January 17, 2013

Congressman Asks NASA to Help Boeing Fix Dreamliner Problems (Source: SpaceRef)
Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), the lead Democratic Appropriator for NASA, called on the space agency to provide scientists, engineers and expertise to the FAA and Boeing to resolve mechanical problems that led the FAA to ground the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. Fattah has visited the Boeing plant in Washington and witnessed first-hand the skill and dedication that the Boeing Team brings to every project but understands that sometimes outside input can be helpful. (1/17)

Embry-Riddle Students Return From 'Mars' (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Seven Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students from Daytona Beach had on out-of-world experience recently at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. The five undergraduate and two graduate students, returned this past weekend after two weeks at the research station, where they wore spacesuits and conducted various studies, including what astronauts experience being in confined spaces. The research station simulates conditions on Mars.

Some study topics by the Embry-Riddle students, who are working on majors in Human Factors, were the effect of music on stress during periods of isolation and confinement; the effect of exercise on mood in isolation and confinement; the effect of horticulture activity on stress during isolation and confinement, and changes in sleep patterns and perception of sleepiness in isolation and confinement. Click here. (1/13)

Delta Launch Slips as Upper Stage Worries Persist (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force has delayed the launch date of its next Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite owing to additional work needed to mitigate possible risk discovered in the last Delta IV rocket launch, during which the RL10B-2 upper stage engine malfunctioned. The WGS launch was slated for February. It is set to take place no earlier than March 28.

At issue is how to avoid a repeat of the anomaly that occurred during the Oct. 8 launch of the third Boeing GPS IIF when the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10B-2 upper stage engine experienced reduced thrust. The problem is linked to a fuel leak, though investigators have not yet found a root cause or, as a result, a way to ensure the problem will not happen again. (1/17)

Another Anomaly for Russian Upper Stage? (Source: Russian Space Web)
After Russia's Jan. 15 Rokot launch carrying three satellites, Interfax reported that the Briz-KM upper stage with its payloads successfully reached an initial parking orbit. A second firing of the engine onboard Briz-KM was expected before the release of the satellites into their final orbit. The official Russian media confirmed the successful delivery of the satellites around 22:18 Moscow Time.

However, final orbital parameters of the Briz-KM stage indicated that the vehicle had not performed as scheduled. After releasing its payload, Briz-KM apparently never initiated the last pre-programmed firing of its engine, in order to lower the perigee (lowest point of its orbit) and thus accelerate its reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

It was the first space mission involving a beleaguered Briz upper stage, since a similar vehicle nearly doomed a launch of the Proton rocket last year. The success of the latest mission would clear the way to the return to flight for Proton, Russia's commercial workhorse. (1/17)

Air Force Will Cut Spending Ahead of Possible Sequestration (Source: National Defense)
In a move that could slightly soften the blow of sequestration, the Air Force is preparing to reduce spending in advance of across-the-board cuts. The service will cancel nonessential travel, trim base repairs and halt civilian hiring, according to guidance sent by leaders to Air Force commands this week. Jamie Morin, acting undersecretary of the Air Force, said there would be savings as a result of the steps "but nothing on the scale of sequestration." (1/15)

Army Outlines Deep Cost Cuts Ahead of Possible Sequestration (Source: Defense News)
The Army is preparing to cut back dramatically on training, maintenance and other expenses that aren't directly tied to the war in Afghanistan, according to a memo sent by Army leaders this week. The moves, in response to looming sequestration, also include a civilian hiring freeze. (1/16)

Manufacturers are Anxious Over Threat of Sequestration (Source: ThomasNet)
U.S. manufacturers -- especially small firms that are defense suppliers -- are putting investments and other plans on hold as they wait to see if sequestration will take place and if it does, what effect it will have, the National Association of Manufacturers says. Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said, "Sequestration is a slow motion catastrophe for our military forces, our space program, and virtually every critical function of our government from air traffic control and border security to food inspection and more." (1/15)

Iran's Monkey Launch Continues Rich History Of Primate Space Travel (Source: Radio Free Europe)
Tehran is planning to send a live monkey into space after a previous failed attempt. Hamid Fazeli, the head of the Iranian Space Agency, said the launch date would be sometime during a 10-day period starting January 31. That day coincides with the 34th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The monkeys are now in quarantine and will be sent up in a capsule named Pishgam, or Pioneer, which will be aboard a Kavoshgar rocket.

