April 17, 2013

XCOR on the Weather Channel (Source: NewSpace Watch)
The final Shuttle launch was not just the last mission for Atlantis, it was "the final liftoff for a fully government-run, government-built space program." The Weather Channel's Dave Malkoff reports on XCOR Aerospace in Mojave and gets to fire a rocket engine. Click here. (4/17)

Hawaii Plans Satellite Launch From Kauai Spaceport (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
The University of Hawaii plans to put a satellite into orbit from the Navy's missile testing facility on Kauai later this year. Faculty and students designed the 110-pound satellite, called HiiakaSat. Kauai Community College students will operate the command and control ground station.

The program run by the Hawaii Space Flight Lab conducts science and engineering research and provides job training in unmanned space flight. The Hawaii Space Flight Lab got its start with funding from a 2007 defense appropriations bill. Kauai is the launch site because Hawaii's congressional delegation wanted the satellite to take off from the islands, and the Pacific Missile Range Facility is the only launch site in the state.

The lab's director, Luke Flynn, said the university would like to launch small satellites on a regular basis. He says this will attract companies looking for affordable ways to test space technology. This first launch will demonstrate how using a new launch vehicle can reduce mission cost. Trifonovich said another satellite launch planned for next year or the year after will be used to study coral reefs from space. The Navy says the Kauai missile range will oversee ground operations, track the rocket, monitor flight safety and collect data for the launch. (4/11)

Space Leaders to Speak at Embry-Riddle Commencement (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will hold commencement ceremonies in May for 1,487 students of its Worldwide, Prescott and Daytona Beach campuses. Veteran astronaut Story Musgrave will be the guest speaker at Embry-Riddle’s commencement ceremony for 480 Worldwide Campus students to be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, in the ICI Center on the Daytona Beach Campus, 600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida.

Robert Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center, will be the guest speaker at Embry-Riddle’s commencement ceremony for 716 of its Daytona Beach Campus students. It will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 7, at the Ocean Center, 101 N. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach, Florida. Both speakers will receive Embry-Riddle’s Eagle of Aviation Award in recognition of their significant contributions to aerospace. (4/17)

Word is Expected Soon on DOD Furloughs (Source: Washington Times)
The Defense Department will let civilian employees know within three weeks whether they will face unpaid furloughs of up to 14 days this year and which workers will be exempt from the furloughs because they hold high-priority jobs, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in speaking to a House panel. (4/16)

NASA Unveils Mission to Seek and Analyze Lunar Ice (Source: Discovery)
NASA scientists are planning a weeklong rover mission to learn more about how water might be made on the moon. The $250 million Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction mission is scheduled for November 2017, and will find and analyze deep pockets of existing frozen water on the moon, with the hopes of discovering how it might be re-created on site. (4/16)

Space Travel? Scots Refuse to Boldly Go... (Source: Scotland Herald)
THE only travel agent in Scotland selling tickets for Sir Richard Branson's space tours has admitted he has not sold a single ticket in two years. Dream Escape, which bagged exclusive seller rights in February 2011, has failed to secure buyers for the trips that cost £130,000 each.

Across the globe nearly 600 people have signed up to the Virgin Galactic tours to be some of the first civilians to travel to the edge of space and look down on Earth. However, the Edinburgh-based travel agents said safety-conscious Scots seemed to be wary of the travel and were waiting to judge the success of the first flight. David Tobin, owner of Dream Escape, said: "Maybe it's a Scottish thing.

"When you put Scotland alongside America, there's obviously a huge number of people [in America] who will get into the Disney-esque aspect of it and will put their money down. The Scots are very keen to see something in the air before they part with quite a decent amount of money. There are a lot of people who have requested information, but a lot of people are sitting with that information, waiting to see it happen." (4/17)

UC Berkeley Wins Up To $200 million for NASA Space Weather Satellite (Source: San Francisco Business Times)
NASA will pay up to $200 million to the University of California, Berkeley, to build a new space weather satellite.
Scientists at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, led by Thomas Immel, will design, build and operate the satellite, called the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, which is set to be launched in 2017. The ICON, as it is called, will study the connection between interactions at the top of the ionosphere and storms 550 miles down below on earth. (4/16)

KSC Lunabotics Event Features College Recruitment Fair (Source: SPACErePORT)
In conjunction with the May 24 Lunabotics competition at NASA KSC, NASA is hosting a college recruitment event focused on connecting high school sophomore, juniors and seniors with Science, Technology, and Engineering education opportunities. Participants will get to meet with over 30 universities, meet one-on-one with NASA scientists, and enter to win a $500 scholarship. Click here. (4/17)

National Space Club Seeks Nominees for Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star Awards (Source: NSSFL)
Annually, the National Space Club Florida Committee recognizes people for life-long achievement and contributions to the U.S. Space Program for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominees can come from government, military, commercial industry, or government contractor organizations. Nominees may be retired or currently employed in continuous service for a substantial period.

We are also soliciting nominations for our Rising Star Award to recognize younger achievers for “above and beyond” accomplishments. Nominees for this award can also come from government, military, commercial industry, or government contractor organizations. Click here for criteria and other details. (4/16)

Branson Hints at SpaceShipTwo’s First Powered Flight (Source: WIRED)
SpaceShipTwo left a trail across the sky for the first time on Friday after test pilots checked the rocket’s engine oxidizer flows during the latest glide flight. The test is the second flight this month and hints from Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson indicate the first powered flight might be just around the corner.

Friday’s test flight last 10.8 minutes and marked the first time the development team at Scaled Composites allowed the oxidizer on board SpaceShipTwo to run through the propulsion system, a so-called “cold flow” test. As the oxidizer – a very chilly liquid nitrous oxide in the case of SpaceShipTwo – exited the nozzle at the rear of the future spacecraft, it created a condensation trail across the blue Mojave desert sky.

SpaceShipTwo made its first flight in 2010, and has progressed slower than initially anticipated. The first powered flight will be a major step towards Virgin Galactic’s plan to offer sub-orbital rides to passengers who want to experience the blackness of space and a bit of time floating around the cabin at the top of the flight which will pass the Karman line, 100 kilometers (~328,000 feet), general accepted to mean they will be in space. (4/16)

Air Force Gives SpaceX a Vote of Confidence for National Security Missions (Source: Space News)
A high-ranking U.S. Air Force official said he was “absolutely” confident that a rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) would carry high-value national security cargo. The vote of confidence, from Brig. Gen. George Teague, director of strategic plans, programs and analyses for Air Force Space Command, came as an answer to a question at 29th National Space Symposium. The question was whether the SpaceX-built Falcon 9 rocket would ever carry national security assets. (4/15)

Officials: Results of FAA Texas Spaceport Study Better Than Expected (Source: Brownsville Herald)
State and local officials are “cautiously optimistic” about an ongoing environmental review that so far has found “no impacts would occur” that would prevent the FAA from issuing a permit to SpaceX for rocket operations in South Texas. The FAA’s 350-page draft environmental impact statement on the proposed SpaceX project at Boca Chica beach was released Monday and details possible ways a rocket launch site there might affect the environment, including threatened or endangered species. (4/16)

Forget the Shuttle – ESA’s Vinci Spaceplane is the Future of Space Travel (Source: Space Answers)
The testing of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and many other similar projects in various states of development means that we are about to enter an era of commercial spaceflight. This will bring about huge changes in the aerospace industry, which has prompted the European Space Agency (ESA) to look at how it should respond to this new environment.

Being only able to help and fund commercial suborbital spaceplane projects in Europe, ESA has proposed the construction of a generic European “Cryogenic Sub-orbital Spacecraft”. ESA looked at three different reusable spaceplane concepts that could use the Vinci rocket engine that is currently being developed as an upper stage rocket for their Ariane launch vehicle. The first had a conventional tail assembly and wings, the second had a forward canard, wings and butterfly tail assembly, and the third had a canard and winglets. Click here. (4/17)

"Call for Abstracts" for Nov. 3-8 Gravitational & Space Research Conference in Orlando (Source: ASGSR)
We are pleased to announce the Call for Abstracts for the 29th annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) and the 5th International Symposium on Physical Sciences in Space (ISPS). The meeting will take place Nov. 3-8 in the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista located in the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. Click here. (4/16)
SpaceTEC Receives Grant Renewal from NSF (Source: SpaceTEC)
Brevard Community College has received renewal of a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for continued support (through 2017) to SpaceTEC, the nation's only National Resource Center for Aerospace Technical Education. Headquartered on Florida's Space Coast, SpaceTEC administers a Certified Aerospace Technician education and certification program through a consortium of fourteen academic institutions in ten states.
"We have confidence that your project will bring significant improvements to technician education," said the NSF notification letter. In addition to providing partner colleges support for curriculum, assessments, promotional activities, and industry outreach, SpaceTEC and sister organization CertTEC also administer examinations and issue performance-based certifications to technicians in many fields including advanced manufacturing, electronics, composites, aviation, and space vehicle processing in support of America's commercial, civil, and defense space activities.

Editor's Note: Aircraft technicians must be FAA certificated to ensure they have requisite skills and protect the flying (and uninvolved) public. In the absence of any new FAA regulatory requirements for launch industry technicians, SpaceTEC has been developing curricula and offering an industry-adopted certification regime for the space transportation workforce. Their support from the NSF is well deserved. (4/16)

B612 Foundation Puts a Price on Asteroid Detection Mission (Source: Space News)
Not a month after the Chelyabinsk meteorite strike prompted a series of congressional hearings here about dangerous asteroids, the nonprofit B612 Foundation unveiled new details about its plan to build and launch a $450 million asteroid-hunting telescope called Sentinel. The price tag alone offers a new level of detail about the mission, which an official with Sentinel prime contractor Ball Aerospace said will resemble a cross between two space telescopes the company helped build for NASA.

“If we take what we learned on Spitzer and what we learned on Kepler, you can derive Sentinel,” John Troeltzsch, Ball’s Sentinel program manager said April 9 during a press briefing at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Troeltzsch is also Ball’s program manager for the Kepler Mission, which launched in 2009 on a 3.5-year prime mission to search for potentially habitable planets orbiting distant stars. (4/16)

Mars Colony Project to Begin Astronaut Search by July (Source: Space.com)
A nonprofit organization that aims to land four astronauts on Mars in 2023 will kick off its two-year, televised search for Red Planet explorers by this summer. The Netherlands-based Mars One will begin accepting application videos sometime between now and July, charging a fee to weed out folks who aren't serious about their candidacy. The group hopes to raise millions of dollars this way, with the proceeds paying for the ongoing selection process and technology studies.

"We expect a million applications with 1-minute videos, and hopefully some of those videos will go viral,” Mars One co-founder and chief executive officer Bas Lansdorp told SPACE.com on April 10. He was in London to speak to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) that day.

Mars One now has 45,000 people registered for its mailing list and has already received 10,000 emails from interested individuals, Lansdorp added. The organization will unveil more details about its astronaut selection process at a press conference in New York City on April 22. (4/16)

NASA Awards Cooperative Agreement for Internships (Source: NASA)
NASA's Office of Education has awarded a cooperative agreement to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) to support the agency's education internship programs. The award's value is estimated at $3 million and $10 million per year, depending on options. The period of performance will not exceed five years.

The agreement covers NASA's Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) and the Space Grant Program, which provide internship opportunities to qualified STEM students and educators. This agreement may include support to the National Science Foundation, which implements other internship programs throughout the federal government, as outlined in the president's budget request for fiscal year 2014. (4/16)

Boeing Offers Voluntary Buyouts to Employees in its Space Division (Source: LA Times)
Boeing's sprawling satellite-making operation in Southern California has just concluded a round of voluntary buyouts in an effort to slash its workforce by 250 to 300 employees. The aerospace giant confirmed that it offered the exit program to senior, non-management employees in its space and intelligence systems unit, which has sites in El Segundo, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Torrance.

Boeing said it had received a sufficient number of volunteers during the two-week period that ended Friday, so involuntary layoffs are unlikely. Boeing said the reduction in its 5,500-employee workforce is necessary because of changes in the way it designs and builds satellites -- not because of a lack of orders or cutbacks in federal spending. (4/16)

NASA Seeks Innovative Suborbital Flight Technology Proposals (Source: NASA)
For a second year, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals for suborbital technology payloads and spacecraft capability enhancements that could help revolutionize future space missions. Selected technologies will travel to the edge of space and back on U.S. commercial suborbital vehicles and platforms, providing opportunities for testing before they are sent to work in the unforgiving environment of space. Click here. (4/16)

Space Situational Awareness Key To USAF’s Fiscal 2014 Plan (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is prioritizing continued improvements in its ability to surveil activities in space and keeping up production of existing satellites over developing new spacecraft in its fiscal 2014 budget request, which was sent last week to Congress. The service’s unclassified request is $6.5 billion in fiscal 2014, reflecting its quandary of continuing with programs despite a flat topline and cuts owing to sequestration.

The Air Force’s space program is at a crossroads. After a decade of tumultuous developments – including billions of dollars of cost overruns and repeated in-service delays – the missile warning and military satellite communications projects are starting to deliver capability.

“You are seeing a turning around from the environment where, year after year, the question was how much was the cost growth going to be on the space programs,” says acting Air Force Under Secretary Jamie Morin. “Just as that ground is firming under our feet, we are grappling with that sequestration challenge, which is obviously producing massive turmoil.” (4/16)

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