August 18, 2013

Turning Out to be Rocket Science (Source: The Hindu)
Once again, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is on the launch pad at Sriharikota. This launch will be crucial — after two successive failures of the rocket, the Indian Space Research Organisation can ill afford one more troubled flight. Moreover, the space agency needs to demonstrate that, after 20 years of effort, it has now mastered cryogenic technology.

The GSLV retains the first two stages of its predecessor, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). In order to carry heavier satellites than the latter, the third stage of the GSLV uses cryogenic propulsion. Running on liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, a cryogenic engine offers greater energy efficiency than those that use other propellants. The improved efficiency means that the upper stage can carry less propellant, with the weight saved translating directly into more payload. (8/19)

Texas County Takes Steps to Win Rocket Launch Complex (Source: Valley Morning Star)
The stars seem to be aligning for Cameron County, which aims to lure SpaceX. The space exploration firm has requested that Cameron County close portions of two streets toward joining land that would be required for rocket-launch operations near Boca Chica Beach, the Valley Morning Star found. SpaceX is considering a location near Boca Chica Beach for a rocket launch facility. The site in Cameron County is said to be the lead contender among others throughout the country.

“We’re doing everything from our part that needs to be done in order to make sure that our area is selected by the SpaceX folks,” County Judge Carlos H. Cascos said. The day prior, Cascos joined county Pct. 1 Commissioner Sofia C. Benavides and Pct. 2 Commissioner Ernie L. Hernandez in a Cameron County Commissioners Court session, first holding a public hearing and then voting to close portions of Remedios Avenue and Joanna Street in Spanish Dagger Subdivision near Boca Chica Beach.

The order to close a portion of the streets state that Commissioners Court approved this on “petition” by Dogleg Park LLC. Dogleg Park LLC is the SpaceX company under whose name land purchases have been mostly made here, the Star found. NASA defines dogleg as a directional turn made in the launch trajectory to produce a more favorable orbit inclination. (8/17)

Flagler Beach Firm Plays Role in Curiosity's Mars Mission (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
One local company is taking Flagler County to the Red Planet — and they are making jobs out of its intergalactic dust. Flagler Beach-based Cardinal Systems made the photogrammetry software for Curiosity, NASA's most expensive and sophisticated Mars rover to date. Aug. 6 marked the one-year anniversary of Curiosity's landing on Mars.

“It's an absolute dream come true to work with NASA,” said Mike Kitaif, co-owner of Cardinal Systems, a mapping software firm. The company takes photos shot by the Curiosity rover's navigation cameras as it explores the Martian terrain and converts them into three-dimensional images from their Flagler Beach office. Click here. (8/18)

NASA Launches Rocket Bearing Name of Intern Killed in Car Crash (Source: Washington Post)
The name of a Maryland high school graduate who died after a car crash this summer was written on a rocket launched last week from NASA’s facility on Virginia’s Atlantic coast. The rocket, which was launched Aug. 13 and rose to about 94 miles, carried experiments from students at several universities, including the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. (8/17)

ARCA in Talks to Bring HAAS 2 Rocket to Spaceport America (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Dumitru Popescu announced that ARCA is in talks with Spaceport America to bring their Haas 2b. The vehicle can carry a capsule to 160km, a capsule which can carry 5 people, a pilot and 4 passengers. They expect to be able to start moving to the spaceport in the next few months.

They intend to compete with other suborbital providers on 4 items: safety, the fact that they offer a true rocket experience with vertical as opposed to horizontal takeoff and parachute landing, they go to a (much) higher altitude, and cost. The pictures of the capsule showed something reminiscent of a mini Dragon in terms of seating layout, with 4 windows spaced 90 degrees apart... It didn’t look like there would be room to float around. (8/18)

How NASA has Furthered Innovation (Source:
Ask most people about the everyday things NASA has developed and the answers will likely include Velcro and Tang. But while both were used by the aeronautics and space agency, neither was invented in house. Similarly, memory foam and certain power tools popularly associated with NASA were developed for the organization, not by it.

But as of last year, NASA had identified 1,800 technologies it did spin off, including breakthroughs that enabled or improved low-power heart pumps, Lasik vision correction surgery and video image stabilization. In other words, there is a long history of technology transfer and exchange between NASA and private industry. Click here. (8/18)

Money Shortfall Adds New Kink to Spaceport Southern Road Plan (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
A proposal to build a southern road toward Spaceport America got a shot in the arm recently, as Doña and Sierra counties made headway on their disagreements over the project. But even if the two counties can reach agreement, there is only enough money available to complete the first phase of construction. The pool of available money for the project has been nearly halved.

In April, the state Spaceport Authority had $15 million set aside for the southern road. That was just after Gov. Susana Martinez signed off on a series of capital outlay projects that included $3 million for the route, considered important for Las Crucens to benefit economically from the spaceport. But last week, New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said the total now available is $8.1 million.

Why did the budget shrink by $6.9 million? Anderson attributed it to the later-than-expected start of spaceport operations. "I need the $6.9 million to keep my revenue for this year because I'm not getting my revenue flowing from this year, both from the visitor experience (centers), which we'd hoped would have opened this year, and from Virgin Galactic flying," she said, referring to two future income sources the facility is expected to have. (8/17)

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