July 14, 2014

Spinning to Mars (Source: Space Review)
Thirty years ago, scientists and Mars exploration advocates finished the second Case for Mars conference, where participants designed a spacecraft that could carry people to Mars. Dwayne Day examines what happened to that design, including a model that is back on display at the National Air and Space Museum. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2556/1 to view the article. (7/14)

Getting to Love Logistics on the Space Station (Source: Space Review)
On Sunday, an Antares rocket launched a Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to deliver cargo, from food to smallsats, to the ISS. Jeff Foust reports on the launch and the challenges NASA and its industry partners are overcoming to establish a regular supply chain to the station. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2555/1 to view the article. (7/14)

Kidnapping a Soviet Space Station (Source: Space Review)
A documentary produced by the television studio of the Russian space agency Roscosmos claims that the US attempted to retrieve the Salyut-7 space station in the mid-1980s. Bart Hendrickx discusses the documentary and debunks its claims. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2554/1 to view the article. (7/14)

Big Black Bird (Source: Space Review)
Forty-five years after its cancellation, new details are coming to light about the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. Dwayne Day gives an overview of what we know about MOL and how it lost out to robotic reconnaissance satellite programs. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2553/1 to view the article. (7/14)

Boy Scout Space Exploration (Source: Space Review)
What can space advocates do to help inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts and professionals? Ken Murphy describes how one National Space Society chapter updated a guide to space exploration that will be read by thousands of Boy Scouts. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2552/1 to view the article. (7/14)

Space Station Researcher Guides Aim to Maximize Science (Source: NASA)
How many times do we see an innovation and think, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” Our minds start turning towards thoughts of our own invention, sparking ideas and building possibilities. This type of inspiration is the concept behind the International Space Station Program Science Office’s new 15-book Researcher’s Guide Series. When scientists see what their colleagues have going on in orbit, their mental wheels may begin to speed up!

“Our goal is to encourage investigators to propose new research and potentially make discoveries that they could not make in an Earth-based lab,” said Amelia Rai, International Space Station Program Office scientific communications specialist and project manager for the research guides. “We have the unique opportunity with these books to increase utilization of the space station as a national laboratory. The guides are part of a strategic plan to educate potential users of the space station platform on how they could transfer their ground-based experiments to space.” Click here. (7/14)

Space Coast Well Represented at Farnborough (Source: Florida Today)
Florida's Space Coast was well represented at the opening of the Farnborough Airshow outside London on Monday. Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Aircraft Holdings, Chris Appleton, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Embraer Aircraft Holdings, and Carol Craig, chief executive officer of Craig Technologies, joined Gray Swoope, president and chief executive officer of Enterprise Florida, in opening the Florida pavilion at the air show. (7/14)

New Geologic Map of Mars Is Beautifully Detailed (Source: WIRED)
It took 16 years and data from four orbiting spacecraft to assemble, but the U.S. Geological Survey’s new map of Mars is awesome. In beautiful color and excellent detail, the map shows the geology of the Red Planet’s surface today, and reveals a new understanding of its past. Click here. (7/14)

Boeing CEO Sheds Light on Commercial Crew Options (Source: Aviation Week)
Aviation Week: Boeing is a competitor in NASA’s Commercial Crew vehicle program. If you don’t get it, do you just give up? It seems Boeing makes progress in space when the government is paying. SpaceX is getting government money too, but they have this ‘We’re going to do it anyway’ mentality. Can you look at being more aggressive?

Jim McNerny: It’s a good question. What Elon Musk is doing is great. We’ve been trying to figure out how to recapture the imagination of the American people, us stodgy old competitors. Musk has done it, and I give him full credit for that. There are four competitors for Commercial Crew. We don’t think we’re going to lose, but if we should we’ll take a hard look [at the commercial prospects]. It’s hard to build a business case without a pretty large chunk of business from NASA, but we would evaluate it. (7/14)

Space Florida Bracing for SpaceX Announcement of Texas Plans (Source: MyNews13)
Space Florida is bracing for a major blow to the Sunshine State that could come as soon as this week. The state agency said SpaceX is close to publicly announcing a new commercial launch complex in Brownsville, Texas. "We kind of have known it's coming for a while," said Dale Ketcham, of Space Florida. "But it's still going to be traumatic and not insignificant disappointment." (7/14)

