August 7, 2013

Local Officials Plan for Tourist Influx for Virginia Launch (Source:
A mission to the moon being launched from Wallops Island in September is driving officials to discuss how to accommodate the thousands of people expected to come to the region to view the launch. “We’re going to have an influx of visitors,” NASA Wallops Flight Facility spokesman Jeremy Eggers predicted. Eggers updated the Chincoteague Town Council on plans for the launch.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will launch aboard a Minotaur V on Sep. 6. The launch, scheduled for 11:27 p.m., likely will bring lots of visitors to northern Accomack County. The launch window extends through Sep. 10. Because of the hazard area associated with the launch, the southern part of Assateague Beach will be closed. The area traditionally is open for rocket launch viewers, but the moon mission’s trajectory means the off-limits debris field encompasses the beach.

Councilman John Jester noted the need to notify area charter boat captains of the launch hazard zone. “It looks like the bar is in the debris field,” he said of a popular boating destination. Chincoteague Mayor Jack Tarr said to Eggers, “These programs are very important to the community and we are here to help you any way we can.” (8/7)

Delta IV Rocket Launch Set for Tonight (Source: CFL News 13)
All systems are "go" for launch Wednesday as the United Launch Alliance is set to send a Delta IV medium rocket into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch window opens at 8:29 p.m. and runs for 49 minutes. Currently, range officials say there is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time. The rocket is carrying the Air Force’s 6th Wideband Global SATCOM, which is also known as a WGS program. (8/7)

Boeing All-Electric Satellite Passes Critical Design Review (Source: Boeing)
The first Boeing electric-powered satellite, the 702 Small Platform (702SP), has passed its Critical Design Review, allowing the new program to move two satellites into assembly, integration and testing. Boeing introduced the 3- to 8-kilowatt 702SP to its 702 product line in March 2012 as a simpler design that can be built more quickly while costing and weighing less than traditional satellites. Its all-electric propulsion minimizes the spacecraft’s mass and maximizes available payload. (8/7)

NASA Needs Reviews and Lots of Acronyms to Build a Big Rocket (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program recently completed its preliminary design review, commonly referred to as PDR. A quick inquiry of “What is PDR?” on a search engine pulls up everything from dent repairs to a physicians’ reference guide on prescription medications. So, what exactly is PDR when you’re talking about building the world’s most powerful rocket? And why is it important to the future of space missions? It’s a lot more complex than its abbreviated moniker suggests. Click here. (8/7)

Billionaires’ Battle Over LightSquared Breaks Into the Open (Source: DealBook)
The hedge fund tycoon Philip A. Falcone may be down, just a month after regulators rejected his settlement over federal charges of market manipulation. But on Tuesday, he showed that he’s not out of the game yet. Mr. Falcone’s hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Partners, and its subsidiaries filed a lawsuit against the satellite television mogul Charles W. Ergen, accusing him of colluding with another hedge fund to wrest control of the bankrupt broadband wireless company LightSquared from Harbinger.

The lawsuit contends that Mr. Ergen has been surreptitiously acquiring LightSquared’s debt for more than a year. The fight has the feel of a cowboy-style showdown between two billionaires who have built their reputations on savvy investments. For Mr. Ergen, the chairman of both Dish and EchoStar who has a reputation as a firebrand executive, LightSquared is part of a strategy to gain a foothold in mobile data as Dish’s satellite TV subscription numbers slow. (8/6)

Paying Extra for a TV Channel NASA Offers for Free (Source: LA Times)
Charles used to work at NASA and wants to stay in touch with the space program via NASA TV, the cable channel paid for by tax dollars and provided free to telecom companies. Turns out, though, that his AT&T U-verse package doesn't include NASA TV. To receive the channel, he was told, he'd have to pay for a more expensive programming package.

Charles' question: Why should NASA TV be considered a premium channel considering that taxpayers have already paid for it? To get an answer to this one, I had to reach out and touch AT&T. To find out what they had to say, check out today's Ask Laz video. Click here. (8/6)

More Names Emerge for NASA Deputy Administrator (Source: Space News)
The thing about throwing out names is that it encourages other people -- smarter, better connected people -- to follow suit. Included below are some solid candidates for NASA deputy administrator I shouldn’t have overlooked and others I wouldn’t have thought of myself. No tongue in cheek here. All top-shelf candidates, two of which could easily replace Charlie Bolden as NASA administrator if he’s as sick of Washington as he sometimes lets on. Click here. (8/7)

Hagel: Pentagon Will Only Furlough Workers for 6 Days (Source: The Hill)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will only furlough workers for six days, thanks to savings found on other line items in the military budget. The Defense Department had previously forecast 22 furlough days would be necessary because of budget cuts from sequestration. Meanwhile, lawmakers applauded the move by the Pentagon to shorten worker furloughs, but said the furloughs provide only a temporary fix. (8/6)

Maryland Aerospace Industry Generates $26B in Economic Activity (Source: Satellite Today)
Maryland is home to a thriving aerospace industry, including ATK, Hughes and Lockheed Martin. "Maryland's aerospace and defense industry is a significant economic engine for our state, generating nearly $26 billion in economic activity annually and employing more than 145,000 people," said Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley. (8/6)

Bringing Down the ISS – Plans for Station’s Demise Updated (Source:
The latest meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) included an updated action plan on the End Of Life (EOL) scenario for the International Space Station. The plan for a destructive deorbit of ISS is required in the event of a serious contingency resulting in the evacuation of the crew. The ISS is currently set to continue flying until at least 2020, although ongoing studies are considering how long it can continue to perform its duties, especially from the standpoint of the hardware’s long-term health.

At present, it is hoped the ISS could continue to operate until at least 2028, pending political and international agreement on the operational requirements and running costs. Providing the ISS continues to be mechanically healthy, opting against an extension would be close to unthinkable. Should the ISS be abandoned in 2020, no more than six US Crew Vehicle (USCV) missions will have taken place.

However, the death of the ISS isn’t restricted to hardware health or political meddling, it also has to deal with the inherent risks of flying in space, which forever threaten a contingency scenario. Almost all contingency events should still result in the crew surviving, with two Soyuz spacecraft ready to provide the role of lifeboats in the event of an evacuation being called. However, a painful decision would then be required over the fate of the Station itself. (8/6)

How Beauty Army is Using Lessons from NASA to Sell Lip Gloss and Mascara (Source: Gigaom)
Arthur Guest has two master’s degrees — the second from MIT in aeronautics/astronautics — and has worked for NASA on the future of human spaceflight. Now, he’s selling beauty products. Guest is the co-founder and CTO at Beauty Army, a subscription-based e-commerce site that is trying to add more personalization to online shopping. ”As my friends say, two years ago I was designing spaceflight missions to Mars, and now I’m selling mascara,” he said.

Totally random transition? In fact, Mars missions and mascara have more in common than you might think. Guest got into the beauty business when CEO Lindsey Guest (Arthur’s former wife and now co-founder at Beauty Army) approached him with the idea of using data to create a better beauty business. Now Guest is using his background in predictive modeling to let consumers try out product samples that fit their preferences, and introduce brands to potential new customers who can give them valuable feedback. (8/7)

China Is Winning the Space Race (Source: Foreign Policy)
On June 11, in the flat and featureless Gobi Desert, China took a giant leap for mankind -- or at least a symbolic step toward space dominance -- when it sent three astronauts into space for 15 days. With the past as a guide, both that launch and the 2010 launch of the Chang'e 2 unmanned lunar orbiter are technologically unimpressive. Shift the focus to the present and they are merely unsettling. But look to the future, and they are unmistakable warning signs that China may surpass the United States and Russia to become the world's preeminent spacefaring power.

Yes, launching a three-seat space capsule and docking it with a temporary space station is straight out of the bell-bottom jeans and wide-collar era: it merely replicates what Americans achieved in 1973 with their Skylab 2 mission. With only one main chamber, the diminutive Tiangong 1 space station is far less impressive and barely one-tenth the size of Skylab, not to mention the even larger, elaborately segmented structure of modules, docking ports, and solar arrays that make up the International Space Station (ISS), the largest artificial object in Earth orbit.

Why worry that the Chinese are exploiting 40-year-old technology to send a few men and women into space? Won't it take them decades to catch up? Won't they be daunted by the same engineering and medical scientific barriers that have stalled their predecessors in low Earth orbit, like damage to spacecraft from micrometeorite impacts, and damage to human bodies from exposure to cosmic radiation and weightlessness? And isn't the space race dead anyway? Click here. (8/2)

DigitalGlobe Announces Quarterly Results (Source: DigitalGlobe)
Second quarter 2013 revenue was $150.6 million, a 48% increase compared with the same period last year. The company reported a net loss for the second quarter of 2013 of $21 million, and a net loss available to common shareholders of $22 million, including $1 million of preferred stock dividends, compared with net income available to common stockholders of $9.6 million in the second quarter of 2012. (8/6)

Sun Will Flip Its Magnetic Field Soon (Source:
The sun is gearing up for a major solar flip, NASA says. In an event that occurs once every 11 years, the magnetic field of the sun will change its polarity in a matter of months, according new observations by NASA-supported observatories. The flipping of the sun's magnetic field marks the peak of the star's 11-year solar cycle and the halfway point in the sun's "solar maximum" — the peak of its solar weather cycle. (8/6)

No Plans to Dismiss Roscosmos Chief (Source: Interfax)
The Russian government's Military-Industrial Commission is not planning to dismiss the chief of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). "The Military-Industrial Commission is not considering the replacement of the Roscosmos management right now," a source with the commission said. (8/6)

Garver’s Departure Leaves NewSpace Without Highest Ranking Advocate (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Garver has been the major driver behind the agency’s controversial push for commercial space activities as well as the plan to capture an asteroid and have astronauts visit it. Aviation Week said the following:

"Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the agency’s No. 3 manager and top-ranking civil servant, is a likely possibility to fill Garver’s post on an acting basis until the White House can nominate another political appointee... Garver’s departure will come on the heels of Elizabeth Robinson, the agency’s chief financial officer, who has been named under secretary of energy. Robinson and Garver were staunch allies in the often-heated management policy debates that pitted them against more traditional NASA managers, including Administrator Charles Bolden."

The prospects of Garver being replaced — even temporarily — by Lightfoot will not sit well with the NewSpace community. Lightfoot is former director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the lead center for the space agency’s heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS). NewSpace advocates see SLS as a giant pork barrel project sucking up massive amount of NASA’s resources that will be too expensive to fly more than once every three or four years. (8/6)

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