April 12, 2013

Aerospace States Association Meets in Colorado (Source: ASA)
The Aerospace States Association (ASA) met this week in Colorado during the National Space Symposium. ASA is led by state Lieutenant Governors, but given the recent resignation of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the Sunshine State was represented by Space Florida's Mark Bontrager. The meeting was sponsored by United Launch Alliance. Click here for information. (4/12)

IAU Questions Selling Right to Name a Planet (Source: SpaceRef)
In the light of recent events, where the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets has been advertised, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) wishes to inform the public that such schemes have no bearing on the official naming process. The IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public's interest to be involved in recent discoveries, but would like to strongly stress the importance of having a unified naming procedure.

Recently, an organization has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination. Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process -- they will not lead to an officially-recognized exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued. (4/12)

Stephen Hawking: Space Exploration Is Key To Saving Humanity (Source: Huffington Post)
Stephen Hawking, who spent his career decoding the universe and even experienced weightlessness, is urging the continuation of space exploration – for humanity's sake. The 71-year-old Hawking said he did not think humans would survive another 1,000 years "without escaping beyond our fragile planet." The British cosmologist made the remarks Tuesday before an audience of doctors, nurses and employees at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he toured a stem cell laboratory that's focused on trying to slow the progression of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Hawking was diagnosed with the neurological disorder 50 years ago while a student at Cambridge University. He recalled how he became depressed and initially didn't see a point in finishing his doctorate. But he continued to delve into his studies. "If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way," he said. (4/10)

Yuzhnoye, Special Aerospace Services Sign U.S. Teaming Agreement (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Special Aerospace Services has signed a teaming agreement with Ukrainian-based hardware and aerospace technology manufacturer, Yuzhnoye SDO. The teaming agreement will provide Ukrainian rocket engine technology, systems, and services to the U.S. market. SAS and Yuzhnoye SDO have worked closely together over the last three years to develop strategic marketing and system development concepts for applications in the U.S. space industry market. One such collaboration is SAS developed TALON Micro-Upper Stage System currently utilizing Yuzhnoye’s high performance and reliable propulsion technology. (4/12)

NASA Ames Spared From Obama Budget Cuts (Source: KPIX)
NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View has been spared from President Barack Obama’s proposed budget cuts. The president’s proposal calls for $733 million for NASA Ames in 2014, $22 million more than in fiscal 2013. “In short, the president’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget is good news for Ames, good news for NASA and it’s good news for the country,” said NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden. (4/12)

Arianespace Revenue Up 31 Percent for 2012 (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch consortium on April 12 reported final 2012 revenue of 1.329 billion euros ($1.75 billion) and the expected wafer-thin profit of 1.7 million euros after a 70 million-euro contribution to operating charges made by the 20-nation European Space Agency (ESA). (4/12)

International Space Apps Challenge at KSC on Apr. 20-21 (Source: NASA)
Join us in solving the International Space Apps Challenge. Your fellow participants will include NASA engineers and scientists, along with professionals and students from a variety of backgrounds. Everyone who can be physically present at the site is welcome to register! Registration opens at 9am on Saturday, April 20. Local Awards will be given at 3:30pm on Sunday, April 21.

NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has three challenges we developed for ISAC 2013 (below). We will be solving them at our location; the other challenges we will be solving have yet to be determined. 1) Deployable Greenhouse. 2) Envision Kennedy Space Center Spaceport 2040. 3) Moonville – Lunar Industry Game. Click here for information. (4/12)

NASA Rolls Back Sequestration To Tackle Asteroid Retrieval (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA spending rises to a pre-sequestration level of $17.7 billion under President Barack Obama’s proposed 2014 budget and holds steady in outyear projections, essentially casting off the current fiscal year deficit-reducing rollback to fuel an accelerated asteroid encounter by astronauts.

The spending plan also holds target dates for initiating a new U.S. commercial crew orbital transportation capability, as well as launching the James Webb Space Telescope and second Curiosity-style rover to advance Mars sample return goals — some of NASA’s most visible post-shuttle activities — in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Embedded prominently in the spending plan forwarded to the House and Senate on April 10 is a $105 million down payment on an ambitious and yet-to-be-priced effort to identify and robotically corral a small asteroid into an orbit around the Moon in time for a 2021 visit by U.S. astronauts. (4/10)

Harris Corp. Warns of Sequester-Related Layoffs (Source: Florida Today)
Harris Corp. is telling workers to prepare for layoffs in the face of reduced government spending and delayed procurement decisions. The Melbourne-headquartered Harris, one of the Space Coast’s largest and most influential companies, expects to trim it employment by about 400. The company will attempt to get most of the reductions through voluntary separations. The remainder would come through layoffs. Harris has about 15,000 employees companywide, about 6,500 based in Brevard County. (4/12)

Attracting the Next Generation (Source: Aviation Week)
We hear a lot about how difficult it is to attract a new generation of workers into the aerospace industry. This isn’t the Apollo era, it’s the Facebook/Google/Apple era. Etc. If that is true, it would seem that Silicon Valley would be as hard a recruiting ground as any you could imagine, right?

