January 4, 2014

Boeing to Base X-37B Spy Plane at Former KSC Shuttle Facility (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A spy plane used by the U.S. Air Force is about to get a new home: a garage at Kennedy Space Center that once housed NASA orbiters during the space shuttle era. The move was announced Friday by Boeing, the Chicago-based company that built the X-37B spy plane and is in charge of repairing the spacecraft whenever it returns to Earth.

Previously, Boeing had refurbished the 29-foot-long spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but the company decided to relocate its fix-up shop in Florida, where the vehicle now launches. In keeping with the secretive nature of the program, Boeing would not release funding or employment details. But any transfer of work to KSC is welcome news to an area that lost thousands of jobs when NASA retired the shuttle in 2011. (1/3)

Iran Plans Satellite Launch in February (Source: PressTV)
An Iranian aerospace official says the country plans to launch an indigenously designed and manufactured satellite into orbit in early February next year. Deputy head of Iran Space Agency (ISA), Hamid Fazeli, said that final tests are being carried out on several indigenous satellites. They include Sharif Sat, developed by Iranian students and academics from Sharif University of Technology, and AUT Sat, developed by Iranian scientists at Amir Kabir University of Technology. (1/3)

China Moon Rover Stamps and Medallions Celebrate First Lunar Landing (Source: Collect Space)
China's postal service and largest bank are marking the country's first moon landing by launching new stamps and medallions featuring the Chang'e-3 probe and Yutu rover. China Post Wednesday (Jan. 1) released its second set of postage stamps commemorating the lunar mission, which on Dec. 14 marked the first moon landing in 37 years. (1/3)

Biggest Ever Satellite Constellation to be Launched (Source: The Telegraph)
They are no bigger than a bread tin, but the Dove satellites are set to break new ground in space exploration.
A flock of 28 are to be put into orbit from NASA's station at Wallops, about 170 miles south east of Washington DC. They are radically different from conventional monster satellites. Not only are they smaller, but they fly far lower than traditional satellites, orbiting at around 310 miles above the earth rather than more than 500 miles. Editor's Note: This is not the biggest constellation of satellites ever launched. (1/3)

Watch Full-Length Blast for SpaceShipTwo's Rocket Engine (Source: NBC)
Virgin Galactic had to postpone a rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo craft last month, due to cloudy weather - but the space tourism company still managed to end the year with a blast. The company’s end-of-the-year video, released on Monday, shows a full-duration firing of SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid rocket motor during a ground test. This was the first public airing of footage showing a 56-second burn, which is said to be long enough to send the rocket plane past the boundary of outer space. Click here. (1/2)

Dark Matter Search Considers Exotic Possibilities (Source: Scientific American)
Ever since astronomers realized that most of the matter in the universe is invisible, they have tried to sort out what that obscure stuff might be. But three decades of increasingly sophisticated searches have found no sign of dark matter, causing scientists to question some of their basic ideas about this elusive substance.

In October the most sensitive experiment looking for proof of the leading candidate for dark matter—theorized particles called WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles)—reported null results, disappointing scientists once again. Now some researchers are reexamining dark matter candidates once written off as unlikely, and considering less satisfactory ideas such as the possibility that dark matter will turn out to be made of something more or less undetectable. (1/3)

FAA Renews New Mexico Spaceport License (Source: Aviation Week)
Good news for the New Mexico Spaceport: The FAA has renewed its operator license. That means space flights from the facility can happen as soon as the ships are ready and other flights from the facility can continue. Spaceport America was first licensed by the FAA in December 2008. Licenses must be renewed every five years. A Nov. 12 launch marked Spaceport America's 20th vertical launch since it opened. (1/3)

Mojave Space Port Prepares for Witt's Departure (Source: Taft Midway Driller)
Boardmembers at the Mojave Air and Space Port held their last meeting of 2013 on Dec. 17, during which they discussed the announcement of CEO Stuart Witt’s retirement, reviewed the status of the year’s original objectives, and unanimously approved funds for the final completion of the new event center. (12/28)

Joint Mission with India Studied as NASA Seeks Earth Science Savings (Source: Space News)
Seven years after an independent review board cited the importance of two ambitious Earth science missions, NASA officials are investigating ways to perform scaled-back versions of the original projects that fit within current budget projections.

NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are conducting a study to determine the feasibility of launching a spacecraft equipped with L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radars to observe a variety of phenomena, including changes in global vegetation, wetlands, coastlines and soil moisture.

If the project proceeds, it would be the first satellite built jointly by NASA and ISRO, NASA spokesman Stephen Cole said. The proposed NASA-ISRO mission would meet nearly all of the important scientific objectives of the radar portion of the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) mission. (1/2)

Aerospace Will Lift Defense Sector in 2014 (Source: The Hill)
The defense industry will continue to be under pressure this year as sequestration and the drawdown in Afghanistan take their toll on spending, but the aerospace industry will lift the entire sector to 5% growth, a new report says. "It is likely that 2014 will bring high single to double-digit levels of growth in the commercial aerospace sub-sector, as experienced in 2012 and expected in 2013, given the dramatic production forecasts of the aircraft manufacturers," says the study by Deloitte. (1/2)

Cost Cuts Won't Come Easy for Air Force (Source: Delaware News Journal)
The Air Force is urging members to consider early retirements and taking a long list of other steps to cut costs to manage its way through sequestration – steps that could mean fewer service members are forced to take on more work. The F-35 fighter jet program, however, is expected to grow despite the budget-trimming efforts. (1/2)

ESA Says It Is on Track To Reduce Its Station Costs by 30 Percent (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) says that by late 2015, if not earlier, it will reduce its annual space station operating costs by 30 percent compared with 2010. But the agency declined to provide details on where the savings would come from, what the total cost reduction will be and what effect they will have on science and industrial research at the international space station. (1/2)

SpaceX Set for Monday Launch Attempt at 5:06 p.m. (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX has confirmed plans for a 5:06 p.m. Monday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Thai broadcasting satellite from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch of Thaicom 6 had been planned for today, but SpaceX pushed it back to perform more rocket inspections. (1/2)

Freezing Forecast Forces Antares Launch Delay (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Orbital Sciences has pushed back next week's launch of a commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station by at least one day to Wednesday to dodge frigid temperatures expected on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Liftoff of the privately-developed Antares rocket was set for Tuesday after a three-week delay from mid-December to make room for spacewalks to repair a problematic ammonia coolant loop on the space station, but the long-range forecast for early next week predicts freezing temperatures. (1/3)

Restless Americans Look To Mars One For New Home (Source: Aviation Week)
No people are seemingly more eager and suited than Americans to leave the Earth for a new life on Mars. The notion emerges from the demographics behind the 1,058 men and women selected by Mars One this week to proceed with future rounds of a global selection process by the Dutch non-profit to identify those best suited to settle the red planet. Trips are scheduled to begin in 2025.

Just more than 202,000 people from 107 nations, 24% of them from the U.S., responded to a call for applicants from the private initiative in April, far ahead of the 10% from second-place India. Moving quickly, Mars One dramatically cut the large number of September candidates to the more manageable pool of just more than 1,000 on Dec. 30. Twenty-eight percent of those advancing in the selection process consider the U.S. home, well ahead of second-place Canada with 7%. (1/2)

The Terror in a Space Odyssey (Source: Huffington Post)
Iran's announcement that it has sent a monkey into space has caused a bit of a stir. Space exploration- that highest frontier of transformative technology pushing out beyond the Earth- has long reigned as futuristic and radical as science can get. This latest excursion that suggests life can exist outside of Earth's confines re-invigorates the mystery of whether a similar bounty of life exists elsewhere in the universe.

On reflection, all the excitement seems a bit much. It's not the first time a monkey has been launched into space. Ever since the 1940s the US, France, Russia and others have been launching flights containing primate cargo. Fruit flies, tortoises, worms, mice, guinea pigs, cats, dogs and frogs have all been rocketed on one way trips into space too. Space must be dotted with as many dead animals as there are black holes. Click here. (1/3)

BioServe Will Conduct Experiments in Space (Source: BCBR)
BioServe Space Technologies will launch an experiment to the International Space Station next week that ultimately could lead to new drugs that work better on antibiotic-resistant diseases and infections. BioServe is a NASA-funded research center in the aerospace engineering sciences department at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Funding information for the antibiotics experiment was not immediately available. (1/3)

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