April 15, 2013

Hacking Satellites (Source: H Plus)
Successful satellite hacking attacks occurred in 2007 and 2008. The more serious of the two happened in ’08 when NASA had control of the Terra EOS earth observation system satellite disrupted for 2 minutes in June, and then a further 9 minutes in October. During that time, whoever took control had full access to the satellites’ systems, but chose to do nothing with it. The second hack affected the Landsat-7 satellite on two occasions, one in October of ’07, the other in July of ’08. Unlike the Terra OS incident, this hack did not see control taken away, but access was gained.

We read that Chinese hackers have taken control of NASA satellites for 11 minutes and we know how the news is disturbing. The satellites are a vital component in the process of information management, a stream of bits passes on our heads, no matter whether its a talk show or to military communications, they are there and hackers and militar government know it. It is a new challenge, access and control this data. Click here. (4/15)

Ecuador to Launch First Homemade Satellite (Source: Space Daily)
Ecuador will launch its first satellite into space from China in two weeks, President Rafael Correa announced Saturday. "It's not a satellite bought in another country, it's a satellite made in Ecuador," Correa said proudly during his weekly address of the homegrown engineering team. The "Pegaso" (pegasus) nanosatellite will be launched from China aboard an unmanned rocket at 0513 GMT on April 26.

Measuring just 10 by 10 by 75 centimeters (four by four by 30 inches), and weighing 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds), Pegaso will beam live video images back to Earth from an onboard camera. The Ecuadoran Space Agency plans a second satellite launch in July. (4/15)

Space Industry Inventions in Our Everyday Life (Source: Space Daily)
Plasma TVs, orthopedic matrasses, detailed weather forecasts, thermal underwear, jet fuel, frost-free refrigerators - these are only a few things which emerged thanks to several decades of space exploration. When the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, marks the beginning of the satellite era. From that very moment mankind began the transition to wireless communication.

The results of this transition today are satellite TV, telephony, the Internet. Satellites help scientists study earth processes in detail. For example, they can observe the distribution of air masses. The importance of this aspect became especially evident in 2010, when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in Iceland, the head of the Institute of Space Studies Lev Zeleny says. Click here. (4/15)

Texus Suborbital Rocket Notches Its 50th Flight (Source: Space News)
The German-Swedish Texus suborbital sounding rocket program on April 12 successfully completed its 50th flight, carrying four German experiments to an altitude of 261 kilometers and offering six minutes and 20 seconds of microgravity conditions, the German and Swedish space agencies announced. Operating from Sweden’s Esrange facility, the 12-meter-long Texus vehicle climbed through the atmosphere for about 30 seconds, at which point its engines cut off and it continued its ascent in free flight. (4/12)

Editorial: Change in the Weather (Source: Space News)
Kudos to AsiaSat for stepping up with a big commitment to GeoMetWatch (GMW), one of at least two U.S. companies trying to establish a commercial weather satellite business. GMW’s approach is to persuade satellite operators — commercial or government — to host its meteorological payloads aboard geostationary-orbiting telecommunications spacecraft. The company aims to build a global network consisting of six such payloads and sell the data to weather agencies.

Hong Kong-based AsiaSat, a regional telecom satellite operator, will be the first host, agreeing to place GMW’s refrigerator-sized sensor — a hyperspectral sounder originally developed for a since-canceled NASA project — aboard a satellite slated to launch in 2016. What’s more, AsiaSat has agreed to pay for the sensor, along with its integration with the satellite. The estimated cost: $185 million, including financing. That’s not chump change for anybody these days. (4/15)

NASA’s Asteroid Plan Draws Cautious Interest from Global Space Agency Chiefs (Source: Space News)
Leaders of three of the world’s largest space agencies gave NASA’s plan to capture an asteroid and tow it to lunar orbit a generally positive, though cautious, reaction. Jean-Jacques Dordain, director-general of the European Space Agency, said the 20-member organization is willing to discuss a contribution to the asteroid-capture mission “within the context of an overall exploration program, which is by definition an international program.” “It’s a very interesting project,” Dordain added. (4/10)

Colorado: Keeping Our Edge Requires Strategic Shift (Source: Space News)
For many years, Colorado’s natural beauty and abundant resources were my home state’s major economic drivers. While hunting, fishing, climbing and sightseeing remain as important to Coloradans today as they were decades ago, our newest economic boon has stemmed from an abundant intellectual and technological base.

Alongside venerable industries that thrive due to a wealth of terrestrial splendor, Colorado is now a hub of remarkable innovation thanks to an influx of scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators who have committed themselves to advancing aerospace, renewable energy, bioscience and advanced manufacturing. In the process, they have entirely redefined the Centennial State and propelled us into a leadership role in the 21st century global economy.

Colorado-based aerospace companies, large and small, have made enormous contributions to nearly every technological leap forward in the past decade. From the Delta rockets that have delivered dozens of satellites safely into orbit to highly specialized sensors and the ingenious sky crane system that lowered the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars, Colorado’s aerospace industry has given us countless reasons to look skyward and marvel at what we have been able to accomplish. (4/15)

The Space Sector in Transition (Source: Space News)
2013 will see the first decline in government spending for space following 12 years of consecutive growth. Space expenditures worldwide have flattened at around $70 billion since 2009 and we expect them to decrease due to fiscal policies exerting continuous pressure on public finances; improvement is not foreseen before 2015.

The global picture does not look all bad, however, and many opportunities remain open in the international space market. According to our new report, “Government Space Markets World Prospects to 2022,” government spending on space experienced a peak in 2012 with $72.9 billion, a non-negligible increase compared with 2011, which can be attributed to the increased activity of countries such as Russia, China, India and new world or regional leaders that compensated for budget uncertainties affecting North America and Europe. Click here. (4/15)

How NASA Brought the Monstrous F-1 “Moon Rocket” Engine Back to Life (Source: ars Technica)
There has never been anything like the Saturn V, the launch vehicle that powered the United States past the Soviet Union to a series of manned lunar landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The rocket redefined "massive," standing 363 feet (110 meters) in height and producing a ludicrous 7.68 million pounds (34 meganewtons) of thrust from the five monstrous, kerosene-gulping Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engines that made up its first stage.

At the time, the F-1 was the largest and most powerful liquid-fueled engine ever constructed; even today, its design remains unmatched. The power generated by five of these engines was best conceptualized by author David Woods in his book How Apollo Flew to the Moon—"[T]he power output of the Saturn first stage was 60 gigawatts. This happens to be very similar to the peak electricity demand of the United Kingdom."

Scale aside, the F-1 is conceptually a relatively simple design, and that simplicity could translate into cost reduction. Reducing cost for space access is a key priority—perhaps even the overriding priority—outside of safety. There was a problem, though. SLS' design parameters called for a Saturn V-scale vehicle, capable of lifting 150 metric tons into low Earth orbit. No one working at MSFC had any real experience with gigantic LOX/RP-1 engines; nothing in the world-wide inventory of launch vehicles still operates at that scale today. So how do you make yourself an expert in tech no one fully understands? Click here. (4/15)

April 17 Antares Launch Includes Three PhoneSat Cubesats (Source: AMSAT-NA)
Three PhoneSat cubesats will be aboard the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares(TM) rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia scheduled for April 17 at approximately 5:00 p.m. (EDT). Phonesat carries an amateur radio payload on 437.425 MHz, was chosen as one of the winners in the Aerospace category for the Popular Science magazine “Best of What’s New 2012″ awards. The PhoneSat is a technology demonstration mission consisting of three 1U CubeSats intended to prove that a smartphone can be used to perform many of the functions required of a spacecraft bus. (4/15)

Recovered North Korean Rocket Stage Hints at Nuclear Capability (Source: Daily Beast)
When North Korean engineers launched a satellite into space December 12, it seemed like business as usual, with the familiar cycle of condemnations from the West and statements of defiance from the Hermit Kingdom. But that launch also led many U.S. intelligence analysts to assess that Pyongyang possessed the ability to miniaturize the components necessary to yield a nuclear explosion for a crude warhead that would sit atop a ballistic missile.

After the North Korean launch, U.S. Navy ships managed to recover the front section of the rocket used in it, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation. That part of the rocket in turn provided useful clues about North Korean warhead design, should the next payload be a warhead rather than a satellite.

“Having access to the missile front was a critical insight we had not had before,” one U.S. nonproliferation official tells The Daily Beast. “I have seen a lot of drawings, but we had not seen the piece of that missile at that time.” This official continues: “We looked at the wreckage from the launch and we put it together with other kinds of intelligence and came to this judgment that they had figured out the warhead piece.” (4/15)

NASA Makes Progress on Orion Capsule (Source: WFTV)
The Orion capsule is scheduled to take flight in 2014. Orion was designed to take astronauts farther than low-earth orbit, but first crews have to test it with an unmanned mission next year. The capsule will be blasted 3,600 miles into space in September 2014.

The build out of the capsule has provided hundreds of space workers with paychecks, and it promises to create hundreds more jobs as it's prepped to be mounted on a Delta 4 rocket for lift off. It’s a welcomed workload for the Space Coast that is strapped for jobs after the shuttle program ended.

University of Central Florida professor and NASA expert Dale Ketcham believes the job decline of the job market on the Space Coast has not been as bad as some feared. “I think for the most part, it's not as cataclysmic as we feared,” Ketcham said. A lot of that has to do with the state, the federal government, the local region, preparing for this even before the great recession hit.” (4/15)

First Launch of Commercial Crew Quietly Slips to 2017 (Source: America Space)
Eclipsed by other space-related events, the story that the first launch of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program had slipped from 2015 to late 2017 has garnered little attention. The first flight under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program won’t occur until November 2017, at the earliest. As much as the program has been touted as an effort to end U.S. reliance on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, it appears that won’t be happening anytime soon.

Under the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap), NASA is attempting to have access to low-Earth orbit, primarily the International Space Station (ISS), handled by commercial companies. The three awardees that have been selected to accomplish this are Boeing’s CST-100, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser space plane, and Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft. Of the three, SpaceX can be viewed as the leader, as their offering has traveled to the ISS three times (in its unmanned configuration).

This could play into SpaceX’s favor, as NASA will likely be forced to select a single service provider in terms of crew transportation. SpaceX is unique among the competitors as it uses its own launch vehicle, the Falcon 9, to launch the Dragon. Both Boeing and Sierra Nevada have selected United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V to send their spacecraft to orbit. (4/14)

Crowd-Funding Fatigue (Source: Huffington Post)
Lately, I've heard many people complain that they feel inundated by Kickstarter requests. Rather than a platform to support creative visionaries, it's become just another way to hit people up for money. It's quickly become commentary on modern society where (1) it's become totally acceptable to ask people for money all the time, because we are protected behind a computer screen, and (2) absolutely everyone thinks they have something to say or showcase that warrants public attention. No matter what, only give money that you can afford to lose. Because you're not "investing" in a project when you back it with crowd-sourced funding (meaning you're not a shareholder), you'll never see financial returns from your money. (4/15)

Another Dark Matter Sign from a Minnesota Mine (Source: Nature)
More hints of dark matter have emerged from the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS), which hunts for the theorized particles from the depths of a mine in Minnesota. Eight silicon detectors recorded three events that may represent collisions from weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. Physicists have found hints of the existence of WIMPs before, but they remain elusive. Two other possible detections from the CDMS search, reported in 2010, turned out to be indistinguishable from background collisions from other, non-WIMP, sources. The same may yet hold true for the new findings.

CDMS-II, the second generation of the search, ran between 2003 and 2008. The earlier WIMP suspects were spotted in its 19 germanium detectors. The new work comes from a subset of its 11 silicon detectors, which are more sensitive than germanium to collisions from low-energy particles. Cooled to a temperature of just 40 millikelvins, the CDMS-II detectors sense heat given off when a particle collides with one of their crystals. The challenge is distinguishing a possible WIMP collision from the many collisions from other particles such as neutrons. (4/15)

Brown Pushes NASA Plum Brook (Source: Sandusky Register)
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, says he sees a bright future ahead for NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky and NASA Glenn in Cleveland, and he’ll keep pushing NASA officials to protect Ohio’s interests. “No one has been talking about the amazing work SpaceX has been doing at Plum Brook,” Brown told reporters in a telephone conference call Wednesday. “I’m very hopeful for the future.”

SpaceX, a private rocket firm, has been testing Falcon 9 payload fairings at the Space Power Facility, a huge vacuum chamber at NASA Plum Brook Station. The fairing is the nose cone section containing the cargo. SpaceX used the Falcon 9 rocket for a successful March mission to send supplies to the International Space Station. (4/15)

When Obama Visited KSC (Source: SpaceKSC)
By 2009 Constellation was in serious trouble. It was years behind schedule and billions over budget. The Ares I would not send crews to the ISS until at least 2017, but would be funded by retiring the ISS in 2015 — it was a rocket with nowhere to go. The Ares V was a paper exercise; it wouldn't fly until at least 2028. Constellation was a fig leaf for fundamental structural flaws within NASA's bureaucracy. Some were not the agency's fault; Congress demanded much of NASA but often failed to provide the funding.

With centers scattered across the nation, NASA became for many a workfare program that directed spending to the states and districts of those on the House and Senate space subcommittees. It didn't really matter if anything was finished on time and on budget, so long as the pork kept flowing to the contractors who employed those voters and donated to their re-election campaigns. Many independent reviews over the years warned Congress of this behavior but, Congress simply ignores the reports and points the finger of blame elsewhere while assuring the pork keeps flowing.

Cancelling Constellation, as President Obama did, shocked the space-industrial complex. It threatened the very foundation of the cozy relationship between Congressional porkers and the contractors who donate to their campaigns. Some workers unaware of the political machinations behind Constellation concocted bizarre conspiracy theories about Obama trying to funnel pork to those who donated to his campaign. Click here. (4/15)

Citizens for Space Exploration Plan May 20-23 Washington Blitz (Source: CSE)
For the past 21 years, representatives from Citizens for Space Exploration have traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress or their staff to discuss the benefits of space exploration. In 2012, 78 travelers from 24 states sought congressional support for national and commercial programs ensuring American leadership in space exploration. Over the course of two days, the travelers made 355 office visits.

Our 22nd annual trip will be held May 20-23.  We expect to form about 25 teams to meet with ~350 congressional offices the 2 days we're on the hill. It would be great to have a Florida traveler on each of these teams. We all know how vulnerable NASA's budget and programs are at this critical time, as legislators decide how to allocate limited resources. With nearly 100 new legislators in Congress this year, we need to do our best to educate them on the work that NASA does and its benefit to the Nation. Click here. (4/15)

Obama’s “Muslim Self-Esteem” NASA in Complete Disarray (Source: FrontPage)
Obama trashed NASA beginning with killing any actual way for astronauts to get to orbit by shutting down the Space Shuttle and then trashing a replacement vehicle. This is kind of a problem because without a space vehicle, NASA is not a space agency. It’s a bunch of rooms full of people with computers. That left NASA astronauts in the unenviable position of hitching rides with the Russians, alongside millionaire space tourists.

But Obama gave Charles Bolden, his idiot appointee, a prime directive that NASA would now focus primarily on making Muslims feel good about themselves. That worked out about as well as you would expect. Then Obama gave a speech declaring that the United States would land on an asteroid by 2025. Why an asteroid? No one at NASA seems to know.

The obvious reason is that Obama needed to announce something and an asteroid by 2025 sounded good. It was either that or hop on a pogo stick to the corner market. And NASA is in better shape to do that than anything else, because as the report noted, the agency is in complete disarray without much of a mission except faking Global Warming reports and making Muslims feel good about themselves. Editor's Note: What Ever. (4/7)

Muslim Outreach Claims: A Weak Response to Bigger-Picture Issues (Source: SPACErePORT)
Since the beginning of the space age, national space programs have served as tools for international diplomacy, ally-building, and one-upsmanship. After the US/USSR space race, Russian and U.S.-led space station collaboration helped turn swords into plowshares. Both nations have provided access to space for their allies and each other, while new competitors like China have aggressively reached out to emerging economies in Asia, South America, and Africa to provide satellites, launch services and other space support. This outreach is helping China to secure long-term strategic and economic relationships with these nations.

Meanwhile, when President Obama suggested NASA should reach out to Muslim nations as a means to develop and repair relationships, the move was ridiculed by his detractors. The criticism continues to this day as so-called patriots claim Muslim outreach has become one of NASA's primary missions. You won't find "Muslim Outreach" included in any NASA budget, but we shouldn't be disappointed if it was. (4/15)

NASA-Funded Asteroid Tracking Sensor Passes Key Test (Source: NASA JPL)
An infrared sensor that could improve NASA's future detecting and tracking of asteroids and comets has passed a critical design test. The test assessed performance of the Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) in an environment that mimicked the temperatures and pressures of deep space. NEOCam is the cornerstone instrument for a proposed new space-based asteroid-hunting telescope.

The sensor could be a vital component to inform plans for the agency's recently announced initiative to develop the first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid closer to Earth for future exploration by astronauts. Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that come within 28 million miles of Earth's path around the sun. Asteroids do not emit visible light; they reflect it. Depending on how reflective an object is, a small, light-colored space rock can look the same as a big, dark one. As a result, data collected with optical telescopes using visible light can be deceiving. (4/15)

Texas Lawmakers Back Bill to Build Moon Colony (Source: Houston Chronicle)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including five Texans, has proposed a bill that could create a Moon colony by 2022. The Reasserting American Leadership in Space (REAL) Act, directs NASA to develop a plan to develop a sustained human presence on the moon by 2022. Texas co-sponsors of the bill include Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, and Republicans Steve Stockman of Friendswood, John Culberson of Houston, Pete Olson of Sugar Land, and Ted Poe of Humble.

The legislation emphasizes the economic, scientific, and national security benefits that come from space exploration. Bill Posey, R-FL, the bill’s primary author, warned that China and Russia are headed to the Moon to colonize, and said the Moon is America’s military “high ground.” Stockman released a statement urging his colleagues and constituents to support the bill before other nations beat us to it. (4/15)

Editorial: Launches, Nature Can Co-Exist at Shiloh (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
When the shuttle program at Kennedy Space Center ended, some 8,000 NASA and civilian workers lost their jobs. Many of those jobs were held by workers from Volusia County. With the nation's economy as sluggish as it has been, the end of manned space flights has been extra hard on central Florida. But now, we have a new opportunity to provide good, well-paid jobs for years to come.

Space Florida is seeking 150 acres at the northern tip of Kennedy Space Center, near the Brevard-Volusia county border, for a site where private sector launches could take place. In the 1980s, Florida was the leader in commercial satellite launches, but we've lost that market to the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese. And now the Brazilians and Indians are getting into the market, not to mention other states.

Commercial space launches are an emerging market and spaceports have been or are getting established in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Georgia and other states. Why? Because they see the potential for new businesses and jobs and they're courting industry leaders like Elon Musk of SpaceX, Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin and Paul Allen of Stratolaunch. These new spaceports are in direct competition with our own Space Florida, but there is one difference. They don't have Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — and we do. Click here. (4/14)

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