Not so, says NASA Ames Research Director Peter Worden from his office in Sunnyvale in the heart of Silicon Valley. “Kids are incredibly interested,” he says, referring to everyone from the K-12 set right through the post-doctorate ranks. And he’s not just talking about talent that grows up in Silicon Valley, the region roughly defined as stretching from San Francisco south along the Peninsula to San Jose. 

The world’s university students come to work at Ames, which takes a leadership role in several areas for NASA, including smallsats, astrobiology and super computing. “We have lots of internationals,” Wooden says, referring to his young talent pool. “This is where opportunity comes for them. The ideas are what matters. It’s not your nationality.” (4/9)

Europe Sets June 5 for Launch of Space Freighter (Source: Space Daily)
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday announced it would launch the fourth, and heaviest, in a series of hi-tech cargo vehicles to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 5. Named the Albert Einstein, the freighter will deliver 2.5 tons of dry cargo, ranging from food and scientific experiments to spare parts and clothing, as well as fuel, water and oxygen. The total mass of the vehicle, its contents and fuel, will come to 20.235 tons, "making this spacecraft the heaviest ever lofted into orbit by an Ariane rocket," ESA said. (4/11)

Florida Tech Scientists Study 'Dark Side of Dark Lightning' (Source: Space Daily)
"What are the radiation doses to airplane passengers from the intense bursts of gamma-rays that originate from thunderclouds?" Florida Institute of Technology Department of Physics and Space Science faculty members addressed the issue in recent research. Joseph Dwyer, Ningyu Liu and Hamid Rassoul discussed a new physics-based model of radiation dose calculations and compared the calculations to previous work.

Scientists have known for almost a decade that thunderstorms are capable of generating brief but powerful bursts of gamma-rays called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs. These flashes of gamma-rays are so bright they can blind instruments many hundreds of kilometers away in outer space. Because they can originate near the same altitudes at which commercial aircraft routinely fly, scientists have been trying to determine whether or not terrestrial gamma ray flashes present a radiation hazard to individuals in aircraft.

Until recently, the work to answer that question was hampered by a poor understanding of exactly how these gamma-rays are generated by thunderstorms, with initial dose estimates ranging from not-so-safe to downright scary. Now, scientists at Florida Tech have developed a promising physics-based model of exactly how thunderstorms manage to produce high-energy radiation. (4/12)

Russian Space Fan May Have Found Lost Soviet Mars Probe in NASA Photos (Source: Russia Today)
A Russian space enthusiast may have found a lost Soviet lander in photos taken by a NASA satellite orbiting Mars. Though some experts are skeptical, there is a chance that a Russian probe sent to Mars more than 40 years ago has been rediscovered.

While studying photos taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2007, Mars exploration enthusiast Vitaly Egorov managed to spot an object that resembled the long-lost Soviet Mars-3 probe, first sent to the Red Planet in 1971. The MRO has orbited Mars since 2006, and some of the photos it has taken have been published on NASA’s website for public viewing. (4/12)

Replica Space Shuttle Boosters Rising at the KSC Visitor Complex (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Towering replicas of the twin solid-fuel booster rockets that provided the vast majority of thrust to propel space shuttles skyward are being stacked outside the new Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. A mockup of the bright orange external fuel tank that served as the shuttle vehicle's structural backbone for launch will be added to create a dramatic entrance for the $100 million Atlantis display that opens to the public June 29. Editor's Note: The new Atlantis exhibit has been financed with support from Space Florida. (4/12)

Entrepreneurs Embrace NASA Asteroid Retrieval Plans (Source: Space News)
Two companies that have announced plans in the last year to prospect and eventually exact resources from near Earth asteroids expressed their support this week for NASA’s proposal to move a small asteroid to cislunar space, seeing the mission as an opportunity for partnership rather than as competition for their own ventures.

“We’re looking forward to a partnership with NASA. There’s a lot the private sector can bring to this game,” Rick Tumlinson, chairman of the board of Deep Space Industries, said  April 11 at the Space Access ’13 conference. His company unveiled plans in January to survey and then mine near Earth asteroids using a series of small spacecraft the company plans to develop. Planetary Resources, Inc., a company that announced its own plans to survey and mine asteroids last April, also supports NASA’s plans for an asteroid retrieval mission and indicated a willingness to cooperate. (4/12)

NASA Needs Help to Hunt City-Destroying Asteroids, Congress Says (Source: Space.com)
It is time for the private sector to aid in the search for potentially city-destroying asteroids and meteors, lawmakers said during a hearing Wednesday (April 10). The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology made the call while hearing from NASA scientists and private-sector asteroid hunters during a hearing entitled "Threats from Space," with both groups agreeing that something more needs to be done. (4/12)

Space Program Deserves New Funding (Source: Collegiate Times)
New funding will likely be allocated to NASA in order to jump-start one of its latest programs: a mission to capture asteroids — an idea highlighted by investors and space enthusiasts like James Cameron and Google CEO Larry Page. The project, which remains in the earliest stages of research and development, represents an absolutely fantastic and exciting direction for the field of space exploration and travel.

The new funding has received quite a bit of backlash from opponents, most citing the government funding of NASA as unnecessary and useless. However, these individuals fail to recognize the economic, intellectual and technological gains that could be made through this asteroid-capturing mission. (4/11)

UNL Space Law Program Supports Asteroid Exploring Initiative (Source: Daily Nebraskan)
The mission: Lasso a 500-ton asteroid, place it in orbit around the moon and send astronauts to study its composition. And the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program is paying attention. Though the price tag has raised concerns for many, the legalities of the mission are on the mind of the faculty and alumni of UNL’s space law program. Click here. (4/12)

NASA's Mars-Bound Mega Rocket on Track for 2017 Test Launch (Source: Space.com)
The development of NASA's biggest, most powerful rocket yet is running ahead of schedule and on budget, its primary contractor said Wednesday (April 10). The towering Space Launch System (SLS) is a 384-foot (117 meters) behemoth intended to launch astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit to deep-space asteroids and Mars. The vehicle is slated to make its first test flight in 2017, when it will launch an unmanned Orion capsule (also in development) beyond the moon. The first manned flight is pegged for 2021. (4/12)

Russia to Name Town After Space Pioneer Tsiolkovsky (Source: RIA Novosti)
President Vladimir Putin proposed on Friday naming a future town near the Russian Vostochny space port after the father of the Soviet space program, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. “I think it will be right if, after consulting it with the local residents, we will call the future town Tsiolkovsky,” Putin said on Friday, as Russia celebrated Cosmonautics Day marking the first manned space flight on that date in 1961 by Yury Gagarin. (4/12)

Russia to Explore Moon, Mars by 2030 with New Mega-Rocket (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia will develop new technology including huge new rockets for manned flights to the Moon and Mars by 2030, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday. Rogozin, who oversees the space and military industries, said on Friday Russia is going to design a carrier rocket with a payload of 130 to 180 tons as well as powerful interplanetary vehicles.

Russia plans to start test of a new-generation spacecraft in the next two decades which could potentially be used for manned flights to the Moon, Rogozin said. The Russian space industry is also set to develop a robot system for Moon exploration, as well as construct a permanent research base and a takeoff and landing pad there, he said. (4/12)

Russia Must Close Deep Space Exploration Gap Says Putin (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia must catch up with other space powers in deep space exploration and higher priority should be given to applied projects in space research, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. Until now priority has been given to manned space flight, which consumes around half the space program’s total budget, often at the expense of other fields, Putin said an a conference on the development of the space industry on Cosmonautics Day.

“We are behind in a number of areas. For example, in remote earth-sensing systems, personal satellite communication systems, and detection and rescue of objects in distress,” Putin said. “Of course we should preserve everything that has been achieved in piloted programs, but there is a pressing need to bring other areas up to scratch,” he added. (4/12)

Russian Astronautics has Adequate Financing Level (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russian astronautics has an adequate level of financing, although it is many times lower than the level of NASA’s budget, the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), Vladimir Popovkin said. The task is to see that “every invested ruble has an efficient return,” he said. Popovkin reminded the audience that a state space program for 2013-2020 has been approved in Russia, and over two trillion roubles are allocated within the framework of this program. “Our budget is comparable with the consolidated budget of the European Space Agency,” Popovkin stressed. (4/12)

New Spy Tech Keeps Satellites From Bumping (Source: Discovery)
An Estonian software team has invented a program that will allow countries (or private space companies) to keep their satellites from bumping into each other without revealing the location of their own eyes in the sky. Known as Sharemind, the program recently completed a prototype demonstration with DARPA, which is funding the project with $700,000.

Sharemind uses a concept called “shared multi-party computation” that allows several users to combine and analyze secret data while keeping it that way. “Sharemind is like a computer that does not see or understand the data,” said Dan Bogdanov, a researcher at the Tallinn-based software and IT firm Cybernetica.

For satellites, three separate servers, each one containing a different nation’s encrypted satellite data, would combine the data to predict the likelihood of future orbiting crashes. The idea is to prevent the 2009 fender-bender that knocked out satellites from both Iridium and the Russian military. (4/12)

Russia Confirms Decades-Long Baikonur Spaceport Lease Deal (Source: CBC)
Brushing off reports that Russia may ditch its space base in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Moscow would continue to lease the space complex. Russia has a lease deal to use Baikonur until 2050 for an annual fee of $115 million. Amid tensions over fees payments, a Russian official said in February that Russia may suspend its lease for some facilities at Baikonur. (4/12)

SpaceX Program May Come to Georgia (Source: Technique)
A site in Camden County, a coastal county in the southeast part of the state, is being considered by SpaceX as the location for a new launch site. The prospect of a launch center in the state is greatly encouraging for those in the space field who would like to see Georgia play a bigger role in space exploration.

“The development of the spaceport, whether for SpaceX or for use by other companies is a very visible sign of Georgia’s contribution…to space commerce [should the site be used],” said Robert Braun, Tech professor of Aerospace Engineering and former NASA chief technologist. Currently, not one of NASA’s Space centers or facilities is located in Georgia and there are no major space companies with launch sites in the state. As a result, many of Georgia Tech’s Aerospace graduates interested in careers in the space industry leave the state.

“They all go to California or Colorado or Florida or Texas, Virginia, places where there are space companies, places where there are space centers, those kinds of things,” Braun said. “And so effectively what we’re doing, and this is good for the country, … but if you look at it more locally, what we’re doing is we’re taking Georgia residents and we’re giving them a great education, a great opportunity and we’re turning them. We’re helping them gain high paying, high-tech jobs in other states.” (4/12)

Moby To Team Up With NASA For Space-Themed Coachella Dj Set (Source: Contact Music)
Dance music superstar Moby will feature NASA video footage during his Dj set at the Coachella festival in California this weekend. For Moby, collaborating with Nasa is like living out a childhood dream: "When I was growing up I was a science and sci-fi-obsessed kid, and now I'm a science and sci-fi-obsessed adult. "I've done lots of things with Nasa over the years, and I'm really thrilled that they've offered to let me use all of these amazing visuals during my Coachella Dj set." (4/12)

Americans and Europeans Will Be Able to Use Vostochny Cosmodrome (Source: Interfax)
Vladimir Putin spoke to the ISS crew from the future site of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, "which will be the biggest and busiest launch pad in Russia," Putin said. "I very much hope that it will be used both by our specialists and our colleagues from the United States, Europe and other countries. We plan to use it as a platform for launches of both manned spacecraft and launches into far-out space. It will be a very good platform. It took us long to choose it. The work is in full swing today," the president said. (4/12)

KSC Visitor Complex Marks Milestone for Atlantis Facility (Source: KSCVC)
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex today marked a visible milestone on its countdown toward the June 29 grand opening of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the $100 million home of the historic Atlantis spacecraft that tells the incredible story of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program.
Using a 200-foot-tall crane, the construction crew successfully installed lower portions of two full-size, high-fidelity solid rocket boosters (SRBs) that, when vertically mated with a high-fidelity model of the external tank (ET), will form a dramatic, 184-foot-tall gateway under which visitors will pass to visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction. (4/11)

Aderholt Dislikes NASA, Defense Budgets (Source: Huntsville times)
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) wasted no time responding to President Obama's proposed spending plans for NASA and the Pentagon. The member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee said Wednesday that budgets range from "disappointing" to "indefensible." Aderholt said, "The bright spots in the space and defense programs are few and very far in-between, particularly as it relates to the SLS and ground missile defense."

Aderholt said the budget gives NASA $1.45 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS) being developed in Huntsville. That's $110 million less than fiscal year 2012, he said, an "extremely disappointing" recommendation that is at odds with earlier NASA authorization legislation the president signed. And the $821 million the White House wants to give private companies to build astronaut-carrying spacecraft "is not defensible" given the SLS funding, Aderholt said. (4/11)

Hosted Space Payloads: Harris, Iridium Pair On Aireon (Source: AOL Defense)
After almost a decade of discussion, hope and frustration, the time appears to finally be ripe for what the space industry calls hosted payloads, the Remora fish of satellites. The Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, which has long been wary but intrigued by them, has drafted an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for hosted payloads, Maj. Gen. Martin Whelan, director of requirements at Air Force Space Command said. The command also recently created a Hosted Payload Office.

On the industry side, Harris Corp. is building what appears to be a commercially viable hosted payload system to improve global air traffic control and thus save fuel for airlines. The system, called Aireon, will be hosted on the next generation of 66 Iridium satellites. Iridium and NAV CANADA, the private Canadian air navigation service, have formed a joint venture, Aireon LLC, to provide the space-based GPS system to airlines. (4/11)

Any Bets on Who Will Win the Battle Over NASA’s Future? (Source: Houston Chronicle)
In Washington the President provides the budget blueprint, but Congress authorizes the funds. Many of these legislators do not like the asteroid blueprint. Many of these legislators will still be here in 2016, when President Barack Obama is gone. Chances are the next President will not feel beholden to the President’s asteroid plan, which doesn’t exactly have the same cachet as President Kennedy’s Apollo program. So, does anyone want to take bets on what NASA’s manned spaceflight blueprint will look like in 2016? (4/11)

White House Budget Funds Gore Climate Change Satellite (Source: The Hill)
President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget calls for using a satellite designed to track climate change that was originally pushed by former Vice President Gore. Gore proposed the satellite in 1998 as a way to take continuous photographs of the Earth, giving scientists measurements of climate change. Former President George W. Bush never pursued the plan.

Obama proposed Wednesday spending nearly $35 million in his 2014 budget to refurbish a satellite, nicknamed GoreSat by critics, that’s been sitting in storage after it was shelved in 2001, months after Bush took office. It cost about $100 million by then with NASA’s internal auditors faulting its cost increases. The satellite — known as Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DISCOVR — is scheduled for a November 2014 launch, according to AP. The Air Force is paying for it, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will run the mission. (4/11)

Virginia Takes the Stage in Commercial Spaceflight (Source: WTVR)
The biggest rocket ever launched from Virginia is slated to take off next week from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore. Orbital Sciences Corp. plans to launch its Antares rocket from Wallops on April 17 at 5 p.m. (Subject to change!) If the weather is mostly clear and the launch goes off as scheduled without any technical problems or interference from water vessels trespassing into the launch zone, you will be able to look east and up to see this. (4/11)

KSC Gets $2.85 Million for Hurricane Sandy Repairs (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center has received $2.85 million from Congress to repair 1.2 miles dunes eroded by Hurricane Sandy. The money will help fix dunes that buffer the two former space shuttle launch pads from the Atlantic Ocean. The project has yet to be put out to bid, according to KSC officials, but some work is expected to begin this summer, with most of the dune repair happening after this year’s turtle nesting season. (4/11)

NASA Scientist Develops DIY Marijuana Growth System (Source: Tech Eye)
What do manned missions to Mars and marijuana have in common? Well it seems that NASA’s only way to get to Mars is by getting high and now a former NASA scientist is looking to apply his life-support expertise to marijuana growing. Dale Chamberlain spent years working on advanced life support systems and hydroponics, hoping that NASA would go to Mars sooner or later. Sadly though, financial concerns have forced NASA to all but shelve its plans for a manned mission to Mars.

Chamberlain then decided to develop a self-contained hydroponic system for DIY marijuana growers in Colorado. Since it is now legal to possess and grow cannabis for personal use in the South Park state, Chamberlain though it would be a good idea to apply his expertise to this growing field, pardon the pun. Colorado state law mandates that marijuana growers need to have an enclosed, lockable space and Chamberlain’s Colorado Grow Box offers just that. It is a lockable, self-contained system that requires very little maintenance.

In addition to the hydroponic grow box, Chamberlain has launched a marijuana growing school with his cousin. Dubbed the High Altitude School of Hydroponics (HASH), the school offers three levels of classes designed for the casual grower. He is also considering producing videos to reach “students” who can’t attend classes, and considering his target audience, there’s probably quite a few of them. (4/10)

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