June 18, 2014

Roscosmos Selects Six New Cosmonauts (Source: Parabolic Arc)
On Monday, Russian space officials named six new cosmonauts out of a group of eight candidates selected for training in the fall of 2012. The new cosmonaut trainees are Oleg Blinov, Nicholai Chubu, Peter Dubrov, Andrey Fedyaev, Sergey Korsakov and Dmitry Petelin. The original eight candidates were chosen from 304 applications in Roscosmos’ first open call for cosmonauts. The six men will now go through formal training for spaceflights and be assigned to crews. (6/17)

U.S. Senate Provision on NASA Seen as Hurting SpaceX (Source: Bloomberg)
A U.S. Senate proposal tied to the NASA spending bill may thwart efforts by Elon Musk’s space venture while aiding Boeing, the government’s No. 2 contractor, a trade group president said today. The seven-line provision would require companies seeking contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station to file detailed financial reports justifying their costs. The Senate bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 includes $805 million for the program.

Newer contractors such as Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin LLC will be at a disadvantage, Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Washington-based Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The measure would increase their costs because they would have to expand accounting staffs to do the work, he said. (6/17)

Ian Anderson, a Space Nut? (Source: Huffington Post)
Who knew Ian Anderson, front-man for the seminal rock group Jethro Tull, is a space aficionado? The singer and flautist, who grew during the Cold War, was impacted as much by events in the America-Russia space race as his fellow baby boomers and, over the years, has even written space references into his tunes.

Anderson also performed a live flute duet with NASA astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman at the International Space Station in 2011 on Yuri Gagarin's 50-year flight anniversary. The song covered, of course, was "Bouree," based on Bach's "Suite in E minor for Lute" and cemented in pop culture by Jethro Tull. (6/18)

How $10 Could Get You a Ticket to Outer Space (Source: The Sideshow)
The elite club of astronauts is limited to just over 500 people. But if you’ve ever wanted to make the voyage yourself, it might only cost you $10. The Urgency Network, a nonprofit startup, is behind several goodwill campaigns that use their connections to celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke and Richard Branson to offer donors unique experiences.

The model of Urgency Network, founded by Donald Eley and Brandon Deroche, is pretty simple: Donate $10 to a good cause, and you'll be entered into a raffle to win an amazing prize. Each $10 donation gets you another ticket, and after the first donation, donors can also volunteer for a variety of tasks to earn additional tickets. (6/18)

NASA Makes Strides to Bring Back Supersonic Passenger Travel (Source: Space Daily)
The return of supersonic passenger travel may be coming closer to reality thanks to NASA's efforts to define a new standard for low sonic booms. Several NASA aeronautics researchers will present their work in Atlanta this week at Aviation 2014, an annual event of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

They will share with the global aviation community the progress they are making in overcoming some of the biggest hurdles to supersonic passenger travel. The research generates data crucial for developing a low-boom standard for the civil aviation industry. (6/18)

Dark Matter Mystery Deepens (Source: Discovery)
New results from the particle detector attached outside the International Space Station show something else beside ordinary matter is generating cosmic rays, the lead researcher said Tuesday. More cosmic ray detections are needed before scientists will know for sure if they're seeing telltale fingerprints of dark matter colliding or if they've found particles generated by highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars known as pulsars. Click here. (6/18)

D-Day for the International Space Station (Source: Space Daily)
So, Russia hasn't stopped operations on the International Space Station. Soyuz spacecraft will continue to carry cosmonauts and astronauts there, despite growing international tensions on Earth. We can all breathe easy for a moment. Okay, that's done. Now it's time to consider what happens next.

It would seem that things will probably remain on a similar course until 2020. After that, who knows? We have recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the legendary D-Day that marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. Now it's time to start planning for another important (if less critical) event: Decision Day for ISS. Russia has stated that it will probably suspend its participation in the International Space Station in 2020, posing serious questions over its entire future. Even without a Russian pull-out, ISS would still be a program with an uncertain course. Click here. (6/18)

Musk: I'll Put Human Boots on MARS by 2026 (Source: The Register)
Electric car and rocket tycoon Elon Musk says that he'll put the first human boots on Mars well before the 2020s are over – and says he'll float his SpaceX company on Earth-bound stock exchanges once the interplanetary mission gets underway. "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he told CNBC. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary."

Musk said that the SpaceX goal was essential to the future survival of humanity. Either mankind would slip the surly bonds of Earth and become an interplanetary species, or remain a single-planet culture and become extinct due to a man-made or natural catastrophe.

Musk's schedule puts him well ahead of NASA, which is only talking about getting man to Mars by the 2030s – and then only if it can get billions in public funding and build a rocket big enough for the job. Musk's Falcon Heavy booster is scheduled to fly within the next year, and will carry enough payload to make assembling a Mars spaceship possible. (6/18)

Kansas Space Center Plan Looks 50 Years Ahead (Source: HutchNews.com)
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center on Tuesday announced a five-year, $15 million plan to revitalize the Hutchinson institution with the goal of securing its future for the next 50 years. The master plan, developed over the past year by a community-based Revitalization Task Force assisted by outside expert museum planners, calls for significant changes to the Cosmosphere’s mission and exhibits without expanding beyond the existing building. (6/17)

Will Espero Envisions Space Tourism in Hawaii (Source: Hawaii News Now)
Democratic state Sen. Will Espero said that he's prepared to represent Hawaii's First Congressional District because of his more than 30 years of work experience, including 15 years in the state Legislature. "I have a vast amount of experience and different backgrounds that I believe will be very beneficial for the people of Hawaii," he said.

With keeping jobs in the U.S. a large part of his campaign, Espero said he's focusing on an aerospace industry in Hawaii. "Soon, people are going to see space tourism," Espero said. "We're talking about small satellite launches one day, maybe out of Barking Sands on Kauai which can bring $10 to $20 million per launch." (6/18)

NASA Re-Creates the Smell of Titan (Source: C/Net)
A new recipe created in a NASA laboratory has re-created the composition of the atmosphere on Titan -- the largest moon orbiting the planet Saturn -- and in the process managed to classify a previously unidentified material in the moon's atmosphere spotted by Cassini's Composite Infrared Spectrometer. To re-create the atmosphere, NASA scientists combined a number of different gases in a chamber and let them react with each other. With the correct gases and the correct conditions, the idea is that those reactions should produce the same materials found in the moon's atmosphere. (6/18)

North Brevard, Where New Space meets New Space (Source: SEDC)
The Space Coast Economic Development Commission will hold their annual membership reception on June 25th at Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral.  The event will feature keynote speaker Allan Lockheed, Jr. Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh, and Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman JB Kump will offer updates regarding the port’s cargo and logistics growth and economic development in northern Brevard.

Mr. Lockheed will discuss the importance of the fully integrated multi-modal transportation system that is currently being created in North Brevard. This system will not only be capable of transportation of goods by air, land, sea and space, but also for development as a major commerce hub for research and development, clean manufacturing and corporate headquarters.

Mr. Lockheed is a private new space consultant with over 40 years’ experience in aviation, aerospace, and new space. His father’s aircraft and the pioneers who flew them, set into motion the Golden Age of Flight in the 1930’s that led to the commercialization of aviation as an industry. He notes the similarities between the founding of the aviation industry and the current process of standing up the new commercial space and cargo container industries on the Space Coast and North Brevard. (6/18)

Satellites Seen As Critical to Maritime Security (Source: National Defense)
Illegal activities at sea often go unnoticed because international authorities cannot keep a watchful eye over the oceans that cover two-thirds of Earth’s surface. The answer is to increase space-based surveillance, said Guy Thomas, co-founder of Collaboration in Space for International Global Maritime Awareness. U.S. and allied defense agencies are promoting maritime domain awareness from space.

Because the oceans are so vast, it is difficult to police every case of illegal fishing, polluting or drug trafficking on the water, said John Mittleman, an engineer for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. There are approximately 5 million registered vessels in the U.S. alone, only about 100,000 of which are regularly tracked, he said. The remaining undetected vessels commit most crime at sea, he said. Satellite-mounted sensors can help remedy the shortcoming, he added. (6/17)

Editorial: GenCorp’s New-Rocket Plan Raises Questions (Source: Aviation Week)
GenCorp CEO Scott Seymour was in our offices the other day, advocating a strategy—I will not say a new strategy because there hasn’t been one up to now—for the U.S. government’s development and procurement of large liquid-fuel rocket engines. It might be an expensive solution to a problem that we don’t have. Its Aerojet Rocketdyne brand is now proposing something unknown since the days of Apollo: a new U.S. government-sponsored liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene engine, called AR-1.

Today, GenCorp’s only homegrown, operational booster engine is the RS-68 on the Delta IV, which survives because it is the only launcher for big military satellites. If the RD-180 cannot be relied on, GenCorp and others argue, the U.S. has a national need for a new engine as a backup to the RS-68. One of Seymour’s executives thought I was criticizing SpaceX when I called SpaceX's Merlin “the world’s best-built V-2 engine,” but I wasn’t. The KISS principle (“keep it simple, stupid”) is most applicable to space launch.

SpaceX is advancing in all directions —a human-rated spacecraft, reusability and a million-pound-thrust LOX-methane motor—and despite normal setbacks, it has failed to fall on its face as many people believed it would. If big U.S. government money is going to be spent on space launch, and if SpaceX can provide an “assured access” backup, why not spend it on reusability—the only strategy that promises dramatically lower costs. (6/17)

DigitalGlobe Announces New Oil & Gas Offerings From Spatial Energy (Source: SpaceRef)
DigitalGlobe announced the availability of the first in a series of new commercial offerings for the energy market from recently acquired Spatial Energy. The new DigitalGlobe Energy Suite includes online, subscription-based offerings available to enterprise oil and gas customers through Spatial on Demand, its market-leading cloud-based enterprise data management platform. Click here. (6/18)

‘Extant’ Premiers at California Science Center with Shuttle Backdrop (Source: Variety)
The Space Shuttle Endeavor served as the perfect backdrop for the Monday premiere of the CBS sci-fi drama “Extant” as guests including series star Halle Berry flocked to the California Science Center for a screening of the pilot episode. “Extant” marks Berry’s first major TV role since 2005. Berry plays Molly, an astronaut who returns home from a 13-month solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband (Goran Visnjic) and young son (Pierce Gagnon). (6/17)

White House: NASA Bill Would Raise Costs, Cause Delays (Source: USA Today)
The Obama administration is concerned that a provision in a NASA funding bill being debated on the Senate floor this week would add costs and delays to the program that will replace the mothballed space shuttle with private rockets. As part of a $17.9 billion spending bill to fund NASA in fiscal year 2015, the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month approved the $805 million for the commercial crew program that will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Office of Management and Budget, which reviews and comments on legislation on behalf of the White House, issued a statement Tuesday in support of the overall appropriations bill. But while OMB applauded the committee for approving what would be a record amount for the commercial crew program, the statement warned the Shelby-authored conditions "would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition, likely increasing the program's cost and potentially delaying its schedule." (6/17)

Obama Administration Opposes New Money for RD-180 Replacement (Source: Space Policy Online)
The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the FY2015 defense appropriations bill this evening.  The bill is scheduled for House floor action tomorrow.  The White House "strongly opposes" the bill for many reasons, one of which is the $220 million it provides to begin development of a new rocket engine to replace Russia's RD-180 used for the Atlas V launch vehicle.

The White House asserts that it is premature to commit that level of resources to a new engine while it is still "evaluating several cost-effective options including public-private partnerships with multiple awards that will drive innovation, stimulate the industrial base, and reduce costs through competition."

As the SAP says, a recent study of alternatives to the RD-180 concluded that building a new engine would take eight years and cost $1.5 billion, with another $3 billion needed for a suitable launch vehicle to utilize it.  The White House apparently believes it can reduce that cost and schedule through public-private partnerships. (6/17)

Boeing Preparing Layoff Notices in Case of Commercial Crew Loss (Source: Space News)
Hoping for the best, but preparing for defeat, Boeing will send out about 215 potential layoff notices to employees currently working on its NASA CST-100 Commercial Crew program. The 60-day notices, required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), are due to be distributed on June 20 to about 170 employees in Houston and 45 in Florida in case Boeing is not selected for an upcoming Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract.

Along with the WARN notices, in case of a win Boeing is making contingency offers to about 15 employees in Houston to transfer to Florida, where the CST-100 program will be based. The company also will post 75 expected new jobs in Florida, Morgan said. Mulholland said “several hundred” employees currently work on the CST-100 program, including just under 100 in Florida.

Meanwhile, United Launch Alliance, which has agreements to fly both the CST-100 and the Dream Chaser on its Atlas 5 rockets, is preparing to build a crew access tower at its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad. Contingent on Boeing winning a CCtCap award, the addition to Launch Complex 41 is slated to begin Sep. 1. So far, all of the design work on the tower has been focused on the CST-100, ULA’s Chief Operating Officer Dan Collins said. (6/17)

Another Canadian Satellite Moved Off a Russian Launcher? (Source: CSCA)
A Norwegian-funded satellite, constructed by the Space Flight Laboratory at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and originally scheduled for launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket along with the Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Micro-Satellite, seems to have found a new home as a subsidiary payload aboard an Indian rocket. Maybe... (6/17)

What’s Next for Ohio’s Aerospace Hub? (Source: Dayton Business Journal)
The Ohio Aerospace Hub based in Dayton has stayed active as its downtown space has grown, and now the group should start thinking beyond downtown, its director says. An initiative launched under Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration as a way to use different technologies as a springboard for rebuilding metropolitan areas, the Aerospace Hub is the only one left operating in the state since funding went away for the idea. Kerry Taylor, director of the hub, says it’s time to think of aerospace as a more regional asset.

Expanding the hub’s focus out beyond the digs of Tech Town — where the Aerospace Hub has been tasked to bring technology-related companies — will be easier with the recent announcement that Cincinnati-Dayton is one of 12 communities in a new national $1.3 billion manufacturing initiative. That initiative could be a boost for the aerospace industry in southwest Ohio. (6/17)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Could Gain From Cooling of US-Russia Relations (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne, with venerable roots in the U.S. space industry, may benefit from the political turmoil over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. As the US government reevaluates the extent of its involvement with Russia in the light of the crisis in Crimea, the California-based company sees an opportunity to get its new AR-1 liquid-fueled engine installed on several American launch vehicles, including United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket. (6/17)

Five Years after Augustine: Panel Opinions on NASA’s Space Launch System (Source: Houston Chronicle)
In 2009 President Obama asked Norm Augustine, and other luminaries such as the late astronaut Sally Ride, to review the state of NASA’s human spaceflight program. Five years ago, today, the commission held its first public meeting. The Augustine committee found that NASA’s Constellation program had fallen significantly behind schedule and that there simply wasn’t enough money in the budget to build a big rocket and new space capsule.

Their overriding recommendation was this: Once and for all, they implored lawmakers, give NASA a clear goal and the funding to support it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress promptly ignored this, and implemented the construction of the Space Launch System. But they didn’t actually provide the funds to use the SLS. Obama had moved on to health care by then. So NASA was left to muddle along with an expensive rocket, ambitious goals but nary the means to achieve them.

I’ve had a chance to interview a number of the Augustine commission members, including Augustine himself, about what they think about the political decisions made in the wake of their report. “From what I’ve seen we appear to be falling into the same old trap of having one objective plan and separate funding plan,” Augustine said in an interview. “That’s not a healthy thing.” Click here. (6/17)

New Chinese Threats to U.S. Space Systems Worry Officials (Source: National Defense)
Last year, China launched a mysterious missile from its southwest region. While Chinese news sources said it was a scientific experiment, there is widespread speculation that the payload was a more advanced anti-satellite test.

Satellites are vulnerable to an array of weapons and disruptive technologies like anti-satellite missiles and sophisticated cyber attacks that can have potentially devastating results from degrading capabilities to complete annihilation, experts said.

There is strong evidence that the anti-satellite weapon China tested in May 2013 went higher than low-Earth orbit, said Charles Miller, president of NextGen Space LLC, a space and public policy consulting group. If China continues to make strides and develops weapons that reach farther, it could one day threaten key satellites in geosynchronous orbit. (6/17)

Rocket Week Launches June 21 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (Source: NASA)
Students and educators from across the U.S. will become "rocket scientists" during two workshops at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on June 21-27. The seventh annual RockOn! workshop, conducted in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, will provide 61 community college and university students and instructors the opportunity to learn how to build a scientific payload for a suborbital rocket flight.  

During the fourth annual Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers (WRATs), high school educators will receive instruction on the physics and math behind rocket flight and how to incorporate what they learn into classroom curriculum. (6/17)

Alaska Resembles Outer Space, According to Astronaut Recruit (Source: Alaska Dispatch)
Jessica Cherry spends her favorite moments looking at Alaska from above. As a new recruit for a class of astronaut candidates, she may someday view the world from miles higher. Cherry, 37, is a pilot and professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' International Arctic Research Center and Institute of Northern Engineering. She flies small aircraft all over the state for fun and research. She is also a member of the newest class of Astronauts for Hire.

Astronauts for Hire is a private, nonprofit version of NASA's astronaut training program. After advancing to NASA’s final astronaut selection round in 2013, Cherry applied for and landed a volunteer position with the space startup. Some Astronauts for Hire will fly suborbital space vehicles like the one being launched next spring by Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson. Others will pilot commercial vehicles that resupply the International Space Station.

Cherry doesn't really know where the astronaut training program will take her, but she thinks Alaska -- home to the Kodiak Launch Complex, Poker Flat Research Range and many scientists and pilots -- is a great place for the aerospace industry. "There are a lot of links between space research and living in Alaska," she said. (6/17)

The Hazardous Effects of Spaceflight on Health (Source: Globe & Mail)
Initial results from a study of Chris Hadfield and other astronauts who spent months aboard the International Space Station have turned up changes like those seen in someone developing Type 2 diabetes on Earth. The results are evidence for yet another deleterious effect of spaceflight that could impact long-duration voyages, such as a trip to Mars. It also demonstrates the close parallels between life in space and a sedentary lifestyle in Canada and elsewhere, where diabetes has become a growing problem for an inactive population. (6/17)

China's 'Lunar Palace' for Space Research Tested on Earth (Source: Space.com)
Three volunteers stepped out of China's Lunar Palace 1 last month after a 105-day shakeout mission — not on the moon, but on Earth. Munching on protein-rich mealworms and other delicacies, the trio of Chinese biospherians carried out the first long-duration multicrew sealed cabin research in the country at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

China's Lunar Palace 1, developed by researchers at Beihang University in Beijing, is short for the Integrative Experimental Facility for Permanent Astrobase Life-support Artificial Closed Ecosystem (PALACE) Research. The facility is a 500-cubic-meter capsule that covers an area of 160 square meters and consists of one integrated module and two plant cultivation modules. The integrated module includes a living room, a work room, a bathroom and a waste-disposal room. (6/17)

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