January 16, 2013

Space Coast NSS Chapter Changes Name to Florida Space Development Council (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Coast Chapter of the National Space Society (NSS) has changed its name to the Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) to better reflect the group's focus on assisting the development of a robust space-related economy in the state. The FSDC will remain an active chapter of the NSS, working with other Florida chapters to support the NSS mission to promote social, economic, technological, and political change in order to expand civilization beyond Earth.

"Florida is a major 'space state' and deserves an active and influential NSS chapter to provide grassroots advocacy," said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. "The Florida Space Development Council can provide support to reinforce the already-substantial efforts of Space Florida and other organizations in the state."

The newly renamed chapter will continue to sponsor bi-monthly membership meetings, featuring 'Space Locals' discussions with featured aerospace professionals and project managers. FSDC members will also develop and provide advocacy for a slate of policy priorities intended to promote the growth of space-related business, academic, and government programs at the state and federal level. (1/16)

FSDC Recruiting Members for Active 2013 (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) has kicked off a membership drive for 2013. "With an annual membership rate of only five dollars, we want to broaden participation in FSDC beyond our existing NSS chapter members," said FSDC President Laura Seward. "FSDC will offer new networking opportunities and provide a grassroots voice to more Floridians on space-related policies and programs."

As part of the chapter's re-branding effort, FSDC has also unveiled a new website that features a statewide calendar of space-related events and a library of documents relevant to the state's development of space policy and programs. Click here for information, and to sign up as an individual or corporate member. (1/16)

Suborbital Space Research and Education Conference Scheduled for June 2013 (Source: CSF)
Since its debut in 2010, the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference has rapidly become the largest gathering of suborbital researchers and educators in the world, providing an invaluable forum for information in the community. NSRC-2013 will continue the community wide discussion, focusing on the research, education and public outreach capabilities of new reusable suborbital vehicles that will begin operations soon.

NSRC-2013 will bring together vehicle providers, researchers and educators from academia, government and industry to engage in presentations, workshops and networking opportunities. Keynote speakers will include NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, FAA Associate Administrator George Nield, and former Space Shuttle and ISS astronaut and Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria. Click here. (1/16)

NASA Signs Agreement for a European-Provided Orion Service Module (Source: NASA)
NASA signed an agreement in mid-December for the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide a service module for the Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Mission-1 in 2017. When the Orion spacecraft blasts off atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in 2017, attached will be the ESA-provided service module – the powerhouse that fuels and propels the Orion spacecraft.

The agreement primarily maps out a plan for ESA to fulfill its share of operational costs and additional supporting services for the International Space Station by providing the Orion service module and necessary elements of its design for NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

The service module is located directly below the crew capsule and will contain the in-space propulsion capability for orbital transfer, attitude control and high-altitude ascent aborts. It also will generate and store power and provide thermal control, water and air for the astronauts. It will remain connected to the crew module until just before the capsule returns to Earth. (1/16)

Funding Is Human Exploration’s Big Question (Source: Aviation Week)
Congress took time out from its last-minute hustle away from the “fiscal cliff” to declare its continued support for NASA's plans to send human explorers beyond low Earth orbit. The White House position is a little less clear. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) still hasn't responded to the space agency's internal budget proposal, known as a “pass-back,” leaving program planners guessing on the critical question of future funding even as they march ahead on the technical work.

Top exploration-systems managers will meet for three days in Houston this week to review how well the separate human-exploration systems will work as an integrated whole, and identify the issues that must be resolved before humans fly into space on the vehicles they are developing. They don't expect any major technical issues, but their funding expires in March, and that is a problem.

Lawmakers reaffirmed their support for NASA's current spending priorities in a housekeeping measure adopted in the final hours of the 112th Congress Jan. 2. The legislation, needed to extend government indemnification of third-party damages from commercial space launches and allow NASA to continue buying human-spaceflight services from Russia, also included “sense-of-Congress” language reaffirming support for a mix of government and commercial human space vehicles. Click here. (1/16)

Seeking Details on the Orlando-Based AXE Apollo Space Academy (Source: SPACErePORT)
Amid the hype about AXE's suborbital spaceflight program, I've seen few details on the Orlando-based AXE Apollo Space Academy, which will be operational in December 2013. This video reveals that it will include a "6-G" centrifuge, which is an expensive piece of hardware that doesn't currently exist in Orlando, though they may use Disney EPCOT's "Mission: Space" ride (a multi-arm 2.5-G centrifuge simulator developed by ETC, the same company that owns NASTAR). Also included will be jet flight training aboard an L-39 Albatross (probably courtesy of Clearwater-based Aurora Aerospace), and a parabolic aircraft flight (probably courtesy of ZERO-G Corp. whose planes are based in Miami. (1/16)

AXE to Blast 22 Guys Into Space With New Apollo Scent Campaign (Source: WIRED)
Winners from 20 countries move on to the ‘Space Camp’ round in Florida where high speed jets will flip you around, parabolic flights will get you weightless, and a centrifuge will crush you with either centripetal or centrifugal force. All of this is to determine who won’t freak out on a suborbital space jaunt on a (still untested, still in development) Lynx spacecraft. If the spaceship doesn’t fly by the end of 2020, the winner gets a check for $86k. Not space, but not too bad after seven years of waiting. Click here.

Supporting the Revolution – NIAC Program Begins 2013 Campaign (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program announced the kick-off of its 2013 drive on Tuesday, calling for proposals involving revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. With up to $100,000 on offer per project, NIAC is at the forefront of potentially finding the next big space flight breakthrough.

Returning in 2011 after a break of four years, NIAC enables early investment and partnership with creative scientists, engineers and citizen inventors to help maintain America’s leadership in the global technology economy. NIAC studies “visionary aerospace architecture, system or mission concepts that are exciting and unexplored, yet credible and executable,” submitted by U.S. citizens and researchers working in the US, including NASA civil servants. Click here. (1/16)

KSC Director Bob Cabana to Speak to Space Coast Technical Network (Source: Florida Today)
Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, will address members of the Space Coast Technical Network on Friday morning, discussing some of the latest developments in the space program and how it affects activities in Brevard County. Cabana is a veteran of four space shuttle flights and was a retired Naval flight officer and aviator with the United States Marine Corps.

Upcoming speakers for the weekly Space Coast Technical Network meetings include, Bill Allen, president of The Proposal Network; Ron Jones, president of Rocket Crafters Inc.; Jason Joiner of Volt Workforce Solutions; Ruben Nunez, founder of Earthrise Space Inc. and Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. (1/16)

Winston Scott's Space Stories Enthrall Military Retirees (Source: Florida Today)
It’s highly unlikely that any member of the Cape Canaveral chapter of Military Officers Association of America will ever get any closer to space than flying in an airliner. But many said they left their monthly luncheon meeting Tuesday with a better understanding of space flight after listening to former astronaut Winston Scott. Retired Air Force Col. John Beeson and his wife, Betty Beeson of Cocoa Beach said Scott explained some of the training, flight experiences and spacewalks so well that they left believing they learned more about the subject.

Scott, a mission specialist on space shuttle missions STS-72 in 1996 and STS-87 in 1997, was the guest speaker for the MOAA luncheon meeting that drew about 100 people. Editor's Note: Scott is currently with Florida Tech and was previously the executive director of the Florida Space Authority. (1/16)

Recycling for Cheaper Space Travel (Source: Space Safety)
Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center are currently testing special tiles made from garbage such as plastic bottles, old clothes, duct tape, and foil drink pouches that might be used in the future to add, for example, radiation shielding.  Nowadays, most of the trash produced at the International Space Station is simply loaded into automated transfer vehicles and left to burn during re-entry. Such a strategy would be impossible once a long-haul mission, such as to Mars or an asteroid, is considered.

“We don’t want to contaminate the surface of an asteroid or something just by throwing the trash out the door,” said Richard Strayer, a microbiologist working on the project. “If NASA doesn’t do something about it, then the spacecraft will become like a landfill, with the astronauts adding trash to it every day.” Click here. (1/16)

Space Coast Economy Poised for Takeoff (Source: Florida Today)
I’m bullish on Brevard after a fresh look at a decade of data for jobs and economic growth. Yes, the numbers since 2002 do reflect a recession — including a big drop in local construction jobs that have not recovered and have weighed on overall employment growth. But that’s the sum of the bad news.

An analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows a 33 percent increase since 2002 in the number of people who earn their livings as business owners. The 59,000 “non-farm proprietors” today are second in number only to the 61,000 at the peak of the boom in 2007. Brevard had 44,000 business owners in 2002. Brevard’s annual gross domestic product has grown since 2009 at a rate similar to its rate from 2002-2006.

Employment hasn’t kept up, meaning that manufacturers and others have become more productive. Output from companies in Brevard that make stuff — those labeled “goods producing” — has grown as a share of the economy even as the service sector has recovered and grown its output, too. And overall government spending and jobs remained comparatively flat over the past decade while the private sector grew substantially. (1/12)

UFOs On The Moon: Scientists, Astronauts Report Strange Sightings (Source: Huffington Post)
People claim to videotape UFOs in the sky above Earth. They also spot unusual-looking objects in NASA camera feeds at the International Space Station. Now, a growing number of individuals insist they're using their telescopes and cameras to reveal UFOs around the moon. Many odd things have been seen by amateur and professional astronomers on the moon over decades, and YouTube affords the opportunity to look at alleged UFOs flying across, toward and away from our nearest astronomical neighbor. Click here. (1/16)

Rockot Places Three Satellites in Orbit (Source: Space Today)
A Russian Rockot booster placed three Russian military satellites into orbit on Tuesday in the first orbital launch of the year. The Rockot vehicle lifted off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia at 11:25 am EST and placed three satellites, designated Cosmos 2482 through 2484, into low Earth orbit. The satellites are believed to be part of the Strela class of communications satellites. The launch, the first of 2013, had been planned for last month but was delayed because of issues with the rocket's Briz-KM upper stage. (1/16)

South Korea Rocket Launch on Jan. 30 (Source: AFP)
South Korea will make another bid at the end of this month to put a satellite in orbit and gain entry to an elite global space club that includes Asian powers China, India and Japan. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced a window from January 30 to February 8 for launching the 140-ton Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) from the Naro Space Center on the south coast. Following failed attempts in 2009 and 2010, a successful launch is considered crucial to South Korea’s commercial space ambitions. (1/16)

Canadian Space Agency Boss Steps Down (Source: The Record)
Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean is stepping down to join a new venture being created by Perimeter Institute founder Mike Lazaridis (formerly with Research In Motion). The space agency said in a news release that MacLean will lead a team pursuing breakthrough scientific research and development in the highly specialized field of quantum physics. (1/15)

Kazakhstan Approves Russia’s 2013 Schedule of Launches From Baikonur (Source: Tengri News)
Kazakhstan’s Government has approved the schedule of Russia’s space vehicles to be launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in 2013. The Kazakhstan’s Government has approved Russia’s plans on launching space vehicles for 2006-2015, including GLONASS projects for 2012-2020 and programs of international cooperation as well as within commercial and military projects.

Launches of space vehicles involving new drop-off zones for Soyuz launchers can be carried out after a respective international agreement is signed and comes into effect. There can be no more than 20 launches relying on Proton-M carrier rockets (two fewer carrier rockets than in 2012). This change is pursuant to the Agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan on effective use of the cosmodrome that seeks to reduce the number of rocket carriers running on highly toxic fuel. Plans are there to carry out about 30 launches from Bikonur in 2013. (1/16)

China to Launch 20 Spacecrafts in 2013 (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch 20 spacecrafts this year, including the country's third lunar probe Chang'e-3 and manned spacecraft Shenzhou-10, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced. The country is scheduled to conduct a manned space docking test between orbiting target module Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-10, the corporation said during an internal work conference. According to CASC, by 2020, China will have more than 200 spacecrafts operating in orbit, accounting for about 20 percent of the world's total. (1/16)

Space Travel Startups Take Off (Source: CNN)
The private space flight has largely been the province of stargazing billionaires, such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Tesla chief Elon Musk, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. But one element of the modern-day space race -- the quest to launch a space-tourism industry -- is shaping up to be a David vs. Goliath battle. In one corner: the Virgin Group's flamboyant Richard Branson, who has poured more than $200 million into his impeccably pedigreed Virgin Galactic.

