February 10, 2014

A Decadal Survey for Human Scientific Exploration of Space (Source: Space Review)
Winning broad support for human space exploration efforts, be they to the Moon, asteroids, or Mars, has long been challenging. Matt Greenhouse argues its time for human spaceflight at NASA to adopt the approach for choosing missions that has generated considerable success for the agency's science programs. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2451/1 to view the article. (2/10)

Balancing Safety and Cost in Commercial Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
As companies develop commercial spacecraft to carry private citizens and NASA astronauts on suborbital and orbital flights, some worry that safety could be sacrificed to lower costs. Jeff Foust reports on the debate regarding NASA's commercial crew effort and a proposal to extend a "learning period" for commercial providers that limits FAA regulation. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2450/1 to view the article. (2/10)

Why Not Return to the Moon?  (Source: Space Review)
In the second part of his examination of the future of lunar exploration, Anthony Young looks at a new NASA initiative to support commercial robotic lunar landers and the role it could play in stimulating later human missions back to the Moon. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2449/1 to view the article. (2/10)

Ohio Defends $1.5M Cost for Failed Drone Bid (Source: GovTech)
Ohio wasn't chosen as one of the Federal Aviation Administration's drone test sites, but the $1.5 million it spent trying to get named as one of the centers was well worth it, Ohio officials say. The money paid for data-gathering and the launch of the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex, efforts which will be needed going forward, says Rob Nichols, spokesman for Ohio Governor John Kasich. (2/7)

Sochi Offers Spectacle with Space-Walked Torch (Source: Space.com)
The Olympic torch that was carried for the first time on a spacewalk at the International Space Station took its place at the 22nd Winter Olympic Games, where visitors also got to watch Russian cosmonauts raise the Olympic flags. The space-themed display was part of opening ceremonies that highlighted Russians' history of space exploration. (2/7)

Canada’s Space Ambitions Need a Budget Boost (Source: The Star)
For years, Canada has lent a helping hand to international space exploration — well, more specifically, a robotic arm — but our next contribution will have more to do with seeing. Ottawa announced a new $17 million commitment Friday to help fund the James Webb Space Telescope, a new observatory meant as a successor to the aging Hubble. And it’s fitting that we take part.

Canada is claiming a modest but technologically sophisticated niche in space exploration, working with international partners with an eye toward strengthening the economy as well as expanding scientific knowledge. Protecting Canadian sovereignty will be a factor. And we’ll make a conscious effort to invest strategically, building on this country’s proven strengths in fields such as robotics and optics. Hence funding for the James Webb telescope. (2/10)

India Inks Pact for Launching Satellites From UK, Singapore Aboard PSLV (Source: Business Standard)
Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has signed agreements for launching satellites from UK and Singapore aboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Antrix signed deals with DMC International Imaging (DMCii), a subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), for launch of three DMC-3 Earth Observation Satellites, and with ST Electronics for launch of TeLEOS-1 Earth Observation Satellite. These launches are planned between 2014-end and 2015-end. (2/8)

KSC's Newest Exhibit, Space Shuttle Atlantis, is More Than a Walk Through History (Source: NorthJersey.com)
With no active manned space program to inspire the next generation of explorers and NASA scientists, engaging and inspiring young people is arguably the Kennedy Space Center's most vital mission. With that in mind, the facility and its newest exhibit, Space Shuttle Atlantis, don't just take visitors on a walk through history, they look to the future. (2/9)

NASA Officials Seek Commercial Interest for Surplus Facilities (Source: Florida Today)
Access platforms more than 200 feet up in the Vehicle Assembly Building extended around the tip of the last space shuttle’s external tank, allowing workers to traverse the length of High Bay 1 during launch preparations a few years ago. That level now overlooks a canyon that drops to a mobile launch platform stationed below and rises as high to the roof, where mist formed on a recent rainy afternoon.

NASA will soon invite companies to fill the void with a commercial rocket, or rockets, that could be assembled for launches from Kennedy Space Center. “The taxpayers invested in the building, it’s available, so we’re trying to make it available for a commercial company to take advantage of,” said Tom Engler, deputy director of KSC’s Center Planning and Development office.

The vacant high bay and several mobile launch platforms are the latest surplus former shuttle facilities NASA hopes to transition to new users, but notably also the last of the really big ones. Through deals completed or nearing completion, the major facilities are now nearly all accounted for, three years after NASA first solicited interest in them. Click here. (2/10)

Critical Climate Sensor Activated on Military Satellite (Soure: SpaceFlight Now)
Scientists are happy with observations from a fresh sensor swiftly prepared for launch aboard a U.S. Air Force satellite last year to fill a gap in data on the sun's brightness, a crucial kernel of information for climate change research. The instrument's launch in November came at an opportune time for climate scientists. After an unbroken 35-year record of data on the sun's total energy output, researchers faced the probability they would lose that resource in the next few years as aging satellites died off due to equipment failures. (2/9)

Orion: Next-gen Crew Capsule Set to Launch in September (Source: Daily Press)
In September, a spacecraft built for human exploration is set to blast off and venture deeper into space than any such craft has gone since the Apollo moon missions more than 40 years ago. The unmanned vessel will cruise about 3,600 miles out — 15 times farther than the International Space Station — at speeds of up to 20,000 mph, NASA says. It'll orbit the planet twice before re-entering the atmosphere, protected by heat shields built to withstand temperatures of 4,000 degrees F.

Then its 11 parachutes will slow it down to less than 20 mph for splashdown in the Pacific. This is the test flight NASA plans for its new Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, modeled on the Apollo lunar module but tricked out with technologies more advanced than any spacecraft ever built, designed to be safer and more flexible for deep-space missions to an asteroid, to Mars or beyond. (2/10)

Bolivia's First Communications Satellite Undergoing Operational Tests (Source: Xinhua)
Bolivia's first communications satellite is under its full control and expected to be ready for operation on April 1, Bolivian Space Agency (ABE) announced Sunday. The China-made Tupac Katari satellite, launched on Dec. 21 last year, is in the phase of operational testing with a little help from Chinese technicians, ABE Director Ivan Zambrana told Xinhua, adding the tests were progressing efficiently. The satellite would be put into commercial use in just over a month and a half, Zambrana said. (2/10)

Russian-European Spacecraft to Go on Martian Mission in Jan 2016 (Source: Interfax)
A spacecraft built for the Russian-European ExoMars project will begin its voyage to Mars in January 2016. "In all, there will be four stages in this project. An orbiter designed by the European Space Agency will be launched with a Russian Proton-M LV and a Briz-M upper stage in the period from January 7 to January 27, 2016."

"The spacecraft will arrive in the Martian orbit in October 2016. It will be carrying a number of our and European instruments and a small craft, which will be airdropped to the planet," the scientist said. The vehicle will spend two weeks on the planet's surface. (2/10)

The Oldest Star Discovery Tells Much About the Early Universe (Source: The Conversation)
The discovery of an ancient star formed approximately 13.6-billion years ago just after the Big Bang is telling us much about the early universe. The star – designated SMSS J031300.36-670839.3 – lies within our Milky Way galaxy and a mere (relatively) 6,000 light years away but is the oldest known star discovered so far, we’re announcing in a paper published in Nature.

By studying the light from this star in detail we have, for the first time, seen the chemical fingerprint of the first stars to form in the universe. The telltale sign that the star is so ancient is the complete absence of any detectable level of iron in the spectrum of light emerging from the star. (2/10)

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