April 19, 2014

Five Cubesats and 104 Sprites Launched on Falcon-9 (Source: SEN)
2014 is turning out to be the year of the CubeSat. Almost 100 of the pint-sized satellites were added to launch manifests last year, and we are already seeing close to half of that figure being launched just four months into 2014. February saw the largest deployment of CubeSats ever, with 33 units being deployed directly from the International Space Station. Click here. (4/19)

Officials Can See End of the Long Road to Export Reform (Source: National Defense)
For the past two years, federal officials have been methodically revising the lists of U.S. defense technologies that require special export licenses. The goal has been to remove goods or services that no longer pose a threat to U.S. forces if they should fall into the wrong hands, and to maintain safeguards for sensitive items that do.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposed overhauling the system at the outset of the Obama administration. He eschewed the overly broad, catch-all system that was both failing to keep sensitive technologies from making their way to overseas rivals and putting restrictions on those that were no longer cutting edge, which in turn made U.S. industries less competitive. (4/19)

India to Overhaul Satellite Communications Policy (Source: Economic Times)
The Department of Space in consultations with the telecom department (DoT)_will shortly overhaul India's 17-year old satellite communications policy to pave the way for auctioning satellite bandwidth. It will also frame new rules for allocating and pricing satellite transponders and explore ways to deal with applications seeking use of foreign orbital slots, according to a finance ministry note. (4/19)

Low-Cost Launches May Boost Chances For Space Solar Power (Source: Aviation Week)
SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch drew close attention from solar power satellite (SPS) advocates, who know that low-cost reusable launch is one key to realizing their dream of providing abundant electric energy from space. While they are taking different approaches to developing SPS, the small but international group of participants at the SPS 2014 conference agreed that their goal continues to be an end to the increasingly dangerous struggle to meet the energy needs of a growing world population.

They see space solar power as an alternative to burning fossil fuel, and the military cost of securing supplies in unstable regions. Like SpaceX, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) researching reusable launch as a way to cut the cost of space launch drastically. Japan is the only nation that has made beaming solar power collected in space back to Earth a goal of its space policy, and JAXA engineers calculate reusable launch is one way to reduce the up-front investment needed to put gigawatt-class power stations in geostationary orbit.

Using a 2003 JAXA reference model with a 1-gigawatt station weighing 10,000 tons, Sasaki says power would cost a prohibitive $1.12/kwh at a launch cost to low Earth orbit (LEO) of $10,000 per kilogram. That is in the ballpark of what space launch costs today. Cut that to $1,000 a kilogram—in the ballpark for a reusable launch vehicle (RLV)—and electricity from space drops to 18 cents/kwh. (4/19)

Buzz Aldrin: Man on a Mission (Source: Arabian Business)
“Every five years I get invited to the White House,” Buzz Aldrin says. “Sometimes I get a hotdog, sometimes I get to say something.” The legendary US astronaut is in an expansive mood as he reflects on the upcoming 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing that made him and the man who walked one small step ahead of him on 20 July 1969 household names.

At the age of 84, the man who spent 12 days, one hour and 52 minutes in space over his nine-year career with NASA is by no means ambivalent about the significance of the title afforded him almost five decades ago following the most famous of his two missions for the US space agency.

Accepting it is another matter. “No,” he says when asked if he is okay with his place in history behind Apollo crew mate Neil Armstrong. “But I can’t do anything about it. I was told by a very wise person: you can’t change history, you can’t change the way people label things, the way newspapers want big winners or big losers. (4/19)

SpaceX Launches, Wallops Launch Likely Delayed (Source: Daily Press)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched at last from Cape Canaveral Friday afternoon to get badly needed cargo to the International Space Station, which means the May 6 Antares launch from Wallops Island will be delayed until June. Probably.

"Well, we don't know yet," Barron "Barry" Beneski, spokesman for Antares rocket-maker Orbital Sciences Corp., said in an interview from Dulles minutes after the Falcon blasted off at 3:25 p.m. Friday. "Once the SpaceX capsule berths with the station successfully, that's the point we know it will be in June," Beneski said. "It's looking more and more likely we'll be in June, but the mission's not complete until they arrive at the station." (4/19)

Kazakhstan’s Space Future (Source: Trend)
Kazakhstan has a great past in space development, and its future in this field is expected to be just as glorious. he Baikonur Cosmodrome is being leased by the Kazakh government to Russia until 2050 and is managed jointly by the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Russian Space Forces. Moreover Russia will likely work at Baikonur even after 2050, according to official statements from both countries.

In particular in early 2014 Kazakh Space Agency head Talgat Musabayev said that Kazakhstan wanted Russia to remain at Baikonur forever and expressed interest in implementation of joint strategic projects in space industry in the future. In fact, nowadays Kazakhstan has not enough specialists to develop the cosmodrome on its own. Moreover its maintenance requires huge investment and Kazakhstan needs partners to share this financial burden.

Earlier Russia's full control over the cosmodrome partially hindered its development. Russia was not sure about its future at Baikonur and did not want to invest a lot in new long-term projects outside its borders. Much was invested in the construction of Vostochniy Cosmodrome in Siberia instead. Kazakhstan in turn was not interested in spending money on projects run by Russia. Click here. (4/18)

Shotwell Leads SpaceX Into New Frontiers (Source: Easy Reader)
Last year, Gwynne Shotwell,  president and chief operating officer of aerospace giant SpaceX, spoke to a room of Chapman University students in Orange County as part of a TEDx program. Her address was titled “Engineering America” and discussed the rise and fall of the United States as the global leader in science and technology. “Let’s talk about an engineer who is actually known as an inventor, Thomas Edison,” said Shotwell. “The only reason he is known as an inventor and not an engineer is because engineers suck at marketing themselves.”

The comment was an aside and got laughs from the college crowd, as intended. But there was a kernel of absolute truth within it. Engineers are not known for gregariousness, and developing new technology does very little for a company if it doesn’t have a successful way to sell it. Selling high-tech space equipment, for example, requires a salesperson that not only understands the product intricately, but can relate to clients on a personal level and close the deal.

That’s where Shotwell comes in. She joined SpaceX in 2002 when it was a tiny startup with big money and even bigger dreams. The space transport company was founded by billionaire business magnate Elon Musk of Tesla and PayPal fame. Shotwell became his seventh employee and the vice president of business development. Eight years later, she closed the single biggest commercial rocket launch deal in history: a $492 million contract with Iridium. Click here. (4/18)

Company Wants to Offer Rides from Arizona to Space (Source: Yuma Sun)
 A Tucson firm is hoping to launch Arizonans toward the edge of space – or maybe somewhere close to that – from Southern Arizona. Now they need state lawmakers to clear the path. The plan by Paragon Space Development Corp. is to use a balloon to float passengers up 20 miles in a capsule, leave them there to ooh and aah at the view for about two hours and then parachute the whole mechanism back to earth. They could wind up 300 miles downrange but would be flown back to the launch site. (4/18)

Florida Space Budget Items Advance as Session Nears End (Source: SPACErePORT)
Florida legislators in the state's House and Senate have finalized their respective budget proposals and now plan to come together in conference committee to hash out a compromise budget before the annual Legislative Session ends on May 2. Tens of millions of dollars are included in both budget proposals for space-related projects. The Florida Space Development Council has tracked the progress of these items on this chart. (4/18)

Astronauts to Reveal Sobering Data on Asteroid Impacts (Source: Phys.org)
This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle's Museum of Flight, shows that "the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid is blind luck." (4/17)

SpaceX Optimistic on First-Stage Landing (Source: NBC News)
After the launch, Musk reported via Twitter that the first stage executed a good re-entry burn and was able to stabilize itself on the way down. However, the rough seas were a problem. "I wouldn't give high odds that the rocket was able to splash down successfully," he said.

Later updates were more positive: "Data upload from tracking plane shows landing in Atlantic was good! Several boats enroute through heavy seas," Musk tweeted. "Flight computers continued transmitting for 8 seconds after reaching the water. Stopped when booster went horizontal." Recovering and reusing rockets are key parts of Musk's strategy for reducing the cost of spaceflight and eventually sending colonists to Mars. (4/18)

Kourou a Lot Like Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Cape Canaveral is suitable as a location for a spaceport because of two major geographical advantages over other sites in the continental United States: It is about as close to the equator as practical, and it has uninhabited territory (in this case, open sea) to the east, which allows the lower stages of rockets to safely splashdown and ensures that debris from launch failures won't land on anyone.

The Space Coast's counterpart for the French and European space programs is the spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. Operational since 1968, it has similar geographical advantages. It is even closer to the equator and also has open sea to the east. Click here. (4/18)

No comments: