October 31, 2013

Exelis Wins Eastern Range Contract Modification (Source: DOD)
Exelis Systems Corp. has been awarded a $23,275,661 modification on an existing contract for Launch and Test Range System support functions to the Eastern and Western Range: range sustainment, external user support, projects and engineering services, systems engineering and interim supply support spares for the sustainment period. This modification extends the basic contract with a maximum period of performance of three months. Work will be performed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and will be completed by Jan. 31, 2014. (10/31)

L-3 Coleman Wins Missile Target Contract for Work at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: DOD)
L-3 Coleman Aerospace, Orlando, Florida, is being awarded $73,361,422 contract to develop and manufacture medium-range ballistic missile targets and provide integrated logistics support, to include inventory storage and maintenance, pre-and post-mission analysis, launch preparation and execution, and engineering services. The work will be performed at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with an estimated completion date of September 2018. (10/31)

Ukraine, United States to Deepen Space Cooperation (Source: Kyev Post)
One of the major challenges for modern Ukraine as a space country with relevant engineering potential is an efficient interaction with foreign states in exploration and use of outer space for commercial space projects. Taking on this challenge, Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, along with Yuriy Alekseyev, Chairman of the National Space Agency of Ukraine on Oct. 28 met in Washington with NASA's Charles Bolden. Ukraine and the U.S. will create a bilateral expert group to work on projects of cooperation in the space area. (10/31)

Launch of European Satellites from Plesetsk Postponed (Source: Itar-Tass)
The launch of European research satellites of the Swarm system planned for Nov. 14 is postponed at least for a week, a source at the European Space Agency said. The satellites will be carried by a Russian Rokot launch vehicle. The launch is postponed for about a week, as a part in the Briz-KM upper stage must be replaced, the source said. An exact date cannot be set yet. (10/31)

CASIS Picks Six Flight Proposals from MassChallenge (Source: CASIS)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has selected eight startup companies to conduct research onboard the ISS through the MassChallenge Startup Accelerator. In total, CASIS will award $450,000 to assist these companies in using the ISS to advance their business applications and products. Click here. (10/31)

Early Moon May Have Been Magma 'Mush' For Hundreds Of Millions Of Years (Source: Huffington Post)
The young moon may have been a magma "mush" for hundreds of millions of years before it solidified, a scientist says. The idea, presented at a recent Royal Society conference focusing on the origin of the moon, is drastically different from the most widely accepted lunar formation model, which states that the moon was completely molten right after its accretion, 4.5 billion years ago.

According to the prevailing theory, this magma ocean then cooled, the theory says, and solidified. But professor Sara Russell, head of the mineral and planetary sciences division at the Natural History Museum in London, challenges this idea. The magma ocean theory is based on the very first studies of the rocks that NASA's Apollo lunar landing missions and three Russian robotic probes scooped up at the surface of the moon. (10/31)

China's Satellite Navigation System to Start Oversea Operation Next Year (Source: Xinhua)
China's homegrown Beidou Navigation Satellite System will be put into its first oversea operation in Thailand early next year. An agreement with an expected value of $319 million inked by the two countries in March has established their commitment to cooperation on the construction of Thailand's geospatial system, giving the country access to China's advanced technology, products and services.

The two sides have agreed to start building a model satellite station based on Beidou in an industrial estate in Thailand's eastern Chon Buri province next month and nationwide construction will begin early next year. It will be the first time that the Beidou lands outside China, said Liu, adding that China will draw experience in its cooperation with Thailand and further explore foreign markets. " The Beidou will be able to provide global service by 2015," he said. (10/31)

Arianespace Shifts Manifest to Make Room for Gaia (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Arianespace has shuffled its launch manifest to make room for the launch of Europe's Gaia galactic survey mission, moving up the next commercial Ariane 5 flight by one week and setting Dec. 20 as Gaia's target launch date. The adjustment ensures both missions get off the ground before Christmas after a three-month hiatus in launches from French Guiana caused by delays in payload readiness.

The next Ariane 5 launch is now scheduled for Dec. 6, one week earlier than previously planned, with the ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A communications satellites for SES of Luxembourg and Hispasat of Madrid, respectively, according to Evry, France-based Arianespace. (10/31)

DiBello: Florida's Space Effort Achieving Significant Milestones (Source: Florida Today)
Florida's geographic location provides an optimum launch site for launching payloads into geosynchronous and low-Earth orbits. Additionally, Space Florida is armed with unique tools — unlike many other state space agencies. These special powers truly set Florida apart in the race to exploit the transition of space from a federally driven marketplace to a more diverse commercial model. This industry is very capital intensive, and Space Florida’s tool kit is specifically designed to address that challenge.

