June 23, 2014

DOD: Missile Interceptor Test Successful (Source: Bloomberg)
The U.S. ground-based missile defense system successfully intercepted a test target, the Pentagon has announced, a milestone that paves the way for additional 14 interceptors to be installed in Alaska. The test took place over the Pacific using an Orbital Sciences interceptor missile and a Raytheon conventional warhead. (6/23)

Orbital: Close to Decision on Russian Engine for Rocket (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Orbital Sciences, based in the U.S., is considering buying a Russian-made rocket engine despite concerns over strained relations between the two countries. Orbital could purchase an RD-180 engine for its Antares rocket. "We are getting close [to a decision]," said a spokesman for Orbital Sciences. (6/23)

SpaceX Delays Orbcomm Launch to July (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX said in a statement: "SpaceX will stand down Tuesday while our engineering teams evaluate further, which will also allow the Range to move forward with previously scheduled maintenance. We are currently targeting the first week of July and will work with the Range to confirm the next available launch opportunities." SpaceX has not disclosed any information on the problem, but sources said the issue was with the Falcon 9 launcher. (6/23)

Indie Galactic Space Jam Planned in Orlando on July 25-27 (Source: SPACErePORT)
This Central Florida event brings together for the first time Game Developers & The Space Industry to make amazing, fun, inspiring games about Space Travel and Exploration. This is the ultimate creative collaboration, all happening in a single high paced weekend. There is no other place quite like Orlando with our professional resources. So what better place to build and showcase our collective scientific and creative impact in humanity's final frontier ...with games!

Here's what Elon Musk says about hiring game industry people: “We actually hire a lot of our best software engineers out of the gaming industry. In gaming there’s a lot of smart engineering talent doing really complex things. [Compared to] a lot of the algorithms involved in massive multiplayer online games…a docking sequence [between spacecraft] is actually relatively straightforward. So I’d encourage people in the gaming industry to think about creating the next generation of spacecraft and rockets.

Everyone is welcome to participate throughout the 48 hour Jam, artists, programmers, game designers, UI & UX designers, musicians, writers, poets, interpretive dancers, people excited about games, people excited about space, people who like to eat pizza, and people like you. Click here. (6/23)

ULA Set to Upgrade Atlas V Pad for Human Launches of Boeing CST-100 (Source: AmericaSpace)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is nearly set to upgrade their Atlas V pad to support human launches from the Florida Space Coast “starting in September” as part of an exhaustive integrated effort with Boeing to launch the firm’s CST-100 “space taxi“ and thereby restore U.S. ability to transport our astronauts to the space station under the auspices of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

ULA is gearing up to break ground on the modifications required to the existing pad at Launch Complex 41 needed to initiate launches of the human-rated version of their extremely reliable Atlas V rocket, including construction of a huge new crew access tower. “We [ULA] start work in September [2014] with about a 30 day mobilization plan with the contractors office,” said ULA’s Human Launch Services Lead.

Of course, ULA has already expended an extensive effort in designing the required Atlas V pad and rocket modifications so they can hit the ground running when given the go-ahead. There is just no time to waste if we seriously want to get our astronauts back to space from U.S. soil as soon as possible. “From start to finish its roughly about 18 months of work.” (6/22)

NASA has a Problem with Unauthorized Access to it's Technologies (Source: LaunchSpace)
A few days ago the GAO released its findings related to unauthorized access to NASA's technologies by foreign entities. Auditors found weaknesses in NASA's export control policy and implementation of foreign-national-access procedures at some centers. While NASA policies allow Center Directors wide latitude in implementing export controls at their centers, federal internal control standards call for clearly defined areas of authority and establishment of appropriate lines of reporting.

However, NASA procedures do not clearly define the level of Center Export Administrator (CEA) authority and organizational placement, leaving it to the discretion of the Center Director. GAO found that seven of the 10 CEAs have organizational positions that are at least three levels removed from the Center Director. Three of these seven CEAs stated that their organizational placement detracted from their ability to implement export control policies, because such positioning makes it difficult to maintain visibility to staff, communicate concerns to the Center Director and obtain needed resources. (6/23)

Midland to Pay $1.5M for XCOR Improvements (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
In preparation of Midland’s spaceport license and subsequently XCOR Aerospace’s arrival, Midland Development Corp. approved $1.5 million to refurbish thr company’s Midland hangar. The funds will be used to refurbish the roof, air conditioning system and electrical system. “The building was old enough that a lot of the electrical items in there are no longer UL approved, and you can’t get replacement parts,” said Robert Rendall, MDC board chairman. “So we’re going to do some upgrading to the electrical system.” (6/22)

Humans Headed to Mars by 2026? (Source: CFL News 13)
But Earth's neighbor is the future of space exploration — and not just for NASA. Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, predicted on CNBC last week that landing humans on Mars might not be too far away. "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10, 12 years," Musk said in the interview. Musk hopes to establish a self-sustaining city on Mars.

University of Central Florida space expert Dale Ketcham said it's probably a bit too optimistic to think any human could be on Mars within a decade. "Things usually end up costing and taking more time than Mr. Musk anticipates," Ketcham said. "But, he still does a lot better than the government does — up until now." While SpaceX is targeting the next decade, NASA officials said it will likely take them twice as long for them to get ready for a mission to the red planet.

NASA plans to launch humans from Florida to an asteroid in the 2020s. NASA said the technology and procedures learned on the asteroid mission will act as a stepping stone to Mars. And whether it's SpaceX in the 2020s or NASA in the 2030s, Florida's Space Coast can expect to be the gateway to the red planet. "Mars is distant, but in distance only," Charles Bolden said. "Not in time." (6/22)

Waves Discovered on Saturn’s Moon Titan? (Source: National Geographic)
Surfers rejoice! Fresh waves are still out there to conquer—on Saturn’s moon Titan. There, astronomers report a first sighting of waves rolling on an alien sea. Using its cloud penetrating radar, the international Cassini spacecraft team mapped the frigid surface of Titan, the planet’s largest moon. Titan is the only other planetary body in the Solar System with seas of stable liquid on its surface. However with surface temperatures averaging around -292 degrees Fahrenheit (−180 °C), it’s not water that fills its many, giant lakes, but liquid methane. (6/22)

Ten Years Later, Still Waiting for the Future to Arrive (Source: Space Review)
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the first flight to space by SpaceShipOne, an event at the time that appeared to mark a new era in human spaceflight. Jeff Foust looks back at the event and the progress, or seemingly lack thereof, in commercial human suborbital spaceflight.
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2540/1 to view the article. (6/23)

Manned Orbiting Laboratory Emerges from the Shadows (Source: Space Review)
In 1969, the Nixon Administration cancelled the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, focusing its resources on other reconnaissance satellites. Dwayne Day describes new insights into the  MOL program from recently released documents. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2539/1 to view the article. (6/23)

Boeing Displays CST-100 Progress at Kennedy Space Center (Source: Space Review)
As NASA reviews proposals for the next phase of the commercial crew program, companies continue to show off the progress they have made and their future plans. Anthony Young reports on a Boeing event earlier this month in Florida, where the company plans to assemble its CST-100 spacecraft. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2538/1 to view the article. (6/23)

It's Time for NASA to Abandon the Apollo Mission Model (Source: Space Review)
Both the National Research Council's human space exploration and a separate internal NASA study lay out a path of missions and destinations for human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit. John Strickland argues that they fail, though, by following an Apollo-era paradigm of standalone missions. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2537/1 to view the article. (6/23)

Planetary Orbit Insertion Failures (Source: Space Review)
In the conclusion of his two-part examination of planetary missions that failed to enter orbit as planned, Andrew LePage reviews four Mars missions by the US and former Soviet Union that failed to enter orbit as planned. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2536/1 to view the article. (6/23)

Mysterious 'Magic Island' Appears on Saturn Moon (Source: Cornell University)
Now you don't see it. Now, you do. And now you don't see it again. Astronomers have discovered a bright, mysterious geologic object – where one never existed – on Cassini mission radar images of Ligeia Mare, the second-largest sea on Saturn's moon Titan. Scientifically speaking, this spot is considered a "transient feature," but the astronomers have playfully dubbed it "Magic Island."

The scientists say this may be the first observation of dynamic, geological processes in Titan's northern hemisphere. "This discovery tells us that the liquids in Titan's northern hemisphere are not simply stagnant and unchanging, but rather that changes do occur," said Jason Hofgartner, a Cornell University graduate student in the field of planetary sciences, and the paper's lead author. "We don't know precisely what caused this 'magic island' to appear, but we'd like to study it further." (6/22)

That It's Like to Work for Elon Musk (Source: Parbolic Arc)
Quora.com has some interesting input from Space.com and Tesla employees on what it’s like to work for Elon Musk. From the responses, it sounds awesome, challenging, demanding, inspiring and all measures of other superlatives. And it’s clearly not for everyone. Click here. (6/22)

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