February 6, 2014

Space Vehicle Innovators to Headline at California Economic Outlook Event (Source: AVBOT)
Senior executives of two companies partnered in pioneering civilian space travel and new commercial space business will be among the speakers for the Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference at Southern California’s Mojave Air and Space Port.

The Antelope Valley Board of Trade, organizer of the annual day-long event, announced that George T. Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson, and  Kevin Mickey, President of  Scaled Composites, which won the X-Prize by being the first private company to carry passengers to space and back, have accepted invitations to appear on the program. (2/3)

NASA, Foundation Offer New Free Space Systems Engineering Course (Source: NASA)
Space Systems Engineering, a new massive open online course or MOOC from NASA and the Saylor Foundation, launches on Monday, March 3, 2014. The six-week, general-audience course is available to the public at no cost and provides a unique opportunity to learn from and alongside NASA's engineers. Students who participate can earn a free certificate.

The Space Systems Engineering MOOC, the result of a months-long collaboration between the non-profit Saylor Foundation, Washington, D.C., and personnel from NASA, examines basic systems engineering and teamwork as well as project life cycle, scoping, requirements, and trade studies. Saylor Foundation staff contributed technical, audio-video, and instructional design support, while course content consists of existing and augmented NASA materials. (2/5)

FAA Will Not Meet Deadline on Integrating Drones (Source: USA Today)
The inspector general for the Transportation Department warned that the Federal Aviation Administration will miss a drone deadline. "The agency will not meet the September 2015 deadline for safe (drone) integration and it is uncertain when this will be achieved," said Calvin Scovel III, inspector general. (2/5)

NASA Pushes the Envelope with 3-D Printing (Source: PhysOrg.com)
NASA's Space Technology Mission Direc­torate has launched several initiatives for 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. "With additive manufacturing, we have an opportu­nity to push the envelope on how this technology might be used in zero gravity — how we might ultimately manufacture in space," said LaNetra Tate, the advanced-manufacturing principal investigator for a program at the directorate. (2/5)

Black Sky Gets FAA Approval for Rocket-Powered Transition Course (Source: BST)
On January 22, FAA/AST changed Commercial Space and Commercial Space training forever. After 7 years of development and hard work, Black Sky Training has received a first ever approval for a Rocket Powered Transition course. This course will allow current pilots to receive a certification for Rocket Powered Flight. During the transition course, pilots will receive training in and on rocket powered aircraft, allowing them to legally and safely operate rocket powered aircraft. (2/6)

NASA and Industry Teams Set for Orion Launch in 2014, SLS First Flight in 2017 (Source: ATK)
The biggest accomplishments on the next-generation deep space programs will take place this year, including Orion's first mission, Space Launch System (SLS) booster and engine firing, and the opening of the SLS Vertical Assembly Center (VAC) – all important steps in preparing for deep space human exploration missions. NASA's SLS and Orion four prime contractors met recently at an industry-team meeting to discuss progress to date and ensure the teams are on track for the 2014 and 2017 launches. (2/6)

CASIS Provides ISS Research Forum at Florida Tech (Source: CASIS)
Join community leaders, academic leaders, and CASIS officials as they outline the benefits, opportunities available, and how to get your research onboard humankind's greatest technical platform; the International Space Station. This forum is planned on Feb. 10 at the Melbourne campus of the Florida Institute of Technology. Click here. (2/5)

Editorial: Southern Road to Spaceport Must be Built (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
We can understand the frustration of some legislators at the request this session for capital outlay money to complete the southern road from Hatch to Spaceport America. After all, funding had been provided for the road previously, but was used instead for operations.

Before agreeing to the $6 million, lawmakers would be justified in putting ties to the money that would prevent it from being spent on anything other than the southern road. But it is absolutely critical that the road be built. Spending $212 million to build the spaceport, then pinching pennies on the road needed to get there, is the very definition of penny wise, pound foolish. (2/6)

New Mexico: Is Spaceport Travel Just a Dream? (Source: KRQE)
Despite claims in a new book that Virgin Galactic's first commercial spaceflight is way behind schedule, Spaceport America officials are confident it will happen this year. “This calendar year I’m pretty confident. it may be later toward end of 2014, but I based my budget on that,” said Executive Director Christine Anderson of Spaceport America. Anderson also says it just takes time to develop the technology and make sure it’s safe. (2/6)

Bristol Spaceplanes Business Aims to Make Space Tourism a Reality (Source: Southwest Business)
A tiny company based in South Gloucestershire has ambitions which reach all the way to the stars. Bristol Spaceplanes, which was set up by veteran aviation engineer David Ashford, wants to make space tourism affordable for as many people as possible and Mr. Ashford believes he has the know-how and experience to make the dream a reality.

The firm has launched an appeal to raise cash for his venture through the Crowdcube website. The firm is looking to raise £150,000 from founders to pay for the next stage of development. Mr Ashford said: "Our product is the know-how and the designs for a step-by-step development sequence of space-planes. We’re planning to start with a small demonstrator which will lead to a craft capable of slashing the cost of access to space and leading to a new space age." (2/6)

NASA Pondering Two Public Contests to Build Small Space Exploration Satellites (Source: Network World)
NASA today said it was looking into developing two new Centennial Challenge competitions that would let the public design, build and deliver small satellites known as Cubesats capable of operations and experiments near the moon and beyond.

Centennial Challenges typically dare public and private partnerships to come up with a unique solution to a very tough problem, usually with prize money attached for the winner. Centennial Challenges in the past have typically required several annual competitions to occur before the total prize purses, which can be in the millions-of-dollars range, have been claimed. (2/6)

California Aerospace Bill Moves Forward (Source: Easy Reader)
In an effort to entice aerospace companies to remain in California, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi – who chairs a select committee on aerospace – last year authored a bill exempting rocketships from being subject to certain taxes. On Jan. 29, the bill, dubbed AB777, passed in the Assembly with overwhelming (68 to 5) bipartisan support. AB777 classifies rocketships built by private space exploration companies, such as SpaceX, as business inventory, thereby exempting them from property taxes.

“The bill seeks to codify a recent legal opinion issued by the state Board of Equalization, which found that as a matter of law, spaceflight property like rocket ships should be classified as business inventory and therefore qualify for an [exemption] from tax,” Muratsuchi said. The bill’s overarching goal is to breathe life into Southern California’s aerospace industry, which has undergone a severe contraction since the end of the Cold War. (2/6)

DOD Not Comfortable if Major Contractors Look to Merge (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. Defense Department remains skeptical of mergers involving its major contractors, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday, amid industry expectations that defense deal-making could revive this year. Elana Broitman, whose office at the Defense Department reviews deals that involve national security issues, told an investor conference that "there are far fewer of the large firms, so we're in a more constrained environment. (2/5)

India to Join Hunt for Gravity Waves (Source: Science)
India intends to host a key facility in an international effort to detect gravitational waves, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on Monday at the Indian Science Congress in Jammu. Operating since 2002, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) consists of sophisticated optical interferometers located 3000 kilometers apart, in Hanford, Washington, and near Livingston, Louisiana.

Indian scientists say the government is likely to commit about $201 million over 15 years to its facility, dubbed IndIGO. “LIGO will bring some of the best international and Indian astrophysicists to work on Indian soil in a very exciting area of research,” says Ratan Kumar Sinha. (2/6)

KSC Visitor Complex Hosts Diversity Discussion (Source: KSCVC)
In recognition of African American History Month, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is hosting “Diversity at Kennedy Space Center: Generations Reflecting Together,” a panel discussion on Friday, Feb. 7 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Astronaut Encounter Theater. Employees from Kennedy Space Center will reflect on how the 1964 Civil Rights Act impacted their lives and careers, bringing them to where they are today. The panel discussion is included in regular admission to the Visitor Complex and seating will be available on a first come, first served basis. (2/5)

GoLauncher Passes Major Project Milestone (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has successfully passed a major project milestone in the development of its GOLauncher 2, a dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle. The GOLauncher 2 System Requirements Review was completed on January 23rd, 2014.

Members of the GO team gathered in Atlanta to conduct the review, including representatives from SpaceWorks, Calspan, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Ventions, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, and mv2space. The goals of the review included assessing the team’s performance and functional requirements for the system, the current design status, the overall GOLauncher program plan, and the program’s current risk posture. (2/5)

SpaceX's Next Cargo Mission to Space Station is Mar 16 (Source: Space Daily)
The next cargo supply mission to the International Space Station by the US company SpaceX has been set for March 16. SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 4:41 am (0941 GMT) on its third trip ferrying supplies and equipment to the orbiting lab, the US space agency said in a tweet. (2/5)

Satellites Show California Water Storage at Near-Decade Low (Source: Space Daily)
Updates to satellite data show that California's Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins are at near decade-low water storage levels. These and other findings on the State's dwindling water resources were documented in an advisory report released today from the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM) at the University of California, Irvine. (2/5)

Iran Unveils New Home-Made Communication Satellites (Source: Space Daily)
Iran on Monday unveiled two domestically-made communication satellites, one to bolster its wireless connections and the other capable of taking high-resolution pictures, media reported. Iran's space program has prompted concern among Western governments, which fear Tehran is trying to master the technology required to deliver a nuclear warhead. (2/5)

Weird Asteroid Itokawa Has a Dual Personality (Source: Discovery)
We care about how asteroids are made, in large part because if one were aiming to smash into us, we’d like to know what we can do about it. The structure of asteroids is also a matter of scientific curiosity, as it tells us a bit about the formation and evolution in our solar system. That is why it is so exciting that the most recent very delicate observations of asteroid 25143 Itokawa reveal some of its secrets.

The asteroid appears to be composed of two different types of material that have been “mashed” together to form one peanut-shaped body. Though it has been suspected that many asteroids are collections of smaller bodies coming together from their mutual gravity (in a “rubble pile”), this is the first time we’ve actually seen it borne out of data. Click here. (2/5)

NASA Evolves Student Rocketry Challenge, Enhances Ties to Space Launch System (Source: NASA)
Student teams from 26 colleges and universities in 16 states and Puerto Rico will design and launch innovative rockets and payloads as part of the 2013-2014 NASA Student Launch rocketry competition. The NASA Student Launch will be held May 15-17 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. There, the student teams will undergo a rigorous launch readiness review -- just like actual NASA flight missions -- and launch their rockets.

The student rocketry challenge is an evolution of the NASA Student Launch Projects, which for 12 years challenged students to build rockets of their own design capable of flying 1 mile high. This latest competition reaches for even greater heights -- taking student-built vehicles more than 3 miles high, into the troposphere. Another new feature of this competition is the requirement that the teams build their vehicles with a parachute-based recovery system and provide three payloads capable of delivering data that could shape future NASA missions. (2/5)

Big Space Rock Makes an Impact on Mars (Source: Science News)
Sometime between July 2010 and May 2012, a really big space rock slammed into Mars. An image of the resulting crater, released February 5 by NASA, shows a scar about 30 meters across. Impacts aren’t uncommon on the Red Planet, which gets hit by more than 200 asteroids or comets each year. But few crashes leave such visible scars. Click here. (2/5) 

It May Not be a Planet, but Pluto Explains the Whole Solar System (Source: Slate)
It's time to stop throwing pity parties for Pluto. The beloved not-quite-planet is about to become the star of our solar system. I'll go out on a limb and predict that in July 2015, the up-close photos of Pluto we'll get from a NASA spacecraft will be the most popular astronomical images of a generation. Screensavers, posters, live TV, Twitpics, you name it—Pluto will be everywhere. After all, we've been wondering what it looks like for decades. Click here. (2/5)

NASA has 'Significant Problems' with $2.5B IT Contract (Source: FCW)
NASA has problems with a major IT program that are resulting in a botched technology refresh, a slew of security vulnerabilities and a host of other issues for the space agency. NASA and the contractor are pointing fingers at each other, but NASA Inspector General Paul Martin says there is plenty of blame to go around.

According to Martin, NASA and HP Enterprise Services have encountered significant problems implementing the $2.5 billion Agency Consolidated End-User Services (ACES) contract, which provides desktops, laptops, computer equipment and end-user services such as help desk and data backup. Those problems include "a failed effort to replace most NASA employees' computers within the first six months and low customer satisfaction," the report states. (2/5)

$10.5 Million Sand Replenishment Set for Wallops Island (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $10.5 million contract to replenish sand and restore dunes along NASA's Wallops Island launch facility on the Eastern Shore. The contract with Weeks Marine Inc. of Cranford, N.J., calls for the restoration of 650,000 cubic yards of sand along the shoreline of the launch center. Sand, dunes and berms were either swept away or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, which slammed the barrier island.

Bill Wrobel,  director of the Wallops Flight Facility, said shoreline protection is "absolutely vital" to protecting more than $1 billion in assets at the space flight center. The Army Corps said Tuesday the dredging is expected to begin in the late winter or early spring and be completed by September. (2/5)

GPS Satellite Mounted Atop Booster for Feb. 20 Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Beginning a slate of three launches in five months to fortify the Global Positioning System, the first craft was mounted atop its Delta 4 booster rocket Wednesday for liftoff Feb. 20. The launch is precisely timed at 8:40 p.m. EST to replace a 16-year-old member of the navigation network -- the GPS 2A-28 satellite. The evening launch opportunity extends 19 minutes. (2/5)

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