January 18, 2014

Your Everyday Astronaut Suit (Source: Outside)
While private companies are still working on ways to get customers beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the fashion-side of space tourism is already off the ground. BetaBrand recently unveiled its new Space Jacket that will ship in late May—if the project gets funded, which it likely will. As of Friday afternoon, the company had raised 95 percent of the money needed to make the astronaut suit a reality. Click here. (1/17)

SpaceX Tests Dragon Parachutes for Upcoming Abort Test Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA and one of its partners under the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), SpaceX, performed a test this month of the Dragon capsule’s parachute system in Morro Bay, California. The test was performed to prepare SpaceX for planned emergency abort tests during the remainder of 2014. These tests will hopefully demonstrate how the capsule can land safely following a pad or launch abort. This is one of the milestones set out under the space agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, and was approved in August of 2013. (1/18)

NASA Tests Orion Parachutes Over Arizona (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On January 16, engineers completed another crucial test on NASA’s Orion spacecraft with its parachute system at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. This highly-complex test included the jettison of certain hardware which works to keep the spacecraft safe during flight. “The test was the first to give engineers in-air data on the performance of the system that jettisons Orion’s forward bay cover. The cover is a shell that fits over Orion’s crew module to protect the spacecraft during launch, orbital flight and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. (1/18)

ALMA Discovers Formation Site of Giant Planetary System (Source: ALMA)
A team of Japanese astronomers has obtained a firm evidence of formation of a giant planetary system around a young star by the observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). This result has a transformative impact on the theories of planet formation and gives us a clue to the origin of a wide variety of planetary systems. They observed a young star named HD142527 in the constellation Lupus with ALMA. Cosmic dust, which is component material of planets, is circling around the star in a form of asymmetric ring. (1/17)

Siblings Have Journeys Booked Aboard Virgin Galactic Spacecraft (Source: CBC)
An 11-year-old girl from Milton, Ontario, and her brother hope to become the youngest people to travel to space in Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spacecraft. U.S. regulations restrict space travel to people aged 18 and older, which means Zainab Azim and her 10-year-old brother Ali may have to wait a few years beyond 2015, when their suborbital flight is supposed to take place. (1/18)

President Obama Signs $17.6 Billion NASA Budget (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
President Barack Obama signed a budget measure Friday giving NASA more than $17.6 billion for the year, fully funding the space agency's heavy-lift Space Launch System and Orion exploration capsule while falling short of NASA's request to pay for commercial space taxis. The space agency's top line budget is $17.65 billion in the spending bill, which runs until the end of September and was passed by Congress earlier this week. The $1.1 trillion budget covers the entire federal government. (1/17)

Astronomers Discover Black Hole Orbiting a 'Spinning' Star for the First Time (Source: IFL Science)
Binary systems are quite common, but astronomers have just discovered one system that was previously only hypothesized: a black hole orbiting a spinning star, known as a Be star. The black hole is likely consuming the matter kicked out by the Be star, which was determined to be spinning at over 1 million kilometers per hour (621,000 mph).

The team also found that it is the black hole that is orbiting the Be star, as the star is more massive at approximately 10 solar masses. (1/18)

Orbital Sciences Flying High. Will it Continue? (Source: Washington Business Journal)
NASA hasn't exactly been a cash cow for contractors in the last couple of years, which has been felt by Dulles-based Orbital Sciences as much as anyone. But a couple of modest wins this month have given the company some cause to celebrate — and investors some cautious optimism.

First, the Obama Administration announced Jan. 8 it had approved an extension of the ISS until at least 2024 — enabling continuation of the research happening there for at least another decade, which for Orbital means another 10 years of potential launches. That in turn spurred Moody's to up the company's credit rating ever so slightly — still subject to substantial credit risk, but now at the upper end of that category. (1/17)

Experts: NASA Needs Better Budget for Manned Mars Mission (Source: Space.com)
Experts say NASA could send a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s – if the agency receives budgetary support. "To be able to make it feasible and affordable, you need a sustainable budget," said Chris Carberry, executive director of Explore Mars Inc. "You need a budget that is consistent, that you can predict from year to year and that doesn't get canceled in the next administration." (1/14)

ESA Says It Won’t Be Penalized for Galileo Delays (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency will not be subject to financial penalties following the one-year delay in the launch of Europe’s Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites because the commission did not sign an industrial contract with the agency for the Galileo work, ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain said. Under the European Commission’s agreement with ESA, the commission pays for ESA’s staff costs and ESA acts as technical manager for the program.

But the industrial contract to build the coming Galileo satellites was not an ESA-EU affair. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani in October warned that financial penalties to those building Galileo would cover the cost overruns due to the one-year delay in launching the system. He did not specify the amount, and his remarks appeared to be aimed at ESA as much as the industrial consortium led by OHB AG of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain. (1/17)

ESA's Dordain 'Nervous' About Rosetta Mission (Source: DW)
European space science is in for a big year - if all things go to plan - starting with the "wake up" of Rosetta. European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain tells DW there's nothing to do but wait. "I am nervous, yes. And I'd like it to be Monday already," Dordain said. "Rosetta has been sleeping for 30 months, it's a sleeping beauty. And she will wake up alone because we cannot send a prince to wake her up. So she has to wake up alone, and as long as we have not received signals that she has awoken... Yes, I am nervous!" (1/17)

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