November 1, 2013

Florida To Invest $500,000 in NanoRacks (Source: Space News)
Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency, will invest up to $500,000 in NanoRacks LLC, an in-space commercial services provider that next month will fly its first cubesat launcher to the international space station. The $500,000 represents the final piece of a $3.1 million round of Series A investment in XO Markets, the holding company for Houston-based NanoRacks.

Space Florida’s board of directors gave chief executive Frank DiBello a green light to proceed with negotiations for the $500,000 investment during its Oct. 30 meeting in Miami. The company was not identified by name during the meeting, but NanoRacks Managing Director Jeffrey Manber later confirmed the financing was for his firm.

DiBello told SpaceNews the direct investment in a company was not Space Florida’s first, nor its largest. Previous investments include $1 million to U.K.-based Cella Energy, a hydrogen storage developer, for a facility near the Kennedy Space Center. More typically, Space Florida makes loans that can be converted into equity at a later date. (11/1)

NASA Aircraft to Study Ice Melt Around Greenland (Source: Washington Post)
A NASA research aircraft departed from the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., to study ice melt around Greenland. The C-130 research aircraft will collect data on seasonal ice melts along the coast of Greenland. (11/1)

SpaceX to Bring More Innovation to Stennis (SourcE: MBJ)
SpaceX is bringing a new engine rocket testing program to Stennis Space Center along with an incredible background thanks to its forward-thinking chief, Elon Musk. In 2012 SpaceX launched a rocket that sent the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. At Stennis, SpaceX will test new methane rocket engines starting next year. (10/31)

Exelis Completes Primary Payload for GOES-R Weather Satellite (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Exelis has completed the primary payload for the future Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) weather satellite. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), which provides high-resolution imagery of environmental conditions, will be transported in January to Denver where it will be integrated into its GOES-R satellite for a scheduled 2016 launch. (11/1)

Hauling the Mail: A History of Space Freighters (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Joey Vars, an intern this Fall at NASA, has written a brief history that casts a bit of well deserved light on these under appreciated vessels. The article is followed by a table comparing all the cargo vehicles now serving the International Space Station. Click here. (11/1)

What Ender’s Game Gets Right About Communicating With Aliens (Source: WIRED)
Ender’s Game is about a misunderstanding. I know, I know. The story is about a terrible war and child soldiers and morality and all that. But at the core of the movie, which opens this weekend, and the book it’s based on is the failure to understand an alien species. This basic confusion that fuels the conflict between humans and the alien civilization known as the Formics. And this inability to comprehend another intelligent species might be closer to the truth than is generally thought. Click here. (11/1)

Delayed O3b Satellites Should be Ready for March Launch (Source: Space News)
The four O3b broadband satellites that missed their scheduled September launch following discovery of a suspected component defect will be the subject of a design review the week of Nov. 4 that should enable repairs to be made in time for a March launch, O3b Chief Executive Steve Collar said Nov. 1. (11/1)

Earth’s Giant Ear Marks 50 Years of Listening for Signals (Source: WIRED)
The Arecibo Observatory, home of the world’s largest single radio telescope, celebrates its 50th birthday today. In that half-century, the giant, iconic dish and its three towers have become a symbol of the quest to understand the cosmos and whether we are alone in the universe. Its endurance also points to the ingenuity of the scientists and engineers who dreamed up and then installed a massive, world-class observatory in a Caribbean sinkhole in the early 1960s. Click here. (11/1)

Soyuz Switches Ports on International Space Station (Source:
Three space station crew members put on spacesuits and boarded their Soyuz spacecraft Friday for a short trip to relocate the capsule to a new docking port on the orbiting outpost, clearing the way for the arrival of three new residents next week. (11/1)

Spaceport America in New Mexico to Seek More State Money (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
Virgin Galactic has again pushed back its estimated start date for launching commercial flights from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. And spaceport officials say they’ll need more state money to make up for lost user fees and visitor revenue at the fledging project. The spaceport’s director, Christine Anderson, says she plans to ask the Legislature for $7 million to finish paving a road between the facility and Las Cruces because other expenses have eaten into her budget. (10/31)

Hosted Payload Is Part of NASA’s Plan for Maintaining Climate Record (Source: Space News)
NASA will rely on an instrument hosted aboard a commercial geostationary communication satellite to continue some of the long-running Earth-system observations the agency took over from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in April, the head of NASA’s Earth Science Division said here Oct. 29.

“Our approach is going to be to procure new [Total Solar Irradiance Sensor] instruments and launch to them, almost undoubtedly, as hosted payloads” in geostationary orbit, Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, told a National Academies panel Oct. 29.  (10/31)

Protecting NASA (Source: Houston Chronicle)
When U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, speaks about NASA, we pay close attention for two reasons: Nelson has been there. He flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986 as a payload specialist. He knows space first-hand. In his years as a U.S. senator, the Florida Democrat fashioned a model bipartisan partnership with another NASA stalwart, former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. For many years, their across-the-aisle teamwork served both the nation's and the space agency's interests well.

It's a new and bitterly partisan day in Washington, D.C., and Nelson rightly worries that the future of the space agency is being threatened by the atmosphere of perpetual disagreement. "What is sad to me is that NASA has always been above politics," Nelson said. "Now it's gotten to be a partisan issue, and that is a sad day for the country." While we largely concur with Nelson's view, history tells us that NASA has not always been above politics. Actually, quite a lot of politics has been played throughout the space agency's history from its very beginnings. Click here. (10/31)

Why the Growing Cloud of Debris in Orbit Needs to be Cleaned Up (Source: America Space)
Since 1957, there have been almost 7,000 satellites launched into Earth’s orbit by various countries and private companies. Their missions range from scientific observation and weather tracking to communications and broadcasting television. Roughly half of those satellites are still in orbit and operational, while the other half has fallen into a state of decay, losing altitude and functionality as equipment ages.

What happens to these defunct objects once they can no longer be controlled by human operators from Earth? Some burn up harmlessly in Earth’s atmosphere upon reentry. The majority, however, become part of the ever-growing cloud of human-made debris that now encircles the Earth and jeopardizes both existing infrastructures and future endeavors in space. Click here. (10/31)

It's Time to Send Americans into the Inner Solar System (Source:
The U.S. can be the number one spacefaring nation of the 21st century. NASA and American human space exploration can experience a renaissance, sending astronauts to Mars and the rest of the inner solar system: asteroids, comets and perhaps even the polar regions of Mercury. This can be accomplished without raising NASA's budget, by eliminating the excessively long wait for an economically impractical super-rocket.

Christopher Kraft and Tom Moser (two key engineers involved in the design and development of the hardware and systems that got American astronauts to the moon) have voiced their dismay about the situation. In an op-ed for the "Houston Chronicle," they point out that the bulk of the human space missions touted for SLS could be completed within the current NASA budget using a combination of existing commercial rockets and depots.

The United States can start the great adventure of spreading Americans throughout the inner solar system sooner than most people realize. It's time for the country to decide whether or not being a space power is important enough to prevent NASA from being used as a dead-end, make-work, jobs program for short-term, regional interests. (10/31)

DigitalGlobe Reports Third Quarter 2013 Results (Source: Digital Globe)
DititalGlobe's third quarter 2013 revenue was $164.8 million, a 54% increase compared with the same period last year. The company reported a net loss for the third quarter of 2013 of $(1.8) million, and a net loss available to common shareholders of $(2.8) million. U. S. Government revenue grew 53% to $100.8 million compared with third quarter 2012, including a 353% increase in value-added services to $37.6 million. Diversified Commercial revenue grew 55% to $64 million in the quarter compared with third quarter 2012. (10/31)

'Ender's Game' Film Got Zero Gravity Tips from Real-Life Astronaut (Source:
The minds behind the movie "Ender's Game" had a little help bringing their version of the beloved science-fiction book by Orson Scott Card to life. "Ender's Game" focuses on the life of the gifted child, Ender Wiggin, a boy recruited to leave Earth and head to Battle School — a future space station orbiting the planet — to learn how to stop an alien race from pushing the human race into extinction.

Much of the action in the Battle School takes place in the battle room — a weightless part of the station where teams of students train and battle during strategic games with one another. Former astronaut Greg Chamitoff advised the cast and crew of the movie during production. The spaceflight veteran gave the filmmakers photos, videos and suggested dialogue that might make the spaceflight aspects of the film more realistic. (10/31)

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