November 18, 2013

Space Florida Supports Research on Space Coast Zero-G Flight (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida’s Sub-Orbital Flight Incentive Program provides cash incentive to customers who fly their research payloads (including human spaceflight participation) in Florida. That incentive amount is a cash rebate equal to one-third of the published list price of a flight provider, up to a maximum of $10,000. Six participating research entities participated on a Zero-G flight from the Space Coast Regional Airport on Nov. 17.

Aboard the flight were projects crom the University of Basle Switzerland, University of Brussels Belgium, as well as US-based entities CAL-TECH, MIT, Colorado School of Mines, SW Regional Institute, University of Florida and the University of Illinois. To date two flight providers – Starfighters Inc. (located at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility), and Zero-G Corp. have provided sub-orbital and parabolic reduced gravity experiences to the researchers. (11/18)

Life After COTS (Source: Space Review)
Last week, as NASA celebrated the successful end of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, it said it was looking to apply the COTS model to other programs. Jeff Foust reports on those concepts, from the ongoing commercial crew program to one company's proposal to apply COTS to cislunar human spaceflight. Visit to view the article. (11/18)

For NASA, the Best of Times and the Worst of Times (Source: Space Review)
While many of NASA's human spaceflight programs appear to be making good progress, all is not necessarily well. Douglas Messier warns that funding crunches could jeopardize the overall future of NASA's human spaceflight efforts. Visit to view the article. (11/18)

Space in the Lone Star State (Source: Space Review)
Space activity in Texas has traditionally been most closely linked to NASA's Johnson Space Center, but commercial space is changing that. Jonathan Coopersmith examines those changes as discussed at a conference in the state last month. Visit to view the article. (11/18)

MEI Wins NASA Ground Systems Support Contract at KSC (Source: MEI)
NASA has selected Millennium Engineering and Integration (MEI) for a Kennedy Space Center Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) KLXS-II follow-on contract. Valued at up to $97,232,217 over five years, the contract has MEI providing high-end engineering services to NASA’s GSDO Program Office supporting all ground systems planning and design. (11/18)

Boeing Marks 50 Years at Huntington Beach (Source: SpaceRef)
Boeing is celebrating 50 years of innovation at its Huntington Beach campus, where accomplishments span from the Apollo program to the International Space Station to current advances in cybersecurity, C4ISR and other areas. Dedicated on Nov. 14, 1963, the 187-acre site continues to support progress in small satellite technology, protected radio communications, networked systems, advanced manufacturing and unmanned underwater vehicles, among others.

Rocket scientists, engineers and technicians at Huntington Beach developed America's most important space vehicles and platforms. Those included the Saturn V upper stage that launched astronauts to the moon, NASA's space shuttles, and the family of Delta rockets that has delivered hundreds of commercial and military satellites to orbit. (11/18)

Private Firms Boost Internal R&D Spending (Source: Defense News)
Publicly traded US defense companies, citing shareholder pressure and uncertainty about Defense Department plans, have generally kept research and development (R&D) spending low. Private companies don’t face the same relentless push for quarterly profits, but they still need to understand what technologies DoD wants. Several executives described spending multiple times the percentage of large public defense companies, which frequently invest only about 1 or 2 percent of sales in R&D. (11/17)

Branson: Christmas Flight Unlikely, Commercial Flights Pushed to Late 2014 (Source: Economic Times)
"I was hoping to dress up like Father Christmas and fly on the first flight," said Richard Branson. "But we have a few more test flights to undertake and I think we will be starting commercial flights in the autumn of next year (2014). The first flights will last for two and a half hours and include four minutes of weightlessness as the eight-seater shuttle nudges the edge of space at some 360,000 feet above the Earth's surface. It's so exciting and is giving me goose bumps even as I talk. (11/17)

Will an Asteroid Destroy You Before You Finish This? (Source: Bloomberg)
For decades, astronomers have focused on the dangers posed by very large asteroids. Starting in 1998, NASA led an effort to catalog “near-Earth objects” at least a kilometer in diameter -- big enough to cause a global catastrophe if they collided with Earth. About 90 percent of these have been identified. Yet smaller, Chelyabinsk-sized objects are harder to find. Scientists estimate there are more than a million of them nearby, and only about a thousand have so far been found. Locating and tracking every one isn’t practical. So what to do? Click here. (11/17)

Hampton Roads Has Front-Row Seats for Minotaur Launch (Source: Daily Press)
On Tuesday evening, Hampton Roads residents looking to the eastern sky might be able to see the latest launch of the Minotaur I rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. NASA says the launch — currently set for between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. — may be visible from northern Florida to Canada and as far west as Indiana, if weather permits. (11/18)

How Did Mars Become Wasteland? MAVEN Will Try to Find Out (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Once warmer and lush with water, Mars is now a frozen wasteland. A new NASA mission set to launch Monday will try to figure out why. The leading theory is that Mars' atmosphere got so thin that it could no longer shield the Red Planet from the harsh environment of space. But scientists don't agree on how that happened, and the new Mars probe, dubbed MAVEN, is being sent there to help solve the mystery.

