August 25, 2013

Hangar One Advocates Call on Navy to Maintain Protective Coating (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
Pressure is mounting against the U.S. Navy to pony up the money needed to maintain a protective coating that was applied to the steel skeleton of Hangar One in Mountain View. Added as the enormous Depression Era-structure was stripped of its PCB-laced siding, the coating is supposed to seal in lingering toxins and guard against the elements while a restoration and reuse plan is developed. (8/24)

Launch Pads, Runways, Facilities: NASA’s Grand Shuttle Sell-Off Continues (Source: Ars Technica)
Earlier this week, NASA announced that two commercial space companies have placed bids on one of the mobile launch platforms at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform is one of three structures originally designed and built for Project Apollo back in the 1960s; the hardware was redesigned and refitted for use with the Space Shuttle in the late 1970s and was in use continually until the Shuttle program's end in 2010.

Also being divested is the shuttle runway and Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. This particular asset is being brought under the control of Space Florida, a state-backed public/private partnership responsible for aerospace-related business development in Florida. Space Florida isn't buying or leasing the runway but rather will assume control of it from NASA and will "manage its utilization."

Space Florida is already heavily involved in the disposition of NASA's shuttle assets; they are responsible for the refit of Orbital Processing Facility 3 (which was used to maintain Shuttles between missions) for commercial use. They also manage two smaller launch sites at Cape Canaveral: Launch Complex 36 and Launch Complex 46. (8/24)

45th Space Wing Supports NASA's Orion Project (Source: USAF)
Members of the 45th Space Wing Operations Group Detachment 3, participated in recovery test operations of NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Aug. 13-15, aboard the USS Arlington in Norfolk. "Detachment 3 personnel served as the liaison between NASA personnel, Navy Sailors, divers and contractors. Additionally, the team provided expertise necessary to bridge the information gap between NASA's Orion recovery requirements and the Department of Defense support capabilities. (8/23)

What Space Travel Can Teach Us About Autonomous Cars (Source: Fast Company)
Ford's latest R&D project for connected cars is turning to space travel for inspiration. Researchers at the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University in Russia are working with the auto giant to leverage tech from telematics robots on the International Space Station for connected cars.

For the uninitiated, "connected cars" is a buzz term that every car manufacturer is pushing this year. Basically, it means cars that are connected to the Internet 24/7 via 4G or 3G--whether for streaming Pandora in-car or for more serious ends, like helping state police prevent accidents by creating analytics for traffic jams and rubbernecking.

The research at St. Petersburg centers on the telematics tech robots on the space station use to send and receive data to Earth; Ford hopes that there's something in the way robots communicate from orbit that will apply to how cars communicate on the highway. "We are analyzing the data to research which networks are the most robust and reliable for certain types of messages, as well as fallback options if networks were to fail in a particular scenario," Ford's Oleg Gusikhin said. (8/24)

Massive Mirror to be Cast for Telescope 10 Times Sharper than Hubble (Source: LA Times)
Technicians on Saturday will fire up a furnace in Arizona to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to pour glass to fabricate a mirror 27 feet in diameter that will be part of a giant telescope with 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope. The mirror, which will weigh about 20 tons, will take a full year to polish to within 1/20 the wavelength of light, a tolerance on the scale of about 1 in 10 billion.

“Let’s imagine you took this mirror and you enlarged it to the physical size of the United States. The tallest mountain on that surface would be 1 inch tall,” said Michael Long. The mirror is the third of an eventual seven that will be configured to give the telescope an aperture of 80 feet, and allow operators to correct for diffraction of light by Earth’s atmosphere and achieve close to the theoretical maximum resolution, a feat once thought to be achievable only from space.

The Giant Magellan Telescope is expected to be fully operational in Chile's Atacama Desert by 2022. It will eventually work in concert with existing and planned telescopes, both in space and on Earth, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is expected to be fully operational the same year, and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018. (8/24)

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