September 15, 2013

Fireballs on Jupiter (Source: Europlanet)
The giant planet Jupiter -- a big target with tremendous gravitational attraction -- gets hit far more often than the Earth, and these collisions are much faster, happen at a minimum speed of 60 kilometers per second. Amateur astronomers observing Jupiter with video cameras have been able to observe three of these collisions in the last 3 years. “Our analysis shows that Jupiter could be impacted by objects around 10 meters across between 12 and 60 times per year,” Hueso says. “That is around 100 times more often than the Earth.” (9/13)

Japan's Epsilon Rocket Launches Into Space (Source:
Japan's brand-new Epsilon rocket soared into space Saturday (Sep. 14) in a debut launch that carried a novel satellite into orbit to gaze at Venus, Mars and Jupiter. The three-stage Epsilon rocket launched into orbit at 2 p.m. Japan Standard Time from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan after a three-week delay due to a technical glitch. The rocket is designed to lower the cost of space launches by using automated systems to perform its own health checks instead of relying on human operators. (9/15)

Embry-Riddle Students Develop Autonomous Perimiter Security Vehicle (Source: ERAU)
A team of Embry-Riddle students and faculty has successfully tested a fully autonomous perimeter-patrol system at Daytona Beach International Airport, believed to be the first use in the United States of a self-guiding ground vehicle for airport security. Without remote control or other human involvement, a Ford Escape Hybrid equipped with a GrayMatter Autonomous Vehicle System employed GPS and a scanner with 64 lasers to identify its position and its environment. (9/12)

Antares/Cygnus Launch Delayed in Virginia (Source: RIA Novosti)
The debut launch of the commercial Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) was delayed for at least one day. Cygnus was to be launched atop an Antares rocket on Tuesday, from a launch pad in Wallops Island, Virginia. The new tentative liftoff time is between 14:50 and 15:05 GMT on Wednesday, September 18.

"The combination of yesterday’s poor weather that delayed rollout of the rocket to the launch pad and a technical issue that was identified during a combined systems test held last night involving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer drove the decision to delay the launch," Orbital said. (9/15)

Falcon-9 Delayed in California, New Launch Date ‘To Be Decided’ (Source: Lompoc Record)
The Falcon 9 rocket won’t make its West Coast debut this weekend, because crews need to assess glitches spotted during a critical test at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Late Thursday night, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the static fire test occurred earlier in the day at Space Launch Complex-4 East on South Base. The test involved firing the nine engines on the rocket’s first stage while Falcon remained affixed to the ground. (9/15)

Boeing's CST-100 Completes Interface Test at JSC (Source: America Space)
Boeing recently tested systems that will be used on Boeing’s Commercial Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft. The interface test was conducted between Mission Control Center (MCC) and software which will be used on Boeing’s commercial offering. The tests were conducted at JSC in Houston. As it currently stands, the CST-100 is on target to meet all of the 20 milestones laid out before it under NASA’s Commercial Crew integrated Capability by summer of next year. (9/15)

ISS - The skies. The limits. (Source: Washington Post)
Long ago, in a dreamier era, space stations were imagined as portals to the heavens. In the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the huge structure twirled in orbit, aesthetically sublime, a relaxing way station for astronauts heading to the moon. It featured a Hilton and a Howard Johnson’s. The international space station of the 21st century isn’t quite as beautiful as that movie version, and it’s not a gateway to anywhere else.

It’s a laboratory focused on scientific experiments. Usually there are six people aboard. When they leave, they go back home, down to Earth. Three came home Wednesday, landing in Kazakhstan. The space station circles the planet at an altitude of about 250 miles. Faint traces of atmosphere exert a drag on it, so the station must be boosted regularly to stay in orbit. In the grand scheme of things, the space station simply isn’t very far away. The station has a phone number with a Houston area code.

Advocates for human space exploration insist that NASA must think bigger, developing missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, into deeper space — perhaps back to the moon, or to an asteroid, and certainly to Mars eventually. But NASA has been struggling for years to square ambitions with budgets. Space policy experts warn that, without a significant boost in budget, NASA will not be able to keep running the station and simultaneously carry out new, costly deep-space missions. (9/14)

Space Station’s Orbit to Be Raised Ahead of Crew Arrival (Source: RIA Novosti)
The orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) will be raised on Sunday by nearly one kilometer to ensure safe docking of a Russian spacecraft with new crew members, a spokesman for the Russian space agency said. Russia’s mission control center will adjust the ISS orbit by switching on thrusters of Europe’s Europe’s ATV-4 “Albert Einstein” resupply spacecraft currently docked with the station. (9/15)

Soyuz-2.1v Test Launch Put Off Until Year's End (Source: Interfax)
The first test launch of a Soyuz-2.1v light-class carrier rocket from the Plesetsk cosmodrome has been put off from the first part of October until the end of the year, a source at the cosmodrome said. "The launch has been postponed until nearer to the end of the year," he said. The first launch was initially set for the beginning of 2012, but was put off over an accident during land hot testing of the first stage. Reports said earlier that the launch could be carried out on October 10. (9/13)

India to Make New Second-Stage for GSLV (Source: Deccan Herald)
The high-level task team constituted to probe the August 19 failure of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-D5 (GSLV-D5) is yet to submit the final report on the reasons for the glitch, but the Indian Space Research Organization has decided to assemble a new second stage for the rocket. A senior ISRO official, while stating that the exact date for the launch of GSLV-D5 can only be set in November, added that the launcher would be launched into space in December, carrying the GSAT-14. (9/13)

NASA Employees in Huntsville Caught in Big Friday Federal Payroll Foul-Up (Source: Huntsville Times)
Some of NASA's 2,400 civil servants in Huntsville are waiting until Tuesday for the pay checks they should have gotten today. They were caught up a direct deposit payroll system snafu that affected about a dozen federal agencies. (9/13)

Florida Ranks High for Economic Recovery (Source: EFI)
Florida ranked No. 1 for Renewed Consideration Post-Recession by Area Development Magazine. This latest recognition is the second from the magazine this year, as Florida was awarded a Silver Shovel Award from Area Development earlier this summer. Over the last fiscal year, 172 companies have expanded in Florida creating 25,393 jobs with a total capital investment of more than $1.9 billion. (9/12)

School Board Weighs Aerospace Engineering Proposal to Serve Spaceport (Source: Brownsville Herald)
The Brownsville Independent School District is hoping the State Board of Education will agree that aerospace engineering should be offered as a CTE Program of Study in high schools statewide. CTE stands for Career and Technical Education, a new emphasis now that Gov. Rick Perry has signed House Bill 5 into law. On Tuesday, the SBOE will hold a public hearing on the new education law as a prelude to a week of meetings in Austin.

“In my conversations with the folks in Brownsville, something in the aerospace engineering realm naturally came up, considering the very real possibility that SpaceX will decide to come here.” SpaceX is considering development of a rocket launch facility near Boca Chica Beach to launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital vehicles. (9/14)

Billionaires' Battle for Historic Launch Pad Goes Into Overtime (Source: NBC)
A tug of war involving two billionaire-backed space ventures has forced NASA to put a hold on its plans to turn over one of its historic space shuttle launch pads to a commercial operator by the end of this month. Now it could take until mid-December for NASA to decide whether KSC's Launch Complex 39A should be given over to SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk; or Blue Origin, the company founded by's Jeff Bezos. Click here. (9/13) 

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