July 23, 2013

KSC Visitor Complex Celebrates Anniversaries of Women in Space (Source: KSCVC)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex celebrated the recent 50th anniversary of the first woman in space and 30th anniversary of the first American woman in space, with the appearance of astronaut Wendy Lawrence at Astronaut Encounter on June 22-24. The timing of this celebration is especially appropriate as NASA recently announced its new class of eight astronauts which includes four women.

The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was launched aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. During the 70.8 hour flight, Vostok 6 made 48 orbits of Earth. Upon completion of her mission, Tereshkova was honored with the title Hero of the Soviet Union. She never flew again, but she did become a spokesperson for her country and while fulfilling that role, received the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace. (6/22)

Editorial: Congress Should Give OK for Asteroid Research Plan (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
A U.S. House of Representatives science panel is making a mistake in not taking the idea of asteroid study more seriously. The House panel has dropped funding for NASA's asteroid-retrieval program proposed in President Barack Obama's 2014 budget. The House panel's proposed budget favors manned missions back to the moon, and then Mars.

NASA wants to "lasso" a small asteroid and bring it into orbit around the moon. Later missions, at some point in the 2020s, would send astronauts to the small asteroid for study. It is unclear as to why the House doesn't like the idea. Perhaps it sounds far-fetched. But so did the moon mission in 1960. And the asteroid study would cost less than a manned moon mission, or a manned mission to Mars.

NASA could do all three over the next decade or two. And given the small initial costs of the asteroid program — about $40 million in the White House's 2014 proposal — there's no reason to cut the proposal. But the House Science, Space and Technology Committee rejected the proposal, even though it's a minute part of the $16.9 billion budget plan for NASA. (6/22)

NASA Officials Debut a New Machine in New Orleans (Source: AP)
NASA officials in New Orleans publicly unveiled a new, three-story-tall cylindrical structure Friday that is a key component in constructing heavy-lift rockets for the nation's space program. It's called the "vertical weld center." The heavy metal framework holds state-of-the-art automated welding equipment, around which the Boeing Co. will build a major component of rockets for NASA's new Space Launch System: the "core stage" of the SLS rockets.

Each core stage will be more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.5 feet. Each will be assembled in sections around the vertical weld center. Each stage will have nine sections made of eight individual curved aluminum panels welded together by the machinery that glides up and down within the cylinder — "a quarter mile's worth of welding," in the words of Boeing executive Rich Navarro, who spoke at Friday's ribbon cutting. (6/21)

Armenia to Launch Its First Satellite (Source: RIA Novosti)
The ex-Soviet republic of Armenia will launch its own satellite into the orbit, a governmental official said Friday. A newly created company called Armcosmos is currently busy registering an orbital position for the upcoming satellite, said Gagik Grigoryan, a senior official with the Transportations and Communications Ministry. The price tag for Armenia’s space program is $250 million, with part of the sum to come from private investors, Grigoryan told the Armenian branch of Radio Liberty. (6/22)

Huge Chunk of Meteorite Located in Urals Lake (Source: RIA Novositi)
A huge fragment of meteorite that slammed into Russia’s Urals region in February was located on the bottom of Chebarkul Lake in the Chelyabinsk Region, a scientist said on Friday. On February 15, a meteorite landed with a massive boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,200 people in the area.

The meteorite broke into approximately seven large fragments and one of them is believed to have fallen into Chebarkul Lake, forming a hole in the ice about eight meters in diameter. In late March, a radar probe of the bottom of the lake has revealed a crater possibly created by a fragment of a meteorite. (6/22)

TV Series Might Bypass Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
The Space Coast could lose out on a television series because the Florida Legislature didn’t add to its pool of money for film industry incentives. Local officials fear the proposed TV series “Cocoa Beach,” based on a book by NBC space correspondent Jay Barbree, instead could go into production in another state.

Florida offers tax credits to companies shooting motion pictures, television shows, commercials and digital media productions like video games in the state. Florida allocated $296 million in incentives for the program in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Legislature this year, though, did not add any more money to the pool. “Louisiana, I think, is talking to them and saying: ‘We can be Cocoa Beach,’ ” Bonnie King told members of Brevard County Tourist Development Council. “We’ve got some real challenges.” (6/21)

Copenhagen Suborbitals: Sapphire Flight a Success but Recovery Fails (Source: Hobby Space)
Copenhagen Suborbitals launched their Sapphire rocket today from the sea off Denmark and the active guidance system successfully kept it on a straight vertical trajectory to the expected 8 km altitude. Unfortunately, on the return the parachute system did not work and the vehicle was not recovered. However, the primary goals of the test were achieved. (6/23)

CASIS Featured at Space Club Luncheon on July 9 (Source: NSCFL)
Duane Ratliff, COO of CASIS, the organization responsible for operating the U.S. National Lab portion of the International Space Station, will be featured at the July 9 monthly luncheon of the National Space Club, Florida Committee. Ratliff will speak on CASIS' role in supporting the aerospace community. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. RSVP by COB Wednesday, July 3, at http://www.nscfl.org. Click here. (6/23)

SpaceX Executive Has Advice for Students (Source: Daily Breeze)
Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, dispensed some advice on how to succeed during a recent visit with female students from Da Vinci Schools in Hawthorne. Among her recommendations: Never leave a buyer with any unanswered questions. Shotwell, named one of the world's most powerful women last year by Forbes, said the first interview question she always asks is, "What have you done that is excellent?"

Shotwell was among seven senior level executive women who participated in the June 1 conference, called "Changing the World ... Choosing to Succeed." The women represented the fields of engineering, education, film, science, advertising, justice and design. The speakers shared stories of their personal and career growth as managers, mentors, mothers and innovators. (6/22)

Host of Celebrities Have Signed Ride With Virgin Galactic (Source: New York Daily News)
Star-gazing is about to take on a whole new meaning. Celebs can’t wait to put themselves into orbit — with A-listers lining up for seats aboard billionaire and extraplanetary entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic ship, which is slated to blast off this year.

More than 500 aspiring astronauts — including a cadre of celeb space cadets — are reaching for the stars by shelling out $200,000 for a 2 1/2-hour voyage with six minutes of weightlessness. Reaching new heights of celebrity will be one small step for these superstars — and one giant leap for superstardom. Click here. (6/23)

Residents Can Weigh In at Spaceport Meeting Tuesday (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a public informational meeting on space Tuesday night in New Smyrna Beach. Senator Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, and Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys will host the meeting.

The meeting offers local residents a chance to ask questions about space and the proposal to develop a commercial spaceport near the former community of Shiloh in southern Volusia County, just north of the Brevard County line. The meeting is scheduled to take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Brannon Center, 105 S. Riverside Drive, New Smyrna Beach. (6/22)

Mars Had Oxygen Long Before Earth Did (Source: SEN)
The history of Mars, as written in its rocks, suggests that the Red Planet had oxygen billions of years before our planet did, a new research paper suggests. Past comparisons of rocks analyzed by NASA's Spirit Rover on Mars, compared to Martian meteorites on Earth, showed five times more nickel in the meteorites. Now, a new study published in Nature led by the University of Oxford suggests that is the case because there was more oxygen on Mars in its ancient past than today. (6/23)

Congressman Lamar Smith Disputes Florida Today's View on Asteroid Mission (Source: Florida Today)
Public Interest Editor Matt Reed’s recent column, “Moon trip cooler than saving a city?” incorrectly said the Obama administration’s proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) is intended to “intercept an asteroid to spare millions some day from death by fireball or tsunami.” This exaggerated statement ignores the facts. The Obama administration’s complete lack of justification for its asteroid retrieval mission is a distraction from NASA’s important mission.

Congress directed NASA in 2005 to identify and track 90% of asteroids larger than 140 meters by 2020. Such asteroids could cause significant damage, and NASA still has work to do to accomplish this goal. The administration’s ARM proposal focuses on much smaller objects, from 7 to 10 meters, that are so small they would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Techniques to influence the trajectory of small NEOs would be considerably different than those used to deflect an actual threat to the planet.

The column criticizes a NASA bill that would reject ARM and instead focus on deep space exploration. There is longstanding bipartisan support for a long-term human mission to Mars. Experts have testified that a stepping-stone approach, including a lunar mission, is the most strategic pathway. The column further claims the ARM proposal is “surprisingly affordable.” But experts at the Keck Institute for Space Studies have estimated such a mission would actually cost around $2.6 billion, significantly more than the administration claims. (6/21)

Pegasus to Carry NASA Craft This Week From Vandenberg (Source: Lompoc Record)
A small satellite with a big mission of exploring the connection between the sun and Earth will head to space aboard an air-launched rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday evening. The winged Pegasus rocket, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., is scheduled to carry NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft into orbit.

The launch is planned between 7:27 and 7:32 p.m. Wednesday about 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg Air Force Base. Unlike traditional rockets, Pegasus is carried aloft under the belly a modified L-1011 aircraft that will release the space booster at an altitude of 39,000 feet above the ocean. The aircraft will take off from Vandenberg’s runway approximately 55 minutes before the planned launch. (6/23)

New Astronauts Step Into Plenty of Unknowns (Source: Florida Today)
So, where are these eight new astronauts going? NASA introduced a new class of U.S. space explorers earlier this week. Eight super-achievers in life. Eight fascinating human beings. Eight of America’s best and brightest. And, eight space explorers with no place to go explore. Their new home base: Houston. But their big mission: for now, it’s being the potential future crew of NASA’s planned, but not ready to fly Orion spacecraft.
It’s a spaceship envisioned to ultimately take astronauts beyond Earth orbit and deeper into the solar system. But, many years will pass before humans fly aboard it, and many more will pass before it carries humans anywhere beyond where we’ve been before. NASA’s most immediate solar system target — an asteroid — is a project threatened by political disinterest. Members of Congress are just not enchanted with the idea, so much so that the U.S. House of Representatives’ early draft of the bill authorizing NASA’s activities leaves out a human flight to an asteroid.

It’s possible that this new crew of astronauts, joining those who haven’t left since the shutdown of the space shuttle program, could be the ones who blaze a trail for deep-space explorers by serving as the test fliers for the new rocket and spacecraft or maybe serving an extended term aboard the International Space Station, though the line is long and competition fierce for the few spots available on those crews. (6/23)

Russian Scientist Proposes Satan Missiles to Fight Asteroid Threats (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia can use Soviet-era SS-18 Satan heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy celestial bodies posing a threat to Earth, a Russian scientist said on Sunday, four months after a powerful meteor struck Russia’s Urals region. “Carrier rockets created on the basis of intercontinental ballistic missiles like Voyevoda [the Soviet name of Satan missiles], which use standard liquid fuel based on hydrazine, are well-suited for fighting suddenly discovered small [space] objects,” said Sabit Saitgarayev.

“They [missiles] can stay in the condition of their readiness for launch for ten and more years, after some reequipping,” the scientist said. The Satan missile can take off 10-20 minutes after an order for launch, the scientist said. If two hours are needed for the missile to reach the target, another two hours are required to specify the space object’s trajectory and one hour to coordinate the missile launch with the heads of other countries, he argued. (6/23)

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