June 12, 2013

Space Coast Energy Symposium Highlights KSC (Source: Florida Today)
The world's fastest street-legal car was parked motionless outside the Florida Solar Energy Center on Wednesday. Inside, several hundred entrepreneurs, academics and government officials were discussing faster ways to leverage NASA's assets to boost private sector clean-energy ambitions.

Accelerating the nation's transportation is just one of the ideas of how Kennedy Space Center can be used when rockets aren't launching and shuttles aren't landing. "It's a very nice place to test," Johnny Bohmer, president of Performance Power Racing, a research and development company based in West Palm Beach, said. In October, his company raced the 1,700-plus horsepower Ford GT down NASA's space shuttle runway to test an aluminum alloy that's lighter than titanium, which the company hopes will one day be mainstream.

Wednesday's symposium, organized by Space Coast Energy Consortium, an industry driven nonprofit group, explored other ways of renting NASA facilities and know-how. The space agency hopes to maximize KSC's potential as a test bed for cutting-edge materials, fuel and energy technologies. Attendees urged Florida lawmakers to join other states in making engineering and workforce education - and renewable energy - a priority. (6/6)

NASA Plans Asteroid Initiative Industry & Partner Day (Source: NASA)
On June 18, NASA will host an event in which experts will provide details about NASA’s asteroid initiative, including the observation campaign, the orbital tracking, robotic components, the human elements, and enhanced focus on planetary defense. We will describe our upcoming planning timeline and clearly identify opportunities and processes for providing input into our planning. During this public forum, NASA will also release a Request for Information (RFI) to seek new ideas for mission elements and describe the process for submitting your ideas to NASA so that NASA teams may consider your innovative solutions and/or participation. (5/28)

DOD Details Results of $37B in Sequester Cuts (Source: Bloomberg)
The Pentagon has issued a report to Congress showing how much it's having to cut from programs because of $37 billion in sequestration reductions made through the end of September. Details of the cuts, which will help guide defense contractors as they plan, include reductions to V-22 Osprey purchases, construction of Littoral Combat Ships, drone-fired missiles and other weapons and equipment. (6/11)

Analysis: DOD Headcount Grew by 15% in 2010-2012 (Source: Defense News)
Between 2010 and 2012, the Pentagon added more than 15% to its personnel ranks, mostly within the department's Joint Staff, a new analysis shows. The staff growth comes as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made it a goal to "pare back" employee numbers in the department's "back office." (6/2)

New Project Will Send Your Messages to Aliens in Deep Space (Source: Space.com)
A group of scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs are tired of waiting around for E.T. to get in touch. Instead of passively listening for signs of intelligent life in the universe, the Lone Signal project is asking everyone with an Internet connection to help beam messages into outer space in an attempt to make our presence in the universe known.

When Lone Signal goes live late in the day on June 17, it will mark humanity's first-ever attempt to send continuous messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence, officials said. "As soon as I can remember, I looked up at the stars and I thought, 'Is there anybody looking back at me?' I think there's just an inherent curiosity we all have," Lone Signal chief marketing officer Ernesto Qualizza said. "We all want to see what's on the other side of the next hill, and this is an extension of that curiosity." (6/11)

Brownback Picks NASA Vet for Spokeswoman (Source: Topeka Capital-Journal)
Gov. Sam Brownback has chosen a Lawrence resident and former NASA spokeswoman to be his new director of communications/press secretary. Brownback announced Wednesday that he had hired Eileen Hawley, a former vice president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce who led communications and outreach for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston prior to moving to Kansas in 2008.

“Eileen’s experience and passion for excellence will make her a great fit for the administration,” Brownback said.  “Lt. Gov. (Jeff) Colyer and I are excited to welcome her to our team.” Hawley will begin her new job on June 24, taking over for Sherriene Jones-Sontag, who has been appointed Deputy Director of the Kansas Lottery. “I look forward to joining the administration and supporting the priorities of Brownback and Lt. Gov. Colyer,” Hawley said. (6/12)

How Twitter Changed NASA Communications (Source: Media Bistro)
NASA’s social media manager said that Twitter has created a once-in-a-lifetime change in the way the space agency communicates with the world. “I can’t think of anything that’s changed communications for NASA in the last 30 years more than Twitter,” said John Yembrick, social media manager at NASA. Is it a requirement for astronauts to Tweet?

