April 1, 2014

Space Florida Supports Business Plan Competition (Source: Space Florida)
Innovation Coast, Space Florida, and the Florida Small Business Development Council (SBDC) Network are joining forces for an exciting high-tech business plan competition that will help innovators jumpstart big ideas in a variety of tech fields. Open to businesses and entrepreneurs across the Southeast, the 2014 Innovation Awards will showcase 10 semifinalists and 10 finalists in an event that will enable them to present their business cases to venture capitalists, angel investors and financiers. (4/1)

Why Elon Musk Says 2008 Was His "Worst Year" Ever (Source: Space News)
His Falcon 1 rocket was 0-3, having failed again that August and Tesla, which hit a speed bump with its early model Roadster, “was hemorrhaging money,” in Pelley’s words. The $180 million Musk made from selling PayPal to eBay in 2002 was essentially gone, having “bet it all”  -- as Pelley put it -- on SpaceX and Tesla. “And [I was] getting divorced by the way, to add to that,” Musk replies. “That was definitely the worst year of my life.” Click here. (4/1)

EGNOS, European Superiority, and the Need to Get ‘Very, Very Busy’ (Source: GPS World)
The European GNSS scene enjoyed the successful launch of two new-generation transponders for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS). The two geostationary transponders, GEO-2, were onboard the SES ASTRA 5B satellite launched on March 22 from Kourou. The new transponders will provide higher-accuracy positioning signals to those citizens and professionals using EGNOS enabled receivers.

Europe’s first venture into satellite navigation, EGNOS represents a major stepping-stone towards Galileo. EGNOS improves the accuracy of GPS by providing a positioning accuracy to within three metres together with system integrity messages. Interestingly, in the light of recent political events, funding for extension of EGNOS to the Ukraine has already been allocated in the European Commission’s budget by DG Development. Other countries could benefit from this type of funding or from other international development aid. (4/1)

Squeeze at the Launchpad for Galileo (Source: GPS World)
With the first two full-operational-capability (FOC) Galileo satellites successfully through their thermal-vacuum tests, the program’s next hurdle is securing a firm launch date in June aboard a Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket, operated from Europe’s spaceport on the northeast coast of South America.

It will not be a walk in the park. Competing with the two Galileo FOC satellites for the same June Soyuz launch are four commercial broadband communications spacecraft owned by O3b Networks of Britain’s Channel Islands, a start-up that promises, if all goes well, to launch as many as 100 satellites. (3/31)

Misleading Mineral May Overestimate Water in Moon (Source: UCLA)
The amount of water present in the moon may have been overestimated by scientists studying the mineral apatite, says a team of researchers led by Jeremy Boyce of the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences. They created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon's history.

Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected. This discovery has overturned the long-held assumption that the hydrogen in apatite is a good indicator of overall lunar water content. (4/1)

Editorial: Little Tantalizes in U.S. Air Force Budget (Source: Space News)
If the space industry is looking for something to get excited about, it won’t find it in the U.S. Air Force’s 2015 budget request. Touted by Air Force officials as a first step toward revamping the current constellation architecture, which many see as vulnerable to attack, the plan mostly stretches out existing programs, in part because satellites are lasting longer on orbit than expected. But there’s little indication that more than a fraction of the resulting cost savings are being invested in new or improved space capabilities. Click here. (3/31)

Human Space Exploration: The Way Forward (Source: Space News)
In response to a congressional directive, NASA requested the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a “comprehensive independent assessment of NASA’s strategic direction and agency management,” and in particular to examine NASA’s goals, objectives and strategies. The NRC report was titled “NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus.” In part, it concluded that “the strategic importance of space is rising and the capabilities of other spacefaring nations are increasing, while U.S. leadership is faltering,” and NASA’s 2011 strategic plan “is vague and avoids stating priorities.” Click here. (3/31)

U.S. & China: Waiting for Trouble (Source: Space News)
The United States and China have no experience and no agreements to avoid or defuse incidents in space or at sea, where both countries are flexing their military capabilities. In contrast, during the Cold War, Washington and Moscow employed many channels of communication to avoid misunderstandings, increase transparency and reach agreements to cooperate as well as compete.

