February 14, 2014

Port Canaveral Seeks Expansion with Spaceport Land and Rail Link (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In a power play that a few years ago would have been unthinkable, Port Canaveral is trying to snag several hundred acres of land from KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force station. It also wants to run a train route through KSC to more efficiently connect the harbor to the state's rails. If successful, the moves could help the port create as many as 5,000 jobs by 2021, said John Walsh, CEO of the Canaveral Port Authority.

"We believe with the rail connections, land expansions and cooperative programs … we can create 5,000 living-wage jobs in the port region over the next five to seven years and at least 10,000 jobs in the next 10 to 15 years," Walsh said. To pursue the plan, Port Canaveral needs permission from military and NASA leaders. That approval is not guaranteed, though Walsh is optimistic. "What I'm trying to do is plan for the next generation," he said.

Port officials want to build a 10-mile rail line spur, largely through KSC property, that would link the harbor with a railway inside KSC that NASA built for the shuttle program but no longer uses. No cost estimate was provided. "We're interested in what they have to say. We think there might be some opportunity to share some costs and reduce our burden to taxpayers," said Scott Colloredo, director of planning and development at KSC. "But we don't want to short-circuit the process. It will take some time." (2/14)

SpaceX Adds Lure to Texas Region (Source: The Monitor)
As George P. Bush, grandson of President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, passed through McAllen on Wednesday — on a campaign bus tour in his bid to be the Republican nominee for Texas land commissioner — he made a point to enumerate the varied attributes of our vast and burgeoning region. Bush mentioned our close relationship with Mexico and its new energy reforms that could affect both countries, the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, new medical school and SpaceX possibly locating in the Rio Grande Valley.

That SpaceX rates among the most exciting possibilities for our region by someone whose political family is so notable, is definitely worth noting. As we have reiterated before, we are nearly giddy with anticipation in learning how, if and when SpaceX might move forward with plans in the Valley. Indeed, any further inducements that our state lawmakers and local governments can do to sweeten a deal is worth trying. Texans must realize how aggressive other states will be, if we are not and we must do all we can to entice SpaceX now and keep our region “robust.” (2/14)

Winter in the Antarctic Shows What It Will Take to Live on Mars (Source: Scientific American)
This week 13 people will begin a nine-month mission inside a small, remote station largely cut off from the world. Outside their habitat there is little air, extremely cold temperatures and no sunlight. The crew must eat only what they've stockpiled and recycle their precious water for reuse. Despite appearances, however, these people are not going to space, but to the next best thing: Antarctica.

The European Concordia Research Station is set to begin its 10th winter season on the southernmost continent, where the sun will not rise for more than three months starting around May. In addition to conducting astronomical, atmospheric and glacier research, among other projects, the crew will serve as test subjects on a mock mission to Mars. After all, their experiences are the closest we can come to learning how astronauts will fare on a real long-distance space voyage without actually sending them off Earth.

Scientists will closely monitor how the Concordia crew members fare physically, mentally and emotionally. "You have limited space for a bunch of people, no contact with the outside world in a normal way, no sunlight or normal circadian triggers," says Peter Gräf, life sciences program manager at the German Aerospace Center, who has worked on numerous Mars analogue missions. "You have a bunch of people you have to get along with, and you have no alternatives and no escapes." (2/14)

Overall Space Spending Shrinks, While Russia, Emerging Countries Buck Trend (Source: Russia Today)
For the first time since 1995 global government spending on space exploration dropped, a new report shows. The drastic cuts for NASA could not be offset even by the increased budgets in Russia and several emerging economies. World governments spent $72.1 billion on space programs in 2013 - $800 million less than in 2012, consultancy Euroconsult said in its annual report. The report summed up budgets from 58 countries which spent at least $10 million on space programs.

The first decline in global drive for conquering the final frontier is to a great degree due to budgetary cuts in the United States. America’s civilian and military space projects received funding of $38.7 billion last year. The peak in US space spending was in 2009, when it invested $47.5 billion in exploration. Conversely Russia, the only other nation to spend more than $10 billion on space exploration, saw a major boost of its program, which grew by more than 30 percent over the past five years.

Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy and India all spent over $1 billion and so did the European Union, the report said. While currently ranked 8th in terms of space budget, China spends just a fraction of its GDP and has much room for investment growth in the future. 19 countries passed the $100 million benchmark in 2013 space spending, including such rising regional powers as Iran, Turkey, the UAE and Brazil. 13 other countries made passed the lower $10 million threshold to be included in the report. Of those, only 10 were on the list in 2003. (2/14)

Bigelow: Moon Property Rights Would Help Create a Lunar Industry (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Robert Bigelow, founder and President of Bigelow Aerospace, believes that space property rights are essential in order to establish a space industry operating beyond Low Earth Orbit. In an effort to move forward the discussion on property rights, Bigelow is seeking clarification from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) on whether launching a Moon habitat allows them to have a zone of operation in which other persons are prevented from entering.

Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations at Bigelow, indicated that the company submitted, last December, a payload review to the AST of its lunar habitat in which it requested the AST to confirm that no future license issued by the AST would interfere with the operations of their lunar habitat. In their request Bigelow asked the AST to create a zone of operation in which other U.S. entities would not be able to enter. (2/14)

Space Industry Leaders Address Affordability of Space Systems (Source: Space Daily)
Balancing affordability and risk in a cost-constrained acquisition environment led the discussion among top space leaders during the sixth annual U.S. Space Mission Assurance Summit held Feb. 5-6 at the National Reconnaissance Office. "Creating a More Affordable Enterprise: Best Practices for Life Cycle Mission Success," was the theme of this year's forum for the government and industry space community.

During the summit, attendees collaborated on best practices and lessons learned on maintaining affordability and risk while achieving mission success. Attendees included senior executives from Ball Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and The Aerospace Corporation, organizer of the event. (2/12)

A New Map of Jupiter's Mega Moon Ganymede -- a World Unto Itself (Source: LA Times)
Scientists have a new map -- the best created so far -- of the largest moon in our solar system, Ganymede, and it is both beautiful and revealing. Ganymede is technically a satellite of Jupiter, but it is really a world unto itself. It is bigger than both Mercury and Pluto. If it orbited the sun rather than Jupiter, we would likely consider it a planet. Click here. (2/13) 

Air Force Museum in Ohio to Open Space Shuttle Exhibit Built Around Simulator (Source: Star Tribune)
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio is ready to launch a mock-up space shuttle exhibit assembled after a failed bid to get a retiring shuttle several years ago. The walk-through exhibit opens Feb. 26 and will give visitors a peek at a cockpit and a cargo bay. Museum aerospace educator Cindy Henry says the display built around a cockpit simulator is the size of a real shuttle. (2/13)

United Nations Takes Aim at Asteroid Threat to Earth (Source: Space.com)
As the anniversary of last year's surprise Russian meteor explosion nears, a United Nations action team is taking steps to thwart dangerous space rocks, including setting up a warning network and a planning advisory group that would coordinate a counterpunch to cosmic threats. A global group of experts on near-Earth objects (NEOs) met in Vienna Feb. 10-11 for the 51st session of the UN' Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Space.

The plans the experts discussed have taken shape over a decade of work by the UN Action Team on Near Earth Objects, known as Action Team 14. AT-14 was established in 2001 and has crafted a roster of recommendations for an international response to the asteroid impact threat. (2/13)

Report: NASA Needs Agency-wide Rules for Foreign Access to Centers (Source: Space News)
NASA should centralize the patchwork of security procedures and personnel governing foreign access to its U.S. field centers, an independent panel recommended in a report triggered by allegations of security breaches at the centers. “There is no systematic approach to [foreign national access management] at NASA,” said the report from the National Academy for Public Administration. “[T]he result is a broad range of outcomes, many of which are insufficient.”

The report, “An Independent Review of Foreign National Access Management,” is the result of an investigation NASA requested back in March 2013 after Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) went public with allegations of security breaches involving foreign nationals at NASA’s Langley Research Center and Ames Research Center. Wolf is chairman of the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee that funds NASA. (2/13)

Europe Presses On with Ariane 6 Feasibility Study (Source: Flight Global)
The European Space Agency is pressing ahead with its bid to develop a successor to its Ariane 5 heavy launcher by ordering continued feasibility studies, in preparation for a system requirements review in November 2014. The €60 million ($99 million) systems review – to be carried out by Ariane 6 prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space – will come one month before member states’ science ministers meet in Luxembourg.

