March 12, 2013

Yuri's Night Approaching Fast (Source: Yuri's Night)
There's only one month left until the World Space Party! Yuri's Night 2013 is just around the corner (April 12), so it's definitely time to start thinking about how you'll be celebrating. We've released our first Yuri's Night Party List, with over 90 events registered around the world and more coming online every day. Editor's Note: At least three Yuri's Night parties are planned on Florida's Space Coast. Click here. (3/12)

Kaptur: More Than 150 NASA Glenn Jobs in Jeopardy (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
NASA Glenn Research Center stands to lose more than 150 jobs when automatic spending cuts under the "sequester" go into effect, according to the office of Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. NASA officials told Kaptur the cuts would end cryogenic propulsion research headquartered at Glenn, resulting in the loss of 10 to 15 jobs. A separate $14.5 million sequester-related cut in Glenn's operational budget will cost another 150 support staff jobs, said Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought.

The $85 billion in automatic government spending reductions took effect on March 1, under an agreement set up by the Budget Control Act of 2011. A wide variety of government programs, including air-traffic control and food plant inspections, are affected. NASA plans to move quickly on the cuts to achieve the needed savings. NASA Glenn spokeswoman Lori Rachul referred questions on the cuts to officials at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. (2/11)

Maryland Explores Adaptations Strategies for Survival on Mars (Source: Mars Daily)
Research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has revealed key features in proteins needed for life to function on Mars and other extreme environments. The researchers, funded by NASA, studied organisms that survive in the extreme environment of Antarctica.

They found subtle but significant differences between the core proteins in ordinary organisms and Haloarchaea, organisms that can tolerate severe conditions such as high salinity, desiccation, and extreme temperatures. The research gives scientists a window into how life could possibly adapt to exist on Mars.

Researchers found that Haloarchaeal microbes contain proteins that are acidic, with their surface covered with negatively charged residues. Most ordinary organisms contain proteins that are neutral on average. The negative charges found in the unusual organisms keep proteins in solution and help to hold on tightly to water, reversing the effects of high salinity and desiccation. (3/12)

Fifty Applicants Respond to FAA's Test Site Call (Source: AIN)
Fifty applicants from 37 states responded to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s screening information request (SIR) for public entities interested in operating test ranges for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The agency set a March 6 “identification of applicant” deadline; the selection of operators for six national test sites is planned for the end of the year.

The FAA issued the SIR on February 14 in response to a requirement by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that it establish a UAS test site program. The agency declined to identify the responding applicants, citing procurement regulations. Applicants must be non-federal public entities such as state or local governments, their departments, agencies or special purpose districts, or a “commuter authority.” They must complete several filings, including the submission of documentation showing compliance with SIR requirements by March 28. (3/11)

Space Shuttle Gives California Science Center an Attendance Boost (Source: LA Times)
More than 1 million people have visited the center since space shuttle Endeavour made its debut just over four months ago, far surpassing officials' expectations for the Exposition Park museum. Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph initially guessed about 2 million people would see the retired orbiter in its first year at the free museum, which averages about 1.6 million visitors per year. Now, he estimates at least 2.5 million people will pass through its turnstiles — a record. (3/12)

Russian Emergencies Ministry Sets Up Working Group on Meteorite Threats (Source: Itar-Tass)
The emergencies ministry has set up a working group tasked to elaborate new approaches to the protection of the population against asteroid threats, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said on Tuesday. “The experience gained in the tracing of the Chelyabinsk meteorite and in clear-up operations after its fall is absolutely unique. It will make it possible to adjust development programs of Russia’s rescue corps,” he said at a roundtable meeting at the Federation Council, or upper house of the Russian parliament.

According to the minister, it is important to elaborate the strategy of reacting to asteroid and meteorite threats. Another major task is, in his words, to build a system of meteorite threat warning and to teach people how to behave in such situations. (3/12)

When an Asteroid Heads for Earth, It’s Time to Reconsider Those Doomsday Plans (Source: Science News)
Chicken Little is right. The sky is falling... Once you find an asteroid threatening Earth, what do you do about it? You might have a year’s lead time, or a month, or maybe only a few hours. Then it’s time to bring in the Armageddon-style weapons. Some scientists think humankind should blast the incoming rock with lasers, vaporizing its surface. Others want to park a “gravity tractor,” in the form of a spacecraft, close enough to the asteroid to provide a tiny gravitational tug.

In either scenario, just a small deflection in the asteroid’s path would be enough to nudge it safely aside and avoid a collision with Earth. NASA and the European Space Agency are even working on a tandem mission to beat up on incoming asteroids. A planned test run calls for two spacecraft to fly to a pair of asteroids. Then one craft would smash into one of the rocks, while the other probe studies how the collision affects the asteroids’ trajectory. (3/12)

Comet Can Be Seen By Naked Eye This Week (Source: Florida Today)
Last month, an asteroid the size of a city block whizzed close by Earth, and a meteor’s explosion in the atmosphere shook a Russian city. Now another rare, but non-threatening, celestial event is unfolding: a chance to see a comet with the naked eye. If weather permits today and Wednesday, a comet known as Pan-STARRS may be visible for about an hour after sunset, low on the western horizon. (3/12)

Space Algae Invasion? Probably Not (Source: Discovery)
Forget hunting for organic chemistry inside rocks on Mars or complex organisms in Europa’s sub-surface oceans, the Cosmos has just FedEx’d some extraterrestrials direct to our door! Or, at least, that’s what a group of astrobiologists want us to believe. Unfortunately (or fortunately, it depends how you spin it), the research — uploaded to the arXiv preprint service and published in the questionable Journal of Cosmology (JoC) — probably isn’t conclusive evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial biology. Bummer.

Frustratingly, it’s also an example on how science shouldn’t be done. But, by default, it’s also a fine example on how good, skeptical science writing should be done. To cut a long story short, a paper published a team of astrobiologists claims to have found “fossilized biological structures” inside meteorite fragments in Sri Lanka. This new publication appears to be based on the same samples that Chandra Wickramasinghe’s team analyzed and published results of in January. They went all out, claiming: “The new data on “fossil” diatoms provide strong evidence to support the theory of cometary panspermia.”

That research was heavily (and rightfully) criticized, not only for its baseless extraordinary claims, but for the apparent poor scientific process and the fact no outside specialists were consulted before their work was published in the JoC. Oh, and there was a serious lack of some much-needed extraordinary evidence. Click here. (3/12)

Rohrabacher: Space Launch System Makes No Sense (Source: Parabolic Arc)
"Although I strongly agree with much of the Committee’s Views and Estimates, there is one specific area on which I wish to state a different view, as I have done for the past few years," Rohrabacher says. "Commercial Crew remains our most critical near-term civil space goal. We currently rely on the Russians, who have been good partners, but the Soyuz provides the tremendous risk of a single point of failure. We must create redundancy and enable NASA to certify multiple, independent, sustainable systems... In addition, the price the Russians are charging us continues to rise."

"We continue to hear that the SLS/MPCV system will serve as a back-up for Earth-to-orbit transportation in the unlikely event that none of the other systems in development are successful. Last year’s request for this “back-up system” was more than 300% of the appropriated level of the primary system. By acting on this type of faulty logic, we have created a national debt as large as our GDP and still our nation refuses to take its foot off the deficit spending accelerator. SLS is unaffordable." (3/11)

Russia Plans Giant Solar Power Station to Orbit Earth (Source: Space Daily)
Russia is thinking of building a giant solar power station capable of collecting energy and beaming it to Earth. This idea was put forward by Central Scientific Research institute for Engineering, a Roskosmos subsidiary. The concept of such a power station was formulated in 1968. It is aimed at beaming energy to Earth using giant solar panels. To generate necessary power, the panels should have an area of several square kilometers. The power would be converted to electricity onboard the spacecraft and sent to wherever it is needed on Earth by a large microwave-transmitting antenna, and then fed into a power grid.

The scientific research institute suggests using lasers instead of microwaves because radio beams are difficult to focus, and an area of several square kilometers will be needed for the receiving antenna. In case of a laser beam this area would be ten times smaller. However, at present, there are no such powerful lasers, although many infrared lasers distributed over the panel could be used instead. Their radiation would be put together and beamed to Earth.