Iran has previously sent small animals into space, including a rat, turtles, and worms. But its attempt to send a monkey in 2011 failed, with officials providing no explanation. Animals -- in particular monkeys -- have a long history of space travel. Fruit flies were the first living things in 1947 to make it to space, as part of the U.S. program -- they also made it back alive.

The focus switched to monkeys, presumably because of their intelligence and biological similarities to man, which meant researchers could better test the feasibility of space flight for humans. The first primate astronaut was Albert, a rhesus monkey, who suffocated in a V2 rocket after reaching 62 kilometers, short of the 100 kilometers required to reach space. But the first monkey in space was Albert's successor, Albert II, who reached 134 kilometers. He perished on the way back due to a parachute malfunction. (1/16)

Cutting Your Fingernails in Space (Source: CNN)
If you had the chance to ask an astronaut one question about space travel, what would it be? Some may ask what it’s like to be weightless, while others may inquire about the bathroom facilities available on a shuttle or space station. But what about grooming? Hey, an astronaut has to look good for a NASA briefing or publicity photo! Thankfully, Chris Hadfield is here to help. Click here. (1/16)

New Mexico Spaceport Backers Introduce Liability Bill (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
On the first day of the legislative session, the bill Spaceport America supporters have been pushing for was introduced. Virgin Galactic has been trying to convince the Legislature for two years to pass what’s called an informed consent law that would exempt the company’s suppliers from lawsuits if something were to go wrong.

This year, the company has made a big push to garner public support. A bill called the Space Flight Informed Consent Act was introduced Tuesday by Sen. Mary Kay Papen. Virgin is the anchor tenant at the $210 million facility in southern New Mexico. Virgin Galactic officials could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. Company president and CEO George Whitesides previously said the company would not renege on the deal it signed with the state to be the anchor tenant at the site. (1/17)

Three Held for Trespassing Into Indian Space Center (Source: Times of India)
A 52-year-old man was arrested for trespassing into the high security Liquid Propulsion Systems center of ISRO in the garb of a laborer on Wednesday. The man's son in law who was working in the center as a welder and a labor contractor who helped the man enter there were also arrested. Police have booked the three under several counts including trespassing, forgery and Official secrets Act. The man claimed that he entered the center out of curiousity. (1/17)

Report Incorrect, NASA Has No Plans to Abandon LC-39A (Source: America Space)
A recent article which stated that NASA’s famous Launch Complex-39A is poised to be abandoned – is not correct. AmericaSpace spoke to officials in charge of the location that men first set forth to explore another world. Rather the space agency is looking at having commercial space companies launch their rockets and spacecraft from LC-39A. One of the more prominent potential customers is none other than SpaceX. (1/17)

Mathematical Breakthrough Sets Rules for Teleportation (Source: Space Daily)
Einstein famously loathed the theory of quantum entanglement, dismissing it as "spooky action at a distance". But entanglement has since been proven to be a very real feature of our universe, and one that has extraordinary potential to advance all manner of scientific endeavor.

Theoretical physicists have shown that the intense connections generated between particles as established in the quantum law of 'entanglement' may hold the key to eventual teleportation of quantum information. Now, for the first time, researchers have worked out how entanglement could be 'recycled' to increase the efficiency of these connections. The result could conceivably take us a step closer to sci-fi style teleportation in the future, although this research is purely theoretical in nature. (1/17)

Raytheon Wins DARPA Contract for Military Imaging Small Sats (Source: Space Daily)
Raytheon has been awarded a $1.5 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract for phase one of the agency's Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program. During the next nine months, the company will complete the design for small satellites to enhance warfighter situational awareness in the battlespace.

The SeeMe program will provide useful on-demand imagery information directly to the warfighter in the field from a low-cost satellite constellation launched on a schedule that conforms to Department of Defense operational tempos. Raytheon has teamed with Sierra Nevada Corporation, University of Arizona and SRI International to assist with design work and eventually production. (1/17)

ASAP Report Focuses on Commercial Crew Funding, Contracting Risk (Source: Space Politics)
Late last week NASA released the annual report by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), highlighting the key safety-related issues the independent panel sees with the space agency’s programs. This year’s report highlights in particular NASA’s commercial crew efforts, worrying that a lack of funding and non-traditional contracting mechanisms could increase risks to crews that will fly on these vehicles.

“Of all of the topics reviewed by the ASAP this year, the one receiving the most time and attention was unquestionably the Commercial Crew Program (CCP),” ASAP noted in its report, calling attention to it also in cover letters that accompanied the report to the NASA Administrator, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate. ASAP expressed concern about the use of Space Act Agreements, as it has in the past, although the panel agreed with NASA’s use of fixed-price contracts for the first phase of the certification process.

However, ASAP argued that the second, and much larger, phase of the certification process should be done with more conventional cost-plus contracts than fixed-price ones, as “we believe both schedule and safety would be at risk in a fixed-price environment because of the relative inability to defer or apply resources to problem areas that will inevitably develop.” Click here. (1/17)

Glitch Stalls Robotic Refueling Experiment in Space (Source: Space.com)
A software glitch has stalled an International Space Station experiment to test the ability of robots to refuel and repair satellites in orbit. The issue arose during NASA's latest round of field tests for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), which began Monday (Jan. 14) and was expected to last about 10 days. The demonstration calls for using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm and its attached Dextre robot to simulate refueling a satellite in space. (1/16)

Another Commercial Asteroid Venture Coming Soon (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Space advocate and entrepreneur Rick Tumlinson is involved in Deepspaceindustries.com. Deep Space Industries Inc. will launch the site and provide more details on January 22, 2013. Click here. (1/10)

'Planetary Parks' Could Protect Space Wilderness (Source: Space.com)
It's a wilderness out there in outer space. And as robotic surrogates set the stage for human footprints on Mars and other planetary bodies, just how much respect for other worlds should we have? One suggested response would establish planetary parks for the solar system, an answer that ties together space science and exploration, ethics, law, policy, diplomacy and communications.

The parks would be organized under a single management system, with clear regulations for protection and use. But just what are the benefits of establishing a park system on target planets and moons before starting an intense program of exploration, and exploitation, of bodies in our solar system?

A system of planetary parks fits with the ideas of such groups as the Committee on Space Research, advocates of the proposal note. COSPAR's long list of agenda items includes an active discussion of planetary protection. COSPAR's objectives are to promote, on an international level, scientific research in space, with emphasis on the exchange of results, information and opinions. The organization also aims to provide a forum, open to all scientists, for the discussion of problems that may affect scientific space research. (1/17)

NYC Museum Launches New Space Shuttle Enterprise Exhibit (Source: Space.com)
A floating Manhattan museum unveiled a temporary new exhibition devoted to the space shuttle Enterprise today (Jan. 17) while the prototype orbiter — NASA's first shuttle — is being restored after a devastating storm. Called "Space Shuttle Enterprise: A Pioneer," the exhibition debuted inside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in response to the closure of the Enterprise pavilion after Hurricane Sandy, displays some never-before-seen artifacts from the space shuttle's history. The shuttle Enterprise itself is parked on the flight deck of the Intrepid, which is a retired World War II aircraft carrier. (1/17)

NASA Executive, UCF Grad Named FSI Director (Source: UCF)
A veteran NASA administrator, most recently director of the John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, has been named director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Space Institute. Ramon “Ray” Lugo III is taking over as the space institute begins a new era of positioning Florida and the nation to be leaders in the space industry. “It’s a very exciting time to be in the business of space and I’m especially excited to be returning to the place where I discovered my passion for the field,” said Lugo, who received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at UCF in 1979.

Lugo’s space career started at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 1975 when he was a cooperative education student while attending UCF. Lugo’s specialty at Kennedy Space Center was managing, directing and evaluating the process of all ongoing launch operations and activities including Expandable Launch Vehicles engineering and analysis, payload integration, launch site support and launch campaigns.

The Florida Space Institute is part of a broad statewide partnership begun 22 years ago to support Florida’s involvement in the burgeoning field of space exploration. The end of the space shuttle program in 2011 and the subsequent debate over America’s future involvement in space has coincided with recent changes at FSI. (1/17)

NASA To Test Bigelow Expandable Module On Space Station (Source: SpaceRef)
A newly planned addition to the International Space Station will use the orbiting laboratory to test Bigelow Aerospace's expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration. The BEAM is scheduled to launch aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station contracted by NASA, currently planned for 2015.

Following the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying the BEAM to the station, astronauts will use the station's robotic arm to install the module on the aft port of the Tranquility node. After the module is berthed to the Tranquility node, the station crew will activate a pressurization system to expand the structure to its full size using air stored within the packed module.

During the two-year test period, station crew members and ground-based engineers will gather performance data on the module, including its structural integrity and leak rate. An assortment of instruments embedded within module also will provide important insights on its response to the space environment. This includes radiation and temperature changes compared with traditional aluminum modules. (1/16)

House Passes Hurricane Sandy Supplemental With NASA Funds Intact (Source: Space Policy Online)
The House passed a FY2013 supplemental appropriations act for the victims of Hurricane Sandy (H.R. 152), including $15 million to cover damages to NASA facilities at Wallops Flight Facility and Cape Canaveral. How to deal with the damage from Hurricane Sandy was a hard-fought issue two weeks ago as the 112th Congress ended. The Senate passed a $60.4 billion disaster relief bill, but House Speaker John Boehner refused to bring the bill to the floor.  Instead, the House passed a $9.7 billion bill strictly to keep the National Flood Insurance Program solvent.

Today, the House dealt with the rest of the disaster relief proposal. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced a $17 billion bill for immediate assistance, to which Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) offered a $33.7 billion amendment for additional aid, bringing the total (along with the previously passed $9.6 billion) very close to the Senate's $60.4 billion mark. The Senate acted during the 112th Congress, however, so it must consider the legislation anew.

The Frelinghuysen amendment, which includes the $15 million for NASA, was debated throughout the afternoon and early evening, with numerous amendments proposed, most of which were rejected. No amendments to delete the NASA funds were raised. Action now returns to the Senate, which is in recess until next week. (1/16)

Bigelow a "Student of UFOs" (Source: New York Times)
Robert Bigelow's space stations are not his only interest in space. “I’ve been a researcher and student of U.F.O.’s for many, many years,” Mr. Bigelow said. “Anybody that does research, if people bother to do quality research, come away absolutely convinced. You don’t have to have personal encounters.” He added: “People have been killed. People have been hurt. It’s more than observational kind of data.” Other views that run counter to mainstream science include a belief in the power of prayer and a disbelief in the Big Bang theory. (1/16)

Pack a Bag for the Stars: A Shopping List for Deep Space? (Source: America Space)
It is a fact of human nature that our imagination often outruns the reality that is. For decades, science fiction writers and futurists alike have written about brick moons and manned projectiles shot out of gigantic cannons and torus-shaped space colonies and vast starships with exotic propulsion sources, but the reality of our species’ technological handicap at the dawn of the second decade of the 21st century makes it unlikely that we will see fully-fledged cities on Mars and human expeditions beyond the Solar System in our lifetimes.

Only last week, the White House laughed off a tongue-in-cheek petition to build a real-life Star Wars-type “Death Star” as unrealistic, impractical, and pointless. Yet the humor which the Death Star petition has garnered actually underlines a stark point: that little political support exists for turning us from a spacevisiting civilization into a true spacefaring civilization. “We are still stuck in the 1960s in many ways,” laments the website BuildTheEnterprise.org, “when it comes to putting human beings into space.” Click here. (1/15)

Major NASA Air Pollution Study to Fly Over California (Source: America Space)
A multi-year NASA airborne science mission is on its way to California to help scientists better understand how to measure and forecast air quality globally from space. Two NASA aircraft equipped with scientific instruments will fly over the San Joaquin Valley between Bakersfield and Fresno in January and February to measure air pollution. One aircraft will fly within 1,000 feet of the ground. (1/16)