If the United States and the Soviet Union could manage to avoid warfare in these domains — despite an intense ideological and geopolitical competition, severe crises and proxy wars, as well as nuclear arms and space races — then Washington and Beijing could too. So far, however, neither capital has made this a priority. Click here. (3/31)

Reconsidering Chinese Views on Military Space Strategy (Source: UCS)
Many U.S. observers believe anti-satellite (ASAT) missile attacks are central to Chinese military strategy. They argue China intends to exploit the U.S. military’s reliance on satellites by launching a surprise assault on these valuable but vulnerable space assets, which the U.S. military uses for communication, surveillance, navigation, and other support activities. This attack, sometimes referred to as a “space Pearl Harbor,” is supposedly a key part of an “asymmetric” military strategy a weaker China intends to use to defeat a stronger United States in a high-tech regional war.

This U.S. belief took root in the late 1990s and early 2000s in a U.S. analytical environment shaped by information and assumptions that now appear to be wrong. A new UCS analysis of the space-related sections of a classified Chinese military source published in 2003 demonstrates that China’s missile forces were not anticipating or preparing for operations that involved attacking U.S. satellites at that time. Click here. (3/31)

How to Grab an Asteroid and Park It Near Earth (Source: Space.com)
NASA's plan to lasso an asteroid, bring it into a stable orbit near the moon and let astronauts visit it might sound ambitious, but the space agency is looking at two different ways to make it happen. In one mission, a robotic probe would fly out to a small asteroid and bring the whole thing back for astronauts to explore. The other mission involves the robot bagging a boulder from a larger space rock and parking it near the moon. Click here. (4/1)

NASA Builds Asteroid Capture Mission Definitions (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA has begun to define the approach towards capturing a space rock that will be investigated during the Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2). The Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM) will involve a robotic spacecraft sent out to hunt and capture the small asteroid, ahead of being towed to a Lunar Orbit for astronauts to investigate during the first crewed Orion mission. Click here. (3/31)

Military Weather Satellite Finally Set to Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A $518 million military weather satellite that has been waiting 15 years to shine will be launched into orbit Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the western spaceport in California. Liftoff of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 spacecraft is planned for 7:46 a.m. local time (10:46 a.m. EDT; 1446 GMT) at the opening of a 10-minute launch window at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (4/1)

AGILE Astronomy Satellite Mission Extended (Source: ASI)
On April 23 it will blow out seven candles, and it couldn’t celebrate in a better way: the AGILE satellite (Astrorivelatore Gamma a Immagini Leggero) [X-ray and Gamma ray astronomical satellite] will have its life extended for further 12 months for having provided scientific data of particular importance and having surpassed its foreseen life expectancy. (4/1)

Mars: The Muddy Red Planet? (Source: Discovery)
Some of Mars' lava fields may actually be massive mud flows, say planetary scientists after taking a detailed look at the distinctive Cerberus Fossae, indicating that the ancient feature may not have been caused by volcanic activity at all. If this is the case, then many other Mars lava flows need to be reexamined, researchers argue.

Using models and the latest elevation maps of Ceberus Fossae, the researchers concentrated on the velocity and depth of the flow textures seen as the material cut around boulders and washed up on slopes. If it was lava, the behavior would be pretty similar to lava on Earth, which often has a broken, platy crust on top that shows how it flowed before cooling and solidifying. (4/1)

Russian Lawmakers Approve Satellite Navigation Hub in Nicaragua (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian lawmakers have endorsed draft legislation to allow the country to set up a satellite navigation monitoring system in Nicaragua, a Cabinet committee said Tuesday. "The agreement is aimed at creating an organizational and legal framework for mutually beneficial partnership between Russia and Nicaragua in terms of exploring and using space for peaceful purposes," the official statement explained. (4/1)

A Question of Atmospheres: On Earth and Beyond (Source: Astrobiology)
Scientists recently discovered the source of naturally occurring aerosol particles in Earth’s atmosphere that play an important role in cloud formation. The particles in questions are known as ‘climate-active organic aerosols,’ and are vapors composed of large molecules that contain almost equal numbers of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.

The international research team found that these vapors form shortly after the release of plant emissions into the air. The vapors condense on small particles, causing them to grow bigger and bigger. Eventually, they reach a size that is large enough to cause noticeable changes in the atmosphere – like reflecting sunlight, and acting as nuclei for cloud formation. Clickc here. (4/1)

Album Launch: John Frusciante Sends New LP Into Space on Rocket (Source: Rolling Stone)
Some artists launch their new album with a quirky viral campaign or music video. Former Chili Pepper John Frusciante has taken a more literal approach – by legitimately launching his new LP, ENCLOSURE, into space. On Saturday, March 29th, at a "remote High Desert location in California," the album was loaded onto the "experimental Cube Satellite" Sat-JF14 and blasted into the great beyond onboard Interorbital Systems' NEPTUNE Modular Rocket. (3/31)

Launch Platform Problem Delays Sea Launch Eutelsat 3B Mission (Source: Telecom Paper)
Eutelsat  Communications has been advised by Sea Launch of a delay to the planned launch on 15 April of the Eutelsat  3B satellite. Sea Launch confirmed in a statement that during the final “dry” roll-out phase of integrated launch vehicle processing in support of the Eutelsat  3B mission, a discrepancy in the nominal movement of the cable-mast and the Zenit-2S launch vehicle lateral plate occurred while installing the integrated launch vehicle onto the launch pad.

A decision was made to demate the Payload Unit (comprising the satellite, adapter and fairing) and the Block-DM-Sea Launch in order to resolve the discrepancy, establish the root cause and perform additional checks of the interface between the launch vehicle and Ground Support Equipment connectors. (4/1)

Lockheed Gets $245.7M for Two GPS Satellites (Source: DOD)
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $245,778,905 modification to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to exercise the option for additional Global Positioning System III Space Vehicles 07 and 08.  Work will be performed in Littleton, Colo., with an expected completion date of April 1, 2018 for Space Vehicle 07 and Oct. 1, 2018 for Space Vehicle 08. (3/29)

Interorbital Launches Suborbital Rocket at Mojave (Source: Interorbital Systems)
Interorbital Systems’ Common Propulsion Module Test Vehicle (CPM TV) thundered off its mobile launch unit on its maiden flight. The rocket's 7,500-lb thrust engine performed flawlessly propelling the 1200-lb rocket to Mach 1+ within seconds over the FAR Launch Area. The 30-foot rocket is a test version of the identical rocket units that will make up Interorbital's modular orbital launch systems. All payloads were recovered still functioning and intact. The rocket sustained minimal damage and will be used re-used on the next test flight in which the CPM will be finless and guided. (3/31)

X-37B Spaceplane Breaks Space Longevity Record (Source: Space Daily)
One of the US Air Force's most mysterious projects - an unmanned space-faring plane - has broken its own longevity record by staying in orbit for more than 469 days. There aren't many details floating around in public regarding the X-37B - a classified project that's seen three launches into space thus far - but a new report by the IDG News Service suggests the plane is being used to test out the Air Force's new space capabilities while also boosting the intelligence community's surveillance capacity.

Launched back in December 2012, the Boeing-designed X-37B has been floating above the Earth ever since. The plane looks like a smaller cousin to NASA's past space shuttle models, and has been designed with quick turn-around times in mind, so that it can easily be re-launched after landing. (4/1)

Canada Invests in Health Technologies for Astronauts (Source: Market Wired)
James Moore, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), announced five new studies that will help assess innovative Canadian health technologies that could one day be launched to the International Space Station (ISS). This investment reflects the goals of Canada's Space Policy Framework: to ensure a strong and commercially competitive space industry that will continue to inspire Canadians.

The five technologies all aim to make space flight safer for astronauts by identifying, monitoring or diagnosing the health risks associated with space travel. Since many of the effects of microgravity on the human body are similar to the ageing process on Earth, these technologies are also expected to have applications in medical and life science research. (3/27)

Satellite Shows High Productivity from US Corn Belt (Source: Space Daily)
Data from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the U.S. boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists. Healthy plants convert light to energy via photosynthesis, but chlorophyll also emits a fraction of absorbed light as fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow is an excellent indicator of the amount of photosynthesis, or gross productivity, of plants in a given region. (4/1)

CSF Welcomes New Members (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of six new member organizations. Bigelow Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters have joined as new Executive Members and Moon Express has moved up from Associate to Executive Membership. ASRC Federal, Spaceport Sweden, and World View Enterprises have joined as Associate Members. (4/1)

Mini Robot Space Surgeon to Climb Inside Astronauts (Source: New Scientist)
It could one day answer the prayers of astronauts who need surgery in deep space. The miniature surgeon slides into the body through an incision in the belly button. Once inside the abdominal cavity – which has been filled with inert gas to make room for it to work – the robot can remove an ailing appendix, cut pieces from a diseased colon or perforate a gastric ulcer.

The fist-sized doctor, a product of Virtual Incision in Lincoln, Nebraska, will have its first zero-gravity test – in an aircraft flying in parabolic arcs – in the next few months. While aloft, the surgery bot will perform a set of exercises to demonstrate its dexterity, such as manipulating rubber bands and other inanimate objects.

Prototypes have performed several dozen procedures in pigs. The team says the next step is to work in human cadavers and then test the technology in a living human on Earth. Remote-operated technologies would have a disadvantage in space, because the further away a spaceship gets, the greater the time delay in communications signals. Virtual Incision hopes to avoid this problem by training astronauts to perform procedures on each other. (4/1)

Sea Launch to Relocate Headquarters in Switzerland (Source: SpaceRef)
Sea Launch, a provider of launch services for the satellite operator industry, today announced that it is relocating its corporate headquarters from Berne to Nyon, canton of Vaud, Switzerland. "This move allows Sea Launch to take advantage of Nyon's strong talent pool, its excellent transport facilities, both by air and rail and is in close proximity to our EMEA customer base", said Sergey Gugkaev, Chief Executive Officer. (4/1)

GAO: EELV Program To Cost $70 Billion Through 2030 (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its annual assessment of DOD's acquisition of selected weapon programs today. The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) was one of several DOD space programs reviewed and GAO reports that the program's cost will be $70 billion through 2030, $35.7 billion more than the previous estimate from 2012. (3/31)

NASA Plans 2-Year Extension of SpaceX, Orbital Commercial Cargo Contracts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA intends to extend its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts with Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX by up to two years, according to a pre-solicitation notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The notice said the extensions until December 2017 would be done at no cost to the government. NASA awarded both contracts in December 2008 for cargo delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) with not to exceed values of $3.1 billion apiece. (3/31)

Russian Resupply Vehicle to Blast Off for Space Station Voyage (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Russian unmanned Progress resupply spacecraft is readying for an April 9 launch from the Baikonur space center to deliver essential cargo to the International Space Station, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has said. "The spaceship will carry more than 2.5 tons of diverse cargo, including fuel for the ISS, additional hardware, food, water and oxygen for the crew, as well as scientific equipment for conducting experiments," the agency said in a statement. (3/31)

NASA Talk Highlights What's Next for Tomorrow's Airplanes (Source: SpaceRef)
On Tuesday, April 1 at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Mark Anderson, the director of Flight Sciences Technology for Boeing Research & Technology will present "To the Frontiers of Flight: The Role of Innovation in Developing Tomorrow's Products" at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center. Anderson will review advanced aviation technology on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and focus on future air vehicles and concepts. He will also highlight NASA research contributions to the frontiers of flight. (3/31)

