March 10, 2013

SpaceTEC Obtains NASA Space Shuttle Training/Credentialing Database (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceTEC has been working with NASA to obtain more than 30 years of NASA's specialized human spaceflight systems training an certification documentation. Links to NASA's "lessons learned" information have also been obtained and will be available (with controlled access via the SpaceTEC website) for use in training programs by SpaceTEC academic partners.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a SpaceTEC-affiliated institution and is ramping up its involvement, including with an articulation agreement that grants college credit to students from other institutions who achieve SpaceTEC certification. Embry-Riddle also recently took stewardship of a large archive of space-focused technical papers from over 40 years of annual Space Congress conferences. The materials will be available to students in the university's new Commercial Space Operations degree program. (3/10)

Reality TV for the Red Planet (Source: New York Times)
As Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist, used to say, the most overwhelming obstacle to exploring the cosmos isn’t gravity. It’s the paperwork. Not to mention the money. So when Bas Lansdorp began dreaming more than a decade ago about establishing the first permanent human colony on Mars, his primary focus was not on overcoming the technological challenges. It was the business model.

“All the technology we need exists already — or nearly exists,” he said. “I just couldn’t figure out how to finance it.” Mr. Lansdorp, a 36-year-old Dutch engineer and entrepreneur, does not have the name recognition of Dennis Tito, the American financier and space tourist, who announced a plan last month to send two people on a round-trip Mars flyby in 2018. Nor can Mr. Lansdorp hope to match the deep pockets of Elon Musk, who has proposed sending as many as 80,000 people to the Red Planet and charging them $500,000 each. Richard Branson, the Virgin entrepreneur, has space aspirations, too.

But Mr. Lansorp is convinced that he has found the perfect plan to raise the $6 billion he says he needs to land an initial crew of four people on the Martian surface by 2023. The entire mission — from the astronauts’ selection and training to their arrival and construction of a permanent settlement — would be broadcast as a worldwide, multiyear reality television show. Click here. (3/8)

SpaceTEC Partners Meet on Space Coast (Source: SPACErePORT)
About thirty officials from academic institutions and industry are meeting on Florida's Space Coast to map out the continued development of SpaceTEC, an NSF National Resource Center for aerospace technical workforce training and certification. The group focuses, in part, on meeting the need for ensuring that space industry technicians receive the kind of training and certification that currently are required by the FAA for aviation industry technicians. The "Certified Aerospace Technician" approach includes an industry-adopted certification regime. Click here for information.

Editor's Note: Allan Hancock College near Vandenberg AFB used to be an active SpaceTEC partner but recently has reduced their involvement and was not represented at this meeting. The ULA launch industry technicians injured at Vandenberg on Saturday were probably doing work that would have been included in a SpaceTEC performance-based training certification, but since they weren't working on a commercial aircraft/aviation system, there's no FAA requirement that they hold an FAA (A&P) certification. (3/10)

NASA and Space Coast Energy Consortium Sign Space Act Agreement (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Space Coast Energy Consortium (the Consortium) have created a partnership to develop and improve the Federal spaceport capabilities and to implement the objective of becoming a multi-user spaceport, serving both Government and commercial renewable energy entities. NASA and the Consortium have agreed up on a five-year Space Act Agreement that defines how those goals are to be implemented.

A major goal of the agreement is to jointly develop the Space and Energy Regional Innovation Center (RIC) that will sponsor, support and accelerate the commercialization of emerging energy products and leverage KSC’s technical expertise and facilities to develop sustainable energy products and services. Click here. (3/10)

Two ULA Workers Seriously Injured at Vandenberg (Sources: KSBY, Santa Barbara Independent)
Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base say two United Launch Alliance workers were seriously injured in an arc flash Saturday morning at Space Launch Complex Six. According to authorities, one person was transported by helicopter to a local hospital, and the other one was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

An arc flash occurs when an electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground. According to the National Safety Council, the most common cause of arc flash accidents is human error, including distraction, dropping a tool or using an uninsulated tool, and the accumulation of dust in a work area. The most common injury from an arc flash incident is second- and third-degree burns. (3/9)

To Move Ahead, NASA Needs to Slim Down (Source: Florida Today)
In a new, lean and mean federal budget world, NASA’s going to be crushed under the weight of keeping all 10 of its centers open. The space agency is going to have to take a serious look at its infrastructure costs across the United States, closing unused facilities and starting to give consideration to consolidating work at a smaller number of facilities.

The idea of the space agency going through a process similar to what the military has done with Base Realignment and Closure is not new, and it’s come up every few years. The bottom line is, whether painful or not, some buildings need to be closed or even whole centers so that NASA becomes a more modern, more efficient operation. "You can see a future where the overhead of 10 centers consumes the NASA budget without productive contribution to future design,” said Joseph Dyer, head of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Council.