SpaceX Falcon-9 Sends Up a Six-Pack of Satellites, Attempts Soft Landing (Source: Florida Today)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and successfully delivered six commercial communications satellites to orbit for Orbcomm Inc. SpaceX also said it flew the 224-foot rocket's first stage back to a splashdown zone in the Atlantic Ocean in the company's latest test aimed at developing a reusable booster, but the stage apparently did not survive fully intact. "Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)," Musk said on Twitter. (7/14)

Planet Labs Launches Another 28 Satellites into Space (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The successful Antares launch to the space station was great news for Planet Labs. The Cygnus freighter that will berth with the station on Wednesday contains 28 of the company’s Dove imaging satellites, which will be deployed from the orbiting laboratory over the next month. Their successful deployment will bring the number of Planet Lab satellites in orbit to 71. To date, 48 Dove spacecraft have been deployed from ISS and by Antares, Dnepr and Soyuz launch vehicles. They will capture imagery of Earth for use in humanitarian, environmental and commercial applications. Data collected by the Flock 1 constellation will be universally accessible to anyone who wishes to use it. (7/14)

The Private-Sector Space Race Takes Off (Source: Central Florida Future)
We’re in the midst of a renaissance in space exploration. This seems perhaps antithetical, given the well-publicized and widely denounced budget struggles suffered by our nation’s pioneering space institute, NASA — but this is only if you consider NASA to be the end-all-be-all of the world’s relationship with the cosmos. In the wake of the space shuttle’s decommissioning, private corporations such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have risen to take the reins in the race for manned space exploration.

Space has always been a risky bet at best. The Apollo program alone cost an estimated $24 billion in modern dollars. It stands to reason, then, that the mantle of disastrous risk — both financial and physical — should fall to corporations and individuals whose reputations were staked on pushing boundaries. (7/14)

U.S. Seeks Decision Soon on Ending Dependence on Russian Rocket Engines (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Pentagon will try to decide in the next few months how it may sever dependence on Russian rocket engines for some of its space launches after supplier relationships were strained by Russia’s actions in Ukraine. “The whole relationship with Russia has changed because of Ukraine,” said Frank Kendall, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

The White House and NASA are involved in the process of determining what actions should be taken, Mr. Kendall said, adding “there are two or three options we are looking at.” Those include greater reliance on Delta IV rockets also made by the ULA partnership, development of an alternative engine, or using commercial launchers, he said. (7/14)

Catering Partnership Set with Virgin Galactic (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Savoy de Mesilla has teamed up with Virgin Galactic to be the caterer for the future space launches, according to a news release. Virgin Galactic vetted many catering options from across New Mexico selecting World Class Gourmet, which is the newest of internationally-known, award-winning chef Tatsu Miyazaki's innovative restaurant concepts, and is based at Las Cruces' Savoy de Mesilla. (7/14)

No Gravity? No Problem for UNF Science Students on NASA Plane (Source: Florida Times-Union)
Chelsea Partridge knows what it’s like to be free of the grip of gravity. And the experience, she says, is just as amazing as it sounds. “It’s one of the coolest things ever. It’s like when you’re a kid and you dream you’re Superman and can fly. In zero gravity, it’s actually like that.”

She found that out last month as one of eight University of North Florida students who went to Houston for the ultimate field trip — going weightless inside a NASA plane that simulates the effect of zero gravity. They were there to conduct a scientific experiment. But while up there, they floated. They spun. They smiled for cameras.

Partridge cracked an egg, the motion of which sent her flying backward for several yards. “The things you do here on Earth and don’t think twice about, in zero gravity it changes everything,” she said. Partridge, a mechanical engineering major going into her senior year, is team leader of the Orbital Ospreys. That’s an undergraduate research group that’s looking at the effect of space travel on bone density. (7/14)

US Reveals its Next Generation of Dark Matter Experiments (Source: Symmetry)
Two US federal funding agencies announced today which experiments they will support in the next generation of the search for dark matter. The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation will back the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search-SNOLAB, or SuperCDMS; the LUX-Zeplin experiment, or LZ; and the next iteration of the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment, ADMX-Gen2. (7/11)

Astrotech's 1st Detect Awarded Patent For Novel Pre-Concentration Technology (Source: Astrotech)
1st Detect Corporation, a subsidiary of Astrotech Corp., announced that the United States Patent Office has allowed the issuance of a key patent for improving the sensitivity and identification capability of the company's unique ion trap mass spectrometer used for chemical analysis and detection. (7/14)

Landsat Looks to the Moon (Source: SpaceRef)
Every full moon, Landsat 8 turns its back on Earth. As the satellite's orbit takes it to the nighttime side of the planet, Landsat 8 pivots to point at the moon. It scans the distant lunar surface multiple times, then flips back around to continue its task of collecting land-cover information of the sunny side of Earth below.

These monthly lunar scans are key to ensuring the land-imaging instrument aboard Landsat 8 is detecting light consistently. For this, engineers need a consistent source of light to measure. And while there are some spots on Earth - like the Sahara Desert or other arid sites - that reflect a relatively stable amount of light, nothing on our planet beats the moon, which lacks an atmosphere and has an unchanging surface, barring the odd meteorite. (7/14)

What If We Do Find Extraterrestrial Life? (Source: Air & Space)
In mid-September, NASA and the Library of Congress will hold a free, two-day symposium on Astrobiology and Society in Washington D.C. to consider how we should prepare for the discovery of extraterrestrial life—not just microbial life, but perhaps complex and intelligent life as well. The fact that this topic is being discussed at the Library of Congress suggests that it’s no longer considered an unlikely pipe dream, but rather something that should be taken seriously by government institutions. Click here. (7/14)

Sun-Like Stars Reveal Their Ages (Source: SpaceRef)
Defining what makes a star "Sun-like" is as difficult as defining what makes a planet "Earth-like." A solar twin should have a temperature, mass, and spectral type similar to our Sun. We also would expect it to be about 4.5 billion years old. However, it is notoriously difficult to measure a star's age so astronomers usually ignore age when deciding if a star counts as "Sun-like."

A new technique for measuring the age of a star using its spin - gyrochronology - is coming into its own. Today astronomers are presenting the gyrochronological ages of 22 Sun-like stars. Before this, only two Sun-like stars had measured spins and ages. To measure a star's spin, astronomers look for changes in its brightness caused by dark spots known as starspots crossing the star's surface. (7/14)

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Says U.S. Taking Giant Leap Backward (Source: Washington Times)
Forty-five years after man first landed on the moon, one of the men who was there is worried that the U.S. has become lost in space. With the anniversary Sunday of Apollo 11’s giant leap for mankind, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin sees a moribund American space program without a major task to conquer while a geopolitical rival is going full steam ahead, reminding him of the Soviet launch of the first man-made satellite in 1957. Only the U.S. isn’t reacting now as it did then. Click here. (7/14)

SpaceFlight Group Plans Remote Camera Fleet at Spaceports (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The SpaceFlight Group is proud to announce the start of its Kickstarter campaign to produce a fleet of remote camera stations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. When the newly-formed company raises the maximum amount – it will be able to field four remote camera stations at Cape Canaveral as well as two additional stations at Wallops. Click here. (7/12)

Virginia Students Help NASA Tackle Radiation Problem (Source: Washington Times)
Figuring out a way to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation is one of the primary challenges NASA has when it comes to sending humans into deep space. In April, a group of five students from the Governor's School for Science and Technology in Hampton won a global competition to design a shield that will fly into space aboard the Orion spacecraft on its maiden voyage later this year. Click here. (7/12)

SciTech Conference Coming to Orlando in 2015 (Source: AIAA)
The effects of future government R&D funding, the increasing cost and complexity of design, and the challenges of maintaining an educated workforce in a rapidly-changing, technology environment have been identified as critical topics for the future of aerospace. These important issues will be addressed by the industry’s leaders at SciTech2015 – the largest event for aerospace research, development, and technology in the world. The 2015 event will be held on January 5-9 at the Gaylord Palms resort in Orlando. Click here. (7/14) http://www.aiaa-scitech.org/

What's Inside Jupiter? (Source: Universe Today)
So what’s deep down inside Jupiter? What are the various layers and levels, and can I keep thinking of it like a jawbreaker? At the very center of Jupiter is its dense core. Astronomers aren’t sure if there’s a rocky region deep down inside. It’s actually possible that there’s twelve to forty five Earth masses of rocky material within the planet’s core. Now this could be rock, or hydrogen and helium under such enormous forces that it just acts that way. But you couldn’t stand on it. The temperatures are 35,000 degrees C. The pressures are incomprehensible. (7/13)

Alabama Team Makes Aerospace Connections at Farnborough (Source: Made in Alabama)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and the state team at the Farnborough International Airshow connected with aerospace industry executives and others today at a gathering hosted by the Aerospace Alliance, a partnership that unites Alabama and other Gulf Coast states [including Florida]. At the Aerospace Alliance event, Governor Bentley and Hammett also spoke with U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, who joined his Alabama colleague Senator Jeff Sessions in England for the air show. (7/14)

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