August 26, 2013

Space Tourism Startup SHIPinSPACE Receives $7.8 Million Investment (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The European start-up SHIPinSPACE says it has received $7.78 million (£5 million) in seed funding for the development of a fully-reusable, suborbital space tourism vehicle that would carry 48 passengers at an initial estimated cost of $60,000 apiece.

“SHIPinSPACE will be the largest manned space vehicle ever launched by a factor of seven which opens a new era for space tourism and the space industry as a whole,” SHIPinSPACE CEO Fabrizio Boer said in a press release. “Now is the time for private commercial space industry companies to develop ground-breaking and radically different technologies which combine design and launch with greater safety as well as being economical.” Click here. (8/26) 

Asteroid Mining Company Announces Retail Site (Source: SpaceRef)
While you may not be able to get there yet, Deep Space Industries is offering you the chance to participate in the opening of space while showing the world you are in the know, be it on your wall, on your desk or even on your body. Deep Space, known for its goal of mining asteroids, today announced its retail division “Deep Space by Design”.

Deep Space by Design offers high quality and sometimes edgy space related products including: clothing, art, jewelry, and exclusive products such as rare one of a kind meteorites through a partnership with “Meteorite Man” Geoff Notkin’s Aerolite Meteorites. And in a unique twist for online retailing, a portion of every sale will go to fund actual space projects. (8/26)

Former Astronaut Takes Over CASIS (Source: Florida Today)
Former shuttle pilot Gregory Johnson has been named executive director at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the local nonprofit charged with managing non-NASA research on the International Space Station’s national lab. Effective Sept. 1, Johnson will take over from Jim Royston, the organization’s interim director for more than a year since its first leader resigned over differences with the board.

Johnson joined NASA as an astronaut in 1998 and piloted Endeavour on two missions to the , delivering a Japanese module in 2008 and a high-profile science instrument, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, on the orbiter’s final flight in 2011. Started by Space Florida, CASIS is based at the state-owned Space Life Sciences Lab just outside Kennedy Space Center’s south gate. (8/26)

Rocket for MAVEN Mars Mission Arrives at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
The Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage that will launch NASA's next Mars orbiter rolled off a ship this morning at a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station wharf. The roughly 19-story rocket, when fully fully assembled, is scheduled to launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, on Nov. 18.

That's the opening of an official 20-day launch window, but mission managers say they have another 15 days available if needed. The MAVEN spacecraft is undergoing preflight tests at Kennedy Space Center. The rocket was delivered from Decatur, Ala., aboard United Launch Alliance's Mariner ship. (8/26)

Countdowns and Testing – Commercial Space Steps Up a Gear (Source:
Several commercial space companies are in the midst of critical testing and launch preparations. While the increase in activity is aimed at successfully achieving differing mission objectives, the overall drive is one based on private companies becoming the new gate keepers of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), freeing NASA to set sail for deep space destinations. Click here. (8/26)

Google Lunar X Prize: Changing Rules - and Fewer Entrants? (Source: NASA Watch)
The deadline for all Google Lunar X Prize entrants to sign the mandatory (revised) Teaming Agreement was Friday 23 August. This teaming agreement contained a major revision to the rather strict set of rules levied upon all entrants as to what they can and cannot do. Sources report that a number of existing entrants did not sign the agreement by the deadline. Unless the deadline has been extended, it would seem that the number of entrants for the Google Lunar X Prize is about to decrease.

With the advent of new prizes that can be offered to entrants for reaching goals far short of actually going to the Moon - and a lack of signed launch contracts among the entrants - the Google Lunar X Prize may be looking to follow a path similar to the recently cancelled Archon Genomics X Prize. Stay tuned. (8/24)

NMSU Engineering Professor Working to Extend Space Missions (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Krishna Kota, New Mexico State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is conducting research that may lead to longer duration of space missions -- a high priority of NASA. It may also lead to energy efficiencies in many other applications, ultimately reducing consumption of fossil fuels and the carbon footprint.

"The problem we are addressing is how to extend NASA space missions. Right now most space missions are limited to a few weeks. The goal is to enable prolonged space missions to a few months as opposed to a few weeks," said Kota, who directs the Surface-Fluid Interaction Research Laboratory. His research is funded by NASA through the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. (8/25)

Virginia’s Wallops Island to Launch Spacecraft to Moon (Source: Washington Post)
For the first time, a spacecraft is to be launched from Virginia to the moon. The launch is scheduled for Sept. 6 from NASA’s facility at Wallops Island on Virginia’s Atlantic coast. If all follows the plan, and the clouds cooperate, the 11:27 p.m. launch should be visible in Washington and in much of the Northeast. (8/25)

Ariane-5 to Launch India's GSAT 7 Satellite Friday (Source: Indian Express)
India is gearing up for its next mission --- the launch of naval defense satellite GSAT 7 --- even as the revised launch dates for the aborted GSLV D5 mission are yet to be announced. The GSAT 7 or INSAT 4F is primarily meant for the use of the Indian Navy and other armed forces. It will cater to their telecommunication needs.

According to ISRO, the satellite is configured to provide a wide range of spectrum ranging from low bit rate voice to high bit rate data communication. The satellite with a service life of 15 years will provide communication capabilities to users over a wide oceanic region as well as the Indian subcontinent. The satellite will be launched by the European space company Arianespace from its launch facility in Kourou, French Guiana. (8/26)

First Flight of Japanese 'Artificial Intelligence' Rocket Set for Tuesday (Source: America Space)
More than five decades of rocketry from Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture will continue on Aug. 27 with the maiden voyage of the new Epsilon vehicle to insert an ultraviolet observatory into low-Earth orbit to observe Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. The 700-pound Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) will spend about a year in orbit.

Yet as exciting as this scientific payload may be, the Epsilon itself carries much promise for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The rocket’s project manager has described it as a vehicle which will literally “open up the future.” The 78-foot-tall Epsilon vehicle marries one Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) from the H-IIA rocket as its first stage with upper-stage hardware from the 2006-retired M-V rocket. As a launcher, it is reportedly capable of transporting up to 2,600 pounds of payload into low-Earth orbit. (8/26)

Better Japanese Rockets Sought to Boost Orders (Source: Yomiuri Shinbun)
JAXA has also started to improve its mainline H-2A rocket. The space agency hopes to build highly competitive rockets that can win more launch orders from around the world. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. on Aug. 4 successfully launched its first H-2B rocket, which has twice the carrying capacity of the H-2A. With its rockets now able to handle payloads of as much as eight tons, the domestic rocket industry can place satellites of widely varying weights into orbit.

MHI and JAXA are aiming to complete an improved version of the H-2A by the end of fiscal 2013. With a new method of engine combustion that reduces fuel consumption, the rocket would need to carry less fuel, allowing it to carry bigger satellites. Development of an entirely new model is also being sought. The government is said to be planning to request a portion of design costs for a successor to the H-2A, provisionally named H-3, in the fiscal 2014 budget. (8/26)

America's Largest Rocket Set for Launch Wednesday in California (Source:
Igniting its three main engines in a staggered sequence for the first time, a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket for U.S. national security is scheduled for liftoff from California on Wednesday morning. A new strategy, being employed to reduce the hydrogen flames generated during startup of the three Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 main engines, will see the triple-body rocket light one engine two seconds before the other two. (8/25)

Countdown Underway for Space Travel from New Mexico (Source: Rio Rancho Observer)
En route to Spaceport America last weekend, a passenger on the Follow the Sun Tours bus remembered squatting in front of his parents’ TV the morning of May 5, 1961, and using a small reel-to-reel recorder to get the historic moment on tape. That was the dawning of the Space Age for America, as Alan Shepard, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts — blasted into space.

Fifty-two years later, that “kid” was on his way to what is being hailed as the origins of the Second Space Age — Spaceport America, in southern New Mexico. Sitting next to him was the “One-Armed Bandit,” a man in his 50s who said he was an engineer despite his handicap — a left arm that ended just below the elbow.

“I wanted to get off this rock (Earth) since I was 7,” he said, eagerly anticipating his Spaceport America visit. He’d been a volunteer on a couple of the X Prize Cup challenges in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, but that was as close as he’d been. Click here. (8/25)

Amphibious Ships Ready to Recover NASA Capsule (Source: UT San Diego)
When Alan Shepard splashed down in the Pacific after America’s first manned space flight in 1961, he and his Freedom 7 capsule were plucked from the water by a Marine HUS-1 helicopter and deposited on the deck of the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain. This month, NASA and the Navy took the first steps in renewing a relationship that has been dormant since 1975.

In tests with the crew of the amphibious transport dock Arlington, the Navy proved the warship could successfully recover NASA’s planned Orion capsule ahead of a 2014 unmanned test shot. The tests conducted at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., did not have the drama of Shepard’s touchdown on the Lake Champlain, but it did highlight the utility of the Navy’s amphibious fleet and its sailors. (8/25)

Canadian Could Visit Moon as Part of Ambitious Space Plan (Source: Global News)
Canada could be sending its first astronaut to the moon under an ambitious long-term plan being developed by a group of space agencies around the world. A return to the moon within the next two decades is part of the recently updated Global Exploration Roadmap — a far-reaching plan developed by more than a dozen space agencies.

Canada is among the 14 space agencies participating in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, which first started developing the strategy in 2007. The first roadmap was released in 2011 and the latest update was made public last week. An early phase of the plan would put a new space station into orbit around the moon, and use it as a staging point to ferry astronauts back and forth. (8/25)

The Truth About Neil Armstrong (Source:
One year has passed since the death of Neil Armstrong on Aug. 25, 2012, and people are still struggling to explain the remarkably unique character of the extraordinarily private man who was the First Man on the Moon. A ghostly TV image in a clumsy spacesuit climbing down a ladder a quarter of a million miles away and becoming the first of our species to set foot on another heavenly body was virtually the sum total of who we knew as Neil Armstrong at the time of his historic Apollo 11 mission.

Why Armstrong chose me, a university history professor, to write his life story is a question I never dared ask him; yet it's been one of the most asked questions of me ever since "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" came out in 2005. As to Neil's reasoning for deciding to participate actively in my project by giving me access to his papers, allowing me some 55 hours for tape-recorded interviews, and sending me more than 600 informative emails, I can only speculate: I came into his life at the right time. Click here. (8/25)

Delays, Costs: Faith in NASA Rocket's Progress Stumbles (Source: Florida Today)
The rocket and spacecraft NASA is developing to carry crews into deep space already face questions about whether they’ll be ready, without additional funding, to blast off on a first test flight in late 2017. The programs are proceeding with daunting budget challenges and an above-normal risk of delays or cost increases, according to recent agency reports and statements.

Any significant slip in the first, uncrewed flight would delay hiring at Kennedy Space Center that is expected to ramp up ahead of the mission. It also could push back a first crewed flight targeted for 2021, driving up the cost on a program tentatively planning to spend more than $22 billion during the next eight years. Click here. (8/25) 

Wormholes May Save Physics From Black Hole Infernos (Source: Scientific American)
Are black holes surrounded by walls of fire? Does this imply that one (or more) of our most cherished physical principles—and here I’m talking about biggies like quantum theory, the conservation of information or Einstein’s equivalence principle—is wrong? Any may our savior come in the form of wormholes?

These are the questions consuming some of the world’s foremost theoretical particle physicists as they argue about potential solutions to what has become known as the “black hole firewall” problem—perhaps the most important paradox in physics since Stephen Hawking proposed his first black hole information paradox nearly four decades ago. Click here. (8/25)

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