Most private companies have been consolidating facilities for decades. Case in point: the Northrop Grumman restructuring last week that’s resulting in a jobs boon here in Melbourne, but the shuttering of no-longer-needed facilities in such places as Long Island. The idea of studying center closures or consolidation needs to move beyond being bandied about by experts on panels and become an assignment, with a deadline. The savings ought to be found to fund exploration. (3/9)

NASA Official Talks Commercial Crew's Importance to Human Space Exploration (Source: America Space)
AmericaSpace spoke with Trent Smith with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. He detailed the basics behind efforts to cede responsibility of delivering crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit (LEO), primarily to the International Space Station, to commercial companies. Under this plan, this should allow NASA to focus on sending crews beyond Earth’s influence for the first time in over forty years.

NASA currently has a two-pronged strategy in place in terms of its future human space flight program. The first half, the commercial segment, would handle operations in LEO. This would be comprised of companies such as SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Boeing. The second half involves a powerful new heavy-lift booster, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft. These vehicles are currently being developed and built to send astronauts to destinations that, excluding the Moon, have never been visited before.

“Some folks think that we can have one without the other—this isn’t the case,” said Bob Cabana, a four-time space shuttle veteran and the current Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In some ways, the current issues are similar to another situation faced by NASA between the Apollo era and the space shuttle program. The shuttle was proposed as being one-half of a two-part “shuttle-station” duo. However, then as now, budgetary woes interfered. NASA was told to either choose the shuttle or station—but they could not do both. (3/10)

Lessons From a Space Dummy (Source: Universe Today)
Before a man could head into space, the Russians felt a mannequin needed to get there first. It was on this day (March 9) in 1961 that Ivan Ivanovich — the mannequin, or space dummy — made his first flight in a Sputnik. He then took another turn in space later that month before being placed into storage for decades. U.S. businessman (and failed presidential candidate) Ross Perot bought him at auction in the 1990s, and lent him to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He’s on display there today. Click here. (3/9)

Plastic Wrapped Shuttle Atlantis Slated for Grand Public Unveiling in June (Source: Universe Today)
Imagine visiting Star Fleet headquarters in the 23nd Century and being engulfed by a holodeck journey to a 21st century NASA Space Shuttle; complete with a full sized Hubble Space Telescope – perhaps the important science instrument ever constructed and an outstanding legacy of the Space Shuttle Program.

Well that’s the thrilling new experience awaiting the visiting public and space enthusiasts alike starting this summer at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) in Florida – after the ghostlike Space Shuttle Atlantis is unveiled from a thick coating of shrink wrapped plastic.

But – there is one important caveat regarding the holodeck dream sequence. Starting on June 29 you will be seeing the ‘real deal’, an actual space flown NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter – not a high tech imaginary glimpse, engineering reproduction or holodeck recreation. (3/9)

Musk Describes How SpaceX Remotely Fixed Dragon (Source: Mashable)
The Dragon launch went smoothly, but things "went awry" shortly after launch when three of four oxidizer tanks refused to pressurize, which mean the solar panels could not extend. This was especially surprising since these systems are built with multiple redundancies, but instead of one or another failing, two-thirds of them went down. They later found that a small change had been made to three of the four check valves on the tank.

Though Musk and NASA had just a kilobit of intermittent communication with the space craft, SpaceX began to work on a solution. In the meantime, the Dragon spacecraft was "going through free drift in space, just tumbling," said Musk. SpaceX wrote new software and then uploaded it to Dragon. It was designed to "pressure slam the three oxidizer tanks that were refusing to pressurize." With the software in place, "the system built pressure upstream, then released the pressure and slammed the valve," explained Musk. "It gave the spacecraft the equivalent of the Heimlich maneuver." (3/9)

To the Moon and Beyond for Las Vegas Developer Robert Bigelow (Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, has aspirations well beyond Earth's atmosphere: Bigelow is building and launching space habitats that he says could someday serve as the foundation for a colony on the moon. Space captured Bigelow's imagination at an early age. The Las Vegas High School graduate was intrigued as a child by family stories of close encounters with unidentified flying objects.

Bigelow eventually made his fortune the Las Vegas way - in real estate, developing hotels, motels and apartment complexes in the 1980s and '90s. But that construction was a means to starting a space-exploration company. In 2001, Bigelow launched Bigelow Aerospace. Today, the company has factories in North Las Vegas and Maryland, and a deal with California-based Space Exploration Technologies to put habitats into orbit.

It's working with Boeing to develop a spacecraft to take crews to the International Space Station, and it launched two satellites into orbit using Russian rockets. In January, Bigelow Aerospace became the first local business to win a lead NASA contract, a $17.8 million deal to build, launch and install its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at the space station. Click here for a Q&A. (3/10)

No comments: