January 22, 2014

Dark Matter Strands Seen for First Time (Source: National Monitor)
How do you see something that to the naked eye appears invisible? You use science. Scientists have discovered a faraway quasar that lit up a huge nebula comprised of diffuse gas. This became the first time scientists were able to see for the first time the complex network of dark matter strands that connect the galaxies together. The scientific team found the huge gas nebula by using the 30-foot Keck I telescope in Hawaii. This nebula extends around 2 million light-years across intergalactic space.

“This is a very exceptional object: it’s huge, at least twice as large as any nebula detected before, and it extends well beyond the galactic environment of the quasar,” said Sebastiano Cantalupo. Researchers have long known something was holding up the universe, even if they couldn’t see it. According to the researchers in the study, dark matter makes up about 84 percent of the material forming the cosmological web. (1/22)

Company Expands at Space Coast Airport (Source: Florida Today)
Local and state officials announced today Wednesday that North American Surveillance Systems Inc. has selected Space Coast Regional Airport to expand and consolidate its fixed and rotary-wing aircraft modification business. The company, known as NASS, plans hire at least 30 manufacturing and engineer jobs over the next three years and spend $1.3 million to acquire land and nearly $400,000 on construction and equipment for manufacturing, research and design and office operations. (1/22)

At UAS Hearing, Nelson Seeks FAA Support for Easing Commercial Launches with USAF (Source: U.S. Senate)
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on Jan. 15 to examine the growth of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly referred to as “drones”, in the U.S., including the potential economic benefits of drone operations, and the progress of steps taken to facilitate the development of the industry through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95).

Editor's Note: During the hearing, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) went off-topic and asked FAA Administrator Huerta for support on commercial space transportation: "I want your advice on what we need to do to get the Air Force to ease-up on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, so we can launch commercial rockets from that location...the actual Air Force property," Nelson said. "We want to follow this up in detail with you at a later time." Click here to view the hearing. Sen. Nelson's comments begin at 02:08:45, just over two hours into the hearing. (1/22)

Space Tourism and Development Incentives on Legislators' 2014 List (Source: Florida Today)
Sen. Thad Altman and Rep. Steve Crisafulli said they support increased funding for Space Florida and for the state tourism-promotion agency Visit Florida. Gov. Rick Scott earlier this month proposed increasing state funding for Visit Florida from $63.5 million in the current budget year to $100 million next year. Altman said he would like to see the Legislature consider expanded tax breaks and incentives for the aviation and aerospace industries, which of both are key components of the local economy. Editor's Note: $1.5 million was appropriated by the Legislature in 2013 for space tourism marketing. (1/22)

Yamal 601 To Be Built by Thales Alena Space, Launched by ILS (Source: Space News)
The tri-band Yamal 601 telecommunications satellite for Russia’s Gazprom Space Systems will be built by Thales Alenia Space and launched aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket in 2016 under contracts announced Jan. 22 by Thales and ILS.

The satellite, which notably will carry the equivalent of 26 Ka-band transponders to develop consumer broadband services in Russia, will also carry 16 C-band and 19 Ku-band transponders. It will operate at Gazprom’s 49 degrees east longitude orbital slot to replace the Yamal 202 satellite there now. Its coverage will extend westward to Europe, southward to the Middle East and North Africa, and eastward to Southeast Asia. (1/22)

A Star Just Exploded 'Next Door' And It's A Huge Deal (Source: Discovery)
The stellar explosion occurred in the galaxy Messier 82 (M82), about 12 million light years from Earth. This means the star exploded nearly 12 million years ago and we're just seeing it. University College London claimed to be one of the first to spot the supernova, one of the closest since the 1980s. It's a huge deal. Click here. (1/22)

ESA to Develop Satellite Reentry Technology (Source: Space Daily)
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Jan 22, 2014 - The European Space Agency (ESA) intends to launch Vega launch vehicle with the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IEV) this year to develop the satellite reentry technology, ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain told a press conference in Paris on Friday. The press conference was broadcast live at the Moscow office of the ESA Permanent Mission to Russia. (1/22)

NASA: Cracked Sea Ice Stirs Up Arctic Mercury Concern (Source: Space Daily)
Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans. (1/22)