“We really want to see more of that, but astronauts have to be comfortable with the medium,” said Yembrick. “It’s not natural for a lot of folks.” While yesterday’s conference focused on Twitter, Yembrick told us after the panel that Google+ was also a game-changer for the government agency because it allows NASA team members to interact directly with the public through Google+ Hangouts. (6/11)

Sierra Nevada To Build ISS Berthing Hardware for Bigelow Module (Source: Space News)
Sierra Nevada Space Systems of Louisville, Colo., got a nearly $2 million contract from NASA to build the berthing mechanism Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, will need to attach an experimental inflatable stowage module to the international space station (ISS) in 2015.

Under the terms of the 16-month firm-fixed-price contract awarded May 28, Sierra Nevada will build a passive common berthing mechanism — a piece of hardware that allows spacecraft to be berthed with the international space station — for the Bigelow Expanded Activity Module (BEAM). Once the mechanism is finished, Sierra Nevada will bring it to Bigelow’s North Las Vegas factory and install the hardware on BEAM under Bigelow’s supervision. (6/12)

Boeing Hires MT Aerospace of Germany to Provide SLS Structures (Source: Space News)
MT Aerospace of Germany will provide large aluminum segments for the main-stage propellant tank of NASA’s future Space Launch System (SLS) under a contract with Boeing. Under the contract, whose value was not disclosed, Augsburg-based MT, which is majority owned by OHB AG of Bremen, Germany, will provide panels measuring 3 meters by 3 meters for the SLS main stage propellant tanks. (6/12)

New Kind of Variable Star Discovered (Source: ESO)
Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-metre Euler telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster. The observations revealed previously unknown properties of these stars that defy current theories and raise questions about the origin of the variations.

The Swiss are justly famed for their craftsmanship when creating extremely precise pieces of technology. Now a Swiss team from the Geneva Observatory has achieved extraordinary precision using a comparatively small 1.2-metre telescope for an observing programme stretching over many years. They have discovered a new class of variable stars by measuring minute variations in stellar brightness. (6/12)

Atlas 5 Stacked for Navy Satellite Launch in July (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The most powerful version of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has been assembled at Cape Canaveral to deploy the second satellite in the Navy's new mobile communications system. The massive rocket, equipped with five strap-on solid-fuel boosters, will lift the 15,000-pound Mobile User Objective System satellite into orbit July 19 during a morning window of 8:51 to 9:35 a.m. EDT. (6/11)

Aldrin: What NASA Has Wrong About Sending Humans to Mars (Source: Parade)
There is no reason to make a humans-to-Mars program look like an Apollo moon project. We need to start thinking about building permanence on the red planet, and what it takes to do that. I feel very strongly about this. This is an entirely different mission than just putting people on the surface of that planet, claiming success, having them set up some experiments and plant a flag, to be followed by quickly bringing the crew back to Earth, as was done in the Apollo program.

What are you going to do with astronauts who first reach the surface of Mars and then turn around and rocket back home-ward? What are they going to do, write their memoirs? Would they go again? Having them repeat the voyage, in my view, is dim-witted. Why don’t they stay there on Mars? No question, this is a very big, high-level decision that needs to be made. I can guarantee you, if we have anything like the legislative branch of government in the future that we have today, the first tragedy at Mars with a crew would mean cancellation of the program.

I suggest that going to Mars means permanence on the planet—a mission by which we are building up a confidence level to become a two-planet species. At Mars, we’ve been given a wonderful set of moons—two different choices—from which we can pre-position hardware and establish radiation shielding on the Martian surface to begin sustaining increasing numbers of people—not just one select group of individuals. Click here. (6/12)

Beijing, We Have a Space Program (Source: TIME)
The unmanned half of America’s space program is doing amazing things. But as China’s launch of a three-person spacecraft into earth orbit aboard a Long March 2-F rocket just made clear, our manned space program is not just limping along, it’s trailing behind even a comparative space race newbie. True, NASA astronauts have been doing important work aboard the International Space Station (ISS) — but they haven’t been able to use NASA hardware to get to and from the station since 2011, when the Atlantis made the final space-shuttle flight in history.

And despite the more than 40-year lead both the U.S. and Russia have over China in sending humans to space, it’s not a stretch to think they could be kicking up lunar dust before we do. Russia’s human spaceflight program, which looked to be pulling ahead of ours in the late 1980s, largely collapsed along with the Soviet Union itself (although its low-tech, sturdy Soyuz capsules are still holding up).

The U.S. program, meanwhile, petered out due simply to lack of commitment and lack of vision. America still thinks big, as evidenced by a recently unveiled proposal to tow an asteroid into orbit near the moon for future mining missions, which sounds harebrained and may well be, but at least shows imagination. But while we’re thinking and talking big, other nations are thinking less, talking less — and quietly moving ahead. (6/12)

Loral Breaks Lockheed’s Hold on Japanese Telecom Market with JSat Win (Source: Space News)
 Asia’s biggest satellite fleet operator, Sky Perfect JSat of Japan, on June 12 said it had selected Space Systems/Loral to build the C- and Ku-band JCSat-14 satellite for delivery in late 2015. The contract breaks a long hold on the Japanese telecommunications satellite market held by Lockheed Martin, which has built the last seven Sky Perfect JSat satellites and has extended its Asian reach to Vietnam, for which it has built two spacecraft. (6/12)

Space Coast Firm a Finalist for Technology Program (Source: Craig)
The Craig Technologies Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing Center (ADMC) was named a finalist in the Aerospace and Defense category for the 2013 TechAmerica Foundation American Technology Awards (ATAs). The awards recognize leading products and services across the technology industry and are awarded on the basis of a thorough evaluation by industry experts and technology leaders.
The ADMC was opened January 1 following the signing of a Space Act Agreement with NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Craig Technologies enhanced their high-tech manufacturing capabilities to include over 2,000 pieces of specialty equipment once used during NASA's Shuttle program. (6/11)

Registration Opens for 100 Year Starship Symposium (Source: 100YSS)
Registration is now open for the 2013 100YSS Public Symposium. Our Theme Pathway to the Stars, Footprints on Earth will focus events on creating the pathway for research and innovation. At the Symposium  we will seek to identify the breakthrough disruptive technologies that will move us closer to enabling the capabilities for interstellar human space travel - all the while enusring that we enhance life on earth every step of the way. (6/11)

Pegasus Mission Next-Up at Vandenberg (Source: Launch Alert)
A Pegasus XL air-launched rocket will carry NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite. The vehicle will be air dropped from an L-1011 jumbo jet flying offshore. The aircraft will be staged from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch window is 5 minutes in duration. (6/11)

Martian Clay Contains Chemical Implicated in the Origin of Life (Source: SpaceRef)
Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life. (6/11)

Elevated Carbon Dioxide Making Arid Regions Greener (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists have long suspected that a flourishing of green foliage around the globe, observed since the early 1980s in satellite data, springs at least in part from the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. Now, a study of arid regions around the globe finds that a carbon dioxide "fertilization effect" has, indeed, caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010.

China Launches Gaofen Satellite Into Space (Source: Space Daily)
China has launched its first Gaofen-1 high-resolution remote sensing satellite into orbit, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday. The satellite was carried by a Long March 2D (Chang Zheng 2D) carrier rocket that blasted off from northwest China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. (5/30)

Shiloh Launch Site Planning Moves Forward (Source: Space Florida)
A request for proposals (RFP) has already been released by Space Florida to conduct an Environmental Impact Study to assess the land, determine environmental recommendations and name possible alternative sites. In early July, the Federal Aviation Administration will select an entity to complete this study.

As part of this process, Space Florida will host a public scoping workshop to seek out community input regarding the site. To complement this, a web page has been developed on www.spaceflorida.gov to address all topics concerning Florida’s dedicated commercial launch site. To view it, click here. (6/10)

Virtual Workshop: The Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space (Source: ASGSR)
Join NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) for an exciting virtual workshop in which leading scientists and clinicians will present the results from a recent research review to examine physiological and psychological changes that occur during space flight in the context of sex and gender. Following brief presentations highlighting key findings by the co-chairs from these work groups, audience participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. Click here. (6/12)

A 2015 Rendezvous With Dwarf Planet Ceres (Source: Space Daily)
Traveling from one alien world to another, Dawn is reliably powering its way through the main asteroid belt with its ion propulsion system. Vesta, the fascinating and complex protoplanet it explored in 2011 and 2012, falls farther and farther behind as the spacecraft gently and patiently reshapes its orbit around the sun, aiming for a 2015 rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres. (6/04)

Space Florida Welcomes New Chair, Members of the Board (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida has recently welcomed a new interim Board Chair and three new members to its Board of Directors.
Bill Dymond was appointed interim Chairman of the Board at the May 8, 2013 Space Florida Board of Directors meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Dymond is the president, CEO and managing partner of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., a multi-practice law firm with more than 100 attorneys, lodcated in Orlando.

Recently, the Board also welcomed three new Board members: Jonathan Stanton, Julius Davis and Lewis Bear Jr. Jonathan Stanton is the President of LEMA Construction & Development and founder of New Advantage Corporation (NAC) in St. Petersburg. Over the past decade, he has expanded NAC into a top international supplier that serves 3,000 active commercial and military OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), EMs and distributor customers around the world. (6/3)

Commercial Space Companies Expect to Increase Space Coast Activity (Source: Florida Today)
Three companies competing to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station expect to increase their local activity in the second half of this year, executives said Tuesday. Boeing soon will start moving into a former shuttle hangar at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, where it will assemble a test article of its CST-100 capsule.

SpaceX hopes to launch a pad abort test of its Dragon capsule in December from the spaceport, after potentially several more Cape rocket launches. And Sierra Nevada Corp., developer of the Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, plans to staff a local office this year to prepare for future flight operations. “Everything we need is in place here,” said Dan Ciccateri, chief systems engineer for SNC Space Systems.

NASA last year awarded the companies a combined $1.1 billion to complete designs of commercial transportation systems that could fly NASA astronauts to the station by 2017. Ed Mango, head of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program office, noted that of the nine people now in orbit, none got there on a U.S. vehicle. A crowd of nearly 400 applauded when Mango said his program sought to fly crews on American vehicles rather than paying up to $71 million per seat for rides on Russian spacecraft. (6/11)

Embry-Riddle to Sponsor Teachers in Space Summer Workshops (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s new Commercial Space Operations degree program, the first of its kind in the world, will sponsor Teachers in Space summer workshops for the next five years. A project of the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), Teachers in Space stimulates student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by giving teachers authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources they can take back with them to their classrooms.

Embry-Riddle will host the Teachers in Space workshops at its Daytona Beach Campus during the five-year timespan, with this summer’s workshop already full. Activities for the participants will include high-altitude simulation training, spatial disorientation training and strategic access to the launch complexes at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (6/11)

Air Force Signs Agreement to Certify SpaceX Falcon 9 for Defense Payloads (Source: NewSpace Watch)
The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SpaceX as part of the company's effort to certify its Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch System for National Security Space (NSS) missions. This cooperative agreement facilitates data exchanges and protects proprietary and export-controlled data. The CRADA will be in effect until all certification activities are complete.

A CRADA enables the Air Force to evaluate the Falcon 9 v1.1 launch system according to the Air Force's New Entrant Certification Guide (NECG). As part of the evaluation, SMC and SpaceX will look at the Falcon 9 v1.1's flight history, vehicle design, reliability, process maturity, safety systems, manufacturing and operations, systems engineering, risk management and launch facilities.

SMC will monitor at least three certification flights to meet the flight history requirements outlined in the NECG. Once the evaluation process is complete, the SMC commander will make the final determination whether SpaceX has the capability to successfully launch NSS missions using the Falcon 9 v1.1. SMC anticipates entering into additional CRADAs with SpaceX to evaluate its Falcon Heavy rocket and with Orbital Sciences for its Antares launch vehicle. (6/11)

With Next Manned Mission, China Edges Closer to Space Station (Source: CSM)
Launched atop a Long March 2F rocket, the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft – whose name means "sacred vessel"  – is carrying three astronauts from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert to the Tiangong 1, a prototype for a much larger space station scheduled to be launched in 2020.

During their 12-days aboard the Tiangong, which means "heavenly palace," the crew will test the module's systems, conduct medical and technical experiments, and, in an unprecedented exercise in public outreach for China's space agency, deliver a weightless lecture to a group of elementary and middle-school students via a live video feed.

China's space program still lags behind those of the United States and Russia, the only two other crewed spacefaring nations. For instance, the first space station, Salyut 1, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1971, and it was twice the mass of Tiangong 1. But China has been advancing rapidly. "They don't have to reinvent the basic technologies for spaceflight," Australian space analyst Morris Jones said. (6/10)

OSTP’s John Olson Leaves Government for Sierra Nevada (Source: Space News)
A senior White House space policy expert has left government to take a position with Sierra Nevada Space Systems, one of three companies angling for a NASA contract to deliver crews to and from the international space station. John Olson left his job as assistant director for space and aeronautics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) June 7. (6/10)

Planetary Resources Names Peter Marquez as Vice President for Global Engagement (Source: PRI)
Planetary Resources has hired Peter Marquez to lead the company’s global engagement. Marquez will engage with key U.S. government entities on matters of strategic domestic and global interest to assist Planetary Resources in achieving its long-term mission. The company’s objective is to mine near-Earth asteroids using innovative and cost-effective robotic exploration technologies to access raw materials ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals.

Marquez comes to Planetary Resources with more than a decade of experience in the national and international space policy community. Marquez’ most recent government position was as the Director of Space Policy for Presidents Bush and Obama where he oversaw the U.S. space program. In this position, he authored the U.S. National Space of Policy in 2010. Marquez also comes to Planetary Resources with experience working on national security and foreign policy issues. (6/10)

NewSat’s 1st Satellite 60-percent Booked Thanks to Discounts (Source: Space News)
Startup commercial satellite operator NewSat Ltd. of Australia says it has been offering capacity on its first satellite, Jabiru-1, at a 30 percent discount to prevailing market rates and has sold more than 60 percent of the satellite’s capacity for its first year of operations some two years before launch. Southbank, Victoria-based NewSat says it has sold 46 percent of Jabiru-1 capacity covering the first three years of operations, and 18 percent of its capacity when measured over its full 15-year service life. (6/10)

Hold Off on the Alpha Centauri Trip (Source: New York Times)
Cosmic hearts started beating a little faster last fall when a team of European astronomers announced that they had found a planet with a mass comparable to Earth’s orbiting Alpha Centauri B, part of a triple star that is the Sun’s nearest neighbor, only 4.4 light years from here.

As Geoffrey W. Marcy, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, said at the time, “This is close enough you can almost spit there.” Close enough, some astronomers said, to send a scientific probe that would get there in our lifetime. The new planet, only four million miles from its home star, would be too hellishly hot for life, but, astronomers said, where there is one planet there are likely to be others, more comfortably situated for life.

Now, however, in a shot across the bow of cosmological optimism, a new analysis of the European data has cast doubt on whether there is actually a “there” there at Alpha Centauri B. Artie P. Hatzes, the director of the Thuringian State Observatory in Germany, who was not part of the original discovery team, reported that he could not confirm the planet when he went looking for it in the European data on his own. “Sometimes it is there, other times not,” depending on the method he used to reduce the statistical noise, he said. (6/10)

Canada Welcomes Home Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield (Source: Canadian Space Agency)
Parliamentary Secretary Chris Alexander, on behalf of Christian Paradis Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), took part in an event celebrating Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's return to Canada following his successful five-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Chris Hadfield also used the opportunity to announce his plans to pursue new professional challenges. (6/10)

Chris Hadfield to Retire (Source: Global News)
After spending five months aboard the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield announced his retirement from public service at Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Longueuil, Quebec. “I’ve decided to retire from government service,” Hadfield said. “I owe an eternal and enormous debt to the people who made this possible…and to allow the public to share in this,” Hadfield said of his Space Station mission. (6/10)

NASA Can't Manage Computers, Cyber Threats Effectively (Source: Washington Guardian)
The agency that sent man to the moon and gave most Americans their first glimpse of computers more than four decades ago today no longer manages its technology effectively, leaving it vulnerable to cyber attacks and excessive spending, according to its internal watchdog.

In fact, NASA’s Information Technology (IT) management is so decentralized that the agency’s Chief Information Officer didn’t know it had spent $400 million more on technology than it had reported until bean counters requested the information, the space agency’s inspector general reported.

The problem is the Chief Information Officer doesn’t have control over the majority of NASA’s technology spending, overseeing just 11 percent of the $1.46 billion allocated for that purpose in 2012 while independent centers and offices handle the rest, the inspector general found. (6/10)

The Wife Stuff (Source: Chicago Tribune)
Mercury and Apollo astronauts' spouses endured unpleasant heat of publicity, lack of privacy and pressure to conform. They were hounded by reporters sicced on them by NASA. Forced to lay their lives open to Life magazine. Panted after by every newspaper in the country. It got so bad that the vaunted wives of the astronauts in the American space program had holes carved into the fences between their houses so they could visit each other without having to face television crews.

Finally, a fair and accomplished reporter has written a book about these patient, resourceful and increasingly unwilling representatives of the homefront in America's race to the moon. In "The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story," Lily Koppel offers a grounded, irresistible and sociable social history that sets out to right their story. Named after a loosely coordinated organization of astro spouses first formed after a fatal crash connected to Gemini 9 — and still holding reunions to this day. (6/10)

Weather Satellite Recovers for Storm Season (Source: FCW)
A geostationary weather satellite temporarily shut down by a micrometeoroid impact on May 22 returned to normal operations June 10, according to NOAA. The satellite, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-13 (also called GOES East), was jolted by a micrometeoroid that fortunately did not damage any of its instruments, engineers said, and its return to duty means NOAA again has a full cadre of three geostationary satellites transmitting vital data to weather forecasters on ground. (6/10)

Roskosmos to Involve Russian Universities in Implementing Federal Space Program (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia’s Federal Space Agency will involve Russian universities in the implementation of the Federal Space Program for a period up to 2015, Roskosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said. “We will create a unified with universities program of student and research spacecraft for university science. In particular, we have already agreed with university rectors that we will look together how university science can be involved in the implementation of the Federal Space Program,” Popovkin said. (6/11)

Reusable Rockets? The future of Spaceflight May Be Now, in Texas (Source: Houston Chronicle)
SpaceX is changing the rocket game in a lot of ways — lowering costs, showing that the private sector can get it done, etc. One of the cooler, and less discussed ways they’re also changing things up is by trying to develop the world’s first reusable rocket. The company recently test-fired the first stage of if Falcon 9-Reusable rocket at its development facility in MacGregor, Texas. The cool thing is that such rockets would probably be launched from the private spaceport that SpaceX is planning to build in Texas, Florida or Georgia. How cool would it be to launch the future of spaceflight from the coast of Texas? (6/10)

U.S. Clears GenCorp, Rocketdyne Deal at Request of Defense Dept. (Source: Reuters)
GenCorp has been given U.S. antitrust approval to buy rocket engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday. The FTC said that it approved the deal even though it would give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a certain type of high-performance missile defense interceptor propulsion system, because the Defense Department wanted to see the transaction go forward. The deal is worth about $550 million. (6/10)

'We Will Be Amazed by the Diversity of Exoplanets' (Source: New Scientist)
At first looking for exoplanets was seen as weird. A lot of people were negative about it. Then the field began to grow, and the establishment of the Kepler mission in 2009 showed the field was fully mature. In parallel, exoplanet meetings also grew. Many other disciplines are also interested now; it is much wider than just astronomy. Click here. (6/11)

This is How a Lone Rock Rolls on Mars (Source: NBC)
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured the track of a boulder rolling down a Red Planet slope — including the tread marks of the rock's irregularities. This particular slope is in an interesting area: Nili Fossae, a network of valleys that scientists say would be a good bet to contain the fossilized evidence of past life on Mars. It was one of the also-rans on NASA's list of potential landing sites for the Curiosity rover, and it's on the European Space Agency's list of top prospects for future Mars missions. Click here. (6/11)

Russia May Give Mars Probe Second Try in 2022-2025 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia's failed Phobos-Grunt Mars moon probe project could be given a second chance in 2022-25, space agency Roscosmos said. The probe was designed to bring back rock and soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. However, it was stuck in a so-called support orbit after its engines failed to put it on course for the Red Planet. It crashed in the Pacific Ocean on January 15, 2012 after two months in orbit.

“That [repeat of the mission] will apparently take place in 2002-2025,” Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin told a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium. He also said Roscosmos is planning to orbit one new space observatory every few years. (6/11)

NASA Eyeing Nuclear Fusion Rockets for Future Space Exploration (Source: Space.com)
Rockets that harness the power of nuclear fusion may provide the next big leap in humanity's quest to explore the final frontier, NASA's science chief says. Nuclear fusion rockets could slash travel times through deep space dramatically, potentially opening up vast swathes of the solar system to human exploration, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. (6/11)

Off and No Longer Running: ISS Treadmill to be Jettisoned with Trash (Source: CollectSpace)
The space station's original treadmill has not yet run its course. The "Treadmill Vibration Isolation System" (TVIS), which was used by both astronauts and cosmonauts to exercise aboard the International Space Station for more than 12 years was not jettisoned on Tuesday (June 11) on board a spent Russian cargo freighter, as earlier reported.

The device, which is no longer in use, will instead leave the space station and be discarded with the next Russian unmanned resupply vehicle, Progress M-18M (50P), which as of Tuesday was scheduled to undock on July 26. After its departure, the cargo craft and its contents — including the TVIS treadmill — will be destroyed during its descent back into Earth's atmosphere. (6/11)

U.S. Expert Criticizes Congress's Ban on U.S.-China Space Cooperation (Source: Xinhua)
The U.S. Congress should adopt a "more constructive set of policies" that encourages rather than bans U.S.-Chinese cooperation and collaboration in space, a U.S. expert said, just as China launched its fifth crewed space mission. Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, criticized the Congress for its stance on barring U.S. space agency NASA from any partnership or collaboration with China.

"I believe the current U.S. prohibitions on cooperation with China in the area of human spaceflight are counterproductive," said Kulacki. "They serve no beneficial political, economic or strategic purpose and may, in fact, harm the strategic interests of the United States." Kulacki said he was hopeful that with the passage of time the U.S Congress "will adopt a more constructive set of policies that encourages greater contact and cooperation between space professional in China and the United States."

He noted that the Chinese human spaceflight program poses no security risks to the United States and it also "does not threaten U.S. interests or the status of the U.S. as a leader in human spaceflight" as the U.S. has completed similar tasks in the 1960s and 1970s. (6/11)

Maryland Businessman Convicted of Helping Iran on Satellite Project (Source: Washington Post)
BIn the mid-1990s, the Montgomery County businessman had the blessing of the U.S. government to launch one of the first commercial U.S. satellites on a Russian rocket. But prosecutors said Nader Modanlo later used his aerospace expertise and connections with Russia to help his native Iran launch a satellite of its own for the first time.

After more than a week of deliberations, a jury of 11 women and one man agreed Monday, finding that Modanlo illegally facilitated a satellite deal between Iran and Russia and received a $10 million brokering fee. The jury also found Modanlo guilty of money laundering and obstruction for lying during a series of bankruptcy proceedings. (6/11)

Emissions, Carbon Subject of New NASA Research (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA will study man-made and natural air emissions in a new effort that looks at the effects of carbon, aerosols and other materials on air quality and climate. High-altitude aircraft will be used in the study, which will measure air quality from the Earth's surface to the stratosphere. (6/10)

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