In the other: a scrappy band of rocket engineers at little XCOR Aerospace, which aims to become the Southwest Airlines of the rocket business. Both companies hope to be ready for liftoff by 2014. The two are neighbors at California's Mojave Air and Space Port. Home to about a dozen private space companies, Mojave is a short hop from Edwards Air Force base, where Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Click here. (1/16)

The Perks of Being a Virgin Galactic 'Bransonaut' (Source: Huffington Post)
I'm on rutted, dirt roads in the Jornada del Muerto desert of southern New Mexico headed to Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. It's adjacent to White Sands Missile Range where, for 70 some years, assorted rockets, nuclear bombs and other WMDs have been tested. My useless GPS reports this 3,200 square miles of restricted air space as one monstrous black hole. I'd have never found Spaceport Operations Center (SOC, for short) or Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space if it wasn't for Aaron Prescott.

His friends are insanely jealous, he says, of his position as Business Operations Manager for New Mexico's $209 million entry into global commercial spaceflight. He works with madcap entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson -- whose left eye is on the security badge required to get into the New Mexico Space Authority (NMSA) -- and other aerospace firms contracted to fly from this remote high desert location. Prescott calls it the Kitty Hawk of space travel.

Since 2006, 17 rockets have been launched here -- "Unmanned, so far," Prescott says. "We want to make sure people are buying roundtrip tickets." -- and 551 have slapped down $200,000 for Virgin Galactic's three days of astronaut training and two hours in space. 'Course, that's chump change for the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber and Kate Winslett, to name a few of the already-paids who probably make that in, say 10 minutes of "Two and a Half Men." Click here. (1/16)

Quasar Wall's Size Surprises Astronomers (Source: USA Today)
A string of fiery galaxies has taken the title of largest structure yet seen in the universe, astronomers report. Measuring some 4 billion light years across, the chain of "quasars" — fiery central regions of infant galaxies — more than doubles the previous record sizes for cosmological structures. The wall of quasars resides roughly 9 billion light-years (one light-year is about 5.9 trillion miles) from Earth. "Even traveling at the speed of light, it would take 4 billion years to cross," Roger Clowes says in a statement. (1/16)

Mars Rover Curiosity's Team to Receive Space Foundation Award (Source: NASA)
The NASA mission that had the nation holding its breath as it tested an ingenious but never-before-used landing technique, and continues to amaze with new discoveries about Mars has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Space Foundation's John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration. NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project is using the rover Curiosity to investigate whether the study area within Gale Crater has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. (1/15)

Astrium: Spaceplane Planned for Space Tourism (Source: Space.com)
Europe's Astrium is working on Spaceplane intended to take four people to 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth. Unlike many other space ventures, the company ambitiously promises that the plane will take off and land from a runway – not vertically like a traditional rocket. The company officially unveiled its plans in 2007, and has picked up some investor interest since then. As of early 2013, Astrium has not disclosed an anticipated start date for when it will bring tourists into space.

Meanwhile, parent firm EADS is planning restructuring that could affect the direction of the company in future years, although it's too soon to foretell the impact on individual projects such as Spaceplane. The company's website states that the process of development is expected to take a long time. Developing the aircraft and certifying it will take until at least 2014, the company stated in 2010. It did not provide any time frame for test flights or the first operational journeys into space. (1/15)

NASA Glenn Research Center Names Deputy Director (Source: Crain's Cleveland Business)
Longtime engineer Gregory L. Robinson will be the new second-in-command at NASA Glenn Research Center. Mr. Robinson in March will be named deputy director of the center, according to a news release from NASA Glenn. He will fill a position vacated on Jan. 1, when former deputy director Jim Free was promoted to replace Ramon Lugo III as center director. (1/15)

Rover Finds Intriguing Rocks Indicative of Watery Past (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The Curiosity Mars rover has found intriguing veined rocks just below tilted cross-bedded layers indicating water once flowed and "percolated" through fractured terrain near the landing site in Gale Crater, scientists said Tuesday, additional evidence of a watery past on the red planet.

Taking their time evaluating a surprising variety of scientific targets, mission scientists and engineers now are gearing up for the first tests of a powerful impact drill that will be used to collect samples from inside targeted rocks. The drill tests are a final major milestone before the rover begins creeping toward Mount Sharp, a towering 3.4-mile-high mound of layered rocks in the center of the broad crater that represents the mission's primary objective. (1/15)

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