May 11, 2014

State Budgets $22.5 Million for Space (Source: Florida Today)
Commercial use of Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle runway, development of Jacksonville’s spaceport and funding to attract new space business won support in the Florida Legislature’s recently approved spending plan for the budget year beginning July 1. It added up to $22.5 million for Space Florida and aerospace education initiatives, according to the Florida Space Development Council.

Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said he was very pleased to maintain the agency’s $10 million budget for management and operations. That includes $500,000 set aside for Florida Institute of Technology in its role as a member of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, whose research Space Florida has backed for several years.

The funds would match FAA contributions and must be used for research supporting commercial space transportation or the repurposing of KSC’s shuttle runway, which Space Florida is negotiating to take over from NASA. The budget also offers $3 million to support or expand high school Aerospace Career Academies sponsored by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Discussions have been under way to locate one in Brevard, possibly at Merritt Island High. (5/10)

New Law Supports Job Creation in California’s Space Industry (Source: Daily Breeze)
Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 777, by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, a bill that will help ensure that California creates a competitive environment and jobs within the emerging multibillion dollar space travel and supply industry. California has long been the home of the world’s most advanced aeronautics and aerospace companies. Recently, the industry has seen exciting new innovations and advancement with the privatization of spaceflight transportation. (5/9)

Incredible Flight to Weightless World of Space Travel (Source: Telegraph)
Here I was on the tarmac at Newark airport in New Jersey, USA, kitted out in my blue flight suit with another 25 passengers, about to embark on a zero gravity journey aboard a Boeing 727 plunging and soaring in 12,000ft arcs over the North Atlantic. Nine of my fellow fliers were Virgin Galactic space tourists preparing for their future $200,000 forays into sub-orbit by finding their weightlessness legs in advance, so that they will know what to expect when they experience zero gravity on that trip. (5/11)

'Aquanauts' Test Tools for Asteroid Mission (Source: SEN)
Astronauts Stan Love and Steve Bowen went underwater on 9 May, in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, to help engineers determine what astronauts will need on the agency’s planned mission to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s.

One of the primary goals of visiting an asteroid will be to obtain a core sample that shows its layers, intact, that could provide information on the age of the Solar System and how it was formed. But the tools geologist use to collect core samples or even chips of rocks aren’t a good idea in space. Swinging a hammer in front of your face isn’t safe when there is a vulnerable sheet of glass between you in your helmet that is essential to keep you alive.

Instead Love and Bowen tried out a pneumatic hammer to give them a feel for whether a battery-powered version might be useful. They also evaluated a version of the spacesuit that could be worn on an asteroid. Orion astronauts already needed a launch and entry suit to protect them during the most dynamic phases of their flights. (5/11)

Drone, Jetliner Nearly Collided Over Florida (Source: CNN)
An FAA official warned this week about the dangers of even small unmanned aircraft, pointing to a recent close call involving a drone and a commercial airliner. Jim Williams, the head of the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) office, first referred to a pair of incidents in which drones caused injuries to people on the ground. One came at an event at Virginia Motor Speedway in which an "unauthorized, unmanned aircraft" crashed into the stands, and in the other a female triathlete in Australia had to get stitches after being struck by a small drone.

Then, he segued to a pilot's recent report of "a near midair collision" with a drone near the airport in Tallahassee, Florida. The pilot said that it appeared to be small, camouflaged, "remotely piloted" and about 2,300 feet up in the air at the time of the incident. "The pilot said that the UAS was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it," Williams said. (5/10)

Now Is The Time To Launch Your Space Startup (Source: Lux Capital)
My father is a rocket scientist. When he graduated with his PhD in the 80s, he had the option of choosing between working for the US government, or the riskier alternative – a company that contracts directly with the US government. At that time, the government was the only game in town with enough money in the coffers to do anything in space. But times are changing. Click here. (5/9)

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