April 3, 2013

Israel Space Trade Mission Planned for May 26-31 (Source: Airlift)
Airlift and the United States Embassy in Israel are jointly organizing an international trade mission to Israel focussing on Space Technologies (satellites, imagery intelligence, communications, commercial spaceflight). The mission’s goal is to explore business opportunities in these areas through site visits and one-on-one meetings. Click here for details. (4/2)

SpaceShipTwo Completes Second Glide Flight in Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
SpaceShipTwo had a successful glide flight this morning at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The suborbital space vehicle took off at 7:18 a.m. PDT underneath its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. It landed on runway 30 at 8:40 a.m. PDT after a brief glide flight. The vehicles were accompanied by the Proteus aircraft for the high-altitude drop and a low-altitude chase plane. All three vehicles flew in formation over SpaceShipTwo after it landed. (4/3)

"Starship Builders" Icarus Interstellar Plans Starship Congress Summit (Source: SpaceRef)
Icarus Interstellar today announced that registration is open for Starship Congress, the first-ever international assemblage of recognized interstellar space proponents. The Congress will be held August 15-18, 2013 at the Anatole Hilton in Dallas, Texas.

Starship Congress will host interstellar organizations and distinguished speakers of the interstellar community. Registration for Starship Congress is now open on the Icarus Interstellar website. A call-for-papers is to be made in April with selected presenter's papers to be published in a special issue of British Interplanetary Society. Schedule for the 4-day event is included below here. Presentations are by invitation but Icarus Interstellar welcomes queries from interested parties and individuals. Click here. (4/3)

Firefighters Working To Protect KSC Facilities from Wildfire (Source: CFNews 13)
Firefighters are trying to protect NASA facilities from a wildfire that has burned 2,200 acres near the Kennedy Space Center. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters say the fire is 50 percent contained. Firefighters are concerned the fire could grow because it's still dry and that could cause this massive wildfire to spread. Today U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crews will set more backfires to help cut off the fuel for the fire. They say it's necessary to protect NASA facilities and most of that work will happen on Space Center property. (4/3)

AsiaSat Satellite To Host Commercial Weather Sensor (Source: Space News)
Telecommunications satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on April 3 said it had tentatively entered into a $185 million partnership with startup satellite weather-data provider GeoMetWatch (GMW) to place a GMW-designed hyperspectral sounding instrument on an AsiaSat satellite to launch in 2016.

AsiaSat said it will finance the purchase and integration of the sensor onto an AsiaSat satellite to operate at 122 degrees east longitude in geostationary orbit, and incur the associated operating costs. The company said the project’s total cost should be no more than $185 million. (4/3)

NASA Officials Call Noose Incident a ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Poor Joke (Source: CBS)
Wallops Flight Facility employees will be briefed on NASA’s investigation into the discovery of a noose at one of the Virginia facility’s buildings. Chris Scolese, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will discuss the findings with Wallops employees Thursday.

In a March 29 memo, Scolese told colleagues that a contractor employee fashioned a piece of rope into a noose and handed it to a co-worker who was in a bad mood. The noose was left behind and was found by a contractor with another company, who reported it. Scolese said the incident was intended as a joke, but was “deeply disturbing.” He said the person who tied the noose has been denied access to NASA facilities pending results of the investigation. (4/3)

Mitsubishi To Build Three QZSS Navigation Satellites (Source: Space News)
Mitsubishi Electric Co. (Melco) of Tokyo will lead a team to complete Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) to enhance the precision of the U.S. GPS positioning, navigation and timing satellites over the Pacific Ocean region under a contract valued at $539.4 million. The contract calls for Melco to build one geostationary-orbit satellite and two spacecraft to be operated in highly elliptical orbit to complete the QZSS space architecture by 2017. (4/3)

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Zeroes In on Dark Matter (Source: BBC)
A $2 billion experiment on the space station has made observations that could prove to be the first signs of dark matter, a mysterious component of the Universe. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) surveys the sky for high-energy particles, or cosmic rays. It has seen evidence of what may prove to be dark matter colliding with itself in what is known as "annihilation". But scientists stress a precise description of this mysterious cosmic component is still some way off. "It could take a few more years," said AMS deputy spokesman Roberto Battiston. (4/3)

KSC's Pad 39B Transition Making Good Progress Ahead of SLS Debut (Source: BBC)
Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B is fast returning to the status of an active launch pad, with new elevator towers now visible on the surface of the former Shuttle launch site. The “clean pad” will be able to launch a number of vehicles, although its primary role will be the launch pad for the Space Launch System (SLS). Click here. (4/3)

New Mexico Spaceport Liability Bill Signed Into Law, But... (Source: New Mexico Watchdog)
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill into law Tuesday offering liability protection for manufacturers at Spaceport America – something the $209 million facility’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, insisted lawmakers pass in the just-concluded legislative session. But... there’s a but.

While New Mexico taxpayers may have constructed the facility, Virgin Galactic has complained about what president and CEO George Whitesides last month called a “laundry list” of issues after it started paying its $1 million-a-year rent. Whitesides said: "...all stakeholders must now turn their attention to the future and to recruiting additional companies to the spaceport to fulfill its full potential and maximize new job growth.”

In the run-up to the legislative session, Virgin Galactic executives hinted at leaving Spaceport for another state. And in an interview with New Mexico Watchdog during the session, when asked if Virgin Galactic would consider pulling up stakes, the company’s senior program manager Mark Butler said,  ”We’re a business. We’re always going to look at other deals. But the reality is we’re committed to New Mexico. We have no plans to move at this time.” (4/2)

“Commercial Space Exploration May be Hit” (Source: The Hindu)
The recent cutbacks in fundings for NASA announced by the U.S. government may cause delays in the program to build a new spacecraft as well as projects related to commercial space flights, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams said. Ms. Williams also said she hoped that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and NASA will collaborate closely in the future.

“Over the time that I have been at NASA, I’ve seen the relationship between India and the United States go in a much more positive direction, particularly when it comes to space,” she said, adding that on her first visit to India she was not allowed to go to ISRO, but today scientists of both organisations communicate freely. (4/3)

Space Coast Robotics Team to Compete in World Championship (Source: MIHS)
Team 801 came away from the FIRST San Antonio Regional with a Finalist Award and a bid to attend the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis on April 24-27. Alyssa Auricchio, a Merritt Island High School student and long-time member of Team 801 received the prestigious Dean’s List Finalist Award and will compete with other Dean’s List Finalists in St. Louis. The team is currently raising funds to be able to participate. Team 801 and its sister team, Bionic Tigers (Team 1592), overcame enormous odds to be able to participate in this regional competition.

Weeks before, while in transit to the Orlando Regional Competition, the teams’ trailer was involved in a car accident and the robots being transported sustained significant damage. The night before competition, neither teams’ robot was capable of competing. The students created two competition-ready units in less than 24 hours with assistance from their industry mentors and with exemplary “coopertition” from all of the other 60 teams competing.

The accomplishment was heralded as unprecedented by the FIRST establishment. These teams were able to reach the quarter finals at the FIRST Orlando Regional Competition with their salvaged bots. Just as these teams had received help at the Orlando Regional, they were dedicated to assisting another team whose robot was stolen in transit to the competition. The teams were awarded special recognition for their efforts to “pay it forward”. If you can contribute a tax deductible donation to the team, please contact Michelle Williams at Merritt Island High School 321.454.1000 ext 1004. (4/3)

Cabana to Discuss KSC's Path Forward at May 14 Luncheon (Source: SPACErePORT)
KSC Director Robert Cabana will be the featured speaker at a May 14 luncheon event planned by the National Space Club, Florida Committee. Cabana will discuss "The FY14 Budget and KSC's Path Forward". Click here for information and registration. (4/3)