Ants in Space (Source: BioEd Online)
The live Ants in Space investigation was conducted in January 2014 on the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment involves eight habitats, each containing approximately 100 pavement ants, and examines how ants work together to search a new space. Click here. (3/31) 

Arctic Melt Season Lengthening, Ocean Rapidly Warming (Source: NASA)
The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap's thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers. Click here. (3/31) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IQBn-Sg-gc&feature=youtu.be

One-Way Mars Colony Project to Simulate Red Planet on Earth (Source: Space.com)
An audacious project to send volunteers on a one-way colony trip to Mars is drawing up plans for simulation outposts on Earth to give potential Red Planet settlers a taste of Martian life. Mars One announced their plans for mock Martian colonies Thursday (March 27), though the nonprofit hasn't picked a location for the first simulator yet.

Lansdorp hopes to put astronaut bootprints on the Red Planet by 2025. But the first Mars One colonists won't be coming back to Earth. Instead they'll live out their days in a thick-walled habitat, protected against harmful solar particles and cosmic rays, donning spacesuits to go outside in a place that lacks a breathable atmosphere. The mock habitats would attempt to recreate those isolated conditions, though at first, they won't contain actual life support systems that humans would need to survive on Mars. (3/31)

Crew Partners Complete Space System Milestones (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA’s commercial space partners continue to meet milestones under agreements with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), as they move forward in their development of spacecraft and rockets that will transport humans to destinations in low-Earth orbit. The achievements in February are the latest development in a cycle that is seeing all four industry partners meet their milestones in their Commercial Crew Integrated Capability and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 agreements with the agency. Click here. (3/31)

Virginia Spaceport Tries to Woo Human Spaceflight (Source: Florida Today)
Business and technology groups are lobbying for NASA funding next year to support launches of a new space station and then its crew and cargo — from Virginia. In a Feb. 3 letter, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce asked U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski — chair of the appropriations committee and a champion of NASA's Wallops Island launch site — to allocate money from exploration programs to a public-private partnership with Bigelow Aerospace.

The letter claims Bigelow has an arrangement with SpaceX to build a launch pad at the state-run Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. The pad would launch Bigelow's next-generation BA-330 habitat, then crews and cargo. But he said Florida would benefit significantly if NASA committed to a demonstration program that helps advance its commercial habitats.

The habitats could support missions by NASA's Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule launching from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, or be serviced by commercial crew and cargo vehicles flying from Florida. Bigelow's initial partnership with NASA is expected to take off next summer, with the planned Cape launch of a test module (the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM) to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (3/31)

Powerful Solar Flare Causes Radio Blackout (Source: Discovery)
On Mar. 29, the sun erupted with an X-class solar flare, blasting Earth with powerful electromagnetic radiation. Although we couldn’t directly feel its effects on the ground, the impact of this event was measured as a dramatic radio blackout for several minutes. The X1.0 flare erupted at 1:48 p.m. ET on Mar. 29 and an armada of solar telescopes captured the event in all its glory.

It bathed our upper atmosphere in ultraviolet radiation, causing global ionization. The aptly-named ionosphere is used for communications where radio waves are bounced around the globe. The blast was so powerful that the impulsive electrical currents generated in the ionosphere caused vast waves to ripple through our planet’s magnetic field. “The Doppler shift of the WWV signal (the ‘wobble’ just before the blackout) was nearly 12 Hz, the most I have ever seen,” said Stan Nelson. (3/31)

Indian Mars Mission Cost Citizen Less Than Bus Fare (Source: Times of India)
How much did the Rs 450-crore India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) cost an individual? Believe it or not it is less than the minimum BEST bus fare. While the minimum fare is Rs 6, each Indian on the other hand has spent just Rs four for the Mars mission. This unbelievable fact that the mission cost each citizen of this country a pittance was revealed to TOI by Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan recently. He said, "The fact it cost each person Rs 4 was moreover just a one-time payment. It was neither weekly, monthy or yearly." (3/31)

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