March 9, 2014

Simulated Slice of Mars Could Land in Titusville (Source: Florida Today)
Plans to build the world’s largest Mars simulation are back on track in Titusville. Interspace, a space-themed attraction and research facility, could open as early as 2016 and employ 200 workers, according to Mark Homnick, manager of NewSpace Center LLC, the company planning to build the complex.

The facility would let visitors spend a day or more in a 22,000-square-foot replica of Mars. “We felt it was very important for people to know about the space frontier,” Homnick said. “They will actually live and work as if they were a settler on Mars.” The idea was pitched to city and county leaders in 2008 and the company secured $1.4 million in combined property tax breaks over seven years, starting when project is built.

But the plans were shelved as the economy soured. “With the poor economy and bad financing, everybody tightened their belts and put their money in the mattress,” said Paul Kosieracki , chief financial officer for NewSpace Center. Last month, NewSpace Center launched an effort to attract investors for the $80 million Titusville attraction, hoping to capitalize on a growing interest in the exploration of Mars. “If we can get $35 million to $40 million of equity funding, we will break ground at this time next year,” Kosieracki said. (3/8)

Former Puerto Rico Navy Base a Possible Launch Pad for Space Flights (Source: Global Post)
A former U.S. navy base in eastern Puerto Rico could be the place where Virgin Galactic chooses to build a launch pad for future commercial space flights, an option being considered that neither party denies. This week's publication of an article in the daily Caribbean Business saying that the owner of Virgin Galactic, British entrepreneur Richard Branson, has acquired 11 hangars at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, on the eastern end of the U.S. commonwealth, was what sparked the rumors and conjectures.

The secretary of the Economic Development and Trade Department of Puerto Rico, Alberto Baco Bague, denied to Efe on Friday that any deal had been closed with the British multimillionaire's company, while representatives of Virgin Galactic also refused to confirm the rumors. The fact that Puerto Rico is considered in many respects U.S. territory and is located at a low latitude - around 18 degrees north - are both significant attractions for aerospace companies. (3/8)

Struggling NM Town Hopes to Get Economic Boost From Space Tourists (Source: Al Jazeera)
When Val Wilkes and her partner, Cydney, bought a run-down motor lodge to refurbish in this small New Mexico town, there was really only one name they felt they could give it: the Rocket Inn. It captured the state's longtime fascination with aliens, the tests at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range and the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport nearby, from which Virgin Galactic plans to take millionaire astronauts on joyrides to space in coming months. Click here. (3/9)

Did Two Planets Around Nearby Star Collide? Toxic Gas Holds Hints (Source: LA Times)
In a young, nearby solar system, scientists have discovered giant clouds of poison gas -- the smoking gun from a violent encounter, astronomers say. Based on massive amounts of carbon monoxide gas around the star Beta Pictoris, either two Mars-sized planets slammed into each other with catastrophic results, or hordes of comets are crashing into one another at an astounding rate.

The findings could help provide an up-close look at how stars and their planetary systems form and evolve. Beta Pictoris lies about 63 light years away and is only about 20 million years old. It has at least one planet, a gas giant that’s several times Jupiter’s mass and sits roughly nine times as far from its home star as Earth sits from our sun. It also has a dusty disc of debris circling the star -- the detritus from collisions between its inhabitants. (3/8)

New York Challenger Learning Center Offers Space as Hands-On Venture (Source: Buffalo News)
After years of financial struggle, the Challenger Learning Center is finally positioned for liftoff. The Lockport affiliate of a national chain of science and technology centers with the theme of space travel, aimed at inspiring children to take an interest in science and technology, recently received two space shuttle simulators and is in the process of installing them for a planned opening in late spring.

Kathy M. Michaels, a retired Maryvale Central Schools science teacher who heads the Lockport center, signed a 10-year lease with the city’s Greater Lockport Development Corp. last summer on 5,500 square feet of usable first-floor space in Building 1 at Harrison Place, Walnut and Washburn streets. (3/8)

Falcon 9 v1.1 Conducts Static Fire Ahead of CRS-3 Mission (Source:
SpaceX has fired up their Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle during a Static Fire (Hot Fire) test on Saturday, allowing for a health check and countdown dress rehearsal ahead of their next flight of their Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The CRS-3/SpX-3 Dragon is tracking a launch – her first on the upgraded Falcon 9 – on March 16 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (3/8)

From Space, it’s One Earth Even at Times of Great Tensions (Source: Russia Today)
Space exploration should be pooled by all nations together, the legend of the American space program, George Abbey, told RT, citing the Soyuz-Apollo program as a vivid example of successful cooperation of international cooperation in space. As Russia marks 80 years since the birth of Yury Gagarin, the first man in space in 1961, RT sits down with George Abbey – former director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University. Click here. (3/9)

deGrasse Tyson: Private Companies Won’t Lead In Space Exploration (Source: Tech Crunch)
Famed scientist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson talked about the importance of space exploration today during his keynote at South by Southwest Interactive. Despite advances by private companies, particularly SpaceX, he said they won’t be the ones making the biggest breakthroughs.

Tyson admitted that for him, the appeal of space travel is the simple fact that it’s “a frontier.” However, there are more practical reasons to go into space. For one thing, we need to be able to respond if we find out that an asteroid is headed for Earth. He also suggested that space travel is tied to other forms of significant innovation like transportation, energy, and health — which he contrasted with people “who innovate because you want to make a buck” and are trying to figure out “the next app.” (3/9)

Japanese Astronaut Takes Command of Space Station (Source: CollectSpace)
The International Space Station has its first Japanese commander. Astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) was handed over command during a ceremony held onboard the outpost early Sunday morning (March 9). Wakata, who has been a flight engineer aboard the space station since November, will lead the complex's 39th expedition crew through mid-May. (3/9)

Morpheus Flies for 6th Time at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
NASA’s Morpheus lander continued its string of successful test flights at Kennedy Space Center, completing a sixth free flight Wednesday morning. The prototype lander’s 82-second flight climbed 465 feet, then flew down range 633 feet, maneuvering along the way to simulate avoiding a hazard before touching down. (3/8)

New Astronaut Class Visits KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center last week welcomed NASA’s newest crop of astronauts-in-training, who visited Monday and Tuesday to get more familiar with the nation’s spaceport, including its crew quarters. The astronaut candidates, or ASCANs, who were selected from more than 6,100 applicants in 2013, include Josh Cassada, Victor Glover, Nick Hague, Christina Hammock, Nicole Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan. (3/8)

Coalition Recognizes Administration Commitment to Space; Concerned with Budget (Source: CSE)
While the Coalition for Space Exploration (CSE) welcomes the Administration’s efforts to maintain overall funding for NASA in FY15, we remain concerned and opposed to the annual effort to drain funds from our nation’s exploration programs and challenge the bi-partisan consensus in Congress that has consistently overturned those efforts to ensure needed budget resources for Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft. In addition, NASA has increased funding for the Asteroid Redirect Mission without growth in the agency topline which requires pulling funds from other critical accounts.

Last December, Congress passed the FY14 Omnibus and the President signed it into law after a prolonged debate that resulted in strong bipartisan support for key NASA programs and demonstrated a viable path forward for the nation’s space exploration program. This budget request will only serve to re-ignite that debate between the Congress and the White House, impeding NASA’s ability to deliver on its commitments. (3/5)

Satellite Club Prepares for Cubesat Milestone Review (Source: Florida Today)
In a Merritt Island High School classroom on a recent afternoon, students in the school’s StangSat club gathered to review a PowerPoint presentation they’ve been working on for months. The group is in a multi-year project with NASA engineers and mentors to build a “cubesat,” a satellite small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It will measure the shock and vibrations of the rocket during launch.

Students are preparing for an upcoming Critical Design Review, a milestone after which they’ll earn the “Go” to build the satellite that will launch into space. The review details the satellite’s progression — from its successes and challenges to the risks associated with launching the cubesat into space. (3/8)

No comments: