August 21, 2013

The 4 Weirdest Jobs You Could Get At SpaceX Right Now (Source: Popular Science)
SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk's private spaceflight company, appears to be on a hiring spree. On its careers page, the company--which currently employs more than 3,000 people--lists nearly 200 open positions. The page is up to date, SpaceX spokeswoman Hannah Post tells Popular Science. Many of the openings are for different types of engineers, but there's room for everyone from a line cook to a space suit engineer.

New college grads might be happy to know there are four types of positions explicitly aimed at them. About a dozen of the new SpaceX positions are related to the company's Dragon craft, which brings cargo to and from the International Space Station. In 2012, the Dragon became the first non-government-built craft to exchange cargo in space. The company is now working on tweaking the Dragon to send humans to space, according to its website. Click here. (8/21) 

Potential SpaceX Site in South Texas Moving Forward (Source: Waco Tribune)
A SpaceX-related company called Dogleg Park LLC added four more lots to the land it's been buying near Boca Chica Beach, and has asked the county to close parts of two streets so it can join lots together. The South Texas site is the leading contender for the private launch facility SpaceX wants to build to speed up its launch schedule; the company has also looked at Puerto Rico, Florida and Georgia for the spaceport, but as far as I know has only bought land in Texas. Still to come is an FAA environmental impact statement, due by the end of the year. That's also when SpaceX should make its final decision on location. (8/21)

Would-Be Spaceport Flyers Get Good and Bad News (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
Virgin Galactic’s application for commercial flights has been accepted by the FAA, but money for a road leading to New Mexico’s spaceport is in short supply. The acceptance of the application is only the first step in the licensing process for the company, said CEO George Whitesides on Monday.

“That does not mean we are licensed. We entered the formal start of the licensing process. Then, obviously, our hope is that it will be accepted and we can begin operations,” Whitesides said. The FAA will now review the company’s application, which will likely take several months and reams of paperwork, before granting the license. The company received word last week that the FAA had accepted its application.

Whitesides said the company is still on track and getting ready for the company’s second powered flight test of the SpaceShipTwo launcher vehicle in the Mojave desert. Virgin Galactic is on track to launch passengers into near earth orbit from Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico. The company is the anchor tenant at the Spaceport.
FAA approval isn’t the only bump in the road on the way to a New Mexico launch. (8/21)

New Mexico Spaceport Authority Likely to Seek More State Funding (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that there is only enough money available to complete the first phase of construction for a more accessible road between Las Cruces and Spaceport America. New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said she only can devote $8.1 million for the road from the $15 million that was authorized. She says she needs the rest of the money to keep the agency flying, and that it would be necessary to ask the Legislature for the funds to build the rest of the road. (8/21)

The Five Coolest Jobs in Space (Source: The Telegraph)
For those who spent their childhood dreaming of one day becoming a space cowboy, and who are brave enough to take on the challenge, what are the five coolest jobs in space today? Try Space Psychologist, Chief Sniffer, Space Suit Design Engineer, Space Tour Guide, and Astronaut. Click here. (8/21)

South Korea's First SAR Earth-Imaging Satellite to Launch Thursday (Source: America Space)
South Korea’s first dedicated satellite to utilize Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for Earth observations and environmental monitoring is scheduled to fly from the Yasny launch site on Aug.  22=. The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (KOMPSAT)-5 will be carried aboard a three-stage Dnepr rocket and the campaign is being conducted by Kosmotras, a commercial launch services provider operated jointly by Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. (8/21)

Russian Space Center Delays ‘Sabotage’ (Source: RIA Novosti)
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin slammed the slow progress of construction at Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome during a visit to the facility Wednesday, saying the delays amounted to “sabotage.” Rogozin, who oversees the defense and aerospace sectors, said two key instructions regarding construction of the cosmodrome had been issued, but even though one had a July 30 deadline, neither have so far been fulfilled.

