April 24, 2013

Northrop Grumman's Space Coast Expansion to Create 2,500 Jobs (Source: Florida Today)
When all is said and done, Northrop Grumman Corp.’s planned expansion in Melbourne will lead to the creation of 2,522 jobs, according to a just-released analysis by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. That includes Northrop’s plan announced in March to bring 1,000 jobs to the area over the next three years, paying an average wage of $75,000 a year, plus 1,522 spinoff jobs at other companies.

Northrop Grumman said it plans to establish a Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence in Melbourne, bringing aircraft design work to Melbourne from other company facilities, including one in Bethpage, N.Y. The company is seeking more than $4.3 million in Brevard County and Melbourne incentives to bring the jobs here, as well as an undisclosed amount of state incentives. (4/24)

Europe Changes Tactics in Push for Space Code of Conduct (Source: Space News)
European Union officials appear to have learned the lessons of their failure in the past five years to win international approval of a proposed international code of conduct in outer space and are reorienting the effort under the banner of humility and a willingness to consult other nations.

U.S. hostility, once a show-stopper for the code of conduct, has been muted with the code’s latest draft. But developing countries remain concerned that the code will have the effect of locking up useful orbits just as emerging nations are getting ready to use them, according to presentations made during a two-day conference on space security organized by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). (4/24)

Russian Space Cargo Ship Suffers Glitch after Launch (Source: Space News)
An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft launched toward the international space station this morning, but once in orbit, the capsule encountered a problem, officials said. The Progress 51 supply spacecraft failed to deploy an antenna used for navigation after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:12 a.m. EDT. Specifically, the antenna is used to “measure the orientation” of the ship, NASA officials said.

Ground controllers are now working to assess and fix the problem. Progress is scheduled to dock with the international space station April 26 at 8:26 a.m. EDT. While some Progress spacecraft can launch and dock on the same day, that was not possible with this particular launch due to orbital dynamics, so the vehicle will take two days to catch up to the international space station in orbit. It is unclear whether the scheduled docking time will be affected by the glitch. (4/24)

Small-Satellite Specialist Already Eyeing U.S. Expansion (Source: Space News)
Although Surrey Satellite Technology-U.S. LLC (SST-US) moved into its new manufacturing facility in Englewood, Colo., only one month ago, company officials already are anticipating future expansion of the U.S. subsidiary of Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. “Ten years from now, I think we will have a nucleus in Colorado and a presence in California, Washington, D.C., and Florida,” John Paffett, SST-US chief executive, said.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. established its U.S. subsidiary in 2008, primarily to market the firm’s small satellites and provide systems engineering services to U.S. customers. In March, SST-US moved to its new U.S. headquarters, a facility designed to accommodate expansion of the company’s operations during the next three to four years. That facility, which includes offices, laboratories, clean rooms, payload integration and testing areas as well as a mission operations center, “should be able to accommodate work on two to three spacecraft comfortably,” Paffett said. (4/24)

Surfrider Foundation Seeks Spaceport Sand for Beach Renourishment (Source: SPACErePORT)
The US Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans to nourish the North Reach of Brevard County (Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach) with sand from the Canaveral Shoals offshore borrow site. This is the same borrow site used to nourish the North Reach in 2001 and 2005. Scientific research has shown that the sand from the Canaveral Shoals borrow site is much coarser than the natural sand in the North Reach and will result in increased rip current formations and have a negative impact on the surfing wave conditions.

An alternative borrow site, the beach at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is available and has been used to nourish the beaches in Cape Canaveral five times, most recently in 2010. The sand from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station borrow site is a much better match for the North Reach, which is not surprising since that sand would naturally flow into the North Reach if the jetty at Port Canaveral did not trap it north of the inlet.

The Cocoa Beach Chapter of Surfrider Foundation is leading the fight to prevent the placement of incompatible sand on our beaches. We will make a public presentation at the Cocoa Beach City Commission meeting on May 2 at 7PM. We will also speak at the Cape Canaveral City Commission meeting on May 21. We encourage all local residents who prefer a more natural and safer beach to get involved. Contact your city and county commissioners and make your voices heard. More information is available here. (4/23)

Asteroid Basics: A Space Rock Quiz (Source: Space.com)
Asteroids are fascinating for lots of reasons. They contain a variety of valuable resources and slam into our planet on a regular basis, occasionally snuffing out most of Earth's lifeforms. How much do you know about space rocks? Take the quiz here. (4/24)

Cygnus on Deck after Successful Antares Debut (Source: Space News)
With the inaugural launch of its Antares medium-lift rocket in the books, Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va., is now preparing for another maiden flight: that of the Cygnus space freighter the company developed with help from NASA. The first Cygnus mission is tentatively scheduled for June or July, and its successful completion would clear the way for Orbital to start flying 20,000 tons of cargo to the international space station for NASA under an eight-flight, $1.9 billion contract signed in 2008. (4/24)

PWR Reaches Milestone in Next Rocket Engine for Human Spaceflight (Source: SpaceRef)
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the rocket-engine manufacturer that helped power American astronauts to the moon during the Apollo era, has completed the last in a series of hot-fire tests on a J-2X engine with a stub-nozzle extension at simulated altitude conditions. This latest chapter in the development of America's next rocket engine paves the way toward full-motion testing of the J-2X engine, which is designed to power humans to Mars.

NASA has selected the J-2X as the upper-stage propulsion for the evolved 143-ton (130-metric-ton) Space Launch System (SLS), an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle. In the latest series of tests with the stub-nozzle extension, J-2X Engine 10002 was tested six times for a total of 2,156 seconds on the A-2 test stand at John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The stub-nozzle extension allows engineers to test the engine in near-vacuum conditions, similar to what it will experience in the extreme environment of space. (4/24)

Former Florida Lt. Governor Gets New Job (Source: Florida Today)
Former Florida lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll is getting a new job. Global Digital Solutions announced it was hiring Carroll as a senior adviser. A spokesman for Carroll confirmed Wednesday that she accepted the job. Carroll is expected to become president and company chief operating officer once a planned merger with Airtronic USA, Inc. has been completed.

Global Digital Solutions does engineering and technical consulting work. Airtronic is a design and manufacturing company that makes small arms such as grenade launchers. Carroll abruptly resigned from her post last month after she was questioned by law-enforcement authorities about work she did for Allied Veterans of the World. The charity has been accused of running an illegal gambling ring. Carroll has not been accused of any wrongdoing. (4/24)

Mock-Up of Shuttle External Tank on Move North Florida Museum (Source: Florida Today)
A 200-foot barge carrying a mockup shuttle external tank and other artifacts is departing KSC en route to the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Starke, Florida. Pulled by two tugs, the barge will travel the Intracoastal Waterway and St. Johns River to Green Cove Springs, between Palatka and Jacksonville, where it’s expected to arrive by Saturday.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to miss,” said Bob Oehl, the museum’s executive director. Once in Green Cove Springs, the tank and other artifacts face a 55-mile journey over land to reach Wings of Dreams, located at Keystone Heights Airport in Starke, but the date of those moves has not yet been confirmed. Dozens of power, telephone and cable lines and train signals will need to be temporarily moved. “This is the largest piece that’s moved over land since Howard Hughes moved the Spruce Goose,” said Oehl. Wings of Dreams has already acquired a shuttle simulator from Johnson Space Center, Oehl said. (4/24)

Looking for Life by the Light of Dying Stars (Source: AFTAU)
Because it has no source of energy, a dead star — known as a white dwarf — will eventually cool down and fade away. But circumstantial evidence suggests that white dwarfs can still support habitable planets, says Prof. Dan Maoz of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy. Using advanced technology to become available within the next decade, it should be possible to detect biomarkers surrounding these planets — including oxygen and methane — that indicate the presence of life. (4/24)

Russians Launch Space Station Resupply Ship (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
It was a throwback of sorts Wednesday as a Russian Progress cargo craft launched on a two-day track in pursuit of the International Space Station, reverting to the old rendezvous style instead of the six-hour sprints employed recently, but one of its navigation antennas did not immediately deploy.

