April 17, 2014

One In Three Think We'll Develop Space Colonies By 2064 (Source: Huffington Post)
What will the world be like in 2064? Just imagine: Will we have robot caregivers? Will we be able to teleport using a transporter just like on the TV show "Star Trek?" Those may be things only seen in Hollywood productions... for now. Many Americans think they will be a part of our future in mere decades, according to a new Pew Research Center study.Thirty-three percent of Americans believe humans will build long-term space colonies in the next 50 years. (4/17)

The Insane, Probably Fake, Plan to Brighten the Moon (Source: Mashable)
It sounds like the plot of a James Bond movie: There's a plan afoot to make the moon brighter in the night sky, potentially saving the world billions of dollars in power costs running street lamps. How would such an ambitious idea even be possible? By strategically placing highly reflective material on the lunar surface. A lot of it. The project is called Brighter Moon, and Swedish parent company Foreo says it has already secured more than $52 million in funding. Click here. (4/17)

Bright Points in Sun's Atmosphere Mark Patterns Deep In Its Interior (Source: NASA)
New research that uses data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, to track bright points in the solar atmosphere and magnetic signatures on the sun's surface offers a way to probe the star's depths faster than ever before. The technique opens the door for near real-time mapping of the sun's roiling interior – movement that affects a wide range of events on the sun from its 22-year sunspot cycle to its frequent bursts of X-ray light called solar flares. (4/17)

NRO Eyes Lidar For Space Deployment (Source: Aviation Week)
Light detection and ranging (lidar), one of the latest sensor technologies to get a boost thanks to the Afghanistan war, could make its way to space. Lidar could follow in the footsteps of wide-area motion imagery, full-motion video and hyperspectral technologies that have also garnered interest and funding due to their ability to be tested and prove their value in Iraq and Afghanistan. (4/16)

Virgin Galactic Hands Global PR Duties to Edelman (Source: PR Week)
Virgin Galactic has picked Edelman to handle its six-figure global PR account in the build-up to its first commercial flight into space. The agency was selected after a nine-month search involving pitches in both the UK and US, with the brief covering everything from consumer and corporate messaging through to brand partnerships. It is understood that Virgin Galactic is still using Griffin Communications for some work though its nature is not clear. (4/16)

GAO: NASA Improving its Project Management (Source: FCW)
Although NASA has shown improvement on managing project costs and schedules, the Government Accountability Office said its acquisition management still needs attention. "GAO has designated NASA's acquisition management as a high-risk area because of NASA's history of persistent cost growth and schedule slippage in the majority of major projects," GAO's April 15 report states.

NASA has begun launching an earned value management system for several major projects after GAO previously recommended improving the agency's EVM efforts. In 2013, NASA took several additional steps to more effectively manage its portfolio, including maintaining a set-cost performance level for major projects. (4/17)

Vitamin B3 Made in Space, Delivered to Earth by Meteorites? (Source: NASA)
Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.

"It is always difficult to put a value on the connection between meteorites and the origin of life; for example, earlier work has shown that vitamin B3 could have been produced non-biologically on ancient Earth, but it's possible that an added source of vitamin B3 could have been helpful," said Karen Smith. "Vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, is a precursor to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is essential to metabolism and likely very ancient in origin." (4/17)

China Issues First Assessment on Space Activities (Source: Xinhua)
A leading space research group in China released the country's first assessment of the current situation and future trends of international space activities on Thursday. The report was compiled by the research group of the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Launch Vehicle Technology. The report showed that space activities have flourished in recent years. Big space powers led in terms of satellite launch attempts and in-orbit assets. Click here. (4/17)

Last Day for Contributing to Simulated Mars Mission (Source: Mars Society)
The Mars Society, the world’s largest space advocacy group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, launched a special Indiegogo crowd-sourcing campaign on Feb. 20 to help fund the organization’s Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) program, a historic one-year simulated human Mars mission in the Canadian Arctic. The online campaign, scheduled for 60 days, is seeking to raise $100,000 to support this never before attempted Mars research initiative. The deadline for giving is Monday, Apr. 21 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. Click here. (4/17)

