December 22, 2012

Gov. Scott: Embry-Riddle a 'Florida Treasure' (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
Gov. Rick Scott got to practice his piloting skills as part of a tour of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Scott was in town Wednesday afternoon for his first tour of the school. Scott got a firsthand look at the research and other new developments happening at Embry-Riddle as the college works to attract high-tech aerospace jobs to the area. State legislators, with the governor's blessing, provided $8.9 million last session for land clearing, road-building and other work to develop the university's Aerospace Research and Technology Park.

The park is intended to draw companies to the area and generate thousands of high-paying jobs when fully built out in 10 years. "Everybody around the world in aerospace and aviation knows about Embry-Riddle," he said. "They are a Florida treasure." 85 percent of Embry-Riddle's students graduate in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and 96 percent have a job in their field within a year after graduating.

Scott also heard a presentation on the NextGen Test Facility, where Embry-Riddle is in partnership with the FAA and industry to modernize the nation's air traffic control system. "The research we do is incredible," Trustee Mori Hosseini said. "...But we can't do it ourselves, we need to have the state's help." The university has new buildings under construction and is adding several degree programs, including a new bachelor's program in commercial space operations for the fall of next year and its third doctorate program, which will be in aerospace engineering. (12/19)

Private Venture Wants to Keep its Wary Eye Out for Asteroids (Source: Florida Today)
So, the world did not end Friday because of an asteroid blast or any of the other calamities imagined to be predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar. But some say a serious asteroid strike is just a matter of time, and we should be ready. For evidence of what might come, see the 1908 “Tunguska event” in Siberia, said Ed Lu, a former shuttle and International Space Station astronaut who heads the nonprofit B612 Foundation.

A relatively small comet or asteroid that exploded before hitting the ground wiped out that unpopulated area of Siberia in 1908 with a force 1,000 times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, leveling forests, photographs later showed. Deflecting an asteroid is relatively easy with enough warning, because its velocity need only be tweaked very slightly to turn a hit into a miss, Lu said. A spacecraft could impact an asteroid or act as a “gravity tractor” to pull that off.

The problem, Lu said, is that we know the locations of only a fraction of the asteroids that whiz through Earth’s vicinity. “We’re driving around the solar system with our eyes closed, essentially, and that seems kind of crazy, right?” he said. “Because these things do hit the Earth.” To open Earth’s eyes, the B612 Foundation has partnered with Boulder, Colo.-based Ball Aerospace to design and build a roughly $500 million infrared space telescope able to spot hundreds of thousands of asteroids. (12/22)

NASA JSC Opens Technology Acceleration Center (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Houston Technology Center have officially opened the doors to the JSC Acceleration Center at the Johnson Space Center. The JSC Acceleration Center provides onsite offices to enhance collaboration for business growth and future technology development under an agreement with the Houston Technology Center (HTC).

The focus of the new center in JSC’s Bldg. 35 is to provide entrepreneurs and startup companies access to entrepreneurial and technical expertise as they explore opportunities to commercialize NASA technologies. Clients will receive help with business incubation and acceleration, and recruitment and screening from strategic partners, expert advisors and the extensive JSC space community. (12/21)

North Korean Leader Calls for More Powerful Rockets (Source: Voice of America)
North Korea's leader has called for the development of more powerful rockets, following last week's successful launch of a long-range rocket. The official state media reported Saturday Kim Jong Un made the call for the advancement of North Korean rockets at a banquet Friday in Pyongyang.
The U.S., South Korea, Japan and various other countries condemned last week's launch as a ballistic missile test banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions. North Korea said the three-stage rocket succeeded in placing what it called a weather satellite into orbit. (12/22)

Phew! Asteroid to Miss Earth in 2040, NASA Says (Source: CNN)
On a day when global doomsday predictions failed to pan out, NASA had more good news for the Earth: An asteroid feared to be on a collision course with our planet no longer poses a threat. Uncertainties about the orbit of the asteroid, known as 2011 AG5, previously allowed for a less than a 1% chance it would hit the Earth in February 2040, NASA said. To narrow down the asteroid's future course, NASA put out a call for more observation. Astronomers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa took up the task and managed to observe the asteroid over several days in October. (12/21)

Space Fence Program Moving Forward (Source: AFSPC)
The Air Force has put out a request for proposal to move the Space Fence program forward. Space Fence will be a system of up to two land-based radars, the first located at Kwajalein Atoll, to track objects entering Earth's orbit. It will form the foundation of improved space situational awareness by expanding the ability to detect, track, identify and characterize orbiting objects such as commercial and military satellites, smaller objects, maneuvering satellites, break-up events and lower inclination objects.

The RFP is for the final development and construction of the Space Fence Operations Center, Site 1, and an option for Site 2. It is a full and open competition that will conclude with a contract award, currently anticipated in spring 2013. The award will bring the program forward to final system development, fielding and initial operational capability. (12/21)

KSC PR Rep Charged with Forgery (Source: Florida Today)
A 38-year-old woman who handles public affairs for NASA faces charges of forging driving permits to cover up her DUI-related driver’s license suspensions, federal and state investigators report. Candrea Thomas of Rockledge was charged with five third-degree felony counts of forgery involving public records after agents from the NASA Inspector General’s office raised questions in October about her driving status, records show.

Investigators said Thomas produced the permits on a home computer so she could use government-owned vehicles to drive media representatives at Kennedy Space Center. The civil servant was arrested by Brevard County sheriff’s investigators at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday and was back at work Friday. (12/21)

Space Station Back to Six-Man Strength After Soyuz Docking (Source: America Space)
Six men from three nations—-Russia, Canada, and the U.S.—are presently in residence aboard the International Space Station, following the successful docking of the Soyuz TMA-07M craft. Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko brought the vehicle in for a smooth arrival at the gigantic outpost at 9:10 am EST, to the relief and joy of Soyuz crewmates Chris Hadfield and Tom Marshburn and the incumbent Expedition 34 team of Kevin Ford, Oleg Novitsky, and Yevgeni Tarelkin. (12/22)

SLS' Core Stage is Finally Ready for Construction (Source: America Space)
NASA has passed yet another milestone in the ongoing development of its Space Launch System (SLS)—the rocket that will launch Orion to the Moon and beyond. The rocket’s core stage is finally ready to move from concept to construction. SLS is NASA’s next big, heavy lift vehicle that will surpass the Saturn V in size and power.

The rocket has a central core stage analogous to the Saturn V’s first stage with two external boosters reminiscent of the shuttle’s. The spacecraft—Orion—will sit on top like the Apollo command module sat atop the Saturn. This latest SLS’ preliminary design review was held on Thursday, December 20, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. (12/21)

Meteorite Was Fastest on Record (Source: Nature)
The Sutter’s Mill meteorite caused a sensation earlier this year when its fireball was seen by many eyewitnesses over the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range in California. “We used radars to plot triangles that track where it seemed to be coming from,” says Monica Grady at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, a member of the team. The study also determined that the meteorite entered Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 28.6 kilometres per second, the fastest ever recorded. (12/20)

2012 Review: The Year in Space (Source New Scientist)
A Mars rover's daredevil landing, a private space-flight boom, and a man leaping from the stratosphere were among the top space news events this year. Click here. (12/20)

Garvey Space Flies Suborbital Rocket Again in Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida has initiated a new high-altitude launch service for demonstration NanoSatellites. This service is intended to provide streamlined, introductory launch opportunities for the growing number of academic, business and research organizations that are developing CubeSat and NanoSat-class payloads.

The first flight under this program took place on Dec.8, and featured the Prospector 18D (P-18D) suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) previously flown three times by a team consisting of Garvey Spacecraft Corp. and California State University. Manifested payloads included a “PhoneSat” experiment from NASA Ames and several instrumentation packages put together by university students. The launch took place at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) test site outside of Mojave, California. (12/21)

Sky's Not Falling On Satellite Exports: The Ghost Of Anti-China Paranoia Past (Source: AOL Defense)
The U.S. aerospace industry got an early Christmas present when House and Senate conferees approved defense authorization legislation that gives the President discretion to determine export jurisdiction for satellites. Its passage will conclude a necessary-but-not-sufficient, long-awaited first step in reviving the health and competitiveness of an industry critical to U.S. national security, but long crippled by political shenanigans that make it difficult to believe there won't be attempts to derail this move toward rationality.

The stalemate in export reform has been directly tied to the 1999 Cox Committee Report. The report is named after Rep. Christopher Cox, chairman of the "House Select Committee on National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China." The Cox Report has become an urban legend. Touted when convenient as bipartisan, it is really a compilation of near-hysterical risks to US security from dual-use technology transfer and hastily-made recommendations drawn from dubious analysis and ambiguous conclusions.

This single report has done more damage to the US aerospace industry -- an industry critical to US national security -- than any competition from abroad ever could have, with absolutely no positive benefit to national security. Prompted by anti-China, anti-Clinton partisan factions, the Cox Report was a prelude to the politics of fear that would support what has been called the Ideology of National Security, and consequent requirement that the US should be able to respond to every potential threat anywhere, anytime, as part of what former Vice-President Dick Cheney called the "one percent doctrine." Click here. (12/21)

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