November 4, 2013

Morpheus Set for KSC Return Ahead of December Tests (Source:
Morpheus – an experimental lander project – is set to make its return to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), ahead of the resumption of testing in December. Morpheus – which has conducted numerous tether tests at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – will be hoping for a happier Florida stay, after it dramatically exploded during a previous KSC test in August, 2012.

Manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace, the Morpheus system is large enough to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo to the moon – ranging from a humanoid robot, a small rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen – performing all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection. (11/4)

More Bordertown Violence Near Proposed Texas Spaceport (Source: Huffington Post)
Thirteen people were killed in shootouts on Sunday around the northeastern Mexican city of Matamoros in one of the worst recent outbreaks of violence in an area ravaged by drug gangs. Three gunfights took place around the city opposite Brownsville, Texas, two of which were exchanges between gunmen and Mexico's armed forces, according to a statement from the state government of Tamaulipas.

Eight men died in the fighting with Mexican Marines after four men and one woman were killed in an earlier clash between unidentified armed groups, the state government said. Seeking control of smuggling routes into the United States, drug cartels have in the past few years been responsible for a slew of massacres, gunfights and kidnappings in Tamaulipas, giving the state the reputation as one of the most lawless in Mexico. Editor's Note: SpaceX's proposed spaceport in South Texas is a stone's throw from Tamaulipas. (11/3)

India: Why Mars, Why Now (Source: Deccan Chroncle)
With the Red Planet being a distant, cold entity with no bearing on our daily lives, Indian space scientists are being constantly quizzed on these lines as they get ready for their maiden shot at Mars. That's not all. This perception of Mars' worthlessness has also engendered questions over funds for the outing-some from none less than Indian ministers.

At first glance, a budget of Rs. 450 crores for the Mars Obiter Mission seems an expensive proposition but compare the figure with the distance that the probe, shaped liked a large cargo container with its sunshade flipped open, is set to traverse-400 million km, and the cost pales into insignificance. It is miniscule compared to that incurred by the United States, Europe and Russia because a much smaller rocket will zoom out of Sriharikota Range than those which blasted off with probes from these countries.

A small price for an effort which will herald India's arrival at the high table of international space exploration, says Dr K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Isro, explaining that the cost of the first inter-planetary mission is a fraction of the space agency's science budget. But what is it that the Indian probe will read which others have not? "The understanding of planetary atmosphere itself is important as that will help us understand why only the earth is habitable and others are not. (11/4)

Space Agencies Of The World, Unite: The U.N.'s Asteroid Defense Plan (Source: NPR)
The United Nations General Assembly may approve a plan soon for the world's space agencies to defend the Earth against asteroids. The plan, introduced last week, is expected to be adopted by the General Assembly in December. It would do two things: create an International Asteroid Warning Network so countries can share what they know about asteroids; and spin up a group of scientists from several countries' space agencies to look for smaller asteroids, as well as make plans to divert them away from the Earth.

The problem here isn't a large asteroid. NASA has already found more than 90 percent of the comets and asteroids larger than 1 kilometer, or 0.6 miles, across — those are the ones big enough to do global damage. The concern is for the smaller meteoroids — ones that are more than 450 feet across. These can still get through the Earth's atmosphere and rain down on the planet. Although most of the Earth is covered by oceans, an asteroid of this size could destroy several states or an entire city if it lands in the wrong spot. (11/4)

Why I Want to Make Interstellar Travel Possible (Source: Guardian)
Space exploration once used to be the domain of highly trained astronauts but in the near future it will be open to professionals and amateur space enthusiasts alike thanks to organisations such as Mars Society, Planetary Society and Virgin Galactic, who are giving average people like you and me (with a large bag of cash of course) the chance to have their own Yuri Gagarin moment.

One of the most unchartered areas of study in space exploration however is interstellar flight. Travelling to the moon is one thing, but designing a spaceship capable of actually reaching our nearest star system is a whole other kettle of fish. It requires vast amounts of energy and a design that will endure extreme distances, which is why we don’t yet have the technologies available to allow mankind to explore a nearby star system.

A new research program run by my organisation, Icarus Interstellar, is bringing in scientists from around the world to aid in the design, development and construction of the first interstellar spacecraft in our lifetime. The founding members are volunteer scientists, researchers and enthusiasts who understand the incredible magnitude of such an ambitious endeavour and the scientific merit it brings. Click here. (11/4)

Crippen: NASA Is Not Out of Business (Source: Huffington Post)
Since the end of the Space Shuttle program the questions have grown louder and louder. Many Americans I speak to, and articles covering the space program, ask, "What happened to NASA?" Those questions are understandable because there has been an on-going debate on what NASA should do for the next major human spaceflight initiative.

The debate has revolved around whether NASA should go to an asteroid, to Mars or one of its moons, or back to the Moon as a stepping stone. These, and more, are all options for "deep space" missions. At the same time, NASA has "outsourced" the more routine low Earth orbit flights to the International Space Station to commercial companies for cargo, and relies on the Russians for crewed flights until commercial companies can take over those duties in 2017.

I'm glad to report that the rumors of NASA's demise are wrong. NASA has been focused on the longer-term. They have been working on the spacecraft and launch vehicle that will enable deep space missions, and we will see the results of those efforts in 2014. Click here. (11/4)

Crab Pulsar Going Off-Kilter, Sheds Light On Dead Stars' Magnetic FIelds (Source:
For the first time, astronomers have tracked the evolution of a pulsar's magnetic field over time, watching as it slowly tilts toward the dead star's equator. The new observations of the pulsar, located in the Crab Nebula, could offer clues to the long-standing problem of what slows pulsars' rotation. Click here. (11/4)

Robots from Space Lead to One-Stop Breast Cancer Diagnosis Treatment (Source: Parabolic Arc)
We may not be driving flying cars to work yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to be excited about from technology advances related to the space age. Instead of zipping past traffic jams, International Space Station-derived robotic capabilities are giving us a fast pass to life-saving surgical techniques with cancer-fighting finesse. Click here. (11/4)

Earthrise CEO Wins Rising Star in Technology Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Earthrise Space Foundation (ESF) President and CEO, Ruben Nunez is this year Rising Star in Technology Award Winner at the Florida TechXpo! The Rising Star Award is presented to a new company or one that has made the most significant progress in the past 18 months. This company’s growth puts it on track to make a positive impact in their markets and on the region’s technology community.

SF is committed to research & development of spacecraft and spacecraft systems here in Central Florida. ESF is the host of Team Omega Envoy, one of the teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition to successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth.

Omega Envoy Project is creating lunar spacecraft which will fulfill the requirements of the Google Lunar XPRIZE and provide a platform for the delivery of commercial payloads to the lunar surface. ESF efforts are preparing students for future employment in the entrepreneurial space industry. (11/3)

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