January 31, 2014

Supporters Urged to Attend Shiloh Environmental Impact Meeting (Source: SPACErePORT)
FAA public hearings on the Shiloh launch site project are planned in Volusia and Brevard Counties on Feb. 11 and 12. Shiloh boosters are urging supporters to attend the hearings and to wear red to show their support. Click here. (1/31)

What Your Company Can Learn from NASA's Tragedies (Source: BYU)
BYU business professor Peter Madsen has been researching NASA’s safety climate ever since the Columbia shuttle broke apart upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003. Specifically, Madsen has been studying and quantifying how the organization recognizes “near-misses”—events where failures were narrowly averted resulting in successful outcomes.

A new study of NASA’s safety climate coauthored by Madsen finds that recognition of those near-misses goes up when the significance of a project is emphasized, and when organizational leaders emphasize safety relative to other goals (like efficiency). In other words, if you want to avert disasters, your employees need to feel like their work has greater significance, and they need to know that their leaders value safety. (1/31)

Is Malaysia's Project Angkasawan Lost In Space? (Source: Malaysian Digest)
We spoke to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s (MOSTI) deputy minister Datuk Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah about the latest development of Malaysia’s very own astronaut program, which seems to be running under the radar now. In 2006, Malaysia created a monumental history when an orthopedic surgeon Datuk Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was sent into space along with the Russian astronauts through a joint-venture project with Russia.

This was the country’s first ever space exploration mission so anticipation was high at that time. Years pass by and we have yet to hear anything about the Astronaut Program. Abu Bakar said the project is still in existence but a lot of people have the misconception that the project is only about sending an astronaut to space. “The project is not merely sending an astronaut to space but more importantly the objective of the program is to ensure that Malaysia will be able to build its’ capability and capacity in doing research in space. (1/30)

Arianespace Supports EU Space Policy (Source: Space Daily)
Stephane Israel, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, participated in the 6th European Conference on Space Policy, which took place in Brussels on January 28. He thanked the European Commissions for expressing their trust in the company by choosing Arianespace launch services for two emblematic programs, Galileo and Copernicus. Since the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union has asked the European Commission to define and apply the EU's space policy. (1/30)

Russia, US to Join Forces Against Space Threats (Source: Space Daily)
Russia and the United States will pool efforts in the creation of asteroid diversion techniques. Russian Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said in a video link with the administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) it was time to work together to protect the Earth from asteroids and meteorites. (1/31)

Asteroid Diversity Points to a "Snow Globe" Solar System (Source: Space Daily)
Our solar system seems like a neat and orderly place, with small, rocky worlds near the Sun and big, gaseous worlds farther out, all eight planets following orbital paths unchanged since they formed. However, the true history of the solar system is more riotous. Giant planets migrated in and out, tossing interplanetary flotsam and jetsam far and wide. New clues to this tumultuous past come from the asteroid belt.

"We found that the giant planets shook up the asteroids like flakes in a snow globe," says lead author Francesca DeMeo. Millions of asteroids circle the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, in a region known as the main asteroid belt. Traditionally, they were viewed as the pieces of a failed planet that was prevented from forming by the influence of Jupiter's powerful gravity. Their compositions seemed to vary methodically from drier to wetter, due to the drop in temperature as you move away from the Sun.

That traditional view changed as astronomers recognized that the current residents of the main asteroid belt weren't all there from the start. In the early history of our solar system the giant planets ran amok, migrating inward and outward substantially. Jupiter may have moved as close to the Sun as Mars is now. In the process, it swept the asteroid belt nearly clean, leaving only a tenth of one percent of its original population. As the planets migrated, they stirred the contents of the solar system. Objects from as close to the Sun as Mercury, and as far out as Neptune, all collected in the main asteroid belt. (1/31)

Embry-Riddle Grad Goes to Extreme Lengths on Earth to Help NASA (Source: ERAU)
Jason Poffenberger’s job is “out of this world” — or maybe the closest thing to it here on Earth. The 2010 Master of Aeronautical Science graduate is part of a NASA team that field tests in Earth-based extreme environments to prepare for space exploration. A lot of Jason’s work takes place in underwater environments like the Florida Keys and Pavilion Lake in British Columbia, Canada.

In his work, Jason helps develop the architectures required for human exploration of the moon, near-Earth asteroids and Mars. He then takes those plans and helps design and execute Earth-based training scenarios (analogs) that allow astronauts and engineers to practice using the tools and operational concepts that will eventually be performed during an actual space exploration mission. (1/30)

Huntsville Looks at the Past and Future of Space Exploration (Source: WAFF)
Many people in Huntsville spent some time looking back, and forward, in space exploration. Space campers, local students, and the director of the Marshall Space Flight Center gathered at the US Space and Rocket Center Thursday morning to remember the astronauts killed in the Apollo, Challenger, and Columbia tragedies.

Organizers displayed a wreath and a candle lit in memory of the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews. Students from the very schools named for those crews and those missions said they know that they are the future for human space flight. (1/30)

San Antonio Firm a Major Player in Private Space Exploration (Source: WOAI)
San Antonio based Exploration-Architecture Corporation (XArc) is putting together a proposal to participate in privately funded space exploration, with a goal of establishing a lunar base. XArc CEO Sam Ximenes says San Antonio is perfectly placed as private space exploration companies explore the possibility of building space ports in Brownsville and at Ellington Field in Houston.

"With the Brownsville spaceport at one end, and the Houston spaceport at the other, and then San Antonio sitting in the middle," he said. XArc has recently been chosen by the Houston Airport System to conduct an Economics and Business Study for a proposed commercial spaceport at Ellington Airport. (1/30)

Marshall Releases Key Orion Flight Hardware for Florida Launch (Source: Huntsville Times)
Workers at Marshall Space Flight Center gathered to celebrate the completion of the adapter that will connect NASA's new Orion spacecraft to a Delta IV rocket for Orion's first mission in September. The completed adapter flight hardware will be shipped in mid-March from Marshall to United Launch Alliance's (ULA) facility in Decatur, Ala. ULA is constructing the Delta IV rocket for EFT-1. From there, it will travel by ship to Cape Canaveral in Florida ahead of Orion's mission. (1/31)

Challenger and the Diminishment of the NASA Space Program (Source: WIRED)
We are in a time of solemn NASA anniversaries. On 27 January 1967, the Apollo 1 (AS-204) fire claimed the lives of astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. Their deaths slowed Apollo’s breakneck pace, helping to ensure the success of the lunar missions that followed. On 1 February 2003, the Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia, wounded at launch on 16 January by a chunk of ice-hardened foam from its External Tank (ET), broke apart during reentry.

I have not forgotten the crew of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger, which broke apart just 72 seconds after launch on mission STS 51-L (28 January 1986); in fact, I write this commemoration because I have a question concerning Challenger even now. We had it in our power to make the Space Shuttle better than it was before Challenger. Instead, we elected to prune back our dreams to fit its limitations. Click here. (1/31)

How to Pack a Telescope (for a Trip to Space) (Source: The Atlantic)
In October of 2018, the James Webb telescope will launch into space, where it will travel beyond the moon to peer, as NASA puts it, into "the beginning of time." The Webb, all in all, is roughly the size of a tennis court. And it is, as space telescopes generally are, packed with tools and instruments that will allow it simultaneously to orbit the sun and to seek (NASA again) "the unobserved formation of the first galaxies."

This video, just released from by NASA's Webb Telescope team, illustrates the precise process that will take place, if all goes according to plan, when the Webb launches. You can think of the telescope as a kind of origami object, folded into an Ariane rocket like so many paper cranes. You can also think of it as a kind of butterfly, folded into a cocoon—and ready to spread its wings in space. (1/31)

Golden Spike Still Aims For Human Lunar Expeditions By Decade's End (Source: Forbes)
The anniversary of Apollo 8’s broadcast from lunar orbit gives pause to wonder when humanity will again visit the Moon. To many, the answer lies not in traditional space agencies, but commercial ventures like Golden Spike, Bigelow Aerospace and Space Adventures. Colorado's Golden Spike aims to democratize access to the moon by providing  turnkey access to reasonably-priced lunar missions for countries with a will to get there, but not a space-program to take them.

However, for $1.55 billion, Golden Spike plans to offer two astronauts two moonwalks, surface stay times of at least 36 hours, and enough cargo space to handle some 50 kilograms of return samples. The company also says it plans to provide a two-astronaut crew with the option of $900 million week-long orbital missions. Click here. (1/31)

SpaceX Could Give Struggling Texas City A Boost (Source: NPR)
The space company SpaceX has identified a remote spot on the southern tip of Texas as its finalist for construction of the world's newest commercial orbital launch site. The 50-acre site really is at the end of the road. Texas Highway 4 abruptly ends at the warm waves of the Gulf surrounded by cactus, Spanish dagger and sand dunes. Click here. (1/30)

Editorial: Space Casualties a Necessary Tragedy (Source: USA Today)
While the Challenger, Columbia, and Apollo 1 tragedies were preventable with better management and the benefit of hindsight, they are also a useful reminder we are opening a harsh frontier. Loss of human life will be just as inevitable on the high frontier as it was on the old ones, when ancient man colonized Europe and Asia and, more recently, modern man developed the Americas and air travel.

Americans have come to take constantly improving safety for granted, but we still kill tens of thousands of people on the nation's highways annually. With the coming of a commercialized space age, we should take the same approach. There is no risk-free activity, and to imagine that we can open up space without human casualties is a delusion that could prevent it from happening. Click here. (1/31)

EELV Block Buy Deal For Missions Only Suited to ULA Rockets (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
There will be 28 launches of Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets enabled through the new block buy, including four Heavy rockets, with the three dozen cores purchased by the Pentagon. "This contract locks in firm-fixed prices for launch services for the next five years to support the National Security Space (NSS) manifest. These launch services cover missions where only ULA is capable of meeting the required mission performance." (1/31)

Planet-Hunting Plato Backed by European Scientists for $1B Mission (Source: Space News)
European scientists have proposed that the Plato mission to hunt for habitable planets be selected as the European Space Agency’s next Medium-class mission for launch between 2022 and 2024, European government officials said. Having been selected from among four candidates by the Space Science Advisory Committee, Plato will now be presented to the final jury, the Science Program Committee, which will decide the issue during a Feb. 19-20 meeting. (1/31)

Bill Increases Funding Levels for Fattah Space Priorities (Source: Rep. Fattah)
Two NASA programs championed by Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) were included in the bipartisan Congressional spending bill passed and signed into law earlier this month. The Commercial Crew Program and three popular NASA education grant programs received support from Fattah, who serves as Ranking Member on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and related agencies. Fattah worked closely with Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to fund NASA at $17.65 billion in the bill, $767.4 million (4.5%) above FY13 post-sequester levels. (1/30)

ATK Releases Third Quarter Results (Source: ATK)
ATK orders for the quarter were $1.3 billion, down from $1.4 billion in the prior-year quarter. This brings the year-to-date book-to-bill ratio to approximately 1.0, which is down from 1.2 in the prior-year quarter. The decrease was driven by lower orders in the Sporting and Defense Groups, offset by an increase in the Aerospace Group. (1/30)

Northrop Grumman Profit Exceeds Analysts’ Estimates (Source: Bloomberg)
Northrop Grumman, the U.S. government’s fifth-largest contractor, said fourth-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates as sales fell. Net income from continuing operations in the quarter declined 10 percent to $478 million, compared with $533 million a year earlier. Sales declined 4.9 percent to $6.16 billion in the quarter from a year earlier, the Falls Church, Virginia-based company said in a statement today. Electronic systems was the only unit reporting a gain. (1/30)

Raytheon Sees Bottom of U.S. Military Spending in 2013-2014 (Source: Reuters)
Raytheon Co Chief Financial Officer Dave Wajsgras on Thursday said the low point of U.S. military spending was likely from mid-2013 to mid-2014, but international orders were expected to remain strong this year. He said the company's adjusted operating margin in 2013 was 13.4 pct, the highest level seen since 2000, which reflected ongoing efforts to cut costs by consolidating facilities and other measures. (1/30)

What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist (Source: Space.com)
Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That's what cosmologist Max Tegmark believes. In Tegmark's view, everything in the universe — humans included — is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure. (1/31)

Generation Orbit Hires Financial Manager (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) welcomes Jordan Shulman as Financial Manager. Operating under GO’s CFO, David Horn, Mr. Shulman will develop and implement financial models and perform business operations tasks, including accounting, payroll, and contracting. He will also support business development tasks such as interfacing with investors, valuations, and program planning.  With GO’s continued growth and success, the need for a Financial Manager becomes imperative. (1/31)

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