July 20, 2013

Air Force Mulls Private Operator for Cape Canaveral Launch Site (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is looking into turning over its Florida spaceport to a commercial operator that would be overseen by the FAA, a potential cost-cutting move that also could help make the busy Cape Canaveral launch site more business-friendly. The idea is not new, but military budget cutbacks, coupled with a maturing and more experienced commercial space industry, could provide impetus to the project that previous initiatives lacked.

“This is a subject that has been discussed easily for the last 10 years, probably 15,” said Frank DiBello, president and chief executive of Space Florida, the state-backed economic development agency. “As the Department of Defense (DoD) looks to prioritize the expenditure of its budget — which is always limited but certainly as we look at the next decade, it’s going to be more stressed — it’s causing them to look at better ways at acquiring the goods and services that it needs across the board,” DiBello said.

Another financial pressure is the prospect that proposed commercial spaceports in Texas and elsewhere will leave the military with fewer companies to share overhead costs at Cape Canaveral. The new range operator would be responsible for maintaining, upgrading and managing the range under a lease or other arrangement with the Air Force. Current leases for launch and payload processing facilities, such as those the Air Force has with United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, would remain under the Air Force’s purview. Click here. (7/19)

Jeff Bezos Confirms Discovery of Lost Apollo 11 Engines (Source: Mashable)
Along with a team of explorers, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean a few months ago to resurrect what he suspected were Apollo 11's lost F-1 engines. But the ocean didn't care that it was home to priceless artifacts and wielded its corrosive power against the engines for more than 40 years. So when Bezos' team finally resurrected the F-1s, experts were unsure they would ever be able to positively identify the worn engines, as their serial numbers had succumbed to long-term exposure.

They were wrong. The ocean left behind some secrets — they just required some digging. After months of poring over the artifacts, one of the conservators spotted a fateful set of numbers while using a black light and special filter. Just four digits — 2044 — confirmed the team had indeed found one of the most important artifacts in space exploration history. (7/19)

NASA Selects 12 Innovative Advance Concepts Proposals for Funding (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact. The selected proposals include a wide range of imaginative concepts, including 3-D printing of biomaterials, such as arrays of cells; using galactic rays to map the insides of asteroids; and an “eternal flight” platform that could hover in Earth’s atmosphere, potentially providing better imaging, Wi-Fi, power generation, and other applications. (7/19)

Spaceport Tourists to Pony Up for Visit (Source: KRQE)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority thinks at least 200,000 people a year will visit the site. That kind of attendance would be on par with attractions like the Sandia Peak Tram and Bandelier National Monument, which would be great, if it happens. "To be realistic, it doesn't seem feasible," said New Mexico resident Adrian Avila.

Even though taxpayers have already forked over $209 million to build the Spaceport, they'll have to pony up more cash to visit it. "I've never actually even considered going to see the Spaceport, so the fact that they're actually charging money, makes it less likely for say a college student to want to go to see the Spaceport," Avila said. While no final prices have been set, a spokesperson said they will likely be similar to the Spaceport 'Preview Bus Tours' already running. Those range from $29 to $59 a person. (7/19)

China Successfully Launches Three Satellites (Source: PTI)
China successfully launched three satellites to carry out scientific experiments into space from its Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The Chuangxin-3, Shiyan-7 and Shijian-15 satellites were boosted by a Long March-4C rocket. The three satellites will be used mainly for conducting scientific experiments on space maintenance technologies. (7/20)

United Launch Alliance Sends Up 6th Rocket This Year (Source: Denver Post)
United Launch Alliance celebrated a successful Atlas V rocket launch Friday morning at Cape Canaveral, carrying the second of six Mobile User Objective System satellites for the Navy. This is the sixth of 12 ULA launches scheduled for this year and is the 72nd ULA mission since Lockheed Martin and Boeing created the joint-venture company in 2006. (7/20)

Upcoming UAS Missions from Wallops will Study Storms (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
NASA is inviting the public to learn about two unmanned aircraft that will launch this summer to fly over Atlantic Ocean hurricanes. Personnel from the space agency who will talk about preparations at Wallops Island for the flights this summer and what the two Global Hawk aircraft will study. The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission – called HS3 – is a five-year project to study hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic, the release says. One of the aircraft will take measurements around the storms while the other uses instruments to take readings from inside them. (7/19)

Technical, Cost Issues Persist For Webb Telescope (Source: Aviation Week)
For more than a decade NASA's most expensive science mission, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has suffered cost growth and schedule delays owing to poor management and inadequate budgets. But until recently, technical progress on the enormous space observatory appeared sound. JWST was projected to cost just $1 billion to build and launch, as an observatory so advanced it would revolutionize scientific understanding of star and planet formation and identify galaxies in the early universe. Click here. (7/20)

Why Eight Ordinary Canadians Have Volunteered for a (One-Way) Voyage to Mars (Source: Globe and Mail)
Dutch-based venture Mars One wants to beat NASA to the red planet. How does it plan to beat NASA's 2035 target? By making the mission one-way only. Sixty-four ordinary Canadians are among thousands globally who have applied to take the voyage, as applicants are not required to have any specialized training. The Globe and Mail caught up with eight of these men and women to ask them - why Mars? Click here. (7/20)

BRS Aerospace Signs Lease with Kennedy Space Center (Source: Florida Today)
BRS Aerospace signed a lease with Kennedy Space Center to open an R&D operation in a former space shuttle facility at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Miami-based BRS Aerospace will occupy the former Parachute Repack Facility at KSC, investing $7.4 million over three years on renovations and equipment. BRS plans to create 34 jobs over that period, paying an average of $62,100 a year.

“We are excited to announce that BRS Aerospace has chosen to open a research-and-development operation on the Space Coast,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “The new jobs being created by BRS Aerospace are just another example that it’s working in Florida.” Company executives were on hand Friday for a lease signing ceremony involving KSC officials, and representatives from the state, Space Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

BRS will be doing research and development for parachutes, including commercial space applications, as well as production prototyping. The deal is part of NASA’s broader effort to bring private users into its facilities. “We are positioning BRS Aerospace for its next phase of growth into the space systems market,” said Larry Williams, BRS’s Aerospace president and chief executive officer. (7/20)

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