October 12, 2013

Regional Workshop Focuses on NSS Structure, Chapter Operations (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council hosted a Southeast Regional Workshop of National Space Society chapters from Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Chapter leaders discussed lessons learned and differences in how they operate and are structured, offering solutions for how they can be strengthened.

After the chapters discussion, the workshop focused on the NSS structure and how it works and doesn't work. The participants generally agreed that the NSS organizational structure is overly complex and should be simplified to improve NSS responsiveness and effectiveness. The concerns (and some recommendations) will be shared with the NSS board at their meeting next week.

Also participating in the meeting was Jim Kennedy, former director of Kennedy Space Center, who provided a briefing on current events in the space industry. Mr. Kennedy is a frequent lecturer on space and leadership, spending months every year on cruise ships enlightening tourists from around the world on the exciting new directions of our nation's space program. (10/12)

Four Finalists Identified for FSDC Bumper Award (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) Bumper Award, named after the first rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in 1950, is designed to recognize an individual or organization that has had the biggest impact on Florida's space industry, or a Floridian that has had the biggest national impact in space. The 2013 Bumper recipient will be selected from a list of finalists that were identified by a panel of nine FSDC member volunteers.

The 2013 finalists include (in alphabetical order): Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida; Dr. John Johnson; president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX; and Will Trafton, chairman of COMSTAC. The FSDC board of directors will now select the winner and present the award during an upcoming event before the end of the year. (10/12)

Atlas 5 Erected for MAVEN's Launch to Mars (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
United Launch Alliance on Friday began assembling the Atlas 5 rocket assigned to launch NASA's MAVEN mission in November and send the orbiter on a 10-month cruise to Mars to help decipher the red planet's thinning atmosphere. The Atlas 5's bronze first stage traveled from a storage building at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport to the Vertical Integration Facility at Complex 41 early Friday. (10/11)

The Villain in ‘Gravity’ Is Real (Source: New York Times)
The new movie “Gravity,” in which George Clooney and Sandra Bullock play astronauts adrift in space, has been variously praised as a riveting drama and criticized for scientific inaccuracies. But the phenomenon that sets the plot in motion is not a Hollywood fantasy. It is space junk, a very real villain.

The perils of debris in space has long been recognized. In 1978, Donald J. Kessler and Burton G. Cour-Palais published “Collision Frequency of Artificial Satellites: The Creation of a Debris Belt,” in which they explained, “Satellite collisions will produce a number of fragments, some of which may be capable of fragmenting another satellite upon collision, creating even more fragments.” (10/11)

Europe's Gravity-Mapping Satellite Faces Big Fall From Space (Source: NBC)
A European-built satellite built to map Earth's gravity like never before is about to fall victim to the planet's ever-present gravitational pull. The European Space Agency's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE for short, is nearly out of fuel and will make a nosedive to Earth this month after more than four successful years studying the planet's gravitational field.

GOCE runs out of fuel in the mid- to end of October time period. Two or three weeks after that, the spacecraft is expected to tumble to Earth. When the uncontrolled GOCE spacecraft plunges through the atmosphere, several pieces of the satellite will likely survive the ensuing fireball and reach the Earth's surface. But when and where that space debris will fall is not yet known. (10/12)

NASA's Jupiter Probe Wakes Up After Unexpected Snooze (Source: The Register)
NASA's Juno probe is back up and running after unexpectedly putting itself into a hibernating "safe mode" during its last orbit around Earth. "The spacecraft exited safe mode at 5:12 p.m. EDT earlier today," said the Southwest Research Institute. "The spacecraft is currently operating nominally and all systems are fully functional. The safe mode did not impact the spacecraft’s trajectory one smidgeon." (10/12)

Santa Maria Economic Forum Looks to the Future (Source: Santa Maria Times)
Friday’s conference at the Santa Maria Inn focused on innovations that will help business succeed in a world being rapidly changed by the high-tech revolution. Sponsored by the non-profit Economic Alliance of Northern Santa Barbara County, the event featured a variety of industry leaders who warned that the future is already here —and failure to embrace it could cause irreparable harm.

SpaceX is being closely watched in the region because of its potential impact on the regional economy. The Hawthorne-based SpaceX is a relatively new aerospace company started by Elon Musk, co-founder of the PayPal Internet payment system. SpaceX was incorporated in 2002. Musk also started Tesla car company, which some believe promises to revolutionize the electric-car industry.

Community leaders are watching the company closely, believing that SpaceX’s big plans could be a shot-in-the-arm for the regional economy. Rosen said SpaceX believes a “rapidly and completely” reusable rocket is the breakthrough needed to dramatically reduce the cost of going into space. He also said that by 2015, SpaceX plans to launch at least six times from Vandenberg. (10/12)

California Space Enterprise Center Offering Discount Membership to SEDS Students (Source: PR.com)
The California Space Enterprise Center (CSEC) has formed an alliance with Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) to offer discounted memberships with Green2Gold and Space Entrepreneurship. SEDS members now have the opportunity to purchase memberships for only $99 per year, compared to the usual $350 for a full year membership. (10/12)

Spaceflight Experts Work on Alternate Vision for Mars Trips (Source: NBC)
While NASA works on a multibillion-dollar, decades-long space exploration plan that relies on monster rockets, an informal cadre of engineers is laying out a different vision that would take advantage of cheaper, smaller spacecraft that can fuel up at "truck stops" along the way.

Right now, the alternate vision, known as the "Stairway to Mars," is little more than an engineering exercise. But the plan's proponents on the Space Development Steering Committee say their scenario for Mars missions in the 2030s may have a better chance of becoming a reality than NASA's scenario. Click here. (10/12)

Workers Furloughed in Shutdown Stay in Loop (Source: Wall Street Jounal)
When he is working, Dave Lavery is NASA's program executive for solar-systems exploration, examining what the Mars rover Curiosity sees through its robotic eyes. But when the government shut down, he wasn't allowed to do anything. No government emails, phone calls or work using NASA's research websites, which all went dark. When the shutdown took effect, officialdom made it clear: If you work while you are furloughed, you face suspension, dismissal, fines and/or jail time.

Yet as soon as government agencies went dark, underground workarounds sprouted like mushrooms. The longer the shutdown has lasted, the more it seems that the government didn't really shut at all. Personal emails and cell numbers serve as the new superhighway for work on the sly. Federal workers on shutdown day circulated their Google mail addresses and home phones to colleagues and contacts. More brazen types put that information right into the "out of office" message they posted on their government email accounts.

Some workers circumvent furlough rules as "a kind of defense mechanism," said David Costanza, an organizational psychologist in Washington. The most idealistic, he said, "don't really care about not getting paid—they care about not being important." (10/12)

Editorial: The Myopia Problem (Source: Spaceflight Insider)
It is the year 3013, one thousand years into the future. Looking up into the night sky, you see a crescent Moon that is crisscrossed by a sparkling web of city lights. Millions of people are routinely working, living, and playing on the Moon. Billions live on Mars. Many would agree that such a bright, promising future is probable. Some would contend that it is inevitable. What cannot be argued is that it is impossible, for we have already slipped the surly bonds of Earth.

The question is “when,” rather than “if.” We don’t need to wait a millennium in order to get started. Fundamental new breakthroughs in physics are not required. Just as the hang glider and sailplane could have been developed and refined hundreds or thousands of years ago, we already have the needed technology to begin pioneering exploration of the Moon and Mars. (10/12)

SpaceX Realign Next Two Falcon 9 Missions (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
SpaceX have opted to slip their next two missions, to allow for corrective work on the upper stage engine. The company’s Falcon 9 v1.1 is now set to launch with the SES-8 spacecraft no sooner than November 12, with the Thaicom-6 satellite set to follow just one month later. Both launches will take place from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40 launch complex.

The debut launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 successfully deployed Canada’s Cassiope spacecraft into orbit on September 29. However, after safely deploying its payloads, the upper stage was then set to restart its Merlin VacD engine for a second burn related to SpaceX’s ambitions to create a fully reusable launch system. An anomaly with the restart held no mission impact, but the company’s CEO and chief designer, Elon Musk, did note they expected to implement corrective actions ahead of the next launch. (10/11)

Ten Years of Chinese Astronauts (Source: Space Daily)
On October 15, 2003, Chinese Air Force pilot Yang Liwei became the first Chinese citizen to fly in space. His mission on the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft lasted roughly one day and featured live television from orbit. The flight of Yang Liwei was another important event in the history of spaceflight. It also had a profound impact in other areas of life on Earth. As we pass the decade mark for Yang's mission, it's worth exploring how China's astronaut program has affected us. Click here. (10/11)

Plan Maps Development of China's Sat-Nav Industry (Source: Space Daily)
China's State Council, or Cabinet, has approved a mid and long-term plan for the development of its satellite navigation industry. By 2020, when China is expected to expand its home-grown regional BeiDou Navigation Satellite System to global coverage, the industries' annual product will hit 400 billion yuan ($65.11 billion), under the plan.

The BeiDou system will have about 800 million users by then, predicted a white paper released by the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location Based Service Association of China on Sep. 24. The system and its compatible products will receive general acceptance in the national economy's key sectors and fields, and will be promoted in the mass market by 2020, said the plan. (10/11)

Martian Settlement Site to be Printed on a Printer (Source: Space Daily)
The first human settlers on Mars will use a 3D printer to print dwellings, greenhouses and even cutlery, in short, all they will need to live on the Red Planet. In the process, they will use the raw materials that are available over there. The Mars Foundation noncommercial organization has shared plans to that end. But experts point out that one shouldn't overestimate the potential of 3D printers. (10/11)

Russia May Build Own Space Station After 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia may build its own space station with International Space Station (ISS) units after 2020 if the ISS partners choose not to extend the project and there is political will to do so, a source from the national space industry said. "A new orbital station of Russia is under consideration. Apart from doing research, it will assemble interplanetary expedition complexes for missions to the Moon, Mars and Lagrangian points," he said.

The Multirole Laboratory Module (MLM) is supposed to be connected to the ISS in 2014 although "the project has been experiencing certain problems," he said. "This is a landmark module for Russia's manned program. We will create a node unit with a service life of 30 years in 2014-2015. The MLM, two research and power modules, the node and, possibly, the ISS service module will make up a national orbital station to operate during the period from 2020 until 2040," the source said. (10/11)

Russian Booster 'Not the Culprit" in Antelope Deaths (Source: Space Daily)
The Kazakh government does not link recent kills of saiga antelopes to the launch activity at the Russian spaceport of Baikonur in central Kazakhstan. According to Kazakhstan's Environment Minister Nurlan Kapparov, the antelopes died from a bacterial disease that has nothing to do with the toxic fuel burned by Russian space boosters. (10/11)

Ukraine Targets 50 Percent Increase in Space Industry by 2017 (Source: Space Daily)
The Ukrainian government aimed to increase local space industry output by 50 percent over the next five years through closer cooperation with investors, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said. "We are setting up a program to implement research and development projects in the space industry on the basis of public-private partnerships," Azarov told a cabinet meeting.

Ukraine planned to attract about 182.5 million U.S. dollars from private investors for the program, Azarov said, adding 140 million dollars would be allocated from the state budget. Goals outlined in the program included creation of a local geo-information system and a national satellite communication network, as well as spacecraft building, the premier said. (10/11)

Space 'Graveyard' Reveals Bits of an Earth-Like Planet (Source: Space Daily)
Astronomers have autopsied a distant, broken apart planet and revealed signs of water and a rocky surface together for the first time, delighting scientists on the hunt for alien life. In a planetary system some 150 light years away, the right conditions for life appear to have once existed, and planets like Earth may have orbited a star known as GD 61, British astronomers reported in the journal Science. (10/11)

Space Tourism: KSC Visitor Complex Offers Annual Pass Deals (Source: KSCVC)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has begun offering a new three-tiered annual pass program that allows guests to customize their experience at the must-see Central Florida destination. Click here. (10/11)

Blue Origin Now Employs 300, Gearing Up for Commercial Operations (Source: Geek Wire)
Blue Origin, the Seattle-based space venture backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has been quietly working for the past 13 years on development and testing of its New Shepard rocket. On Friday, Bezos said that the company is now up to 300 employees and is inching closer to commercial operation. The 49-year-old Amazon founder was speaking at the grand opening of the Bezos Center of Innovation at The Museum of History & Industry in Seattle.