New space companies like XCOR and Sierra Nevada can attest to that. These advantages, as well as our state’s 50-plus-year history in successful space launch and spacecraft processing (which comes with the qualified infrastructure, workforce, supply chain and safety protocols other states are only beginning to develop) position Florida to continue to be a leader in the international space market.

Be proud of your state and its incredible commercial space achievements and continue to support Florida as we work hard to maintain competitiveness among other states in the space industry — an industry that will ensure our state’s economic health for many years to come. (10/31)

Spaceport America Budget Estimating No Launches Until August 2014 (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Spaceport America released a fiscal 2015 budget this week that pushes back its estimates for when Virgin Galactic may begin its flights and when the visitor’s center will open. The budget assumes Virgin Galactic will start flying by August 2014, about six months later than previously expected. Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson said the assumptions are strictly for budgeting and do not reflect Virgin Galactic plans.

Virgin Galactic Chief Executive George Whitesides said the company has not publicly disclosed its timeline for commercial launches of passenger flights. “We’re working our tails off to start commercial operations in 2014 from Spaceport America,” he said. “We still have some work to do, but we’re making good progress.”

Spaceport America’s budget is still in the “pre-operations” phase, Anderson said in Tuesday. The spaceport is funding about 75 percent of its $1.85 million operating budget, including salaries, with revenue. Another $459,000 comes from taxpayer funding and covers the remaining 25 percent. (10/31)

India: Another Shot at GSLV with Indigenous Cryogenic Engine (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organisation will have another shot at its indigenous cryogenic upper stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) programme, the GSLV D5 mission on December 15, after its previous attempt in August was aborted following a fuel leak, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said on Wednesday. (10/31)

UP Aerospace Prepares for Second NASA Mission from Spaceport America (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
When the next UP Aerospace rocket blasts into suborbit from Spaceport America on Nov. 12, it may “phone home” during the journey. In fact, if all goes well, the rocket could chat constantly with ground crews throughout the mission by phone and text messaging, thanks to an experiment by the Albuquerque-based satellite phone distributor Satwest LLC, which is placing a satellite communications system on the vehicle.

“We’ll use proprietary technology to test our ability to make a satellite phone call in space,” said Satwest President and CEO Brian Barnett. “We’ll also send text messages to the phone throughout the journey.” The Satwest experiment is one of six payloads chosen by NASA to fly on UP’s reusable rocket, known as the Spaceloft. The Nov. 12 flight will be the second NASA-funded mission from the Spaceport since June, when UP successfully shot seven payloads into space and back. (10/31)

Animated NASA-Themed Show Planned for Fox (Source: TV Guide)
Bret McKenzie, half of the popular music-comedy duo the Flight of the Conchords, is developing an animated comedy for Fox. The New Zealand native came up with the idea for the untitled show, set in the world of NASA. The workplace comedy follows the exploits of a group of employees toiling away at an almost-obsolete NASA space center in Boulder, Colorado. McKenzie hasn't yet committed to voicing a part on the show, but that remains a possibility. (10/30)

US Seeks GPS Alternative (Source: Defense News)
GPS navigation: Can’t live without it, can’t trust it. That’s the problem facing military planners as they try to sort through the increasing reliance of equipment and troops on positioning data from satellite networks at a time when the vulnerabilities of GPS are becoming more apparent.

That doesn’t mean the US military isn’t working to strengthen the encryption on GPS equipment, which was never designed with security as a top priority. But Pentagon research and development chief Al Shaffer listed GPS security as one of his top concerns. (10/29)

Yale Astronomer Decries Politicizing of Science After Dispute with NASA (Source: New Haven Register)
A dispute with NASA over whether to allow a Chinese post-doctoral associate from Yale University to attend a prestigious conference has left at least one Yale professor questioning what she sees as the politicizing of science. Earlier this month, Yale astronomers decided to boycott a Nov. 4 NASA conference devoted to the Kepler space mission. NASA had denied spots at the conference to six Chinese scientists, including Ji Wang of Yale.

“For me, this has been a realization that science in this country has become too highly politicized,” said Yale astronomer Debra Fischer, a leading figure in researching exoplanets, which are planets located outside Earth’s solar system. “I hope this experience raises the consciousness of other scientists,” Fischer said. “We’re simply a political chip (politicians) can play. Each time the politicians change, NASA changes directions. Its budget is reshuffled, missions get cut and we’re not doing as much as we could with the money we have.” (10/30)

Iran's New Satellite Ready for Launch (Source: Press TV)
Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says the country’s new domestically designed and manufactured satellite is ready to be launched into orbit, and it will be lifted into space in due time. “Presence in space is a strategic issue and indicates the scientific, technological and industrial power of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Dehqan said.

He added that Iran enjoys “acceptable potential and capabilities” regarding the manufacture of satellites and satellite carriers as well as lift-off of satellites and their navigation in the space. The Iranian defense minister expressed hope that such achievements would further progress under the current Iranian administration. (10/30)

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