January 6, 2013

Cotton Featured at First Space Club Luncheon for 2013 (Source: NSCFL)
Brigadier General Anthony Cotton, commander of the 45th Space Wing, will be the featured speaker at a Jan. 8 luncheon sponsored by the Florida Committee of the National Space Club. Cotton will provide an update on the 45th Space Wing and the Eastern Range, and will assist the Space Club's presentation of its Forrest McCartney National Defense Space Award. The event is sold out. Click here.

Also, the Space Club continues to accept nominations for its annual Kurt Debus Award, for significant contributions to the advancement, awareness, and improvement of aerospace in Florida. Click here for information. (1/6)

Virgin Galactic Hopes To Use Spaceports Worldwide (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
The suborbital space tourism industry is still in its infancy, and Virgin Galactic has not yet moved into the state-financed Spaceport America, but there is already talk of the company using a constellation of such launch sites around the globe. During a recent talk in Florida, aviation innovator Burt Rutan, the man who developed the prototypes for Virgin Galactic’s two-part launch system, said the company’s founder Sir Richard Branson had plans to use spaceports in as many as six different countries.

Branson’s “plan is to put spaceports in four, five or six different countries,” Rutan said in a talk to the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, Fla., at the University of North Florida at the end of November. “He (Branson) wants to do one up to where you can let people see the Northern Lights.” To date, Virgin Galactic has formally talked about plans for two other spaceports, along with the primary base of operations at Spaceport America about 24 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences.

Rutan’s Northern Lights comment referred to a 2008 announcement about Virgin Galactic’s plan to book suborbital flights from a Swedish spaceport tied to the Esrange Space Center. Last spring, Virgin Galactic announced plans to build another spaceport, in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with the project led by Steve Landeene, a former New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director who oversaw the start of the project’s construction until his departure in 2010. (1/6)

Indian Mars Mission Scaled Down, Fewer Experiment Payloads (Source: Indian Express)
India's bid to explore Mars will be a scaled down affair with the space agency flying experimental payload of less than 15 kg as against 25kg planned originally. The Mars Orbiter Mission, expected to be launched in mid-October this year, will carry five experimental payloads with a total weight of 14.49 kg. The Methane Sensor for Mars, which will be capable of scanning the entire Martian disc within six minutes, will weigh 3.59 kg, it was revealed at a presentation made by planetary scientists at the 10th Indian Science Congress. (1/6)

Space Task Group Created Standards for Space (Source: Alamogordo Daily News)
The mission that would send Alan Shepard, America's first man into space, was only a year-and-a-half away when, on Jan. 1, 1960, NASA brought the Space Task Group under its auspices. "The Space Task Group was a working group of engineers based at Langley Research Center," created in 1958 and "tasked with superintending America's manned space-flight program."

"The possibility of manned spaceflight was one of several programs that the new space agency (NASA) began to address in 1958," said history.nasa.gov. "The Space Task Group had a huge task ahead." Robert Gilruth headed the STG. According to his obituary at nasa.gov, members were instrumental in creating "all the basic principles of Project Mercury," including "the conical, blunt-ended capsule, qualifications for astronauts, launch criteria and mission operation procedures." Click here. (1/5)

NASA Needs a Deflector Shield (Source: Guardian)
We don’t need to expose NASA astronauts to cosmic rays. They’re already fantastic enough. Since the late ’50s,  NASA doctors and scientists have been concerned about our astronauts’ exposure to radiation once out of the Earth’s protection. Now we know that exposure to cosmic rays can lead not just to cancer and to cataracts, but to  Alzheimer’s disease. Nor is there any material that can workably block those rays. It’s clear that any trip to deep space that will last longer than a few days or a week needs what the Starships have: a deflector shield.

Solar flares are dangerous enough. We know that the Apollo astronauts were extremely fortunate in the timing of their missions. A massive solar flare erupted just before the Apollo 17 mission that, had it occurred while astronauts were out and about collecting moon rock samples, would have killed them instantly, not at some later point in life. But ordinary shielding provides good protection against solar radiation, and NASA has experience integrating specially reinforced chambers into its spacecraft in case of solar flares. It also helped that the Apollo missions were relatively short. Click here. (1/5)

Editorial: Cautious Optimism Required for Commercial Space in 2013 (Source: America Space)
During the past few years, private space companies have made leaps and bounds toward matching the accomplishments of what only nations had accomplished prior. If this trend holds, these firms could make even greater strides in the coming year. However, if history teaches us anything, it is that space is a very risky business, and today’s champion is filing for bankruptcy tomorrow. So, what does 2013 possibly hold for NewSpace? Click here. (1/6)

GLXP News: ARCA to Test Parachutes for ExoMars Landing (Source: Parabolic Arc)
ARCA and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a $1.1 million contract for the ExoMars, High Altitude Drop Test – Balloon Flight Services Program (HADT-BFS). During the contract, ARCA will contribute to the 2016 ExoMars spacecraft program by testing its parachutes, that will allow it to safely land on Mars.

The cooperation decision was taken after preliminary meetings between ARCA and ESA. On these meetings, the European Space Agency presented the program’s requirements while ARCA responded to these requirements by its own technical capabilities and expertise. ARCA will build two large high altitude balloons and two testing vehicles weighting more than half a tone each. The vehicle, named the DTV, or Drop Test Vehicle, will be launched from 30 km altitude, over the Black Sea.

The vehicle will fall until it will reach a speed up to 0.8 Mach. At this transonic speed, the DTV will deploy the parachutes to test them in flight, in the simulated Martian atmospheric conditions. The flight data will be transmitted from the DTV to the ARCA’s Flight Command and Control Center. (1/6)

Station Commander Connects With Us on Earth Like No Other (Source: Florida Today)
Chris Hadfield is really sharing his tour of the International Space Station with those of us on Earth. He’s not the first space station crew member to use the social media site Twitter to talk about life in the orbiting space lab or to share photographs, but Hadfield’s updates are making me feel like I’m getting a tour of the space station like no other.

The Canadian explorer, the first from his country to command a spaceship, is sending back pictures and sharing experiences that really open a window into what it’s like for the men and women to live, work and play aboard the international station. The images capture the tight quarters, with storage containers and bags strapped and tethered here and there on the “walls” (as you might recall, there’s really no such thing as a floor or ceiling in a microgravity environment).

Hadfield has shared his views inside the station and out the windows in a way that brings space to the masses. It’s worth checking out if you have the time, and you can do it whether you have an account with Twitter [or Reddit] or not. Just go to twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield or Google the words “Twitter” and “Hadfield,” and you’ll find his stream of short updates and his photographs. (1/6)

Close Shave Ahead For Near-Earth Asteroid (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth -- much, much closer than the moon -- on Feb. 15. Its path won't lead to a collision with Earth but it will pass close to a ring of orbiting communications satellites. Click here. (1/6)

Scientists Losing Hope of Reviving French Telescope (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Scientists are losing optimism in the recovery of a French planet-hunting space telescope that suddenly stopped producing science data in November. The CoRoT mission's science instrument, comprised of a 10.6-inch telescope and a wide-field visible camera, stopped returning data Nov. 2. Engineers analyzing the problem blame the anomaly on a radiation-triggered disruption in communication between the instrument and the spacecraft's main computer.

Attempts to restart the instrument have been unsuccessful, according to Annie Baglin, CoRoT principal investigator from the Paris Observatory. Baglin told Spaceflight Now the problem is likely in the instrument. The spacecraft is functioning normally as it orbits more than 550 miles above Earth. (1/4)

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