Lunar Workshop Brings Space Innovators to Cocoa Beach (Source: SPACErePORT)
The 3rd International Workshop on Lunar Superconductor Applications (LSA 3) will be held in Cocoa Beach on April 9-11. The purpose of LSA is to bring together four groups of researchers who will be key to unlocking the mysteries of the Lunar poles and deep space chemistry. This year's event will feature presentations by groups like Shackleton Energy, Planetary Resources, and Astrobotic. Click here for information and registration. (4/2)

Warp Factor (Source: Popular Science)
warp drive would permit faster-than-light travel. It is, most assume, impossible, a clear violation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. NASA's Sonny White says otherwise. For half an hour at the symposium, he outlined the physics of a potential warp drive—walking attendees through things like Alcubierre bubbles and hyperspace oscillations. He explained how he’d recently computed theoretical results that could pave the way for an actual warp drive and that he was commencing physical tests in his NASA lab, which he calls Eagleworks. Click here. (4/2)

First Moonwalkers' Toy Plane, Toothbrush Up for Auction (Source: Collect Space)
A toy plane that Neil Armstrong is said to have played with as a child — years before he became a naval aviator, research pilot and the first astronaut to walk on the moon — will be auctioned this month in Dallas. The red metal toy, which Heritage Auctions expects to sell for as much as $2,500 at its April 18 space-themed sale, was found by the family who bought Armstrong's boyhood home in 1964. The model airplane was discovered in the house's attic, along with a red wagon and some homework papers that also belonged to the future moonwalker. (4/2)

NASA Asks Universities For Early Stage Innovation Tech Proposals (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking innovative, early-stage space technology proposals from accredited U.S. universities that will enable NASA's future missions and America's leadership in space. Proposals are sought for science instruments, cryogenic propellant storage for long-duration space exploration, optical coatings for astrophysical pursuits, oxygen recovery for life support systems, and to improve our understanding of and protection from near-Earth asteroids. Click here. (4/2)

FSDC Supports Space Policy Issues in Tallahassee and at Spaceport (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council has organized grassroots support for space policy and funding discussions in Tallahassee with the Florida Legislature, and for local-level deliberations with Volusia County and the City of Titusville. On behalf of FSDC's membership, President Laura Seward sent these letters to legislative leaders in Tallahassee in support of some specific space issues during the state's Legislative Session.

Seward also attended a March 26 Titusville City Council meeting where she spoke in support of Space Florida's efforts to establish a new "Shiloh" launch facility at the north end of Kennedy Space Center. (Council members had been hearing from opponents to the plan from some citizens.) FSDC also enlisted the support of student groups at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to promote the Shiloh project to the Volusia County Council during their April 4 meeting. (4/3)

Black Hole Awakens for Planet-Sized Snack (Source: Cosmos)
A black hole has been observed awakening from its slumber to consume a planet-sized object in a galaxy 47 million light years away, according to astrophysicists who witnessed the rare event. The observation made using the European Space Agency’s INTEGRAL satellite project, revealed a black hole that had been slumbering for years chomping on a giant, low-mass object that had come too close. (4/3)

Does NASA Need a Closure Commission To Shut Down Idle Facilities? (Source: Space News)
Cash-strapped but flush with idle infrastructure, NASA may need help from an independent group similar to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to overcome the political obstacles to closing facilities it no longer needs, the agency’s inspector general said.

During a more than yearlong audit that wrapped up in December, NASA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) — the agency’s internal yet independent watchdog — examined 153 facilities at various NASA centers and found at least 33 that were “underutilized or for which NASA officials could not identify a future mission-related use,” according to a Feb. 12 report.

A former NASA administrator put it bluntly. “It’s politically impossible for an agency head even to consider closing a major facility,” Mike Griffin, who preceded Bolden as head of NASA, told SpaceNews. “It just can’t be done, because the Congress will not allow it.” Griffin said if NASA field centers had to be closed, a BRAC-style process might work — provided the consolidation effort included all civilian research facilities, and not just NASA’s. (4/2)

USAF Space Mission Continues Despite Restructure (Source: USAF)
Critical Air Force missions continue from their current locations after today's restructure of Air Force Space Command's Space Innovation and Development Center in Colorado. The SIDC restructure and realignment of subordinate organizations is part of the Air Force response to meet future challenges by balancing and realigning like missions to AFSPC and to Air Combat Command's U.S. Air Force Warfare Center.

The Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force announced to Congress in November 2011 the Air Force intent to restructure the SIDC. AFSPC and ACC jointly restructured the Space Innovation and Development Center as part of an ongoing Air Force effort to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead and eliminate redundancy. Effective today, the existing SIDC structure will transition to become several Operating Locations at Schriever AFB. (4/2)

NASA Mega-Rocket Could Lead to Skylab 2 Deep Space Station (Source: Space.com)
NASA's first manned outpost in deep space may be a repurposed rocket part, just like the agency's first-ever astronaut abode in Earth orbit. With a little tinkering, the upper-stage hydrogen propellant tank of NASA's huge Space Launch System rocket would make a nice and relatively cheap deep-space habitat, some researchers say. They call the proposed craft "Skylab II," an homage to the 1970s Skylab space station that was a modified third stage of a Saturn V moon rocket.

"This idea is not challenging technology," said Brand Griffin, an engineer with Gray Research, Inc., who works with the Advanced Concepts Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,. "It's just trying to say, 'Is this the time to be able to look at existing assets, planned assets and incorporate those into what we have as a destination of getting humans beyond LEO [low-Earth orbit]?'" Griffin said.

He compared the overall concept with the original Skylab space station, which was built in a time of declining NASA budgets after the boom years of the Apollo program. Skylab "was a project embedded under the Apollo program," Griffin said. "In many ways, this could follow that same pattern. It could be a project embedded under SLS and be able to, ideally, not incur some of the costs of program startup." (4/2)

Red Arcs In Sky Over Europe, Evidence Of Geomagnetic Storms (Source: Huffington Post)
Glowing red arcs invisible to the naked eye have now been detected high above most of Europe using advanced cameras pointed at the sky. When streams of high-energy, charged particles come rushing from the sun to batter Earth, they cause what are called geomagnetic storms. These events are disruptions in the magnetosphere, the part of Earth's atmosphere dominated by the planet's magnetic field.

The most dramatic effects of these storms are giant, bright auroras in Earth's polar regions, but the tempests result in other striking consequences as well, such as faintly glowing red arcs high up in the ionosphere. This is the electrically charged part of Earth's atmosphere, stretching from about 50 to 370 miles (85 to 600 kilometers) above the Earth.

The arcs give off a very specific wavelength of red light, but are too faint to see with the naked eye. They appear at lower latitudes, unlike auroras, which typically occur over higher latitudes. Scientists had thought there was too much light pollution over Europe for the dim, red arcs to be visible. But now, the new All-Sky Imaging Air-Glow Observatory (ASIAGO), located in northern Italy, is using cameras with highly sensitive sensors and a fish-eye lens to observe these red arcs and faint auroral activity over most of the continent. (4/2)

NASA is Taking Bids on Berthing Mechanism for Bigelow Inflatable Module (Source: Space News)
NASA is looking for a company to fit a Bigelow Aerospace-built inflatable module with a Boeing-designed berthing mechanism so the balloon-like structure can be attached to the international space station in 2015. NASA wants a single contractor to build a Passive Common Berthing Mechanism, the design for which the agency will provide as government-furnished equipment, then attach it to the Bigelow Expanded Activity Module (BEAM).

This inflatable structure will be attached to the aft-facing port of the station’s Tranquility node for a technology demonstration project that could last up to two years. NASA will evaluate how the Bigelow module, which has an interior volume of about 16 cubic meters and will be used only for cargo storage, compares with the station’s aluminum modules in a space environment.

Companies interested in building the berthing mechanism must submit bids to NASA by April 8. After NASA picks a winner and gives the go-ahead to start the work, the contractor will have 16 months to build the berthing hardware, install it on BEAM, and test it for leaks, according to NASA’s March 18 solicitation. In December, NASA gave Bigelow a $17.8 million firm-fixed-price contract “to provide and operate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) on-board the international space station.” (4/2)

No comments: