May 5, 2013

Space in Reach for Average Joes at Silicon Valley Adult Space Camp (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
Inspired by explorers from Magellan to Neil Armstrong, attendees of Silicon Valley's first adult space camp are teaming up to navigate the next frontier: citizens in space. Sure, humans have been blasting into outer space for half a century, but the privilege has thus far been reserved for highly trained astronauts. This weekend's Citizen Astronaut and Space Hacker Workshop of more than 100 space experts -- and aspiring space experts -- was focused on shooting the common man and his gadgets into orbit in hopes of going beyond the discoveries of NASA and other government programs.

"I grew up getting excited by astronauts, and I thought, 'how could I do this myself?' " said Manu Sharma, co-founder of Infinity Aerospace, a startup at Mountain View's Moffett Field, who spoke at the citizen science event. "Instinctively, we're all explorers. There's nothing left to explore on this planet." The event at the Hacker Dojo, appropriately across Highway 101 from NASA's Ames Research Center, featured speakers preaching way-out-there ideas such as colonizing Mars or building intergalactic gas stations to fuel rocket ships.

And there were plans that entrepreneurs insist are only a year away, namely sending the first paying customer into space aboard a passenger rocket ship, at a cost of at least $95,000 per space tourist. The rock star organization of the event was XCOR Aerospace, a Southern California company competing with Virgin Galactic to send the first space tourist into flight. Virgin last week completed further testing on its spacecraft, breaking the sound barrier on Earth, while XCOR is still testing its engines. (3/04)

Dream of Mars Exploration Achievable, Experts Say (Source: Asia One)
NASA and private sector experts now agree that a man or woman could be sent on a mission to Mars over the next 20 years, despite huge challenges. The biggest names in space exploration, among them top officials from the US space agency and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, will discuss the latest projects at a three-day conference starting Monday in the US capital.

Renewed interest in the red planet has triggered the launch of several initiatives in recent months, including one proposing a simple one-way trip to cut costs. The American public also favors sending astronauts to Mars, according to a survey by non-profit group Explore Mars and aerospace giant Boeing. The poll in March of more than a thousand people published in March found that 71 percent of Americans expect that humans will land on Mars by 2033. eventy-five per cent say NASA's budget should be doubled to one percent of the federal budget to fund a mission to Mars and other initiatives. (5/5)

Made in Space to Fly 3D Printer to ISS Next Year (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Made in Space will fly the first 3D printer in space next year aboard a SpaceX Dragon freighter, which will deliver it for use by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, CTO Jason Dunn announced on Saturday. Dunn told attendees at the Space Hacker Workshop in Mountain View, Calif., that this will be the first time that humans will conduct manufacturing operations off the Earth. The 3-D machine will allow astronauts to print parts and components on orbit instead of having to ship them up from Earth.

The company, which is based at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif., has been working for three years to perfect 3D printers capable of working in microgravity gravity. Dunn said the Made in Space has flown more than 400 microgravity parabolas to test out printers. Made in Space was formed in 2010 by alumni of the Singularity University, which runs a summer program at NASA Ames in California. (5/4)

Brownsville Leading SpaceX Sweepstakes? (Source: My San Antonio)
Political and business leaders here say the city is the favorite to land SpaceX's next rocket launch site. The private space company is considering at least four locations for the launch site, where it will invest about $100 million and create hundreds of jobs. The site would include a control center and possibly later a manufacturing plant for SpaceX rockets. Brownsville's entry in the sweepstakes — Boca Chica Beach, near the state's southernmost point — is competing with Cape Canaveral, Georgia and Puerto Rico for the project.

Before the company picks a site later this year, lawmakers are pushing ahead with two bills to help lure it to Texas, one that would close the beach during launches and another that would block any public nuisance complaints against the company. State and local governments are also drawing up incentive offers to the company. Proponents say landing the project would be a coup for the Rio Grande Valley. But not everyone is happy about the idea of a launch pad in their backyard. (5/5)

Sarasota Travel Agency to Offer Space Travel for Around $200K (Source: Bay News 9)
Have you ever dreamed of voyaging into space, but you never became an astronaut? Now, with the right amount of cash, you don’t have to be a space expert to enjoy the view. Virgin Galactic has built a spacecraft meant for regular people who can afford the voyage. There are still some tickets available. The price is around $200,000, and the entire trip will only last about two and a half hours.

The first test flights on the spacecraft took place last Monday. The goal is to have the program up and running in a little more than a year. Admiral Travel International in Sarasota is one of the only travel agencies in Florida offering this experience. Travel Agent and Co-owner of ATI Ryan Hilton said the voyagers will be taking space travel into a new era. (5/5)

Full Steam Ahead for ATK’s SLS Booster Drive (Source:
ATK are making good progress on both the initial five segment boosters, set to launch with the opening launches of the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Advanced Boosters that may provide yet more power to the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) in the late 2020s. Following the success of the three static fire tests of the five segment motor that was initially set to launch Ares I – before being re-purposed for the SLS – ATK are now deep into their preparations for the next major milestone, the Qualification Motor -1 (QM-1) test, which is set to take place at the end of this year. (5/4)

Chang’e 3: The Chinese Rover Mission (Source: America Space)
Currently scheduled for launch in December 2013 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, the Chang’e 3 mission aims to land a Chinese rover on the Moon. If the mission is successful, it will be the first soft landing on the Moon since the Russian Luna 24 mission in 1976. Overseen by the China National Space Administration, the Chang’e program is following a step-wise approach to lunar exploration that could lead to the first taikonaut stepping onto the Moon by 2025.

The previous Chang’e 1 and 2 lunar orbiting missions, launched in 2007 and 2010, represented the first phase of the Chang’e program. Chang’e 3, to be followed by Chang’e 4, represent the second phase of the program, both involving rovers. The third phase, with Chang’e 5, will be a sample-return mission and is currently scheduled for 2017. After that, it is anticipated that a new program will commence, which might culminate in a manned landing. (5/5)

Private Space Providers Press On Toward Their Goal (Source: Florida Today)
Seeing SpaceShip zooming over the California high desert is thrilling for space enthusiasts. The first rocket-powered flight of the long-dreamed-of private spaceship is yet another sign that space travel is not altogether stalled by the political and financial troubles that stymie NASA. Private entrepreneurs are not waiting around to see what happens with NASA’s program. They are pressing on with innovative, difficult and wondrous efforts at advancing space flight.

In Mojave, the stingray-shaped SpaceShipTwo fell away from its gangly carrier aircraft, fired its engine for the first time and rocketed off to more than 55,000 feet. Test flights are picking up. Virgin Galactic expects its ship to reach space by the end of 2013. Not long after that, customers paying $200,000 — or more — are going to get the ride of their lives to suborbital space. They will unbuckle, float freely for a minute or so inside the cabin and gaze at the Earth before returning home to it. (5/5)

$32.2 Million Collected So Far in Spaceport America Sales Tax (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Of the $32.2 million Doña Ana County residents have paid, cent by cent, in a spaceport tax that took effect five years ago, $1 in $4 has been routed to local education. That means roughly $8 million in total — 25 percent of all sales tax revenues — has been sent to the three school districts that cover the county, according to data from Doña Ana County government.

During a 2007 referendum, a main argument touted by tax proponents was that the money would help to train future engineers and technicians who'd be qualified to work at future Spaceport America facilities. The educational share of sales tax money, after being collected by the state, is sent to Doña Ana County. "We turn around and dole it to the school districts based on their 40-day enrollment totals," said Doña Ana County Finance Director Bill Noland. (5/4)

Coast Guardsmen Recognized for Role in Space Shuttle Missions (Source: Coast Guard News)
Coast Guardsmen were recognized for their efforts in the thirty-year space shuttle program during a Coast Guard reunion ceremony, Saturday aboard Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral. During the space shuttle program, which began Apr. 12, 1981 and ended Feb. 24, 2011, Canaveral-based Coast Guardsmen provided support for 135 manned space flight missions and were responsible for more than 550 square miles surrounding the Kennedy Space Center. (5/4)

New Mexico Museum to Host DC-X 1st Flight 20th Anniversary (Source: NewSpace Watch)
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is pleased to announce that it will host the Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) First Flight + 20 Anniversary and Spaceplane Conference on August 16, 17 & 18, 2013 at Spaceport America, NM, and the New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, NM. Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico State University-Alamogordo are co-hosting the event. (5/4)

What Would It Be Like to Travel to Mars in Orion? (Source: NASA)
Spacecraft systems engineer Amber Gell describes the challenges of a three-year journey to Mars and back. Click here for a series of videos featuring Amber and other NASA engineers describing issues the agency is tackling as it develops the Orion spacecraft for deep space missions. (5/4)

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