million to install water, sewer, roads and other amenities to Wallops Research Park (WRP), a move their financial experts assured them could be made without raising taxes. The 8-1 vote also promised the county would apply for a $4 million state grant that would fund construction of a taxiway connecting NASA’s runway to the research facility and would remove a deed restriction from property needed to complete WRP.
The parcel was given to Accomack by the federal government for recreation. Supervisor Grayson Chesser was the only supervisor to vote against the project. He said after hearing the presentation he felt better about it, but still couldn’t support the action. “I will spend it (county money) just like it was coming out of my own pocket … I don’t think we have a very good track record,” he added. Chesser also wondered how long Wallops will be around. “You can’t beat the ocean,” he said, estimating the island has “no more than 20 years at the most” left. Chesser also blamed the shoreline work on Wallops for [erosion] problems on the mainland.
“They’re not building things because of a pipe dream,” said Supervisor Ron Wolff. “It’s solid … we need to look to the future. Bigelow Aerospace wants to come. They already have satellites in orbit.” “This is probably the best opportunity we’re ever going to have,” said Vice Chairwoman Wanda Thornton. Editor's Note: Click here for a copy of the presentation provided to the Accomack board. (11/9)

Region that Helped Power the Rocket Age is Back in the Game (Source: Los Angeles)
Aerospace settled in Southern California because land was cheap, local universities provided research and testing facilities, numerous military installations were close by, and the region was welcoming to new (and sometimes unorthodox) ideas. “Southern California as we know it would not exist without aerospace,” says Peter Westwick, who studies the industry at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

“This was the road to the middle class for California families. The ranch house, the backyard barbecue, the surfing—they were built on the defense industry.” Along the way were ebbs and flows, depending on who controlled Washington and whether the nation was engaged in conflict. Once the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, tens of thousands of aerospace and defense jobs in the area were eliminated. Thousands of additional jobs could be lost in 2013 if Congress and the White House remain deadlocked on a budget package and are forced to institute across-the-board cuts. Click here. (11/9)

Ariane 5 Launch Postponed by 24 Hours (Source: Arianespace)
CNES informed Arianespace that the weather conditions are unfavorable over the Guiana Space Center in Kourou. Arianespace has decided to postpone Flight 210 by 24 hours. Flight 210 will place into geostationary transfer orbit the EUTELSAT 21B and STAR ONE C3 telecommunication satellites. (11/10)

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