July 22, 2013

Seeing the Shuttles, Two Years After Wheels Stop (Source: Space Review)
Sunday marked the second anniversary of the landing of Atlantis on the final Space Shuttle mission. Jeff Foust examines Atlantis's new home at the Kennedy Space Center as well as the reopening of the shuttle Enterprise exhibit in New York. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2336/1 to view the article. (7/22)

Space Control in the Air Force's 2014 Budget Request (Source: Space Review)
Comments made by a senior Defense Department official in May led some to speculate that the military had started a new antisatellite weapons program. Victoria Samson examines the military's 2014 budget request and finds no evidence of such an effort. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2335/1 to view the article. (7/22)

Let's All Go To Space Camp! (Source: Space Review)
The 1986 film "Space Camp", about a group of teenagers accidentally launched into space, is one of the highlights of an earlier, more optimistic era about spaceflight. Dwayne Day checks out a new film that is, at best, an unappealing remake of that earlier movie. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2334/1 to view the article. (7/22)

2013 NewSpace Business Plan Competition (Source: SFF)
With $135,000 in prizes, more industry support than ever before, and a new location and date, the Space Frontier Foundation announces the largest, richest and most exciting NewSpace Business Plan Competition to date. In conjunction with the NASA Emerging Space Office, ATK and the Heinlein Prize Trust, the Space Frontier Foundation is proud to announce the availability of $135,000 in prize funding. The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages. The company should have technologies or products that advance the NewSpace movement. Click here. (7/22)

Posey Honors 44th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing (Source: Rep. Posey)
Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) issued the following statement in regard to the 44th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing: “This weekend marked the 44th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, a historic achievement for the United States and for all humankind. Our nation has greatly benefited from that accomplishment with advancements in science, math and technology that has raised the standard of living for Americans and people across the world.

“One of the highlights of my life was the opportunity to work on the Apollo program as a young man, when McDonnell Douglas was a contractor for the third stage. I remember how inspired I was by President Kennedy’s call to go to the Moon, and like many I worked with at the Cape, was the reason I wanted to be a part of it. What a privilege it was to work alongside the thousands of men and women who made this historic achievement possible. As leaders in Washington work to usher in the next era of Space exploration, I will continue to be an advocate for President Kennedy’s legacy of pushing the envelope on human space flight and space exploration.” (7/22)

Congressmen Register Concern Over Possible Exclusive Lease of Pad 39A (Source: Space News)
Two members of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, including the chairman, are concerned that the agency might lease out a KSC launch pad on an exclusive basis. In a July 22 letter to Charles Bolden, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) also said NASA was planning to let Pad 39A go too cheaply, and for too long a period: up to 20 years. But “above all, we question we question the seeming desire by NASA to lease LC-39A to a single user for sole use rather than to an entity that would ensure that the pad was re-developed as a multi-user pad,” the lawmakers wrote. (7/22)

House and Senate at Odds Over NASA Funding for Asteroid Retrieval (Source: My San Antonio)
Catching an asteroid and sending humans to Mars are on NASA’s bucket list, but proposed budget cuts could hamper the space program’s plans. Legislators in the House and in the Senate both would like to give NASA more funding, but there is disagreement as to what the money should go towards.

The Republican-controlled House would like to see astronauts return to the moon in preparation for a trip to Mars, but some members in the Senate want to provide additional money to support the Asteroid Retrieval mission. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida introduced legislation in the Senate on Wednesday that would give $18.1 billion to NASA.

According to the Democratic senator, NASA’s budget for the moon program was more than 4 percent of total spending. Today’s proposed budgets for NASA would represent less than 1 percent of total U.S. spending. On Thursday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved the NASA Authorization Act which would budget $16.8 billion for NASA. The NASA Authorization Act would cut funding, cancel the reorganization of NASA education programs, and prohibit the Asteroid Retrieval mission. (7/22)

Students Learn About Math, Science During NASA's Summer of Innovation Program (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Science and math can be tough for young people, but a summer program aimed to make those subjects more accessible and fun — and brighten students' horizons. Kadrin James, 8, looks through a makeshift telescope during NASA's Summer of Innovation program. The program, through First Baptist Church of Leesburg's The Genesis Center, highlighted science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM — opportunities for youngsters.

"It was a great success," said Pastor Ken Scrubbs, director of The Genesis Center after-school program, which joined forces with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake and Sumter. "They learned a great deal." The program included activities such as one, left, in which a student assembles a solar-system mobile. Students also got to speak, via webcast, to astronauts at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (7/23)

The Norsemen of NASA? (Source: Washington Post)
We’ve seen IRS workers dressed as characters from “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island.” So perhaps it’s not at all odd that NASA folks would don a little Viking garb. NASA Ames Research Center Director Simon Worden and several members of his staff are among the band of Vikings portrayed in a photographic series shot by Bay Area photographer Ved Chirayath, who describes his work as using “cutting-edge photography” to “channel people’s scientific curiosity.”

The photographs portray the civil-servants-turned-Vikings in a woodland setting (it’s a park in Palo Alto, Calif.), charging toward several futuristic-looking satellites. There’s dramatic lighting and convincing costumes. Worden’s wearing an armored helmet that would look at home on the set of the “Lord of the Rings.” Click here. (7/22)

Northrop Grumman Honors Achievements of Its Lunar Module Team at KSC Event (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman sponsored an event July 20 to recognize the historical accomplishments of the company's Lunar Module team on the 44th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. Held at the Kennedy Space Center, the event was organized by former Grumman Aerospace Corp. employees who worked on the Lunar Module. There were more than 200 attendees, including elected officials, former astronauts, and members of science- and space-related educational organizations. (7/22)

NASA Rushes Tools to Russian Spaceship After Helmet Leak (Source: RIA Novosti)
NASA is hurrying to get spare spacesuit parts aboard a Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) after about a quart (1 liter) of water poured into the helmet and suit of an Italian astronaut during a spacewalk last week. The cargo ship is set to launch from Kazakhstan on Saturday, and NASA is trying to get the spare parts aboard the spacecraft to help the ISS crew fix whatever led to the malfunction that could have drowned Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano during the July 16 spacewalk. (7/23)

What Would a Soviet Moon Landing Have Looked Like? (Source: Discovery)
With the passing of Neil Armstrong last year, this 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing may seem even more remote in time. That said, the United States will be remembered  for millenia to come for pulling off such a technological triumph — just as we equate the Egyptian civilization with the pyramids. Unlike the pyramids, however, the US was motivated to do seemingly impossible things by being in a race with another superpower — the Soviet Union. What if the Russians had beaten the US to the moon? How would this have unfolded to viewers across the world? Click here. (7/22)

Boeing Reveals Interior of New Commercial Space Capsule (Source: Collect Space)
Boeing has thrown open the hatch to its new commercial spacecraft, offering a first look inside the capsule it is building in a bid to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. At its Houston Product Support Center located near NASA Johnson Space Center, Boeing revealed its first full-scale model of the CST-100, a gumdrop-shaped spacecraft that can seat up to seven crew members. (7/22)

NASA Astronauts Test Out Boeing’s CST-100 Spacecraft (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA astronaut Serena Aunon put on her iconic orange launch-and-entry suit and climbed aboard The Boeing Company’s CST-100 mock-up to perform fit checks of the spacecraft’s interior. Aunon is one of two astronauts who will spend a few hours inside the capsule to test maneuverability while Boeing engineers monitor communications equipment, ergonomics and crew interfaces. (7/22)

Lockheed GPS III Prototype To Help Cape Canaveral Prep For Launch (Source: SpaceRef)
Lockheed delivered a full-sized, functional prototype of the next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to test facilities and pre-launch processes in advance of the arrival of the first GPS III flight satellite. The GPS III Non-Flight Satellite Testbed (GNST) arrived at the Cape on July 19 to begin to dry run launch base space vehicle processing activities and other testing that future flight GPS III satellites will undergo. The first flight GPS III satellite is expected to arrive at the Cape in 2014, ready for launch by the U.S. Air Force in 2015. (7/22)

Pentagon Furloughs Will Likely Continue Into 2014, Hagel Says (Source: AP)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pentagon furloughs will likely continue next year because of sequestration. Hagel said if the budget cuts of $52 billion remain, "there will be further cuts in personnel, make no mistake about that." (7/21)

Six-year Term for NASA Administrator Dies in House Science Committee (Source: Space News)
A proposal to give the NASA administrator a six-year term died in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee last week as three Republicans joined 17 Democrats to vote the proposal down during a marathon markup session. The six-year term was struck out of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 by an amendment from Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the committee’s ranking member. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Stephen Stockman (R-TX) joined 17 Democrats to put Johnson’s amendment over the top by a vote of 20-19. (7/22)

CASIS Announces Gift From the Institute for Collaboration in Health (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization promoting and managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced receipt of a $50,000 gift from the Institute for Collaboration in Health. The Institute for Collaboration in Health (ICH) is a Texas nonprofit corporation, created and incorporated in 2012.

ICH's mission is to seek out, encourage and support (both through grant making and in-kind expertise) innovative, collaborative projects that improve healthcare for all people. This multi-year gift commitment consists of an annual cash gift to support the CASIS mission, pro bono consulting work focused on building partnerships in the Houston metropolitan area, and an award of two fellowships. (7/22)

College Students Experience NASA Microgravity Flight (Source: Space.com)
Seven teams of college students experienced a NASA microgravity flight last week. Around 34 students participated in NASA's Microgravity University Program, which allows students and teachers to experience weightlessness and perform scientific experiments. The students flew with NASA's Microgravity University Program aboard a Zero Gravity Corp. 727 jet. (7/20)

How a 3D Printer Will Change Life Aboard the International Space Station (Source: Gigaom)
Made in Space’s 3D printer, the first to work in microgravity, is safe to launch and operate in space, NASA has certified. It will board the ISS next year and be capable of printing everything from toilet pipes to life-saving tools. Click here. (7/22)

NASA’s Asteroid Capture Mission Gets Even Tougher (Source: Space Safety)
NASA's proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) requires a target asteroid within certain guidelines. It should have a diameter between 4 and 10 meters, be of solid – not rubble – composition, and its orbit must take it within the vicinity of Earth in the early 2020s.  It would also reduce mission risk if the asteroid has a slow spin rate and its orbit is not highly elliptical.

How many asteroids are currently known to meet those criteria? Maybe four. The problem is that while monitoring near Earth asteroids is a priority initiative around the globe, the purpose of monitoring is to ensure large asteroids don’t impact Earth and cause massive damage. That means scientists are on the look out for large asteroids – 140 m in diameter and larger. Looking for asteroids as small as 4 m requires more telescopes, larger apertures, or longer dwell times.

When it comes to preparing for the inevitable future impact of a near Earth asteroid, developing the ability to shift potential projectiles into harmless orbits is high on the wish list. Testing out that ability on a small scale, however, may mean going – well, not quite blind, but pretty nearsighted – for a few years as we probe space for harmless pebbles on which to practice. (7/22)

Generation Orbit Enters Cooperative R&D Agreement with AFRL (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate, Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) announced today the initiation of a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Under the agreement, the two parties will advance the technical maturity of a set of air launch rocket systems, designed to provide dedicated space transportation services to small payloads. The launch services will enable flexible, reliable, and affordable access to space for military, commercial, and academic customers.

The Air Force has shown keen interest in developing technologies that enable responsive access to space to meet its mission needs. The two-year agreement will pave the way for cooperative computational and experimental tasks along the path to a comprehensive flight test program. Throughout the effort, GO and AFRL will exchange technical and operational expertise, as well as share computing resources and ground testing facilities. (7/22)

Commercial Space Industry Shows Promise in the US (Source: DW)
This month marks two years since NASA's final space shuttle launch from Florida. The end of NASA's Space Shuttle program has led to the commercialization of the industry. For years, NASA was only rivalled by Russia's space agency ROSCOSMOS. But during the last decade, NASA has suffered a series of setbacks despite its successful landing of rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. Since the end of its Space Shuttle program in July 2011, NASA has had to rely on ROSCOSMOS to send its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

But ROSCOSMOS has also had its own share of problems. Earlier this month, an unmanned Russian rocket carrying three navigation satellites crashed at a launch facility in Kazakhstan shortly after taking off. China, on the other hand, has made inroads into the space industry in the last decade. Last month, it completed its longest manned space mission, with the return of the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft to Earth.

"Because of the world economy, which has affected the United States and most other countries in the world, the [US] government has to make decisions about big investments," former NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy told DW. By turning NASA into a customer, the US government is stimulating development of the private space industry. And this could open up opportunities for other actors interested in space research. Click here. (7/22)

PSI Researcher Awarded Funding For New Way to Study Asteroids and Comets (Source: PSI)
Thomas H. Prettyman, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, has been awarded funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program to develop a groundbreaking way to study the deep interiors of asteroids and comets using high-energy muons and other particles generated by galactic cosmic rays. 
For comets, muon imaging could determine how volatiles are transported from the interior of the nucleus by directly imaging the vent system and related structures. And information on the porosity, density distribution and internal structure of small asteroids would provide data on their formation, evolution and impact history as well as providing information needed for developing planetary defense strategies. (7/19)

Two Tucson Researchers Get NASA Awards to Turn Sci-Fi Into Real Thing (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
Tucson-based researchers have won two of the 12 awards NASA gives annually to turn science-fiction concepts into reality. UA astronomy professor Christopher Walker wants to build a 10-meter suborbital telescope that is essentially an aluminized mylar balloon, while Thomas Prettyman of the Planetary Science Institute wants to build instruments for spacecraft that would take full-body scans of asteroids and comets.

Both researchers will receive $100,000 in phase 1 of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program and can apply for an additional $500,000 if further development if their ideas looks promising. Walker, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, proposes to build a balloon whose aluminized half would form a 10-meter mirror that could either be aimed at targets in space or turned toward Earth from its suborbital position for remote sensing and communications. It would operate at radio to submillimeter frequencies. (7/22)

Long-anticipated UAE Spy Sat Contract Goes to Astrium, Thales Alenia (Source: Space News)
The United Arab Emirates Armed Forces on July 22 contracted with Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space of France to provide the two-satellite Falcon Eye high-resolution optical reconnaissance system. The contract, which has been in negotiation in one form or another for well over a decade, is valued at 800 million euros, or nearly $1.1 billion at current exchange rates.

The figure includes the construction of two satellites weighing less than 1,500 kilograms each; their separate launches in late 2017 and early 2018, likely aboard European Vega rockets; two ground facilities for satellite control and image reception; and training of UAE personnel in France. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., and Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems of Aurora, Colo., were also pursuing the Falcon Eye work. (7/22)

Payloads for Arianespace's Next Ariane 5 Flight Are Mated to the Launcher (Source: Space Daily)
The heavy-lift Ariane 5 for Arianespace's July 25 mission from French Guiana is now complete following integration of its full payload "stack," consisting of the Alphasat and INSAT-3D spacecraft. Encapsulated in its ogive-shaped protective fairing, Alphasat was lowered into place yesterday over INSAT-3D - which was installed atop Ariane 5's cryogenic core stage during activity earlier in the week. (7/22)

ET Calls, Then What? (Source: Space Daily)
It will be one of the greatest moments in science, and also one of the greatest moments in history. After decades of searching, a signal from extraterrestrials is received by a radio telescope on Earth. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) analysts quickly check the transmission using other instruments, and prepare to announce the great discovery. The media descends on the story and soon millions of people around the world are reading the news. Then what?

Exactly how the world would react to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence has been the subject of much speculation. There could be a mixture of excitement, fascination, fear, confusion, disbelief, indifference and panic. Like emergency planners preparing for a catastrophe, scientists regularly assemble to consider ways that world at large would respond to such an event, and how to plan for the day when a discovery comes. Click here. (7/22)

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