March 8, 2013

KSC Visitor Complex Welcomes Angry Birds Space Encounter March 22 (Source: KSCVC)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has partnered with Rovio Entertainment, creator of the globally successful Angry Birds  franchise including Angry Birds Space, to bring the casual puzzle game to life. The new Angry Birds Space Encounter, set to open at the Visitor Complex at 11 a.m. on March 22, is the first comprehensive, interactive Angry Birds attraction in the United States designed for people of all ages.
The grand opening of Angry Birds Space Encounter will feature an appearance by NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, Ph.D., who previously announced from the International Space Station that NASA and Rovio would partner on the creation of the Angry Birds Space game. (3/6)

World’s First Open Source 3-D-printed Rocket Engine Aim of New Contest (Source: Space News)
A competition offering $10,500 in prizes for rocket engines designed for 3-D-printing was announced March 8 at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. All entries are due June 1 and a winner is scheduled to be announced July 1.

Through the 3D Rocket Engine Design Challenge, the nonprofit DIYROCKETs has joined forces with venture capital-backed startup Sunglass to hold a competition that promises $5,000 to the team that produces the best engine through an open source collaboration, $2,500 for the top design offered by a student team and $2,500 for the most collaborative project. In addition, the 3-D-printing company Shapeways has pledged a total of $500 in 3-D-printing services for the top two designs. (3/8)

Chinese Space Debris Hits Russian Satellite (Source: AGI)
On February 4, Dr. Vasiliy Yurasov and Dr. Andrey Nazarenko, working with the Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering (IPIE) in Moscow, reported to CSSI a significant change in the orbit for their BLITS satellite. BLITS is tracked to high precision by the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS), and IPIE had detected a sudden decrease of 120 m in the semi-major axis of its orbit and a change in its spin velocity and attitude.

They requested help in determining whether the changes might have been the result of a collision with another object in orbit. Starting from the hypothesis that an object capable of causing this change in the orbit of the 7.53-kg BLITS satellite might be large enough to be tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network, CSSI reviewed the SOCRATES archives to determine whether there were any close approaches around the reported time. Using the SOCRATES archive generated 2013 January 22 at 0308 UTC, CSSI discovered that only one close approach occurred for BLITS.

Although the predicted distance would seem to preclude a collision, the fact that the close approach occurred within 10 seconds of the estimated change in orbit made it appear likely that this piece of FENGYUN 1C debris actually collided with BLITS. CSSI is continuing to work with Drs. Yurasov and Nazarenko to further assess the circumstances of this likely collision. The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) released the first TLE for debris associated with BLITS (NORAD Catalog Number 39119) via the Space Track web site on 2013 March 3, further confirming CSSI’s analysis. (3/8)

Russia to Send Woman to Space in 2014 (Source: AFP)
Russia will send a female cosmonaut into space for the first time in two decades next year, an official at the space training centre said Wednesday. Yelena Serova, 36 and a professional cosmonaut, "is getting ready for a space flight in the second half of 2014," said Alexei Temerov, an official at Russia's Star City space training center. (3/6)

Keck Observatory Completes $4 Million Adaptive Optics Fund (Source: Space Daily)
The W. M. Keck Observatory has successfully completed a $4 million campaign that will give astronomers the most detailed Adaptive Optics images of the cosmos ever created by mankind. Furthermore, the campaign was funded entirely by private philanthropy. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation and The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation awarded three grants totaling $3.7 million to significantly upgrade the Keck II Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics (LGS AO) system. (3/7)

Telesat Plans Complicated by Developments in Russia (Source: Space News)
The near-term revenue potential of satellite fleet operator Telesat of Canada appears to be bound up as much by what happens in Russia as by the evolution of the company's core markets in North and South America as it awaits the long-delayed launch of a satellite aboard a Russian rocket and negotiates Ku-band frequency rights with a Russian satellite operator.

