March 16, 2014

The Expensive NASA Program Congress Needs to Think Long and Hard About (Source: Huffington Post)
It's no secret that budgets are tight in Congress, and NASA is no exception. While NASA wants $2-4 billion to explore the possibility of life on Jupiter's moon, Europa, the 2015 White House budget proposal only has allotted $15 million. Dr. Curt Niebur, NASA program scientist and Jeff Foust, editor at The Space Review, sat down with HuffPost Live to talk about what the Europa mission entails, why it's so expensive, and whether or not it's worth the money. Click here. (3/13)

FSDC President "One to Watch" (Source: Florida Today)
"The natural beauty and mystery of the universe has always captivated me. I’m called to contribute to something larger than myself by serving the space community in whatever way that I can, whether that’s utilizing my analytical mind as a scientist, advocating for the development of space through policy and commercialization, or spreading awareness through education and outreach." Click here. (3/14)

How Do You Jumpstart a Dead Star? (Source: Phys.Org)
It's a staple of science fiction, restarting our dying star with some kind of atomic superbomb. Why is our sun running out of fuel, and what can we actually do to get it restarted? Stars die. Occasionally threatening the Earth and its civilization in a variety plot devices in science fiction. Fortunately there's often a Bruce Willis coming in to save the day, delivering a contraption, possibly riding a giant bomb shaped like a spaceship, to the outer proximity of our dying Sun that magically fixes the broken star and all humanity is saved. Click here. (3/14)

Proton Launches Two Communications Satellites (Source: Space Today)
A Proton rocket successfully launched a pair of Russian communications satellites on Sunday. The Proton M lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying the Express-AT1 and Express-AT2 satellites. The two satellites separated from the Breeze M upper stage about nine hours after liftoff. Russian company ISS Reshetnev built the two satellites, with Thales Alenia Space providing the communications payloads. (3/16)

Britain Joins New Hunt for E.T. (Source: Telegraph)
Britain has signed up to a space mission to hunt for extra terrestrial life on planets outside the Solar System. The European Space Agency’s Plato project will see a huge observatory launched into space to seek out Earth-like planets in habitable zones which could sustain life. The mission was described as 'truly awe-inspiring’ by science minister David Willetts who this week pledged £25 million to the project. (3/16)

India Plans Mission to the Sun (Source: WIRED)
India's Mangalyaan spacecraft is on its way to Mars, but the county is already planning its next major space exploration mission. The country visited the Moon in 2008, and launched a budget Mars rocket in late 2013. But its next step is a mission to the Sun, which could begin as early as 2017. Aditya-1 will study coronal mass ejection events and the parameters that govern space weather. (3/15)

Meet NASA's James Webb Space Telescope: Launch Date 2018 (Source: RocketSTEM)
In a 1.3 million cubic-foot cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md., 18 gold-coated primary mirror segments await installation on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Those mirrors and the telescope’s four science instruments just steps away, will become the most powerful space telescope ever built. Click here. (3/16)

Missing Jet: ISRO Awaits Nod to Deploy Space Assets (Source: Deccan Herald)
With sleuths probing the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur having proposed that the aircraft could have crashed in the Bay of Bengal or somewhere in the deep southern side of the Indian ocean, the Indian Space Research Organization might assist in the search for the plane. "ISRO would be ready to assist in the search if the highest authority in the country asks it to do so, and also if a specific request comes from Malaysia, again subject to approval of the Government of India,” said an ISRO official. (3/15)

Meet the Stuff Bound for the Space Station This Month (Source: GigaOM)
After problems forced a delay from a scheduled launch this weekend, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to take off later this month carrying nearly 5,000 pounds of precious cargo headed to the International Space Station, including the equipment for more than 150 experiments. Here’s a look at five of the more interesting projects that will be on board. Click here. (3/15)

Lockheed CEO's Compensation More Than Doubled (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Lockheed Martin Corp. said Friday that it had more than doubled the total compensation awarded to Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson last year to $25.2 million, as she completed her first 12 months in charge of the world's largest defense contractor by revenue. Boeing Co., meanwhile, said CEO Jim McNerney's total compensation fell 10% from a year earlier to $23.3 million. (3/14)

Disaggregation: Satellite Navigation More Resilient Than You Think (Source: UCS)
The Pentagon voiced its concern this week that the U.S. GPS navigation capabilities could be held at risk by increasingly capable Chinese anti-satellite capabilities. But it is worth noting that while individual satellites might be threatened, disabling the system and knocking out navigation services is much harder.

China has demonstrated hit-to kill anti-satellite technology, but hasn’t tried it on high-altitude satellites (no country has), although it has rockets that can reach up to and beyond geosynchronous orbits.  However, questions about the nature of a high-altitude suborbital rocket flight last year has generated debate about whether it was related to extending China’s ASAT capabilities to higher altitudes.

GPS is a thoughtfully designed, robust system, and its service degrades very gradually as satellites are lost. The original system design used 24 satellites, keeping six in view from most places on the earth, but typically there are more in orbit.  Currently, there are 32. A user needs a minimum of four satellites in view if no other source of location or timing are available, but the accuracy increases as more satellites are visible. Click here. (3/16)

US Space Officials Push Smaller Platforms (Source: Defense News)
When assembling its space budget, the US Department of Defense remained focused on heading toward smaller and more survivable platforms, according to a top official. “There’s no question that the budget challenges our ingenuity and our creativity,” said Doug Loverro. “This budget challenges our ability to do whatever we want to at once. The budget, however, is sort of like the throttle of the engine. It shouldn’t change the direction your car goes. It just changes the speed you get there.”

The direction in question is toward “disaggregation,” or moving away from major space platforms in favor of ones that are smaller and more survivable. Because of the timetables involved in space programs, the Pentagon is laying the groundwork to move toward disaggregation with an eye on 2025 to launch the first major programs. DoD officials say disaggregation is necessary because space systems are more vulnerable than ever, as Loverro highlighted. (3/16)

Military Lobbyist Sees Opportunities for Colorado Despite Cuts (Source: The Gazette)
The Pentagon is cutting $900 billion in spending over 10 years, but Jay Lindell sees opportunity. From a high-rise office with views of the Rockies, Lindell is mapping out ways that Colorado Defense contractors can snag global business as U.S. spending contracts and scheming to add to Front Range military bases as the Defense Department shrinks elsewhere.

"You have to get out there," said Lindell whose long-winded title is the Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Colorado is home to Ball Aerospace, United Launch Alliance, Aeroflex Corp., Braxton Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corp. and dozens of other players in the multibillion-dollar space industry. Many of those jobs have sprouted from burgeoning defense spending, which peaked at nearly $700 billion in 2010 - up from $320 billion in 2001.

Defense spending is expected to remain flat for the next several years, and key aerospace programs, including spending on new launch rockets, Global Positioning System satellites and a new generation of communication satellites is being shaved. To keep the industry going, Lindell is looking overseas, where Asia is locked in a growing space race and cash is flowing. "The international space market is one that is growing," he said. (3/16)

Bigelow's Promise: More Space at Less Cost (Source: RocketSTEM)
Imagine a bounce house that you can live inside of in outer space. While much more advanced than a bounce house, that’s what Bigelow Aerospace is pursuing. They are designing and building inflatable habitats that can be used in outer space, providing work and living areas while protecting the occupants from the harsh environment of space.

When you look at the International Space Station modules, they are hard shelled, looking very sturdy and strong, so the idea of something that inflates to become a module that humans can inhabit seems very farfetched, but not to Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow. Click here. (3/16)

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