February 13, 2014

Arecibo Observatory Undergoing Emergency Repairs After Earthquake (Source: Universe Today)
The Arecibo Observatory’s 305 meter (1,000 ft) radio telescope is undergoing emergency repair after being damaged during a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 13, 2014. A large cable that supports the telescope’s receiver platform had “serious damage,” according to Bob Kerr, the Director of the Arecibo Observatory.

The earthquake’s epicenter was located in the ocean about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Arecibo and was one of the largest to hit Puerto Rico in several years. The quake caused some floor cracking in buildings and homes on the island, as well as power outages, but no major damages or injuries. (2/12)
'No' to Shiloh Launch Site, Speakers Urge (Source: Florida Today)
Endangered species pushed to extinction. Communities and historic treasures wiped out by catastrophic explosions. Tourists and jobs driven away by frequent road, waterway and beach closures. Speakers during a public hearing Wednesday evening overwhelmingly opposed the state’s proposed Shiloh commercial launch complex in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, warning of dire consequences.

“We the people demand, ‘No Shiloh,’ ” Bob Gross, a past chairman of the Brevard County Historical Society, repeated three times to boisterous applause. Officials estimated more than 400 people attended the hearing. The proposed launch complex is an attempt to keep SpaceX, and possibly other companies, from moving launches of commercial satellites – and jobs – to Texas, Georgia or other places.

 The Shiloh citrus community was located there before NASA seized the property in the 1960s to support the Apollo moon program, which led to the refuge’s establishment. The proposed launch complex is an attempt to keep SpaceX, and possibly other companies, from moving launches of commercial satellites – and jobs – to Texas, Georgia or other places. (2/12)

Orbital Announces Quarterly Revenues (Source: SpaceRef)
Orbital Sciences Corp. reported its fourth quarter and full year 2013 financial results. Fourth quarter 2013 revenues were $375.4 million, a new quarterly record for the company, compared to $354.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Fourth quarter 2013 operating income was $30.5 million, or 8.1% operating margin, compared to $31.3 million, or 8.8% operating margin, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net income in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $16.9 million, compared to $13.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Orbital's free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $12.7 million compared to $0.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. (2/13)

Boeing Commercial Crew Program Passes NASA Hardware, Software Reviews (Source: SpaceRef)
Commercial Crew Program (CCP) recently completed a hardware design review and software safety test, bringing it closer to launching the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft that will return Americans to space. Boeing completed a Critical Design Review for the the system's Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA), which connects CST-100 to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The CDR, which included wind tunnel tests verifying flight stability, confirmed that the LVA design is suitable for production. Separately, the Atlas V rocket's emergency detection system, which communicates with the capsule and initiates emergency procedures, if needed, passed its evaluation. (2/13)

Coca Cola Ad Staged on Space Station (Source: SPACErePORT)
Check out this Coca Cola Olympics-themed video advertisement featuring U.S. and Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Click here. (2/13)

A Year With Copenhagen Suborbitals: Lessons Learned (Source: WIRED)
Just a year ago I received an email from Kristian von Bengtson at Copenhagen Suborbitals — Shall we work together? he asked. I eagerly accepted the challenge of equipping Copenhagen Suborbitals with a pressure suit for their first pilot, and went into a building and testing blitz, preparing our prototype suit, which I’d designed, built and tested between 2009 and 2013, for a visit to Copenhagen. Click here. (2/13)

India’s Workhorse to Launch Three Satellites for China (Source: DNA)
ISRO says it plans to launch the three DMC-3 Earth observation satellites from Sriharikota by the yearend or early 2015. While China has proved its capabilities in building human space flights and lunar missions, it will be an Indian carrier that will launch three satellites for the country. India's workhorse launch vehicle Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has been chosen to launch the three DMC-3 Earth observation satellites for China.

The DMC-3 will be built by UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSLT) and its imaging capacity will be leased to Beijing-based Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Company Limited (21AT) for a period of seven years. As per an agreement singed between UK and China in 2011, 21AT will lease 100% of the imaging capacity of the three satellites. (2/12)

China's Lunar Rover Wakes After Mechanical Issues (Source: Xinhua)
China's moon rover Yutu has "woken" after its troubled dormancy but experts are still trying to find out the cause of its technical problems, a spokesman with the country's lunar probe program said on Thursday. "Yutu has come back to life," said Pei Zhaoyu, after a period in which the rover's inactivity had threatened the completion of its mission. Yutu, named after the pet of a lunar goddess in ancient Chinese mythology, has now returned to a state where it can receive signals as normal once again. But experts are still working to verify the cause of its mechanical control issues. (2/13)

Chandrayan-II’s Rover Will Close ‘Moon-ISRO' Gap (Source: DNA)
India’s Chandrayan-II mission will see the country sending a rover and a lander on the moon surface. This was revealed by AS Kiran Kumar, director of Space Application Center (SAC). According to him, the mission is likely to be ready by 2016. To a question on the possibility of a manned mission to moon, he said they were working only on critical technology development. (2/13)

Calculated Risks: How Radiation Rules Mars Exploration (Source: Astrobiology)
Nearly everything we know about the radiation exposure on a trip to Mars we have learned in the past 200 days. For much longer, we have known that space is a risky place to be, radiation being one of many reasons. We believed that once our explorers safely landed on Mars' surface, the planet would provide shielding from the ravages of radiation.

