September 4, 2013

Lockheed: Sequester Will Hit Hard Next Year (Source: Reuters)
If sequestration isn't halted, it will have a sharp effect in 2014 with possible program cancellations and delays, said Dale Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed's Mission Systems and Training division. "All the programs are on the table to be discussed" by the Pentagon, said Bennett, speaking at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit. "The programs that are performing will have a higher probability of proceeding forward." Some fear sequestration cuts could reduce the size of the Navy's planned Littoral Combat Ship order. (9/3)

NASA Helps Entrepreneurs Reach for Stars (Source: USA Today)
Chris Shiver's NASA-worthy business idea was born out of a near-disaster at his home in Austin. A flood came close to destroying his treasured scrapbooks and photos captured through 30 years of traveling the world. Though the crisis was averted, the threat set him on a years-long mission to design a storage container that could withstand any disaster.

"The bigger the pain, the bigger the opportunity," he thought at the time. That wouldn't be far from the truth. Three years ago, Shiver found himself in the daunting process of licensing intellectual property from NASA's Johnson Space Center. He hoped to test a theory: that the materials strong enough to protect the astronauts in a space shuttle could be fashioned into a box resistant to extreme heat and water.

But bureaucracy slowed him down; NASA didn't have a great way of vetting entrepreneurial ideas or an easy process to co-develop innovative products with outside industry. But then the stars began to align for Shiver. Late in 2012, the Houston Technology Center, a popular Houston start-up incubator, opened a satellite campus at the JSC for entrepreneurs with hopes of partnering with NASA. Texas classified the JSC as a research institution, providing state funding to entrepreneurs who conduct research with NASA's engineers. Click here. (9/3)

Ukraine to Send Batch of Rocket Fuel Component to Russia for Disposal (Source: Itar-Tass)
The last remaining batch of toxic rocket fuel component -- mixed acid -- kept at a storage base in Kharkov Region, will be transported away to Russia on Wednesday for disposal. A Ukrainian Defence Ministry official told Itar-Tass that 790 tonnes of mixed acid would be pumped into tanks in the grounds of Military Unit A-2136 in Shevchenko District, Kharkov Region. (9/4)

Space Tourism Will Open Up Next Space Frontier (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
While work is being done to update which technologies belong on the U.S. munitions list, right now, space tourism vehicles remain on this list. As we know, aircraft were used as weapons in the attack on the World Trade Center. Yet, we still travel by air. Exports of air craft are a bright spot in our manufacturing economy and it positively impacts our balance of trade. Reasonable people can see, the ITAR regime has not limited access by the bad guys to missile technologies. We have lost billions of dollars in trade because the US imposes ITAR export regulations on US companies. (9/4)

NASA Readies Lunar Mission, Invites International Participation (Source: Voice of America)
NASA is urging amateur astronomers worldwide to watch for lunar impacts during the LADEE mission. "There are impacts hitting the moon all the time, and we want to know what impact those impacts are having on the atmosphere and dust environment," said Sarah Noble.    

She added that even skywatchers who don't have telescopes powerful enough to spot lunar impacts can take part.  People with iPhones can download a free application called Meteor Counter, and when they observe meteorites here on Earth, they can share their observations with the space agency.  (9/4)

SpaceX to Conduct Texas Motor Test (Source: Waco Tribune)
SpaceX is planning to run a test at our rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas that will be significantly louder than the typical tests we run daily. This test will run from several seconds in duration up to one minute. The earliest possible date for the upcoming test is Wed., Sept. 4th. (9/3)

U.S. 'Space Fence' Radar System Goes Silent, After 50 Years (Source: NPR)
The Space Fence is down. The radar system tracked thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961. The Space Fence — also known by its formal name, the Air Force Space Surveillance System — consists of three transmitters and six receivers that stretch across the southern U.S., using radio waves to paint a picture of a slice of space.

The items it detected ranged from satellites and debris to meteors. Shutting down the system will save around $14 million annually, the Air Force Space Command said last month. The agency hopes to install a new version of the fence using technology that it says will be more accurate. (9/3)

Magellan Awarded $110 Million for RADARSAT Constellation Manufacture (Source: SpaceRef)
Magellan Aerospace Corporation (Magellan) announced today the award of a $110 million Cdn. contract from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) of Richmond, BC for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) satellite bus manufacture. The RCM is comprised of three low earth orbit spacecraft, each carrying a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload. (9/3)

Brazil Delays Stargazing Pact (Source: Nature)
In 2010, Brazil signed an agreement with ESO, becoming the organization’s first non-European member. Brazil’s membership fees would allow ESO to begin construction of its €1.1-billion (US$1.5-billion), 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). In return, Brazil’s small but growing cadre of astronomers would get access to ESO’s existing telescopes in Chile.

But the relationship has started to fray. Nearly three years after the agreement was signed, Brazil’s Congress still has not ratified it. The country has made nominal membership payments of €4 million a year, maintaining access to ESO tele­scopes for astronomers such as MelĂ©ndez, but has not coughed up its full entrance fees and annual dues, which are expected to total about €270 million over a decade.

ESO officials say that further delays will cause the nation to miss out on lucrative construction contracts for the ELT, which will be solicited by the end of this year. “The longer Brazil waits, the more it risks compromising the opportunity for Brazilian companies to be awarded such large contracts,” says Tim de Zeeuw, director-general of ESO at its headquarters in Garching, Germany. (9/3)

Dark Energy Survey Launches (Source: Nature)
High in the Chilean Andes, a massive project to probe the nature of dark energy has begun. The Dark Energy Survey (DES) launched on 31 August at the 4-metre Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. It is one of several new pushes to explore the physical properties of dark energy, the mysterious force that is driving the universe to expand at an ever-faster rate.

Over the course of five years, the DES will mLap 300 million galaxies over one-eighth of the night sky. Its backbone is a 570-megapixel digital camera (pictured, right), designed to capture sharp images of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Such high resolution is essential because the DES measures weak gravitational lensing, the phenomenon in which light from distant cosmic objects is subtly distorted by the gravity of matter between them and Earth. (9/3)

Hobbyists Tracked US Spy Satellites Leaked by Snowden (Source: New Scientist)
Topaz, Orion, Nemesis, Raven, Intruder. They sound like code names and they are. But the US spy satellites that they refer to – revealed as part of a leak by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden – were never much of a secret. In August, the Washington Post published a redacted version of the US Director of National Intelligence's $52.6 billion budget justification for 2013, leaked by Snowden.

It says such satellites were key in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden – and reveals the names for a bunch of them. But Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says enthusiasts, who track satellites with ground telescopes, already knew these ones existed, just not their names. "If you put a bright thing in the night sky, you can declare that it's a secret all you like, but people can still look up and see it," says McDowell. (9/3)

3 Managers Charged with $3.2 Million Embezzlement from Glonass (Source: RIA Novosti)
Three senior managers were charged with embezzling $3.2 million allocated for Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation program, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee said. The charges have been brought against George Kovkov, Deputy Director General of TsNIImash, the head research company of Russia's federal space agency; Alexander Chernov, chief of the company's Capital Projects Department; and Alexander Belov, Director General of one of the Federal Special Construction Agency's (Spetsstroy) departments.

Investigators claim that the total sum embezzled by the three suspects from the state budget totals 107 million ruble ($3.2 million) and they face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. The managers were involved in the construction of the Glonass satellite navigation system control and support center in Korolyov, a town outside Moscow. (9/3)

These People Want to Go to Mars (and Never Come Back) (Source:
Tens of thousands of people are prepared to leave their families, jobs and lives behind for a one-way trip to Mars. The Mars One mission aims to send humans on a one-way trip to the Red Planet. The mission aims to land the first Mars colonists on the planet by 2023. Applicants over the age of 18 from any country are eligible to apply, and Mars One has received more than 165,000 applications already. But what sort of person would go? Click here. (9/3)

Choice Looming Between ISS, Deep-Space Missions (Source: Space News)
The U.S. government must soon grapple with whether to keep operating the international space station (ISS), a $3 billion-a-year facility that will likely become less international the longer it flies. “This is kind of like a smoker’s cough: Nobody wants to pay attention to it,” John Logsdon said. “There’s clearly not enough money in the long-term outlook to do both a robust exploration program and continue to utilize and operate the space station at the $3 billion-a-year level,” Logsdon said.

On top of that, he said, “Europe and Japan are not enthusiastic about spending money on the space station post-2020. Their governments had to be dragged to commit funds for the extension to 2020.” Congress has authorized funding for ISS through 2020, but NASA wants to keep the station flying until 2028 or later. Program managers would like the White House, NASA and Congress to reach an accord about a post-2020 extension soon, as supporting investments for such a mission would have to begin as soon as 2015.

Meanwhile, Congress has directed NASA to build a heavy-lift Space Launch System and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to send astronauts on missions beyond Earth orbit. Like ISS, NASA is spending roughly $3 billion on those programs — still insufficient to develop hardware such as landing and ascent vehicles needed for planetary surface expeditions. (9/3)

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