The US, Japan, Europe and China plan to build solar power stations between 2030 and 2040. It is not surprising that Russia will join them, says Academician Alexander Zheleznyakov. "Russia should study this problem. If energy from space is cheaper, it is beneficial because Earth has been experiencing an energy deficit. (3/12)

After the Shuttle, Boom Times for Space Innovation? (Source: TIME)
Here’s a bit of news you’ve surely not heard: in 17 years, a colony of 80,000 humans is going to be living on Mars! They’ll be joining a smaller community that will arrive in 2023—a group that will be grateful for the company since their mission will be only one way. And all of them will be preceded by a team of astronauts who will swing by the Red Planet and fly back home just five years from now.

On the way, they’ll see some remarkable things: tourists popping into space on suborbital flights, courtesy of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic joyrides; other paying travelers heading for inflatable orbital hotels; miners heading out to grapple asteroids and bring their riches (iron! platinum! gold!) back to Earth; NASA astronauts hanging in space at the mysterious Lagrange points, where gravity from the moon, Earth and sun cancel one another out allowing spacecraft simply to hover. Click here. (3/11)

Texas Leading Candidate for SpaceX 3rd Launch Site (Source: Space News)
In a hotly contested race to host a third U.S. launch site for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), Texas appears to be the front-runner, says company founder and chief executive Elon Musk. Speaking over the weekend at the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, Musk said if all goes as planned he expects to make a decision this year about where to locate a commercial spaceport that would complement facilities currently located at U.S. Air Force bases in Florida and soon to open in California.

“It’s likely that we’ll have a launch site in Texas, which is really cool,” Musk said during a keynote speech at SXSW. “Right now Texas is arguably the leading candidate, but we need legislation passed that’s supportive of space launch. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial,” he added. In additional to liability indemnification, the company needs to be able to close a public beach during launch attempts.

The company is considering a site on Boca Chica Beach, located about 37 kilometers east of Brownsville, Texas, in Cameron County five kilometers north of the Mexican border. Other states vying to host SpaceX’s commercial launch site include Florida, Georgia, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Construction on the new facility could begin in 2014, with the first launches following a year or two later, Musk said. (3/11)

NASA and Lockheed Martin Launch Exploration Design Challenge (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Students from kindergarten through 12th grade will have the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight through participation in NASA's Exploration Design Challenge. Developed through a partnership between NASA and Lockheed Martin, the program challenges students to research and design solutions to protect astronauts from space radiation.

Students in grades K-12 can study the effects of radiation on human space travelers and analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for Orion. After participating in activities guided by their teachers, students will recommend materials that best block harmful radiation. Students in grades 9-12 can take the challenge a step farther and design shielding to protect a sensor inside the Orion capsule from space radiation. The winning design will be flown in the Orion capsule during Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) scheduled for September 2014. (3/11)

NASA Denies Use Of ‘Workaround’ To Employ Restricted Foreigners (Source: Aviation Week)
U.S. contractors who employ foreign workers for NASA jobs must comply with laws designed to protect sensitive technology, and the agency spends more than $200 million a year to ensure that they do, according to David Weaver, the agency’s associate administrator for communications. That includes recently blocking a foreign contractor from entering Langley Research Center, and turning evidence about his activities over to law enforcement.

“NASA takes any allegation of a security violation very seriously and follows long-established procedures to investigate these allegations quickly and thoroughly,” stated Weaver, the agency’s politically appointed spokesman, in response to charges raised by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). “These investigations are handled by our security and counterintelligence professionals in cooperation with the NASA inspector general and other law enforcement officials, as appropriate.”

Weaver said the agency had reviewed Wolf’s charges that a Langley Research Center contractor hired a Chinese national for space agency tasks in a “workaround” designed to thwart a congressional ban on space cooperation with China. “Although we normally don’t comment on investigations, because information now has been made public, we can confirm we are familiar with the situation involving a Langley contractor, have completed our review and referred the matter to the appropriate law enforcement officials,” Weaver stated. “The contractor in question no longer works at Langley.” (3/11)

House NASA Panel Lists Budget Priorities, But Not Everyone Backs SLS (Source: Huntsville Times)
The House panel overseeing NASA has endorsed funding for the big new rocket being developed in Huntsville, Alabama, but it isn't unanimous. Among the dissenters is the committee's vice-chairman, who thinks the Space Launch System is unaffordable. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, submitted the committee's views on NASA's 2014 budget to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on March 1.

