April 10, 2013

Boeing to Expand Facility in South Carolina (Source: USA Today)
Boeing plans to invest $1 billion into its manufacturing complex in South Carolina. "With unprecedented demand for commercial airplanes -- including a forecast of another 34,000 airplanes required over the next 20 years -- Boeing is positioned for significant and sustained growth in the years ahead," the company said in a statement. Editor's Note: This Boeing operation has attracted many former Space Shuttle workers from Florida, in what has been called a 'brain drain' for the Space Coast. (4/10)

NASA-Backed Fusion Engine Could Cut Mars Trip Down to 30 Days (Source: The Register)
NASA, and plenty of private individuals, want to put mankind on Mars. Now a team at the University of Washington, funded by the space agency, is about to start building a fusion engine that could get humans there in just 30 days and make other forms of space travel obsolete. "Using existing rocket fuels, it's nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth," said lead researcher John Slough.

The proposed Fusion Driven Rocket (FDR) is a 150-ton system that uses magnetism to compress lithium or aluminum metal bands around a deuterium-tritium fuel pellet to initiate fusion. The resultant microsecond reaction forces the propellant mass out at 30 kilometers per second, and would be able to pulse every minute or so and not cause g-force damage to the spacecraft's occupants. (4/10)

French Official: Removing ESA From Ariane Work Would Jeopardize Spaceport Funding (Source: Space News)
The French prime minister has rejected a proposal by the government’s accounting watchdog that future Ariane rocket development be conducted outside the European Space Agency (ESA) to cut costs and consolidate France’s role as the rocket’s designer and operator.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said removing ESA from future Ariane work would exacerbate France’s difficulties in getting other European governments and institutions to help finance Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana. Ayrault said any hope France has of getting spaceport financial support from the European Commission likely would be dashed if future Ariane work was conducted by just a handful of nations, including France. (4/10)

Astronaut Joins Florida and Spain Officials to Celebrate Florida's Founding (Source: SPACErePORT)
2013 is being celebrated as the 500th anniversary of Florida's founding by Spanish explorers in 1513. Among the statewide events being planned is a May 10 "Evening on the Galleon" at Port Canaveral, sponsored by the National Air, Sea & Space Foundation. The event will feature Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Consul General of Spain Cristina Barrios, and other state elected officials and VIPs. Click here. (4/10)

Heritage Auctions Offers Collection of Historic Space Items (Source: Space Daily)
The Steven R. Belasco Collection of Space Memorabilia, featuring more than 300 lots of some of the rarest and most desirable Space Exploration memorabilia to ever surface at public auction, will be the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions' 550-lot strong April 18 Space Exploration Signature® Auction. Click here. (4/2)

President Obama Seeks $17.7 Billion for NASA (Source: Space News)
NASA unveiled a mostly business as usual $17.7 billion 2014 spending plan April 10 that brushes aside sequestration to keep key space programs on track while making a handful of new investments, including a $105 million downpayment on a mission to capture an asteroid and haul it to the Moon. President Obama is calling for reversing deep cuts to NASA and other federal agencies by canceling the $1.2 trillion sequester triggered last month and replacing it with a 10-year deficit reduction plan that includes tax hikes and entitlement reform.

The president’s proposal would return NASA’s budget to its 2012 level, which is roughly $1 billion more than the $16.6 billion the agency stands to receive under the sequestered $1 trillion spending bill Congress enacted last month to keep the U.S. government running through September. A senior NASA official said the comparative increase was driven by the asteroid-capture mission, which aims to make good on Obama’s 2010 pledge to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025.

NASA’s 2014 budget proposal aims to keep the Orion crew capsule and its Space Launch System booster on track for an unmanned test launch in 2017 by giving the government-led effort a steady $2.7 billion next year. The budget also keeps the United States on track to resume launching American astronauts from U.S. soil by 2017 by funding the Commercial Crew Program at $821 million -- significantly more than Congress so far has been willing to spend to help Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada develop competing crew launch systems. (4/10)

Proposed NASA Budget De-Funds Education Programs (Source: SPACErePORT)
In support of the Administration's FY 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education plan, the Agency's education efforts will be fundamentally restructured into a consolidated education program funded through the Office of Education. (4/10)

Eight Florida Small-Business Projects Selected for NASA SBIR/STTR Funding (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 295 research and technology proposals from 216 American small businesses for negotiations that may lead to contract awards worth a combined $38.7 million. The proposals are part of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.

Florida SBIR winners include: HARP Engineering of Gainesivlle will work on High Temperature Sensors Using Vertically Aligned ZnO Nanowires. Florida Turbine Technologies of Jupiter will work on a Floating Seal for Turbopumps. Perichoro LLC of Venice will work on Accurate Timekeeping with an Ensemble of Clocks. Accelogic LLC of Weston will work on Accelerating Communication-Intensive Applications via Novel Data Compression Techniques.

STTR winners include: Streamline Numerics of Gainesvile will work with Mississippi State University on a High Performance Multiphase Combustion Tool Using Level Set-Based Primary Atomization Coupled with Flamelet Models. Prioria Robotics of Gainesville will work with the University of Florida on Local Navigation in GNSS and Magnetometer-Denied Environments. CFD Research Corp. of Huntsville Alabama will work with the University of Florida on Particle Flow Physics for Extreme Environments. Systems Technology Inc. of Hawthorne California will work with the Univeristy of Florida on Attitude Control Enhancement Using Distributed Wing Load Sensing for Dynamic Servoelastic Control. (4/9)

Merritt Island Students Work with NASA Mentors to Build Cubesat (Source: Florida Today)
In a room previously used to draw blood and run tests on astronauts, high school senior Maurisa Orona holds a satellite not much larger than the palm of her hand. Affectionately referred to as the “StangSat” — after Merritt Island High’s nickname, the Mustangs — a handful of Merritt Island High students and their NASA mentors are adding finishing touches to a prototype that will soon be tested on a Prospector 18 rocket.

“It means so much, it’s going to be so amazing,” said Briana Luthman, 17, looking forward to seeing the satellite she helped design and build launch in the Mojave Desert. “I can’t wait.” Based on how the high-altitude launch on a Garvey Spacecraft Corp. rocket goes this summer, students will plan and build a second and final satellite to launch into space on a future NASA mission. Click here. (4/10)

Spaceport Funding Included in New Mexico Bill (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Some $13.6 million in new projects in Doña Ana County — including chunks of money for a 911 center and Santa Teresa economic development — were signed into law in recent days by Gov. Susana Martinez. Added to that are $3 million for a Spaceport America southern road and $3.5 million for bricks-and-mortar projects at New Mexico State University, projects with multi-county impact.

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority was successful in getting an extra $3 million to add to an existing budget to build a southern access road to the Sierra County-based spaceport. It will be used to pay for roadside fencing and archeological mitigation, according to spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson. "So we now have $15 million for the southern road," she said. Doña Ana County officials have said that building a paved southern road to the spaceport is crucial for Las Cruces to benefit from the spaceport economically. Separate from the capital outlay bill, the spaceport authority received $456,000 for staff salaries, Anderson said. (4/10)

SpaceX Bill Clears House Committee Unanimously by a Vote of 9-0 (Source: KVEO)
Legislation that would further the SpaceX Boca Chica launch project cleared the House and Land Resource Management Committee unanimously today. House Bill 2623 by State Rep. Rene Oliveira allows Cameron County to temporarily close an area of beach for launches and space flight activities with approval of the General Land Office. The bill specifies that a county must have approval from the State's General Land Office before a launch can be made. It would also prohibit beach closure during the Saturday and Sunday preceding certain holidays. (4/9)

NASA Glenn to Get Funds for Asteroid Program Under President's Budget Plan (Source Cleveland Plain Dealer)
A budget plan that President Barack Obama will release Wednesday would charge NASA Glenn Research Center with developing a solar electric propulsion system for a spaceship that will collect an asteroid and park it in the moon's orbit so astronauts can conduct research on it.

Moving the giant space rock would give NASA experience deflecting asteroids that could prove vital to averting potential Earth collisions such as one believed to have caused a mass dinosaur extinction millions of years ago. Some asteroids also contain rare elements that mining companies are eager to exploit, NASA officials said. (4/10)

NASA: Forget the Moon, Let's Play Asteroids (Source: PC Magazine)
Last May, it was reported that NASA had begun training astronauts for an asteroid mission. In recent years, the space agency has also been focused on planning a manned trip to Mars. One part of those ambitious projects could involve constructing a space station in fixed lunar orbit, which could serve as a launching pad for manned interplanetary missions. But some in the space community are apparently unhappy with those ambitious plans.

Bolden, however, stressed that changing NASA's agreed-upon, long-term objectives would be counter-productive.
"[I]t means we are probably, in our lifetime, in the lifetime of everybody sitting in this room, we are probably never again going to see Americans on the Moon, on Mars, near an asteroid, or anywhere. We cannot continue to change the course of human exploration," the NASA administrator was quoted as saying. (4/9)

Posey Intrigued by NASA Asteroid Mission (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The unorthodox idea to capture an asteroid and put it into lunar orbit for study already has champions in U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, and U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-FL, who voiced support this week. "I'm intrigued by the concept," Posey said. "I think it has merit to it." But NASA will need many more backers in Congress, and the first real test is expected today when the House science committee meets to discuss U.S. space policy.

Posey serves on the Space Subcommittee and his district includes the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, so far is staying neutral. "He still wants to see more details from the president's budget proposal and speak with experts within the space community before he officially weighs in on the proposal," said Zachary Kurz, a committee spokesman. (4/9)

Posey Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Set NASA’s Focus on the Moon (Source: Rep. Bill Posey)
U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), John Culberson (R-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Ted Poe (R-TX) have once again reintroduced bipartisan legislation directing NASA to develop a plan for returning to the Moon and establishing a human presence there. The RE-asserting American Leadership in Space Act, or REAL Space Act, sets a clear course for NASA toward human space flight while keeping within current budgetary constraints.

“The Moon is our nearest celestial body, taking only a matter of days to reach,” said Rep. Bill Posey, who as a young man worked on the Apollo Program at the Kennedy Space Center. “In order to explore deeper into space—to Mars and beyond—a moon presence offers us the ability to develop and test technologies to cope with the realities of operating on an extraterrestrial surface.” Click here. (4/10)

Turd in Space: Apollo 10 Transcript Reveals Poop Problem (Source: NBC)
Bathroom rituals in outer space are a perennial favorite, particularly when they go wrong — as evidenced by the latest wave of hilarity over the runaway poop that prompted rude remarks during the Apollo 10 round-the-moon mission in 1969. A 500-page-plus transcript of the declassified mission log records tons of routine conversations among the mission's three astronauts: commander Tom Stafford, lunar module pilot Gene Cernan and command module pilot John Young.

But six days into the eight-day mission, around page 414, an emergency pops up: "Give me a napkin, quick," Stafford says. "There's a turd floating through the air." "I didn't do it," Young says. "It ain't one of mine." "I don't think it's one of mine," Cernan says. The astronauts discuss the finer points of waste disposal in space, and then move on to other business. But minutes later, it's "Houston, we have a problem" all over again. "Here's another goddam turd," Cernan says. "What's the matter with you guys?" (4/9)

Paragon SDC to Develop Inflatable Space Habitat with NASA SBIR Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards to develop technologies for inflatable space habitats and the regeneration of oxygen for crews on their way to the moon and Mars.

“Paragon Space Development Corp (Paragon) and Thin Red Line Aerospace proposes to explore the utilization of inflatable structures by designing a habitation module as an integrated, all-fabric inflatable structural architecture, rather than modifying rigid space structural designs with an inflatable envelope,” according to the proposal summary. “Paragon and TRLA have developed several concepts with the potential to eliminate the need for hard-material support structure within an inflated habitat. (4/9)

Astrobotic Lunar Rover Technology Selected for SBIR Phase I Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award worth up to $125,000 for the development of technology that will allow lunar prospecting rovers to search for ice and other volatiles in the extreme conditions of polar craters. “Current planetary rover planning technologies are not designed for these environments and have avoided them altogether, operating only in mid-latitudes,” according to a summary of the project, which focuses on allowing the rovers to operate with a degree of autonomy. (4/9)

Tethers Unlimited Selected for 4 NASA and 1 Air Force SBIR Awards (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited of Bothell, Wash., for four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards for the development technologies for nano-sat launch vehicles, small satellites, robotic surface explorers, and space manufacturing. The company also has been selected for an Air Force SBIR Phase II award for a CubeSat radio system. (4/9)

Russian Military Orders Five High-Res Spy Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s Lavochkin aerospace company has won a defense ministry tender on the development of a series of five high-resolution optical-electronic surveillance satellites worth almost 70 billion rubles ($2.2 bln). The company’s General Director Viktor Khartov said that Lavochkin will design and build the satellite while the electronic payload will be initially acquired abroad.

European EADS consortium, Thales Alenia Space and Israel Aerospace Industries are being considered as potential suppliers of the electronic equipment for the satellites. Khartov said the draft design of the new satellite will be finished by the end of 2013. The orbital grouping will initially consist of two satellites with further addition of three to form a complete system. (4/10)

How to Travel to Outer Space Without Spending Millions of Dollars (Source: Smithsonian)
Ever since the collective “YOU” became Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006, campaigns to get our attention have increasingly sought out our digital selves. You can name a Budweiser Clydesdale. You can pick Lays’ new potato chip flavor. And it’s not just retail that wants your online opinions: You can vote for who will win photography contests. You can play the futures market on who will win elected offices. And with enough signatures, you can get the White House to read your petitions.

Many science endeavors rely on such crowdsourcing. With a simple app, you can let researchers know the exact date that your lilacs or dogwoods bloom, helping them to track how seasonal cycles are shifting as a result of climate change. You can join the search for ever-larger prime numbers. You can even help scientists scan radio waves in space to search for intelligent life outside of Earth. These more traditional crowdsourcing efforts allow users to brainstorm ideas and process data from computers at home.

But now, a few projects are allowing us to put our virtual selves beyond Earth’s atmosphere through recently launched space missions. Who said that rovers, space probes, a handful of astronauts and pigs were the only ones in space? No longer are we just bystanders watching spacecraft launch and cooing over images returned of other planets and stars. Now, we can direct cameras, help run experiments, even send our avatars–of sorts–to inhabit nearby planetary bodies or return to us in a time capsule. (4/10)

Panel: Nation Needs Consensus on Space Exploration Goal (Source: Colorado Springs Gazette)
Congress and the Obama administration need to agree on a long-term goal for space exploration, such as sending a human crew to Mars, for the U.S. space program to get the most out of limited budgets, according to panelists at a discussion Tuesday during the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Jim Maser, president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, said the nation’s space program is “caught in the middle” between competing visions for space exploration from Congress and the administration that has led to a prolonged debate and argument about what direction the program should take. Maser was among three panelists discussing “Pioneering Leadership and Economic Competitiveness,” which mostly focused on a December report by the National Research Council that recommended the nation develop a consensus on a long-term direction of the space program. (4/10)

Ball Aerospace Ramps Up Sentinel Asteroid Search Mission (Source: Aviation Week)
A space-based infrared telescope designed to find Earth-threatening asteroids and objects like the one that exploded over the Russian Urals in February is about to enter system definition at Ball Aerospace. The Sentinel spacecraft, led by the non-profit B612 Foundation, is designed to catalog 90% of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the Solar System. The craft will be placed in a Venus-following orbit, allowing it to view the night half of the sky every 20 days, and picking up objects that are currently often difficult, if not impossible, to see in advance from Earth. (4/10)