FAA to Mandate Switch from Radar Tracking to GPS (Source: Daily Tech)
By 2020, all planes will need to be traceable via GPS, the FAA has decided, a move that comes as the search continues for the wreckage of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. Currently, planes are tracked with ground-based radar, which can have coverage gaps. Under the new regulation, air traffic facilities will switch to Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), which uses satellites. (4/15)

Sequester Will Take $14.2B Bite From Aerospace (Source: Flight Global)
If sequestration cuts aren't eliminated, aviation programs will face a $14.2 billion reduction in the next five years, affecting the F-35 fighter jet, helicopters, air lifters, research on a fuel-efficient supersonic engine and other programs, the Defense Department says in a new report. In total, 16 aviation and munition programs would face cuts under the current budget, the report says. (4/16)

DOD: R&D, Procurement will be Slashed Under Federal Caps (Source: Defense News)
Without a change to federal spending caps, defense research and development and upgrades to equipment and weaponry will be slashed, a new Pentagon report reveals. The $66 billion cut to R&D and procurement would affect a wide swath of programs, from the F-35 jet to purchases of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to the Boeing KC-46 tanker program. (4/16)

NASA Wants Ideas to Recycle Oxygen on Deep-Space Voyages (Source: Space.com)
When humans leave Earth to explore planets like Mars and other hostile environments in outer space, they'll need to supply their own breathable oxygen. NASA says the ability to recycle oxygen will be critical for future manned missions. NASA already has systems in place on the International Space Station to recycle around 40 percent of the astronauts' air supply.

But NASA is looking for new technology that can increase the oxygen recovery rate to at least 75 percent. NASA doesn't just want to improve its oxygen recovery rate. The new technology must also be lighter or take up less space and reduce power consumption, compared with the current air-making system, space agency officials said. (4/16)

First Potentially Habitable Earth-Sized Planet Confirmed (Source: Phys.org)
The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified using large ground-based telescopes. It also confirms that Earth-sized planets do exist in the habitable zone of other stars. Click here. (4/17)

Another Falcon-9 Delay Could Delay Antares Mission to ISS (Source: Daily Press)
If this were a film with Matthey McConaughey, it would be called “Failure to Launch.’ SpaceX scrubbed its mission to the International Space Station on Monday, meaning that a May 6 resupply launch from Wallops Island will be even less likely. The launch was scrubbed because of a helium leak. SpaceX has another launch window on Friday, but the weather on that date “isn’t ideal.” The delay will push the launch of Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket to mid-June. (4/15)

Up and Down and Up Again (Source: The Economist)
Rocket scientists have long dreamed of making something able to fly more than once. Such a reusable machine, they hope, would slash the cost of getting into space. The only one built so far, America’s space shuttle, proved a dangerous and costly disappointment, killing two of its crews and never coming close to the cost savings its designers had intended. But hope springs eternal, and several of America’s privately run “New Space” firms are planning to try again.

The furthest advanced is SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, an internet mogul. On April 18th it is due to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets on a cargo-carrying trip to the International Space Station (ISS), something it has done twice before. This time, though, the main story is not the ISS mission, but the modifications the firm has made to the rocket itself. Click here. (4/17)

Spaceport Body of Knowledge Library Goes Live (Source: Parabolic Arc)
As part of the FAA Center of Excellence in Commercial Space Transportation, New Mexico State University has published a collection of spaceport-related documents, a.k.a., the “Body of Knowledge for Commercial Spaceport Operations”. This is an evolving collection of documents and information that represents available documentation of industry best practices. The collection was created and made accessible by a multi-agency, multi-partner research team led by NMSU and funded by the FAA. Click here. (4/16)

