June 28, 2013

NASA Selects Space Florida to Manage KSC Runway for Commercial Use (Source: Space Florida)
NASA announced the selection of Space Florida to maintain and operate the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This historic 15,000 ft. long, 300 ft. wide launch and landing strip hosted 78 Shuttle landings over the past 30 years and provides a unique resource for growing commercial aerospace businesses that may have interest in operating from Florida.

NASA issued a request for information to industry in 2012 to identify new and innovative ways to use the facility for current and future commercial and government mission activities.  Space Florida was selected because its proposal for potential use of the facility is closely aligned with Kennedy’s vision for creating a multiuser spaceport.

The SLF at KSC is the newest addition to Florida’s commercial, horizontal launch and landing-capable spaceports network, joining Cecil Field Spaceport in Jacksonville, which was licensed as a horizontal, suborbital launch site by the FAA in January 2010. (6/28)

Ex-Scaled Composites Boss Moves Over to The Spaceship Company (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic today announced the appointment of Doug Shane as Executive Vice President and General Manager of The Spaceship Company (TSC). Shane joins the company after a 31 year career at Scaled Composites LLC (Scaled), where he served as that company’s President for five years. He will report directly to George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and TSC. (6/28)

Joint Flight Testing On Commercial Crew Horizon (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA’s astronauts will play an integral role in flight testing America’s future space transportation vehicles as the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) works toward mid-decade service missions to the Space Station. The newest certification phase expected to kick off next summer will be called the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) and will include at least one crewed demonstration mission to the orbiting laboratory.

The joint test team concept is based on the Department of Defense model used for testing new aircraft, but is modified for commercial spacecraft. NASA and its aerospace industry partners will be intimately involved in the day-to-day testing of CCP spacecraft. The goal is to leverage the combined knowledge and experience of NASA and the commercial partners in order to mitigate risk and increase safety during flight testing.

“In the end, it’s really about getting crew, whether it’s our NASA crew or any other crew to low-Earth orbit safely and back home so they can see their families,” Mango said. The “human-in-the-loop” assessments, as they’re called, will allow NASA to gain a firsthand understanding of the vehicle handling qualities, situational awareness provided in the cockpit, and the workload and complexity of operational tasks. Astronauts also will have a chance to assess cockpit layout, displays and controls, and the flight crew suits. (6/28)

Russian Meteor Shockwave Circled Globe Twice (Source: BBC)
The shock wave from an asteroid that burned up over Russia in February was so powerful that it traveled twice around the globe, scientists say. They used a system of sensors set up to detect evidence of nuclear tests and said it was the most powerful event ever recorded by the network. More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-ton space rock burned up above Chelyabinsk. (6/27)

Foxx Confirmed as Transportation Chief (Source: Space Policy Online)
Anthony Foxx, 42, was confirmed by the Senate as the new Secretary of Transportation. The former mayor of Charlotte, N.C. received a unanimous vote. He succeeds Ray LaHood. The Department of Transportation is the parent of the Federal Aviation Administration and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which facilitates and regulates the commercial space launch services industry. (6/27)

Space Center Houston Needs Help Naming Shuttle Replica (Source: Galveston Daily News)
Texans will have the chance this summer to put their stamp on a piece of space exploration history at a massive exhibit planned for Space Center Houston. NASA’s tourism hub is launching a statewide contest, beginning July 4, to determine the name of the space shuttle replica that will eventually sit atop an enormous 747 jetliner used to transport real orbiters. (6/28)

Identifying Alzheimer's Using Space Software (Source: ESA)
Software for processing satellite pictures taken from space is now helping medical researchers to establish a simple method for wide-scale screening for Alzheimer’s disease. Used in analysing magnetic resonance images (MRIs), the AlzTools 3D Slicer tool was produced by computer scientists at Spain’s Elecnor Deimos, who drew on years of experience developing software for ESA’s Envisat satellite to create a program that adapted the space routines to analyse human brain scans. (6/28)

Orbital Sciences Launches NASA's IRIS Solar Observatory (Source: Space News)
An Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus XL rocket making its final manifested flight for NASA delivered the $180 million IRIS solar observatory to orbit June 27. Short for Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, IRIS will spend two years studying the region of the sun where the star’s inner and outer regions meet. The observations from the ultraviolet telescope -- built by Lockheed Martin under NASA’s Small Explorer Program --  could help improve space weather forecasts, according to NASA. (6/28)

$100 Million Space Shuttle Atlantis Attraction Takes Off (Source: Visit Florida)
As a 3D IMAX film ends, a large theater door slowly rises, giving the crowd its first glimpse of Atlantis, the shuttle in all its beauty, complete with scars, scorch marks and space dust from her last mission. “Is it real?” many of them ask, eyes wide, as they slowly walk up to the imposing black and white craft, gazing upward. Yes, it’s real and after launching 33 times into space, it will spend her golden years being adored by thousands of visitors at Kennedy Space Center. The small crowd begins to clap and cheer.

No one word can describe the new Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction. It so seamlessly wraps together the energy, passion and excitement of the shuttle program with the awe and wonder of space, the unknown, on top of a foundation of history. Let’s tour. As you approach Space Shuttle Atlantis, it appears like a mid-flight mission. The 6-story, 90,000-square-foot winged structure is covered in 3,000 gray and iridescent orange tiles representing the underside of the orbiter and the fiery glow of launch and re-entry. (6/28)

Control of Former Shuttle Runway May Shift to Space Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A new breed of vacationers — space tourists — could launch from Central Florida as early as 2015 thanks to a new agreement that would put Florida officials in charge of the 3-mile runway at Kennedy Space Center that once was used by the space shuttle. The preliminary deal would give Space Florida control of one of the largest landing strips in the world and one that's enshrined in space history: Nearly 80 shuttle crews landed there before NASA ended the 30-year program in 2011.

Now it looks likely that the shuttle runway will host a new different type of space traveler: tourists and scientists making suborbital trips on new "space planes" that can launch and land from the massive landing strip. A top executive with the California company XCOR Aerospace, a space-plane builder that has expressed interest in the runway for months, said the preliminary agreement makes it all but certain that it would establish a base at the strip for "participant flights" — beginning as soon as 2015.

"It's always been our hope to fly from the shuttle-landing facility, and it looks like that's starting to materialize," said Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer of XCOR. A deal to locate at KSC was "99 percent of the way there," he said, with only paperwork remaining. A new XCOR base at KSC could bring as many as 150 jobs by late 2018 — as well as some wealthy tourists. Click here. (6/28)

Pad 39B: In the Trenches with SLS Launch Pad Modifications (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Major pad modification work is continuing to take place at Pad 39B, ahead of hosting the Space Launch System (SLS) for its debut launch in 2017. With the former Shuttle structures removed from the pad’s surface, efforts are now focusing on installing an new flame trench, replacing bricks and concrete that still bears the scorch marks from the Apollo era. Click here. (6/26)

Budget Cuts Scuttle Tours of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Source: Florida Today)
If you missed out on the 45th Space Wing’s free tours through the historic space sites of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, scratch it off your list. As of Thursday, the tours are no more. The Air Force has canceled them, because of budget cuts brought on by sequestration.

“It saddens me to suspend these public tours because I am so proud of the history and current-day operations that take place here,” said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander. “We have an amazing mission that we would love to share with the community, but due to highly restrictive budget cuts, we just can’t continue to offer these tours at this time.” Editor's Note: CCAFS tours remain available through the KSC Visitor Complex. (6/29)

NASA Answers Eight Big Questions About How To Apply To Space Program (Source: Huffington Post)
NASA's June 17 announcement that it had selected eight new astronaut-trainees has some people asking: What does it take to become an astronaut? The short answer, according to Dr. Janet Kavandi, a former astronaut who now directs flight crew operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, is that the agency is looking for accomplished men and women with "small egos" who "love to do hard things."

Of course, just because you're modest and enjoy a challenge doesn't mean you have the right stuff. To be considered for astronaut training, you must meet strict physical, educational, and psychological criteria. Here are answers to eight questions about just what it takes. (6/27)

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