April 11, 2014

Arianespace Looks To Expand Use of Soyuz from Baikonur (Source: Space News)
Europe’s launch service provider, Arianespace, is negotiating with the Russian space agency on a block buy of Soyuz rockets to be operated from Russia’s Baikonur spaceport and sold commercially for much less than the Europeanized Soyuz, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said. The purchases would be made through Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate, in which both Evry, France-based Arianespace and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency are shareholders. (4/11)

Key Endorsement Clinches Airbus’ Big Weather Satellite Win (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency’s check-writing body on April 10 endorsed the recommendation of the agency’s technology evaluation board to select Airbus Defence and Space to build two to six polar-orbiting meteorological satellites developed by ESA and Europe’s meteorological satellite agency, Eumetsat, European government and industry officials said.

Meeting at the agency’s headquarters here, ESA’s Industrial Policy Committee approved spending 820 million euros ($1.1 billion) to develop the first pair of Metop Second Generation (SG) satellites, for a launch early in the next decade. Eumetsat is expected to confirm late this year whether its member governments are willing to purchase two pairs of Metop SG satellites. Eumetsat has concluded that ordering three pairs is much more cost effective, on a per-year basis, than ordering two pairs and then having to restart a new program. (4/11)

NASA Ames Launches Nanosatellites, Science Experiments (Source: SpaceRef)
NASA's Ames Research Center will launch a variety of experiments into space aboard NASA's next ISS commercial cargo flight of the SpaceX Dragon. These experiments include a next-generation smartphone satellite, 100 stamp-sized nanosatellites and life science experiments to better our understanding of how spaceflight affects the human body, the growth of cells and plants. Click here. (4/11)

4 Amazing Things NASA Invented, and 4 You Think It Did (Source: WIRED)
NASA is everywhere. Over the past 50 years, the government space agency has built an awful lot of stuff for, well, space. But with its $17 billion annual budget, it has also done quite a bit of research and development in other areas, and even its space gear managed to influence so many other things down here on earth.

The liquid cooled space clothing worn by lunar astronauts in the ’70s has been adapted to help burn-victims. In the ’80s, the agency helped develop a lightweight breathing system for firefighters. And more recently, biologists modified the star-tracking algorithms used by the Hubble Telescope to track fish and polar bears. “The list goes on and on, but not many people know about it,” says Daniel Lockney, NASA's Tech Transfer Program Executive. Click here. (4/10)

Update on China's Yutu Rover (Source: Planetary Society)
We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But I have been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston and now I will try to put it all together and address the current state of the mission. Click here. (4/10)

UF's Small Satellite Club to Host Yuri's Night Party (Source: Independent Alligator)
April 12 means one small step for man and one giant party for mankind. Yuri’s Night: the World Space Party is an international celebration of man’s exploration of the final frontier, and it’s coming to Gainesville this weekend. UF’s Small Satellite Design Club is hosting the free party at 9 p.m. on Saturday at The Midnight downtown. (4/11)

Editorial: Shiloh Project Offers Benefits (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The Space Florida project is an uncommon and great opportunity for state residents. It’s great because it exposes us to the positive effects of the prevailing forces driving the American and world economies: Technology; globalization/a flatter earth (as referenced by Thomas Friedman) and government involvement.

The technology intrinsic to the space project is at the high end of the technological pyramid. Florida has a robust university system that can supply competent graduates to work in the new jobs. The universities have the resources (teachers and infrastructure) to work with the new firms on scientific and managerial projects. The jobs will pay above-average salaries. The increase in a higher-salaried demographic will probably increase employment in general. Florida’s dynamic housing market will support the buildup of new people in new places. (4/11)

Sierra Nevada Signs Agreement with Houston Spaceport for Dream Chaser (Source: Denver Post)
Sierra Nevada signed a letter of intent Thursday with Houston leaders to explore a future for the company and its high-profile Dream Chaser program at the Texas city's proposed spaceport. The announcement gives Houston's efforts a significant boost in the emerging "new space" market, which for years sought legitimacy in the public's eye and is now quickly gaining momentum.

"Having Sierra Nevada be able to land here makes our project a reality," said David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute in Houston, which is one of Sierra Nevada's partners. "The people behind the Houston Airport System really came out and found us," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of Sierra Nevada's Space Systems. "They really went out aggressively and made their case."

Editor's Note: The article wasn't clear on this, but it appears that Sierra Nevada is looking for back-up/contingency landing sites for Dream Chaser, a vehicle that would operate primarily at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport's Shuttle Landing Facility. (4/11)

Colorado Front-Range Spaceport Efforts 'Faltering' (Source: Denver Post)
Thursday's agreement between Sierra Nevada and Houston was signed just three months after Sierra Nevada made another commitment along Florida's Space Coast. Both of these are considered direct competitors to Colorado's aerospace industry. National competition is mounting as Colorado's own spaceport efforts are faltering due to airspace concerns.

While both Houston and Colorado are in the final stages of their applications — both planning to formally submit to the FAA in the summer — Houston has managed to gain greater community support by building on its NASA heritage, which furthers its spaceport initiative. Colorado is attempting to overcome FAA concerns over Front Range's proximity to Denver International Airport and the potential airspace conflicts. Sierra Nevada says the decision to work with Houston doesn't signal lack of support for Colorado's proposal.

"We need a letter of agreement about how air traffic control will work together, and that's something that is in discussions right now," said Adams County Manager Todd Leopold, a member of the Front Range Airport Advisory Board. "Our regional air traffic and the national air traffic operations are the ones having the discussion." Water can be a major asset for human spaceflight in emergency situations, and Houston borders the Gulf of Mexico while Colorado's status as a landlocked state works against it. (4/11)

How Mighty Jupiter Could Have Changed Earth's Habitability (Source: Space Daily)
Jupiter is by far the heavyweight planet in the Solar System, weighing in at 320 Earth masses. Its gravity not only influences small asteroids that go by, but also tugs on other planets in the solar system - including our own. What if Jupiter had had a more eccentric orbit? Could that have affected the habitability of Earth? Click here. (4/11)

Plant Nursery Will Expand Fresh Food Production on ISS (Source: Space Daily)
A plant growth chamber bound for the International Space Station inside the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission may help expand in-orbit food production capabilities in more ways than one, and offer astronauts something they don't take for granted, fresh food. NASA's Veg-01 experiment will study the in-orbit function and performance of a new expandable plant growth facility called Veggie and its plant "pillows." The investigation will focus on the growth and development of "Outredgeous" lettuce seedlings in the spaceflight environment. (4/11)

NASA Signs Deal With German, Canadian Partners To Test New Fuels (Source: Space Daily)
NASA has signed separate agreements with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May 7 and will be flown from NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. (4/11)

Ka-Band Opens New Possibilities For Aircraft Connectivity (Source: Aviation Week)
Mention aircraft broadband connectivity and the first thought is Wi-Fi access for passengers. But engineers are already looking beyond updating Facebook and streaming YouTube inflight, toward machine-to-machine communications—the ability for aircraft to talk to aircraft and airborne systems to ground systems automatically, to share data, diagnose issues and make decisions.

Long discussed and anticipated, the vision of the connected aircraft is becoming concrete due to the confluence of three wider technology trends: increasing computer power, more storage capacity and expanding communications bandwidth. The latest generation of aircraft generate and store vast amounts of data and now the broadband connection is becoming available to make new uses of that data possible. Click here. (4/11)

New GPS Civil Signal Rollout Will Aid Spoofing Countermeasures (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is set to start early implementation of the long-anticipated GPS Civil Navigation (CNAV) message at the end of this month, and will use the process to help develop new countermeasures against spoofing. The GPS satellites will begin the early broadcast of more accurate navigation messages on the new civil L2C and L5 signals, mainly to aid development of compatible user equipment and CNAV operational procedures.

However, according to the Air Force, an element of the pre-implementation phase will evaluate new ways to protect against the growing threat of spoofing, in which vehicles can be put off course by counterfeit signals. Spoofing is a more insidious threat than jamming because users are not aware that their navigation system is being misled.

The development of spoofing countermeasures is viewed as increasingly vital because of the “safety of life” applications at which the L5 signal is aimed. L5 is the third civilian GPS signal, and will be broadcast in a radio band reserved exclusively for aviation safety services. In the future, aircraft will use L5 in combination with L1 C/A to improve both accuracy and signal redundancy. (4/3)

Moon, Mars and Other Solar System Objects Are Top Tasks for Roscosmos (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia has determined the general conceptual basis of outer space exploration and development. Top tasks of the country are to expand its presence on low earth orbits, exploration and colonization of the Moon, start of exploration of Mars and other Solar System objects. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

In his words, the near future goals of Russian space industry should be the formation of a market of space services and advanced achievements in exploration and development of remote space resources. The domestic project on far space exploration would play a special role in this, Rogozin noted. Now Roscosmos and its partners are instructed to draft and formulate proposals on expediency of project’s implementation, he added. (4/11)

California Bill Stimulating Aerospace Approved by State Senate (Source: California Newswire)
In order to foster a more stable business climate for California’s aerospace sector, the California State Senate today passed Assembly Bill (AB) 777 authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance). Also known as the Aerospace Tax Clarification Act, AB 777 would qualify rocket propulsion systems for an existing business inventory tax exemption and update California law to ensure the growing number of jobs created by the space exploration industry remain in the state. (4/10)

Eastern Range Outage Could Delay Next Antares Launch (Source: Daily Press)
Orbital Science Corp.'s next cargo mission from Wallops Island to the International Space Station is officially May 6 — but that launch might be postponed a month or more because of a wide range of issues, officials say. First, a fire at Cape Canaveral in Florida knocked out some of its radar tracking ability, said Orbital spokesman Barron "Barry" Beneski from his Dulles office. Then, in a sort of domino effect, that radar loss delayed two launches from the Cape, including one by SpaceX, the other company that makes commercial resupply runs to the space station for NASA. (4/10)

Virginia Feels Effects of NASA-Russia Cold Shoulder (Source: Daily Press)
Last week, NASA cut most of its ties with Russia over the political crisis over Crimea, leaving observers wondering how it might impact space science and exploration — or even national security. The ripples are being felt even here in Virginia, headquarters of Orbital Sciences Corp., the private space transportation company that relies on Ukraine for the main core of its big Antares rocket.

Orbital launches from Wallops Island spaceport on the Eastern Shore, making crucial resupply missions to the International Space Station. NASA pointedly exempted the space station from its suspension. The U.S. needs Russia to get American astronauts to the ISS after retiring the Space Shuttle program in 2011. But if the political situation worsens, it is unclear if Orbital will lose access to its Ukrainian supplier, located in the threatened eastern region of Ukraine.

"Obviously we're monitoring the situation," Orbital spokesman Barron "Barry" Beneski said from his Dulles office. "We're in touch with our suppliers pretty much every day. We haven't seen any disruptions. We're obviously hopeful the situation just kind of calms down and we won't see any upsets." The big first-stage core of the Antares is built by a company called Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, which once designed Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. (4/11)

NASA-Russia Cooperation: What You Need To Know (Source: Space Policy Online)
The news that NASA was suspending interactions with Russia – except for operations of ISS – came as quite a surprise and generated a lot of media attention. SpacePolicyOnline.com has asked many questions of Administration officials (including NASA) and we have been asked many questions by you. Here are the most often-asked questions and our answers. (4/10)

Space aficionados in Russia, the United States, and around the globe are preparing to commemorate the anniversary of when Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the Earth on April 12, 1961.  This year is also the 80th anniversary of Gagarin’s birth (he died in a MIG crash in1968).  As that celebration nears, space cooperation seems to be proceeding smoothly, but what happened to the news last week that NASA is suspending interactions with Russia other than for the ISS program because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine?

Officials Welcome Agency’s Assessment of Launch Impacts (Source: Brownsville Herald)
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessment regarding proposed rocket launches in Cameron County has brought SpaceX another step closer to planting its flag on Boca Chica Beach, officials indicated Thursday. The proposed rocket launch site has passed its latest round of scrutiny from the federal wildlife agency, which has issued its final opinion to the FAA, according to documents released on the FAA’s website.

The USFWS’s opinion is that rocket launches would “not likely jeopardize” endangered species in Cameron County. In the report, the agency suggested measures to avoid or minimize what it described as minimal risks to wildlife and habitat. Although SpaceX representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Cameron County Judge Carlos H. Cascos welcomed the opinion Thursday. (4/11)

Fashion Future: NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit (Source: Space Safety)
NASA has opened up the future of space fashion with an invitation to the public to vote for the next spacesuit design. The Z-2 spacesuit is the next prototype in NASA’s Z-series, following the popular Z-1 spacesuit. This series of space suits are specially designed so they can be used in both microgravity and planetary Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs). It is likely that the first astronauts on Mars will wear the most advanced model of the Z-series.

In April 2013, ILC Dover won a $4.4 million contract over David Clark to design, manufacture, and test the Z-2 prototype spacesuit in collaboration with Philadelphia University. The Z-2 is able to interface with the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) currently under development by NASA. PLSS is a unit similar to a backpack which supplies oxygen, ventilation and refrigerated water to the astronauts. (4/10)

Did A Lake Once Cover Spirit Rover’s Landing Site On Mars? (Source: Universe Today)
The Spirit rover spent six years (2004-2010) exploring Gusev Crater, which is just a little south of the Martian equator. Scientists have been back and forth about whether it once was a vast lake of water, but some new research could swing the pendulum towards the water hypothesis. The water track hinges on magnesium-iron carbonate minerals found in Columbia Hills, a 300-foot (91-meter) feature about two miles (3.2 kilometers) away from Spirit’s landing site.

When the minerals were first found in the hills’ Comanche outcrop in 2010, scientists (which included the lead author of the study) attributed this to ancient hot springs activity. Spirit, however, initially found that the crater was lined with volcanic rocks and not the sediments scientists needed to support the lake theory. When it did find evidence of water in the hills, it was linked to hydrothermal activity.

The new analysis suggests that Comanche (and other outcrops in the vicinity) got their liquid from water on the surface that was of a much lower temperature than what you would find in a hot spring  –which originates underground. (4/10)

First 'Exomoon' Around Alien Planet Possibly Found (Source: Space.com)
For the first time ever, astronomers may have spotted a moon circling an alien planet — though they'll probably never know for sure exactly what they've found. A team of scientists detected a pair of faraway objects that could be a giant Jupiter-like alien planet and a rocky exomoon flying freely through space, or a small dim star hosting a planet about 18 times more massive than Earth. (4/10)

NASA to Continue Scientific Work With Russia After Sanctions (Source: Bloomberg)
NASA’s scientific cooperation with Russia will extend beyond joint support of the International Space Station even after the U.S. imposed sanctions over the annexation of Crimea. Space-related work with Russia will be reviewed on a “case-by-case basis,” said Allard Beutel, a spokesman for NASA. The U.S. agency said April 3 that it was suspending the “majority” of its engagements with Russia because of violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The countries will still work on four missions using Russian instruments on NASA spacecraft, as well as projects in space-based geodesy -- the study and measurement of the Earth, Beutel said. NASA will also move forward with Russia’s planned Spektr-RG mission and participate in the 40th Committee on Space Research Conference in Moscow in August, he said. NASA only halted about 20 percent of its activity with Russia after the sanctions, said Yuri Karash, a member of the Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics. (4/10)

Houston, We've Got an Auction: Apollo 13 Astronaut's Mementos to be Sold (Source: Collect Space)
Apollo 13 mission memorabilia belonging to the late astronaut Jack Swigert is headed for auction 44 years after a last-minute change landed him aboard the ill-fated flight. Swigert, who up until three days before the April 11, 1970 launch had been assigned to the mission's backup crew, replaced command module pilot Thomas "Ken" Mattingly, who was removed from the mission after being exposed to the German measles.

Now, the mission mementos that the real Swigert kept as souvenirs are being put up for auction by the astronaut's family. Swigert, who did not fly again after Apollo 13, died of cancer in 1982, soon after Colorado elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives. (4/9)

Mission Control Gets $60 Million Makeover (Source: Galveston Daily News)
Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center has been remodeled and retooled as NASA moves closer to putting its new spacecraft into orbit. The remodeling and upgrading of Mission Control, which includes flight control rooms, backrooms that support those flight control rooms, and other infrastructure upgrades, was a $60 million investment, said Paul Hill, mission operations director. The work was done during the past three years.

Rather than have the furniture, equipment and technology made specifically for NASA, as the agency has done in the past, the agency was able to get what it needed straight off the shelf, thanks to advances in consumer technology, Hill said. The upgrades will lead to significant cost savings, Hill said. (4/11)

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