January 24, 2014

Congressional Field Hearing Planned at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
About six members of Congress are expected to participate in a February 10 field hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Operations, at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The hearing will address the disposition of federal facilities and property, presumably to include the "Shiloh" property at  Kennedy Space Center sought by the State of Florida to develop a new commercial launch site.

The subcommittee is chaired by Congressman John Mica (R-FL). Among the organizations invited to testify are the Air Force, NASA, GSA, Space Florida, the Florida Ports Council, and the Florida Audubon Society. The location of the hearing will be the KSC Visitor Complex. (1/24)

Public Hearings Planned for Shiloh Launch Site Plan (Source: FAA)
Two public scoping meetings will be held to solicit input from the public on potential issues that may need to be evaluated in the EIS. The first scoping meeting will be held on Feb. 11 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., at the New Smyrna Beach High School, 1015 10th Street, New Smyrna Beach. The second scoping meeting will be held on Feb. 12 from 5:00- 8:00 p.m., at the Eastern Florida State College, Titusville Campus.

The meeting format will include an open-house workshop from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The FAA will provide an overview of the environmental process from 6:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. followed by a public comment period from 6:15 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The FAA and cooperating agency staff will be present during the open-house workshop portion of the meetings to answer general questions on the proposed project and the NEPA process.

The proposed Shiloh Launch Complex would be constructed on approximately 200 acres of undeveloped land in the vicinity of a former citrus community known as Shiloh. Of the 200 acres, each vertical launch facility would require approximately 30 acres of fenced land. Editor's Note: Shiloh supporters are asked to wear red to the scoping meetings. (1/24)

Koller: Seek Common Space Goal
(Source: Florida Today)
The fact is, there is no current business model that allows the private sector to succeed without substantial government support, and no public support that allows civilian government programs (i.e., NASA) to succeed without private enterprise’s creative and productive capabilities.

It takes both sides of that very powerful partnership to undertake and complete the kinds of programs that will allow us to colonize another planet — even one as close as our own moon. The Chinese already have figured that out, and we’re wasting time we cannot reclaim by fighting among ourselves.

The time will come when free enterprise is able to do all that is needed in space, and I hope that happens sooner than later. For now, we live in a time when the levels of risk, size of investment and complexities of activities require a wise and careful blending of the very best of all our time, talent and money. Let’s find ways to work together to take America to the stars. (1/24)

Space Travel Vital to our Survival, says UK Astronaut (Source: BBC)
The British astronaut who is set to go into space next year has said that learning how to live and work in space will be essential to the survival of our species. He is due to spend six months on the International Space Station next year. Major Peake is currently undergoing intensive training in Germany to prepare for the mission. He will travel on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and could eat a meal chosen by the public. (1/24)

Toxic Russian Rocket Fuel Target of Kazakh Anger (Source: Moscow Times)
A nationalist political party in Kazakhstan has called on the government to ban future launches of Russian Proton-M carrier rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome over concerns that they spew a particularly toxic form of rocket fuel into the Kazakh steppe. The Proton-M is the workhorse of Russia's unmanned and commercial space programs. It uses a type of fuel called heptyl, which is a highly corrosive combination of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, topped off with kerosene. (1/24)

Russia to Launch Three Spacecraft to the Moon (Source: Pravda)
Russia is to launch a new lunar exploration program. In this regard, scientists plan to launch three new spacecraft. The announcement of the new space exploration program was made by Academician Lev Zeleny, the director of the Institute of Space Research of the russian Academy of Sciences. According to him, the funding for the construction of three spacecraft - Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27 has been provided.

Luna-25 and Luna- 27 are lunar rovers. With their help, scientists will explore the surface of Earth's natural satellite. Luna-26 will be a satellite of the Moon to explore the natural satellite from its orbit and relay the obtained information to the ground. Luna-25 will be launched in 2016, Luna-26 - in 2018, Luna-27 - in 2019, the academician said. (1/24)

Another Indo-French Satellite Being Planned for Climate Study (Source: Business Standard)
Come March 18 and a group of scientists representing the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and its French counterpart National Space Agency of France (CNES) will meet to finalize the specifications for a joint satellite program between India and France. "The satellite is for oceanographic, climate change and other studies. The scientists from the two space agencies will analyse the data jointly," an official representing the French space agency in India said. (1/24)

Stephen Hawking: 'There Are No Black Holes' (Source: Nature)
Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks. But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

In its stead, Hawking’s radical proposal is a much more benign “apparent horizon”, which only temporarily holds matter and energy prisoner before eventually releasing them, albeit in a more garbled form. “There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory,” Hawking told Nature. Quantum theory, however, “enables energy and information to escape from a black hole”. A full explanation of the process, the physicist admits, would require a theory that successfully merges gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature. (1/24)

Catastrophic Space Debris Events Every 5-9 Years (Source: Aviation Week)
Catastrophic collisions of space junk and orbital assets are likely to occur every five to nine years, and the space debris population may have already reached a “tipping point,” U.S. congressional researchers say in their latest report.

“Many experts now believe that mitigation efforts alone are insufficient to prevent the continual increase of space debris,” the Congressional Research Service reported Jan. 8. “A growing view among experts holds that some level of active removal of debris from the space environment is necessary. Nevertheless, such efforts are technologically immature and face significant budgetary and legal obstacles.” (1/23)

Atlas Launches TDRS Communications Satellite (Source: Space Today)
An Atlas 5 rocket successfully launched a satellite that supports communications with the International Space Station and other NASA spacecraft. The Atlas 5 401 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport at 9:33 pm EST Thursday and released the TDRS-L satellite into a transfer orbit nearly two hours later. The launch was delayed by almost a half-hour because of a telemetry problem with the satellite that was later resolved. (1/24)

At Your Service: Orion Service Module Complete (Source: Space Daily)
The second of three major parts of the spacecraft that will launch into orbit on Orion's first mission this fall is complete. Work has been progressing steadily on all three main parts of Orion - the service module, the crew module and the launch abort system - and this month the service module joined the launch abort system in crossing the finish line. (1/23)

First Orbital Flight of Dream Chaser Planned at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corp. has confirmed that the first orbital flight of its Dream Chaser Space System will occur on Nov. 1, 2016.  Dream Chaser will be brought to orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that is being built in Decatur, Alabama and will launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Dream Chaser flight operations and vehicle processing will be based in Florida.

“We could not have done this without the spirit and engagement from our national and state governments, the best aerospace companies in the industry, and several major universities, which all hail from over 30 states. Together these passionate people will return our astronauts to space on American spacecraft and rockets launched from America’s space coast right here in Florida.” SNC will use the Shuttle Landing Facility for Dream Chaser landings.

SNC also highlighted its plans to employ the Operations and Checkout (O&C) facility at KSC for both preparation of the reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft for its flights and post-mission testing for its next flight. After significant upgrades by NASA and the State of Florida, the O&C is currently being used by Lockheed Martin to develop, assemble and test  NASA’s Orion spacecraft. "The result will maximize efficiency for both Dream Chaser and Orion and will provide continuity for our highly trained, motivated and certified workforce.” (1/23)

Conditions for Life on Mars Backed by Second NASA Finding (Source: Bloomberg)
Samples from the rim of a 3.7 billion year old crater on Mars are the earliest evidence of water activity yet discovered, confirming previous findings that conditions existed on the now-rocky planet for life formation. A group of rocks called the Matijevic formation suggested mild conditions on Mars billions of years ago, according to a finding from the NASA’s Opportunity rover, which touched down on the planet in 2004. (1/23)

Ancient Mars May Have Been Habitable for Hundreds of Millions of Years (Source: Space.com)
Mars may have once been capable of supporting microbial life for hundreds of millions of years in the distant past, new findings from a long-lived Red Planet rover suggest. NASA's Opportunity rover, which celebrates 10 years of Mars exploration on Friday (Jan. 24), has uncovered evidence that benign, nearly neutral-pH water flowed on the Red Planet around 4 billion years ago. (1/23)

NASA Offers Space Tech Grants To Early Career University Faculty (Source: NASA)
NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of outstanding early career faculty members who are beginning their independent careers. The grants will sponsor research in specific, high priority areas of interest to America's space program. Aligned with NASA's Space Technology Roadmaps and priorities identified by the National Research Council, the agency has identified topic areas that lend themselves to the early stage innovative approaches U.S. universities can offer for solving tough space technology challenges. (1/23)

NASA Extends VAB Tours Until February 23 (Source: CFL News 13)
NASA is giving space enthusiasts a little bit longer to get an up-close look inside the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building, pushing back the final public tour date from Feb. 11 to Feb. 23. "Both the Up-Close VAB and Mega Tours will be available through February 23," a Facebook post from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex said. (1/23)

France To Make Older Spot Images Available to Researchers for Free (Source: Space News)
The French government has agreed to open its Spot optical Earth observation data archive and distribute, free of charge to noncommercial users, Spot satellite data that is at least five years old. The Jan. 23 announcement by the French space agency, CNES, followed a French government commitment made Jan. 17 during a meeting in Geneva of the 80 governments that comprise the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). (1/23)

Critics Doubt Value of International Space Station Science (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
After the White House decided recently to prolong the life of the International Space Station until 2024, the nation's top science official declared that the four-year extension would help NASA get a big return on its $100 billion investment. The station is "proving to be an amazingly flexible laboratory," said John Holdren, chief science adviser to President Barack Obama.

Yet despite his endorsement, critics ranging from space bloggers to official NASA watchdogs say the agency still has work to do before the station reaches its scientific potential. "The old adage is that if you build it, they will come," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA space station payload manager who runs the popular website NASA Watch. "Well, it's there, but NASA has a lot of catching up to do in terms of fully utilizing the capability of the space station." (1/23)

Morpheus Cruises Through Flight Tests at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
With four legs, a methane-fueled rocket engine, bulbous propellant tanks and a coating of silver insulation, NASA's Morpheus prototype lander looks a vehicle built for space and not Earth's atmosphere. But it's being tested near sea level in Florida, where engineers have fashioned a field of rock hazards and craters mimicking a lunar landscape amid palm trees and alligator habitats.

The goal is to test out technologies that could be employed on future missions to land on the moon, Mars or visit asteroids. Although NASA has not identified a space mission to follow the Morpheus atmospheric tests, officials say the technologies could be put on a planetary or lunar lander by 2018. But it's all a matter of funding, said Jon Olansen, Morpheus project manager from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA could also partner with commercial companies seeking to build a moon lander, such as the firms competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $20 million award being sought by several corporate and university teams who are trying to be the first to put a privately-developed spacecraft on the moon. (1/23)

Garver Drove Shift In Space Policy (Source: Aviation Week)
Lori Garver does not inspire ambivalence. Few who worked with her when she was deputy NASA administrator came away from the experience with a neutral opinion. To some, she is a ruthless powerhouse whose abrasive ego has run roughshod over opponents, leaving in her wake lost careers and hurt feelings as she trashed policy adversaries among the U.S. space agency's civil servants and congressional backers.

To others, she labored tirelessly to put the U.S. space program on a more realistic footing, redirecting it from its role as an overtasked, underfunded government pork barrel. In this view, Garver has been key in moving NASA toward a true public-private partnership where the government will only take on pre-commercial projects before they generate any profit. (1/13)

Virgin Tests Engine for Satellite Launcher (Source: SpaceRef)
Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, announced today that it has reached a significant milestone in the testing of a new family of liquid rocket engines for LauncherOne, the company's small satellite launch vehicle. As part of a rapid development program, Virgin Galactic has now hot-fired both a 3,500 lbf thrust rocket engine and a 47,500 lbf thrust rocket engine, called the "NewtonOne" and "NewtonTwo" respectively. (1/23)

No comments: