November 2, 2012

Space Listed Among 39 Accomplishments in Obama Campaign Outreach (Source: Space Politics)
The Obama campaign posted (and emailed to its vast distribution list) a list of 39 accomplishments that the president had made in his first term. There’s a lot of predictable big-ticket issues listed, but tucked in at number 34, between entries for naturalizing servicemembers and promoting tourism, space gets a cameo:

"34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida’s Space Coast."

Of course, that “new vehicle for exploration of distant space”—-a reference, presumably to the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System launch vehicle-—hasn’t been built yet, and that choice of words—-“distant space”—-sounds off, as if someone in Chicago perhaps confused it with the more commonly used “deep space.” And those on the Space Coast might be wishing the president had done more, and/or different things, to help their economy. But it’s interesting space even made the list at all. (11/2)

Posey: Romney Would Provide “Clearer Goals” for NASA (Source: Space Politics)
In radio interview, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) shared his thoughts on Mitt Romney’s views on space policy. “Romney/Ryan recognize that NASA has long been asked to do too much with too little,” Posey said. “The President’s goals, as you may know, are vague, to somewhere, someday: maybe an asteroid, maybe a meteorite, maybe this, maybe that, but there’s no goals,” he claimed, adding that money NASA spends on Earth sciences, particularly climate change, is misspent given there are “16 or 17 other agencies” that also study the subject. “Romney/Ryan, and Bill Posey, believe that NASA needs to stay more keenly focused on space.”

Posey said that a Romney Administration would support the Kennedy Space Center. “Kennedy Space Center and Cape Kennedy [sic] are the epicenter of space,” he said. “I don’t think Romney/Ryan would do anything to undermine it.” However, as the Romney campaign has indicated previously, Posey said that support would not come in the form of additional NASA funding. “I think the NASA budget right now, NASA could live with, if their mission was clearly defined, if they weren’t involved in so many different things, in so many different directions,” he said.

Posey spent part of the interview talking about some of his own views, including his support for the Space Leadership Act introduced in Congress in September. Posey doesn’t say if a Romney Administration would support the bill, but drops a hint that it might. “There have been over two dozen programs started and stopped before they reached their goals in the last few decades,” Posey said, recounting one of the selling points for the legislation. “I think Romney and Ryan, both, anticipate changing that.” (11/2)

Russian Space Program Recovers (Sources: Aerospace America, Parabolic Arc)
Russia’s space enterprise has been on a roller-coaster ride since a string of major failures began last year. The resulting shock and chaos led to high-level investigations that have uncovered serious problems, both technical and managerial, of long standing. Recommended remedies have begun to turn a disastrous situation around, but fully addressing the root causes will take time, modernization, and money. It seems that at least part of the problem has resulted from an inspection process that has shifted from ensuring quality to increasing quantity. Click here. (11/2)

Visual Guide to the Copenhagen Suborbitals Armada (Source: WIRED)
Yesterday, Copenhagen Suborbitals voted YES on the matter of purchasing a 30 ton aluminum SAR boat which will become a vital part of our sea launch operations. It has the capabilities of supporting mission control, live feed systems, craning of capsules/rockets and much more. We succeeded in finding the finances to pay off 80% of the ship and operate it for ~1.5 years.

It is the beginning of a new adventure within Copenhagen Suborbitals. Personally, I am amazed to witness the process of Peter and I going from having a 20 sqm room and one welding machine, 4 years ago, to see the entire organization today with all the members, machinery, supporters and ships. Everyone, somehow involved in this project, is to be credited for this amazing process. Click here. (11/2)

Vesta Surface Shows Less 'Aging' Than Other Asteroids Or Moon (Source: Huffington Post)
Solar system bodies unprotected by even a bit of atmosphere inevitably age—except, apparently, for the asteroid Vesta. Other airless bodies, including the moon, fall prey to blasts of cosmic dust and charged particles in the sun's wind. But viewed from Earth, 550-kilometer-diameter Vesta seemed immune to all that.

This week, researchers analyzing spectral color data returned by the Dawn spacecraft can confirm that Vesta has mysteriously escaped eons of the kind of "space weathering" that has aged the surface of other asteroids. And Dawn's spectral observations are also showing how a well-known "gardening" process on asteroids is smoothing out Vesta's age spots. (11/1)

Space Coast Congressman Bill Posey Touts Romney Space Policy (Source: WMFE)
Surrogates for both presidential candidates are talking about space in Florida. Earlier this week, Obama administration surrogate Bill Nye "The Science Guy" talked with 90.7 about space and science policy. Space Coast Congressman Bill Posey is running for re-election and is also speaking as a Romney surrogate on space issues. 90.7's Nicole Creston caught up with Posey and asked him about Governor Romney's plan for space. Click here. (11/1)

Judge: NASA JPL Didn't Dismiss Worker Over Intelligent Design (Source: Washington Post)
A judge has tentatively ruled that a former computer specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was not dismissed because he advocated his belief in intelligent design while at work. Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige said Thursday he is leaning in favor of JPL’s argument that David Coppedge instead was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp. Hiroshige, who presided over the lawsuit’s trial in April, ordered a final ruling to that effect be drawn up and distributed within 30 days.

Coppedge, a self-described evangelical Christian, had worked on NASA’s Cassini mission to explore Saturn for 15 years until he was dismissed in 2011. In his wrongful termination suit, Coppedge claimed he was demoted in 2009, then let go for engaging his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and for handing out DVDs on the topic while at work. (11/2)

CASIS Announces First Protein Crystallization Grants (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization promoting and managing research on board the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced its first research grant awards totaling $1.2 million for three projects advancing protein crystallization in microgravity. The winning experiments, which could lead to breakthroughs in treating human disease, were chosen from 16 submissions in response to CASIS’ first solicitation in June for proposals in the field of protein crystallography. Click here. (11/2)

Sea Launch On Track for January Launch (Source: Sea Launch)
Sea Launch AG, through Energia Logistics Ltd., has conducted a Hardware Acceptance Review of the Zenit-2S launch vehicle to be utilized in support of the Intelsat 27 mission. A team of specialists from the Chief System Engineer’s Office at Energia Logistics Ltd., together with specialists from RSC Energia, reviewed all of the acceptance data for the Zenit-2S #SL 36 vehicle and found that all required acceptance test values were within specification. (10/30)

U.S. Military Pullback Puts Pressure on Iridium Revenue (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications on Nov. 1 said reduced voice calls by U.S. military forces and a drop in government-related engineering work put pressure on revenue for the three months ending Sept. 30. Iridium officials said they expect to return to higher growth rates in 2013 with a new U.S. government service contract and a planned increase in the per-minute charges to commercial customers using Iridium handsets. (11/2)

Software Threatens To Delay Galileo Deployment (Source: Space News)
Deployment of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation constellation is likely to be stalled until late next summer because of software issues on the new batch of satellites, according to officials involved with the program. These officials said the delays are mainly related to harmonizing the software on the new satellites, made by a team led by OHB AG of Germany, with that on board the four Galileo validation satellites already in orbit, which were built by a consortium led by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space. (11/2)

PolitiFact: Nelson Accuses Mack of Voting Against NASA (Source: Miami Herald)
As Florida’s U.S. Senate debate came to a close, sitting Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson glanced at his notes, gestured to his opponent and lobbed a final missile. "We have a great pride in this state in our space program," Nelson began, turning toward Republican Challenger U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV. "My opponent is the only member of the Florida delegation that voted against a bill to help NASA."

Mack was so busy fending off other Nelson attacks during that Oct. 17 debate, he didn’t respond to the accusation about the NASA bill. Nelson was referring to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, a sweeping compromise of a bill that authorized a drastic change of direction for the space program. Among other things, the $58 billion law, which Nelson helped pass, directs NASA to contract out low-earth orbit to private vendors so the government can work toward going to Mars and establishing a permanent human presence in space.

The law also directs NASA to restart its technology development program and, when possible, work with international partners. A review of the congressional voting records show Mack voted against the bill, and he was the only Florida representative to do so. That part of Nelson’s claim is solid. Mack has supported several other NASA bills, but opposed this one because of concerns with spending and the direction of the program, Mack consultant Gary Maloney said. Click here. (11/1)

Editorial: SpaceX Success (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Amid a news cycle dominated by the presidential campaign, the recent successful end to the first official private cargo mission to the International Space Station went largely unheralded. And that's not such a bad sign. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule from Cape Canaveral on Oct. 7 carrying more than 800 pounds of supplies for the space station. The capsule safely splashed down in the Pacific three weeks later, packed with almost twice as much Earth-bound stuff from the station.

Continued success could pave the way for more Florida missions from SpaceX and other private rocketeers. Critics called privatization in space too risky. Now it's heading toward routine. That's good for the space program, for Florida and for the nation. (11/1)

Study Puts Solar System Theory in a Spin (Source: ABC Science)
The first solids to form in our solar system appeared at the same time, more than 4.5 billion years ago, according to a new study. The new findings may change our understanding of how the first pieces of 'dirt' in our solar system first formed. CAIs (calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions) and chondrules are the earliest solids to form in our solar system. Both are found as millimeter- to centimeter-sized grains in meteorites.

Scientists have traditionally used isotopic ratios of aluminium to magnesium to date these most ancient solids, concluding that CAIs were the first solids to condense out of the protoplanetary disk followed millions of years later by chondrules. A new method developed by Connelly and colleagues uses two new techniques to measure uranium and lead isotopes.

Scientists dated samples from numerous meteorites, finding chondrules formed 4.567 billion years ago - far earlier than previously thought. "These data refute the long-held view of an age gap between CAIs and chondrules and, instead, indicate that chondrule formation started contemporaneously with CAIs and lasted about three million years," the authors write. (11/2)

Spotlight's on Shuttle Atlantis, But That's Not All (Source: Florida Today)
Even after space shuttle Atlantis is safely inside its new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tonight, much work will remain to get the exhibit ready for its planned opening in July. And while the orbiter will be the star of the show, officials promise much more to catch your eye. Among Tim Macy’s favorite features are an interactive wall with touchscreens offering highlights of individual shuttle missions, as well as simulators that will give visitors a taste of what it takes to land an orbiter. Click here. (11/2)

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