Kazakhstan to Launch First Remote Sensing Satellite by Yearend (Source: Xinhua)
The Kazakh space agency plans to launch the country's first Earth remote sensing satellite by the end of this year. Kazakhstan's remote sensing system includes two optoelectronic satellites, and the cost will be about 260 million euros (about $341 million), according to the agency. The second, high-resolution remote sensing satellite is planned to be launched in 2014 from the Guiana Space Center, a French spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana, said KazCosmos. (4/10)

PWR Sees Better Days Ahead after Post-Shuttle Dropoff (Source: Space News)
After a period of declining revenue attributable primarily to the 2011 retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet, rocket and space propulsion provider Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) expects its business to level off or even increase modestly in the next five years.

PWR President Jim Maser said the company has cut its staff by 40 percent, to about 2,000 employees, and is reducing its factory space by 50 percent, a process expected to be completed by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Canoga Park, Calif.-based company has begun ordering long-lead components for a large batch of rockets to be ordered by the U.S. Air Force, has a number of development projects under way for NASA, and builds a key component of a missile defense system that is expected to generate significant sales in the years ahead, he said. (4/10)

Shelton: ‘We’ve Got To Start Now’ on Milspace Reforms (Source: Space News)
The U.S. military space program is facing a perfect storm of emerging threats and declining budgets that will necessitate wholesale changes or result in an unaffordable and potentially untenable future, the U.S. Air Force’s top uniformed space official said April 9. “We’ve got a tremendous amount of work to do, but we’ve got to start now,” said Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command. “The status quo just can’t drive us.”

During a keynote address here at the 29th National Space Symposium and in a briefing with reporters immediately afterward, Shelton said the Defense Department must consider a series of reforms, such as smaller satellites and hosted payloads, to help keep costs down. His views on such a philosophy, often referred to as disaggregation, have only strengthened over the past two years, he said. (4/9)

Roscosmos is to Send a Person to the Moon (Source: Pravda)
The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) has prepared a program to develop a spacecraft launch facility with a price tag of 800-900 billion rubles. The proposal was submitted to the Government of the Russian Federation. If it is approved, the project of the Space Agency will become a federal program for the period of 2016-2025. Among other things, it provides for sending a person to the moon.

Roskosmos based its concept of the federal program on two scenarios, a favorable, "basic" one, and unfavorable, "crisis" one. Which one of them is implemented would depend on the relations between Russia with Kazakhstan, Izvestia reported. The new spaceport is planned to create a launch site for super-heavy rockets that will bring loads weighing up to 70 tons to the low Earth orbit. The ultimate goal of creating such a missile is to make manned flight to the Moon as early as in 2028. (4/10)

NASA's Twitter Account Wins Back-to-Back Shorty Awards (Source: NASA)
NASA's official Twitter feed, @NASA, has won its second consecutive Shorty award for the best government use of social media. The Shorty Award honors the best of social media across sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare and others. NASA took the prize Monday at the fifth annual Shorty Awards ceremony in New York. The @NASA acceptance tweet was, "We're sharing the universe 1 tweet at a time. Be inspired! Follow @NASA & RT if you love science & space. #ShortyAwards." (4/9)

EFT-1 Orion Has its Secondary Structures Installed (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The first Orion set to launch into space is now looking more like an actual spaceship, as engineers installed the secondary structures around the capsule. The Exploration Flight Test -1 (EFT-1) mission remains on track for launch next summer atop of a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.

While Orion’s role with the Space Launch System (SLS) recently became more convoluted, following the apparent change to its second Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) mission – known as Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2) – into flight to a “captured asteroid” near the Moon – the EFT-1 mission is proceeding full steam ahead. The EFT-1 mission is a critical test of Orion’s systems, providing vital data for the Critical Design Review (CDR) in April, 2015 – itself a major milestone ahead of Orion’s debut with the SLS in 2017. (4/9)

Why NASA Should Nab an Asteroid (Source: Popular Mechanics)
In his last dispatch from the recent AIAA Global Space Exploration Conference, veteran astronaut and PM contributor Tom Jones argues for NASA to undertake a mission to snare a nearby small asteroid and tow it into the orbit of the moon. The mission would demonstrate the ability to move big objects in space, Jones says—which would come in handy in case astronomers spot an asteroid hurtling toward our planet. And, he says, it would help to show that NASA is ready to send manned explorers beyond low Earth orbit once again. Click here. (4/9)

Space Talk Radio Show Ends at WMMB (Source: SPACErePORT)
Jim Banke's Space Talk radio show, broadcast on WMMB and also available via podcast, conducted its final show on April 6. Banke, a longtime space journalist with Florida Today and other publications, will continue to work with WMMB to provide launch coverage and cover other space stories. (4/9)

Belarus, Russia to Create New Satellite Grouping (Source: RIA Novosti)
Belarus and Russia are planning to set up an advanced civilian satellite grouping, Pyotr Vityaz, a spokesman for the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences, said. At present, the Belarusian-Russian space grouping consists of a Belarusian spacecraft, BKA, and its Russian counterpart, Kanopus-B, which were launched in July 2012. They provide satellite imagery with a resolution of 2.1 meters (6.8 feet). (4/9)

Decision on Developing Ultra Heavy Lift Rocket Due in a Few Days (Source: Itar-Tass)
The decision on developing an ultra-heavy lift rocket will be made within the next few days, President of the Energia rocket and space corporation Vitaly Lopota said. "A program of manned flights to the moon is possible when the booster rocket masses 70 tons. Then we can hope for ballistic circumnavigation of the moon," Lopota said, "the ship will mass 20 tons. To enable it to reach the moon, it needs another 40 tons of accelerator unit. To return the ship, we need an extra 20 tons, and landing on the moon requires another 20 to 30 tons."

The Energia president noted that a 130-ton booster will be developed by 2030. In his opinion, deep space exploration is only possible in international cooperation. Answering a question if a new space exploration breakthrough was possible for Russia, he noted that deep space exploration was a task for the international community; "nobody else can do it effectively." "The vehicle which can deliver an expedition to Mars will weigh 500 tons. Nobody should attempt exploring deep space on his own: it has no prospects," Lopota said. (4/9)

Six New Degrees at Embry-Riddle Meet Growing Needs in Aviation, Space, Global Business (Source: ERAU)
 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Board of Trustees has approved six new undergraduate and graduate degree programs at the university’s Daytona Beach, Fla., Prescott, Ariz., and Worldwide campuses. Building on Embry-Riddle’s strengths in aviation, aerospace, engineering and business, the degrees will educate professionals in aviation finance, aviation security, commercial space operations, engineering management, global business and unmanned systems engineering. Click here. (4/9)

Space Command Juggles Budget In Face Of North Korean Threat, Sequestration (Source: AOL Defense)
Spend $5 million to help track possible threats like North Korean missile launches by leaving an Alaskan radar site on at full power. Turn off East Coast radar receivers that provide data about satellites and space debris. Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, has cut Space Fence radar coverage by one-third, making what he called a prudent risk decision to use a radar at Eglin Air Force Base "that can operate in Space Fence mode" to plug any holes that might develop. That means he's shut down two of six radar receivers.

That's how tough the balancing act is getting for Shelton as he fights his way through to saving $508 million from his command's budget. (Perhaps Congress wants to consider how prudent this risk is as it decides what to do about sequestration.) Shelton said he decided against shutting down the Alaskan radar receiver because of the highly uncertain North Korean situation but now he's got to find that $5 million from somewhere else in his budget. In addition, he's cut his civilian contractor workforce by 50 percent. (4/9)

Nearby Moons Suggest We Look Closer for Alien Life Around Distant Stars (Source: America Space)
While there have been more than a few predictions made as to when we will discover life on a planet orbiting some far-flung star, what is only occasionally predicted is whether or not we will find life on one of the other worlds in our very own solar system. While some think that Mars might still support some form of microbial life, the worlds that hold a greater potential of being abodes to extraterrestrial life are the moons of the outer solar system.

