October 14, 2013

The Case for Kerolox (Source: Space Review)
A recent report that the Russian government was considering a ban on exports of the RD-180 engine raised concerns in the US, given its use on the workhorse Atlas V rocket. Jeff Foust reports that, while such an export ban appears unlikely, some in government and industry are advocating development of a domestic engine that could potentially replace it. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2384/1 to view the article. (10/14)

Eyes of the Big Bird (Source: Space Review)
For decades, the development of the HEXAGON reconnaissance satellites was cloaked in secrecy, a veil only recently lifted by the NRO. Dwayne Day examines a new book by one of the key people involved in the HEXAGON program that offers a behind-the-scenes account of designing the most complex mechanical device ever flown in space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2383/1 to view the article. (10/14)

Testing the Neil deGrasse Tyson Effect (Source: Space Review)
Much of the general public thinks NASA's budget is much larger than it actually is, and as a result it shapes their willingness to support the space agency's activities. Alan Steinberg describes research he performed to see if adjusting the public's knowledge of NASA's budget increases their support for the agency. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2382/1 to view the article. (10/14)

CASIS Announces Winners for “What Would You Send to the ISS” (Source: CASIS)
The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has announced the winners from the crowdsourcing contest “What Would You Send to the ISS?” This contest was designed to stimulate public interest in the space station by soliciting ideas from the public to innovatively use the station’s National Lab for terrestrial benefit. The grand prize winner proposed a real-time auroral imaging project aboard the ISS. Click here for more on this and the runners-up. (10/14)

Profile of CASIS' New Executive Director (Source: Space News)
Formed in 2011 in response to a congressional call for an outside organization to manage non-NASA research aboard the U.S. side of the international space station, CASIS spent its first two years working through growing pains that included the resignation of its first executive director after just six months on the job, delays appointing a board of directors and a protracted search for a new executive director.

That search ended this summer with the hiring of two-time space shuttle pilot Gregory Johnson, who left NASA in August and started as CASIS executive director Sep. 1. “I did not expect to leave this soon,”  said Johnson, a 15-year veteran of the astronaut corps who piloted Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2011 on what was the program’s penultimate mission. Click here. (10/14)

Scott Carpenter and the Controversy Surrounding Aurora 7 (Source: Popular Science)
This past May, I went to Spacefest V in Tucson, Arizona, one of the few events where you’d do well to pay special attention to the elderly men you meet in the hall because they just might have walked on the Moon. The group of kids I saw barreling down the breezeway one afternoon in their haste to get to the pool certainly weren’t aware that a group of historic men were in the building. And neither were their parents.

The whole group was just careful to get past the elderly man on the motorized scooter without knocking into him. None of them gave him a second glance. That man was Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth. Carpenter only flew one mission, a relatively short three orbit Mercury flight on May 24, 1962. And the legacy that has persisted is one of an astronaut disobeying commands, putting the mission – and his own life – in jeopardy. But this is far from a fair assessment. There’s a lot more to the story. Click here. (10/14)

PhiLumina is Space Foundation's Certified Space Tech Partner (Source: SpaceRef)
The Space Foundation announces its newest Certified Space Technology(TM) Partner, PhiLumina, LLC, a company that specializes in imaging systems, software, services and solutions. PhiLumina's Mark Allen Lanoue was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2005 for his hyperspectral imaging systems. The Space Foundation manages both the Space Certification program and the Space Technology Hall of Fame to recognize products originally developed for space that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. (10/14)

'Gravity' Helps Spotlight Worst Real-World Space Disasters (Source: Huffington Post)
The gripping depiction of a space disaster in "Gravity" may be fictional, but the potential for death and destruction has long haunted the final frontier, said Allan J. McDonald, a NASA engineer who wrote "Truth, Lies and O-Rings." Here are the biggest real-life disasters in spacefaring history, as well as a few near-misses. Click here. (10/14)

Space Tourism: Disney Brings Avatar Expansion to Animal Kingdom Park in Florida (Source: CNN)
When James Cameron's box office smasher "Avatar" first hit theaters in 2009, fans couldn't stop raving about the special effects used to bring Pandora, the beautiful home of the blue-skinned Na'vi, to the big screen. Disney, which has stepped up to give visitors a real-life version of Pandora, just announced that Avatar land -- yet to receive an official name -- will open in 2017 at Walt Disney World Resort's Animal Kingdom. Click here. (10/14)

Bill for Federal Shutdown: Up to $8 Billion (Source: Defense News)
The federal shutdown may cost between $4 billion and $8 billion in closing and reopening costs, with the Pentagon accounting for an unknown portion of that, but a cost that's at least in the billions, say experts. One unknown: Whether federal workers now furloughed will eventually get paid for their time off the job, and how the government will deal with the backlog of unfinished work. "We know generally it creates inefficiencies, many more inefficiencies than a typical continuing resolution, and a continuing resolution is bad enough," said Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. (10/13)

With Sequestration-Level Budget, States See Federal Grants, Contracts Dry Up (Source: Dallas Morning News)
Sequestration cuts have taken a toll on states, where federal grants and contracts that flow to private companies, education and other sectors are disappearing. "Sequestration is having an adverse impact on our industry, making the future for defense spending more uncertain than ever," Bell Helicopter chief executive John Garrison said. (10/12)

Ares Institute Gets Kickstarter Support for LunarSail Project (Source: HobbySpace)
The Aerospace Research & Engineering Systems Institute, Inc. (Ares Institute), a non-profit organization on Florida’s famed Space Coast, is excited to announce the successful completion of the first phase of crowdfunding and conceptual development of a unique spacecraft to explore the Moon with the public and classrooms across the country.

Based in Titusville, FL, Ares Institute is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization dedicated to promoting space exploration and STEM education through hands-on educational projects and public outreach. Ares Institute created the LunarSail project to involve students and the public in the excitement of space exploration and promote STEM education by collaborating to design and build a small spacecraft and place it in orbit around the Moon.

LunarSail is an advanced technology development project to demonstrate the ability of a spacecraft under solar sail propulsion to navigate itself into a lunar trajectory and then into Lunar orbit. It’s design is based on the CubeSat standard. CubeSats are small, completely self-contained spacecraft assembled from individual units 10 centimeters on a side. (10/14)

SpaceX Bringing About the Future Today (Source: Fast Company)
Once again, SpaceX has successfully (and quietly) tested another rocket launch, recorded it, and released the video online, where it's generated a huge buzz. What's all the buzz about this time? Two things: The first and most important, is that this was a test of SpaceX's next-generation Grasshoper rocket, which is capable of launching and landing back on its launch pad like rockets you've seen in sci-fi movies. The second reason is that the launch was filmed from an unmanned hexacopter drone hovering nearby the rocket's launch site. (10/14)

USAF, Industry Anxious For Next SpaceX Launch (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force needs it. So do commercial satellite operators and manufacturers developing new platforms with low-cost launch services in mind. Last month's debut Falcon-9 v1.1 mission demonstrated the rocket's nine new first-stage Merlin 1D engines in a new “Octaweb” configuration, plus significantly longer fuel tanks and a larger payload fairing. But the promise of an affordable new entrant to the commercial launch market is still just a promise. (10/14)

Did a Huge Impact Lead to the Cambrian Explosion? (Source: Astrobiology)
Could a large impact in the deep ocean have produced some of the most enigmatic features in our Earth's history? According to Grant Young, a geologist at the University of Western Ontario, the answer may be yes. About 570 million years ago, our Earth underwent a series of puzzling events: a drastic shift in climatic zones, a mysterious change in the carbon cycle, and a sudden burst of animal life that led to the Cambrian explosion. (10/14)

Kepler Finds First Signs of Other Earths (Source: Space Daily)
A new analysis of observations from the Kepler spacecraft reveals what may be the first earth-sized planets with earthlike temperatures found orbiting sunlike stars. Until now, Kepler's nearly continuous observations of over 150,000 stars have confirmed the existence of Earth-sized planets in the hot regions close to their star.

Larger planets, some as small as one and a half times the Earth's diameter, have been found in the Habitable Zone, where the amount of heat they receive from their star may sustain earthlike temperatures. In addition, earthlike planets have been found in the Habitable Zone of tiny, cool red dwarf stars, which may offer a more hazardous environment for life than with sunlike stars.

Finding planets with the combination of earthlike size and temperature around sunlike stars has been elusive. By last December, 18,406 possible planets were found by an algorithm that searched the first three years of Kepler data looking for series of transits. If we define a size limit of no more than 1.25 times the Earth's diameter and a Habitable Zone where the amount of heating that a planet would receive is between that of Venus and Mars, then this list contains 87 possible earthlike planets - a bonanza! (10/14)

Congress Can Agree on Something: Honoring a Mercury Astronaut (Source: Space Politics)
There seems to be very little Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House agree on these days, as the government shutdown that started October 1 continues. But members of both the majority and minority caucuses of the House Science Committee did find common ground, issuing releases late last week on the passing of Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts. (10/13)

Nelson Tells Blakey: "Put a Fire Under Your Executives" (Source: Space Policy Online)
A Senate hearing on the economic impacts of the government shutdown was mostly partisan politics, but Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) used it as an opportunity to criticize the aerospace industry for not working harder to convince the House Republican leadership to end the stalemate.

"You do not have to convince the White House," he admonished [AIA President Marion Blakely], adding that he had met "with two of your CEOs last week" and "they were not ready to step up and go talk to the [House] leadership" about the shutdown, but would if a debt default appeared likely.

"Well, default is in another half a week," Nelson declared. "It's been a week and a half that we've been in shutdown. So I would implore you all to activate your people. Now where -- where are the people that are so affected at the Johnson Space Center in Houston? Where are they going to the congressional delegation and talking to them? And I could go through the NASA centers. ... But you need to put a fire under your executives." (10/12)

NSS Board Meeting Planned in Chicago (Source: FSDC)
The National Space Society will hold its next board meeting in Chicago on Oct. 18-20. Among the topics to be discussed is the organization's structure, which has been criticized for being overly complex. (10/14)

Lessons for Space Safety from Life on Earth (Source: Space Safety)
A key tenet of system safety is that safety should be designed in, not simply added on after the fact. The safety effort must be part of the design from the very beginning, and then part of the entire development life cycle to truly be effective. Adding on safety features later in the design or trying to implement a system safety program late in the life cycle is likely to increase costs and is generally less effective than reducing the risk earlier in development.

Many organizations define their life cycle to include concept development, preliminary design, final design, fabrication/assembly, test, operations, and decommission. And these organizations often include system safety efforts throughout these life cycle phases. But even with strong safety efforts in these development phases, organizations may still fail to address safety in one of the most critical phases: acquisition. Click here. (10/14)

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