Both instructions he mentioned related to setting project construction costs and performance indicators for the site, which covers over 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles). “I will view any deviation from the plan as sabotage,” Rogozin said at a meeting with representatives of agencies involved in building the cosmodrome. “I have no intention of being one of those public servants who accept failure to deliver on instructions.”

Rogozin reminded those involved of the project’s importance, and demanded they explain the hold-ups.
“I would like to hear the reasons why these problems arose and proposals to ensure the necessary number of specialists are involved in all stages of the construction work,” Rogozin said. He acknowledged the recent severe flooding in the region had caused problems. (8/21)

NASA Adds More Launch Platforms for Sale to Private Firms (Source: Reuters)
While NASA considers competing bids to take over a shuttle launch pad at KSC, it added three mobile launch platforms to its list of excess equipment available to private industry. Ideally, NASA wants a commercial launch company to take over one or more of the massive steel platforms, which were originally built in 1967 for the Apollo moon program's Saturn rockets. The 25-foot tall platforms were later modified for the space shuttles, which flew from 1981 until 2011.

Recycling the platforms, which measure 160 feet by 135 feet is another option, a solicitation on NASA's procurement website shows. NASA also is interested in other uses for the mobile launch platforms, which served as bases to stack and assemble the shuttle and then transport it to the launch pad. The platforms provided power and umbilical connections and had open sections for flames and rocket exhaust to pass through. (8/20)

Top Astronomers Shift Position in the Planet-Naming War (Source: NBC)
Got a name for an alien planet? The International Astronomical Union says it's now open to public suggestions, and even contests to name celestial objects — as long as it has the final say. The rules were laid out last week, after months of discussion and a controversy over a privately run contest to name the nearest known exoplanet.

That alien world, known by the scientific name Alpha Centauri Bb, was labeled Albertus Alauda as the result of a contest run by a fundraising venture known as Uwingu. Since then, Uwingu has kicked off another planet-naming effort, titled "Adopt-a-Planet."

Uwingu's contests would still run afoul of the IAU's new rules — both because the venture charges fees for nominating and supporting names, and because the IAU hasn't been consulted about the naming process or the results. "The process cannot request nor make reference to any revenues, for whatever purpose," the IAU said. That's just one of the seven rules for public naming campaigns, laid out in a three-page memo from a task group. (8/21)

Meet the New Astronauts (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Earlier this year NASA announced the selection of eight new astronauts, all in their mid- to late-30s, who have just now reported to Johnson Space Center to begin two years of training. Today they met with the media, and what a smiling, fresh-faced and eager bunch they were. Here, then, is a short video I put together that introduces them. Click here. (8/20)

Astronaut Having Trouble Adjusting To Life On Earth (Source: Huffington Post)
Astronaut, Tom Marshburn, sure is having a hard time adjusting to life on Earth after his stay on a space station. He keeps spacing out and breaking the law! The law of gravity, that is. So rebellious for a man of science. Click here. (8/20)

Bonnie Dunbar on Re-Engineering America's Space Leadership (Source: Forbes)
Bonnie, you are one of a very favored few who has had…or more correctly one who has created… an opportunity to live and work in that weightless “new frontier” of space. Yet a great deal of current uncertainty exists regarding prospects for others to realize their pathfinder dreams, whether as Earth-based program planners, designers  and facilitators, or as explorers of the beyond. Where do you see the U.S. and international space programs going? Click here. (8/20)

Blakey: The Promise of the International Space Station (Source: Washington Business Journal)
In my role as president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, I’m sometimes asked this question: “Now that the space shuttle is retired, whatever happened to our human spaceflight program?” My response: “It’s alive and well in the form of the International Space Station.”

Often underappreciated in media stories about space is the great success story the ISS represents. Continuously occupied by human crews for nearly 13 years, the football field sized ISS currently has a six-member crew, and receives regular cargo flights launched by the United States, Europe, Japan and Russia. Click here. (8/20)

Senate Bill Would Kill DARPA’s SeeMe Project (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee wants to end a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) effort to study a constellation of low-cost imaging satellites able to deliver data to handheld devices in near real time. DARPA requested $10.5 million for 2014 for the Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) project. But in its version of the 2014 defense spending bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended “program termination.”

The House Appropriations Committee did not mention the SeeMe program in its version of the spending bill. According to budget documents, DARPA in 2014 hopes to to complete testing of six propotype SeeMe satellites to verify that they could be built within 90 days with no prepurchased parts. The agency also expected to complete demonstrations of prototype hardware and software for the satellites and handheld data-reception devices. (8/20)

U.S. Air Force Releases Final Hosted Payload Solicitation (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is moving forward on multiple fronts in the hosted payload arena, most notably with the Aug. 1 release of a final request for proposals for a contracting vehicle designed to standardize the processes for placing dedicated military capabilities aboard commercial satellites.

In two other notices on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Air Force also announced its intent to sign a contract for continued testing of an experimental missile warning sensor aboard a commercial telecommunications satellite and asked for industry input on a proposed follow on mission. (8/20)

NASA's Global Plan for Space Exploration Gets an Upgrade (Source:
When it comes to human missions to an asteroid and Mars, NASA can't go it alone, the agency's chief Charles Bolden said. NASA and 11 other international space agencies committed to cooperating on deep space exploration together in the future in a plan released this morning.

The "Global Exploration Roadmap" is an update to a plan first put forward in 2011 that unites the interests of the space agencies of Italy, France, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom, as well as the European Space Agency and NASA. Click here. (8/20) 

The Dirtiest Lunar Mystery Of All (Source: Scientific American)
Gaze up at a brilliant Moon in the night sky and it’s hard to imagine that our companion world, Earth’s last high wilderness, is actually a rather dark and grimy place. The lunar albedo (fractional reflectivity) is only about 0.12 – in other words, over the visible spectrum, it reflects a mere 12% of the light hitting it, absorbing the rest.

By comparison the Earth has an average albedo of about 0.33, Venus – with its high and reflective clouds – is 0.76, and icy smooth Enceladus reflects almost all visible light with an astonishing near 1.0 albedo. In fact, out of all the major bodies in our solar system, only Mercury beats the Moon in terms of darkness, with a 0.11 reflectivity. Click here. (8/20)

Huge Lava Fountains Seen Gushing from Jupiter Moon (Source: New Scientist)
One of the most massive volcanic eruptions in the solar system has been spotted on Jupiter's moon Io – by a telescope perched on a volcano on Earth. On 15 August the Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii recorded fountains of lava gushing from fissures in the Rarog Patera region of Io. Heated by gravitational squeezing from Jupiter and its other moons, Io is covered in volcanoes that erupt almost continuously.

This event is easily in the top 10 yet seen on Io by humans, says Ashley Davies of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We try to look at Io at every opportunity, in the hope of seeing something like this," says Davies. "This time we got lucky." The lava fountains spouted molten rock hundreds of meters above Io's surface, erupting over an area totalling 31 square kilometers. (8/20)

Wallops' Launch Record - Fact or Fable? (Source: NASA Watch)
"Established in 1945 under NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) ... Wallops launched its first rocket on July 4, 1945. Since then, we have fulfilled our mission with the launch of more than 14,000 rockets."

That's 68 years of rocket launches - 24,820 days - 3,536 weeks. If Wallops did compelete 14,000 rocket launches you'd need to launch a rocket every 1.8 days nonstop for 68 years. Or if you believe the 2005 number of 15,000 that would require a launch every 1.6 days.

I wonder if Wallops actually has records to back up this claim - or if it is just something they keep repeating - because the old hands say its true and no one really cares to check. Indeed, Wallops PAO can't even get their own grand history straight. In 2005 they claimed it was 15,000 launches. Five years later it was 14,000. How did the number go down - shouldn't it be going up? (8/20)

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