South African Set To Be First Black 'Afronaut' (Source: Space Daily)
No one in Mandla Maseko's family has ever stepped outside South Africa, but the young township DJ is set to rocket into space next year. From the dusty district of Mabopane, near Pretoria, 25-year-old Maseko has landed a coveted seat to fly 103-kilometers (64 miles) into space in 2015, after winning a competition organized by a US-based space academy. Sponsored by Unilever Corp.'s Axe brand, the flight will be aboard a Lynx suborbital spaceplane. (1/21)

Water Found in Stardust Suggests Life May be Common in Universe (Source: Space Daily)
The discovery of water in stardust suggests life may exist across the cosmos, in solar systems all over the universe, U.S. researchers say. Dust grains floating through our solar system have been found to contain tiny pockets of water that form when they are hit by charged particles from the sun. (1/20)

Italy's SpaceLand Hints at Midwest U.S. Spaceport Deal (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceLand, the Italian group supporting European parabolic flights for microgravity science and spaceflight training, says in its latest newsletter that it is working toward establishing a U.S. presence. "SpaceLand making history in the mid-West," it says. "Formal negotiation rounds start TODAY with the local Secretary of State for the first American SpaceLand Center at the US Spaceport." (1/22)

NASA Set for a Big Year in Earth Science With Five New Missions (Source: SpaceRef)
For the first time in more than a decade, five NASA Earth science missions will be launched into space in the same year, opening new and improved remote eyes to monitor our changing planet. The five launches, including two to the International Space Station (ISS), are part of an active year for NASA Earth science researchers, who also will conduct airborne campaigns to the poles and hurricanes, develop advanced sensor technologies, and use satellite data and analytical tools to improve natural hazard and climate change preparedness. Click here. (1/22)

Golden Spike Partners With Draper Lab for Lunar Landing Site Studies (Source: Golden Spike)
The Golden Spike Company—the world’s first enterprise planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries, corporations and individuals— announced today a partnership with Draper Laboratory to examine the range of landing sites that Golden Spike can offer for its commercial human missions to the Moon.

Draper provides advanced Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) systems, high-performance, reliable space science instruments, and processing systems for NASA and the U.S. military. Draper provided similar landing site selection studies to NASA’s Constellation lunar landing program. (1/22)

India's Russian Route (Source: Frontline)
The successful launch of the developmental flight D5 of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) on Jan. 5 marks the end of a 20-year-long and difficult journey to the indigenization of the Russian cryogenic technology acquired in 1995. The upper stage of this three-stage GSLV was powered by the indigenously built cryogenic engine and stage, which was modelled entirely on the Russian engine KV1.

When Glavkosmos, the commercial arm of the Russian space agency, reneged on the agreement on transfer of cryogenic engine technology to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in 1993, U.R. Rao, the then ISRO Chairman, famously claimed to the media at various fora that since some data, drawings and information had already been received from the Russians, indigenous development based on that technology would be achieved by 1997.

In off-the-record conversations, however, ISRO scientists admitted that it would take a minimum of 10 years. Retrospectively, even that turned out to be highly optimistic. It has taken a full two decades. (1/22)

Altas Night-Launch Set for Thursday at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
A 192-foot Atlas V rocket is scheduled to roll to its launch pad this morning in preparation for a 9:05 p.m. Thursday liftoff with a NASA communications satellite. “We’re all excited to launch this critical national asset,” said Tim Dunn, the NASA launch director, after a Tuesday morning meeting confirmed all systems were ready for the countdown. (1/21)

Large International Interest in Riding with NASA’s Next Rover (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The next NASA rover to be sent to the surface of Mars has received twice the usual amount of proposals for carrying science and exploration technology instruments. The agency is reviewing a total of 58 submitted proposals, 17 of which came from international partners, ahead of a proposed mission in 2020. Click here. (1/21)

Satellite Regulation in India:Can ISRO Rise Up to the Challenge? (Source: Via Satellite)
India is a country where satellite has the potential to have a huge impact, both in terms of television as well as communications services. However, with such a high demand for capacity, can the Indian Science and Research Organization (ISRO) come up with the right solutions so that satellite can have the maximum impact possible? Click here. (1/21)

Britain’s Ofcom Clears Way for Maritime, Aeronautical Ka-band Business (Source: Space News)
British regulators on Jan. 21 approved a licensing regime for maritime and aeronautical use of Ka-band satellite frequencies, saying licenses would be processed starting in February. Making good on a promise that regulatory red tape would not overly burden the business plans of U.K.-based operators including Inmarsat and O3b Networks, Britain’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) said it expected commercial use of Ka-band on ships and planes to begin this year. (1/22)

Virginia Air & Space Center on the Upswing (Source: Daily Press)
After five years of turbulence, the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton appears on a steady ascension toward financial stability. New leadership has made shrewd, if difficult, decisions to keep the doors open and the city expressed its support through the generous investment of public funds.

In three years, when NASA's Langley Research Center marks its centennial anniversary, the Virginia Air & Space Center can expect to be a focal point for the celebration. That seemed unlikely — much like mankind traveling to the heavens was once thought impossible — but determination has the center positioned to be an integral part of a thriving downtown. (1/21)

Mojave Board Renames Pool Building After Stu Witt (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Mojave residents can officially say goodbye to the Pool Building on Poole Street (No Relation). The Mojave Air and Space Port Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to rename the structure after CEO and General Manager Stu Witt, who spearheaded the renovation of the building where military pilots once underwent emergency water egress training.

The Stuart O. Witt Event Center will host its first public gathering next month when the Antelope Valley Board of Trade holds its Business Outlook Conference on Feb. 21. Deputy General Manager Karina Drees said naming the building after Witt would be a great way to honor him for his contribution to the airport over the past 12 years. (1/21)

Arizona Looks to Pass Legal Protections for Space Tourism (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
Taber MacCallum doesn’t want Arizona to miss out on the possible burgeoning marketplace for commercial space flights and tourism. MacCallum is CEO of Tucson-based Paragon Space Development Corp. and its WorldView space tourism project. Paragon is a space industry supply chain company, while the WorldView venture looks to put high-altitude balloons 100,000 feet in the air for affluent tourists to see the Earth.

But MacCallum said the state needs to pass legal liability legislation so he can get insurance for the space balloon trips. “We can’t afford insurance without it,” said MacCallum, who hopes to start $75,000 space balloon flights originating out of Tucson in 2016. Paragon and the Arizona Technology Council are backing state legislation this year codifying passenger waiver forms for space flights in the state. “If you go skydiving you sign a waiver,” said MacCallum. “It’s exactly like that.”

Tech Council CEO Steve Zylstra said the legislation is important to the potential space tourism and commercial space industry in the state. MacCallum said a number of other states, including California, Texas, Florida, New Mexico and Colorado have legal liability laws in place for space flights. Those give space tourism companies — whether based on rockets and balloons — some legal protections against lawsuits related to accidents and passenger injuries. (1/21)

MDA Wins Space Exploration and Communications Work (Source: MDA)
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates has been awarded multiple strategic technology development contracts by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The contracts, with a combined value of approximately CA$3 million, are funded under CSA’s Space Technology Development Program whose mandate is to advance key technologies to support future Canadian space exploration missions and support industrial capacity building. (1/21)

China Targets on Heavy Launch Vehicles (Source: CRI)
With China's space program still progressing, the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology is looking to build new heavy-launch vehicles which can carry payloads such as manned spacecraft and even space stations. CALT's Liang Xiaohong says research on heavy launch vehicles is pushing toward project approval and the work of tackling key technology has started simultaneously.

Heavy launch vehicles refer to those capable of putting payloads up to 50 tons into orbit. Currently, the US is the only country in the world, apart from China, to develop a research plan for heavy launch vehicles. Liang goes on to say that though China will have vehicles like the Long March 5 and 7 by 2015, it takes several rounds to finish the design of a 100-ton space station. (1/22)

Nelson: New Federal Spending Bill Could Save the World (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The new spending bill approved by Congress last week includes money that could speed up NASA’s next big mission, possibly sending U.S. astronauts to an asteroid by the year 2021, four years earlier than the White House had projected.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson touted the accelerated prospect of a deep space mission atop a heavy-lift rocket as a hidden detail that cleared through Republican opposition in the 1,500-page appropriations bill approved by the U.S. Senate last Thursday, and by the House of Representatives earlier.

“Buried in the big spending bill is the green light for us to go to find an asteroid, nudge it into a stable orbit around the moon and send a human crew in 2021 to rendezvous with it, land on it, conduct experiments on it, in preparation for our journey to Mars in the decade of the 2030s,” Nelson said. (1/21)

Dream Chasing: Sierra Nevada Sets Course for Space Coast? (Source: SpaceKSC)
Hopefully we'll finally learn where will be the Space Coast home of Dream Chaser. An early rumor was at one of the three former orbiter hangars outside the Vehicle Assembly Building, but OPF-1 and OPF-2 have been leased by Space Florida on behalf of the U.S. Air Force X-37B, and OPF-3 is leased by Space Florida on behalf of the Boeing CST-100 commercial crew vehicle.

Another popular rumor is Exploration Park on Space Commerce Road, which remains undeveloped nearly three years after the groundbreaking ceremony. Dream Chaser reportedly will launch atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V at Launch Complex 41, the same as Thursday's TDRS-L launch. It would seem logical that a servicing hangar would be located near the pad, so Exploration Park seems a bit far afield. A few former Titan-era facilities might be available along Titan III Road. (1/21)

Morpheus Lander Completes Another Successful Test at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
After another successful test flight this afternoon, NASA's Morpheus lander is four for four since returning to Kennedy Space Center. The prototype lander fired its liquid methane-fueled engine and lifted off around 1:15 p.m. from a pad near the north end of the former shuttle runway.

The flight plan called for the 10-foot-tall, four-legged vehicle to fly up about 300 feet and over roughly 350 feet before descending to a pad inside a hazard field that mimics a section of the moon. Plans call for a mobile launch pad to be moved back a bit before the next two flights to increase their range. If successful, a sensor package designed to detect and avoid hazards on the ground will be installed for a final series of four flights through March and April. (1/21)

Space Station Creators Get Support for Nobel Nomination (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian scientists support a proposal by former US Vice President Al Gore to nominate the creators of the International Space Station for a Nobel Peace Prize, a Russian academician said Tuesday. “Al Gore has approached the Russian Space Agency [Roscosmos] with a proposal to nominate the ISS, meaning those who created it, for the peace prize,” academician Lev Zeleny told the presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. (1/21)

Former NASA Official Becomes Next University President (Source: Telegram)
The new president of WPI can talk about water on Mars and signs of it elsewhere in the solar system, explain meteorites and discuss the future of human space travel. Laurie Leshin, 48, spent years as a leader at NASA, gave presentations about it to people including Queen Elizabeth II, is part of a Mars rover team, and happens to have an asteroid named after her (4922 Leshin).

Her own future lies between Institute Road and Salisbury Street. After a private six-month search, Worcester Polytechnic Institute announced today that Ms. Leshin will be its 16th president and the first woman to hold the position in the university's nearly 150 years. Ms. Leshin, a geochemist and space scientist, has been dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. since 2011 and prior to that worked for NASA. (1/21)

China's Lunar Rover Takes a Star Turn in Wide-Screen Extravaganza (Source: NBC)
A photographic mosaic from the moon shows China's Yutu rover on the move — in triplicate. The wide-screen view was assembled from imagery captured by the color camera on the Chang'e 3 lander over the past month, as the six-wheeled robot rolled over the lunar surface. This time-lapse version comes from Ken Kremer, a scientist and science journalist from New Jersey who teamed up with Italian colleague Marco Di Lorenzo. Click here. (1/21)

VAB Tours to End Feb. 11 to Accommodate SLS Modifications (Source: KSCVC)
Visitors interested in receiving unprecedented access to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center now have until only Feb. 11 to enjoy the KSC Up-Close Tour of the VAB. After a little more than two years, the tour is being halted to allow for modifications needed while Kennedy Space Center is changing into a multi-user Spaceport and preparing for the Space Launch System. (1/21)

Vietnam, Spacebel Finalize Imaging Satellite Contract (Source: Space News)
Spacebel of Belgium on Jan. 20 formalized a longstanding contract with the Vietnamese government to build a 100-kilogram Earth observation satellite for launch in 2017. Valued at about 63 million euros ($85 million) the contract was signed in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in the presence of both nations’ deputy prime ministers. The agreement includes the training of Vietnamese engineers at Belgium’s University of Liege. (1/21)

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