September 23, 2013

The 2013 Cosmo Power List (Source: Cosmopolitan)
Cosmo went to the women who upgraded our world this year and asked them their secrets to building and enjoying their power. Get inspired! Karen Nyberg, a NASA flight engineer/astronaut sent Cosmo her answers from the International Space Station. Click here. (9/23)

Looming Government Shutdown Worries Contractors (Source: Politico)
Defense firms, already reeling under sequestration, are now scrambling to prepare for a possible government shutdown, if a budget compromise is not reached by the Oct. 1 deadline. "In an industry that has been as hard-hit as the defense industry has been hit, first in the terms of the budget decline and now the adverse impact of sequestration ... and then you compound that with a furlough situation and a shutdown," said Elizabeth Ferrell. "It's just piling on to an already complicated financial situation." (9/23)

Dragon Capacity Changes Push Back Flight Date (Source: Aviation Week)
SpaceX's Dragon capsule will rendezvous with the International Space Station in 2014, not in December as planned, because of changes the company plans to make to the ship's carrying capacity. "We're developing a major upgrade to Dragon to triple the amount of science that we carry up and back," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. (9/23)

Zero2Infinity, a New Way for Space Tourism (Source: Space Safety)
Lluc Palerm, a young engineer and winner of the “$pace is Business” competition, currently works at Zero2Infinity, a Spanish start-up that is trying challenge Virgin Galactic and Space Expedition Corporation with an innovative idea on “space” tourism using stratospheric balloons. He wants to use high-altitude balloons to carry four passengers and two pilots to smoothly ascend to around 36km. Then they will experience a cruise of between one and two hours and descend with a guided parafoil. Click here. (9/23)

When Darkness Falls: the Future of the US Crewed Spaceflight Program (Source: Space Review)
The future of NASA's human spaceflight program remains uncertain as the agency, Congress, and others debate destinations and deadlines. Roger Handberg argues that, if the program is to have a future, it will require much different approaches to cooperation and funding than in the past. Visit to view the article. (9/23)

Commercial Crew Prepares for its Next Phase (Source: Space Review)
As three companies continue work on development of commercial crew transportation systems, NASA is preparing to release a call for proposals for the program's next phase. Jeff Foust reports on the status of the companies' work on crew transportation issues and the policy and budget issues the program is facing. Visit to view the article. (9/23)

Replacing the ISS (Source: Space Review)
While NASA has hopes of extending the life of the ISS to as late as 2028, eventually the station will need to be retired. Eric Hedman examines what kind of station, or stations, should replace it, who should build it, and how. Visit to view the article. (9/23)

Chinese Weather Satellite Successfully Launched (Source:
China launched a weather satellite Monday into a speedy perch over Earth's poles, beginning a three-year mission to provide Chinese meteorological authorities with imagery and data for incorporation into weather forecasts. The Fengyun 3C spacecraft blasted off aboard a Long March 4C rocket from the Taiyuan spaceport. The three-stage liquid-fueled launcher was supposed to boost the 4,850-pound satellite to a sun-synchronous orbit approximately 540 miles above Earth.

The Life and Death of Buran, the USSR Shuttle Built on Faulty Assumptions (Source: Ars Technica)
Just before dawn on the morning of Nov. 15, 1988, the mood at Baikonur, the Soviet Union’s launch site, was tense and businesslike. It was a cold morning marked by low cloud cover, a persistent drizzle, and warnings of gale force winds. Weighing the odds, Soviet space officials decided to take their chances. At 8:00am local time, exactly on schedule, Energiya roared to life and Buran took flight.

There’s certainly truth to reports that the Soviets copied the American shuttle, but the two vehicles aren’t identical. And while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, this wasn’t what the Soviets had in mind when they decided to build a space shuttle of their own.

Faced with the poorly understood threat of a military space shuttle, the Soviets decided that copying the American spacecraft exactly was the best bet. The logic was simple: if the Americans were planning something that needed a vehicle that big, the Soviets ought to build one as well and be ready to match their adversary even if they didn’t know exactly what they were matching. Click here. (9/22)

Explanation for Unusual Ring Formation in the Van Allen Radiation Belts (Source: SpaceRef)
Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts in 1958, space scientists have believed these belts encircling the Earth consist of two doughnut-shaped rings of highly charged particles -- an inner ring of high-energy electrons and energetic positive ions and an outer ring of high-energy electrons.

A team of scientists reported the surprising discovery of a previously unknown third radiation ring -- a narrow one that briefly appeared between the inner and outer rings in 2012 and persisted for a month. Scientists have successfully modeled and explained the behavior of this third ring, showing that the extremely energetic particles that made up this ring (ultra-relativistic electrons) are driven by very different physics than typically observed Van Allen radiation belt particles. Click here. (9/23)

Cygnus Delays ISS Berthing Following GPS Discrepancy (Source:
Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft was into the final leg of berthing with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning, prior to a discrepancy relating to the way the ISS and Cygnus determine GPS data. The fascinating issue can be fixed via an update to Cygnus’ software, allowing for a second rendezvous and berthing attempt no earlier than Saturday. (9/21)

XCOR and ULA Hit Milestone in Liquid Hydrogen Engine Program (Source: SpaceRef)
XCOR and ULA announced significant progress today in the XCOR/ULA liquid hydrogen (LH2) engine development program. "We are happy to announce that we have successfully operated our liquid hydrogen pump at full design flow rate and pressure conditions," said XCOR Chief Executive Officer Jeff Greason.

Conceived as a lower-cost, risk-managed program, the XCOR LH2 engine program is intended to produce a flight-ready cryogenic upper-stage engine in the 25,000 lbf thrust class with growth potential up to 50,000 lbf thrust or more. When complete, it should cost significantly less to produce and be easier to operate than competing rocket engine technologies. (9/23)

Curacao Plans for Space Travel in 2014 (Source: Guardian)
Commercial space travel could come to Curacao as early as 2014. Curacao Airport Holding managing director Maurice Adriaens announced the projected launch date for the ambitious project, during his presentation at the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which took place at the Curacao World Trade Centre from September 9-10.

The island of Curacao is tipped to host SXC’s second launchpad, the first being located in an Air and Space Port in the Mojave desert, United States. Spaceflight participants will be launched from the Curacao spaceport into suborbital space above the surface of the Earth and then safely looped back to Earth. (9/23)

Mission to Moon Will Boost Research and Awareness (Source: China Daily)
China could take advantage of its Chang'e-3 lunar exploration mission to boost international cooperation on space exploration and promote space education and awareness among the public, a leading expert from the U.S. said. Speaking on the sidelines of a Galaxy Forum workshop held in Beijing, Steve Durst said the sharing of imaging technologies would be key to such exchanges.

"We will use the ultraviolet lunar telescope aboard the Chang'e-3 to conduct astronomical imaging for educational purposes," he said, "and with an exchange in kind, researchers from China National Space Administration and National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences can use the ILO-X and ILO-1 instruments in 2015."

The ILO-X and ILO-1 are lunar telescopes that will go to the moon with a privately sponsored lunar lander in 2015, according to Durst, who initiated the Galaxy Forum events in 2008 to advance public awareness of space, particularly among students. (9/23)

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