July 6, 2013

Embry-Riddle Posts Course Catalog for New Space Operations Degree (Source: ERAU)
The Bachelor of Science degree in Commercial Space Operations (CSO) is a unique program focused on the policy, operations, safety, training, human factors, and planning elements of commercial and private space operations. The new degree program consists of a core curriculum, two possible specializations, and electives, for a total of 120-122 credits. Class and credit requirements are detailed here. (7/3)

Satellite Failure Causes TV Blackout in Russia (Source: Broadband TV News)
A large part of Russia has been hit by a TV blackout following a serious malfunction on the Express-MD1 satellite.
Vedomosti reports that the satellite, which has been in orbit since 2009, stopped broadcasting the channels First Channel, Rossiya 1, Kultura and Channel Five in the Central European part of Russia and Urals, home to around 117 million people.

Express-MD1, which now appears unrecoverable, developed faults a while ago and so the Russian Television and Broadcasting Network (RTRS) reserved about 80% of its capacity on satellites belonging to other companies. As a result, the blackout was short lived for three of the channels, with 90% of the population living in its coverage area being able to receive First Channel and Rossiya 1 within an hour. (7/6)

SpaceX Has Its Own July 4 Fireworks (Source: Waco Tribune)
I would have thought SpaceX got the holiday off, but perhaps not. The company conducted another test of its "Grasshopper" reusable first-stage rocket system at its McGregor test site. Click here. (7/5)

Two Rockets Successfully Launched from Virginia Spaceport on July 4 (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
Two suborbital rockets were successfully launched 15 seconds apart the morning of July 4 from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility as part of a study of electrical currents in the ionosphere. The launch of the Black Brant V at 10:31:25 a.m. and the Terrier-Improved Orion at 10:31:40 were part of the Daytime Dynamo experiment, a joint project between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. (7/5)

Is Space Traffic Creating More Clouds? (Source: Discovery)
Very high altitude ice clouds are increasing in polar regions and space traffic may be the cause. It’s all happening in the mesosphere, a part of the atmosphere about 50 to 100 km (31 to 62 miles) up, which is too high for weather balloons to reach and still not quite in space -- making it a difficult place to study.

A team of researchers looking for an expected decrease in the number of clouds in this layer, as solar activity and heating have ramped up, were instead surprised to find an increase in the number and brightness of clouds in this near-outer-space region over the last two years. “Polar mesospheric clouds now seem more pervasive on a broader scale than we expected,” said David Siskind.

Siskind and his colleagues used data from NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere satellite to study the brightness and number of polar mesospheric clouds. The source of the water to make the clouds is a puzzle, Siskind explained, because there is not much sign of it coming up into the mesosphere. On the other hand, rockets and, until recently, shuttles roaming in space could rain water exhaust down into the mesosphere. (7/5)

Moon Dust a Threat to Space Exploration (Source: Herald Sun)
A return to the Moon could be hampered by dust, a poorly-understood threat to machines and people alike, a space conference has heard. Simulations by scientists in Britain and France show that in key zones of Earth's satellite, dust kicked up by a landing or exploration gains an electrostatic force that briefly overcomes lunar gravity, it heard.

As a result, the dust lingers high above the surface, presenting a thin grey cloud of fine, sticky, abrasive particles that hamper visibility, coat solar panels and threaten moving parts, they said. Some kinds of lunar dust are laden with iron, presenting a toxicity risk for humans if breathed in, they said. Click here. (7/6)

Commercial Space: A Complete Waste of Space (Source: New Statesman)
A humans-in-space special (22 June, 7pm) devoted three hours to previewing what it will be like for travellers on the first commercial flights into the void between celestial bodies next year. Thus far, it was roundly agreed, things have been a bit duff. “We were promised space stations,” grumbled someone from the Jodrell Bank Observatory. “We were promised jet-packed lunar whatsits.” Click here. (7/4)

MDA Test Launched From California Spaceport (Source: Launch Alert)
The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD) and U.S. Northern Command conducted  an integrated exercise and flight test today of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although a primary objective was the intercept of a long-range ballistic missile target launched from the U.S. Army's Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, an intercept was not achieved. The interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (7/6)

New Technique Finetunes Quest for Life on Other Worlds (Source: Space Daily)
European astronomers said on Friday they had devised a technique to detect water in the atmosphere of planets orbiting other stars. Using a telescope in Chile, they teased out a tell-tale infra-red signature from water in the atmosphere of a gassy planet called HD 189733b, which orbits its star every two days and is hot enough to melt steel.

So far, no exoplanet spotted has the potential to be a home away from home for us humans. It would have to be a rocky planet, rather than a gas one, orbiting in a balmy zone which would enable water to exist in liquid form and thus nurture life as we know it. The new technique should aid the search, as it can be used by big telescopes on the ground as well as more expensive ones in orbit, said Jayne Birkby who led a team from Leiden University in the Netherlands. (7/4)

‘Avalanche’ Risk Higher Than Thought For Asteroid Landings (Source: Universe Today)
Imagine plunking your spacecraft down on an asteroid. The gravity would be small. The surface would be uneven. The space rock might be noticeably spinning, complicating your maneuvering. Humans have done it with robotic spacecraft before. The first time was in 2001, when NASA made a stunning landing with the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft on Eros — using a craft that was not even designed to reach the surface. A new study, however, portrays getting close to these space rocks as perhaps even more hazardous than previously thought.

An experiment done aboard a “Vomit-Comet” like airplane, which simulates weightlessness, suggests that dust particles on comets and asteroids may be able to feel changes in their respective positions across far larger distances than on Earth.

“We see examples of force-chains everywhere. When you pick an orange from a pile in a supermarket, some come away easily, but others bring the whole lot crashing down.  Those weight-bearing oranges are part of a force-chain in the pile,” stated Naomi Murdoch, a researcher at the Higher Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Institut SupĆ©rieur de l’AĆ©ronautique et de l’Espace) in Toulouse, France. (7/5)

Russia Will Launch Space Freighter on Schedule (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia will launch the next cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on schedule, despite a recent accident with a Proton-M carrier rocket, a senior Russian space official said. The Progress M-20M space freighter is slated for lift off on July 28 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan where a Proton rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites exploded shortly after launch on Tuesday. (7/5)

Putin Urges Readiness Against Cyber and Outer Space Attacks (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his armed forces must be better prepared to ward off attacks in cyberspace as well as from outer space. He warned that damage from cyberattacks could be higher than that of conventional weapons. “We need to be prepared to effectively ward off threats to informational networks … first and foremost for strategic and critically important installations,” the president told a Russian Security Council meeting dedicated to improving the country’s armed forces through the year 2020. (7/5)

UK Astronomers Plan to Join Search for Alien Intelligence (Source: Guardian)
British astronomers have drawn up plans to scour the heavens for signs of alien life using a network of telescopes that can detect broadcasts from other planets. Seven major telescopes across the country would gather data for the project and send information over hundreds of kilometers of fiber-optic cables to analysts at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.

The plans would establish Britain as the second largest center for alien hunting in the world after the US, which has a number of projects dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An advanced civilization might make itself known by beaming messages into space, or by leaking local radiowave transmissions. The work requires exquisitely sensitive radiowave receivers that can sift promising signals from the noise created by broadcasts on Earth and natural sources. Scientists expect alien broadcast signals to be sharper and to vary in different ways from those seen in nature.

The eMerlin telescopes are used around the clock to study exotic cosmic objects such as quasars, pulsars and dying stars. The cheapest way to hunt for advanced aliens is to pore over these data for evidence of their broadcasts. (7/5)

KSC Facilities Key to NASA's Transition (Source: Space Daily)
As Kennedy Space Center transforms from a government-only launch facility into a multiuser spaceport, the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program Office manages the renovations and upgrades made to the launch and support infrastructure.

The program's mission to prepare the center for next-generation rockets and spacecraft will enable NASA's exploration objectives by developing the necessary ground systems, infrastructure and operational approaches.

"This is an exciting time for Kennedy," said Jeremy Parsons, the chief of the GSDO Operations Integration Office at the center. "We're in the process of transitioning to a multiuse spaceport and GSDO is working very hard to ensure that we can set up the grounds systems to support NASA's Space Launch System and Orion." Click here. (7/4)

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