Telesat has already suffered nearly a year's delay in the launch of its Anik G1 satellite, which like other spacecraft has been in a holding pattern while Russian authorities work to resolve the third Proton rocket launch anomaly in two years. The latest launch anomaly occurred in December. International Launch Services (ILS) of Reston, Va., which markets Proton internationally, and Proton builder Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow currently expect the rocket to return to flight by late March with the launch of the Satmex 8 satellite owned by Satmex of Mexico. (3/8)

U.S. Budget Paralysis, Slower Global Orders Ground Comtech’s Earnings (Source: Space News)
Satellite ground equipment provider Comtech Telecommunications Group on March 8 said three of its business lines are suffering from “a perfect storm” of effects from the U.S. government’s budget paralysis and a related downturn in international orders that will put pressure on the company’s business for at least the next few months. (3/8)

Atlas V to Launch Surveillance Satellite on March 19 (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is ready for its next mission: a launch March 19 to carry a missile-detection satellite into orbit. The Air Force satellite, part of a network, will be launched at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. (3/7)

Obama Administration Kicks Off ITAR Reform With Aircraft and Turbine Tech (Source: Defense News)
A month after telling Congress that it intended to file an overhaul of the export control system, the administration has formally submitted its first batch of reforms to Congress. Aimed at easing the flow of products to U.S. allies and allowing U.S. defense companies to better compete in the global marketplace, the reforms sent to Congress mark the culmination of work begun early in President Obama’s first administration among several government agencies.

The filing lays out new categories defining carefully restricted items used for aircraft and turbines, as well as articulating a new system under which many items previously watched over by the State Department will now be monitored by the Department of Commerce. Congress now has 30 days to review the modifications before the final rules will be published. A 180-day transition period would follow before the new approach will be up and running.

Officials said that the two categories in this first batch of reforms were chosen because they represent a large percentage of the total license requests and are therefore in the most need of immediate action. Others will follow in the coming months, with the target of having the entirety of the USML revised in the next couple of years. Once in place, the officials said they believe the new system will allow them to focus on what matters, as opposed to spending resources protecting inane parts. (3/7)

FAA Notifies Employees of Required Furlough Days (Source: Washington Post)
The Federal Aviation Administration has notified employees that they will have to take 11 furlough days for 2013 due to sequestration. "Please know that I sincerely regret the impact that even a single furlough day will have on you," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in an e-mail to employees. (3/7)

Russian GLONASS Satellite Group Again at Full Strength (Source: Space Daily)
The Russian orbital navigation group GLONASS has again reached its full strength, which provides for sending its signal to any place on the earth, according to the website of the Roskosmos information and analytical center. 24 GLONASS satellites are currently functioning, while two more are being serviced and are therefore non-operational; still other two satellites are in orbital reserve, while one more satellite is undergoing flight testing. (3/7)

China Targeting Navigation System's Global Coverage by 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
China's homegrown navigation system BeiDou is expected to achieve full-scale global coverage by around 2020, a leading scientist said. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) will then be able to provide highly accurate and reliable positioning, navigation and timing service with the aid of a constellation of 35 satellites, said Ye Peijian. (3/7)

Peter Diamandis And Eric Anderson On Space Exploration (Source: Solve For X)
If humanity is to move off Earth and become an interplanetary species, it will need an economic reason to do so. Planetary resources led by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson is developing the technology and spacecraft to detect, harvest, capture and bring back these resources from Near-Earth asteroids. Near-earth asteroids contain (literally) trillions of dollars worth of resources and materials that could be harvested and brought back to Earth.

A number of them are also energetically easier to get to than the surface of the Moon. That tremendous bounty creates a huge incentive for the private sector to create the requisite detection, propulsion and harvesting technology to capture these precious metals and minerals. Click here. (3/8)

NASA Chooses Embry-Riddle Satellite for Space Mission (Source: ERAU)
Under its CubeSat Launch Initiative, NASA has selected 24 small satellites, including one designed by a student team at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus, to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets that will launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The winning design proposals came from universities, nonprofit organizations and NASA field centers, all focused on the low-cost development of 4-inch, cube-shaped satellites weighing less than 3 pounds.

The Prescott Campus CubeSat, named EagleSat, is intended to determine the error rates in commercial off-the-shelf electronics parts exposed to space radiation, use precise orbit timing to look at atmospheric drag effects and integrate GPS technology into a CubeSat platform. After a successful launch, the students will conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions. (3/8)

Houston Airports Brace for Sequestration — Have Space on the Brain (Source: Houston Business Journal)
The Houston Airport System is preparing for the future. In the immediate future, the system must deal with the effects of sequestration — however, in the long-term, it sees commercial space flight as a viable option. But first, federal spending cuts will slowly begin to invade Houston airports.

“Space is not the last frontier, it just happens to be our next destination,” Mario Diaz said. HAS is currently applying to license Ellington Airport as a spaceport, Diaz said. However, in addition to creating a launch site for commercial spaceships, Diaz also outlined a vision for creating “a cluster of aviation and aerospace companies” at Ellington. (3/7)

FAA Orders New $5.7M Front Range Airport Control Tower to Close (Source: Denver Channel)
It cost $5.7 million to build a control tower for the Front Range Airport, east of Denver, and now the FAA wants to close it. The FAA pitched in $4.4 million of the $5.7 million to build and enhance the tower. The planned closure is just part of the cuts forced by the government's sequester -- forcing the FAA and other government agencies to dramatically cut operating budgets. It is the tallest general aviation tower in the U.S.

The closure could impact more than just airplanes. Front Range is also the site of the planned Spaceport Colorado. The initial focus of the spaceport could be a space-pilot training center, with commercial operations possibly coming later, Dennis Heap said. Having a control tower at the airport makes the property attractive to aerospace companies who are looking to build research facilities at the airport and, in turn, bring jobs to Colorado, Heap said. With the control tower being closed, spaceport plans are in jeopardy. (3/7)

FAA Air Traffic Tower Closures Impact Florida Spaceports (Source: SPACErePORT)
The FAA is responding to the budget sequester by planning for the closure of 173 air traffic control towers at regional airports nationwide. Twenty of those towers are in Florida (second only to California), and two are at airports that are planning to become horizontal-launch/landing spaceports. Cecil Field in Jacksonville is already an FAA licensed spaceport, and Space Coast Regional in Titusville is pursuing an FAA spaceport license.

The impact of the tower closures on these airports' spaceport plans is unclear, but the Front Range airport in Colorado is in a similar situation and has expressed concern about the closure's impact on their ability to support near-term space pilot training programs by Rocket Crafters, Inc. Rocket Crafters also plans to conduct operations at the Space Coast airport/spaceport, so a delay in their Colorado plans could also impact their Florida operations. (3/8)

Tech Titans Crucial to Next Wave of Space Exploration (Source: Globe and Mail)
The O’Neilleans are coming. In the 1970s, fed up with government bureaucracy, the Princeton University physicist and space advocate Gerard K. O’Neill became convinced that free enterprise was the key to extending humanity’s presence beyond Earth. Now, as a flurry of newly formed companies unveil plans to mine the moon and asteroids, and a non-profit foundation seeks to launch humans to Mars, Dr. O’Neill’s entrepreneurial vision as well as a big dose of Silicon Valley wealth looms large behind it all. Click here. (3/7)

Wolf: NASA Let Langley Contractor Hire Chinese National Linked to Spying (Source: Huntsville Times)
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, believes officials at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia allowed a Chinese national linked to a suspicious Chinese institution access to sensitive national security information. The Chinese national was even allowed to take that material home to China, Wolf said. Wolf, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, has also been pushing the agency over security issues at Ames Research Center in California.

"It is my understanding that this Chinese national is affiliated with an institution in China that has been designated as an 'entity of concern' by other U.S. government agencies," Wolf said. "That is why I was deeply concerned to learn not only was he provided access and information he never should have received - working directly on technology that may have national security implications -- but he was also allegedly allowed by both NASA and his contractor to take his work and volumes of other NASA research back to China for a period of time."

Wolf further charged that Langley management allowed the Chinese national to be hired by a contractor to circumvent congressional restrictions. "I have also received information that at least several dozen other Chinese nationals - none of whom have U.S. citizenship and many who do not even have green cards - are currently working at Langley under a similar scheme. I worry that this 'workaround' of Congressional restrictions may be happening at other NASA centers too," Wolf's statement said. (3/7)

Pan-STARRS Finds a "Lost" Supernova (Source: HSCFA)
The star Eta Carinae is ready to blow. 170 years ago, this 100-solar-mass object belched out several suns' worth of gas in an eruption that made it the second-brightest star after Sirius. That was just a precursor to the main event, since it will eventually go supernova. Supernova explosions of massive stars are common in spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, where new stars are forming all the time. They are almost never seen in elliptical galaxies where star formation has nearly ceased.

Astronomers were surprised to find a young-looking supernova in an old galaxy. Supernova PS1-12sk, discovered with the Pan-STARRS telescope on Haleakala, is rare in more ways than one. "This supernova is one-of-a-kind," said Nathan Sanders of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), lead author of the discovery paper. "And it's definitely in the wrong neighborhood." (3/7)

Cargo Unloaded, ISS Crew Preps Dragon for Return Trip (Source: Space News)
More than a metric ton of cargo, mostly NASA science experiments, was brought aboard the international space station (ISS) March 5-6 from SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, which crew members are now packing with cargo scheduled to return to Earth March 25. (3/7)

Sequestration Spells Delays for NASA Small-Satellite Competitions (Source: Space News)
NASA’s top science official reminded members of the scientific community March 6 that budgets for small, competitively selected Earth and space science missions will be among the first programs to feel the pain of across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1. John Grunsfeld reiterated warnings delivered to Congress last month: Funding for NASA’s Astrophysics Explorer and Earth Science Venture programs of competitively selected missions would be reduced 10 percent to 15 percent this year because of sequestration. (3/7)

China to Launch Quantum Experiment Satellite in 2016 (Source: Xinhua)
China has initiated to launch a satellite for quantum information and technology experiments in 2016. Prof. Pan Jianwei said, "We hope to establish a quantum communication network from Beijing to Vienna... Such a plan is impossible without international collaborations." The field of quantum communication, the science of transmitting quantum states from one place to another, has caught global attention in recent years owing to the discovery of quantum cryptography, which is described as a way of creating "unbreakable" messages. (3/7)

House Protects SLS and Commercial Crew, Now the Senate Must Vote (Source: Huntsville Times)
Two high-profile NASA programs - the Space Launch System (SLS) and commercial crew development - received funding increases, not cuts, for this fiscal year in budget legislation passed by the House Wednesday. But their fate isn't clear with the Senate also debating funding for the remainder of FY 2013. The goal of the House was to channel the ongoing budget battles in Washington into a fight over next year's 2014 budget , not shut down the government in budget gridlock this year with sequestration already under way.

The bill is now in the Senate, where Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, is reportedly working closely with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, on a funding bill that can pass the upper body. Mikulski is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Shelby is the ranking Republican member. Washington reports have highlighted Shelby's cooperation, saying it offers real hope that the committee will reach a funding deal that can pass.

But unless the Senate rubber-stamps the House bill, whatever it passes will have to go back to the House for final approval. The current CR runs out March 27, so there is time for that. Reports from Washington suggest the Senate will keep the overall spending amount in the House CR, but try to add more individual agency appropriations. Mikulski has reportedly given up on her hopes for an Omnibus funding measure that would set budgets for all federal agencies. (3/7)

Aerospace States Association Plans Annual Meeting on Apr. 11-12 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll will attend the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, where she will also attend the annual meeting of the Aerospace States Association (ASA) with other Lt. Governors and state-appointed delegates. The ASA has served as a forum for states to share best practices for aerospace industry development and to combine their interests in support of mutually beneficial aerospace policy development in Washington. (3/8)

Another White House Petition Seeks Stability for NASA's Budget (Source: SPACErePORT)
"The 2013 budget expects ~$19 billion of funding for NASA, or half of a percent of spending; truly this is a pittance, but one that yields vast economic and scientific rewards. NASA advances our nation when well-funded; by guaranteeing that no less than 1% of federal spending will be on NASA, we promote job creation, encourage creativity in the economy, and gain insight on our universe. 1% is a small financial guarantee of progress in the final frontier!" Click here to sign the petition. (3/7)

Richard Branson's Goal to make Virgin a Galactic Success (Source: WIRED)
Passenger space travel has been a staple of sci-fi for almost as long as there have been commercial airlines -- the prefiguring of a frictionless future never more perfectly visualized than in the opening scenes of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, where a white-turbaned Pan Am stewardess dispenses snacks in zero G, en route to an orbiting Hilton hotel.

And by the time Kubrick's film was released in 1968, the real Pan American -- corporate pioneers who had flown the first transatlantic and trans-Pacific commercial services -- had already opened a waiting list for trips to the Moon. They estimated the service would begin no later than 2000, and began issuing numbered membership cards for their First Moon Flights club.

The First Moon Flights club became a mocking footnote to the company's obituary, a bellwether of fatal corporate hubris. Now 62, his blond mane steadily becoming a jaundiced white, Richard Branson still remembers sitting in his parents' living room, watching Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the Moon. He had turned 19 just a few days earlier, and was one of the generation of starry-eyed Aquarians who felt cheated by the future when their dreams of space travel for all fizzled away. Click here. (3/7)

Iridium May Add to ISC Kosmotras Launch Manifest by End of Month (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications has until March 31 to notify ISC Kosmotras of Moscow on whether Iridium will be exercising options to launch more than once with the Russian-Ukrainian company. Iridium is less than two years away from the first launch of its Iridium Next second-generation constellation of low-orbiting satellites. Prime contractor Thales Alenia Space is about two months ahead of schedule on the 81-satellite program, so the first batch will be ready for launch in February 2015.

