September 9, 2013

Spaceport America Awaits Liftoff (Source: Space Review)
The state of New Mexico placed a $200-million bet on the commercial space industry by developing Spaceport America. Jeff Foust visits the facility as it waits for its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, to begin launches from the desert spaceport. Visit to view the article. (9/9)

In Praise of the Eastern Range (Source: Space Review)
The Eastern Range, which includes the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, has a bad reputation in some quarters of the space industry for being expensive and difficult to use. Edward Ellegood argues that reputation is largely undeserved, thanks to changes in the way the range does business over the last decade. Visit to view the article. (9/9)

Revisiting "Space: The Next Business Frontier" (Source: Space Review)
Remember when Lou Dobbs was the prophet of space profits? Jeff Foust dusts off a 12-year-old book written by the business media personality and founder, and compares Dobbs's views and predictions about the commercial space industry with what has transpired since. Visit to view the article. (9/9)

Outgoing NASA Deputy Reflects on High-profile, Big-money Programs (Source: Space News)
When NASA’s then-brand new administrator, Charles Bolden, and his deputy, Lori Garver, addressed the agency’s rank and file for the first time since their July 17, 2009, swearing in, it was clear that big changes were afoot. The space shuttle was on its way out. Meanwhile, a blue-ribbon panel appointed by President Obama was taking a hard look at plans drafted by his predecessor — and approved by Congress — to replace the shuttle with vehicles that would return U.S. astronauts to the Moon.

What nobody, including Garver, knew at the time was that she would quickly become the face of the resulting changes, unveiled the following winter, and as such a lightning rod for those who opposed them. In that debut address, Bolden offered reassurance that the review of the Moon-bound Constellation program was “not something to fear.” But many NASA employees were indeed fearful, and some actively rebelled. Click here. (9/9)

Mexican Telecom Selects Atlas V for Commercial Launch (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Lockheed Martin has been selected by the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, a government agency of Mexico, to provide commercial launch services using the Atlas V launch vehicle for Mexico’s Morelos-3 communications satellite (also known as MEXSAT-2). The launch is scheduled to occur as early as 2015 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (9/9)

GAO: SLS Will Cost $7 Billion in Next 5 Years (Source: Space Policy Online)
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today reveals that DOD and NASA plan to spend a total of about $44 billion on space launch activities over the next 5 years and $7 billion of that is for developing NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). This report presents data on how much DOD and NASA plan to spend in FY2014-2018 on procurement and on research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) related to launch vehicles and services.  It makes no recommendations. (9/9)

Meteorite Contains Surprising Molecules (Source: Science News)
A space rock that lit up the California sky last year has given scientists an unprecedented look at the complex chemistry that probably took place during the solar system’s infancy. Meteorites similar to this one likely delivered the raw materials to Earth that assembled into the molecules of life.

Scientists have been analyzing pieces of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite since it burst apart over northern California on April 22, 2012. When chemist Sandra Pizzarello and colleagues melted away some minerals with acid, a plethora of sulfur- and oxygen-containing organic compounds were left behind, several of which have never been identified in meteorites before. (9/9)

Florida Airport Gets Hubble Telescope Replica for Display (Source: Independent Alligator)
Rescued a month before it was scheduled to be scrapped, a Hubble replica from NASA JSC facility is now being bolted back together at an airport about 40 minutes from Gainesville. The disassembled walls of a metal cylinder, about 6-feet high, stand alongside a Keystone Heights Airport landing strip. How the pieces got there is a story Robert Oehl enjoys telling. Oehl, the director of Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum based at the airport, said the equipment was found outside of a NASA storage unit in Houston. Click here. (9/9)

Strike Ends at ALMA Telescope (Source: AP)
The world's largest radio telescope is resuming operations after workers decided to end a 17-day strike. The installation known as the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array is to reopen Monday because workers reached an agreement with Associated Universities Inc., which employs the Chilean staff. The agreement includes reduced work hours and a bonus for high altitude work. The observatory known as ALMA is located on a remote plateau above Chile's Atacama desert some 16,400-feet (5,000-meters) above sea level. (9/9)

Giant Digital Camera Probes Cosmic ‘Dark Energy,’ the universe’s Deepest Mystery (Source: Washington Post)
With the whir of a giant digital camera, the biggest mystery in the universe is about to become a bit less mysterious. Fifteen years ago, the world of science was rocked by the discovery that, contrary to our notions of gravity, distant galaxies appeared to be flying apart at an ever-accelerating rate.

The observation implied that space itself was stretching apart faster and faster. It was akin to watching a dropped ball reverse course, speed upward and disappear into the sky. The discovery made many cosmologists — the scientists who probe the very nature of nature itself — acutely uncomfortable. For either our understanding of gravity is cockeyed, or some mysterious repulsive force — quickly and glibly dubbed “dark energy” — permeates the universe. Click here. (9/9)

Do You Have the Right Stuff to be a Space Tourist? (Source: CNN)
Check out this CNN interactive quiz to see if you have what it takes to be a space tourist. (Hint: A ton of money helps.) Click here. (9/9)

Job Openings at Virgin Galactic as Countdown to Space Tourism Begins (Source: The National)
The countdown has started for the launch of the Abu Dhabi-backed Virgin Galactic shuttle as a huge recruitment drive gets under way. Scores of eager jobseekers lined up at Virgin Galactic's spaceport in Mojave, California this weekend for a recruitment fair two days after the company carried out its second successful test flight.

Job hunters started queuing at the Mojave Air and Spaceport at 6.30am on Saturday, half an hour before the doors for the career fair opened at 7am. People unable to attend in person were able to log on to a virtual fair. There are currently about 100 openings advertised on Virgin Galactic's site. The business is hiring engineers, facilities managers and safety officers as well as workers in finance, administration and human resources. (9/9)

Startups Developing DIY, Open Source Spaceflight Technology (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
Backyard stargazers dreaming of launching themselves into space will like the direction that modern spaceflight is taking: a hands-on, do-it-yourself approach is emerging to fill the gaps behind large commercial companies such as SpaceX, which in turn inherited the low-Earth orbit role from NASA. “Right now anyone can design their spacecraft from their home, and with their friends from their homes,” said Darlene Damm, co-founder of DIYRockets.

A space company that wants to build an “open space frontier,” DIYRockets teamed up earlier this year with Sunglass, a company that builds online collaboration platforms, to create the 3D Rocket Challenge, a contest with a $5,000 prize for the winning team. The goal: design a 3D-printed rocket engine capable of carrying nano-satellites into space, but only using open-source technology. Click here. (9/9)

Wallops Moon Mission is One Giant Leap for Region (Source:
It was one small step for space exploration, but it was one giant leap for the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula and the untold numbers of people who wandered out of their homes shortly before midnight Friday to see what all the fuss was about.

Officials said the launch of a robotic lunar mission from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and NASA Wallops Flight Facility represented many firsts for NASA, Orbital Sciences Corp. and Virginia. Friday’s launch added one more — it lifted off on the first try. Click here. (9/9)

Mars One: The psychology of Isolation, Confinement and 24-Hour Big Brother (Source: Guardian)
Since April, thousands of people have applied to take a one-way trip to Mars. Following further stages of selection and training, the plan is for the first four astronauts to lift off in 2022. After a seven-month journey they will settle permanently on the red planet to conduct scientific experiments and do whatever it takes to survive. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be able to watch their lives unfold on reality TV.

The Mars One program is daring but is it realistic? NASA is sceptical about a private one-way mission and instead plans to send more rovers followed by a manned return mission sometime in the 2030s. Others have questioned Mars One's business model, technical feasibility and the health risks posed by radiation. Click here. (9/9)

Japan Sets New Launch Day for Epsilon Debut (Source: JAXA)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) decided to postpone the launch of the first Epsilon Launch Vehicle (Epsilon-1) with the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A) onboard on August 27 from the Uchinoura Space Center. As a result of our cause investigation of the postponement and re-examination of the Epsilon-1, the new launch date will be September 14, 2013 (Japan Standard Time) or later. (9/9)

NASA Awards Astrotech Contract for MMS Satellite Processingn (Source: SpaceRef)
Astrotech Space Operations has received a NASA contract to provide facilities and pre-launch processing services for the Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission to launch in late 2014. Comprised of four identical satellites, MMS is the first mission awarded under the previously announced $9.1 million NASA Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract with Astrotech Space Operations-Florida. (9/9)

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