August 12, 2013

Commercial Crew's Public-Private Funding Paying Off (Source: NASA)
The technical innovations required to develop the first fleet of private, American spacecraft capable of reaching orbit are significant for aerospace companies, but the need to fund many of the developments as a public-private partnership demands as much innovation and consideration. In previous human spaceflight programs, NASA paid for all aspects of development, testing and operations of human-rated spacecraft.

NASA still plays a sizeable part in spacecraft development through its Commercial Crew Program, but partner companies invest financially as well, and have much more freedom to design and manufacture with their own techniques. NASA's extensive expertise plays a critical role in numerous areas, including crew safety.

NASA awarded CCiCap agreements to SNC for Dream Chaser, Boeing for its CST-100 capsule and SpaceX for its Dragon spacecraft. Each agreement includes a precise set of milestones both technical and financial. All three companies have met the financial standards and disclosures required to date. Because the financial burden is not borne entirely by NASA, the companies have a concrete incentive to fly safely. Click here. (8/12)

On the Trail of "The Curse of Slick-6" (Source: Space Review)
A long-running mystery in the history of spaceflight has been claims that a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base was "cursed" by a local Native American tribe. Dwayne Day reviews what we do and don't know about those stories, and the challenges of researching that topic. Visit to view the article. (8/12)

Technology's Role in Space Innovation (Source: Space Review)
Technology is often cited as the key factor in enabling new space missions and markets, but it is typically just one factor among many. Jeff Foust reports on how some are balancing technology development with business models and other approaches to promote innovation in space. Visit to view the article. (8/12)

Exploring Space, Finding Ourselves (Source: Space Review)
For decades many advocates have offered the inspiration of the young as one justification for space exploration. Now a full-time teacher, Bob Mahoney reports some disturbing observations that may suggest the inspiration-exploration connection is more important than many people think. Visit to view the article. (8/12)

Embry-Riddle Physicist Uncovers Solar Magnetic Field Properties (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle physicist Dr. Katariina Nykyri has learned that her research on the magnetic fields of one of the Sun’s coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – huge bubbles of erupting gas – will be published in Geophysical Research Letters, the most respected journal in the geophysics field. An associate professor of physics in the Physical Sciences Department, Nykyri and co-author Dr. Claire Foullon of the University of Exeter are the first researchers to determine the magnetic field strengths and orientations in a CME and its surrounding sheath.

They did so by matching magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability (KHI) with visual observations of the KHI by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. In this particular event the CME plasma temperature was approximately 11 million Kelvins. Nykyri and Foullon’s work is likely to have a significant impact on solar physics, magnetospheric physics and geophysics, since their establishment of magnetic field strengths in a CME reconnection outflow layer, not previously known, will substantially assist other researchers. (8/12)

Lockheed: Outlook Strong for Advanced Satellites (Source: Satellite Today)
Lockheed Martin expects growth through the rest of this year for its Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites. The company has "a healthy backlog" of contracts for the AEHF satellites, said Mark Valerio, vice president of Lockheed's military space line of business, with the satellites attracting interest from military, law enforcement and intelligence customers. (8/9)

Air Force Readies Request for Space Sensor (Source: Avionics Intelligence)
The Air Force is doing the groundwork for a request for proposal for an infrared sensor payload that will be aboard a space satellite. The staring overhead persistent infrared sensor is to be installed on a commercial satellite by March 2018. (8/11)

National Space Society Salutes Lori Garver's Service at NASA (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Lori Garver for the tremendous contributions she has made to NASA and America's space program during her four years as Deputy NASA Administrator. Garver was the Executive Director of NSS for nine years until she left for her first tour with NASA in 1998. She was a key player in the building of the new organization that came into existence after the merger of National Space Institute and the L5 Society in 1987.
"She was a staunch supporter of commercial space and using public/private partnerships to leverage private investment using fewer taxpayer dollars," stated Mark Hopkins, chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. "Lori's calm leadership and grace under pressure will be missed by all of us in the space community and we wish her all the best in the next phase of her career." (8/12)

NASA Selects University Teams (One from Florida) for SmallSat Projects (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected 13 university teams for collaborative projects to develop and demonstrate new technologies and capabilities and spur innovation in communication, navigation, propulsion, science instruments, and advanced manufacturing for small spacecraft. Selected project teams will work with engineers and scientists from six NASA centers. The goal of these efforts is to transform small spacecraft, some of which weigh only a few kilograms, into powerful but affordable tools for science, exploration and space operations.

The project teams will have the opportunity to establish a cooperative agreement with NASA in which each university will be funded as much as $100,000 a year, beginning this fall, with most projects lasting two years. Editor's Note: Among the projects selected is one focused on guidance/navigation/control from the University of Florida. Dr. Norm FitzCoy's satellite will demonstrate an Integrated Precision Attitude Determination and Control System. Click here for information on all of the selected projects. (8/12)

Japan’s Kirobo Robot Brings Cute to the Space Station (Source: Air & Space)
You can almost hear Robonaut grumbling from here. While NASA’s robotic astronaut has spent the last two years undergoing very sober, methodical engineering tests inside the International Space Station (that is, when it’s even powered on), Japan’s Kirobo robot arrived on Friday with a much fluffier mission — to promote Japan’s goal of fostering human-robot interaction throughout society.

The foot-high toy robot is scheduled to remain on the station for 18 months, during which time it will “converse” with astronaut Koichi Wakata, who arrives in November. Here’s a promotional video — listen for strains of the “Astroboy” theme at the end. (8/12)

Nine to Five: Being a NASA Astronaut is a Blast (Source: Metro)
I was entranced by flying and aviation as a child – my father was a pilot in the US Air Force, so I grew up around it. I was five when Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard flew into space and 13 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Those events made a big impression on me. I pursued a path at the US Air Force and that, coupled with my engineering degree, gave me the right background to apply to become a pilot astronaut. It’s extremely competitive – there are about 2,500 applicants for 23 slots.

You need to strike this fine balance between being a very dedicated, ambitious and hard-working person, and knowing when to be part of a bigger team than just yourself. You don’t want a bunch of prima donnas. I feel very privileged that every single person I was crewed with on my three missions had those nice characteristics. Click here. (8/12)

10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Travel to Mars (Source: Business Standard)
Man's fantasy to find life in outer space is soon likely to become a reality. Many people have applied for a one-way trip to Mars, as a part of the ambitious $6 billion dollar project that aims to colonize the Red planet starting in 2022. Here are 10 things you should  know before you decide to travel to Mars. (8/12)

Astro-Nots Spend Four Months in Mars-Like Environment -- On Hawaiian Volcano (Source: New York Post)
Aloha from “Mars!” A nearly $1 million “Martian” mission is wrapping up on the slopes of a Hawaiian volcano. The mission’s six astro-nots have spent four months in a geodesic-dome “habitat” on the Mauna Loa volcano, venturing forth onto the barren lava field only in space suits.

It’s all part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission, funded by NASA’s Human Research Program, the University of Hawaii and Cornell University. The primary purpose of the mission is to figure out how to live — and, therefore, how to cook — in a Mars-like environment.

“Some successful meals were Russian borscht, Moroccan tagine, ‘enchilasagna’ [and] seafood chowder,” HI-SEAS Commander Angelo Vermeulen told Astrobiology Magazine. But, he added, “The freeze-dried meat is only really enjoyable when used in meals. In itself it’s too bland and hardly has any aroma.” (8/11)

NASA, Aerospace Industry Depend on Scale Models to Get Message Across (Source: Daily Breeze)
In the lobbies at Southern California's aerospace companies, satellite, space telescope and rocket scale models boast of the region's technological ingenuity. Regularly commissioned by large and small companies, the models serve as an educational tool and form of public outreach that helps explain and sometimes justify government programs that cost millions or even billions of dollars.

At Hawthorne's Scale Model Co., Isao Hirai's workshop is filled miniatures versions of the fruits of major aerospace programs stretching back decades. Hirai began crafting these models in 1967 -- first as an employee and later as the owner of the small business. His customers are not so small. They include Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon and NASA, including JPL in Pasadena. (8/11)

Looking for Alien Lasers, One Photon at a Time (Source: Astrobiology)
When it comes to detecting laser pulses aliens might shoot at Earth to attract our attention, scientists now find they can detect signals as faint as a single photon of light every few tiny fractions of a second. Lasers can in principle help transmit messages over extraordinary distances, but while scientists have monitored a large number of stars looking for alien laser signals, no evidence for any have been found yet.

Prior attempts to look for extraterrestrial laser signals concentrated on isolated bursts of light, ones so extraordinarily intense they are likely artificial. In contrast, laser scientist Walter Leeb at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria and his colleagues are focusing on repetitive, faint laser signals received over a sufficiently long amount of time.

The kinds of strings of pulses the researchers are looking for, each roughly nanoseconds or billionths of a second long, are not likely found in nature. "Such signals can, however, be generated by lasers," Leeb said, thus hinting at an extraterrestrial intelligent origin. The advantage of a repetitious signal is that it can readily be distinguished from random noise, even if a large portion of transmitted pulses are lost before they are received. (8/12)

Laser Test Depends on Good Aim to Communicate (Source: Florida Today)
Imagine keeping a laser pointer fixed on a spot the diameter of a human hair, from 30 feet away, while you’re walking. That’s roughly equivalent to the challenge ahead for an instrument that will demonstrate a laser’s ability to beam information to the ground from the International Space Station.

If it works, laser communication promises to transmit data from spacecraft across the solar system 10 to 100 times faster than crowded radio waves. That could help a Mars rover unload science results to an orbiter flying overhead, or directly back to Earth. Sitting in a Kennedy Space Center lab last week, the instrument called OPALS was put through a last series of ground tests before it is installed in a spacecraft for a December launch to the station.

Commands sent from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California were routed through the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to the payload at Kennedy, where the station’s power and data connections can be precisely simulated. “When we’re in space, you substitute the ISS for KSC and it’s the same deal,” said Bogdan Oaida, the mission’s project systems engineer at JPL. (8/12)

Astronaut Mike Foale: A Legend for Britain and the US Leaves NASA (Source: America Space)
Last week’s announcement by NASA of the retirement of astronaut Mike Foale leaves just one representative—Tim Peake—on active status to carry the baton into space for Britain. Although Foale carried dual U.S. and British citizenship, with an American mother and an English father, and although he wore the Stars and Stripes on his flight suit, he was for many years held in high esteem by Britons as “one of our own.”

During a 26-year career with NASA, he flew six space missions and accrued more than 373 days in orbit. His achievement was recognized with a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) award in the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List in December 2004. Colin Michael Foale came from Louth in Lincolnshire, England, where he was born on 6 January 1957, the son of a Royal Air Force pilot father and U.S. mother. “I grew up with the sound of jets,” Foale later told the NASA oral historian, “and I lived in exotic places and I developed a taste for not so much adventure, but new vistas, new places, new things. (8/12)

Artists Get a Charge Out of Creating Spacecraft's Unique Look (Source: Florida Today)
If aliens ever target Earth, Jon Gibson and Amanda White are counting on them having an appreciation for pop art and a sense of humor. The duo created an elaborate, Andy Warhol-like design that has been etched into a satellite’s panel, transforming the spacecraft into a replica of an oversized electrical charging device.

“If someone is going to invade our planet, presumably they’re going to come in some sort of electronic, electricity-powered ship,” Gibson notes whimsically. “Maybe this will make them stop for a moment and say, ‘These guys are nice. We’re not going to destroy their planet.’ ” At the very least, it will give them the opportunity to pause briefly and check out what may be the world’s first orbiting work of art. Clickc here. (8/12)

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