May 16, 2014

An Egyptian in Space (Source: Cairo Review)
Omar Samra is reaching for the moon. He was the first Egyptian to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest. He was also the first of his countrymen to climb the highest peaks on the other six continents. Soon, he plans to go even higher. In 2015, Samra is set to become the first Egyptian in space.

Last December, Samra spent a week at the Kennedy Space Center competing for the chance to experience a space flight. It was a contest sponsored by the AXE personal care product company, and Samra was among twenty-three who made the grade out of a final international field of more than one hundred.

When he embarks on his own trip of a lifetime next year, Samra will board a two-seater Lynx spacecraft and jet sixty-two miles into space at three times the speed of sound. After gliding in outer space for five minutes and experiencing weightlessness, the Lynx will complete a parabolic flight then land on a standard runway either in California’s Mojave Desert or on the Caribbean island of Curacao. (5/14)

How Do You Build a City in Space? (Source: Guardian)
Science fiction has delivered on many of its promises. Star Trek videophones have become Skype, the Jetsons’ food-on-demand is materialising through 3-D printing, and we have done Jules Verne one better and explored mid-ocean trenches at crushing depths. But the central promise of golden age sci-fi has not yet been kept. Humans have not colonized space.

For a brief moment in the 1970s, the grandeur of the night sky felt interactive. It seemed only decades away that more humans would live off the Earth than on it; in fact, the Space Shuttle was so named because it was intended to make 50 round trips per year. There were active plans for expanding civilization into space, and any number of serious designs for building entire cities on the moon, Mars and beyond. Click here. (5/16) 

No Cut-Corners for Falcon-9 Certification, Same for Antares & Liberty (Source: Space News)
The research center hired by the Air Force to evaluate the SpaceX Falcon-9 v1.1 rocket for national security launches has no intention of shortcutting the process or deviating from the certification procedures it has used in the past with Delta-4 and Atlas-5 rockets, a senior center official said.

Ray Johnson of Aerospace Corp. said the goal is to have the initial assessment of Falcon-9 completed by June, after which an in-depth, subsystem-by-subsystem engineering evaluation will begin featuring 17 separate engineering review boards. He said the process is on track to be completed by the year’s end. SpaceX might be permitted to compete for Air Force launches before the rocket is fully certified, but that no actual contract award would come prior to certification.

SpaceX is not the only company that has filed a statement of intent to compete for Air Force launch contracts. ATK has filed documentation for its Liberty rocket, and Orbital Sciences seeks to begin the certification for the Antares rocket, which has not yet performed the kind of launches that would count toward certification. Antares missions to the ISS do not demonstrate a satellite’s separation and deployment, so they are not valid as part of the evaluation process. (5/16)

Yuzhmash Signs Agreement with Dnepropetrovsk Regional State Government (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Ukrainian rocket maker Yuzhmash has signed an agreement under which the Dnepropetrovsk Regional State will provide financial and organizational support to the company and protect against being taken over by Russian separatists. Yuzhmash produces major elements of Antares, Cyclone, Dnepr, Vega, and Zenit rockets. Click here. (5/14)

Virgin Galactic Outlines Plans for Move to Spaceport America (Source: Parabolic Arc)
While engineers in Mojave prepare WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo for another round of test flights, others in the company are preparing to ramp up operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic senior program manager Mark Butler said there are five pilots ready to go, and they need four for operations. By the time Virgin Galactic is ready to launch the space tourism program, it will have eight fully trained pilots. (5/14)

'Lunar Bible' From Apollo 14 Sells at Auction for $75,000 (Source: Huffington Post)
A microfilm Bible regarded as one of the rarest "books" on earth, after flying around the moon once with Apollo 13 and later landing on the moon's surface with Apollo 14, sold at an auction of space memorabilia in Dallas on Wednesday for $75,000.

The 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch (3.8 cms by 3.8 cms) "Lunar Bible," which can be read with a microscope, is one of 12 complete Bibles that remain from a collection of 100 Bibles which made it to the moon's surface with astronaut Edgar Mitchell in 1971. "This tiny microform contains the complete Bible, all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible, both Old and New Testaments," said Michael Riley, senior historian for Heritage Auctions. (5/15)

British MoD Works on 'Quantum Compass' Technology to Replace GPS (Source: Space Daily)
UK scientists say they are three to five years away from creating a new navigation system that would not rely on space-based technologies. A "quantum compass" might replace the US's widely-used GPS, first in military and then on smartphones. The British Ministry of Defense is investing millions of pounds into the "earth-based" technology, which they hope may become an alternative to space-based GPS on board nuclear submarines and ships. Click here. (5/15)

Fifth Proton Failure Since 2010 (Source: Space News)
The heavy-lift Proton has now failed five times since late 2010, all on Russian government missions. A State Commission has been formed to investigate the mishap, Roscosmos said. According to an English translation of the Roscosmos press release, the Express AM4R spacecraft did not reach orbit. However, the company that markets the Proton vehicle commercially, International Launch Services, said the satellite had been placed in the wrong orbit.

