April 2, 2013

Launch Competition Key To Reduced USAF Satellite Cost (Source: Aviation Week)
Pressure to reduce defense spending and potential growth in the medium-class launch vehicle market could provide the catalyst that will finally allow the Pentagon to reduce the size of its massive, expensive satellites and, eventually, reduce the high cost of operating in space. For decades, the cost of launch has driven the Pentagon to build large satellites, as engineers effectively crammed as much capability as possible on each rocket.

There has long been rhetoric from senior Air Force officials on this subject, but several forces may be converging to make good on such a shift. There is now an abundance of commercially available spacecraft buses suitable for launching on medium-class boosters. And, they appear to be appropriate for handling future USAF missions that call for smaller satellites—including a next-generation weather satellite and infrared missile warning spacecraft as well as a tactical, protected satellite communications design, Madden says. (4/1)

Will the Europa Clipper Cruise to Jupiter's Moon? (Source: Discovery)
There are few destinations in the solar system as enticing as Jupiter’s moon Europa. Below its icy crust a liquid water ocean is thought to exist, containing not only the necessary ingredients for life, but, according to scientists, potentially complex organisms. And now, despite a squeezed budget, it looks like NASA has been allocated the seed money for a mission to Europa.

Last week, President Barack Obama signed a resolution that was recently passed by the House and Senate outlining the extent of government funding for a range of science disciplines for the remainder of the fiscal year (until September 2013). But one line of the bill has drawn special interest from planetary scientists. On page 64, the bill says: “$75,000,000 shall be for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the most recent planetary science decadal survey.” Click here. (4/1)

Martinez to Sign Limit on Space Travel Liability (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
Gov. Susana Martinez will be in Truth or Consequences in southern New Mexico Tuesday afternoon to sign legislation to shield commercial space travel companies from some damage lawsuits. The goal of the legislation is to keep Virgin Galactic as the anchor tenant at Spaceport America and attract more commercial space companies to New Mexico. The Legislature approved the measure that Martinez has said is critical for New Mexico to develop a commercial space travel industry. (4/2)

NASA Offering Space Program Artifacts for Education (Source: Hobby Space)
NASA is inviting eligible educational institutions, museums and other organizations to screen and request historical space artifacts. The artifacts represent significant human spaceflight technologies, processes and the accomplishments of NASA’s many programs. NASA and the General Services Administration worked together to ensure broad access to space artifacts and to provide a web-based electronic artifacts viewing capability. This is the 17th time since 2009 NASA has made this opportunity available. The web-based artifacts module is located here. (4/2)

Space-Focused Keynote Address at Embry-Riddle Engineering Physics Colloquium (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle will mark the 25th anniversary of Engineering Physics at the Daytona Beach campus with a talk April 3 by Andrew Nicholas, a member of the program’s first graduating class in 1991. Nicholas will speak on how Embry-Riddle’s E.P. program shaped and steered his life and career and give an overview of his research. Nicholas is a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

Nicholas has served as the principal investigator on six active spaceflight hardware programs flown on platforms including operational military weather satellites, the space shuttle, the international space station, CubeSats, and technology test bed satellites. Nicholas has worked at the NRL since 1993, accumulating experience analyzing remotely sensed UV data, atmospheric modeling, and software development. He has over 15 years of experience developing space-flight hardware sensors, mission planning, and on-orbit operations. (4/2)

NASA Seeks Academic Partners for Smallsat Technology Collaboration (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking small spacecraft technology project proposals from U.S. colleges and universities that would like to collaborate with agency researchers. Small spacecraft, or smallsats, represent a growing field of space research and operations in which universities often have led the way in technology development. Smallsats, some of which are as small as a four-inch cube, are not expected to replace conventional spacecraft, but sometimes can provide an alternative to larger, more costly spacecraft.

NASA expects to competitively select approximately 10 proposals. Each team will form proposal partnerships with researchers from any of NASA's field centers. Awards for each project will include as much as $100,000 ($150,000 for teams of more than one school). Proposals submitted in response to this NASA cooperative agreement notice are due June 5. In addition, NASA will fund the time for NASA employees to work with each selected team. Project funding is for one year with the potential to continue for a second year.

Proposed projects could include anything from laboratory work to advance a particular spacecraft technology to flight testing of a new smallsat. For example, projects might focus on a technology area such as propulsion, power or communications, or on a smallsat capability, such as formation flight or satellite rendezvous. Details of the opportunity and instructions for submitting proposals are provided in a Cooperative Agreement Notice that is available here. (4/2)

How Do You Brush Your Teeth in Space? (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA does a lot of serious science on the International Space Station, but there's always time for those questions that keep coming from fans on the ground. You know, the ones about how you do things in zero gravity that are easy to do on the Earth. Such as brushing your teeth. How do you get water to stick to the toothbrush, and where do you spit out the sudsy after-product? Station commander Chris Hadfield explains in this video posted on April 1, 2013. (4/1)

California Dreaming: Virgin Powered Flight Test Coming Soon (Source: Parabolic Arc)
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo reportedly went out flying on Monday. It did not appear to be a glide test. But, this probably means that one is coming fairly soon. I’m guessing later this week. The first glide flight took place just before Christmas, more than three months ago. This would be the second of three planned glide tests with the engine installed before powered flights begin. There’s a rumor of the first powered flight occurring in about three weeks’ time, but that remains unconfirmed. (4/2)

Baikonur Deal Foresees at Least 14 Commercial Launches (Source: Moscow Times)
Kazakhstan relented and allowed Russia to make at least 14 commercial launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome this year in a compromise that followed months of talks, Russian and Kazakh officials said. Russia will use the launch pad it rents from its Central Asian neighbor to send 15 rockets into outer space, said Kalamkas Temirova, a Kazakh Space Agency spokeswoman said late Monday. A Russian government source said the number was 14.

Russia initially received permission to launch 12 Proton rockets, although it requested 17, a development that triggered Moscow's diplomatic offensive. The final number is not lower than last year's 14 blastoffs. The news of a standoff between Russia and Kazakhstan over the frequency of launches first broke in January. A raft of high-level bilateral meetings, including between President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ensued as the countries sought to iron out the wrinkle. Russia pays $115 million a year to rent the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (4/2)

A U.S. “Pivot” in Space? (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
In a March 28 essay in The Diplomat, Scott Pace, a leading U.S. space policy expert, argues the United States should take proactive steps “to shape the international environment for the space activities that our economy and security depend on.”  One important step he suggests is to focus on Asia. His approach appears in part to be aimed at countering Chinese influence.

A “pivot” in U.S. space policy aimed at countering Chinese influence would be consistent with the Obama administration’s strategic shift of U.S. economic and defense priorities toward Asia. But it also risks extending regional tensions exacerbated by the “unnecessary and counterproductive” aspects of Obama’s pivot to Asia into a vitally important global commons.

Instead of isolating China in space with the aid of a reluctant collection of Asian partners who all wish to maintain constructive relations with the world’s second largest economy, U.S. interests might be better served by an inclusive national space strategy that embraces cooperation with China. Other U.S. space policy experts note that many U.S. partners, including ESA and Canada, are already urging the U.S. to pursue cooperation and drop its opposition to Chinese to participation in the International Space Station. (4/2)

New York Times Reacts to Tempest Over Its Obituary on Yvonne Brill (Source: Space Policy Online)
Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, commented in her blog about the tempest created by the newspaper's obituary of Yvonne Brill. In response to a slew of negative comments from readers, the Times changed the opening line of the obituary to note that she was a brilliant scientist rather than praising her cooking skills. (4/1)

The Great State Space Race (Source: Space Review)
Several states are completing to host a planned commercial launch site for SpaceX, with Texas in the lead. Jeff Foust reports on that competition and growing interest by local and state economic development organizations to attract commercial space businesses. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2271/1 to view the article. (4/1)

Lunarcy: is the Idea of Lunar Settlement Crazy? (Source: Space Review)
A new documentary profiles several people with very strong beliefs in lunar settlement. Jeff Foust reviews the film and examines the challenges space advocates face in being taken seriously as they seek goals that, today, seem laughable to the public. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2270/1 to view the article. (4/1)

Space Settlement and Future of Space Law (Source: Space Review)
Continued expansion of humanity into the solar system will bring with it new legal issues. Babak Shakouri discusses some of those potential problems, from legal jurisdiction over multinational facilities to property rights, and how they could be addressed. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2269/1 to view the article. (4/1)

Baiterek SRC Project to be Based on Zenit Rocket (Source: Tengri News)
Kazakhstan and Russia have agreed to use Zenit launcher in Baiterek space rocket complex (SRC). “An agreement has been reached to use Zenit rocket launcher in Baiterek SRC instead of the planned Angara rocket,” Vice-PM Kairat Kelimbetov said. The inter-government commission of Kazakhstan and Russia on Baikonur space complex started working in Baikonur on March 28. The work of the commission was participated by around 200 experts of different authorities and ministries from Kazakhstan and Russian sides. The parties discussed different issues in 4 work groups. (4/2)

Nuclear Power Prevents More Deaths Than It Causes (Source: C&EN)
Using nuclear power in place of fossil-fuel energy sources, such as coal, has prevented some 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths globally and could save millions of more lives in coming decades, concludes a study. The researchers also find that nuclear energy prevents emissions of huge quantities of greenhouse gases. These estimates help make the case that policymakers should continue to rely on and expand nuclear power in place of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, the authors say.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, critics of nuclear power have questioned how heavily the world should rely on the energy source, due to possible risks it poses to the environment and human health. “I was very disturbed by all the negative and in many cases unfounded hysteria regarding nuclear power after the Fukushima accident,” says Pushker A. Kharecha, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Working with Goddard’s James E. Hansen, Kharecha set out to explore the benefits of nuclear power. The pair specifically wanted to look at nuclear power’s advantages over fossil fuels in terms of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. (4/2)

6.7 Percent Growth in the Global Space Economy (Source: Space Foundation)
The global space economy grew to $304.31 billion in commercial revenue and government budgets in 2012, reflecting growth of 6.7 percent from the 2011 total of $285.33 billion. Commercial activity -- space products and services and commercial infrastructure -- drove much of this increase. From 2007 through 2012, the total has grown by 37 percent.

Commercial space products and services revenue increased 6.5 percent since 2011, and commercial infrastructure and support industries increased by 11 percent. Government spending increased by 1.3 percent in 2012, although changes varied significantly from country to country, with India, Russia and Brazil increasing budgets by more than 20 percent, while other nations, including several in Europe, experienced declines of 25 percent or more.

78 launch attempts took place in 2012, a drop of 7.1 percent from the 84 launches in 2011 (but higher than the 2010 total of 74). Russia led with 24 launches, China had 19 launches and the U.S. totaled 13 launches. For the second year running, the Chinese launch rate was greater than that of the U.S. The United States led in terms of launch vehicle diversity, however, with ten types of orbital rockets launched in 2012. Click here. (4/2)

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