October 10, 2013

Texas School Adds Robotics with NASA Grant (Source: Public Opinion)
Robotics kits, laptops, iPads and other STEM-friendly technology will come to Corpus Christi School in Texas, thanks to a $5,000 grant from NASA. The funds, aimed at boosting science, technology, engineering and math learning, also will send educators to a conference to help them understand how to better mesh robotics with the overall curriculum. (10/8)

Some NASA Missions Stalled in Shutdown (Source: Nature)
The James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and the US–Japanese Global Precipitation Measurement program all are examples of NASA missions that are grounded through the government shutdown. While some space work continues, such as the Mars rover Curiosity, other NASA missions in the testing and study phase are on hold. (10/8)

Bolden Responds to Wolf's Latest Concerns on China (Source: Space Policy Online)
"It is unfortunate that potential Chinese participants were refused attendance at the upcoming Kepler Conference at the Ames Research Park. Mid-level managers at Ames, in performing the due diligence they believed appropriate following a period of significant concern and scrutiny from Congress about our foreign access to NASA facilities, meetings and websites, acted without consulting NASA HQ."

"Upon learning of this exclusion, I directed that we review the requests for attendance from scientists of Chinese origin and determine if we can recontact them immediately upon the reopening of the government to allow them to reapply. Any of them applying and meeting the clearance requirements in place for foreign citizens will be accepted for participation in the Conference." (10/10)

Space Flight Academy Earns Top Nonprofit Honor (Source: Bloomberg)
Virginia Space Flight Academy has announced that it has been honored with a prestigious 2013 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. “We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2013 Nonprofit,” said Nancy Marasco, executive director at Virginia Space Flight Academy. (10/10)

Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Dies (Source: Space News)
Scott Carpenter, whose flight into space in 1962 as the second American to orbit the Earth was marred by technical glitches and ended with the nation waiting anxiously to see if he had survived a landing far from the target site, died on Thursday in Denver. He was 88 and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America’s original space program, Project Mercury. His death leaves John Glenn as the last survivor of the Mercury 7. (10/10)

Alabama: Where Rockets are Born (Source: Business Alabama)
The United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur is a one-of-a-kind facility where virtually all of the rockets leaving the U.S. are born — whether they’re destined for the military or weather watching or other scientific missions. ULA is a 50-50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, created in 2006 and headquartered in Denver. But most of its manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are in Decatur.  Click here. (10/10)

A Space Race, But On Russia's Terms (Source: US News)
In order to maintain its space superiority, the United States currently relies on Russian technology – so much so, in fact, that every once in a while American claims to space superiority seem rather hollow. This state of affairs has been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks.

On August 27, Russia Today reported that the Security Council of the Russian Federation was considering an export ban of the venerable RD-180 rocket engine. This engine is sold exclusively to the U.S. launch firm United Launch Alliance to power its Atlas V rocket. The vehicle is considered by many industry insiders, analysts and casual observers to be the workhorse, regularly contracted to lift NASA and military payloads into orbit.

The noises out of the Kremlin are nonetheless significant, intended as they are to remind the United States that it maintains its access to space at Russia's pleasure. It's a reminder worth heeding. In the aerospace industry, politics has often trumped cooperation, and this could very well be the case today – a reflection of the sorry state of bilateral ties between Moscow and Washington that prevails currently. (10/9)

Group Proposes Florida Pathfinder Mission for Space Tourism (Source: IFG)
InterFlight Global (IFG), a Miami-based aerospace company, has partnered with Starfighters Aerospace at KSC to conduct a Space Tourism Point-to-Point Pathfinder mission using Starfighters' supersonic F-104 to mimic the flight profiles of multiple space tourism vehicles at multiple Florida spaceports, including NASA KSC, Cecil Field in Jacksonville, and Space Coast Regional Airport.

"The project will involve regulatory agencies, spaceport operators and spaceflight companies in a comprehensive exercise to identify, understand and resolve operational and regulatory challenges that face the suborbital space tourism industry," said IFG President Oscar Garcia. "These challenges exist in every state, but with this project only Florida will have the confidence to say that it has taken the necessary steps to overcome them."

Using funds provided to Space Florida for "space tourism marketing", the project would allow the state and its spaceports to market themselves as "open for business." In addition to space tourism, the project would promote the development of a point-to-point suborbital transportation industry for high value cargo like transplant organs, and test future approaches for space traffic management. Click here. (10/9)

Lonely Planet Found Without a Star (Source: University of Hawaii)
An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui. Follow-up observations using other telescopes in Hawaii show that it has properties similar to those of gas-giant planets found orbiting around young stars. And yet PSO J318.5-22 is all by itself, without a host star. (10/9)

Neptunian Moon Recovered in Hubble Images (Source: Space Today)
A tiny moon of Neptune not seen since its discovery by Voyager 2 nearly a quarter-century ago has been found by astronomers examining Hubble images, but in an unexpected location. Astronomers analyzed archival images of Hubble in an effort to detect the planet's small innermost moon, Nereid, not seen since it was discovered in images taked by Voyager 2 during its flyby of Neptune in 1989. They were able to find it in eight images of Neptune taken in 2004, using new techniques to surpress the glare from Neptune that made the moon hard to see. (10/9)

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