April 19, 2013

Air Force to Cut 1,000 Jobs, Not Part of Sequester (Source: Defense News)
In order to meet 2012 budget reductions, the Air Force is cutting 1,000 of what it calls "surplus employees," a reduction that is not connected to additional funding cuts from sequestration. Voluntary reductions have helped the Air Force get closer to its target, "but we still have a way to go in placing the number of surplus employees to funded vacancies, and [reduction in force] authorities will enable us to achieve that goal," said Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, the director of force management policy for the Air Force. (4/17)

FAA to Start Furloughs of Air-Traffic Controllers on Sunday (Source: Bloomberg)
Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency plans to begin furloughs of air-traffic controllers on Sunday. "There are about a dozen airports that will likely see heavy to moderate delays," Huerta said. (4/18)

Three Winners Selected in Space Video Contest (Source: NASA Watch)
The Coalition for Space Exploration and the NASA Visitor Center Consortium are pleased to announce the winners of the "Why Space Matters to the Future" video contest: Addie Augsburger, Clyzzel Samson, and Elizabeth Paddock. The winning entries were selected for both their creative demonstrations of the importance of space exploration and their unique visions for the future if the boundaries of space continue to expand."

The winning entries were selected for both their creative demonstrations of the importance of space exploration and their unique visions for the future if the boundaries of space continue to expand. Three out-of-this-world prizes will be awarded to the winners for a trip for four, one to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, one to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama and one to Space Center Houston in Texas. Click here to see the videos. (4/19)

XCOR Aerospace Makes Plans for a Reusable Orbital Vehicle (Source: Space News)
As XCOR Aerospace prepares to begin flight tests of its Lynx suborbital vehicle later this year, the company has completed an initial conceptual design of a follow-on orbital reusable launch vehicle. “The concept design is done. I know what the approach is, I can put the numbers together,” XCOR Chief Executive Officer Jeff Greason said during a presentation at the Space Access ’13 conference here April 13. The company, he said, completed that conceptual design in the last few months, although it has yet to develop a more detailed design of the proposed vehicle.

Their vehicle concept uses an existing but unidentified aircraft and two rocket-powered reusable stages. The upper stage will likely use a liquid hydrogen engine, a technology that the company has only recently started to work with. XCOR has, in the past, avoided the use of liquid hydrogen fuel in favor of alternatives such as kerosene because of the complexities of handling the cryogenic fuel, but Greason said the performance benefits hydrogen offers for an orbital vehicle outweigh those concerns. (4/19)

Russian Becomes World's Oldest Spacewalker at 59 (Source: AP)
A 59-year-old Russian cosmonaut became the world's oldest spacewalker Friday, joining a much younger cosmonaut's son for a little maintenance work outside the International Space Station. Pavel Vinogradov, a cosmonaut for two decades, claimed the honor as he emerged from the hatch with Roman Romanenko. The pair installed new science equipment, and worked at gathering old experiments and replacing a navigation device.

Until Friday, the oldest spacewalker was retired NASA astronaut Story Musgrave, who was 58 when he helped fix the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. Romanenko, 41, is a second-generation spaceman who's following in his father's bootsteps. Retired cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko performed spacewalks back in the 1970s and 1980s. This is the son's first experience out in the vacuum of space. (4/19)

Orbital Sciences' Antares Rocket Launch Delayed Until Saturday (Source: Florida Today)
Orbital Sciences Corp. plans to try again at 5 p.m. Saturday to launch its Antares rocket for the first time. The rocket would have been ready for the test flight Friday, but the weather forecast was poor at the state’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island in Virginia. Conditions are expected to improve significantly Saturday and Sunday. Orbital said only “small adjustments” were needed to fix the problem that scrubbed the first Antares launch attempt on Wednesday. (4/19)

For ‘Flexible’ Vega, Second Launch a Step Up in Complexity (Source: Flight Global)
The European Space Agency is readying the 2 May second flight of its Vega light launcher in expectation of repeating the success of last year's maiden launch despite a far more complicated flight plan and the added burden of carrying a commercial payload. The second mission will have as its principal payload Vietnam's VNREDSat Earth observation mission. For Vietnam and Estonia, the mission marks the countries' first forays into space. (4/19)

Astronaut Nicole Stott to Lead Embry-Riddle Youth Summer Program on Space Research (Source: ERAU)
Astronaut Nicole Stott, an Embry-Riddle alumna and trustee, will bring her expertise and enthusiasm to Embry-Riddle July 28 to Aug. 3 to lead one of the university’s summer programs for the first time. Stott is one of Embry-Riddle’s most notable graduates, with two space shuttle flights and a three-month mission on the International Space Station to her credit.

Joined by astronaut trainers and NASA officials, Stott will direct a residential Mission Discovery Summer Camp at the Daytona Beach Campus, guiding students ages 14-18 in developing basic research projects that could potentially be conducted in space. Tuition for the five-day course is $900. Also new this year, Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus is joining the university’s Prescott  and Daytona Beach campuses in offering fun, hands-on summer programs for youths interested in exploring aviation, aerospace and related fields. Click here. (4/19)

Mice "Crew" of the Russian Space Satellite Having Troubles (Source: Space Daily)
The "Crew" of "Bion-M", spacecraft consisting of the mice was partially replaced a day before the launch. According information from the source at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the reason was the death of one mouse. One group of mice was completely replaced. This was due to the conflict between several males killing a single mouse.

According to the head of the project Yevgeny Ilyin, the mice are aggressive animals, so the death of one of them was not a shock to scientists. Male-mice are often prone to stress and aggression, leading to clashes between them. Therefore, to remove these risks during space-launch preparation, mice were divided into several groups in advance.

Also Ilyin warned that in zero gravity mice can start fighting for food, which will lead to further deaths within the group of "astronauts". "Inside the machine blows directed flow of air, so the corpse of the animal would not rot, and just mummified instead, although it is possible that other mice can eat the corpse of a fellow," - said the head of the project. (4/19)

Virgin Galactic Impressed by Student Support for New Mexico Legislation (Source: Raton Range)
Representatives of Virgin Galactic — who are working with Raton school officials to develop an aerospace career education program — were impressed with the contingent of Raton students who came to the state Capitol in Santa Fe in January to lobby for legislation relating to Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. “They were well prepared and enthusiastic. They were fearless, knocking on senator’s doors,” said Mark Butler, senior program manager for Virgin Galactic. “It was incredible to watch the enthusiasm of these kids.” (4/19)

New Techniques Allow Discovery Of Smallest Super-Earth Exoplanets (Source: Space Daily)
A University of Washington astronomer, funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, has discovered perhaps the smallest super-Earth planet in its host star habitable zone. Eric Agol at the University of Washington has identified Kepler 62f, a small, probably rocky planet orbiting a Sun-like star in the Lyra constellation. The planet is about 1.4 times the size of Earth, receives about half as much solar flux, or heat and radiation, as Earth and circles its star in 267.3 (Earth) days.

The planet Agol discovered is one of two "super-Earth" planets discovered in Kepler 62's habitable zone, that swath of space the right distance from the star to potentially allow liquid water to exist on a planet's surface, thus giving life a chance. A super-Earth is a planet greater in mass than our own but still smaller than gas giants such as Neptune. Kepler 62's other super-Earth, nearby 62e, is 1.61 times Earth's size, circles the star in 122.4 days and gets about 20 percent more stellar flux than the Earth. The two are the smallest exoplanets -- planets outside the solar system -- yet found in a host star's habitable zone. (4/19)

Early Galaxy Formed Stars at Blistering Pace (Source: LA Times)
Scientists discover the earliest known starburst galaxy, which made stars more than 1,000 times faster than our Milky Way. They are surprised that a galaxy that early could make stars so rapidly. Peering deep into the universe, scientists have discovered the earliest known starburst galaxy — a revved-up stellar factory popping out stars thousands of times faster than the Milky Way.

The find, described in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, could help alter scientists' understanding of the early evolution of galaxies and larger structures in the universe. The galaxy, named HFLS 3, existed about 880 million years after the big bang, when the universe was about 6% of its current age, astronomers say. And it's churning out stars with sun-sized mass at the incredible rate of roughly 2,900 per year.

A typical starburst galaxy may produce the equivalent of hundreds of suns per year, scientists said. The Milky Way, by comparison, creates about two suns annually. Starburst galaxies are relatively rare. They're thought to be the ancestors of massive elliptical galaxies, the blob-like clusters of stars that, together with spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, account for most of the universe's galactic population. (4/18)

FSGC Sponsors Hybrid Rocket Competition (Source: Florida Tech)
It was Saturday (4/13/13) 7:00AM, the sun was barely up – there was a chill in the air. The FIT steely eyed missile folk of the SRS had gathered. The brave SRS hybrid competitors began the long drive from FIT to the Open spaces of the NEFAR launch complex in the wide open spaces near Bunnell. The weatherman had spoken evil omens of wind and rain. Immediately on arrival at the launch complex the SRS folk sprang into action. In mere minutes the launch system was constructed and their rockets were ready to fly.

The two teams from the FIT Student Rocket Society competed against 8 other teams among 4 Florida Universities in the Florida Space Grant Consortium/Florida Space Institute/Northeast Florida Association of Rocketry Hybrid Rocketry Competition. In the Precision Altitude competition where the objective is to fly to exactly to 2000’ agl, FIT took First place with a final (second flight of the day) altitude of 1938’ (UF took second and UCF took third).

In the maximum altitude competition, FIT took Second Place with a altitude of 1656’ (UCF took first place and UF took third). They carefully recovered everything and reconstructed the flight for the judges. Again this year, FIT  took home more points and had the highest overall scoring of all competing schools. (4/18)

Astronauts4Hire Seeks Astronaut Candidates (Source: A4H)
Florida-based Astronauts4Hire (A4H) is seeking highly qualified candidates to expand its cadre of prospective commercial astronauts. Individuals interested in becoming Flight Members can submit applications via the Astronauts4Hire website at http://forms.astronauts4hire.org/FMapplication by April 20, 2013. Selectees will be announced during the first week of June 2013 at the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Broomfield, Colorado.

A4H Flight Members must speak English fluently and hold at least a Master's degree or equivalent in a relevant field of science or engineering. Exceptional applicants who are current students expecting to graduate within two years will also be considered. Those selected as A4H astronaut candidates should possess a unique combination of scientific expertise, broad technical and operational skills, and a history of activities showing adaptability in challenging environments.

Finalists will be asked to provide an FAA Class 3 medical certificate and verification of credentials within 90 days of selection and will be expected to complete Research Specialist Astronaut training within two years of selection. (4/18)

Conference Tackles Rising Concerns About Planetary Defense (Source: Space Safety)
Scientists, engineers and policymakers gathered to discuss initiatives to protect the planet in the event of a large asteroid impact at the 3rd International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference in Arizona. “People all over the world have really now seen what happens when as asteroid hits the Earth and it’s very visceral. You can understand it. ‘I’ve seen this thing in the sky and the explosion,’ and so on and there’s a lot of attention now,” said David Trilling.

The space rock that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February raised many questions about preparations to face future similar threats. The Planetary Defense Conference tried to answer some of these questions, exchanging knowledge of asteroids, presenting new efforts to characterize them, and discussing ways to mitigate those that pose a threat to Earth. Click here. (4/18)

Japanese Actor Koichi Iwaki Will Fly on the XCOR Lynx (Source: NewSpace Watch)
XCOR Aerospace General Sales Agent (GSA) Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) CEO Michiel Mol announced the latest Lynx Mark I flight participant as noted Japanese film actor Koichi Iwaki. Mr Iwaki is a spokesman for the US watch company Luminox, an SXC affiliated partner. Mr Iwaki has starred in over fifty films and TV series since 1975. He is also an avid race car driver and motorcyclist. The XCOR Lynx flight test campaign is anticipated to begin later this year and commercial flights will be flown shortly after the conclusion of the test program. (4/18)

KSC Moving Forward on Facilities Demolition at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: NASA)
NASA KSC is seeking capability statements interested parties to determine the appropriate level of competition for a contract to demolish various facilities throughout KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. These facilities previously housed administrative and technical/operational support personnel or were mission support structures. The work will be required to be performed with minimal impact to the surrounding roads and facilities. Click here. (4/18)

Scientists Develop Nano-suit to Enhance Survival in Vaccum (Source: Space Safety)
Scientists have developed a thin polymer membrane, or nano-suit, that enhances survival in vacuum. Takahiko Hariyama of the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine in Japan and his colleagues have found that bombarding creatures with electrons causes a thin polymer membrane to form around them, protecting them from the harsh conditions of vacuum.

The experiments were conducted on fruit fly larvae. When the larvae were put in a vacuum, it resulted in rapid dehydration and death. To protect them from dehydration, the scientists bombarded the larvae with electrons which formed a thin polymer membrane over the larvae. Under similar vacuum conditions, the larvae covered with the electron membrane survived and continued normal movements such as wiggling. These protected larvae even grew into health fruit flies, with no noticeable impact from their exposure to vacuum. (4/18)

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