May 10, 2014

ISS Power System Failure Being Investigated (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Flight controllers working on Earth for the International Space Station are investigating a power failure that occurred in the station’s 3A power channel on May 8. NASA officials have stated that the power issue will not impact the departure of the Expedition 39 crewmembers on May 13. The issue poses no danger to either the crew or the station.

The channel runs power to the orbiting laboratory via its connection to the solar arrays attached to the S3/S4 truss assemblies. Power was seamlessly converted for most of the systems from this faulty 3A power channel to the 3B channel, which is currently working as a backup without any apparent issues. Ground crews are also assessing impacts that may arise from this transfer in power such as backup heater power for the station’s external robotic system. (5/10)

Seattle Manufacturers Drawing Space Junkies (Source: CCTV)
In the US, Washington state’s aerospace industry has always been associated with industry giant Boeing, but that may be changing. A growing number of smaller businesses focused on commercial space flight are moving to the Pacific Northwest. Their numbers may be small, but their dreams are big. Companies like Planetary Resources, which plans to mine asteroids approaching Earth.

And Aerojet Rocketdyne. One of an estimated 20 to 30 outer space-related businesses employing about 1,000 workers in the U.S. state of Washington, and boasting some of technology’s biggest names as backers. "A couple of examples of some well-known folks like Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, and even Bill Gates has made some investments in space-related companies." Joe Landon, Managing Director of Space Angels Network said.

Bezos’ Blue Origin is one of the four companies NASA has chosen as a potential partner to build a replacement craft for the space shuttle-- to bring people to the International Space Station. Space-flight investor Joe Landon moved his company from San Francisco two years ago. He believes the state’s mix of big-time investors, technological expertise and Boeing’s manufacturing legacy are unmatched anywhere in the U.S. (5/10)

ISS Camera Puts Streaming Earth Video Online (Source: ustream)
The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS was activated April 30, 2014. It is mounted on the External Payload Facility of ESA’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. Video from these cameras is transmitted back to earth and also streamed live on this channel. Click here. (5/9)

Space Walk of Fame Museum Moves to New Facility (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The U.S. Spacewalk of Fame museum in Titusville, Florida opened the doors of its new exhibit site along US-1 the first week of May to the general public. The old museum on Main Street was too small to house all the space artifacts and large groups were not able to visit the museum. A problem the museum had to deal with since it left the Searstown Mall in 2006.

Charlie Mars who retired from NASA in 1997 is the president of the Spacewalk of Fame foundation. He told Spaceflight Insider that he came in contact with local entrepreneur Bill van Engelenburg last March and they started talking about the state of the museum and its housing. Both were bothered by the fact that the museum was in such a poor state. (5/10)

Excalibur Almaz Space Capsule Bought at Auction (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Is this the end of the line for Excalibur Almaz, the Isle of Man company that had a dream of turning old Soviet space hardware into gold? An anonymous bidder snapped one of the company’s space capsules for $1 million euros ($1.39 million) on Tuesday during an auction in Belgium. The vehicle had flown into space unmanned on two occasions during the 1970′s as part of the Soviet Union’s space station effort and had been refurbished by Excalibur Almaz.

The auctioned capsule was one of four reusable reentry vehicles (RRV) owned by Excalibur Almaz, which also acquired a pair of Almaz space station modules that never flew. The company’s intent has been to recycle the hardware for use in crewed missions to Earth orbit, cislunar space, libration points and deep space. However, the company has never announced a customer. Whether Excalibur Almaz is still pursuing this aim is unclear. (5/9)

Boeing CST-100 Space Taxi Maiden Test Flight to ISS Expected Early 2017 (Source: Universe Today)
Boeing expects to launch the first unmanned test flight of their commercial CST-100 manned ‘space taxi’ in “early 2017,” said Chris Ferguson, commander of NASA’s final shuttle flight. Ferguson is now spearheading Boeing’s human spaceflight capsule project as director of Crew and Mission Operations. "The first unmanned orbital test flight is planned in January 2017 … and may go to the station,” he said. (5/9)

New Mexico Spaceport to be Tourism Trailhead (Source: Las Cruces Bulletin)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has two goals to start with, said NMSA Director Christine Anderson. “Our goal is to be totally self-supporting and the other part is tourism,” she said. “It (Spaceport) is a fabulous place to visit.” The experience will start on the Interstate 25, Exit 79, Anderson said. Visitors will go into the visitor center with displays and information. They can take a bus out to the spaceport.

The bus itself will be a mobile theater, offering visitors information as they take the trip. Once people get to the site, the Gateway to Space building will offer more visual opportunities. Most of the archeological displays will appear there, and are almost complete to date, she said. The archeology encompasses 44 sites dating from 10,000 B.C. to the 1800s. (5/10)

Branson Reaffirms 2014 Space Launch (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
It looks like the launch is nigh. "As always, safety will ultimately call the shots, but right now, I’m planning to go to space in 2014,” Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson said. He didn’t elaborate, but he is the first to be booked to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo to fly into near earth orbit. (5/9)

Marketing the Moon (Source: ABC)
When Neil Armstrong took a meticulously practiced giant leap for mankind and thrust the Stars and Stripes into the Moon’s newly-explored surface in July 1969, it was not only a triumph for American engineering and rocketry, but for marketing and public relations as well. NASA was not only carrying out a pioneering space travel experiment in sending a man to the moon and returning him safely in earth. They were also carrying out a huge commercial experiment in ‘brand journalism'. Click here. (5/9)

Lunar X Prize Will Make Moon Trip as Normal as an International Flight (Source: The Street)
Will the moon find a place on the mainstream travel map of the future? If the ongoing moon-landing contest led by Google's Lunar X Prize are anything to go by, it will. Soon, traveling to the moon will become as seamless as a transatlantic flight, according to the teams behind Lunar X Prize, an international $30 million incentive-based initiative that marks Google's shift from the vanguard of a technology-driven future to a catalyst for something the world has never seen before. Click here. (5/9)

Mars Colonization a ‘Suicide Mission,’ says Canadian Astronaut (Source: LFP)
Sending humans to colonize Mars would be a suicide mission, former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk said Friday. Thirsk, who holds the Canadian space endurance record with 204 days in orbit, said a private Netherlands-based group's plan to send 24 people to settle the red planet in a decade is a death wish. During his six-month stint aboard the International Space Station in 2009, Thirsk said he spent much of his time repairing equipment like CO2 scrubbers and the craft's toilet.

That doesn't give him much confidence in Mars One's plans. "I don't think we're ready ... we don't yet have the reliable technology to support a one-way trip to Mars," Thirsk said in Calgary Friday. "It's naive to think we're ready to colonize Mars — it'd be a suicide mission." (5/10)

Why You Shouldn't Bet Against Elon Musk (Source: Yahoo Finance)
The man behind Tesla and SpaceX is also a co-founder of SolarCity, run by his cousins, brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive. And, while Wall Street was disappointed by Tesla's recent quarter numbers, they were burning for SolarCity's. Musk "is a winner,” Steve Cortes said. "Don't bet against winners. He's a visionary. So, when I balance those two considerations, for me, [SolarCity] is a hold." (5/8)

Terminal Velocity Gets NASA SBIR Award for ISS Sample Return System (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has selected Terminal Velocity Aerospace for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to develop a payload system capable of returning experimental samples from the International Space Station (ISS). “The device, named RED-4U, is sized to accommodate a payload mass and volume equivalent to four CubeSats, commonly referred to as units or ‘U’,” according to the proposal summary.

“The payload accommodations and concept of operations for RED-4U are currently generically defined, but are readily suitable to the ISS small payload return mission. In the proposed Phase I R&D effort, TVA proposes to (1) design, fabricate, and demonstrate RED-4U payload accommodations specifically for high-frequency sample return from ISS; and (2) detail the concept of operations for RED-4U use on ISS.” (5/10)

Engineers Continue Ground Tests on SpaceShipTwo’s Engine(s) (Source: Parabolic Arc)
With Richard Branson once again supremely confident (90% probability!) that he will be flying to space by a definitive date (end of September!), you would think that all the ground testing of SpaceShipTwo’s engine would have been completed long ago. But, you’d be wrong. Engineers have been testing up a storm lately, with static engine firings every couple of weeks. And with SpaceShipTwo having not flown for nearly four months, you’d be right to wonder why Sir Richard’s predictions are always so at odds with any known reality in Mojave. (5/10)

Industry Warns of Dangers of FAA AST Budget Cut (Source: Space Politics)
A House appropriations bill includes $16 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). That’s less than the $16.6 million requested for FY2015 by the administration and the $16.3 million it received for FY2014. At first glance, that cut appears minor. However, at this week’s meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), both FAA and industry officials warned that the proposed cut, or even flat funding levels, could have significant negative impacts on the commercial space industry.

“I believe we could face a triage situation,” COMSTAC's Mike Gold suggested, where licenses for commercial cargo missions to the ISS are prioritized over those for suborbital commercial vehicles or proposed new spaceports. “We could end up waiting in line as a commercial industry.” AST's George Nield said flat budgets would make it difficult for his office to keep up with the growth in commercial launch activity. While there were only three launches in FY-2012 that took place under commercial launch licenses or experimental permits, there were 18 in FY-2013, and likely even more in 2014 and beyond. (5/9)

House Lawmakers Consider Single-Provider Approach for NASA Commercial Crew (Source: Space Politics)
Robert La Branche, senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) provided some insights into elements of the appropriations bill, including a provision in the report accompanying the bill calling on NASA to downselect to a single company in the next round of the commercial crew program. “While this may not be ideally the best situation, to pare down to one provider,” he said, “...Paring down the number of competitors will help things along greatly because the funding won’t be split.”

Some COMSTAC members emphasized the benefits of competition. “I will confidently predict that if this policy recommendation of a downselect becomes the policy of the United States, you will find that you have saved neither money nor time,” said Jeff Greason, CEO of XCOR Aerospace. La Branche said that this issue was an “ongoing discussion” that will later involve negotiations with the Senate when it crafts its appropriations bill in the coming weeks. (5/9)

Subcommittee Discusses Space Traffic Management (Source: SpaceRef)
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space held a hearing titled, "Space Traffic Management: How to Prevent a Real Life 'Gravity.'"  The purpose of the hearing was to explore the roles agencies have in dealing with orbital debris, authorities granted by Congress to oversee these agencies, and Administration plans to coordinate orbital debris activities.

Members raised a number of questions such as whether space traffic management requires an international approach; what liability agencies in charge of space traffic management should assume if their actions or lack thereof result in a collision and creation of debris; and what information is needed before Congress would move forward with legislation on these issues. "These are complex issues and there are a lot more questions to be asked and answered before we are ready to legislate in this area," said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD). (5/9)

Space Junk Threatens Real-Life Gravity Incident, Congress Hears (Source: Guardian)
Foremost on the panel’s agenda was a request by the FAA for additional authority over commercial satellite operators, including the authority to order evasive action to avoid collisions. No US agency currently holds such authority, and it is unclear what agency could hold an authority that would apply worldwide. The witnesses described space as a frazzled frontier, in which more than 60 countries, dozens of companies and “a multitude” of educational and nonprofit organisations are now operating satellites – with zero universal oversight. (5/9)

Embry-Riddle Plans Space Traffic Management Conference (Source: ERAU)
The Commercial Space Operations and Air Traffic Management Programs in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's College of Aviation, are pleased to announce the upcoming 1st Annual Space Traffic Management Conference "Roadmap to the Stars". The conference will be held in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Nov. 5-6 at the Embry-Riddle campus.

The conference will be the first in a series, providing to academia and leaders of government and industry, from multiple disciplines and different aspects of the air/space traffic management set of issues, a forum for discourse. This is your opportunity to help set the agenda for the future. Click here for the Call for Papers. (5/9)

FSDC Applauds State Support for Space Industry (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) applauds the state legislature's continued support for space industry development and diversification. During the recently concluded annual legislative session in Tallahassee elected officials approved $22.5 million for aerospace programs in 2015, with an additional $20 million available through the Florida Department of Transportation for space transportation infrastructure.

"Florida continues to invest more than any other state in creating a competitive environment for space business," said FSDC Vice President Edward Ellegood. "Florida legislators deserve our thanks for keeping this industry among the state's top economic development priorities. FSDC urges Governor Scott to follow through with approval of these investments within the 2015 budget."

The $22.5 million includes $9.5 million for Space Florida operations and programs; $3 million for aerospace programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; $2.5 million for Space Florida financing of space industry projects; $2.5 million for Space Florida transition of the Shuttle Landing Facility; $2 million for Cecil Field spaceport infrastructure; $1.5 million for a Space Florida space tourism marketing program; $1 million for a Space Florida partnership with Israel; and $500,000 for Florida university research into space transportation, coordinated by the Florida Institute of Technology. Click here. (5/9)

SpaceX Challenge to ULA Block Buy Could Hinge on Questions of Timing (Source: Space News)
The case brought by SpaceX challenging the Air Force’s sole-source order of ULA rockets appears to be focusing on questions of timing, including whether the plaintiff met the deadline for filing its protest. By waiting until April 28 to sue the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, lawyers say, SpaceX might have missed its 90-day window for challenging the procurement.

Timothy McIlmail, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing the government in the case, argued April 30 that SpaceX lost its standing, or right to complain, by missing the 90-day window immediately following the solicitation for the work.

In addition, Air Force officials are taking aim at one of SpaceX’s key arguments in the case, which is that it has met Air Force requirements to compete for the launches in question. The timeline is also expected to help resolve this question. To meet those requirements, a company must transfer data to the Air Force from three successful missions of the rocket with which it hopes to compete. Click here. (5/9)

ULA: SpaceX Actions are Irresponsible (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
By meddling in foreign policy, SpaceX risks destabilizing a delicate international situation, and distracts administration officials at a critical time, ultimately harming the interests and security of the nation. SpaceX purports to be taking this stand on principle, in a patriotic effort to ensure the laws of the land are upheld. But SpaceX’s patriotic zeal is limited to an injunction against NPO Energomash, who just happens to be the engine supplier for SpaceX’s most serious competition, the Atlas V.

If motivated by ideology, SpaceX should be just as concerned about many other activities involving U.S and Russian space cooperation. SpaceX attempts to link NPO Energomash to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin through Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA. Under SpaceX’s logic, for example, all the payments by NASA to Roscosmos for Soyuz launches and other support to the International Space Station should also be sanctioned, eliminating U.S. access to the station.

But SpaceX is not advocating other injunctions nor offering to give up its own missions that benefit Russia. Their patriotism on this issue is merely a fa├žade to hide an overt strategy to eliminate their most serious competitor and avoid the prudent and rigorous process established by the Air Force to legitimately become certified and compete for critical national security launches. Click here. (5/9)

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