On Earth, the primary source of energy is the Sun; this isn’t the case for moons circling the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Out there, chemical reactions are possibly the most important source of energy. Researchers looking into the possibility of life on Europa believe that hydrogen peroxide is a key ingredient to making life even possible on Europa. The reason being is that, when mixed with liquid water, hydrogen peroxide decays into oxygen.

Europa is not alone in possibly having life. Researchers discovered that Saturn’s moon Titan, long considered to resemble a pre-biotic Earth, has something consuming both hydrogen and acetylene. It has yet to be determined what is causing this to take place; it could be a non-biological process occurring on the moon. Now, while having a life form consume acetylene might seem strange on the hydrological-based Earth, it makes perfect sense for a methane-based life form on a world with a methalogical-based cycle like Titan. (4/9)

Space Travel May Increase Chances of Colon Cancer (Source: Space.com)
Space travel may increase the risk of colon cancer, according to a new study in mice. The results show mice exposed to a type of high-energy radiation prevalent in space called 56Fe  developed tumors in their intestines. A second study by the same group of researchers suggests why this might be: Cosmic radiation prevents gut cells from destroying a protein called beta-catenin, which in turn, promotes uncontrolled cell growth, the researchers said. (4/9)

US Headed for 'Perfect Storm' in Space, Air Force General Says (Source: Space.com)
Shrinking government budgets, combined with a growing reliance on space assets by the U.S. — especially by its military — are putting the country in an undefended position, Gen. William Shelton said. Every U.S. military action depends on space capabilities such as satellite-based surveillance, communications, and mapping and weather technologies. Yet the satellite networks that provide these services are "fragile" and spread thin, and there are no backups for these technologies if they were to fail, Shelton stressed, at one point describing the conditions as a "perfect storm"-type situation. (4/9)

Pentagon Asks For Less Funding For Missile Defense in 2014 (Source: Bloomberg)
The Pentagon will seek $9.16 billion in the 2014 fiscal budget for missile defense programs, which represents around a $550 million drop in funding from the 2013 fiscal budget. "These repeated cuts are even more troubling given the advances in nuclear weapons and missile technology by the unstable regime in North Korea," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-AL. (4/8)

Chinese Launch Failures in 1990s Led to U.S. ITAR Problems Today (Source: Flight Global)
In the 1990s, two American-built satellites flying atop Chinese rockets were destroyed during launch. During the subsequent fault reviews it became evident that the Chinese government was using the investigation to gather information on US satellite technology and manufacturing. Concern arose that China, already infamous for lax intellectual property enforcement in other realms, could seek to copy proprietary and even secret US technologies.

The result was a modification of the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) law, placing satellites, spacecraft and related components solidly on the United States Munitions List (USML) and removing authority to reclassify from the president. Placement on the USML means long and arduous reviews by the government to even discuss relevant plans with foreign nationals.

The change was a disaster for the US space manufacturing industry. The space industry is both highly competitive and highly international, and the new demands added costs and complications that many foreign companies simply declined to bear. The US share of satellite manufacturing plunged from 100% of worldwide market share in the 1970s to around 16% today. (4/9)

Are There Signs of SUSY in Planck Data? (Source: Physics World)
Evidence of supersymmetry (SUSY) could be lurking in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), according to a UK-based physicist who has calculated how the theory could affect fluctuations in the CMB. The claim comes just a few days after the latest CMB observations were released by the team running the Planck space telescope – results that suggest that evidence for SUSY may not be forthcoming from the CMB.

However, if these latest calculations are correct, the CMB could offer a window into dark matter and complement the search for SUSY at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) when it starts up again in 2015. (4/9)

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