We didn’t how much, or how little, until very recently. Radiation and its variations impact not only the planning of human and robotic missions, but also the search for life taking place right now. The first-ever radiation readings from the surface of another planet were published last month in Science Express. The take-home lesson, as well as the getting-there lesson and the staying-there lesson, is this: don’t forget to pack your shielding.

In open space, human beings continuously contend with intense solar and cosmic background radiation. Solar Energy Particles (SEPs) and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) turn a trip to Mars into a six-month radiation shower. The Mars rover Curiosity has allowed us to finally calculate an average dose over the 180-day journey. It is approximately 300 mSv, the equivalent of 24 CAT scans. In just getting to Mars, an explorer would be exposed to more than 15 times an annual radiation limit for a worker in a nuclear power plant. (2/13)

UK Company Crowdfunds 'Low-Cost' Space Tourism (Source: WIRED)
After a few years of the Ascender spaceplane being in service, its UK creators believe it will cost just a few thousand pounds for you to experience sub orbital flight. The promise is being made by a veteran of the aviation industry, David Ashford, an Imperial College aeronautical engineering graduate and managing director of Bristol Spaceplanes who has been regaling the benefits, viability and cost efficiency of a reusable space vehicle for the past 60 years. This week, he's testing its draw on an investors' crowdfunding platform. (2/13)

Rep. Wolf Statement on NASA Security Report (Source: Rep. Wolf)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, released the following statement concerning the conclusion of an independent review of NASA’s security protocols: “Last year, after learning of security violations at NASA’s Ames and Langley research centers, I called on Administrator Bolden to commission a comprehensive, independent review of the agency’s security, export control and access to NASA property by foreign nationals."

“I appreciate that Administrator Bolden moved quickly on this request... Frankly, I was taken aback at the breadth and depth of security challenges identified across NASA and I am deeply disappointed the agency has restricted access to the report. The report should be made public as soon as possible, with any necessary redactions in the interest of national security, because it confirms not only the serious security challenges that need to be addressed, but a persistent organizational culture that fails to hold center leadership, employees and contractors accountable for security violations. This must change." (2/13)

House OKs Bill Restricting Spaceport Tax Money (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The House has approved a proposal that would stop Doña Ana and Sierra counties from supporting public school operations with part of the money from a local tax that helped finance New Mexico's commercial spaceport. The measure cleared the House on a 40-26 vote Wednesday and goes to the Senate for consideration.

Supporters said if cities and counties use local tax revenue to support school operations it will undermine New Mexico's system of distributing state aid to equalize educational opportunities in all 89 school districts. Democratic Rep. Bill McCamley of Las Cruces said the legislation would hurt students in the counties. (2/13)

Mojave Air & Space Port to Host Conference (Source: Tehachapi News)
Mojave Air & Space Port, birthplace of private sector leaps in aerospace technology, will be the site for the Southern California high desert and mountain region's largest economic conference on Friday, Feb. 21. The day-long 42nd annual Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference will include a regional economic forecast and presentations by leaders in business, industry, military, technology, education and government. (2/12)

Brevard Crowd Slams Southern Volusia Spaceport (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
For the second night in a row, nearly 500 people turned out to tell the FAA their feelings about a proposed commercial spaceport in southern Volusia County. But unlike Tuesday night’s meeting in New Smyrna Beach, the Brevard County crowd was overwhelmingly opposed to Space Florida’s proposal to develop two vertical launch facilities near the Volusia/Brevard county line in an area known as Shiloh. Of more than 35 speakers who commented Wednesday night, only two spoke in favor of the project. (2/13)

Billionaire Musk Gets Brownsville to Pay for SpaceX (Source: Bloomberg)
In a glass-walled conference room at the California headquarters of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told Texas officials he was interested in building the world’s first commercial rocket launchpad in their state -- if the state could compete.

In the months after the 2011 meeting, state and local officials gave Musk, a billionaire, what he and his lobbyists sought: about $20 million of financial incentives, laws changed to close a public beach during launches and legal protection from noise complaints. SpaceX, as the company is known, hasn’t said whether the Texas site, near Brownsville, the poorest metropolitan area in the nation, will be selected over locations in Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

State and local governments often fall into bidding wars for jobs, offering tax breaks and sweeteners amounting to $70 billion annually, according to Kenneth Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. “You’ve got to make sure you’re providing what everybody else is providing for tax incentives and tax breaks,” said John Baldacci, who was governor of Maine from 2003 to 2011 and regularly received requests for tax breaks. (2/12)

Our Destiny Lies Above Us: Making the Case to Save NASA (Source: The Pendulum)
Since humans began to walk the Earth, we have been explorers by necessity and by choice. Something within ourselves drives us to seek out new places and opportunities. Without this drive to explore, our world would be a very different place today.

Where would we be if Christopher Columbus felt content in Europe? What if Thomas Edison was happy with the amount of light candles emitted? What if Mark Zuckerberg never founded Facebook? Well, society could probably live without that last example. In all seriousness, the urge to explore is as natural as breathing.

Every time I watch Congress struggle with seemingly endless budget talks, it is bewildering why NASA is always on the chopping block. Of all the parts that make up the budget, I fail to understand how cutting NASA, which currently makes up a mere .5 percent of the budget, will somehow promote “fiscal accountability.” (2/12)

Farewell to Yutu (Source: Space Daily)
By now, it seems almost certain that China's Yutu Moon rover has died a premature death in the cold lunar night. The rover has been exposed to sunlight for a few days, and there has been no word of it waking up. Yutu's problems began roughly three weeks ago when a solar panel failed to fold inwards over the rover's body, just before night fell at the rover's landing site. The folding panel was designed to protect the rover's interior during the two-week lunar night, by trapping heat from a radioisotope source. Without this protection, the rover's electronics have apparently frozen. (2/12)

Jade Rabbit: China's Lunar Rover Officially Dead (Source: WIRED)
Mechanical problems affecting Yutu, China's first lunar rover, cannot be fixed and the spacecraft will not be restored, according to a short statement on a Chinese news site. Users of Chinese microblogging network Weibo have reportedly been posting missives to Yutu, also known as Jade Rabbit, ever since the abnormalities with the rover first came to light a couple of weeks ago. The blessings have turned to messages of mourning, now it has been confirmed there is no way to bring the rover back from the dead. (2/12)

Bob Werb Retires, and Jeff Feige Elected Chairman at Space Frontier Foundation (Source: SFF)
The Board of Directors of the Space Frontier Foundation announced today that Bob Werb, Co-Founder and long-time Chairman of the Board, has retired from the position, and that they have unanimously elected space entrepreneur Jeff Feige to take over as the Foundation’s new Chairman. (2/12)

Generation Orbit Signs Investment Banking Agreement (Source: SpaceRef)
On January 17th, 2014, Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) signed an exclusive investment banking agreement with The Inman Company, a leading regional investment banking firm. As part of the GO team, Inman will assist in raising capital to fund GO's continuing growth and will then advise management on maximizing shareholder value.

Generation Orbit, with its network of key industry participants, is developing the GOLauncher, an air-launched rocket system specifically designed for launching small satellite payloads. GOLauncher offers fast, flexible, and dedicated space transportation services for nano and microsatellites, enabling developers and operators to unlock the full commercial and scientific potential of this rapidly growing market segment. (2/12)

Return of the Workhorse, Delta-2 (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A quarter-century since its first launch Friday, preparations are underway to end a mini-hiatus and return to the business of launching Delta 2 rockets, if only for a little while longer. The United Launch Alliance vehicle debuted on Valentine's Day 1989, and since then has flown 150 more times over the past 25 years. It has performed successfully a remarkable 149 times, including the last 96 straight launches.

But there's been a gap for the past two years with no flights. The matching of ready payloads with the rocket meant no launches until this summer when the start of the final sendoff to the Delta 2 begins. There's pieces and parts to build just five more Delta 2 rockets and four of them have been sold to NASA. First up is OCO 2, the replacement Orbiting Carbon Observatory to launch July 1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (2/12)

ViaSat Gears Up for Loral Trial, Reports Slower Exede Growth (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband hardware and services provider ViaSat said it is ratcheting up legal expenses as it prepares for a March trial in its lawsuit against former supplier Loral over allegations of contract breach and patent infringement. ViaSat reported double-digit percentage increases in revenue and gross profit for the nine months ending Jan. 3, but the company said its recent star performer — the North American consumer satellite broadband service Exede — added fewer subscribers than expected toward the end of 2013. (2/12)

Airbus Getting $81 Million from ESA Ariane 6 Feasibility Studies (Source: Space News)
Airbus Defence and Space will pursue definition and feasibility studies of Europe’s proposed next-generation Ariane 6 rocket through 2014 under a contract with the European Space Agency valued at 60 million euros ($81 million). Under the contract, which an ESA official said was signed Feb. 10, Airbus will “consolidate the launcher’s main characteristics” based on the ESA-approved design of a vehicle with solid-fueled first and second stages, two solid-fueled strap-on boosters and a reignitable cryogenic upper stage. (2/12)

OIG: NASA Has 15,000 Unclosed Expired Awards (Source: NASA Watch)
As of October 2013, NASA had more than 15,000 award instruments that had expired but were not yet closed. NASA contracts with a private company to assist with the closeout process. The OIG found that although NASA has slowed the growth of its backlog of instruments awaiting closeout, the Agency needs to make further improvements to its closeout process. (2/12)

Landing of Russian and US Astronauts Moved Forward to March 11 (Source: Itar-Tass)
The landing of the Soyuz TMA-10M reentry capsule with two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut has been moved forward from March 12 to March 11. The landing site has also been moved from Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, because of large snowdrifts in the area, said Alexei Krasnov, who is responsible for piloted missions in the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). (2/12)

Defunct Soviet Reconnaissance Satellite May Hit Earth (Source: RIA Novosti)
A decommissioned Soviet military satellite will burn up in the atmosphere Sunday in an uncontrolled descent and surviving fragments may hit Earth, according to an aerospace defense official. The military is actively monitoring the satellite using its space tracking network, which has indicated that it will impact the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said Friday. (2/12)

Russia Gives India, UK Satellite Images of Disaster Areas (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s space agency said Wednesday that it has supplied fresh satellite images to assist Britain and India cope with unfolding natural disasters blighting the two nations. The Resurs-P satellite launched by Russia last summer on Thursday photographed areas along the southern coast of England, which is currently battling floods caused by torrential downpours that began in January. (2/12)

Gigantic Black Hole Jets Shines in Amazing New Video, Photo (Source: Space.com)
While the black hole jet is a prominent feature, the picture also shows what scientists think to be the leftovers of a collision between Centaurus A (Cen A for short) and a smaller galaxy millions of years ago. The "dust lane" that wraps around the middle of Cen A could be the remains of the incorporated galaxy, NASA officials said. Click here. (2/12)

A Launch Site at Shiloh? No: Refuge is Too Fragile (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Space Florida’s decision to pick a fight with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and invade the heart of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is extremely disappointing. It is particularly disturbing, considering that NASA has had a harmonious existence with the refuge for 50 years.

In 2008, NASA studied placing more launch pads for the private space industry north of S.R. 402 near Space Florida’s Shiloh proposal. NASA wisely concluded that those sites were too environmentally damaging and disruptive. NASA prepared a new master plan for space development in 2012, titled “Kennedy Space Center — Future Development Concept 2012-2031”. There are no proposals for launch pads north of S.R. 402. This plan offers ample space to private space contractors and Space Florida south of S.R. 402. (2/12)

A Launch Site at Shiloh? Yes: Environment Right for Success (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
As a 30-year resident of Volusia County, I am proud to be involved in the spaceport project in southeastern Volusia County. It is clear that the positive impact of this project can help drive our community’s future progress and quality of life. I was transferred here in 1984 for a project, with plans to return to South Florida when it was finished. But the quality of life was and still is superior in Volusia County, so I stayed here with my family.

My children were raised here but when one excelled in higher education, she was recruited to another state that offers more high-paying technical jobs. I’m tired of watching us raise great kids, educate them with our tax dollars and then see them move to other states for job opportunities that don’t exist here. But when I see the spaceport project, I think of the impact it could have in creating startup companies and entrepreneurial activities. I think of the impact on our own Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the students who will come to see Shiloh as a one-of-a-kind laboratory.

The Shiloh project is well planned, well designed and most importantly, is necessary for our region’s economic future. Kennedy Space Center is not designed to support the entrepreneurial activity of a commercial space program. A site dedicated to commercial space flight will give private enterprise opportunities to thrive. It is an environment built for success. (2/12)

Russian Space Telescope Enters Guinness Book of Records (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s Spektr-R telescope has been named the largest orbital radio telescope by Guinness World Records. The telescope, with a diameter of 10 meters, was launched in July 2011 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

"The [Guinness] certificate is the result of the scientific success of the Spektr-R project, which has been confirmed by the outcome of its work in orbit published in the Journal of Astronomy,” Russia’s Lebedev Physics Institute said Wednesday. (2/12)

Meet Three People Applying For One-Way Trip to Mars (Source: Universe Today)
If you were to find yourself on the Red Planet, what would you do when you get there? Those who made the second round of the Mars One mission (which aims to establish a colony on Mars in the next decade) are a step closer to answering that question. In interviews with Universe Today, applicants Andrew Rader, Max Fagin and Brian Hinson explained what they’ll do if they embark on a planned one-way trip to the Red Planet. Click here. (2/12)

No comments: