February 12, 2013

Private Sector Eyes Deep-Space Business After ISS (Source: Aviation Week)
Perhaps as much as NASA's higher-profile commercial crew and cargo initiatives, smaller projects such as UTC Aerospace Systems' Sabatier Reactor System (SRS) aboard the International Space Station are helping to open new business vistas in space for the private sector. On a typical day, the reactor, positioned in the station's Tranquility module with other Environmental Control and Life Support System hardware, combines waste hydrogen from the Oxygen Generating System with CO2 from the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly to produce up to three liters of potable water.

While SRS water is not essential to station operations, it does lessen resupply requirements along with the station's more complex water recovery system that recycles urine and condensate into drinkable water. Additionally, the SRS agreement is serving as a pathfinder for more commercially compatible agreements with NanoRacks; Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc.; and Bigelow Aerospace's recently announced plans to test an inflatable activity module on the station.

NASA also is considering a competitive procurement for the common berthing mechanism that will secure the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to the station. Part of the success of the SRS arrangement can be attributed to Hamilton's long history of space life-support system work for NASA, including the ISS generator that produces oxygen for the air supply from water. It is also due to the company's willingness to place its own finances at risk. (2/12)

Iran Wants Space Ties with Russia (Source: RIA Novosti)
Iran intends to develop space cooperation with Russia, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday. "We hope that cooperation with Russia will help to further our achievements in this area,” Salehi said after a meeting of the Russian-Iranian inter-governmental commission. Salehi praised Iran as the only country “out of 57 Islamic states that produces and launches satellites.” (2/12)

Why You’re Not Working on an Asteroid Shield (Source: Washington Post)
Seriously, why aren’t all of America’s best and brightest working feverishly to keep us from being struck by an asteroid that could wipe a city (or more) from the face of the Earth? A cure for cancer, balancing the nation’s federal budget, and eliminating world hunger would all be rendered moot if an asteroid pulverized the planet. Click here. (2/12)

Ultrafast Stars Discovered Racing Through Milky Way (Source: Space.com)
Six speedy stars rocketing through space at up to 2 million miles per hour were likely ejected from the giant black hole at the Milky Way's heart, astronomers say. They represent the first known "hypervelocity stars" with masses similar to that of our sun. The discovery, unveiled last month, could shed light on how stars form in the dust-shrouded core of our home galaxy. (2/12)

ILS Completes Proton Failure Investigation (Source: ILS)
The International Launch Servies (ILS) Failure Review Oversight Board (FROB) has concluded its review into the December 8, 2012 anomaly of the Yamal 402 Proton launch. The FROB agreed with the findings of a Russian investigation that the most probable root cause was a combination of adverse conditions which affected the operation of the Breeze M main engine during the startup of the 3rd burn causing damage to a bearing on the oxidizer side of the turbo pump. (2/12)

"Mohawk Guy" Has Prime Seat at State of the Union Address (Source: Reuters)
Spike-haired Bobak Ferdowsi, the NASA flight engineer popularly known as the "Mohawk Guy," is boldly going where few space geeks have gone before. Veronica McGregor, a spokeswoman for the U.S. space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, confirmed on Tuesday that Ferdowsi had been invited to join first lady Michelle Obama to watch the president's annual State of the Union address to Congress. He will be there among other Americans that President Barack Obama wants to highlight on Tuesday night, McGregor said. (2/12)

Enter the Mars Generation (Source: Huffington Post)
We don't know what year humans will set foot on Mars. We don't know what nationality will be first to stand beside their flag on the Martian surface. We can't even be certain how we will get there. However, we do know that it is highly likely that the generation that will first step foot on Mars is already with us. Assuming these individuals are still of school age today, "The Mars Generation" will have a much different perspective of the world than previous generations. Click here. (2/12)

Two Launches Successfully Put Payloads Into Orbit (Source: Flight Global)
A Soyuz launch vehicle has successfully launched a Progress resupply capsule on a path to the International Space Station (ISS). It is the 50th Progress capsule launched to the ISS. The 11 February launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, puts the Progress on a relatively direct path to the ISS, previously flown by only one other resupply mission. Normal flight paths require two to three days to rendezvous with the ISS.

The Progress will dock with around 1, 360kg (3,000lb) of spare parts, in addition to water, thruster propellant and oxygen. Eventually, after being offloaded, Progress will be refilled with waste, decouple from the ISS and left to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Three additional Progress flights are planned in 2013.

In another 11 February launch, an Atlas V has sent the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) into orbit from Vandenberg AFB, California. One upper-stage engine firing remains as of the time of writing, though all is reportedly successful to this point. The Atlas flew in 401 configuration, with a 4m payload fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single RL-10 engine in the Centaur upper stage, indicating a relatively light payload. (2/12)

Space As A Creative Muse (Source: Fast Company)
In space, every gram of weight, every liter of oxygen, and every movement of the body has massive consequences. Which makes it no place for art, you’d think. But as Free Enterprise: The Art of Citizen Space Exploration, a new show at University of California–Riverside portends, space travel has proved incredibly fertile ground for artists since the 1960s. And with the advent of civilian space travel, as curator Tyler Stallings emphasizes, we’re only going to see more of it. Click here. (2/12)

NASA Administrator Sees SpaceX Site at VAFB (Source: Lompoc Record)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. dropped by the site of future launches for some of his agency’s satellites at Vandenberg Air Force Base, offering words of appreciation to the SpaceX staff and peeking at Falcon rocket facilities. Bolden visited SpaceX's facility Monday afternoon on South Base, where the firm’s first Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg is planned for June 18 to carry a Canadian spacecraft to orbit.

In recent years, SpaceX has remodeled Space Launch Complex-4 for the Falcon rocket, removing an old Titan 4 rocket gantry and building a huge new hangar and other features. The launch of the Jason-3 satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in 2015 will be the first NASA science mission on a SpaceX booster. Jason-3 will study ocean surface topography. (2/12)

NASA Set for New Round Of J-2X Testing at Stennis Space Center (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA's progress toward a return to deep space missions continues with a new round of upcoming tests on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine, which will help power the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) to new destinations in the solar system. Beginning this month, engineers will conduct a series of tests on the second J-2X development engine, designated number 10002, on the A-2 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Once the series is completed, the engine will be transferred to the A-1 Test Stand to undergo a series of gimbal, or pivot, tests for the first time. (2/11)

The Committee to Save the Planet: Who Watches the Asteroids? (Source: TIME)
This week, a hunk of space rock half the size of a football field will pass historically close to us, between Earth and our communication satellites. Scientists are certain the asteroid, dubbed 2012 DA14, will not hit Earth. If it did, the resulting explosion would equal around 180 Hiroshima atom bombs.

Asteroids have played an immense role in the history of the earth. They may have seeded the earth with organic elements; they wiped out the dinosaurs (which eventually made evolutionary room for humankind); they may even have brought water to the planet. While nothing is guaranteed, a collision with something like 2012 DA14 isn’t uncommon. Space is like a three-dimensional pool table, with hunks of rock, ice and metal zipping around us all the time. Half a million objects are estimated to inhabit near earth’s orbit alone.

Scientists can tell us, with increasing degrees of certainty, whether an object will hit the planet tomorrow, or, in 200 years. They can even predict whether it will land in the ocean or hit New York. But they can’t do much about it – yet. If they were to identify an incoming civilization-ender 200 years out, what do we owe future generations in terms of R and D to save the planet? And what do the nations owe each other if, say, an incoming object is aimed at a a particular nation? (2/12)

Embry-Riddle Kicks Off Engineers Week with NASA JPL Lecture (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle will kick off National Engineers Week with a keynote address by Dr. Fred Hadaegh, associate chief technologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His talk, titled “The Recent Landing on Mars and Seven Minutes of Terror,” will take the audience through all phases of the Curiosity rover’s long journey to the red planet, in particular the last minutes of the entry, descent and landing stage.
He will speak Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Willie Miller Instructional Center auditorium on Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus. Sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Honors Program, the event is free and open to the public. For two decades Hadaegh supervised the Guidance & Control Analysis Group at JPL, which leads research in guidance, estimation and control theory, and develops algorithms and software for planetary science and astrophysics missions such as Mars Curiosity. (2/12)

Florida Transportation Agency Seeks $20 Million for Space Infrastructure (Source: Sunshine State News)
Florida will unleash its largest ever nonfederal-stimulus transportation budget later this week, Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said. The reason for the increased focus on transportation is to create short-term construction jobs and lay the foundation to attract businesses to Florida, Prasad said.

Governor Scott’s proposal for transportation included $3.6 billion for highway construction, $144 million for county transportation projects, $288 million for seaports, $169 million for aviation, and $20 million for Space Florida. Bentina Terry of the Florida Chamber Foundation said that Florida has a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to become a global transit hub. (2/12)

Spaceports, Spaceports, Everywhere a Spaceport (But Very Little to Launch) (Source: Parabolic Arc)
For a country that had a mere 13 orbital launches last year and a handful of suborbital ones, the United States certainly has an embarrassments of riches in terms of places from which to launch. The nation has 18 launch sites and spaceports in eight states and one foreign country (Marshall Islands). That doesn’t include Sea Launch, a company that launches from an ocean platform in international waters using a U.S. based platform.

And if that wasn’t already enough, there are 10 more proposed facilities that are under consideration or being actively pursued by different entities. So, whenever companies can actually start increasing the rates for orbital and suborbital flights, the country’s ready to accommodate it. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of underutilized infrastructure.

The 18 launch sites are a little misleading because of the co-location of government and commercial launch facilities. For example, the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are all located in one area. The same goes for Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, and Vandenberg Air Force Base and the California Spaceport in the Golden State. Click here. (2/12)

No comments: