August 20, 2013

Embry-Riddle Growth Highlighted at Annual Gathering (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will see an increase in new students and signs of “unprecedented growth” when school starts next week. President John Johnson told faculty and staff Monday that the Daytona Beach campus will see a 6 percent increase in new students while the Prescott, Ariz., campus is up 18 percent and the worldwide campuses up 5 percent. About 20 percent of entering freshmen at the Daytona Beach campus will be women, up from 18 percent last year, officials said.

Editor's Note: Among the new programs starting this semester at Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus is the nation's first bachelor's degree program in Commercial Space Operations. Click here. (8/20)

Deadline Extended for Space Business Plan Competition (Source: NewSpace)
The Space Frontier Foundation is happy to announce a deadline extension for submissions to the 2013 NewSpace Business Plan Competition.  Participants will now have until August 29th at 5:00pm (PST) to submit their application, 3-page business plan summary and $50 application fee.  Finalists will compete for $135,000 in cash prizes.  Entries can be submitted by filling out this form on our customized Decision Desk platform. Click here. (8/20)

Arizona Winner in Defense Industry Growth (Source: Arizona Capitol Times)
Arizona has reaped a wealth of federal contracts over the past 20 years, benefiting as defense giants have grown operations within the state. Between 1992 and 2012, defense contracts grew from $1.9 billion to $12.9 billion, making the state the third-fastest-growing for defense spending in the nation, behind Kentucky and Nevada. Some say that even with cutbacks in defense spending, Arizona's major defense players should fare well. (8/19)

Earliest Known Iron Artefacts Came From Outer Space (Source: UCL)
Researchers have shown that ancient Egyptian iron beads held at the UCL Petrie Museum were hammered from pieces of meteorites, rather than iron ore. The objects, which trace their origins to outer space, also predate the emergence of iron smelting by two millennia.

Carefully hammered into thin sheets before being rolled into tubes, the nine beads – which are over 5000 years-old - were originally strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as gold and gemstones, revealing the high value of this exotic material in ancient times. The study is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (8/20)

Florida Governor in No Rush to Replace Lt. Governor (Source: Miami Herald)
Governor Rick Scott’s ability to function without a lieutenant governor has raised questions about whether the job is needed. Florida went nearly 100 years without the post of lieutenant governor until it was revived in 1968. The job, which pays nearly $125,000, has no defined responsibilities besides replacing the governor if he leaves office or dies.

Scott said he does not plan to remain without a lieutenant governor indefinitely. "Florida laws make it clear that our state has a lieutenant governor," Scott said. But while Florida law requires that the position be filled it is silent on how quickly the governor must act. The only real deadline is next year when Scott must tap someone as his running-mate two months before the November elections.

Editor's Note: The Lt. Governor does have another statutory responsibility: to serve as chair of Space Florida's board. But filling the post will likely await further developments in the gubernatorial election cycle. Gov. Scott can use the Lt. Gov. position to increase his chances for re-election by luring a formidable Primary challenger into a partnership. (8/19)

India May Use Standy Engine to Launch GSLV (Source: Business Standard)
The Indian space agency ISRO will look at options of using a standby engine for the early launch of its heavy geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) after examining what forced the postponement of the launch Monday, an official said.

"We have a standby for the second stage engine. But first we have to study the problem. If the problem is due to a faulty component, then we have to look at the batch to which the component belonged and have to replace the entire components from that batch," an ISRO official said. He said there was no point in replacing an engine with another faulty one. (8/20)

Sierra Nevada Receives $15 Million More from NASA (Source: Daily Camera)
NASA has added two more milestones to Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp.'s (SNC) Space Systems' Dream Chaser program, totaling $15 million additional dollars for its development. SNC's Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative was amended last week, bringing the Dream Chaser program's value to $227.5 million. (8/20)

New Exoplanet Circles Star in Less Than 9 Hours (and Is Covered by Molten Lava) (Source: National Geographic)
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has helped discover a new Earth-sized planet that has a year that lasts less time than an average work day or a good night’s sleep. Kepler 78b zips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours — making this one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected.

Researchers at MIT are reporting that Kepler 78b sits about 700 light years away from Earth, and orbits about 40 times closer to its parent star than Mercury does.  This scorched planet orbits so close  that it sports temperatures reaching up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. (8/20)

'Iron Man' Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts Superhuman Strength (Source:
Astronauts could one day get a power surge from hi-tech robotic suits, like real-life versions of "Iron Man" hero Tony Stark. That's not to suggest that spaceflyers will soon become superheroes; most of Iron Man's abilities will long remain in the realm of science fiction. But the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton, which NASA is co-developing along with several partners, could give superhuman strength to people on long-duration space missions to an asteroid or Mars, or act as a "resistive device" for exercising, agency officials say.

Editor's Note: This robotic exoskeleton is being developed in collaboration with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), which is headquartered in Pensacola, Florida. Click here and here. (8/20)

NASA Seeks Uses for 3 Mobile Launch Platforms at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Commercial rocket launcher? Museum exhibit? Artificial reef? All are potential uses for three historic mobile launch platforms from which NASA’s moon rockets and space shuttles leapt toward space, but which now sit idle. If those don’t pan out, the two-story, 8.2 million-pound structures could be bound for the scrap heap. The “MLPs” are the latest shuttle program remnants NASA is trying to repurpose or get rid of, since it can’t afford to store and maintain them indefinitely.

The steel, battleship gray platforms served as bases atop which Saturn rockets and later shuttles were stacked and bolted for rollout atop massive crawler-transporters and placement on launch pad pedestals. They provided power and umbilical connections to the rockets and holes for flame and exhaust to flow through. NASA hopes private companies will claim one or more of them as bases for commercial rocket launches, either borrowing the equipment as needed or buying it at auction. Potential costs were not disclosed.

Those proposals will get the greatest consideration, but the agency also is collecting information from companies that could demolish MLPs for recycling and disposal, like the shuttle service towers that were dismantled at pad 39B. A third option invites “alternative and innovative solutions for divestment,” uses that might not be space-related but could benefit the public. Examples: a museum exhibit, artificial reef or oil rig structure. (8/20)

NASA Needs to Think Beyond The Mowhawk Guy (Source: NASA Watch)
I am the first one to complain that NASA does not touch the public as well as it could and am always eager to applaud them when they do. Its nice that "Mohawk Guy" (authentic rocket scientist Bobak Ferdowski) has energized some subset of the geek chic community. But NASA seems to be obsessively focusing on him and his niche impact while gutting education and public outreach programs across the agency.

In addition, while travel is being cut for scientific and technical meetings, Bobak gets to fly all over the place to do receptions and photo ops. Where's the NASA focus on jocks, history majors, people without a career interest, blue collar workers, farmers, accountants, and everyone else who pays taxes and has a stake in what NASA does -- and probably doesn't even know what NASA already does for them? (8/20)

Bigelow's Future Plans Await Low Cost Launch Capability (Source: Next Big Future)
Bigelow Aerospace has plans for orbital station—Space Complex Bravo— which they hoped to launch in 2016 and go into commercial operation in 2017. This complex would consist of four BA 330 modules. Bigelow has publicly shown space station design configurations with up to nine BA-330 modules containing 100,000 cu ft (2,800 m3) of habitable space. Click here. (8/19)

Astronaut Spots UFO Outside Space Station — But Then It's Identified (Source: NBC)
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy alerted ground controllers on Monday to an unidentified flying object floating near the International Space Station — but this was no alien spacecraft. Instead, it was a piece of the station itself: Russian ground controllers identified it as an antenna cover from the Zvezda service module, one of the oldest parts of the station.

Because the antenna cover's speed in relation to the rest of the station was so low, it didn't pose that much of a collision hazard. But controllers were glad to see the debris fade off into the distance, heading for what they expected would be a brief, fiery re-entry in the atmosphere. (8/19)

Space Florida Moves Forward With Shiloh Environmental Work (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida will be considering the proposals submitted by vendors in response to the competitive solicitation for Environmental Services Supporting a Launch Site Operator License for the Proposed Shiloh Launch Complex. Vendors will be making oral presentations and answering questions as part of the competitive solicitation process, during which time the meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with subsection 286.0113(2)(b)1. of the Florida Statutes.

Please note that the purpose of this meeting is for the Evaluation Committee to consider the proposals that have been submitted to Space Florida, and to determine whether to provide some or all of the proposals to the FAA for consideration and ranking. At a later date, once the Consultant is selected, the public will have opportunities to provide public input at public hearings prior to the preparation of the Final EIS. Click here. (8/19)

Facing Budget Battles, NASA Still Aims High With Asteroid Capture Mission (Source: PBS)
The U.S. has explored space with telescopes, robotic rovers and its shuttle. Now facing budget cuts and reduced resources, NASA has had to reassess its ambitions while heeding the call for new discovery. Judy Woodruff talks to Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post about a new program that aims to capture a small asteroid. Click here. (8/19)

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