Loaded with 3.1 tons of food, fuel and supplies, the freighter was boosted into orbit atop an unmanned Russian Soyuz booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:12 a.m. EDT (1012 GMT). The space station was located over the South Atlantic at the moment of launch. (4/24)

Earliest Satellite Maps of Antarctic and Arctic Sea-Ice (Source: BBC)
The earliest satellite maps of Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice have been assembled by scientists. They were made using data from NASA's Nimbus-1 spacecraft, which was launched in 1964 to test new technologies for imaging weather systems from orbit. The satellite's old pictures have now been re-analysed to determine the extent of the marine ice at the poles in the September of that year. Regular mapping from space did not begin until 1978.

One key finding is that marine floes around the White Continent in the 1960s were probably just as extensive as they are today. The new snapshot, published in The Cryosphere journal, therefore helps put current ice conditions into a longer-term context, say researchers at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). It is also just a fascinating story of how old scientific data can be given a new lease of life. (4/24)

Squyres, Pace, Not Convinced of Asteroid Return Strategy (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA’s new asteroid retrieval mission has not won over two influential voices in space policy debates. Cornell University’s Steve Squyres and George Washington University’s Scott Pace told the National Research Council (NRC) on Monday that it is not necessarily the best next step for the U.S. human spaceflight program.

The NRC’s Committee on Human Spaceflight met Monday and Tuesday in Washington, DC. The committee is tasked with describing the value proposition of the human spaceflight program – what do taxpayers see as its value for the money spent – and providing advice on future planning for that program. Among the topics discussed was NASA's new asteroid retrieval strategy to capture an asteroid, redirect it into a retrograde lunar orbit, and send astronauts to retrieve a sample.

Squyres chairs the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and is perhaps best known as the principal investigator for the twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. He also chaired the NRC's 2011 Decadal Survey for planetary science. In addition to talking about NAC’s view of NASA's human exploration program, he shared his personal views on topics NAC had not yet considered, including the new asteroid retrieval strategy. Click here. (4/24)

Eco-Friendly Galaxy Wastes Nothing to Build Stars (Source: Space.com)
Scientists have found what may be the most environmentally friendly galaxy ever seen, a galactic star factory that operates with a nearly 100-percent efficiency rate. It is located about 6 billion light-years from Earth. NASA unveiled the galaxy discovery today (April 23), one day after Earth Day, and dubbed the distant galaxy, called SDSSJ1506+54, the "greenest" ever seen. It was spotted by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope.

Most galaxies use just a small fraction of their available fuel to make stars, but SDSSJ1506+54 is quickly consuming all its gas for star formation. And while stars tend to form in discrete knots of activity in the spiral arms of most galaxies, in this case, gas has collected in the galaxy's center, where a furious riot of star formation is taking place. "We are seeing a rare phase of evolution that is the most extreme — and most efficient — yet observed," astronomer Jim Geach of McGill University, who led the study, said in a statement. (4/23)

United Technologies Posts Higher Profit with Cost Cutting (Source: Reuters)
United Technologies posted first-quarter profit of $1.27 billion, compared with $330 million in the year-earlier period. The year-before figures included a one-time charge for discontinued operations. Revenue rose 16 percent to $14.39 billion, but missed the $14.94 billion estimate from Wall Street. The strong profit was a positive for Wall Street, but the revenue miss suggested the company was relying too much on cost cuts rather than higher sales. (4/24)

Embry-Riddle Student Awarded Goldwater Scholarship for Research (Source: ERAU)
John Easum, an Engineering Physics sophomore and Honors Program student at Embry-Riddle, has been named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar and will receive $7,500 annually during his junior and senior years. Competition is intense for Goldwater Scholarships, awarded to 300 college students nationwide each year by the federally endowed Barry M. Goldwater Foundation. It is considered the nation’s premier scholarship program honoring undergraduate academic and research excellence in engineering, mathematics and the natural sciences.
In addition to his 4.0 cumulative grade point average in Engineering Physics, Easum has been actively engaged in research for an urban wind turbine project, and he gained research experience in applied space and airborne systems during an internship with Raytheon. Easum plans to pursue an M.S. in Engineering Physics at Embry-Riddle and develop knowledge-based, problem-solving software for spacecraft engineering and operation. (4/23)

Florida Named No. 1 State For Innovation By Fast Company (Source: Gov. Rick Scott)
Fast Company, the world’s leading progressive business media brand, named Florida the No. 1 state for innovation in its May 2013 magazine. In a story titled “A Sunny Outcome: Why Florida’s Startups Are Soaring High,” Fast Company cited some of the state’s lofty superlatives, including the nation’s second-highest rate of new business production, a high ranking on Fundable’s (a leading crowdfunding platform) venture capital rankings, and the No. 3 ranking for annual revenue per startup, with $1.2 million. (4/23)

Florida Lunar X-Prize Team Adds Sponsor (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Earthrise Space Inc. (ESI), the parent organization of the Google Lunar XPRIZE team, Omega Envoy, is proud to announce that it has gained a new sponsor, Wrike, who is donating company-wide use of their Project Management Software to ESI. Wrike’s software will help make it easier to visualize workflow and organize tasks, freeing up precious work time that would otherwise be spent working through time-consuming traditional planning methods. (4/24)

Orbital Sciences Gets $75M To Build TESS Exoplanet Telescope (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. got a four-year, $75 million contract to build a small astrophysics spacecraft, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), for NASA. The TESS spacecraft will be built on Orbital’s LEOStar-2 spacecraft bus, a platform with a nominal five-year design life. Several small NASA science missions were built on this platform, including the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array X-ray observatory Orbital launched last summer, and the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment Sun observatory that launched in 2003 and is still in operation. (4/24)

Virginia Spaceport Plans More Launches, Seeks More Customers (Source: Daily Press)
With the Antares rocket successfully launched, Virginia's spaceport on Wallops Island is busy drumming up more commercial space customers — they just can't say who. "Because we signed non-disclosures with organizations, we're not at liberty to discuss who they are and what they're doing," said Zigmond Leszczynski, deputy executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA). "Needless to say, we think there's a lot of potential there."

The VCSFA owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, or MARS, located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore. On Sunday, as state leaders and the head of NASA looked on, the 68-year-old facility launched its most powerful rocket ever in a test to determine if it can boost a cargo ship to the International Space Station. Only one other privately held company — SpaceX — has done so. (4/24)

First Angara Rocket To Launch From Plesetsk in 2014 (Source: Interfax-AVN)
The first space launch using the new generation Angara rocket will take place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Arkhangelsk region, in 2014, not in 2013 as was planned before, Colonel-General Oleg Ostapenko, deputy defense minister of Russia, told reporters. "At least we are hoping for 2014," Ostapenko said responding to a question as to when the first Angara launch will take place. According to earlier reports, the first launch of the Angara rocket from Plesetsk was expected to take place in 2013. (4/24)

Jeff Greason Updates Lynx Status (Source: Parabolic Arc)
XCOR's Jeff Greason gave a very detailed and candid overview of progress on the Lynx suborbital space plane, which the company is hoping to get into the air late this year. He also touched upon the company’s move to Midland, the fully reusable orbital system XCOR is working on, and engine development work it is doing with United Launch Alliance. Click here. (4/23)

NSS Adds to its Leadership Team (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society announces the selection of four new additions to its leadership team:  Dr. Stanley G. Rosen to the newly created position of Vice Chairman of the Society’s Board of Directors, Bruce Pittman as Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer, Dr. Paul Werbos as Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee, and Craig Andrew Max IV as Assistant Secretary. Click here. (4/24)

ATK Awarded DARPA Study Contract (Source: ATK)
ATK was awarded a contract to support DARPA for the Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program. SeeMe seeks to develop enabling technologies to provide reliable surveillance data to the warfighter in the field, using small, low-cost satellites that are launched quickly to support the speed of military operations.

ATK intends to transition advanced, imagery-processing algorithms used on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to space and take advantage of the resulting higher-power processing to save size, weight and power, as well as cost, on satellites. ATK has partnered with Logos Technologies, Inc. and University of Southern California / Information Sciences Institute on the study contract. (4/22)

UCLA Space Scientists Find Way to Monitor Elusive Collisions in Space (Source: UCLA)
Many collisions occur between asteroids and other objects in our solar system, but scientists are not always able to detect or track these impacts from Earth. The "rogue debris" created by such collisions can sometimes catch us by surprise. UCLA space scientists have now devised a way to monitor these types of collisions in interplanetary space by using a new method to determine the mass of magnetic clouds that result from the impacts. (4/23)

Branson: SpaceShipTwo Flight Planned for Next Monday (Source: Parabolic Arc)
"We’re hoping to break the sound barrier. That’s planned Monday. It will be a historic day. This is going to be Virgin Galactic’s year. We’ll break the sound barrier Monday and from there, we build up through the rest of the year, finally going into space near the end of the year. I’ll be on the first official flight, which we look to have in the first quarter of next year. We’re doing a number of test flights into space first." (4/23)

Astronomers Go with People's Choice for Pluto Moons: Vulcan, Cerberus (Source: NBC)
Astronomers have decided to go with the people's choice and propose Vulcan and Cerberus (or Kerberos) as the names for Pluto's tiniest known moons, one of the discovery team's leaders said Tuesday. Vulcan bubbled up to the top of the list in a non-binding "Pluto Rocks" contest in February, thanks in part to a strong endorsement from "Star Trek" captain William Shatner. The International Astronomical Union, which traditionally approves celestial names, still has to weigh in on the discoverers' proposal. (4/23)

Resurrected LiftPort Continues Space Elevator Quest (Source: Space Safety)
Space elevators are usually the realm of science fiction, but Michael J. Laine is determined to build a real one. He first founded LiftPort in 2003 to develop technology for a Tethered Tower – a ribbon-like construct stretching towards space for robots to climb. The company encountered economic and legal difficulties and had to disband in 2007. But in the summer of 2012, LiftPort 2.0 came into being. Here, Laine speaks with Moonandback about the new reboot and the 3,468 Kickstarter supporters that made it happen. (4/23)

SBIRS Gets Second Set Of Eyes In Orbit (Source: Aviation Week)
The second Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite has achieved “first light,” and officials expect that it will be certified to warn commanders of ballistic missiles by year’s end, says Jeff Smith, vice president for the program for prime contractor Lockheed Martin. First light means the covers for the sensitive infrared payloads — a scanner and a starer — were removed. The system is now being calibrated.

The SBIRS satellite, the second to be placed in geosynchronous (GEO) orbit, was launched March 19 on an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral. GEO-1 was launched in May 2011. Its scanner has yet to be certified to deliver Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment (ITWAA) messages. These messages are used to tip off U.S. missile defenses about incoming targets. The Air Force has prioritized use of the scanning sensor first, leaving the newer staring sensor for certification later. (4/23)

Comet Could Blast Earth With Weird Meteor Shower (Source: Discovery)
A small but incredibly bright comet heading toward the sun could do more than dazzle Earth’s skies when it arrives later this year. Scientists say Comet ISON, already shedding dust at the prodigious rate of about 112,000 pounds per minute, could spark an unusual meteor shower. Computer simulations predicting the location and movement of the comet’s dust trail show Earth will be passing through the fine-grained stream around Jan. 12, 2014. (4/23)

Pan American Airways System Entering Commercial Space Industry (Source: IFG)
Pan American Airways System will enter the commercial space industry within the next five years. Look forward to flying to suborbital space on a Pan Am Space Clipper! Pan American Airways System was incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware on January 14, 2013 and is not affiliated with Pan Am Systems, Pan Am Railways, or Pan Am Brands. Pan American Airways System is a spaceline that will transport passengers and cargo to select cities across six continents and to orbital space hotels, the Moon, and Mars via commercial spacecraft. We plan to relaunch the First Moon Flights Club in 2015. (4/21)

Russia to Deorbit ISS Pirs Module in 2013 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia plans to deorbit and sink its Pirs docking module of the International Space Station later this year, a high-ranking official with the Russian space corporation RKK Energia said. Alexander Kaleri said undocking and deorbiting Pirs will take place before a new Russian module docks with the station. Alexander Derechin, RKK Energia deputy chief designer said in late March the launch of the multirole laboratory module (MLM) is tentatively scheduled for the end of 2013. (4/23)

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