As MAVEN orbits Mars, sometimes as low as 77 miles above the surface, onboard instruments will take readings of particles in the atmosphere. Scientists hope the measurements can tell them more about Mars' early history. Past Mars missions have uncovered signs that the planet once was much warmer than its current average of 64 degrees below zero. There's evidence, too, that Mars once had rivers and lakes and that its atmosphere was thicker — much like Earth's. The Red Planet could have had blue skies too. (11/17)

MAVEN: To the Red Planet, from Colorado, with Love (Source: Denver Post)
Eyes will be glued to launch pad 41 at Cape Canaveral as the clock ticks down and the planets shift into alignment Monday, opening up the launch window for NASA's next Mars mission that was conceived and developed in Colorado. The gripping launch moment for MAVEN — Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN — is the culmination of 10 years of scientific work and a half decade of design and engineering work done at the base of the Rockies.

Colorado gains prestige and economic payout from this $671 million NASA-funded mission — with the vast majority of funds directly infused into the state's economy. At every point along the way, from the birth of an idea through scientific discovery, someone in Colorado holds a primary role. (11/18)

Editorial: With Sequestration Continuing, NASA’s Science Missions in Limbo (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Not a full month has passed since the end of the latest wasteful and chaotic gridlock on Washington D.C .called the ‘government shutdown’, with NASA still recovering from the effects, and new budget troubles seem to hang low on the horizon for the US space agency. The director of the astrophysics division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Dr. Paul Hertz, has voiced his concerns about the ongoing effects of sequestration on NASA’s astrophysics missions.

NASA is currently funded by a continuing resolution as a result of an agreement reached between Congress and the White House that ended the recent government shutdown. If the continuing resolution is extended through next year and with the effects of the ongoing sequestration added in (which directs automatic across-the-board spending cuts to non-discretionary programs), NASA is poised to receive even less money for FY2014 than this year, if the government doesn’t reach an agreement for next year’s budget.

If that takes place, NASA astrophysics will probably receive $50 million less than the administration’s proposal for 2014. Hertz warns under this fiscal environment, difficult decisions would have to be made concerning which missions to receive funding and which not. Although the James Webb Space Telescope will not likely be affected as it is deemed an agency priority, and the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes are also similarly protected from budget cuts as well, other missions might not be viewed so favorably. (11/18)

Bolden: ‘I Would Love to be an Orion Astronaut!’ (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited the Cape Canaveral Spaceport to review both NASA’s next manned spacecraft, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as the space agency’s next probe to journey to the Red Planet – MAVEN. His first stop was at the Operations and Checkout building (O&C) at KSC. Within is the flight test article of the Orion spacecraft. “I would love to be an Orion astronaut,” he lamented that this was unlikely to happen. (11/18)

The Overprotection of Mars? (Source: Astrobiology)
According to some scientists, planetary protection policies and practices designed to guard solar system bodies from biological contamination from spacecraft need to be re-evaluated because they are “unnecessarily inhibiting” a more ambitious agenda to search for life on Mars. argue that, from an astrobiological perspective, the most interesting missions to “Special Regions” - where, in theory, Mars life could exist or Earth life could survive - are rendered “unviable” as a result of onerous Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) planetary protection protocols and the need to comply with “detailed and expensive sterilization requirements.” (11/18)

US Intelligence Opposes GLONASS Stations’ Deployment on US Territory (Source: Itar-Tass)
The White House postponed the final decision on GLONASS stations’ deployment until Russia provides additional information, and US agencies sort their differences. Russia's attempts to achieve stations’ deployment in the US also stirred concern on Capitol Hill. Chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee Rep. Mike Rogers sent a request to the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA to assess the consequences of posting GLONASS to U.S. national security.

Moscow has sent a request to the United States for the construction of SDCM in May 2012. State Department spokesman Marie Harf told New York Times, that the last time the U.S. and Russia, "the main issues discussed placing SDCM GLONASS in the U.S. on April 25" this year, and no final decision has yet been taken. According Harf, United States asked the Russian more information on the planned stations. American monitoring stations of GPS are deployed in many countries around the world , but not on Russia’s territory. (11/18)

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