December 31, 2013

FAA Chooses 6 Sites for Drone Testing (Source: USA Today)
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced its selection of six test sites for drones. The sites include locations in New York, Texas, Virginia, Nevada, Alaska and North Dakota. "These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. (12/30)

Beyonce Slammed for 'Shock Value' Use of Shuttle Disaster Audio (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Beyoncé's at the center of a huge online upset after her use of an audio clip from the space shuttle Challenger disaster angered families of the astronauts who died. In the clip that opens her song XO, listeners hear a NASA announcer saying, "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction." (12/30)

Launch Complex 17's Historic Career Draws to a Close (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Yet another historic element of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch infrastructure is coming to an end. The demolition of the Space Launch Complex 17’s (SLC-17) blockhouse at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is almost complete, with the rest of SLC-17 soon to follow. Currently, the mobile service towers are still standing, but this too is only a temporary situation. Soon charges will bring the MSTs’ storied career to a pyrotechnic close. (12/30)

Space Settlement and Preservation — Mutually Exclusive Concepts? (Source: America Space)
It is the year 2150. The Moon harbors a settlement of approximately 50,000 people, mostly comprised by miners and workers, employed by the big lunar mining and solar power consortiums. They are responsible for providing for the energy sources that sustain all the colonies throughout the Earth-Moon system, and a big part of the Home Planet as well. But it’s not only business on the Moon, for a big part of the lunar population is just there for pleasure.

The cislunar transportation networks are always filled with a steady stream of tourists, regularly visiting their private properties and other recreation facilities on the Moon. When someone feels the need to just relax and escape the everyday routine of life on Earth, the sight of the Blue Marble over the grey lunar regolith in Armstrong City is one of his first choices—and one of the most cherished tourist destinations in the inner Solar System. And those travelers are always welcome there, because they have always been a major source of income for the lunar economy. Click here. (12/30)

Lockheed Gets $116 Million for AEHF Launch Support (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., a $116 million contract modification for launch support and related activities for the fourth in a series of highly secure military communications satellites. The money covers the fourth vehicle in the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) constellation. Prelaunch planning and preparation traditionally begins about a year before launch, the announcement said. The fourth AEHF satellite is expected to launch in 2016 or 2017. (12/30)

NASA Sends Out of This World New Year’s Greeting in Times Square (Source: NASA)
NASA astronauts will help ring in 2014 by sending greetings from space and from Earth to the crowd gathered in New York's Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Astronaut Mike Massimino will participate in the New Year’s Eve Countdown event on Tuesday evening, Dec. 31. He also will introduce a video greeting from Expedition 36 flight engineer Karen Nyberg, who returned from the International Space Station in November, and from three of the astronauts currently on board the space station: NASA's Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (12/30)

US Bans Russia's GLONASS for Spying Fears (Source: Space Daily)
The United States does not want GLONASS stations on its territory. Americans are afraid that Russia's GLONASS global satellite navigation system might be used to spy on the US. No official ban has been imposed, but the new requirements that have been put forward now make the deployment of ground-based tracking stations next to impossible.

The 2014 defense bill signed by President Barack Obama rules that the navigation systems of other countries must not harm the American GPS system by making it less commercially attractive and obliged to transmit only uncodified data. (12/30)

'Mars One' Will Reveal if There is Life Outside Earth (Source: Space Daily)
Mars One is a non-profit organization that plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025. The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced plans for the Mars One mission in May 2012, who revealed the details of the mission in an exclusive interview. Click here. (12/31)

Energia Corp. to Launch Observation Satellite in Spring 2014 (Source: Space Daily)
The Energia Rocket and Space Corporation accomplished a full cycle of ground tests, assembly and factory trials of a next-generation observation satellite in 2013. "The observation satellite designed by the corporation will be put into orbit in spring 2014," a spokesman said. Meanwhile, a source from the Russian rocket and space industry said it was "the EgyptSat-2 Earth observation satellite designed and constructed by the Energia Corporation." (12/31)

UAE to Launch Indigenous Satellite in 2017 (Source: Space Daily)
United Arab Emirates (UAE) vice president and prime minister ordered here on Sunday the executive phase for building the first satellite whose parts are solely produced in the Gulf Arab oil state and which is planned to be placed on orbit by 2017, local news agency WAM reported.

The first UAE-made satellite will be called Khali Sat, named after the UAE president Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. According to the report, the project would catapult the Arab region into a new era of space industry and competition in space sciences." (12/31)

Roscosmos Announces Contest for Space Activity Concepts (Source: Space Daily)
The Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has announced an open contest for conceptual documents regarding Russian space activity. The starting price of the contract is 883 million rubles. Contest details are being posted on the public procurement website.  The concepts shall be submitted from December 27, 2013, through February 4, 2014. The results will be summed up on February 13, 2014. (12/31)

Pursuit of the Ultimate View (Source: Sarasota Herald Tribune)
When he finally makes it into space — or at least as close as an Earthling can come to it without being a full-fledged astronaut — civilian test pilot Miguel Iturmendi expects to return somewhat rearranged. And it has nothing to do with the transient biological effects of weightlessness. At 42, Iturmendi has already challenged centrifuge machines and floated with dust motes aboard the gravity-free simulations of a KC-135's parabolic roller-coaster flights.

"Lack of gravity is not what motivates me. For me, it's the view," Iturmendi says. "To be put in a cocoon and to see the Earth from that distance — it'll put things into perspective for you." That could prove a vast understatement. In the realm of brain science, Iturmendi's determination to acquire "the view" may well foreshadow what some scientists contend could be the next wave of the evolution in human consciousness. (12/30)

1,058 People Are Serious About Living on Mars Until They Die (Source: Mashable)
In its highly publicized search to find people for a private manned mission to the Red Planet, Mars One has winnowed down its applicant pool of 200,000 to 1,058 candidates — all of whom are serious about living out out the rest of their lives on another planet. Headed up by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, Mars One, which claims to be a non-profit entity, plans to launch a one-way mission to Mars.

Lansdorp says he can put a permanent crew of six on our neighboring planet by 2023, and he will continue to shuttle more settlers every few years. The colony would be outfitted with livable habitats, greenhouses, rovers and everything else a human would need to survive on an oxygen-free, resourceless dust bowl. There's only one requirement: You must be at least 18 years old. (12/30)

Mars One Narrows List Of Wannabe Martians For 2025 Colony (Source: Popular Science)
The number of Earthlings looking at a potential one-way ticket to Mars has just shrunk by 99.5 percent. People started applying for a voyage to the red planet in April 2013 through Mars One, a Netherlands-based private venture that wants to land humans there by 2025. By the time the company stopped taking applications, more than 200,000 people had submitted one. Today, Mars One announced that it's made a short(er) list of 1,058 applicants.

The defining moment for Mars One will be selecting its crew (or crews) for a 2025 voyage, but the news does bring a private mission to the red planet one step closer to reality. A bigger step occurred earlier this month, when Mars One announced a contract with Lockheed Martin to craft a design concept for a robotic lander. Its goal: to find and prepare a landing site for the first human visitors to Mars. Click here. (12/31)

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