April 14, 2013

NOAA Reduces JPSS Costs by $1.6 Billion - How Did They Do It? (Source: Space Policy Online)
Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank told congressional appropriators on Thursday that the lifecycle cost of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is now $11.3 billion instead of the $12.9 billion the Department told Congress last year.  That's a remarkable change and in the opposite direction of most space program estimates, begging the question of how they did it. Click here. (4/12)

KLM Launches Competition to Win Lynx Flight (Source: Parabolic Arc)
KLM today announced it has launched a promotional campaign, Claim your place in Space, towards its customers to support Space Expedition Corporation (SXC), a revolutionary space project that aims to launch the first commercial space trip from Curacao. Click here. (4/12)

Antares Launch Still on Track After Launch Rehearsal Anomaly (Source: NASA Watch)
On Saturday, Orbital conducted the wet dress rehearsal for the Antares rocket in preparation its Test Flight scheduled for later this week on April 17. Late in the countdown, at about T-16 minutes, the test was halted because the launch team had detected a technical anomaly in the process. Orbital has determined that a secondary pyro valve aboard one of the two first-stage engines used in the propellant chilldown process was not functioning properly. A replacement unit will be installed within 24 hours with the goal of maintaining the April 17 launch date. (4/14)

Russian President Pledges More Than $50 Billion for Spaceflight (Source: SpaceToday.net)
Russian president Vladimir Putin said Friday that he would seek more than $50 billion through 2020 to support the nation's space exploration efforts. Putin, visiting the Vostochny launch complex under construction in Russia's far east region, said the government planned to spend 1.6 trillion rubles ($51.4 billion) on the nation's space programs through 2020. That funding would be used to support ongoing programs as well as new satellite and deep space exploration initiatives. Other Russian officials said Friday those plans also included human missions to the Moon and Mars by 2030, pending development of a new crewed spacecraft and heavy-lift launch vehicle. (4/13)

Does Virginia's Spaceport Have the Right Stuff? (Source: Daily Press)
Next week's Antares launch at Wallops Island will mark a turning point in the flight facility's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, or MARS, which state leaders hope to turn into nothing less than America's best spaceport, and a major hub for the emerging commercial space industry.

"We don't have pretensions that we will become Cape Canaveral," said Dale K. Nash, the new executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority that owns and operates MARS. "But we want to grow more capability here and become a major player in the U.S. space program."Many believe MARS has the right stuff to do it.

Its biggest commercial customer, the Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, chose Wallops for the expertise of its NASA staff, its uncongested schedule that allows for more predictable launches and its geography, which offers an ideal inclination to launch to the space station. (4/14)

Companies, Nonprofits Share Visions for Space Exploration (Source: The Gazette)
Private companies have made forays into space travel — competing for NASA funding to build the agency’s next astronaut transport vehicle and developing private spacecraft for space tourism. Virgin Gallactic, for example, has booked hundreds of tickets for future flights to space, according to the company’s website. The stir caused by visions of such endeavors, and in particular by new nonprofit ventures, offered a respite from the cloud of fiscal uncertainty that overshadowed much of the elaborate National Space Symposium. Click here. (4/14)

North Carolina Suborbital Spaceflight Symposium and Investment Summit (Source: NCMBC)
Space is central to our economy in two fundamental ways:  1) It provides scientific, commercial, military and government platforms (satellites, space stations, rockets, suborbital transportation) that support a variety of industries, and 2) space industry companies buy the products and services of non-space companies.
This event combines an educational symposium with an entrepreneur investment summit.  In the morning, you will learn about the commercial suborbital spaceflight industry and the benefits it can provide to North Carolina’s nanobiotechnology and defense industries.  The afternoon will feature pitches from entrepreneurs seeking investment capital and partnerships.  Through these pitches, they will also demonstrate how space is a driver of creative business ideas that may be of use to your company. Click here. (4/14)

New Calculations Effectively Rule Out Comet Impacting Mars in 2014 (Source: Universe Today)
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Office says that new observations of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) have allowed further refinements of the comet’s orbit, helping to determine the chances it could hit Mars in October of 2014. Shortly after its discovery in December 2012, astronomers thought there was an outside chance that a newly discovered comet might be on a collision course with Mars.

While the latest orbital plot places the comet’s closest approach to Mars slightly closer than previous estimates, the new data now significantly reduces the probability the comet will impact the Red Planet, JPL said, from about 1 in 8,000 to about 1 in 120,000. The closest approach is now estimated at about 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers). The most previous estimates had it whizzing by at 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers). (4/14)

Media Extravaganza Could Slash Private Moon Mission Costs (Source: Space.com)
Good news for all you frugal travelers out there: A private startup's manned moon missions could end up costing around $500 million per seat instead of the originally advertised $750 million. The Golden Spike company, which aims to start flying paying customers to the lunar surface and back by 2020, has pegged the cost of these two-person trips at about $1.5 billion. But the company plans to bring the per-seat ticket price down considerably by staging an Olympics-like media spectacle around each mission.

"We think that we can lower the effective ticket price, by selling the air time, the naming rights and the merchandising rights to these missions, by between 20 and 30 percent — by creating that other revenue stream and sharing it with our customers," Golden Spike president and CEO Alan Stern told reporters Thursday (April 11) at the 29th National Space Symposium. (4/14)

Virginia Launch the One That Got Away From Brevard (Source: Florida Today)
Celebrating 29 years in business last week, Wolff’s Sandwich Shoppe offered hamburgers and cheeseburgers for 99 cents, their price in 1984. Owner Ron Wolff says some customers, the space workers who have moved from Florida up to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, tell him the area around NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility recalls an even earlier time and place.

“They say this is like Canaveral of the ’60s,” said Wolff, an elected supervisor in Accomack County, Va., which includes Wallops. “It’s amazing that the Florida guys would correlate the Kennedy Space Center with Wallops. It’s pretty neat.” It also serves as a reminder of business — from the rocket launch to burgers served by local restaurants — that got away from Florida and forced a reassessment of the state’s space future. (4/13)

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