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases Annual Report (Source: America Space)
NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) has released its 2012 annual report. This report is based on the panel’s 2012 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; center visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making; discussions with NASA management, employees, and contractors; and the panel members’ past experiences. The report highlights issues that could have an impact on safety. Congress established the panel in 1968 after the Apollo 1 fire to provide advice and make recommendations to the NASA administrator on safety matters. Click here. (1/16)

Space Spending Pays Off in Earth-Bound Products, Processes (Source: WRAL)
One question I frequently get is about the millions spent sending astronauts into orbit and robots to other planets. Might that money be better spent here on the ground? The short answer is, that it's all spent on the ground. Neither NASA or any other space agency fills rockets with cash and launches them into space. The knowledge gained doesn't leave with the mission either. Research and technologies developed to solve challenges in space are frequently transferred to other uses, often involving small businesses around the country.

For example, aural thermometers are used in hospitals, doctors' offices and maybe even your home using the infrared energy emanating from your eardrum to measure body temperature. This is similar to technique used by astronomers to measure the temperature of stars many light years away. Research into reducing friction on aircraft fuselage and wings was applied to liquids increasing the efficiency of water pumps and air conditioners.

It was also applied by swimsuit manufacturer Arena to create hydrodynamic swimsuits used by Olympic swimmers. It is only fitting that the application return to the water, since researchers took their original inspiration from similar features on sharks. Glasses with plastic lenses resist shattering but they also can be very easy to scratch. Scientists at NASA developed a method to coat space helmet visors. Today most plastic eyeglass lenses are treated with this long lasting protection. The list goes on. Click here. (1/16)

Choosing the Right People to Go To Mars (Source: ESA)
When humans eventually travel to the Red Planet, the voyage will be long and difficult. The simulated Mars500 mission showed that every detail must be planned, including diet and sleep. The findings will also benefit those of us who stay behind. Mars500 locked six ‘marsonauts’ in a simulated spaceship near Moscow, Russia for 520 days, the time it would take to fly to Mars and back plus 30 days spent exploring its surface. During their simulated mission, the crew lived in isolation without fresh food, sunlight or fresh air. Click here. (1/16)

Mojave Spaceport Chief Wins "Navigating Change" Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stuart Witt has been selected to receive the 2013 Antelope Valley Board of Trade Navigating Change Award for his efforts in attracting and retaining business at the nation’s first commercial spaceport during the recent economic recession.

While the nation and the world suffered job losses and economic devastation, two of the largest buildings constructed in the Antelope Valley and Kern County were being built and hundreds of new engineering and technical jobs were created in the emerging commercial space industry based at the air and spaceport.

As a new generation of Mojave-based spacecraft and unmanned air vehicles were being tested in the skies over the Antelope Valley, components for the state’s largest wind energy installation were being unloaded on the airport for transfer to construction sites due to the actions of Witt, his staff, and members of the airport/spaceport’s elected board of directors. (1/16)

White House Petitions Now Need 100,000 Signatures (Source: Daily Caller)
President Barack Obama’s deputies have quadrupled the number of signatures that petitioners on the administration’s “We the People” website must collect to get an official response from the White House, following a series of popular, provocative and disrespectful signature drives by his critics. Some of the petitions sought approval for states to secede after Obama’s re-election, while others called on the White House to disavow executive orders that restrict gun rights, or to deport CNN’s British-born, progressive host Piers Morgan. Editor's Note: Then there's the Death Star petition. (1/16)

Mothership and Her Hedgehogs: New Concept for Exploring Phobos (Source: Space Safety)
Exploring the low gravity environment of small celestial objects has always posed a challenge to researchers. Now, a collaboration among engineers at Stanford, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a new concept. The idea was designed with exploration of the Martian moon Phobos in mind, and uses an autonomous robotic system named the Phobos Surveyor. The results of such a mission could bring humanity a step closer to a human mission to Mars.

This autonomous system relies on synergies between an orbiting mother spaceship and a series of five or six rovers, known as “hedgehogs.” The hedgehogs would work together with the mothership to determine their position on the surface and upload detailed information of the region to the mother craft. Utilizing the transmitted data, the mothership will command the movements of the hedgehogs and be responsible for large scale data collection such as mapping, as well as link back to researchers on Earth. These hedgehogs are hopping rovers with a special design that allows them to cover a greater area than their conventional counterparts. (1/16)

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