August 5, 2013

Lori Garver Is Leaving NASA (Source: NASA Watch)
Sources report that NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will leave the agency in a few weeks to take a non-space job in the private sector. A formal announcement is expected Tuesday. No word yet as to who will replace her - or if a Deputy Administrator will even be named. Dan Goldin managed to do without a formal "Deputy" for a decade. I am not certain that the White House would want the distraction of a confirmation hearing right now - one where any question about NASA would be fair game for the nominee. Its more probable that they will leave the position empty or make someone (like Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot) Acting Deputy Administrator for the time being and punt on anything formal. (8/5)

SpaceX on a Roll (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In poker terms, the California-based SpaceX now holds three of a kind….three 5′s, that is. They’ve had 5 largely successful flights of its Falcon 9 rocket (with one secondary payload placed in the wrong orbit), 5 flights of the Grasshopper test bed, and 5 flights of the Falcon 1 rocket with a pair of successes and a trio of failures. There also have been four successful flights and recoveries of the Dragon spacecraft. The company has 41 launches listed on its manifest through 2018. This list includes 10 Dragon cargo resupply missions for NASA to the International Space Station and a number of commercial and government satellites. Click here. (8/5)

NASA Selects Atlas V for OSIRIS-REx Launch From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA has selected United Launch Services (a contracting/sales arm of ULA) to launch the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft. The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in September 2016 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The task order contract is valued at about $183.5 million. This price includes payload processing, integrated services, telemetry and other launch support requirements. (8/5)

Spaceport America Readies to Welcome Space Tourists (Source:
Spread across 18,000 acres, Spaceport America continues to preen itself here in anticipation of booming business as the world's first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. The "fit-out" of the Spaceport Operations Center continues at the site. New fire trucks and emergency vehicles are now on station, and field maintenance activities are in full swing. A runway extension effort is complete, now yielding a 12,000-foot "spaceway" to handle the projected comings and goings of anchor tenant Virgin Galactic.

Spaceport America tours are treating ticket-holding visitors to up-close-and-personal encounters with the sprawling complex, located adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. Ongoing work continues to flesh out both on- and off-site welcome centers, which are expected to be complete next year. Last May, Spaceport America put out the welcome mat for a new tenant, SpaceX. (8/2)

Doctor Who Fans Sending a Tardis Into Orbit? (Source: Guardian)
What better way to celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who than by launching a satellite the shape of the Tardis into a low-Earth orbit? Thus reasoned Robert Doyle, a would-be film-maker from Florida, and his daughter Alex. Then they got onto Kickstarter.

One month and 3,231 backers later they have exceeded their $33,000 target by $55,880, thanks to the enthusiasm of Whovians across the web. A satellite kit from Interorbital Systems in California will now be launched into space on one of its Neptune rockets as close as possible to 23 November – the anniversary of Doctor Who's first broadcast episode. Click here. (8/5)

NASA Outlines its Plans for Commercial Crew Certification (Source:
In a recent conference with its industry partners, NASA outlined the next phase of its strategy to enable the certification of commercial crew transportation systems to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The goal is to return domestic launch and transportation capability by the year 2017. Phase 1 of the certification strategy, the Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase, was awarded last December to SpaceX, SNC and Boeing for amounts that did not exceed $10 million per company.

This procurement contract is based on the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and its deliverables include early life-cycle certification products (alternate standards, hazards analysis, and verification, validation, and certification plans). Phase 2 of the strategy, the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) phase, should also be a FAR-based procurement contract – more specifically, it should be a Firmed Fixed Price Contract under Part 15 of FAR. (8/5)

Does the Future of the Space Industry Depend on Kickstarter? (Source: Mashable)
Chris Lewicki would've been perfectly happy with failure. His company's high-reaching Kickstarter project, the ARKYD telescope, certainly had the potential to oblige. With a $1 million funding goal, the crowdfunded "space telescope for everyone" could have very publicly fizzled out. "To say it directly and bluntly, we were completely ready to put out all our ideas and have people be totally uninterested in them," says Lewicki in a Skype interview. "And that would've been as good of a result as success."

Of course, not all projects see the kind of success that the ARKYD or the SkyCube experienced. GoldenSpike, a private company with the goal of "sending countries and individuals to surface of the Moon before 2020," launched an Indiegogo campaign in February, seeking $240,000. After 70 days, the project received less than 10% of its funding goal.

The difference between successful and unsuccessful campaigns is engagement. Successful crowdfunding space projects offer even lower-tier donators a chance to participate in space exploration, and that makes all the difference. "It just allows us to engage more directly with the rest of the planet on the exploration that we're doing. It's letting people follow along and, in some cases, directly participate," says Lewicki. (8/5)

Swimming Robot Tested for Billion-Mile Trip to Saturn Moon (Source: National Geographic)
The glacier-fed Laguna Negra (map) in the Chilean Andes, where NASA and SETI Institute scientists have been testing a floating robot whose successors may eventually parachute into a sea on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. It’s not filled with liquid methane, nor is it -297 degrees Fahrenheit (-182 degrees Celsius), but otherwise Laguna Negra does a passable impression of an alien sea. That’s because it’s surrounded by a barren environment with a thin atmosphere and is vulnerable to storms, avalanches, and possibly volcanoes.

Due to global warming, the glacial lake is also rapidly changing, ideal circumstances for a robot being taught to recognize shifts in a fluid environment. Titan has the distinction of being the only other body in our solar system known to have stable liquid on its surface. That liquid is mostly made of the gases methane and ethane, but the fact that the moon has seas, lakes, rain, and glaciers make it closer to Earth than anything else in our solar system. (8/5)

National Space Society Position on the 2014 NASA Budget (Source: NSS)
The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) announced its support of the 2014 Senate Authorization bill for NASA over the House version, which contains substantial cuts to the NASA budget. Dr. Paul Werbos, Chair of the NSS Policy Committee, said "The future of humans in space, as well as NASA itself, is very much at stake and at risk in current Congressional discussion." In particular, NSS urges full budgetary support for Commercial Crew, Asteroid Return Mission, Space Technology Program, Earth Science, Space Act Agreements, RLV Research, and Exoplanet Studies. (8/5)

If You Set Out To Go To Mars, Go To Mars! (Source: Space Review)
There is no shortage of proposals for exploration architectures that lead to human missions to Mars. Harley Thronson, though, argues that too many of these proposals feature distractions like Moon and asteroid missions that make it unlikely they would succeed. Visit to view the article. (8/5)

One Year After the Seven Minutes of Terror: the State of Mars Exploration (Source: Space Review)
One year ago, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover successfully landed on Mars, overcoming the "seven minutes of terror" to begin its mission of studying the Red Planet. Jeff Foust examines how NASA's Mars exploration program, as well as private efforts and overall public interest, have evolved over the last year. Visit to view the article. (8/5)

Back in Black (Source: Space Review)
More than two years after the end of the last Space Shuttle mission, it's tempting for some to seek comprehensive histories of the program. Dwayne Day says there's still a lot to learn about the military uses of the shuttle, although a few declassified documents are now shedding some light. Visit to view the article. (8/5)

NASA Policy Gets Partisan (Source: Space Review)
NASA has traditionally been considered an issue that hasn't been particularly partisan. However, Jeff Foust reports that this year is different, with policy and spending bills for the space agency often divided along party lines. Visit to view the article. (8/5)

INSAT-3D and India's New Emphasis on Meteorology (Source: Space Review)
Last month, India launched on a European rocket a next-generation weather satellite. Ajey Lele discusses how this satellite fits into expanded efforts by India to better predict the weather and understand the implications of climate change. Visit to view the article. (8/5)

As VAB Turns 50, Workers Prepare it for Next Half Century (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Construction of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center began a half-century ago this summer. After serving through the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, the mammoth structure now is undergoing renovations to accommodate future launch vehicles and to continue as a major part of America’s efforts to explore space for another 50 years. Click here. (8/4)

Becoming a Cosmonaut (Source: Space Safety)
Cosmonaut selection criteria have been relaxed since the first manned space mission in 1961. In 2011 the Federal Space Agency expanded the hiring procedure to all Russians with a degree in higher education. Previously the recruitment process for cosmonaut trainees was limited to military pilots and engineers already employed in the space industry as well as a small percentage of professional medics and scientists from the Agency of Science.

To be eligible, the applicants cannot be older than 33 years, must meet the physical requirements, must have higher education and five years’ experience working in this field, a good knowledge of Russian, English and the basics of manned space flights, a high level of fitness, and a thorough understanding of the history of space in Russia. Click here. (8/4)

SLS: Building the Elephant (Source: Space Safety)
Contrary to popular belief, expendable launch systems are not cheaper to develop than reusable vehicles. In the 1960′s, General Dynamics did a study comparing the development of the suborbital X-15 with an expendable missile (Atlas A) of similar size and performance. General Dynamics found that the X-15, although more complex and of higher reliability, was about 30% cheaper to develop. A US Air Force study conducted around the same time, using different methods, came to a similar conclusion.

Even NASA’s Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle program, which Dumbacher managed, provides evidence for this. The 2GRLV was overdesigned and oversized for the market, but still, the estimated development cost (using traditional NASA development methods) was only around $5-6 billion — less than SLS or the Orion capsule. This is not to say that NASA ought to build 2GRLV. If built, 2GRLV would fail to meet its cost goals for the same reason the Space Shuttle did. Click here. (8/4)

Aspiring Martian Colonists Land In Washington (Source:
A group of volunteers hoping to become the first human Martians congregated in one spot for the first time Saturday (Aug. 3) to discuss their hopes to join the Mars One mission, a project to send colonists on a one-way trip to the Red Planet. Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp addressed a crowd of about 50 Mars One applicants, almost all male, in an auditorium here at George Washington University. The mood at the event, which was webcast live, was something akin to a gamer's LAN party — excited discussions blended with nerdy banter. But the purpose was serious. Click here. (8/4)

Roskosmos Plans 4-5 Launches of Proton Before Yearend (Source: Itar-Tass)
Roskosmos plans to perform before the yearend 4-5 launches of Proton rocket, Head of the Federal Space Agency, Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin said. He said the first launch after the break following the accident at Baikonur on July 2 will be with a foreign satellite. “A foreign satellite was scheduled, so things will proceed as planned,” Popovkin said. Roskosmos, plans to resume launches of Proton-M rockets in September. (8/5)

Kazcosmos’s Subsidiary Chief Suspected of Bribe Taking (Source: Itar-Tass)
President of Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary, a subsidiary of Kazakhstan’s state-run space agency Kazcosmos, has been detained on suspicion of bribery, the republic’s financial police said on Monday. Gabdulatif Murzakulov is accused of lobbying interests of construction company Kulager in 3 billion ruble tenders for the construction of a spaceship testing complex. Financial police said he had received a bribe worth $272,000 and 75.3 million tenge.

Mattel's Astronaut Barbie Becomes a Mars Explorer with Help from NASA (Source: Collect Space)
A new collaboration between NASA and Mattel, the largest toy company in the world, is turning the Red Planet a tad more pink. "Mars Explorer Barbie," a new spacesuited version of the iconic fashion doll, officially launched on Aug. 5 to coincide with the first anniversary of NASA's Curiosity rover landing on Mars. Mars Explorer Barbie is packaged with a cardboard cutout of the six-wheeled Mars Science Laboratory, decked out in pink. Click here. (8/5)

Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary is a state-run company, where a 100 percent stake is owned by the government. It specializes in the development and implementation of space programs, introduction of space technologies and space system testing. (8/5)

The Human Side of Space Travel (Source:
We’ve learned how to pee in space and how to prepare pre-packaged meals, but if we’re serious about long distance inter-planetary travel, there’s still a lot more we need to work out about the psychology and physiology of living and working in zero-gravity. And as we’ll hear, some of what we thought we knew about staying healthy in space could actually prove counterproductive. Click here. (8/5)

A 1980s Strategy for Comet Missions (Source: WIRED)
One might ask whether we will dispatch a spacecraft to explore Comet ISON; it is a fair question, given that we have launched spacecraft to comets for nearly 30 years. Unfortunately, at today’s level of space technology, it cannot be done. The very thing that makes Comet ISON so interesting – that it is visiting the inner Solar System for the first time – means that we lacked sufficient time to prepare a spacecraft to visit it.

Robert Farquhar, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in suburban Washington, DC, was instrumental in planning the 1980 Comet Encke dual-probe flyby mission. He also participated as Mission Definition Manager in GSFC’s Cometary Explorer study in 1973. Farquhar saw his comet flyby mission series as a possible lead-in to comet rendezvous missions, which would see a spacecraft match orbits with a comet and fly formation with it for weeks, months, or even years. Click here. (8/5)

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