September 16, 2013

Space and Nuclear Deterrence (Source: Space Review)
Can the lessons of decades of nuclear weapons deterrence be applied to the use of weapons in space? In an excerpt from a new collection of essays, Michael Krepon discusses what our experience from the Cold War could teach about preventing conflict in space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2367/1 to view the article. (9/16)

A Critical Time for Commercial Launch Providers (Source: Space Review)
Starting this week, three companies will be performing key launches of new or returning to flight rockets over the next few weeks. Jeff Foust reports on these upcoming launches and the stakes for these companies and their customers in government and industry. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2366/1 to view the article. (9/16)

Futures Lost (Source: Space Review)
One of the "what ifs" people ask about space history regards extending the Skylab program by flying its flight spare. Dwayne Day examines that while exploring a Skylab training mockup now on display in Huntsville. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2365/1 to view the article. (9/16)

Iran's Next Animal Astronaut: Persian Cat Considered for Launch (Source: CTV)
Iran's hunt for its next animal astronaut may turn to the distinctive and locally named Persian cat, an official said Monday, in another possible step by the country's ambitious aerospace program that has also raised Western concerns about spillover military applications.

The report by the official IRNA news agency comes seven months after Iran claimed it launched a monkey out of earth's atmosphere and successfully returned it home. The account, however, faced international questions after photos appeared to show different monkeys in pre- and post-launch images.

A senior space program official, Mohammad Ebrahimi, said at the time that state media mistakenly sent a photo of an alternate monkey that was not used in the February launch. He insisted just one monkey, Pishgam or Pioneer, was sent on the 20-minute flight to a height of 120 kilometres and returned safely. (9/16)

Professor Dreams Big With Hopes to Wrap a Rocket in Artwork (Source: Topeka Capital-Journal)
On the second floor of a house near Holliday Park, two artists were busy at work Thursday, sorting the hundreds of 2-foot by 2-foot cloth squares that filled their two-room studio. This small workspace is the unlikely headquarters of an art project of giant proportions — a plan to wrap a 365-foot-tall space rocket in artwork created by thousands of people from around the globe, mostly children.

The lead artist is Jennifer Marsh, a professor in Washburn University’s art department, whose past projects include a full-size, manmade tree bearing thousands of leaves made by people around the world. The tree now stands in the rotunda of a children’s museum in Alabama, where classes can sit and read beneath its colorful boughs.

Alabama is also where Marsh, who hails from Ohio but has spent the past few years at Washburn, got the inspiration for a years-long project to create a 32,000-square-foot wrap to surround a rocket at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The rocket is one of three remaining Saturn V's, the model used on Apollo missions to the moon. (9/15)

McAuliffe: A Virginia Commercial Space Transportation Governor in 2014? (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Virginia spaceport advocates are mounting a grassroots effort in the 2013 state gubernatorial election over the next month backing the candidacy of Terry McAuliffe. A space-themed lapel sticker and ad is appearing at venues across the state where space advocates gather. Virginia could be at the forefront of the commercial space business boom that is about to happen, but it will take having a governor that believes in the Space Coast of Virginia to make it a reality.

"Terry McAuliffe has already firmly placed himself as a supporter of the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport by making it part of his platform. He has even jokingly said that he wants to be "the first governor in space"! Though his words were meant to bring a laugh, his support for Virginia's future as a vital connection to space is genuine," notes McAuliffe supporter Jamie Favors of Williamsburg, Va.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has identified the necessity to continue an annual appropriation from the state's Transportation Trust Fund of $9.5-million (backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell) to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority as a high priority so the spaceport may expand commercial space launch capacity. (9/16)

Pad-Interface Anomalies, Range Conflicts Push Falcon 9 1.1 Launch to Late September (Source: Space News)
Anomalies discovered during a Sept. 12 hot-fire test, coupled with upcoming missile tests at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, have delayed the inaugural launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket to the end of September, the company’s chief executive said Sept. 15.

Following the hot-fire test, “we saw some anomalies stemming from how the pad interfaces with the vehicle,” SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin wrote in a Sept. 16 email. “These are the kinds of things you can only find out when you static fire.  We’re making the necessary adjustments and will static fire again for good measure before launch.” (9/16)

Probing Earth's Magnetic Field (Source: LaunchSpace)
The European Space Agency is preparing a new mission to study the Earth's magnetic field. Swarm will make use of high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength, direction and variations of the magnetic field, complemented by precise navigation, and accelerometer and electric field measurements. This approach will provide data essential for modeling the geomagnetic field and its interaction with other physical aspects of the Earth environment. (9/16)

Hypersonic Countdown (Source: Aviation Week)
An Australian team at the And√łya Rocket Range near the top of Norway is in the final preparation stages for launching Scramspace – one of the most novel air-breathing hypersonic free-flight experiments ever undertaken. The team will send the Scramjet-based Access-to-Space Systems (Scramspace) vehicle rocketing out of the atmosphere high over the Norwegian Sea. The $12.9 million three-year research project will culminate when the scramjet-powered craft powers back down through the atmosphere at a speed close to Mach 8.

Hurtling to a watery grave at around 2.4 km/second, Scramspace will pass through the experimental altitude zone between 19 and 16 miles in just over 2 seconds. While 2 seconds may not seem long, it is an eternity to hypersonic researchers who rarely have the opportunity for flight test. The scientists have amassed only around 30 seconds of total hypersonic run time over 23 years and 11,000 shock tunnel tests. (9/16)

Two Launches Set for Wednesday Along East Coast (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Wednesday will be a great day for watching rocket launches on the East Coast. ULA is set to launch the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency-3 (AEHF-3) mission aboard an Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The two-hour launch window opens at 3:04 am EDT.

