March 2, 2014

Space a Minor Issue for JSC-District GOP Congressional Candidates (Source: Space Politics)
On Tuesday, voters go to the polls in Texas for party primaries. Among the more interesting races will be the Republican nomination for the state’s 36th congressional district, which is up for grabs after the district’s current representative, Steve Stockman, decided to run against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican Senate primary. The 36th district includes, near its southwestern borders, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, so it’s one of the few districts where space policy can be a campaign issue.

However, while the race for the GOP nomination has attracted a dozen candidates, only about half have devoted much attention to space policy, based on the issues sections of their campaign websites, and those who have don’t go into much detail. Click here for a review of those who do discuss it. (3/2)

Airbus Builds ‘Space Furnace’ to Test Materials of the Future on the ISS (Source: Airbus)
Airbus, the world’s number two in space technologies, has built the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML) facility which was developed under parallel contracts of the European Space Agency ESA and the DLR Space Administration. EML is a containerless processing furnace for materials research in the European Columbus lab, set to uncover a deeper understanding of advanced alloy and semiconductor materials and their molten state properties for the optimisation of industrial scale casting as well as for basic research. (3/1)

Sandra Bullock Inspires NASA Plan to Rescue Stranded Astronauts (Source: Sunday Times)
In the British blockbuster movie Gravity, Sandra Bullock, playing a stranded astronaut, proclaims: “I hate space.” But future generations of space tourists may have kinder feelings toward Bullock. The ground-breaking drama has not only earned Bullock her second Oscar nomination, but has inspired NASA as it prepares its first international plan to rescue astronauts lost in space. (3/1)

Knight Introduces California Aerospace Innovation Hub Act (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) has introduced the California Aerospace Innovation Hub Act, which would allow for the creation of special zones where aerospace companies would enjoy tax and regulatory privileges. “It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would create geographically based aerospace hubs around existing aerospace manufacturing clusters, where aerospace manufacturers and related businesses would benefit from special tax preferences, streamlined regulations, and work schedule flexibility,” the measure reads. (3/1)

China Expects to Launch Cargo Ship Into Space Around 2016 (Source: Xinhua)
China is expected to launch a cargo ship into space around 2016 to serve the Tiangong-2 space laboratory. The cargo ship, named "Tianzhou" or "Heavenly Vessel" in Chinese, will be delivered by the newly-developed Long March-7 carrier rocket and dock with Tiangong-2 automatically, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program. (3/2)

Space Travel Pushes Boundaries of Realty Investments (Source: Gulf News)
The wealthy will always have an advantage over the rest when it comes to getting what they want. With “sub-orbital space travel” edging closer to reality, that advantage is going to take on Mach speed proportions when it comes to picking up prime global realty, suggests a new Wealth Report. In absolute terms, this could mean a London to Sydney sojourn (10,553 miles) will take only 2.2 hours on the sub-orbital route against 21 hours by aircraft.

London, ahead of New York, still enjoys the status of being a global hub for the wealthy, the Wealth Report’s ‘Global Cities Survey’ notes. But if the sub-orbital space becomes commercial reality within the decade, the super-wealthy could be casting a wider net for their investments.

“Take second homes in Europe — right now, demand is mainly restricted to European investors, who try to limit their travel to less than two hours,” said Bailey. “In future, that same time limit could allow Chinese or Indian investors to pop over for the weekend to visit their Tuscan farmhouse. (3/2)

Pounding the Pavement in Congress, Together (Source: Planetary Society)
My feet were aching, toes shoved up against shoes that are too-tight, but I was keeping pace anyway. Hundreds of people flittered about us as we made our way through the labyrinthine tunnels connecting one House office building to another. Checking our assignments, we saw that our meeting would be up on the third floor. The elevators were slow, so up the stairs we went.

We found the office after a few tries and checked our phones. We were five minutes early. We looked up the staffer's name, quickly reminded each other of the background of the congressional representative (sits on the House Science Committee, but not on the Space subcommittee) and walked in. We introduced ourselves, saying we were there on behalf of the Space Exploration Alliance. After a few minutes, the staffer was ready: we had 10 minutes to say why we were there, who we were, and why their boss should work to support NASA.

This scene was more or less repeated a dozen times over the course of two days this week as part of the Space Exploration Alliance's Legislative Blitz: an annual grassroots outreach effort to staff and legislators in Washington, D.C. Much of the management is handled by our friends at Explore Mars, but there were representatives from all of the major pro-space nonprofits. (3/1)

India Sun Mission Being Planned Before 2020 (Source: NVO)
India seems to have big space plans at the moment. The nation that sent Moon mission a few years ago and sent a Mars Mission late last year is now planning to send Sun mission as early as 2020. This seems to be the biggest and most important Indian exploit in the space. Reports are coming out that the Indian space agency ISRO is gearing up to its biggest test yet. India will send a multi-million dollar mission to probe the Sun by 2020,as reported by a space official. This maiden mission to the sun is titled Aditya-1. (3/2)

Distant Asteroid Revealed to be a Complex Mini Geological World (Source: Keck)
After 8 years of observations scientists from the SETI Institute have found an exotic orbit for the largest Trojan asteroid, (624) Hektor—the only one known to possess a moon. The formation of this system made of a dual primary and a small moon is still a mystery, but they found the asteroid could be a captured Kuiper body product of the reshuffling of giant planets in our solar system. Click here. (2/27)

Astronaut's Deep-Space Faith Can Make Voyage Too (Source: Florida Today)
Sometime in the future, a man — or woman — may step onto the arid, red surface of Mars and, for a moment, set aside science before staring off into the distance of space to say a prayer. But will it be a lilting public call to prayer or a personal meditation recognizing God as the creator of an expansive universe necklaced with unexplored planets and galaxies?

“People take their faith wherever they go, be it Earth or to the furthest corner of the universe,” said Winston Scott, a former astronaut who traveled aboard the space shuttles Endeavour and Columbia. “I don’t think a person could abandon their faith, it’s a part of who you are." There have been Muslims, along with observant Jews and Christians, who have ventured into space, putting aside the risk. And many have carried their faith with them. In 2007, Islamic clerics in Malaysia issued a how-to guide for Muslim space travelers.

Astronauts less bound by rituals also have taken their beliefs with them. In 1969, astronaut Buzz Aldrin — the second man to walk the surface of the moon —quietly sipped wine and ate bread while sitting in the lunar module. It was the first Christian Communion to take place on the cold, powder-gray surface of the moon. Bibles, religious pendants and other items are frequently taken by astronauts into space, NASA officials say. (3/2)

Space Museum Finds All Items Have Value (Source: Florida Today)
People carried boxes filled with old photos, books and other space memorabilia they found in closets and garages. They brought remnants of the space industry in Brevard County to be examined and appraised with hopes the items would be judged valuable. Although some were deemed unprofitable for an auction of collectibles, they are not worthless in the eyes of Lee Starrick, museum administrator for the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation.

Don Willis, who has been appraising space collectibles for 25 years, inspected items and determined a few worthy to go to an auction on his website, More than 30 people had items examined by Saturday afternoon. The appraisal event was sponsored by the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation, which operates a space museum in downtown Titusville. (3/2)

Retired NASA Manager Sues Discovery Channel Over Challenger Movie (Source: Huntsville Times)
A retired NASA manager has sued Discovery communications for $14 million for the way he says he was portrayed in a television movie about the 1986 Challenger disaster. The defamation suit on behalf of Judson A. "Jud" Lovingood was filed in Madison County Circuit Court today.

Lovingood, who still lives in Madison County, was deputy manager of the Shuttle Projects Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville at the time of the disaster. The Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff from Cape Canaveral on Jan. 28, 1986, and an investigation found the cause to be a fiery leak in a solid rocket booster under Marshall's management that caused the main fuel tank to explode. Click here. (2/28)

Huntsville Breaks Ground on 2 New Schools Named for NASA Astronauts (Source: Huntsville Times)
Two new public schools named for NASA astronauts will soon begin to rise along Pulaski Pike in northwest Huntsville. The city school system held a standing-room-only groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the $65 million Jemison High School as well as McNair Junior High, which will share the same campus. (2/28)

Raytheon Wins $185M Contract to Upgrade NOAA Satellites (Source: Washington Technology)
Raytheon Co. has won a $185 million contract to increase the capability and capacity of three NOAA satellites through 2022. The contract was awarded under the Common Ground System contract, which is valued at $1.7 billion. The three NOAA satellites support the Joint Polar Satellite System, which is a polar-orbiting environmental satellite system and a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA, Raytheon said in a release. (2/28)

Future of Space Travel from Wallops Island Looks Bright (Source: WTKR)
Launching rockets from Wallops Island is a big deal in Virginia now. But the possibilities that exist for space travel in the near future could be an even bigger deal. "We have developed a space port that proves we can launch into space. We launch critical missions to the International Space Station and we’re looking forward to building on that,” says Dale Nash, the Executive Director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. 

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority makes some of the big decisions when it comes to space travel from our shores. And one thing that has been a big topic recently is the possibility of human spaceflight from Wallops Island. “Any time you have astronauts on, your cargo is extremely precious, and you pay a lot of attention to that. So it`s a different game in many ways. But don`t discount what we`ve done so far because that`s very significant, too. It is the supplies and the lifeline to the astronauts on the International Space Station being launched from here. But that would be a very big deal,” Nash says. (2/28)

Space Travel From Vegas By 2016 (Source: CBS Las Vegas)
How would you like to travel to space in a balloon capsule? According to the CEO of World View Experience, you will be able to do that in less than 3 years. World View Experience opened a new space tourism office in downtown Las Vegas. World View CEO, Jane Poynter says Las Vegas understands luxury travel, and it’s time to travel to space. She’s convinced they will be able to do this by the end of 2016. One of World View’s principal launch sites is close to Las Vegas so it’s convenient.

Poynter says the capsule fits 6 passengers and 2 crew members. It will include all the amenties. The helium balloon will tow you up to the edge of space. The cost is $75,000 per person. Poynter says people are already reserving tickets and putting down deposits. (2/28)

Suborbital Friday With XCOR, Virgin Galactic (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Friday was a big day for finding out more about the two leading suborbital companies. XCOR conducted a Q&A with CEO Jeff Greason using questions submitted via Facebook and Twitter. Read the transcript on XCOR’s blog and find out more about the status of the Lynx space plane, point-to-point travel, and the company’s plans for the future.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic Vice President of Special Projects Will Pomerantz joined Richard Branson’s son, Sam, in a Google Hangout to answer questions from participants in the Google Science Fair.  Watch the YouTube video to watch them discuss why humans go to space and Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. Click here. (2/28)

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