“The project is going extremely well,” Bezos said of Blue Origin. “It’s a killer team of passionate, highly-technical people working on this.” Blue Origin is now working on its third version of the New Shepard, which is designed to take everyday people on suborbital journeys. Bezos said that he’s hopeful that this will be the last iteration, and he wants to see the next vehicle ready for commercial operation.

Bezos didn’t give any specific timetables. However, he did say that Blue Origin’s orbital vehicle, designed to send astronauts to the International Space Station and elsewhere, will be tested by 2018. Eventually, the goal is to let anyone fly up into space safely at reasonable prices. “That’s the mission,” Bezos said. (10/11)

Astronauts Helped Establish the Corvette as America’s Sports Car (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Shortly after returning from his historic flight to space in 1961, Alan Shepard got a surprise gift from General Motors -- a dazzling white 1962 Chevrolet Corvette. The gift would spark a budding relationship between NASA astronauts and the automaker, and experts say the association helped to define the Corvette as the iconic American sports car.

But the astronauts might not have settled on the Corvette had it not been for Florida Chevrolet dealer Jim Rathmann, who also won the Indianapolis 500 in 1960. According to General Motors, Rathmann saw the astronauts as the perfect pitchmen for the sports car. He worked out an arrangement with Chevrolet that put six of the Mercury astronauts behind the wheel of a Vette for a single dollar. (10/11)

Boeing, Raytheon Awarded Final FAB-T Preproduction Contracts (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force has awarded the two final preproduction contracts, worth about $4.6 million combined, for a hotly contested military satellite communications terminal project. Boeing and Raytheon are developing competing Family of Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T), which would enable the president to communicate with the national command authority in the event of a nuclear war. (10/11)

Govt. Shutdown Cancels Tampa-Based Geospatial Event, Rescheduled for 2014 (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) has rescheduled its 10th annual Geoint Symposium for April 14-17 in Tampa, Fla., the organization said Oct. 11, raising the prospect of two such events being held next year. The announcement comes three days after the organization pulled the plug on this year’s event, which had been scheduled for Oct. 13-16 in the same Tampa venue, due to the U.S. government shutdown. (10/11)

Skybox Imaging's Hopes High as Launch of First Satellites Draws Near (Source: Space News)
Skybox Imaging executives gathered Oct. 9 in the company’s parking lot here to see the startup imagery provider’s first satellite boxed up for its journey to the Yasny launch site in Russia, where it is scheduled to lift off Nov. 21 on a Russian Dnepr rocket.

The executives clearly were pleased to reach that milestone more than five years after the firm’s founders originally set their sights on sending a robotic spacecraft to the Moon to compete for the multimillion-dollar Google Lunar X Prize. The financial crisis quickly squelched those dreams and persuaded the crew of four Stanford University graduate students to look for new markets that could benefit from emerging space and information technologies.

“We talked to folks who used satellite-based data,” said Dan Berkenstock, Skybox executive vice president and chief product officer. “What we came across was a hunger to move commercial Earth observation and remote sensing beyond mapping to subscription analytics and data streams.” (10/11)

Russians Discover Kilometer-Wide Near-Earth Asteroid (Source: RIA Novosti)
A near-Earth asteroid about a fifth the size of the space rock thought to have killed the dinosaurs has been discovered by a Russian-operated observatory in New Mexico. The kilometer-wide asteroid, dubbed 2013 TB80, was first spotted on Wednesday by the remotely run ISON-NM observatory and was later confirmed by US and Japanese astronomers, the International Astronomical Union said in an online statement. (10/11)

NASA Investigates Juno Spacecraft's "Safe Mode" (Source: Space.com)
NASA's Juno spacecraft remains in "safe mode" after approaching the Earth on Wednesday. The Jupiter probe put itself in safe mode 10 minutes after a flyby of Earth to boost its speed. "So we're looking at that data, and we're starting to develop a plan to bring the spacecraft back into operational status," said Rick Nybakken, project manager. (10/10)

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