Smith noted that NASA is currently pursuing two tracks to get American astronauts back into space aboard American spacecraft. The first is the agency's commercial space program to fund companies such as SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada as they develop rockets capable of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The second is the Space Launch System, which is being developed in Huntsville. Click here. (3/11)

CASIS Supports Entrepreneur Challenge (Source: CASIS)
MassChallenge connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch & succeed immediately. It's the world's largest startup accelerator and is looking for the 125 highest-impact startups from any industry for its 2013 program. Benefits include world-class mentorship & training, a driven community of fellow entrepreneurs, $10M+ in in-kind deals and $1M+ in grants with no equity taken. This includes numerous “Sidecar Prizes,” including a $100,000 prize and flight opportunity from The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). (3/11)

Space Ventures Want Your Videos (Source: NBC)
What better way to celebrate the glories of space exploration than to make a video about it? How about making a video about space exploration, and winning a trip for four to one of NASA's space centers? That's the top prize in the "Why Space Matters to the Future" video contest, sponsored by the centers in cooperation with the Coalition for Space Exploration.

Contest organizers are looking for videos up to two minutes in length that explain the values and benefits of space exploration, for this generation and future generations. The deadline for entries is April 7. The viewing public will get a chance to vote for their favorite, and a panel of judges will keep the people's choice in mind when they select the winner on April 17 — just after the global spaceflight celebration known as Yuri's Night.

The winning video will earn its maker a VIP trip for four to one of NASA's visitor centers: the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, Space Center Houston in Texas, or the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. Check the coalition's website or to check out the contest instructions, review the official rules and upload your video. (3/11)

In Spaceport We Trust: Liability Protection Heads to Gov’s Desk (Source: New Mexico Watchdog)
A bill that would extend liability protections to Virgin Galactic and other spacecraft manufacturers in case of accidents at Spaceport America is heading to the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez. On Monday (March 11), the state House of Representatives on a 62-0 vote passed Senate Bill 240, which applies to the facility in southern New Mexico that state taxpayers spent $240 million to construct.

“It’s a good promise for New Mexico,” Rep. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Watchdog. “It means we’re going to move forward on this thing.” Virgin Galactic, the anchor tenant at Spaceport, has made veiled threats of pulling up stakes and leaving New Mexico and taking its scheduled sub-orbital launches of tourists to other states that have instituted liability protections for manufacturers unless New Mexico followed suit. (3/11)

Bill Shoots for SpaceX Commercial Spaceport in Texas (Source: Austin Business Journal)
A Texas lawmaker has filed legislation to lure the world's first commercial orbital launch site to Brownsville. State Rep. Rene Oliveira filed House Bill 2623 to give certain counties and the General Land Office the authority to temporarily close a beach or a beach access point, enabling the launching of rockets from a proposed spaceport for the next generation of rockets built by entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk’s company SpaceX.

“We’re talking about something that’s really in the big leagues here,” Musk said. “The commercial version of Cape Canaveral.” SpaceX, a pioneer in the private space-flight industry, is eyeing a location on Boca Chica Beach — 23 miles east of Brownsville — to construct a commercial launch pad to send manned spacecraft into orbit, the San Antonio Express-News reports. It currently has a rocket development facility employing more than 200 people near Waco.

Oliveira told the House Appropriations Committee Friday that funds would need to be appropriated for the project to fend off competition from other states vying to nab the launch site, including Florida and Georgia. “We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and try to make ourselves attractive to the industry,” Oliveira told the committee. (3/11)

Proposed Senate Bill Restores $223 million to Planetary Science (Source: Planetary Society)
Today the United States Senate announced a bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of 2013. This is the Senate's version of a bill that the House of Representatives passed last week. Like the House bill, the Senate extends funding for many agencies at 2012 levels; unlike the House bill, the Senate's bill contains specific language for funding all of NASA.

"Good news" is not a phrase I have used often (ever?) in my year of discussing the budget of NASA's Planetary Science Division. In fact, I can't quite bring myself to use it now. So I'm not saying this is good news – yet. Let's call it a positive development and we'll leave it at that for now. The real key to this bill – and why I'm cautiously excited – is that it contains specific funding directives for NASA's Planetary Science program.

In today's Senate funding bill, they propose restoring $223 million to Planetary Science, reversing nearly all of the cuts. The Senate also specifies how the money will be allocated, boosting Discovery (small-missions), Mars exploration, outer planets, and scientific research. It also includes additional directives for $14.5 million for Plutonium-238 production and $75 million for "pre-formulation and/or formulation activities" for a mission to Europa. (3/12)

U.S. and Japan Begin Dialogue on Space (Source: U.S. Dept. of State)
U.S. and Japanese officials exchanged information on respective space policies, including Japan’s newly formulated Basic Plan on Space Policy. They conducted discussions for further collaboration in positioning, navigation, and timing services from the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), as well as Earth observation, data exchange, and space science, to include weather observation from space and asteroid detection and mitigation to protect the planet.

In addition, both sides shared the intention to continue cooperation on the International Space Station and discussions regarding future space exploration activities. The parties discussed space security cooperation and confirmed their interest in furthering, bilateral Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Maritime Domain Awareness. Both sides also welcomed an ad referendum agreement reached on a legal framework for SSA Services and Information provision from the U.S. side to the Japanese side in negotiations on March 7, 2013. (3/11)

Editorial: Florida Should Explore Building New Launchpad (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Five years ago on these pages, we forcefully argued against NASA carving out a piece of conservation land to build a pad for commercial rocket launches. Much has changed since. The space shuttle program ended in 2011. Thousands of aerospace employees have lost their jobs. While the Space Coast's economy suffers, other states — including Virginia, New Mexico and Texas — are vying to become the nation's capital of commercial launch activity.

The Space Coast could one day lose its enviable position, earned through decades of launches at Kennedy Space Center, as America's spaceport. Too much is at stake for Florida to dismiss out of hand the newest proposal to set aside 150 acres of the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for a commercial launchpad.

We weren't wrong to oppose the idea in 2008, but we would be wrong knowing what we know in 2013 to oppose a thorough examination of the latest proposal, which comes from Space Florida, a state agency. Environmental advocates are dead set against a launchpad at Shiloh, arguing it would have an unacceptable impact on the refuge and its endangered species, and regularly cut off the public's access to the area. These critical concerns need to be fully and expeditiously evaluated in a fair and open process. (3/12)

Look NASA, No Hands! Astronauts Fly on Brainpower Alone (Source:
The newest innovation in space travel might be a boon for overworked astronauts. A brain-computer interface that allows astronauts to control a shuttle using only their thoughts is being developed by researchers in the United Kingdom. A group of researchers from the University of Essex in the U.K. has developed the first ever brain-computer interface (BCI) that can be used to control a spacecraft simulator. (3/11)

Editorial: NASA Kepler Shows a Reality Even Stranger Than Science Fiction (Source: The Independent)
After four years, NASA’s Kepler Mission – an orbiting space-telescope looking for other worlds like our own – has found a staggering 2,700-plus “planetary entities”. So far, only slightly more than 100 are confirmed as definite planets, but the majority are expected to pass the test.

But it is not just the huge number of potential planets that is startling scientists. It is also their sheer weirdness. Some are unfeasibly dense, their iron terra firma washed by molten metal seas; others are so light they would, like polystyrene, float on water; others still come in at several times the vastness of Jupiter.

All of which has theoreticians tearing up their assumptions and heading back to the scientific drawing board. What Kepler has notably not found, though, is an Earth-sized planet in a “habitable zone” – neither so far from a star as to be frozen, nor so near as to be burned dry. No matter. The search has rewards enough. (3/11)

Injured ULA Workers Transferred to Burn Center (Source: Lompoc Record)
Two United Launch Alliance employees seriously injured in an electrical explosion at Vandenberg Air Force Base have been transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating burn patients. The workers, whose names weren’t released, were initially taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment. They were injured Saturday in what was described as an “arc flash” while working at Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base.

No details have been released regarding the incident, including whether it occurred at the launch pad or in the nearby hangar where rockets are processed. “ULA has begun a full investigation into the accident and will provide more details as they become available,” the ULA statement said. SLC-6 currently is home to ULA’s Delta 4 rocket, which is preparing for its next launch in August. (3/12)

Astronomer Locates Previously Unseen Neighbor to the Sun (Source: Scientific American)
When NASA launched the WISE satellite in 2009, astronomers hoped it would be able to spot loads of cool, dim objects known as brown dwarfs. Bigger than a planet, a brown dwarf is not quite a star, either—-it is too small to sustain the nuclear fusion reactions that turn hydrogen to helium. But it may burn to some degree, using a heavy isotope of hydrogen called deuterium as fusion fuel.

Because brown dwarfs are so dim, it is entirely possible that some of them lie very close to the sun—as close as any known star—and have yet to be discovered. But more than three years after WISE (short for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer) launched, the map of the sun’s immediate vicinity has remained largely unchanged. Until now.

Kevin Luhman has located a previously unknown denizen of the sun’s neighborhood. Using data from WISE, Luhman has identified a pair of brown dwarfs, bound into a binary system, just 6.5 light-years away. That is nearer to the sun than all but two known star systems, both of which were located more than 95 years ago. Click here. (3/11)

Hampton May Give $1.55 Million to Virginia Air and Space Center (Source: Daily Press)
The Hampton City Council appears to be ready to give the Virginia Air and Space Center $1.55 million to help ease the ongoing financial ills at the downtown museum. The 118,000-square-foot center has not had a profitable year since 2007, and its board of directors has not named a full-time executive director since Todd Bridgford retired in 2011.

The City Council will likely vote on the resolution Wednesday evening, just hours after the group discusses the city's own budget constraints. The city is asking residents to either pay millions of dollars more in taxes next fiscal year or face sharp cuts to services and programs. The Virginia Air and Space Center is not among those proposed cuts because it is an independent, non-profit organization.

Since 2008, the center has accrued a $3.1 million deficit and has defaulted on a $2.1 million SunTrust loan, according to audits and tax forms obtained by the Daily Press using the Freedom of Information Act. City staff was unconvinced the center's board of directors had done enough to balance the facility's budget in recent years. (3/12)

MDA Hopes to Raise $250 Million in New Stock Offering (Source: SpaceRef)
In an effort to reduce outstanding bank indebtedness and provide additional capital for future growth opportunities MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), who recently closed the acquisition of Space Systems/Loral, will issue 3,605,000 MDA common shares. The common shares will be priced at $69.40 and the offering is expected to close on or about March 27, 2013. Additionally MDA has granted the underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 540,750 Common Shares on the same terms and conditions. (3/12)

Female Astronauts Gather to Honor Sally Ride and Her Legacy (Source: CollectSpace)
NASA recently released this photo, originally taken on Sept. 17, 2012, from a gathering of 22 of its current and former female astronauts and the first female director of Johnson Space Center, who met together in Houston to honor the late Sally Ride and her legacy. Since Ride made history as the first American woman in space 30 years ago this June, 42 female NASA astronauts have followed her into orbit. Worldwide, a total of 57 women have launched for space, out of the more than 500 people who have become space travelers. (3/12)

Orbital-Built Satellites Exceed 1,000 Years of Cumulative In-Orbit Operations (Source: OSC)
Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced that it recently achieved a significant space operational milestone. The fleet of satellites that Orbital designed, built and, in some cases, launched recently marked 1,000 years of cumulative in-orbit operational experience. This achievement has been accomplished by only four other companies since the dawn of the space age.

Today, 81 of the 146 total spacecraft Orbital built over the last 30 years are fully operational, fulfilling their missions for customers in the fields of commercial communications, Earth and space science, national security, commercial imaging and others. Each day, these active spacecraft add over two and a half months to the company’s cumulative in-orbit operating experience. (3/11)

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