Most of the satellites are scheduled for launch by SpaceX. Following a modification of the original SpaceX contract, Iridium is buying seven SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, each of which will carry 10 Iridium Next satellites, for $453.1 million. The launches are to occur in 2015 and 2016. As of Dec. 31, Iridium had made $65.1 million in down payments to SpaceX.

To reduce launch schedule risks, Iridium has decided that the Kosmotras-marketed Dnepr rocket will be the first to launch Iridium Next. Operated from Kazakhstan, Dnepr will launch two Iridium Next satellites at a time, for $51.8 million per launch. But the company has an option to purchase six Dnepr vehicles to put a total of 12 Iridium spacecraft into orbit, with a further option for six more launches. If Iridium exercises the option for six launches, it will pay $184.3 million to Kosmotras. (3/7)

Chinese Physicists Measure Faster-Than-Light Quantum Interaction (Source: ExtremeTech)
A team of Chinese physicists have clocked the speed of spooky action at a distance — the seemingly instantaneous interaction between entangled quantum particles — at more than four orders of magnitude faster than light. Their equipment and methodology doesn’t allow for an exact speed, but four orders of magnitude puts the figure at around 3 trillion meters per second.

Spooky action at a distance was a term coined by Einstein to describe how entangled quantum particles seem to interact with each other instantaneously, over any distance, breaking the speed of light and thus relativity. As of our current understanding of quantum mechanics, though, it is impossible to send data using quantum entanglement, preserving the theory of relativity. Some physicists believe that faster-than-light communication might be possible with some clever manipulation of entangled particles. (3/7)

Turkey Invests in Aerospace Tech (Source: Today's Zaman)
Determined to be self-sufficient in defense, Turkey is set to take big steps in aviation and space technologies with three new investments, a high-level defense official announced. The first is the establishment of an organized industrial zone, to be located in an area of more than 5 million square meters in Ankara's Kazan district, where domestic and foreign companies specializing in aviation and space will cluster together.

An industrial zone, being built right next to Turkey's defense giant Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), with the support of Turkey's Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology, is expected to be ready next year. The second major step Turkey has taken in the area of space and aviation is the creation of the Space and Satellite Integration Center presently being established within TAI. (3/6)

Is Space Tourism Beginning to Take Off? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Sending people into space is a tough way to make a buck. Not only is it risky, but it's tough to turn a profit given the sky-high cost of rocketing into the upper atmosphere or beyond. But recently, a handful of entrepreneurs, marketers and yes, even rocket scientists, have announced plans to build private space stations, blast astronauts back to the moon and even mount the first crewed expedition to Mars. As important, they're looking at new ways to pay for it, including an Axe body spray promotion that would send 22 contest winners into space.

"People are thinking in big terms, which wasn't happening before," said Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst with the Teal Group, which tracks the aerospace and defense industries. Consider: a) XCOR's sale of 22 flights for the Axe competition; Bigelow's deal with NASA to attach a commercial module to the Space Station; plans for a privately financed human Mars flyby mission; plans for privatly financed Lunar landing missions; and commercial ventures for asteroid mining. Click here. (3/7)

Four Main Challenges for a 2018 Mars Flyby Mission (Source: Next Big Future)
Launch vehicles, crew life support systems, cosmic rays/radiation, and higher re-entry speeds. These are four of the main technical challenges faced by mission planners for the proposed 501 day trip to Mars and back. Click here. (3/7)

The SST of the Future: Interview With NASA’s Peter Coen (Source: Defense Media Network)
Only two commercial supersonic transports (SSTs) have ever flown regular passenger schedules – the short-lived Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 and the AĆ©rospatiale (now EADS)-BAC (now BAE) Concorde. new technologies and research have opened the door to what many experts believe will be a certain revival of supersonic commercial flight. Peter Coen of the Fundamental Aeronautics Program (FAP) at NASA, recently spoke with us about the status and future of supersonic passenger aircraft. Click here. (3/4)

A Closer Look at Orbital’s Antares Rocket and Cygnus Freighter (Source: Parabolic Arc)
With the first launch of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket set for about a month from now, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a closer look about both the launch vehicle and the Cygnus freighter that will carry cargo to the International Space Station later this year. The medium-lift Antares rocket is an international collaboration. Orbital is the prime integrator and has overall responsibility for systems engineering, avionics, primary structure, testing and software.

Orbital also has responsibility for the first stage development and integration. KB Yuzhnoye and PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine are providing the first stage propellant tanks and associated pressurization system. The technology is based on Zenit launch vehicle. The first stage includes two Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are updated NK-33 motors manufactured by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau for the Soviet Union’s manned lunar program. The second stage incorporates Castor solid stage motors produced by ATK. Ruag of Sweden is providing the payload separation system.

The rocket is designed to lift more than 5,000 kg. into low Earth orbit. The first Antares launches will be from Wallops Island in Virginia, but the rocket is also compatible with launch facilities at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Click here. (3/8)

Asteroid to Fly Past Earth This Weekend (Source: CNN)
An asteroid the size of a city block will pass by Earth this weekend, but have no fear: There's no danger of it hitting our planet. The 80-meter wide asteroid makes its closest approach to Earth on Saturday afternoon in the United States. It will be about 975,000 kilometers (604,500 miles) away, said Don Yeomans, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. That's about 2 1/2 times the distance from the Earth to the moon. (3/7)

Golden Spike Is Sending Nations and People To The Moon, Join In! (Source: Golden Spike)
Test flights are planned to begin in 2017, and landings by 2020. And all of it will be on your big screen TVs, laptops, tablets, and phones. Golden Spike is led by former NASA leaders, our team is also deep in space-industry veterans, world-renowned planetary scientists, Hollywood and other media professionals, and experienced business people. Since publicly launching the company in December, we’ve been amazed by the growing number of emails, letters, and social media posts from people wanting to know how to take part.

We hear you. So we’ve launched this Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign. This is your chance to participate and accelerate our development efforts, funding a dollar for every mile from the Earth to the Moon—$240,000 in total, and to know you're a part of a new wave of human lunar exploration. Click here to learn more, and to see a new video about the program. (3/8)

Combat Ops Space Cell: Defending Critical Satellite Links (Source: USAF)
More than 22,000 miles away, spinning silently through the vacuum of space, is one of the most critical components to air, space and cyberspace superiority today; a satellite. The mission to defend and protect the operability of that satellite rests a little closer to home, at the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Combined Air and Space Operations Center within the Combat Operations Division's Space Cell.

"We have five priority missions we support," said Capt. Brandon Davenport, the Space Cell chief. "Theater missile warning, personnel recovery support, satellite communications, GPS constellation health and modeling as well as battle space characterization." One of the biggest threats to satellite communications and GPS missions is its vulnerability to electromagnetic interference, or EMI, which causes the signal to be "jammed." (3/7)

Kennedy Space Center Visits by China are Illegal, Wolf Says (Source: Florida Today)
A congressman says NASA broke a national security law last year by failing to notify Congress about two visits Chinese officials made to the Kennedy Space Center, a charge the agency flatly denies. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, said the visits — one in June and one in December — were barred by a measure he authored in 2011 requiring NASA facilities such as KSC to give lawmakers at least 14 days notice before hosting “official Chinese visitors.” “We say, ‘Let us know. Notify us.’ And they did not,” Wolf said. “I do believe that was a violation of the law.”

The visits to KSC are part of what Wolf calls a troubling pattern of security lapses at NASA centers. Wolf said he learned about the 2012 visits to KSC on Thursday, in a letter from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. He said NASA concluded the visits didn’t violate the law because the law doesn’t apply to meetings at NASA facilities of multilateral bodies that often include representatives from the U.S. and China. In most cases, they are students at U.S. universities or employees of NASA contractors. (3/7)

Could Massive Floods on Mars Have Caused Climate Change? (Source: Daily Mail)
Scientists have discovered evidence of massive flooding on Mars billions of years ago. New maps of the subsurface of Mars show for the first time buried channels below the surface of the red planet. Mars is thought to have been cold and dry over the past 2.5 billion years, but the channels suggest evidence of flooding, the scientists say. They are now investigating whether such floods could have induced climate change.

The channels were found in Elysium Planitia, an expanse of plains along the equator, and the youngest volcanic region on the plane. The 3D maps were constructed using data from the shallow radar on board the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. They are now studying the source and scale of the channels to comprehend recent Martian hydrologic activity and determine whether such floods could be behind climate change on our planetary neighbor. (3/7)

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