March 11, 2013

Space Station Technology to "Hear" Potential Leaks (Source: NASA)
The hiss of air escaping from a leaky car tire is no one's favorite sound. Even less pleasant? Hearing that hiss of escaping air 250 miles above Earth's surface while inside the pressurized confines of the International Space Station. If an air leak were to occur aboard the station, alarms would sound, and the astronauts would locate and correct the problem according to procedures. But with only the crew's eyes and ears to go on, pinpointing the source of a leak could be tricky.

Eric Madaras is trying to fix that problem. As the principal investigator for the Ultrasonic Background Noise Test (UBNT) he's leading a study that potentially could help prevent a catastrophic loss of air pressure on a crewed spacecraft. By observing the high-frequency noise levels generated by hardware and equipment operating in the Destiny laboratory and Tranquility module aboard the space station, Madaras and his team are helping to develop an automated system that would locate air leaks in a space structure's pressure wall. (3/11)

Space Coast Firm Wins DOD Work (Source: Craig Technologies)
Craig Technologies was awarded a prime contract for Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Information Operations Information Technology (IT) support. Craig will provide support to maintain and enhance the Agency's existing network, ensure availability of mission applications and troubleshoot and resolve problems with all IT equipment. DLA provides worldwide logistics support for the missions of the Military Departments and the Unified Combatant Commands under conditions of peace and war.

Editor's Note: Craig is the company that took over the NASA Shuttle Logistics Depot in Cape Canaveral and has stewardship over tons of most excellent machining equipment until NASA needs it in the future. Craig presumably will be using some of this equipment for this new DOD contract. (3/11)

UKSA, Koscosmos Sign Space Cooperation Agreement (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The UK Space Agency and the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KAZCOSMOS) have today (7 March 2013) signed an agreement outlining cooperation in the area of space activities. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, and Dr. Talgat Mussabayev, Chairman of the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the DMC and NovaSAR International Conference in London. (3/10)

Breakthrough Propulsion Physics (Source: LaunchSpace)
It is commonly known that the lack of new propulsion technologies has held space exploration opportunities to a minimum. A particular frustration is the lack of very-high specific impulse, high thrust devices that do not exist and will not exist for the foreseeable future. In effect, spacecraft and humans are stuck in the gravity wells of Earth and the sun.

If we are to ever travel to other stars, dramatic propulsion advances will be required. Before advancing the needed engineering technologies to realize interstellar travel, we must first address the relevant physics, or natural laws, governing yet undiscovered propulsion phenomena. Once these discoveries are achieved, they can be applied to working devices.

While the discovery of new force-production and energy-exchange principles appears to be exciting, it clearly is very challenging and possibly very expensive. Nevertheless, if the human race is to survive, we must eventually depart earth and find new worlds to discover and populate. Fortunately, we have a long time before our home planet is uninhabitable, probably millions of years. But, the quest for the needed propulsion technologies will take at least tens, if not hundreds, of years to achieve. (3/11)

Boeing to Relocate Flight Training to Miami (Source: Reuters)
Boeing announced plans to move all of its flight training and maintenance training operations in North America to Miami from Seattle. "With the 787 grounded, there's a lessening of the training demand," said Boeing spokesman Jim Condelles. "There's an opportunity with that situation to relocate to Miami." (3/8)

Dramatic Sequester Warnings Generate Questions (Source: Defense News)
Some members of Congress are questioning whether military officers "hyped" the effects of sequestration, issuing dramatic warnings that were more dire than was necessary, and making statements better left to civilian leadership. Military officials counter that their warnings about sequestration were real. "Look, military leaders don't make decisions to make a point," Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby wrote in an op-ed piece. "We don't do drama. And we don't involve ourselves in political debates." (3/10)

Pentagon Says White House to Release Budget April 8 (Source: The Hill)
The Obama administration will release the 2014 budget about two months later than required by law, according to members of Congress who say they were briefed by Pentagon officials. The budget is said to be coming April 8, although the White House hasn't confirmed that date. Congressional Republicans criticized the delay, saying it causes unnecessary uncertainty among military leaders. (3/8)

Cuts Give Obama Path to Create Leaner Military (Source: New York Times)
At a time when $46 billion in mandatory budget cuts are causing anxiety at the Pentagon, administration officials see one potential benefit: there may be an opening to argue for deep reductions in programs long in President Obama’s sights, and long resisted by Congress. On the list are not only base closings but also an additional reduction in deployed nuclear weapons and stockpiles and a restructuring of the military medical insurance program that costs more than America spends on all of its diplomacy and foreign aid around the world. (3/11)

The Lion and the Vortex (Source: Space Review)
During the Falklands War, the United States offered assistance, often covertly, to Great Britain. Dwayne Day reports on newly-declassified documents that reveal that this assistance included access to a newly-launched signals intelligence satellite. Visit to view the article. (3/11)

Community, Lenses, and Learning: the "Columbia+10" Workshop (Source: Space Review)
Last week a forum in Washington looked back at the Columbia accident and the lessons learned from it. Mary Lynne Dittmar offers her perspective on the cathartic nature of the event and the insights it offered on the past and future of spaceflight. Visit to view the article. (3/11)

Launch Failures: What's Changed? (Source: Space Review)
Space launch can, by its nature, be very unforgiving to even the smallest changes. Wayne Eleazer recounts how, in several cases, seemingly innocuous, minor changes resulted in unfortunate outcomes for missions. Visit to view the article. (3/11)

Addressing the Policy Challenges of Space Debris (Source: Space Review)
While dealing with space debris requires overcoming a number of technical obstacles, the political ones may be even greater. Michael Listner completes his assessment of the challenges of cleaning up space debris by offering a potential solution to some of the policy challenges associated with this effort. Visit to view the article. (3/11)

Disposable Rockets Preventing a Star Trek Reality (Source: Venture Beat)
While I’ve always believed  our lack of warp drive technology is what’s kept humanity from meeting the Vulcans, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said there’s another, more practical roadblock: rockets, specifically the kind you only get a single use out of. “Reusable rockets are vastly important if you think it’s important that humanity span beyond earth and become a multi-planetary species,” Musk said. "...All the other transports we use — planes, trains, cars, bikes — are all reusable. But not rockets.”

Musk explained that the cost of disposable rockets makes space travel truly prohibitive for a large number of businesses to jump into the field. For instance, he said, the cost of the fuel and oxygen on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 spacecraft is .9 percent of the entire cost of the trip, while the rocket accounts for the rest of it. (3/10)

Editorial: ‘The Man Who Sells the Moon’ (Source: New York Times)
The notion that one man can lay claim to all the extraterrestrial bodies sounds preposterous. Yet Dennis M. Hope, 65, of Gardnerville, Nev., believes just that. For three decades, he has built a thriving business by “selling” land plots in space, on places like the moon, Mars and Venus. Of course, he has no legal authority to do so. How does he get away with this? He told me that, back when he was a ventriloquist in the days before he “owned” the moon, his dummy taught him a valuable lesson: you can say anything you want to anybody as long as you smile.

Some call him a con artist. One can argue that he’s part of a hallowed American tradition, whereby land speculators sell plots of useless land on the next “frontier,” from the southern swamps to the western desert. Or maybe he’s just selling amusing “novelty items” (as his certificates acknowledge, in fine print), like pet rocks, which are perfectly legal. Personally, I think what he’s doing is acceptable.

Even if Mr. Hope’s lunar land certificates have no financial value, they do seem to provide another benefit. The moon inspires awe — its white blankness is the perfect backdrop for any kind of dream we might have. Feelings of optimism and wonder can be worth quite a lot. (3/10)

Facilitating the Commercial Crew Era for KSC’s OPFs (Source:
As the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) continues its transformation into a multi-user spaceport, the three buildings dedicated to processing the since-retired Space Shuttle orbiters are aiming to once again host engineers busily tending to their spacecraft. However, only one of the buildings has confirmed a tenant for the new era at this time. Technically, the three buildings are collectively known as the Orbiter Processing Facility – consisting of three “high bays” and support rooms. Click here. (3/10)

A Closer Look at Ariane 6 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
CNES has published an overview of the planned Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which could eventually replace Ariane 5 in 2021 if the project gains the support of ESA members next year. Ariane 6 would be a three-stage rocket capable of launching communications satellites weighing up to 6.5 metric tons into geosynchronous transfer orbit orbit (GTO). It is designed to launch single communications satellites rather than the pairs of them that the larger Ariane 5 launches.

Ariane 6′s first two stages would use P135 engines powered by solid or powder propellant. The third stage would use a new Vinci motor fueled by hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The rocket would have two or three strap-on solid-rocket motors on its first stage depending upon payload requirements. The impetus behind the Ariane 6 is the larger growth of communications satellites. Not only are they getting heavier, it is increasingly difficult to find pairs of them to launch on the Ariane 5, which has a capacity of 9.4 metric tons to GTO. Click here. (3/11)

NASA Launches Rocket from Wallops Island Spaceport (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A rocket launch postponed last week was completed successfully this morning from the Wallops Flight Facility. The launch of the Terrier-Lynx suborbital sounding rocket for the Department of Defense was postponed last week because of the weather, according to NASA. The next launch, an Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, is expected in April. (3/11)

Bolden Talks Prototyping and 3-D Printing (Source: Make)
Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, touring the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing Rapid Prototyping Facility (at Marshall Space Flight Center), joined by Patrick Scheuermann, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center director, Frank Ledbetter, chief of nonmetallic materials and manufacturing division at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and Andy Hardin, NASA’s Space Launch System subsystem manager for liquid engines. Photo Credit: NASA.

It’s not every day that the leader of the free world sings the praises of 3D printing technology. The mainstream media has paid extra attention to additive manufacturing since the President gave his State of the Union address.  In his speech, he explicitly singled out 3D printing as having “the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”  Of course, MAKE readers have known this for awhile, but it’s nice to know that the government is finally talking openly about it. Click here. (3/8)

Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North's Growing Seasons (Source: NASA)
Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets. An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982. (3/10)

Brevard Walk of Fame Includes Space Leaders (Source: Brevard Walk of Fame)
A March 9 charity black-tie gala in Cocoa recognized some of the most prominent and influential business and community leaders, and celebrities in Central Florida. Eleven individuals were honored, including Senator Bill Nelson, Space Florida President Frank DiBello, and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. (3/10)

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