July 4, 2014

Orbital Launch Date from NASA Wallops Scheduled (Source: WBOC)
Orbital has set July 11 as the targeted date for the launch of the Orb-2 mission to the International Space Station, the second operational cargo resupply mission under the company’s Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The targeted launch time from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia will be 1:40 p.m., NASA said Thursday. (7/3)

Dropship Offers Safe Landings for Mars Rover (Soure: ESA)
The dramatic conclusion to ESA’s latest StarTiger project: a ‘dropship’ quadcopter steers itself to lower a rover gently onto a safe patch of the rocky martian surface. StarTiger’s Dropter project was tasked with developing and demonstrating a European precision-landing capability for Mars and other targets. The Skycrane that lowered NASA’s Curiosity rover onto Mars showed the potential of this approach, precisely delivering rovers to their science targets while avoiding rock fields, slopes and other hazards. Click here. (7/3)

Sudden Power Loss Leaves a Galileo Satellite in Safe Mode (Source: Space News)
One of the four European Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites stopped transmitting on two of its three channels May 27 because of a sudden loss of power, forcing ground teams to shut down the satellite after putting it in safe mode while examining possible causes, European government officials said.

These officials said the anomaly, which as of July 3 had not been resolved, occurred in a matter of seconds May 27 and shut down the E1 signal first. That signal, which transmits Galileo’s Open Service, re-established itself almost immediately. But as soon as it was back in service, the two other channels’ power dropped and did not recover. The full satellite then was shut down by ground teams. (7/3)

Northrop, Boeing Respond to U.S. Air Force GPS 3 Solicitation (Source: Space News)
Northrop Grumman and Boeing say they have responded to a U.S. Air Force call for contractors interested in building the service’s next batch of GPS position, navigation and timing satellites. Lockheed Martin holds a multibillion-dollar contract to build eight next-generation GPS 3 satellites, the first of which is slated to launch in 2016. The U.S. Air Force’s space acquisition arm is looking for possible challengers to Lockheed Martin to build the next batch of satellites. (7/3)

Russia Launches Rokot Carrier Rocket with Three Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia launched on Thursday a light-class Rokot carrier rocket with three telecoms satellites from its northern Plesetsk space center, the Defense Ministry said. "The launch of the Rokot carrier rocket with three Gonets-M communications satellites was carried out successfully ... from the Plesetsk space center," spokesman for Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces, Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said. (7/3)

Odd Exoplanet Find Hints at Many Earth-Like Worlds (Source: Space.com)
Astronomers have for the first time detected a rocky alien world in an Earth-like orbit around just one star in a two-star system. The new find suggests that such worlds may be common, and the strategy used to discover the planet could help reveal more exoplanets in the future, researchers say. Although Earth orbits a single star, most sun-like stars are binaries, two stars orbiting each other as a pair. In fact, there are many three-star systems, and even some that harbor up to seven stars. (7/3)

Government Argues for Dismissal of SpaceX Contract Complaint (Source: CBS)
"SpaceX's complaint is amorphous," the motion claims. "Rather than challenge a single procurement action, SpaceX broadly protests any sole-source purchase of single-core evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV) and associated launch services. This challenge appears to implicate the United States Air Force's entire EELV program -- including past and future purchases under various contracts." (7/3)

NASA Needs an Indian Tutorial (Source: Bloomberg)
What can the U.S. space program learn from the Indian one? Not much, if the standard is outer-space achievement: India's modest record mostly includes feats the U.S. accomplished decades ago. But if the standard is having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish -- and getting that done quickly and economically, there might be a lesson or two.

Vikram Sarabhai, the physicist regarded as the patriarch of India's space program, is quoted dismissing the notion that India should compete with rich, developed countries to explore the moon and planets. Rather, the purpose of India’s space program is “the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.” It's interesting to set that against the uncertain priorities of the U.S. space program since the end of the Apollo moon-landing program more than 40 years ago.

To be sure, the U.S. space program has accomplished a lot in the last 50 years, in spite of flighty, shifting priorities. But the absence of a national rationale for space exploration has resulted in a NASA that lacks clear direction and is hamstrung by an aging bureaucracy incapable of spending the agency’s considerable funding in a manner that satisfies anyone. Contrast that with ISRO, whose low budgets and expectations, combined with a pragmatic, results-driven vision, have more than met its modest goals. (7/3)

‘The Satellite’ Is A Science Project To Bring You A Live Portrait Of Earth (Source: Tech Crunch)
The Satellite is a project created by two New York University instructors who are attempting to create a live-view, photorealistic portrait of Earth with real-time imagery and remote sensing data from hundreds of satellites. By gathering live data from satellites, the team hopes to create a live representation of Earth that is close to what it would actually look like from the International Space Station.

They want to create and design the right architecture for this project, which will include six high-resolution projectors and a spherical screen for the best viewing performance. NASA is offering support to the project in the form of advice from astronaut and engineer Charles Camarda. The team also has several advisers from NYU, where the project started about a decade ago.

One challenge they have is working with weather data, as it is constantly changing. Land masses don’t have to be rendered as quickly. The team describes The Satellite as a public project and hopes it can receive more sponsors and even interested parties to help with its development and installation. (7/3)

Success! Private Team Fires 36-Year-Old NASA Probe's Engines (Source: Space.com)
An old NASA spacecraft under the control of a private team fired its thrusters yesterday (July 2) for the first time in a generation. NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe (ISEE-3), which the agency retired in 1997, performed the maneuver in preparation for a larger trajectory correction next week. The spacecraft hadn't fired its engines since 1987, ISEE-3 Reboot Project team members said.

It took several attempts and days to perform the roll maneuver because ISEE-3 was not responding to test commands. But this time, controllers got in touch. They increased the roll rate from 19.16 revolutions per minute to 19.76 RPM, putting it within mission specifications for trajectory corrections. (7/3)

Exoplanets Once Trumpeted as Life-Friendly May Not Exist (Source: Science News)
Two planets considered among the most promising for life outside the solar system don’t exist, scientists report. The signals embedded in starlight that were attributed to the planets may instead have been caused by the changing magnetic activity of their star, Gliese 581. Although the study isn’t the final word on these enticing yet controversial worlds, scientists say it reinforces the need for meticulous analyses to separate planets’ signals from those generated by spots and flares on stars. (7/3)

Young Stars Vibrate Faster as They Age (Source: Science News)
As infant stars get closer to becoming full-fledged suns, they pulse faster, according to research in the July 4 Science. The discovery provides astronomers with a new tool for probing stellar nurseries and learning more about how stars form. The team matched the frequency at which young stars vibrate to attributes like temperature and brightness. In one young star cluster, NGC 2264, the researchers realized that stars have been forming for much longer than its assumed few-million-year age. (7/3)

ESA’s Experimental Spaceplane Gearing Up for November Debut (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The European Space Agency (ESA) Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is enjoying a stay in Holland ahead of being shipped to Kourou, French Guiana to meet up with her Vega launch vehicle. The IXV space plane is in the Netherlands for a “shaking”, simulating the vibrations and stresses she can expect to endure atop of Vega during the November launch.

The IXV will demonstrate Europe’s advanced re-entry technologies and integrated system design capabilities, via a reference mission that calls for a lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a Vega launch vehicle. (7/3)

Singapore Launches its First Nano-Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
Singapore launched its first nano- satellite VELOX-I via a Indian space rocket on Monday. The satellite, which weighs just 4.28 kilograms, is equipped with a camera sensor that is radiation-resistant, and extendable lenses to take higher-resolution photographs from space. Its inventors are students and researchers from Nanyang Technological University's Satellite Research Center. (7/3)

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