Sierra Nevada Plans Additional Dream Chaser Flight Tests in Fall (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Sierra Nevada Corp. will conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in the fall. The approach and landing tests will be conducted using an upgraded engineering test vehicle that glided to a landing at Edwards last October. The upgrades will include the avionics, software, and guidance, navigation and control systems designed for use on the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft. (4/16)

Dick Rutan Resigns From Mojave Spaceport Board (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Long-time Mojave Air and Space Port board member Dick Rutan has resigned from that body, citing a business opportunity he had become involved in that could present a conflict of interest with his governing duties.
“It has been challenging and rewarding to be part of this team as we have transitioned from an airport to a Space Port, and it is with a heavy heart that I separate myself from this incredible assemblage of visionaries, fellow flyers and friends,” Rutan wrote in his resignation letter. (4/16)

Discount Tickets Offered for NSS ISDC Conference (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Online adventure deals site, Rush49, in association with the National Space Society will offer a series of exclusive admission tickets to attend the 33rd annual ISDC conference, one of which includes entrance to an awards presentation dinner, with recipient Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors on Friday, May 16th, 2014.

Rush49.com, a southern California-based online adventure and adrenaline deals site, in exclusive partnership with the National Space Society, is now expanding its repertoire of high-octane racing/driving experiences and themed outdoor events and excursions to include a foray into the final frontier—space. Click here. (4/16)

Space Exploitation (Source: Hazlitt)
As the diplomatic Neil deGrasse Tyson knows well, scientific advancement isn’t driven by the search for knowledge but rather the pursuit of capital. So how to explain the success of the Fox TV show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a giddy, near-Hanna-Barbera celebration of discovery over commerce, which pulled 8.5 million viewers in its series launch this year, the only Top 10 show in the history of television with the word spacetime in its title? Click here. (4/17)

Military Towns: 'Turn Your Alert Buttons On' (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
As the military restructures under sequestration, some military communities could be faced with the loss of personnel or facilities. That would mean lost economic opportunities. The Defense Department has repeatedly called on Congress to set up a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission for 2017. Lawmakers are firmly against it ... ahead of midterm elections.

But, there are laws on the books that give DOD authority to close facilities without BRAC or Congress. Inside Title 10 of the U.S. Code is Section No. 2687. It gives the services authority to close bases after “notification” of Congress. It’s a major political risk. (4/17)

Return to Sequestration Would Hit GPS 3, Missile Defense Efforts (Source: Space News)
The Air Force’s planned purchase of next-generation GPS satellites, already slowed by budget woes and a healthy existing constellation, would shrink a bit more if defense budgets return to sequestration levels in 2016 and beyond, according to a DOD report. In addition, the Missile Defense Agency would lose a combined $1.2 billion from 2016 through 2019 for work on a new kill vehicle for its primary interceptor program and for a new ground-based sensor, the report said. (4/16)

Study Confirms High Toxicity Near ISRO Plant (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
A  high rate of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) has been confirmed among the people of Keezhamd near Aluva where water bodies have a  dangerously high level of perchlorate, a highly toxic chemical found in rocket fuel and fireworks. Over 65 wells in the area where  ISRO's Ammonium Perchlorate Experimental Plant is located are contaminated , but more studies will have to be done before the hyperthyroidism can be linked to the presence of the toxic chemical in the water bodies. (4/17)

Russian Soyuz Launches Egyptian Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Egypt’s second “spy” satellite was successfully launched today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan using a Russian Soyuz-U rocket with no upper stage. Launch from complex 31 – The second Soyuz launch pad at Baikonur – was right on time at 16:20 GMT. The third stage then placed the Egyptsat-2 satellite in a 700 kilometer orbit about 8 minutes and 40 seconds after launch. (4/16)

Russia and the Moon: When Crimea Isn't Enough (Source: Al Jazeera)
In recent months, “internal colonization” — as the prominent Cambridge University scholar Alexander Etkind called it — got a new ticket to life. The notion of the “near abroad” — say, Ukraine or Moldova, still interpreted by Vladimir Putin as Russia’s sphere of influence — could be easily manipulated to fit the country’s imperial profile. A similar case could be made for adjacent Finland and even the Arctic, which Putin, many say, has been eying possessively.

The Moon, on the other hand, is a completely different story. It neither borders Russia nor comes with a substantial Russian minority. What is more, it has a vexing history of stars and stripes flying over it. Establishing a “permanent foothold” on the Moon is Russia’s next objective. In an article published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (the Kremlin's mouthpiece) on April 11, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that Russia had completed the theoretical phase of space exploration. It is now ready to put all that knowledge to use — that is, to colonize and exploit. (4/17)

Russia to Boost Manpower on New Space Center Construction Site (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia will significantly boost the number of workers involved in the construction of its new Far Eastern Vostochny space launch center, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at a meeting Wednesday. “We are going to increase by several fold the manpower currently engaged at the site, disregarding climate or weather conditions," said Rogozin, who oversees the space and defense industries.

The minister added that night work shifts would be added so that construction can be carried out round-the-clock. The new Vostochny cosmodrome is being built near the town of Uglegorsk in Russia’s Far East. Its first launch pad is planned to become operational next year, with a maiden operational launch slated for 2018. (4/16)

Merkel Gets Tough on Russia with Satellite Tech Sanctions (Source: Business Week)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t in a hurry to inflict economic pain on Moscow. Cautious, pragmatic, and mindful of her country’s business ties to Russia, she doggedly tried to defuse the Ukraine crisis through back-channel diplomacy and frequent phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Those efforts failed—and now Merkel looks ready to embrace the hit-’em-where-it-hurts sanctions that some U.S. politicians have been pushing for.

In mid-April, Germany stopped granting licenses for arms exports to Russia and put on hold a plan for Airbus Group to sell $973 million worth of satellite technology to Moscow. Europe “shouldn’t be filled with fear” that sanctions could provoke retaliation, Merkel said in Berlin on April 5. (4/17)

The Time for a New, All-American Advanced Liquid Rocket Engine Is Now (Source: Roll Call)
In 1972, President Richard Nixon committed the United States to a space shuttle to meet all launch needs for America’s space program — for national security, civil space, human spaceflight and the commercial marketplace. Now, the consequences of this decision and others emphasizing globalization fundamentally threaten America’s vital access to space.

Because we put all our launch eggs in one basket with the shuttle, the United States delayed by two decades any development of new launch capability. When we restarted a program in new launch technologies, our emphasis on globalization left our space launch infrastructure without a critical element, namely a large, advanced-hydrocarbon-fueled rocket engine.

A new advanced liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket engine could be the replacement engine for updated Atlas, Delta, Antares and Falcon launch vehicles, power strap-on boosters for SLS, and enable future low cost reusable launch systems. By utilizing the engine across launch vehicles, efficient rate production can assure affordability for all. Such an advanced engine can be developed and in production in under four years. (4/17)

Mini Satellites Prove their Scientific Power (Source: Nature)
A tiny box orbiting Earth is sending home big data. Built mostly by undergraduate students for less than US$1.5 million, the 10 centimetre × 10 cm × 30 cm satellite, called Firefly, is now beaming back information on terrestrial γ-ray flashes — energetic bursts that are triggered by lightning and fired out into space. Click here. (4/16)

SSL To Build Two More Satellites for JSat (Source: Space News)
Sky Perfect JSat of Japan on April 17 said Space Systems/Loral (SSL) will build the operator’s Ku-band JCSat-15 and Ku-/Ka-band JCSat-16 telecommunications satellites, both for launch in 2016. The announcement follows the June 2013 contract with Palo Alto, Calif.-based SSL for the JCSat-14 satellite, a contract win that replaced Lockheed Martin Space Systems, a long-preferred JSat supplier, with SSL. (4/17)

Orbital Announces First Quarter Financial Results (Source: Orbital)
Orbital Sciences Corp. reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2014. First quarter 2014 revenues were $323.3 million, compared to $334.8 million in the first quarter of 2013. First quarter 2014 operating income was $23.0 million, compared to $31.1 million in the first quarter of 2013. Net income in the first quarter of 2014 was $13.8 million, compared to net income of $19.6 million in the first quarter of 2013. (4/17)

Airbus Takes On DigitalGlobe With New SAR Product (Source: Aviation Week)
Airbus Defense and Space is hoping to further eat into DigitalGlobe’s domination of the U.S. market for commercial satellite imagery with a new product called WorldDEM. The company boasts that the WorldDEM, a synthetic aperture radar-based digital elevation model (DEM) of the Earth, will far surpass its earlier products by delivering data with 12-meter-per-pixel resolution, says Bernhard Brenner, the company’s head of geospatial intelligence. The product is “seamless,” meaning no gaps in the collection swaths. The company unveiled WorldDEM at the 10th annual Geoint conference in Tampa, Florida (4/15)

ATK Wins $178 Million ULA Contract for Composite Rocket Structures (Source: ATK)
ATK has reached agreement on a $178 million contract award as part of the Air Force's Phase 1 EELV buy from United Launch Alliance. The order value includes hardware for both of the current EELV launch vehicles, the Atlas V and Delta IV. The initial contracting period includes large composite structures with deliveries commencing in AFY14 and continuing into early AFY18. The option period includes hardware deliveries in AFY17 through AFY19. (4/16)

SpaceX + LC-39A = No Eastern Range? (Source: SPACErePORT)
Kudos to NASA for approving a whopping 20-year lease of Launch Complex 39A to SpaceX. One unreported aspect of the deal is how it could introduce some efficiency-enhancing competition for the Air Force's 45th Space Wing. NASA has been developing a legal opinion on whether the 1963 Webb-McNamara Agreement must apply to commercial launches from Kennedy Space Center property, which includes LC-39A and Shiloh.

Webb-McNamara put the Air Force (Eastern Range) in charge of ensuring public safety for all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center. I have heard that NASA has indeed drafted a legal opinion that Webb-McNamara won't necessarily apply to commercial launches from KSC property. If so, KSC or SpaceX could establish their own alternative range safety system...and perhaps allow the FAA to serve as KSC's range safety authority for commercial missions.

What would happen to the Eastern Range if an alternative FAA-approved range safety system were deployed alongside it and was found to perform at a much lower cost? Although potentially more costly, the Eastern Range could be much more capable, with systems that might be required for national security launches but not commercial ones. Would Eastern Range costs rise with fewer users, or would the competition lead to lower costs? (4/16) 

Corruption Case Opened Against Space Company Chief (Source: Moscow Times)
Investigators have opened a corruption case against Energia Rocket and Space Corporation chief Vitaly Lopota following an inquiry into the organization's financing of an international joint venture. Lopota is suspected of causing Energia to incur losses of 41 million rubles ($1.1 million), Izvestia reported Wednesday.

An unidentified security official told Izvestia that Energia took out two loans in 2010 totaling 5.2 billion rubles with an 8 percent annual interest rate. The funds were misappropriated when Lopota allegedly ensured that two of Energia's subsidiaries got loans that were unprofitable for the company because their interest rates were lower. Lopota faces up to four years in jail if convicted of abuse of office. (4/16)

GAO Details Issues with ICESat-2 Sensor (Source: Space News)
The science instrument for a troubled NASA ice-monitoring satellite will be delivered at least nine months late and continues to face development challenges, according to a new GAO report. The April 15 report comes as NASA prepares new cost and schedule estimates for the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)-2, a high-priority program whose difficulties surfaced in October. The new estimates are expected in May, but NASA recently indicated that it expects the launch to slip to from 2016 to at least 2018. (4/16)

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