November 22, 2012

UK Secures Billion Pound Package For Space Investment (Source: Space Daily)
The UK Space Agency is set to invest 1.2 pounds in some of Europe's biggest and most lucrative space projects, providing the UK with increased leadership in a rapidly growing global sector and building on the British space industry's 9.1 pounds contribution to the economy. (11/21)

ESA Commits to ATV Service Module on NASA’s Orion (Source:
The European Space Agency (ESA) have announced they will inform NASA they are ready to build an ATV derived Service Module for Orion, to be ready for the first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2017. The announcement came after the UK stepped up with additional funding, marking the country’s first real human BEO commitment. Wednesday’s announcement didn’t come as a major surprise, with the notion of ESA involvement – via the use of Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) hardware on Orion – known within NASA for over a year.

The ATV – three times the size of the Russian Progress resupply vehicle – was built with a human rating role in mind from the onset. However, these originally ranged from a mini space station – involving the mating of two or more ATVs, through to a crewed version of the Cargo Ascent and Return Vehicle (CARV) variant of the ATV.

Now, ATV – pending the expected official NASA acceptance – has a second life after it completes its role as a resupply vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS), incidentally linked to ESA’s involvement with the orbital outpost. (11/21)

Private Moon Mission Rumor is Glimpse of Lunar Future (Source: New Scientist)
Is the moon open for business? That's the prospect raised by rumors that a private firm is aiming to send astronauts to the moon by 2020. Cryptic tweets and posts suggest that former NASA astronauts and engineers would soon announce such a venture. This led various bloggers to single out the company Golden Spike. It is registered in Colorado to Alan Stern. Golden Spike has not revealed its plans, and Stern told New Scientist that he "can't comment either way" on the purported mission.

However, there may be a niche for a private crewed moon venture, says Fred Bourgeois, a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize race to land a rover on the moon. Although Space Adventures, a company backed by film director James Cameron, announced in 2005 that it wants to send tourists to the moon, it has no suitable craft as yet. Meanwhile Open Luna, an open-source effort, lacks cash.

NASA and China have vague plans to return astronauts to the moon. But Bourgeois says private players will do it more cheaply. For example, Scaled Composites became the first commercial outfit to send a human into sub-orbital space in 2004, winning the Ansari X Prize, and it spent only a third of what it would have cost a state-supported aerospace organisation, according to a source from the X Prize Foundation. Commercial missions will also help establish the moon as a new frontier, which is important for humanity's development, Bourgeois says. (11/21)

Commercial Lunar Project Would Force Treaty Issues (Source: SPACErePORT)
Commercial development on the moon may or may not be permissible under current international space treaties, depending on how they're interpreted. These treaties were written during the Cold War to address concerns about potential governmental operations and sovereignty issues on the moon and elsewhere beyond Earth. They failed to explicitly consider private sector space activities, leaving investors in ventures like "Golden Spike" a little uncertain if they'll run afoul of government interests.

The U.S. Government has an opportunity here to lead efforts to amend or replace these outdated treaties, to promote the kind of foreseeable U.S.-led commercial space projects that might not otherwise proceed, and that could advance U.S. economic interests without the need for huge government investments. (11/21)

Air Force Mini-Shuttle Launch Delayed Again (Source: Florida Today)
Next week’s planned launch of the U.S. military’s mini-shuttle is being delayed another two weeks, presumably to complete an investigation into engine trouble during a recent Delta rocket launch. Now the third flight of an Air Force X-37B is being tentatively targeted for Dec. 11, officials said Wednesday. No exact launch time or launch window has been announced. Launch of the Orbital Test Vehicle aboard an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station had been set for next Tuesday. (11/21)

NASA Plans UAS-Oriented Centennial Challenge (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA is considering the initiation of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge to be conducted under the Centennial Challenges Program administered through NASA Headquarters. Through this Opportunity Notice (NOTICE) NASA seeks to select a Lead Allied Organization and additional Supporting Allied Organization(s) to conduct this Challenge. The date for Challenge competition is expected to be between August 30, 2013 and June 30, 2014 depending upon the availability of a test range and competitor registration date.

The proposed prize objective for the winning team will be to "maintain safe separation from other air traffic while operating their UAS in congested airspace, under a variety of scenarios." Click here. (11/21)

CSX Pitches Lynx Flights at Brazilian Event (Source: NewSpace Watch)
Space Expedition Corporation (CSX) presented at an event in Sao Paulo on the Lynx spacecraft program. The unprecedented program will be divided into three parts: from the end of 2013 the will depart from Mojave, California, leading participants to about 60 miles high. In the second phase, which will begin in the second half of 2014 the company will offer commercial trips departing from Curacao in the Caribbean, reaching up to 103 km height. Altogether 100 flights will be flown. In the last part of the project, in 2015, there will be more trips leaving from CuraƧao than from Mojave.

The flights will operate in 2014 in a lottery scheme. That is, anyone who buy the ticket can be the first to make the flight aerospace vacation. Besides the flight, which lasts 60 minutes, the package also includes training - but not the tickets to the Netherlands, where it happens. To experience this experience, you must be over 18 years old and be healthy physically and mentally. Tourists undergo a clinical trial to evaluate blood pressure, vision, hearing and agility.

In Brazil, the trip will cost around $120,000 and two tickets have already been sold. The first buyer was the consultant Wagner Dias. "My training starts in March 2013 in Amsterdam," he said. Among the passengers by the SXC famous already confirmed are DJ Armin van Buuren, and the top Victoria's Secret Angel Doutzen Kroes and baseball player Hensley Meulens. (11/21)

KSC Tests Upgraded Crawler-Transporter for New Heavy-Lift Rocket (Source: Florida Today)
A Kennedy Space Center crew on Wednesday moved a massive crawler-transporter several miles as part of tests of recent modifications to upgrade the Apollo-era hardware for NASA's next heavy-lift rocket. The 6.3 million pound machine, whose base is the size of a baseball diamond, carried Saturn V rockets and space shuttles from the Vehicle Assembly Building out to their launch pads.

The eight-tracked crawler-transporter recently rolled 3.4 miles out to pad 39A, where it climbed up the stand and lifted and lowered a mobile launcher platform. On Wednesday it returned to a park site near the VAB, a trip that took about six hours at an average speed of 0.8 mph. The crawler's $50 million overhaul is expected to be completed in 2015. (11/21)

Cracks Discovered in First Space-bound Orion Capsule (Source: Space News)
NASA’s first orbital flight-model Orion crew capsule will have to be repaired before its planned 2014 debut after its aft bulkhead cracked during recent pressure testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cracks were discovered during a proof pressure test the week of Nov. 5. Proof testing, in which a pressure vessel is subject to stresses greater than those it is expected to encounter during routine use, is one of the many preflight tests NASA is performing on Orion to certify the craft is safe for astronauts.

“The cracks are in three adjacent, radial ribs of this integrally machined, aluminum bulkhead,” Rachel Kraft wrote. “This hardware will be repaired and will not need to be remanufactured.” It took Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver about a year to make the vehicle that was damaged. Kraft did not say how long it would take to repair the capsule, built as part of a program intended to take astronauts to destinations beyond low Earth orbit. (11/21)

FAA Adds New Members to Space Advisory Panel (Source: FAA)
The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation has added eight new members to its Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). In addition to the new appointments, FAA has also announced that Michael N. Gold will serve as the new chairperson of COMSTAC. Gold is currently with Bigelow Aerospace. The new members have significant experience in all aspects of commercial space transportation, including launch site services, space vehicle manufacturing, aerospace law, and the growing new field of commercial human spaceflight. Click here.

Editor's Note: Among the new members is Florida-based Oscar Garcia of InterFlight Global Corp. in Miami. Garcia also serves as an advisory board member for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (11/21)

Work Begins on Mojave Spaceport Runway Improvements (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Workers have begun pre-construction preparations for the rebuilding of Runway 4-22 at the Mojave Air and Space Port, General Manager Stu Witt said. Runway 4-22 is the shortest of the three runways at the spaceport in California’s High Desert, and it is in the worst shape. It will be out of commission until March. (11/21)

Pentagon Draws Line on Deliberate Satellite Interference (Source: Space News)
Deliberate interference with space systems either owned or relied upon by the U.S. Department of Defense will be deemed “irresponsible” during peacetime and possibly “escalatory” during crises, the Pentagon has declared. In a space policy document signed Oct. 18, the Pentagon appears to have drawn a line in the sand on all types of deliberate interference with space systems. The directive declares the sustainability and free use of the space environment to be a “vital” U.S. national interest.

“Purposeful interference with U.S. space systems, including their supporting infrastructure, will be considered an infringement of U.S. rights,” the document, publicly disclosed without fanfare Nov. 21, states. “Such interference, or interference with other space systems upon which the United States relies, is irresponsible in peacetime and may be escalatory during a crisis. The United States will retain the capabilities to respond at the time and place of our choosing.” (11/21)

USAF General Warns on Budget Cuts (Source: Space Safety)
William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command, warned against funding cuts to future space programs, with possible consequences to next-generation Space Situational Awareness (SAA) systems. According to Shelton the new Joint Space Operations Management System (JMS), designed to increase USAF capability to track objects in Earth’s orbit, is threatened with a major funding reduction by the US Congress, on the grounds of past cost overruns in the program.

Congress quotes a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office that pointed out cost and schedule overruns of the Air Force, stating that the Pentagon had failed to deliver promised SSA capabilities for five consecutive fiscal years. According to Shelton, the Air Force is trying to  find more cost-effective ways to maintain the space global military capabilities by revamping its acquisition processes for space and cyberspace capabilities, opening up to new commercial players of the launch industry and to the integration of payloads on commercially-owned vehicles. (11/20)

Rescuing Orion After Off-Nominal Landing (Source: Space Safety)
NASA is setting up the mission rules for the Orion spacecraft with a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) that includes scenarios for keeping a crew alive after end of mission splashdown. The scenarios include off-nominal landings to remote areas of the ocean, and crew rescue by US Department of Defense (DoD) assets. (11/20)

When Your Spacecraft Moves Without You (Source: Space Safety)
At regular intervals, the International Space Station needs a propulsive boost to avoid losing altitude due to atmospheric drag, or occasionally to get out of the way of approaching space debris. These boosts are provided from docked supply spacecraft and provide a spectacular show outside the station. But did you ever wonder what it feels like onboard ISS during one of these boosts? In this video, Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov demonstrate what happens when your spacecraft accelerates without you. (11/15)

ESA Compromises on Ariane Investments (Source: Space News)
European Space Agency (ESA) governments committed Nov. 21 some 10.1 billion euros ($13.3 billion) to the agency’s programs in the coming two to four years, including nearly 600 million euros over two years to prepare future rockets to succeed the current Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift vehicle. As expected, the most difficult topic at the two-day meeting was what to do about the Ariane rocket system in the coming years. ESA and other European government officials had said there was a threat that Franco-German discord over Ariane’s future could compromise the entire conference.

The final compromise on launchers is only for the next two years. In mid-2014, ESA governments will meet again to take stock of the launcher situation. The two-year investment includes 157 million euros for design studies for an Ariane 6 rocket, which could fly around 2021 and replace both the current Ariane 5 and the medium-lift Soyuz that is being launched from Europe’s spaceport as part of a 10-year agreement with Russia.

Specific work on the Ariane 5 ME rocket will receive 187 million euros in funding during the two-year period. But Antonio Fabrizi, ESA’s director of launchers, said this investment is being made as part of a longer effort that will see Ariane 5 ME making a first flight in 2017 or 2018. (11/21)

Dwarf Planet Beyond Pluto Lacks Atmosphere (Source:
Distant starlight has given astronomers the best look yet at a distant icy sibling of Pluto, a dwarf planet called Makemake that appears to be missing its atmosphere, researchers say. Although this icy world currently lacks an atmosphere, there is still a chance it could form one like a comet when it approaches the point in its orbit that is closest to the sun, scientists added.

In the past decade, astronomers have discovered a slew of "dwarf planets" that dwell with Pluto beyond the orbit of Neptune. Makemake was a world nicknamed "Easterbunny" by its discoverers before officially getting named after the Polynesian creator of humanity and the god of fertility. (11/21)

Group Plans Space University Near KSC (Source: LinkedIn)
Kepler Space University (currently called Kepler Space Institute) has been incorporated in Florida and plans to set up offices outside of the Kennedy Space Center. KSU will be the only U.S. dedicated space university. KSI is currently online and provides certificate courses. Visit (11/21)

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