As is the case with the previous five Proton failures, including a spectacular crash last July, ILS was not involved in the Express 4AMR mission. However, the company has upcoming commercial Proton launches on its manifest, including missions for satellite operators SES and Inmarsat. It is unclear whether the schedules for these commercial missions will be affected by the failure. However, Roscosmos is known for quickly returning vehicles to flight following failures. (5/15)

Crashed Proton Carried $225 Million in Insurance (Source: RIA Novosti)
According to rocket-maker Khrunichev, the Proton was insured for 7.8 billion rubles ($224 million). The insurer is Russia's Ingosstrakh, which has been operating on the domestic and international insurance markets since 1947. (5/16)

SpaceX Land Holdings Mount (Source: Valley Morning Star)
SpaceX has once again added to its land holdings in Cameron County. The site where SpaceX’s Elon Musk proposes to launch his commercial rockets is expanding — to be a place “where science meets imagination.” Dogleg Park LLC, on behalf of the California-based SpaceX, purchased an additional two lots in Cameron County this month, bringing the total number of lots it owns to 97, comprising nearly 40 acres of land. (5/15)

Spaceport America Counts Down to Launch (Source: Bloomberg)
Spaceport America, the world’s first base for commercial spaceflights, will begin launching suborbital craft from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX later this year. The spaceport, located near Truth or Consequences, a former frontier town in the New Mexico desert, employs about 1,300 people and says it will add 1,800 more jobs by 2018. (5/16)

Scenic Highway Designation Slowed by Shiloh Spaceport Advocate (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
A proposal that would extend a scenic byway designation linked to the Indian River Lagoon into southern Volusia County stalled Thursday, confronted by one County Councilwoman with concerns that it was “posturing” to hurt the chances of a space-launch facility in the same area. The council will consider the proposal again in a month, after addressing possible impacts on the potential launch site. Councilwoman Deb Denys said she was “throwing up a red flag” Thursday.

“...My concern is if we do this — and I think this is what it was designated for — this could possibly give us future restrictions to our space program use. We are at the federal level for a possible license for a commercial spaceport. This will hamper — could hamper — that going forward.” Denys, one of Shiloh's strongest supporters, wanted the byway designation tabled indefinitely, but the rest of the council agreed to delay it long enough to get some answers in writing. (5/16)

New ISS Expedition Unaffected by Proton Crash (Source: RIA Novosti)
The investigation into the crash of a Russian Proton-M rocket will not affect the launch of the next crew to the International Space Station, the head of the Russian space agency said. “This contingency flight will not impact the manned mission: Proton and Soyuz are carrier rockets of a completely different type. In any case, we will toughen the control over the preparation for all the launches,” Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko said. (5/16)

Midland Texas Spaceport One Step Closer To Reality (Source: Permian Basin 360)
"We're going to be the first entity in America that has both a spaceport and a commercial airport at the same location," said Councilman John Love. And after a meeting at City Hall Thursday, It looks like it could be well on it's way after talks for almost two years. "The process is long and it's involved and ther are certain perameters we have to reach, which we've been meeting," said Love. Parameters like zoning and land use near the Midland International Airport. (5/16)

Embry-Riddle and Larsen Motorsports Move Forward with R&D Center (Source: ERAU)
Larsen Motorsports, the world’s premiere all-women jet dragster racing team, has begun relocating their facility adjacent to Daytona Beach International Airport in anticipation of continuing operations at the Embry-Riddle Center for Motorsports Engineering Research and Development facility, now under construction. This move will allow for the immediate development of the 12-acre property where Larsen Motorsports is currently located into the new Embry-Riddle Eagle Flight Research Center. (5/15)

ATK Hits Quarterly Targets (Source: Investors Business Daily)
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) beat fiscal fourth-quarter earning estimates amid its shift from focusing primarily on the military market to the home defense and hunting market. Shares of the top U.S. ammunition maker initially fell as much as 7% early Thursday, in part on weak profit guidance for the coming year.

Earnings per share rose 11.7% in the quarter to $2.49, 8 cents better than forecasts. Revenue climbed 17% to $1.35 billion. Wall Street expected $1.32 billion. On April 29, ATK announced plans to merge with rocket launch and satellite equipment maker Orbital Sciences (ORB) in a deal valued at $5 billion. After the merger, ATK will spin off its outdoor sports unit, which has grown to a $2.2 billion business, as a separate publicly traded company. (5/15)

Astrotech Reports Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results (Source: Yahoo Finance)
Astrotech Corp. announced financial results for its fiscal year 2014 third quarter. Astrotech posted a third quarter fiscal year 2014 net loss of $2.8 million on revenue of $1.6 million compared with a third quarter fiscal year 2013 net loss of $0.1 million on revenue of $4.6 million. (5/15)

State Department Issues Shipping Licenses for Two Russia-bound Satellites (Source: Space News)
The U.S. State Department has issued shipping licenses for two commercial telecommunications satellites preparing for launch this year aboard Russian Proton rockets from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The licenses to Boeing and Airbus for the Inmarsat 5 F2 and Astra 2G satellites, respectively, would suggest that the reach of U.S. sanctions against Russia for its behavior in Ukraine has stopped short of the broader commercial space sector, at least for now. (5/15)

Hubble Sees Jupiter’s Red Spot Shrink to Smallest Size Ever (Source: Universe Today)
Earlier this year we reported that amateur astronomers had observed and photographed the recent shrinking of Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot. Now, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope concur: “Recent Hubble Space Telescope observations confirm that the spot is now just under 10,250 miles (16,500 km) across, the smallest diameter we’ve ever measured,” said Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. (5/15)

In-Situ Resources A Key To Deep Space Exploration (Source: Aviation Week)
After years of flailing its way into the post-space shuttle era, NASA is beginning to get its arms around just what it will take to explore deep space with human beings. This includes tapping all of its resources to develop a realistic engineering approach to deal with the hazardous environments beyond the Van Allen Belts—and up the street on Capitol Hill—where it operates.

Having accepted that it won’t receive a blank check to plant the flag on Mars—the only destination that makes sense for human exploration right now—NASA has adopted a space-based crawl-walk-run approach that could get humans to the red planet in 20 years, with a lot of help from international and commercial partners, and only a “modest” increase in U.S. funding. Click here. (5/15)

Japanese Drink Company is Putting the First Billboard on the Moon (Source: The Verge)
Japanese beverage maker Otsuka is sending a 1 kilogram titanium can filled with powdered sports drink and children's dreams to the moon. The specially designed canister, which contains a shipment of Otsuka's Pocari Sweat powder, will mark a disturbing new frontier for humanity: the first commercial product delivered to another world for marketing purposes.

The canister will be carried to the lunar surface aboard the first planned private moon-landing mission, set to take place in October 2015. Otsuka says it hopes that the stunt will inspire young people to become astronauts, so they can travel the 380,000 kilometers (236,121 miles) to our closest celestial neighbor, crack open the can, and consume the powder inside. The capsule will be conveyed to the moon by the Falcon 9 rocket. (5/15)

Florida Middle School Students Send Experiments to the “Edge of Space!” (Source: Grace Lutheran)
Grace Lutheran Middle School Science, consisting of sixty two 6th-8th grade students, had their self-designed experiments flown to the ‘edge of space” on May 4th 2014.  A total of 16 experiments went to an altitude of nearly 100,000 feet or 20 miles in five “mini-cubes.”  This area of the stratosphere is a harsh environment that consists of temperatures down to -80 degrees F, a near vacuum and harsh ultra-violet radiation.

A “mini-cube” is a 5 cm cube that is lofted by high altitude balloon and can carry up to 4 experiments in each cube.  JP Aerospace was contracted to fly and recover the cubes. Students will be opening the mini-cubes and evaluating the outcome of their experiments on Monday morning, May 19. (5/15)

ULA Blames SpaceX for Rocket Engine Spat (Source: DOD Buzz)
A Lockheed Martin Corp.-Boeing Co. joint venture is blaming start-up rocket-maker SpaceX for the growing imbroglio between the U.S. and Russia over rocket engines, GPS satellites and even missions to the International Space Station.The messages were viewed as retaliation against U.S. sanctions levied in response to Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

While the Lockheed-Boeing joint venture said it wasn’t aware of any restrictions on sales of the RD-180, it put fault for the spat squarely on SpaceX, which has repeatedly raised objections to the U.S.‘s reliance on Russia for access to space in its quest to compete in the military market. “However, if recent news reports are accurate, it affirms that SpaceX’s irresponsible actions have created unnecessary distractions, threatened U.S. military satellite operations, and undermined our future relationship with the International Space Station.” (5/15)

Russian Space Program Gets $52Bln Boost (Source: Moscow Times)
As a tit-for-tat sanctions war vaporizes U.S.-Russian space cooperation, the Russian government has boosted the budget of its Federal Space Agency by 1.8 trillion rubles ($52 billion) to modernize and expand its existing infrastructure and capabilities by 2020. The new program for Russian space activities through 2020 was quietly released on Tuesday, the same day that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin issued a series of controversial statements painting the future of U.S.-Russian space cooperation in a bleak light.

Last year, President Vladimir Putin pledged to double down on Russia's space program, presenting an ambitious outline of exploration and technological development through 2030 and beyond. He promised a $52 billion investment toward revitalizing Russian space efforts, which has now been delivered. The new space budget places Roscosmos back on the leading edge of global space expenditures, second only to NASA. (5/15)

No comments: