October 28, 2013

Lockheed Martin Powers Up Orion Crew Module at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceRef)
For the first time, Lockheed Martin and NASA engineers powered up the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Center last week. The test successfully demonstrated the crew module avionics were integrated properly and are in good health. Operators in the Test Launch and Control Center (TLCC) introduced software scripts to the crew module's main control computers via thousands of wires and electrical ground support equipment.

During this process, the foundational elements, or the "heart and brains" of the entire system were evaluated. The main computers received commands from the ground, knew where to send them, read the data from different channels, and successfully relayed electrical responses back to the TLCC. (10/28)

Mars Express Gives 3D View of Red Planet (Source: Hobby Space)
From the highest volcano to the deepest canyon, from impact craters to ancient river beds and lava flows, this showcase of images from ESA’s Mars Express takes you on an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet. Mars Express was launched on 2 June 2003 and arrived at Mars six-and-a-half months later. It has since orbited the planet nearly 12 500 times, providing scientists with unprecedented images and data collected by its suite of scientific instruments.

The data have been used to create an almost global digital topographic model of the surface, providing a unique visualisation and enabling researchers to acquire new and surprising information about the evolution of the Red Planet. The images in this movie were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera and the video was released by the DLR German Aerospace Center as part of the ten years of Mars Express celebrations in June 2013. Click here. (10/28)

NSS Sponsors International SunSat Competition (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society in affiliation with Ohio University is pleased to announce that the International SunSat Design Competition is now registering competitive teams.  This two-year project is designed to link global scientific communities with university-based (and other) digital media labs for the purposes of advancing knowledge of space-based solar power satellites (SunSats) and illustrating their many Earth-energy applications. (10/28)

Phil Pressel and the Hexagon Spy Camera (Source: Space Review)
For more than four decades, Phil Pressel could tell no one outside of his co-workers -- not even his wife -- what he did. With that veil of secrecy now lifted, he describes to Roger Guillemette and Dwayne Day his work with the camera on the Hexagon reconnaissance satellite. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2392/1 to view the article. (10/28)

A New Launch Vehicle that Lofts, Rather That Lifts Off (Source: Space Review)
Most people associate a launch vehicle with a rocket, but that's not necessarily the case. Jeff Foust reports on a new venture that plans high-altitude passenger balloon flights with a system newly classified as a launch vehicle by the FAA. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2391/1 to view the article. (10/28)

Space Security: Possible Options for India (Source: Space Review)
The importance of space-based services and the threats they face have more countries thinking about how to improve space security. Ajey Lele offers some proposals tailored to the space security needs of India. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2390/1 to view the article. (10/28)

Space Florida Hosts Panel Discussion at ASGSR (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida’s Tony Gannon & Dr. Ryan Kobrick are co-hosting a Panel Discussion at the 2013 ASGSR conference at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista, Orlando on Nov. 5 focused on “Market Driven Space Research.” The panelists will include Duane Ratliff of CASIS, Siobhan Malany of the Sandford Burnham Medical Research Center, Sam Durrance of Florida Tech, and Richard Pournelle of NanoRacks.  

The Panel will discuss the microgravity environment and whether it offers a unique economic and beneficial opportunity for applications such as crystal growth, Earth observation satellites, medical and agricultural research.  With new-space vehicles and brokers providing access to the ISS, are we finally at the dawn of an era where humankind can truly benefit from access to space and all it has to offer?

Attendees will be encouraged to participate and during the webcasts, you will have the ability to ask the presenter questions IN REAL TIME!  It's free - you just need to create an ASGSR login. Go to http://www.asgsr.org to sign up today!! (10/28)

ATK: Composite Casing Will Increase Solid Booster Performance for SLS (Source: ATK)
ATK successfully completing filament winding of a pathfinder Advanced Booster composite case. Ultimately, this Advanced Booster NRA effort will enable NASA and ATK to optimize a case design that will be stronger, yet more affordable than traditional steel cases. In turn, this will provide increased payload performance due to reduced weight inherent in composite materials. (10/28)

Sequester Would Delay NASA Missions (Source: Florida Today)
NASA was able to largely avoid serious consequences from the first phase of sequestration budget cuts, but the next round poses a threat to the nation’s space program, according to congressional lawmakers and agency officials. Those cuts could delay missions and imperil programs that already face tighter budgets and fiscal uncertainty.

“Sequestration will slit the throat of NASA,” said Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, one of Congress’ biggest champions for NASA. “It’ll cut the heart out of the manned space program.” Fiscal 2014 began Oct. 1, but lawmakers remain far apart on how much discretionary spending to approve this year for NASA and other federal agencies. Most mandatory spending for entitlement programs is unaffected by sequestration. (10/28)

French PM to Discuss Space, Nuclear Deals with Russia (Source: RIA Novosti)
Transport, space and nuclear cooperation are expected to be discussed during the French premier’s forthcoming visit to Russia, a French diplomat said. “I think that we will talk about cooperation in the space industry, I hope that cooperation in the nuclear sphere will also be discussed, as well as about promoting student, university and scientific exchanges,” Chevenement said. (10/28)

United Nations to Adopt Asteroid Defense Plan (Source: Scientific American)
Last week the General Assembly approved a set of measures that Ed Lu and other astronauts have recommended to protect the planet from rogue asteroids. The U.N. plans to set up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” to share information about potentially hazardous space rocks. If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat, the U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course. (10/28)

Jerry Ross on NASA Inspiration and Jim Lovell (Source: Salon)
Astronaut is one of those seemingly out-of-reach, dream jobs your average 4th grader might aspire to. Growing up during the beginning of the space race, Jerry Ross was one such 4th grader. He watched man’s epic move into the final frontier unfold, from its earliest satellites to his own NASA missions in the ’80s. This, of course, included following the legendary career of Captain Jim Lovell. Click here. (10/28)

Proving Itself to NASA, Orbital Sciences Opens Door to New Opportunities (Source: Washington Post)
What Orbital Sciences had been hoping for happened last week: Cygnus, its cargo spacecraft, disintegrated into a billion pieces when it reentered Earth’s atmosphere. Although that might not sound like good news, it was for the Dulles-based space company. The craft’s destruction was a planned event, the final step in a crucial test to show NASA that the company could successfully transport supplies to the crew of six astronauts on the international space station.

Now, having completed two successful launches of its Antares rocket, Orbital can proceed as planned with eight more flights scheduled through 2016 as part of its $1.9 billion cargo resupply services contract with NASA. The latest accomplishment positions Orbital well to re-compete for the next cargo resupply contract, which is expected in a year or two.

But perhaps just as significant, the strong performance by Antares opens the door to new opportunities. “With two really good launches now under our belt, things are picking up in terms of customer interest,” Orbital president and chief executive David W. Thompson said in an Oct. 17 conference call with investment analysts. “We have one specific pursuit that we’re engaged in now with a commercial customer.” (10/27)

Countdown is On as Virgin Galactic Prepares for first Space Tourists (Source: Daily Mail)
After negotiating the elaborate security measures at the entrance gate, we suddenly found ourselves in front of a brand new but so far unused building. At first glance it had the glitzy look of a Ferrari showroom or an expensive boutique hotel. This wonderful structure - designed by British architects and built at a cost of £250 million - is here for one purpose only: to process fare-paying space travelers.

So why is all this happening in New Mexico? This is certainly a state that has long served as something of a gateway.  New Mexico is a state with a long history - the land occupied by the Spaceport is full of ancient remains - and some notoriety. New Mexico's place in the space race was achieved due to its role in the Manhattan Project, which was based at Los Alamos and resulted in the construction of the first atomic bombs, subsequently dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

With tourist buses now bringing day-trippers to Spaceport America it's easy to see why New Mexico is investing so much money in space travel. If Spaceport America becomes the Path to Space, towns such as the painfully ramshackle Truth or Consequences will be the gateway to the Spaceport. Plans are well under way to build a major visitor centre in the town - the most exciting piece of economic news since Walmart opened a branch there five years ago. (10/28)

UND Starts a Ten Day Lunar Habitat Experiment (Source: WDAY)
A ten day lunar habitat experiment started Sunday at the University of North Dakota. Throughout the next week and half three UND students will live in a lunar habitat, working with and testing a variety of space equipment. The trial is part of the university's NASA-funded NDX Planetary Exploration System. UND has been designing, planning and building the system which includes the following: an inflatable habitat, rover and space suits. (10/28)

First Scottish-Built Satellite UKube-1 to Launch in 2014 (Source: BBC)
A date has been set for the launch of the first satellite to be built in Scotland. UKube-1 will begin its journey to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this week. The satellite will then be launched on 10 February next year aboard a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket. UKube-1 is the UK Space Agency's first CubeSat mission. It is relatively small satellite but it will pack in several experiments. (10/28)

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