The ministers will decide whether or not to continue with the project, which ESA sees as underpinning Europe’s ambitions to remain a viable contender in the 2020s, in a satellite launch market shaken up by the arrival of US start-up SpaceX and its relatively low-cost Falcon 9. Ariane 5 has been an huge triumph, with 67 successes in 71 flights since 1996. The launchers have orbited half of the world’s comm satellites and claimed 60% of the 2012 world market. But while the rocket is extremely precise and reliable it is also hugely expensive. (2/13)

JAXA Develops Energy Controller for Homes Using Hayabusa Technology (Source: Mainichi)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has invented a power controller for home and office appliances based on technology that was used in the Hayabusa, an unmanned spacecraft that for the first time in the world brought back to Earth samples of material from an asteroid in 2010. JAXA said the controller can be installed in electrical appliances such as air conditioners without major construction work and reduce energy consumption.

Because the Hayabusa was equipped with an energy-inefficient ion engine, the amount of power the aircraft could use for other parts was limited. To control Hayabusa's electricity consumption, JAXA installed 128 switches to regulate heating the aircraft during its space voyage.

A JAXA team further developed the technology used in the Hayabusa and created a circuit that controls the energy output on each appliance for the home, so that even when electricity demand increases at homes and offices, the circuit could regulate the power consumption. (2/14)

Cyber Crime – From Cyber Space to Outer Space (Source: Space Safety)
The rise of Internet as the main – and often only – communication channel between computer networks in the past 20 years has exponentially increased the vulnerability of computer systems to malicious attacks. Space systems, which in turn are composed of a network of ground stations and spacecrafts, are themselves potentially subject to these same vulnerabilities.

The worst-case scenario in space Cyber-Attack would be if someone managed to hijack a satellite after penetrating the command and control computer of the satellite. “This scenario is an operator’s nightmare, and we can assume that all measures are being taken to safeguard against such threats,” says Levi. “However, if we are looking at the satellite service – the service the satellite provides – one can attack the service rather than the satellite itself.”

This could mean, for example attacking communication links between satellite ground stations and the broadcasting source instead of jamming the signal. This way, the satellite system would be working perfectly, but its service would be denied. Levi explains that from the point of view of an attacker, this brings the same result but without the strategic risk of directly attacking or jamming a satellite system. (2/14)

Blue Origin Gets FAA Approval for Testing of New Vehicles at West Texas Site (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The FAA has approved Blue Origin’s request to expand operations at its West Texas test site “to include new development vehicles, which would use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants.”

“After reviewing and analyzing currently available data and information on existing conditions and the potential impacts of the Proposed Action, the FAA has determined that issuing experimental permits and/or launch licenses to Blue Origin for operation of suborbital RLVs at the West Texas launch site would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment,” the agency said.

The FAA conducted a supplemental assessment of the environmental impacts of Blue Origins on-going activities in West Texas. The agency concluded that a full Environmental Impact Statement was not required to assess the impacts of the new development vehicles. (2/14)

Harris Corp. Wins $13.6M for Space Systems Work (Source: FLDC)
Harris Corp. has been awarded a $13,693,104 contract modification for uninterrupted Contractor Logistic Support for Space and Missile Systems Center Space Superiority operational Offensive Counterspace and Defensive Counterspace ground-based systems. The work will be performed at Palm Bay, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2015. (2/14)

NASA Testing Robots for Satellite Refueling Missions (Source: IEEE Spectrum)
The whole concept of servicing satellites in space is just so crazy that with the very rare exception of bajillion dollar pieces of hardware like Hubble, satellites just aren't designed to be repaired or refueled. They get put into orbit, they last until they run out of fuel or suffer some other sort of basic malfunction, and then they just get forgotten about, left to one of any number of depressing fates. But what if we could service satellites, hmm? NASA's been taking small steps toward the giant leap of making that possible. Click here. (2/13)

Stunning Space Shots of the Sochi Olympics (Source: Discovery)
While the 2014 Winter Olympics get into full swing in Sochi, this once obscure Russian city has become the focus of world attention. And it’s not only the camera lenses of sports photographers who have been snapping — Earth observing satellites and even astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have been looking down from orbit. Click here. (2/13)

No comments: