July 28, 2013

NASA Spacecraft Find "Particle Accelerator" in Van Allen Belts (Source: Space Today)
Twin NASA spacecraft launched last year have helped scientists determine that charged particles in the Van Allen belts circling the Earth are accelerated from within the belts. In a paper published in the latest issue of Science, scientists reported on their ability to track charged particles in the belts using the two Van Allen Probes spacecraft in an effort to identify the source of the particles' acceleration.

During one event in October, the probes showed the source of the accelerated particles was in the middle of the belt, extending inward and outward, and not from the outside in. That would be explained by a local source of energy within the belts accelerating the particles, according to scientists. (7/27)

Progress Launches, Docks with ISS (Source: Space Today)
A Progress cargo spacecraft docked with the International Space Station Saturday night less than six hours after its launch from Kazakhstan. A Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress M-20M spacecraft lifted off form the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:45 pm EDT Saturday. The spacecraft, flying an accelerated four-orbit approach to the station, docked with the station's Pirs module at 10:26 pm EDT Saturday. The spacecraft carries more than 2.5 metric tons of supplies and equipment for the station, including tools to help repair a spacesuit that suffered a water leak during a spacewalk earlier this month. (7/28)

Progress Delivers Spacesuit Repair Kit to ISS (Source: Space.com)
The cargo ship is loaded with nearly 3 tons of food, fuel, hardware and science experiment equipment for the six-person crew of the station's Expedition 36 mission. Among its cargo is a set of tools intended to help the astronauts investigate and patch up the spacesuit that malfunctioned during a July 16 spacewalk outside the orbiting laboratory. (7/27)

ULA and Ball Aerospace Student Launch Takes STEM to New Heights (Source: ULA)
High-power sport rockets carried payloads thousands of feet above the plains of Pueblo, Colo., today at the United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Student Rocket Launch. The event marked the culmination of an experience designed to simulate a real-life launch campaign and encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The launch featured three high-power sport rockets built by interns at ULA, including the Future – the largest rocket to launch in Colorado. Ball interns created the five largest payloads (onboard experiments/instruments), and K-12 students from Colorado and Alabama created 12 additional payloads. (7/27)

New Yorkers Celebrate Space at Intrepid Museum's SpaceFest (Source: Space.com)
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum was bustling early Friday (July 26), as hundreds of visitors waited patiently to take part in the second-annual SpaceFest celebration aboard the converted aircraft carrier on the western edge of Manhattan. The Intrepid is hosting the four-day space-themed event to promote science and exploration, and to showcase the museum's most famous artifact: the space shuttle Enterprise. (7/27)

Range's Duties Can Evolve Without Sacrificing Safety (Source: Florida Today)
The Eastern Range’s regulatory authority over scheduling, safety and other aspects of every launch vehicle lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center has long been pointed at as slowing down advancement and innovation at the spaceport. Smaller, private operators in particular have grumbled that more progress could be made toward modernizing launch vehicles and lowering the cost of space flight if it were not for the over-reaching regulatory arm of “the range.”

Often, “range safety” gets talked about as though they were some mysterious force lording over space flight operations off the east coast. There’s always plenty of debate about whether the range, and the overall bureaucratic process of getting approved to fly out of the Cape, is an awful burden on companies or a necessary safeguard. The truth is, it’s a little of both.

The management of some of the tasks and operation of some of the tracking assets now handled by the range could be overseen by a quasi-private spaceport operator or the individual organizations launching a mission. That kind of modified system is being examined now by the Air Force, FAA and others. But there is a line that needs to be drawn at safety-related decisions and, hopefully, the ongoing discussions about a future version of the range will result in protecting some indepedent authority for those kinds of calls. Click here. (7/28)

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