January 23, 2013

AMF Plans Columbia Ceremony on Feb. 1 (Source: AMF)
On Friday February 1, 2013, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) will conduct a ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the Columbia accident. During the ceremony, we will honor the crew of Columbia as well as all the astronauts who have sacrificed their lives for the nation and the space program. The ceremony will take place at the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 10:00 a.m. (1/23)

NSS Takes to Kickstarter for Movie Project (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society wants to provide a truly inspiring and informative look at the future of space development. Using Kickstarter, we are raising funds to create a high quality video presentation that shows why space exploration and development are needed, how they will greatly benefit us all, and why the time to get involved is right now.

This is not a history lesson. This is an inspiring view of the future. We've gathered a truly stellar team of creative experts who have agreed to bring our video to life, but first we need your support to make it happen. We invite you to look over the all-star team of professionals who have agreed to work with NSS on this project. They have the experience to create a great production; one that will entertain and inspire. Click here. (1/23)

New Asteroid Mining Company Aims to Manufacture Products in Space (Source: WIRED)
A new private company called Deep Space Industries announced today that it intends to send a fleet of small spacecraft to near-Earth asteroids with the aim of mining resources and turning them into products using space-based 3-D printers. Last year was thick with audacious private spaceflight company unveilings, including the announcement from Planetary Resources, Inc. of their plans to mine relatively valuable platinum group metals from asteroids. With the formation of Deep Space Industries, it seems that 2013 could see a new crop of private space companies with lofty goals.

“We are about prospecting, exploring, harvesting, extracting, and manufacturing based on the resources of space,” said Rick Tumlinson, founder and chairman of DSI. The company wants to mass produce manufactured goods from bulk asteroid material. All this industry will take place in space and the company hopes to eventually create complex communications satellites and solar power stations in orbit.

Further down the line, DSI wants to supply products, fuel and parts for deeper space ventures, such as orbiting hotels and manned Mars missions. But bringing all these plans from ideas on paper into actual physical reality will require overcoming many obstacles. The company has an aggressive launch schedule, particularly if it intends to get its first spacecraft up and flying by 2015. (1/22)

8th-Century Tree Rings Hint at Close-Range Space Blast (Source: New Scientist)
A blast of radiation that hit Earth circa AD 770 may have been caused not by a solar flare but by the energetic debris from the collision of two nearby neutron stars. Last year, Fusa Miyake at Nagoya University, Japan, and colleagues discovered that two Japanese cedar trees had unexpectedly high levels of carbon-14 in tree rings formed between 774 and 775. Normally levels of the isotope differ by just 0.05 percent annually, but Miyake found a 1.2 percent leap in those years that could only have been caused by extremely high-energy cosmic rays hitting the Earth.

Similar rises in carbon-14 have been found in American and European trees from the same era, while Antarctic ice cores from 775 also have increases in beryllium-10, another isotope caused by cosmic rays. There is nothing similar anywhere else in around 3000 years of tree ring records, leading Miyake to suggest a massive solar flare as the cause. (1/22)

UK Space Agency Unveils New Chief (Source: BBC)
The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has promoted its director of space science into the position of chief executive. Dr David Parker takes the top job at a time when British orbital activity is experiencing a great renaissance. The UK government has identified space as one of the key sectors to help pull the economy out of the doldrums. British space companies currently earn some £9bn a year, employing nearly 30,000 staff. They experienced positive growth right through the recession. (1/22)

Alien Auroras May Light Up Exoplanet Night Skies (Source: Space.com)
Scientists have kept a close watch on the dazzling northern lights on Earth and other planets in our solar system, but now they have the chance to explore the auroras of alien planets orbiting distant stars, a new study suggests. Auroras on Earth occur when charged particles from the sun are funneled to the planet's poles and interact with the upper atmosphere, sparking spectacular light shows. Similar processes have been observed on other planets in the solar system, with Jupiter's auroras more than 100 times brighter than those on Earth, scientists said. (1/21)

Former NASA Worker Carves Wooden Shuttles (Source: WAFF)
A former Marshall Space Flight Center employee is combining his love of NASA and his passion for woodworking to create a unique piece of art. It's a labor of love in the shape of a shuttle. "I focus mainly on the external tank, and the three main boosters, which is what we managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center," said Scott "Shuttleman" Phillips. Phillips has been creating these wooden wonders for years. (1/21)

Legislative Leaders in New Mexico Reach Agreement on Spaceport Bill (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Democratic leaders in the state Legislature announced an agreement Tuesday for support of a bill to would provide limited immunity from lawsuits for those who supply parts used at Spaceport America. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, announced that representatives from Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association have reached an agreement that resolves their differences regarding liability issues.

Without the legislation, proponents argued that Virgin Galactic and potential occupants of the spaceport would favor other states with limited-liability laws. The New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association expressed concern that limiting liability would protect manufacturers who produced substandard parts without fear of consequences. More than $200 million has already been invested in the facility located near Truth or Consequences. (1/22)

Deep Space Industries' Asteroid Ambitions Face Financial Challenges (Source: NBC)
Deep Space Industries' backers say that their newly revealed plan to seek out and dig into near-Earth asteroids has already attracted interest and investors — but they also admit they're looking for much more. "We have some investors on board," the company's CEO, David Gump, told journalists during Tuesday's briefing at California's Santa Monica Museum of Flying, "and one reason for having this press conference is to become findable by additional investors."

The event gave Gump and his partners a chance to lay out their vision for new in-space industries, ranging from asteroid reconnaissance to solar-power satellites and space settlement. However, they provided few details about their financial backers or their customers. One potential customer is NASA, which might be interested in purchasing the data gathered by Deep Space's asteroid-hunting probes. NASA struck just such a data-purchase plan with some of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, which is aimed at encouraging the development of private-sector moon rovers.

Deep Space's development plan calls for launching three of its Cubesat-based reconnaissance satellites, known as FireFlies, as piggyback payloads on a yet-to-be-determined launch vehicle in 2015. Those 25-kilogram spacecraft would go on six-month, one-way missions to scout out near-Earth asteroids. In 2016, a 32-kilogram DragonFly probe would take on the first three- to four-year mission to bring up to 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of asteroid samples back to Earth. Click here. (1/22)

Pentagon Researches New Life for Dead Satellites (Source: AP)
Call it space grave robbery for a cause: Imagine scavenging defunct communication satellites for their valuable parts and recycling them to build brand new ones for cheap. It's the latest pet project from the Pentagon's research wing known for its quirky and sometimes out-there ideas. DARPA is spending $180 million to test technologies that could make this possible.

When satellites retire, certain parts — such as antennas and solar panels — often still work. There's currently no routine effort to salvage and reuse satellite parts once they're launched into space. DARPA thinks it can save money by repurposing in orbit. A key test will come in 2016 when it launches a demonstration mission that seeks to breathe new life to an antenna from a yet-to-be-determined decommissioned satellite. DARPA has identified about 140 retired satellites that it can choose from for its first test. (1/22)

Despite Smaller Budget, Air Force Seeks to Protect Satellites (Source: USAF)
Despite tremendous budget uncertainty and a shrinking bottom line, the commander of the Air Force Space Command said that he will do his best to protect all of the Air Force's satellite constellations. Air Force Gen. William L. Shelton called the range of U.S. satellites a "foundational" capability. "It doesn't matter what size the United States military becomes, we count on space and cyber capabilities to underpin the force, to enable the way we fight today, to give us the capabilities we need globally," the general said.

"You can't say, 'Well, I'll just have one less GPS satellite or one less advanced [extremely high frequency] satellite or one less [space-based radar] satellite,'" he added. "You can't create holes in the constellation and still have global capability." Shelton said that despite fiscal uncertainty, Air Force Space Command seeks to answer growing threats from nations such as North Korea and China in the space domain and modify its satellite architecture in concert with emerging threats. (1/22)

CU-Boulder's Sun-Gazing Satellite, Designed to Last 5 Years, Turns 10 (Source: CU-Boulder)
When a sun-gazing NASA satellite designed and built by the University of Colorado Boulder launched into space on Jan. 25, 2003, solar storms were raging. A decade later, the four instruments onboard the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, have given scientists an unprecedented look at some of the most intense solar eruptions ever witnessed — including the notorious Halloween storms in October and November 2003 — as well as the anomalously quiet solar minimum that hushed the sun’s surface beginning in 2008 and, now, a new solar maximum that appears to be the least active in a century.

The data generated by SORCE’s instruments, which were originally designed to operate for just five years, are downloaded twice a day with the help of CU-Boulder undergraduates working at LASP mission control. Scientists are now using that data to better understand how energy from the sun affects Earth’s climate. While human-produced greenhouse gases have been the dominant driver of climate change over the last several decades, the activity of the sun can either enhance or offset the resulting global warming. (1/22)

Columbia 10-Year Memorial Planned at KSC Visitor Complex (Source: CFnews13)
Feb. 1, 2013, will mark a somber anniversary in Central Florida and U.S. history: 10 years since space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board. A ceremony has been planned to honor the crew of STS-107, as well as all of those who have sacrificed their lives for America's space program. The memorial ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Space Mirror Memorial at the KSC Visitor Complex. (1/22)

Ball Aerospace Hires Facktor Lepore to Lead Washington Operations (Source: Ball)
Ball Aerospace & Technologies has appointed Debra Facktor Lepore to the newly created position of vice president and general manager of Washington Operations. Effective January 15, Lepore will lead Ball’s Washington operations, corporate communications and strategic planning, reporting to President and CEO, David L. Taylor. (1/22)

Chris Hadfield Drops Puck from Space at Maple Leafs Home Opener (Source: CSA)
Tonight's Toronto Maple Leafs opening game started with a bang when Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Chris Hadfield, soaring 400 kilometres overhead, dropped the puck from the International Space Station. A video of the puck drop will be available here. (1/22)

Key Parts of North Korean Rocket Built Without Foreign Help (Source: Yonhap)
North Korea is presumed to have independently built most key parts of its long-range rocket launched last month, with the exception of some commercially available materials imported from overseas, experts in Seoul said Monday. After analyzing the debris from the rocket's first stage retrieved from waters off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula, South Korean experts concluded that Pyongyang in fact tested its inter-continental ballistic missile capable of flying as far as 10,000 kilometers, further enhancing its missile capacity. (1/21)

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