January 11, 2014

Supercar Uses Shuttle Landing Facility for Tests (Source: Florida Today)
The 3-mile runway at KSC became a laboratory Friday for one of the fastest production cars in the world as Performance Power Racing and Hennessey Performance conducted aerodynamic testing with a Hennessy Venom GT. The Venom raced down the Shuttle Landing Facility's concrete surface several times far exceeding the space shuttle's touch down speed of about 225 mph. The team won't know it's exact speeds until the data is analyzed, but the information gathered during Friday's runs is expected to verify or refine computer design on the rare supercar. (1/10)

With Florida's Largest University Telescope, Embry-Riddle to Manage Astronomy Consortium (Source: ERAU)
Preparing to open a new observatory that will boast Florida’s largest university-owned telescope, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has joined the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) and has been appointed the consortium’s lead administrative institution by its Board of Directors.
In addition, Dr. Terry Oswalt, the new chair of Embry-Riddle’s Physical Sciences Department, has been elected the chair of the SARA Board of Directors. In 1992 he was the founding chair of the original four-university SARA consortium, established to specialize in remote-access observations. Today the group consists of 12 U.S. universities with similar goals for education and research in astronomy and astrophysics.

Embry-Riddle’s SARA membership will give the school’s faculty and student researchers “eyes on the skies” around the globe through telescopes operated by SARA at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile. Supported in part by a new $500,000 National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant, SARA will assume operations of a third telescope on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma this year. (1/10)

West Shore Students' Space Project Soars to ISS (Source: Florida Today)
As the rocket ascended out of sight, Jason Whitworth’s 12-year-old son Luke felt a burst of joy. On board the Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket is an experiment designed by Luke’s classmates at West Shore Jr./Sr. High — an homage to his father, a former teacher and cross country coach at the school diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. More than a hundred students gathered in the school’s auditorium to watch the rocket soar into orbit from Wallops Island in Virginia. (1/10)

Webb Telescope Still on Schedule for Launch Despite GAO Concerns (Source: Space News)
Some work on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is behind schedule and fueling concerns about a near-term cash crunch, but the agency still expects to finish the $8.8 billion astronomy flagship in plenty of time to make a scheduled October 2018 launch.

A senior NASA official emphasized that the infrared observatory, which has become infamous for soaring cost growth and delays, is not in any trouble despite the nagging issues cited in the latest annual program assessment by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. (1/10)

White House Lobbies Station Partners To Join in Extended Mission (Source: Space News)
The White House’s Jan. 8 announcement of its intent to extend international space station operations from 2020 to 2024 marked the official start of a public lobbying campaign to persuade the station’s international partners, some of which are facing financial difficulties, to come along for the ride.

It has been little more than a year since one key partner, the European Space Agency, committed to participating through 2020, a decision widely viewed as a compromise between ESA’s two biggest contributors, France and Germany. Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the French space agency, CNES, which contributes more than half of its annual budget to ESA, said the first order of business is securing funding from some of ESA’s cash-strapped member states to fulfill the 2020 commitment. (1/10)

U.S., Canadian Governments Sign SSA Data Sharing Accord (Source: Space News)
U.S. Strategic Command and Canada’s Department of National Defence have signed an updated accord permitting the exchange of advanced space situational awareness (SSA) data, Strategic Command announced Jan. 10. The agreement, signed Dec. 26, streamlines the process by which the Canadian military requests SSA data from Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center for things like satellite maneuver planning, collision avoidance and anomaly resolution. (1/10)

Europe Chases Dream of Spaceplane Operations (Source: Flight Global)
A highlight of ESA’s 2014 program will be a suborbital test flight by the Vega rocket during the second half of the year of the 2t unmanned lifting body IXV, whose large-panel thermal protection system – which has been extensively tested in the hypersonic Scirocco wind tunnel near Naples – promises significant improvements over the small tiles that proved so problematic on NASA’s Space Shuttle.

It is IXV’s follow-on program, PRIDE (Program for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe), that may result in a fully orbital, runway-landing vehicle being used for orbiting small satellites, servicing satellites or conducting scientific missions. PRIDE is being sized to fit on ESA’s Vega rocket, and carries the legacy of the Hermes spaceplane project studied by France’s CNES space agency and ESA in the 1980s.

Dream Chaser, by contrast, is being designed to carry up to seven crew and cargo. The spaceplane, derived from NASA’s HL-20 lifting body concept of the 1980s, will be restricted to low-Earth orbit as its heat shielding will not withstand re-entry from deeper space. (1/10)

Com Dev Builds a Backlog Despite Slowdown in U.S. Defense Spending (Source: Space News)
Satellite component builder Com Dev of Canada on Jan. 9 reported a modest increase in revenue but a 26 percent increase in backlog for the 12 months ending Oct. 31 and said its commercial satellite business is flourishing even as its U.S. division suffers from defense budget cuts. The commercial outlook is so favorable that Com Dev announced it would begin paying a shareholder dividend this year even as it scouts for acquisition targets among smaller satellite-component builders. (1/10)

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