Later that morning, Orbital Sciences Corp. is set to launch its Antares rocket and Cygnus freighter on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. The launch window opens at 10:50 am EDT and closes 15 minutes later. (9/16)

Skycorp Announces End of Life Servicing for Geostationary Satellites (Source: Space Safety)
On September 12, Skycorp Incorporated announced a new service to remove end of life geostationary satellites into graveyard orbits. The service, called SELTS for Spacecraft End of Life Service, is still some years off: construction of the SELTS spacecraft won’t begin until Skycorp receives ten reservations for the service. Click here. (9/16)

Editorial: Midcentury Life, on Mars (Source: Space.com)
Saturday, Aug. 31, marked the end of the application period for future astronauts hoping to catch a ride on a rocket to Mars. The project, known as Mars One, is a nonprofit foundation established with the eventual goal of using existing transportation and other technologies to arrive at and settle on Mars. Click here. (9/13)

SpaceX Launch Pushed to End of Month (Source: Waco Tribune)
Between the need for a second full-dress-rehearsal engine test and the other activities conducted on the U.S. Air Force's Western Range, SpaceX is now pushing the maiden launch of its Falcon 9-R rocket to the end of the month, company CEO Elon Musk said early Sunday.

A static fire test conducted Thursday was mostly successful but turned up some anomalies that SpaceX engineers wanted to iron out before attempting a launch of the heavily upgraded Falcon 9. The second test could come as early as Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, SpaceX rival Orbital Sciences has moved the demonstration launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo ship — competitor for International Space Station supply runs to SpaceX's Dragon — from Tuesday to Wednesday, after bad weather delayed the launch-pad rollout and a faulty cable was found and replaced. (9/15)

Epsilon: Third Arrow of Japanese Rockets (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Domestic rockets now have the capability to quickly launch small satellites, thanks to the successful first launch of the small solid-fuel Epsilon rocket. Relevant parties hope this “third arrow,” together with the large H-2A rocket and the even larger H-2B rocket, will lead to the acquisition of international contracts to launch satellites in a wide range of weights.

At a press conference following the Saturday launch, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency President Naoki Okumura emphasized that the Epsilon “will complement the H-2A and other rockets. We’ll use it for small, inexpensive satellite launches.” (9/16)

China, Others Made Space Progress Despite ITAR (Source: Aviation Week)
If U.S. restrictions on supplying space technology to China were meant to arrest the Asian giant's astronautical development, there is precious little sign of success. From a forthcoming family of advanced launchers to a manned space program, lunar exploration and an indigenous navigation system, China shows every indication of relentless progress in space. The same holds true for the other “BRIC” nations—Brazil, Russia and India—that have generally developed their space capabilities without U.S. help.

Clearly, China would like access to U.S. spaceflight capabilities, above all because most space technology has military as well as civil applications. But for the vast majority of space activities, its space industry is progressing very well, whatever the restrictions of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). ITAR “has not worked and it is counterproductive,” says Joan Johnson-Freese. “The rest of the world is perfectly willing to work with China, and China has advanced relatively far indigenously. What they cannot do, they can buy.” (9/16)

Success is In Sight for Commercial Launch Plan (Source: Florida Today)
A program hailed as one of NASA’s biggest successes will declare mission accomplished if an Orbital Sciences Corp. cargo freighter safely links up with the International Space Station this week. For less than $800 million in taxpayer funds, the agency’s partnership with Orbital and SpaceX has produced two new cargo spacecraft and two new rockets at a fraction of what traditional NASA-led developments would have cost, according to NASA’s own analysis.

Advocates say the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, or COTS, has forever changed the agency, proving private companies can deliver critical space systems more affordably under the right conditions. “No one will ever be able to say again that commercial approaches do not work for human spaceflight,” said Jim Muncy of PoliSpace, a space policy consultant. “And there were a lot of people who said it wouldn’t work.” (9/15)

Low-Budget Way to Send Your Stuff Into Space (Source: New Scientist)
Who needs a rocket to send things to space when you can use a balloon? That's the idea of Chris Rose and Alex Baker, who have set up a firm to do just that. Sent Into Space sells do-it-yourself kits to send objects up into the stratosphere. Click here. (9/16)

Scientists Discover Cosmic Factory for Making Building Blocks of Life (Source: Imperial College)
Scientists have discovered a 'cosmic factory' for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids, in research published today in the journal Nature Geoscience. The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced. These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface. (9/16)

Orbital Sciences Primed for First Cygnus Cargo Mission to Space Station (Source: America Space)
After many delays, Orbital Sciences stands ready to stage the long-awaited Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demonstration Mission—designated “ORB-D”—of its Cygnus cargo craft to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the two-stage Antares rocket, carrying Cygnus, was originally scheduled for 11:16 a.m. EDT on Sep. 17, after which the craft would have pursued a five-day independent flight to rendezvous with the multi-national outpost.

However, Orbital reported Saturday that it would postpone the launch “by at least 24 hours,” due to a combination of poor weather at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Va., during Antares’ rollout to Pad 0A and a technical issue which arose during a combined systems test Friday evening. (9/16)

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