September 13, 2013

Teaching Astronauts Underground (Source: ESA)
This week sees the start of ESA’s next underground training course for astronauts. Six new and experienced astronauts from all over the world will work together to overcome the difficulties of working in a new environment performing a full scientific programme with limited supplies – similar to working on the International Space Station.

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli will be joined by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and NASA astronauts Mike Barratt and Jack Fischer on the six-day adventure underground.

The two-week CAVES course starts with five days learning the ropes and preparing to explore Earth’s subsurface. The astronauts will be taught how to explore dark uncharted areas, safely scale cave walls and move in three dimensions, run scientific experiments and prepare their mission supplies. (9/13)

Multiple NASA Websites Hacked (Source: FOX News)
Nearly a dozen NASA websites run from the heart of Silicon Valley were hacked on Tuesday and remain offline days later, following a politically motivated digital broadside against the space agency. “My understanding is the entire NASA Ames Center had a hack attack that took the website down,” spokesman JD Harrington told However, another NASA spokesman later denied that the entire center was taken down, instead saying that the attack was of a much smaller scope.

A group calling itself BMPoC took credit for the hack, saying it had taken down the sites to protest U.S. cyberintelligence activities. “On Sept. 10, 2013, a Brazilian hacker group posted a political message on a number of NASA websites." a NASA spokesman said. "Within hours of the initial posting, information technology staff at the Ames Research Center discovered the message and immediately started an investigation, which is ongoing. (9/13)

SpaceX Grasshopper Scares Texas Cows (Source: Discovery)
SpaceX has been using its prototype “Grasshopper” rocket to develop technology needed to re-fly Falcon boosters back to their launch sites so the motors can be refurbished and reused. But Grasshopper’s last liftoff apparently caught some onlookers by surprise. In a video posted on YouTube, a herd of cows reckons with the weirdness of a rocket blasting off its McGregor, Texas, pasture with a very basic instinct: Run! Click here. (9/12)

On the Importance of a NASA Authorization Bill (Source: Space Politics)
While Congress is back in session this month, few observers expect they will spend much, if any, time on a new NASA authorization bill. There are too many other issues for members to deal with; moreover, the differences between the versions of the bill approved over the summer by the House Science Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee appear to be too great to be reconciled, even if the full chambers are able to pass their versions.

One recently retired Congressional staff member, though, emphasized the importance of such legislation. NASA has been getting squeezed by flat or declining budgets the last several years, Jeff Bingham noted, but has continued to try and continue all of its major programs. “We’re at the point, with the kinds of numbers you see particularly on the House side for 2014, I don’t think NASA can play these cards that way very much longer… You’re going to have to cut something. There’s something major that’s going to have to go.”

That’s where authorizing committees and their legislation step in, he argued. “It’s the responsibility of those committee to look at programs in their jurisdiction and say what should NASA be, what should NASA do, how should NASA do it,” he said. That policy should not be set solely by the White House, he added, but done collaboratively with Congress. Click here. (9/13) 

Yale University School of Architecture – “Designing” the Future CASIS (Source: CASIS)
As you might imagine, from time to time, CASIS gets some very interesting inquiries. Granted, most of those range in some very out-of-the-box ideas to utilize the station through scientific investigation. However, we received a very interesting inquiry from the Yale University School of Architecture that was unlike any request CASIS had received to date.

Each year, the Yale School of Architecture tasks its second-year graduate students to design a complete building as a semester-long project.  Effectively asking, what would your company desire in a first-class facility? They invite members from high ranking companies, or museums (ex. The Smithsonian) to come and speak about what a new, state-of-the-art facility could include.

Over the course of the semester, these organizations will check in on the progress of each student’s work and provide insight and recommendations for how this hypothetical headquarters might be better designed. This year, the Yale School of Architecture asked if they could create a state-of-the-art, 50,000 square foot facility in the heart of uptown Manhattan, right next door to the United Nations. Click here. (9/11)

CCT Supports Successful Missile Defense Test against Multiple Targets (Source: CCT)
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully completed a complex test resulting in the intercept of two ballistic missile targets. Florida-based Command and Control Technologies provided the technology for controlling launches of targets used on the test. Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the systems, integrated CCT’s Command and Control Toolkit commercial software and C2TM Gateway telemetry interface to provide real-time data acquisition and customized launch control sequences for the targets. (9/12)

Launch Providers Duke it Out at Sat Conference in Paris (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Earlier this week, dominant launch provider Arianespace, upstart SpaceX, failure prone Sea Launch, and surprise entrant Lockheed Martin duked it out rhetorically at the World Satellite Business Week in Paris. Arianespace stressed its experience and reliability, SpaceX promised to start flying on a regular basis, and Lockheed Martin likely stunned everyone with an announcement that its Atlas V actually won a bid for a commercial payload. And Sea Launch said it was looking for more work to do. Click here. (9/13)

Japan Plans Epsilon Launch on September (Source: Tokyo Times)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has rescheduled the launch of Epsilon solid-fuel rocket for September 14, according to its statement made on Monday. The reschedule was made after the first launching attempt was stopped 19 seconds before lift-off, when a ground control computer falsely detected a positional abnormality.

JAXA will launch the Epsilon rocket from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, on Saturday afternoon, according to the local press. The first attempt to launch the rocket was made on August 27. Now, Japan’s state-run space agency said it has now improved the software that has initially caused the error. (9/13)

Falcon 9 Ready for Debut at Vandenberg (Source: Lompoc Record)
The Falcon 9 rocket’s eagerly anticipated inaugural launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base could come soon, but Cold War-era secrecy is keeping officials mum about plans. As of Thursday evening, officials hadn’t released the planned launch day or window for the rocket built by the private firm, Space Exploration Technologies, based in Hawthorne.

However, several signs were pointing to plans for a blastoff from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base mid-day Sunday. Boaters and pilots had been warned to remain out of the area around South Base between 9 a.m. and noon Sunday. Additionally, visitors to Jalama Beach County Park and Miguelito County Park were warned they may be evacuated from 7 a.m. to noon on the day of the launch. Editor's Note: Here's a FOX Business interview with Elon Musk. (9/12)

'Space Frog' Joins List of Wayward Animal Launch Day Casualties (Source: America Space)
The list of animal launch day casualties increased by one (that we’re aware of) this past week with the launch of NASA’s LADEE spacecraft. A frog took a “giant leap” – and not in a good way. In 2005, one of the many turkey vultures that call the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge home was at the wrong place – at the very wrong time. Just as space shuttle Discovery thundered aloft a passing turkey vulture was directly above the orbiter and was struck and killed.

Fast forward four years to the launch of STS-119. A free-tail bat was seen clinging to the external tank of space shuttle Atlantis. Shortly thereafter, launch commenced and the wayward critter was forever immortalized as “Space Bat.” A similar incident with a bat is also reported to have taken place back during the STS-90 mission in 1998.

As the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge exists hand-in-hand with Kennedy Space Center just as Wallops Flight Facility resides next to Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge – these types of incidents are bound to take place. NASA has a number of preventative measures to ensure that they don’t, including warning sirens, decoy owls and launch team members who scan the area for these creatures. (9/12)

Astronaut Gave 'Gravity' Advice to Sandra Bullock From Space (Source: Collect Space)
Cady Coleman had just finished watching Sandra Bullock in the "The Blind Side" when the actress reached out to her for advice. Coleman, a self-described fan, had never met or spoken to Bullock before and so the contact in the spring of 2011 came out of the blue, or more appropriately, the blackness of outer space.

A veteran NASA astronaut, Coleman was about two-thirds of her way through a 5-month stay aboard the International Space Station at the time. Bullock, meanwhile, was set to portray an astronaut in director Alfonso Cuarón's movie, "Gravity" (opening in theaters on Oct. 4). (9/13)

On its 55th Birthday, NASA Marks Milestones (Source: Washington Post)
From Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, to the heady days of the Apollo program to Voyager 2's shots of a sea-blue planet Neptune to traversing Mars via the rover Curiosity, NASA has much to celebrate as it marks its 55th birthday. The space agency has seen many changes -- and explored new corners of the solar system -- over those years. (9/12)

KSC Tech Transfer Event Attracts Businesses (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast worked with Kennedy Space Center to organize a Tech Transfer Forum on Thursday in Cocoa Beach. About 100 people from small businesses, contractors, NASA, economic development offices, and universities attended the gathering. Among other things, KSC provided details on their Swamp Works programs, including python abatement and research into regolith properties and radiation protection. (9/12)

5 Things You Should Know About The Next Trip to the Moon (Source: Maxim)
It’s been nearly 40 years since mankind last investigated the moon’s surface, but thanks to the team at Moon Express, we may see a whole new era of lunar exploration. We talked to Bob Richards, co-Founder and CEO of Moon Express, to learn about their recently announced plans to visit the moon’s South Pole.

Richards and his company want to do more than just plant a boring old telescope up there - they want to assay the land and meet the locals, in hopes that the moon’s South Pole could be inhabited by future humans. Here are six facts about Moon Express’ mission that fall somewhere on the sci-fi scale between Star Wars and Sharknado. Click here.

Editor's Note: At a recent conference in Cocoa Beach, a NASA official mentioned that Moon Express is planning to conduct hover landing tests at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility in February 2014. (8/20)

Falcon 9 v1.1 Conducts Hot Fire Test Ahead of Cassiope Mission (Source:
SpaceX’s newly upgraded Falcon 9 v.1.1 has conducted its Hot Fire test – also known as a Static Fire – ahead of its debut mission to launch the Cassiope satellite into orbit. Launch from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex – 4 (SLC-4) at Vandenberg is currently targeting September 15, pending a Launch Readiness Review (LRR) and Range approval. (9/12)

Rockot Launch Clears Way for Long-Delayed ESA Mission (Source:
A Russian Rockot launch vehicle lifted off Wednesday with three small satellites for Russia's Gonets communications relay system, clearing the way for Europe's Swarm magnetic field research mission to begin launch preparations after more than a year of rocket-related delays.

ESA is shifting launches of most of its Earth observation satellites to the European Vega rocket after the Italian-led launcher completed two successful test flights in February 2012 and May 2013, but the space agency has three launch contracts with Eurockot beyond Swarm. (9/13)

STPSat-3 Delivered for Virginia Spaceport’s Fourth but Possibly Not Final Launch of 2013 (Source: Space News)
Following last week’s high-profile launch of a NASA Moon probe from Virginia’s Wallops Island, the launch facility is getting ready to send a second small satellite into orbit this year atop a converted intercontinental ballistic missile. The Orbital Sciences Corp.-provided Minotaur 5 rocket that launched NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft Sep. 6.

A smaller Minotaur 1 relying on solid-rocket motors from decommissioned Minuteman missiles for its initial boost is slated to launch in early November carrying an experimental U.S. Defense Department satellite recently delivered to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a state-run facility co-located with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. (9/12)

DARPA To Start Reusable Launch Vehicle Program (Source: Space News)
DARPA is about to start a program to develop a reusable first stage that could be used to launch medium-sized satellites for as little as $5 million each. Speaking at the AIAA Space 2013 conference here Sep. 12, Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said the agency would release a Broad Agency Announcement in the next few weeks for a program called Experimental Spaceplane, or XS-1.

An industry day for the program is planned for early October. “The goal of the program is to fly ten times in ten days, and to achieve Mach 10,” Melroy said. The XS-1 itself would not fly into orbit, but could carry an expendable upper stage to place payloads weighing up to 1,800 kilograms into orbit at a target price of $5 million per launch. The vehicle could also be used as a platform for hypersonics research.

Melroy’s presentation included several illustrations of potential XS-1 designs, all featuring wings. However, she said DARPA was not restricting the XS-1 program to winged designs. “The key is that it needs to be a reusable first stage,” she said. DARPA plans to pursue XS-1 in parallel with the existing Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is developing an air launch system designed to launch satellites weighing up to 45 kilograms for $1 million each. (9/12)

NASA, Honeywell Get Students Pumped Up for Back to School with FMA Live! (Source: NASA)
Students at Hardy Middle School in Washington, D.C., will start their school year off with a high-energy, hip-hop physics show Monday, Sept. 16, when FMA Live! Forces in Motion kicks off its 2013 schedule. The first show begins at 9 a.m. EDT.

Using live actors, hip-hop dance, music videos, interactive scientific demonstrations and video interviews with scientists and engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the FMA Live! show teaches Isaac Newton's Three Laws of Motion and Universal Laws of Gravity. The name of the show comes from Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Force = Mass x Acceleration. (9/12)

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