February 2, 2013

FSDC Meeting Focuses on Space Economic Development (Source: FSDC)
A group of 20 members and non-members attended Saturday's Florida Space Development Council meeting in Cocoa Beach to hear Rob Salonen discuss local and state incentive and recruitment programs for growing the area's space-related economy. Salonen described how the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast works with agencies like Space Florida and Enterprise Florida, and how other states are competing with Florida to attract space-related companies.

FSDC plans to host more "Space Locals" discussions in the near future, with guests focusing on the Air Force's weather and lightning safety programs at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Space Florida's efforts to establish a new launch site at "Shiloh" property north of the Shuttle launch complex, and the new Deep Space Industries (DSI) venture which includes an FSDC member among its directors. Click here for FSDC information.

Saturday's meeting also included a discussion of FSDC's plans for state-level space policy advocacy, including the development of a list of space policy issues that will be promoted by FSDC in Tallahassee during the upcoming Legislative Session. Click here to see the draft list. (2/2)

Print Me a Condo on the Moon! (Source: Discovery)
There have been many plans — some good, some bad, some silly — to build the first manned base on the moon, but many have two key drawbacks: cost and weight. To launch any habitat from Earth to the moon (and, indeed, land it safely on the lunar surface) is costly, therefore novel ideas for habitat construction are needed. Wouldn’t it be great if we could build a lunar base from material mined in-situ (i.e., moon rock and regolith)? Click here. (2/2)

Commercial Space Travel Takes Flight at Stanford (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
If all goes well, private entrepreneurs will launch a vibrant new space industry into lofty heights -- replacing the space shuttle, lowering the cost of reaching orbit, creating a space tourism industry, mining asteroids, and even exploring Mars. Engineers, economists, future astronauts and top Obama Administration officials gathered at Stanford at a "Space Entrepreneurship" conference, hoping to kindle a new vision for space through privatized spaceflight.

"We are placing our bets on American industry," said Lori Garver, deputy administrator for NASA. "Cargo flights under way are developing the capability of launching people to space from the U.S. on privately owned and operated rockets over the next three years." Added FAA's George Nield: "In the next few years, we will see multiple companies on a regular and frequent basis completing suborbital human space flight."

President Obama has proposed a sweeping upheaval of NASA's human spaceflight program, first outlined in his 2011 budget request: canceling the current program that would send astronauts back to the oon and investing in commercial companies to provide transportation to orbit. Rather than operate its own shuttles, NASA would buy space for its astronauts on commercial "space taxis." NASA would shift its focus to unmanned exploration of the mysteries of deep outer space. Click here. (2/2)

Glowing Reviews on 'Arseniclife' Spurred NASA's Embrace (Source: USA Today)
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as astronomer Carl Sagan once said. Sagan was talking about UFOs and aliens, but his words now stand as a watchword for skepticism in science. But how do we know when a claim is extraordinary? Say, maybe when the aliens don't arrive from space?

Consider the controversial "arseniclife", short for arsenic-based life, bacteria study. Rather than arriving on a UFO, the microbe was unveiled at NASA headquarters, announced at an "astrobiology" news briefing on Dec. 2, 2010, as "the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic." Click here. (2/2)

North Korea Denounces U.S. for Approval of South Korean Space Rocket (Source: Yonhap)
North Korea again warned Saturday of "toughest retaliation" against the U.S. over the United Nations Security Council's recent resolution condemning its rocket launch, accusing Washington of having double standards for its own space program and South Korea's rocket launch. The accusation came three days after South Korea successfully launched its first space rocket, putting a 100-kilogram science satellite into orbit.

An unidentified spokesman for the North's foreign ministry claimed that the U.S. "supported and defended" the South Korean space rocket, also known as Naro, and drew "worldwide censure and derision," according to an interview carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Saturday. The U.S., along with the rest of the international community, however, welcomed Seoul's successful launch of its space rocket, drawing a clear line between the two Koreas in terms of the transparency of their programs. (2/2)

Top 10 Myths Surrounding NASA's Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster (Source: NBC)
The disastrous loss of the shuttle Columbia is firmly enshrined in human memory and popular culture. But as so often happens, much of what people think they remember has become more myth and garble than actual reality. This is a normal process: Sometimes it helps humanize the inhuman horror by camouflaging events that are too painful to remember as they were.

Sometimes the events need to be fit into wider narratives, to reassure us that they had more than random significance. But for those who want to help themselves, and others around them, to stick to the facts, in tribute to the fallen, I've composed my own list of myths — some harmless, some not so much. This is a continuation of earlier myth-busting work by others. Click here. (2/2)

Johnson: We Must Remain Steadfast on Spaceflight Safety (Source: The Hill)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) wrote: The best way to honor the crewmembers of Columbia is to remember the hard lessons learned from that tragedy. Space travel is risky and is not yet mature. We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security that we know it all, because we don’t.

I will work steadfastly with my fellow members of Congress to ensure that we pursue a meaningful human space flight program for our Nation, one that can continue to inspire Americans to look to the future, yet one that is grounded in NASA’s decades of experience, expertise, and hard-earned lessons. As we pause to mark the 10th anniversary of the loss of Columbia, I hope that we will recommit ourselves to continuing the important work for which its astronauts gave their lives. (2/2)

NASA and ATK Complete Avionics and Controls Testing for NASA's SLS Booster (Source: ATK)
NASA and ATK completed the second in a series of development tests for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) booster program on January 30 at ATK's Promontory, Utah, test facility. This key avionics and controls test was designated Flight Control Test 2 (FCT-2) and included a "hot fire" of the fully integrated heritage thrust vector control (TVC), the new SLS booster avionics subsystem and new electronic support equipment (ESE).

FCT-2 focused on replacement of heritage test equipment with new ESE. Much of the equipment replaced was designed and built during the mid- to late-1970s and was successfully used on all Space Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSRM) and five segment RSRM static motor firings. "Working with Marshall, we have designed and developed a modern system and common interface that allows for multiple uses of the same equipment at all necessary locations for both qualification and operational phases of the program, greatly reducing complexity and costs." (2/2)

Roscosmos: Zenit Engine Worked Normally (Source: RIA Novosti)
The first stage engine of the Zenit-2S rocket that failed shortly after Friday’s launch operated in the normal regime during and after the liftoff, the press service of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said. "An express analysis of the telemetry data has led to a preliminary conclusion that the first stage engine and the flight control system operated in the normal regime,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

The Russian space agency also said that documents provided by Energomash, the company that had designed and produced the first stage and the flight control system, showed that no errors were made during the production. A space industry source earlier told RIA Novosti that a malfunction in the rocket’s flight control system was the most likely cause of the failure. (2/2)

Reliability ‘Key’ To Space-Qualified Li-Ion Batteries (Source: Aviation Week)
Space station crews are set to replace aging nickel-hydrogen battery packs with new lithium-ion units in 2017. They are not particularly worried about the fire hazard from the technology that has grounded the Boeing 787. NASA plans to use lithium-ion battery cells manufactured by the same company that built the 787 cells. But the agency has subjected them and the computerized control units that keep the cells from overheating to the same design oversight it uses to human-rate other space hardware.

Space quality standards appear to be working as the technology moves into expensive unmanned spacecraft as well. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who uses lithium-ion batteries in his Tesla electric automobiles as well as the Dragon autonomous cargo carrier, has offered to help Boeing solve its 787 problem. “We have independent experts who review the whole design and implementation and hazard controls that we have on these,” says Caris “Skip” Hatfield. (2/2)

Scobee Rogers: Greatest Risk in Exploration is To Take No Risk (Source: Space Policy Online)
June Scobee Rogers, widow of space shuttle Challenger STS-51-L commander Dick Scobee, believes that the "greatest risk in space exploration is to take no risk." Rogers is the force behind the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. She recounted a television interview soon after she and the other Challenger families decided to create the Challenger Center, which teaches science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to students through hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities.

The reporter asked what the students would learn about risk. She and Jane Smith, widow of Challenger pilot Mike Smith, had no reply and the interview ended "clumsily." The next time she was interviewed and asked about risk, she replied "without risk, there's no new knowledge. Without risk there's no great discovery.   Without risk there is no bold adventure. That's what it's about with human spaceflight. Bold adventure helps the human spirit to soar." The interviewer then asked "what is the greatest risk." Her reply was "the greatest risk in space exploration is to take no risk." (2/2)

Iranian Space Official: Photo Shows Wrong Monkey (Source: Space Industry News)
One of two official packages of photos of Iran’s famed simian space traveler depicted the wrong monkey, but a primate really did fly into space and return safely to Earth, a senior Iranian space official confirmed Saturday. The two different monkeys shown in the photos released by Iran’s state media caused some international observers to wonder whether the monkey had died in space or that the launch didn’t go well.

One set of pictures showed a relatively dark-haired monkey. Another showed a different monkey — strapped in a pod — that had light gray hair and a distinctive red mole over its right eye. Mohammad Ebrahimi said the monkey who traveled in space was named “Pishgam,” the Farsi word for pioneer. Initially, the Iranian media said “Pishgam” was the rocket that took him on a 20-minute journey into space on Monday.

Ebrahimi said one set of pictures showed an archive photo of one of the alternate monkeys. He said three to five monkeys are simultaneously tested for such a flight and two or three are chosen for the launch. Finally, the one that is best suited for the mission and isn’t stressed is chosen for the voyage. Click here. (2/2)

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