July 9, 2014

Golden Spike, Honeybee Complete Preliminary Study on Lunar Rover (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Golden Spike Company, the world’s first enterprise planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries, corporations and individuals, and Honeybee Robotics, a premier developer of advanced robotic systems, today announced they have completed a preliminary design study for unmanned rovers capable of enhancing the next human missions to the Moon.

In partnership with technical staff at Golden Spike, Honeybee engineers conducted trade studies of both flight-proven and promising technologies to design configurable robotic rovers that can collect and store several kilograms of scientific samples from the Moon’s surface in advance of or in conjunction with Golden Spike’s human expeditions. (7/9)

Expert: Pentagon Must Look Globally for New R&D (Source: Federal News Radio)
The U.S. must accelerate defense research and development, and consider technological advances that come from the commercial world or overseas partners, said Bill Lynn, CEO of Finmeccanica North America and DRS Technologies. Speaking this week at the Atlantic Council's Captains of Industry series, Lynn said the Defense Department should create a structure that brings new technology into the military world. "3D printing, nanotechnology, the cloud, autonomous vehicle technology, a lot of that is being done outside defense," he said. (7/8)

Russian Weather Satellite, 6 Others Launch from Soyuz (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A Soyuz rocket on Tuesday launched a global weather-tracking satellite for Russia along with six satellites for other nations. The Kazakhstan launch sent the Russian satellite on its five-year mission to track ozone, monitor weather and measure ocean-surface temperatures and perform other calculations. (7/9)

Russia Test Launches First ‘Angara’ Rocket (Source: Russia Today)
Russia has launched the ecologically clean Angara rocket from the Plesetsk military сosmodrome in Russia’s north on the second try. It is the first space booster designed in Russia from scratch since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A Ministry of Defense statement says that the launch of Angara 1.2PP conducted by Russia’s Airspace Defense troops has been a success. (7/9)

Avascent Buys Futron’s Space Practice (Source: Space News)
The Avascent consultancy in Washington has purchased the space and telecommunications practice of market research company Futron Corp. for an undisclosed sum, the firms announced July 8. The move is expected to strengthen Avascent’s existing space and telecommunications practice, which serves a broad range of clients including NASA, launch providers, satellite manufacturers and service companies. In a press release, Avascent said the addition of Futron’s staff and resources also will help extend its reach into Asia and other international markets. (7/9)

Anxious Arianespace Workers Stage Brief Walkout (Source: Space News)
Employees of Europe’s Arianespace launch services company on July 8 staged a 30-minute work stoppage to express their anxiety about the company’s future in light of industrial and government calls for an overhaul of Europe’s launch sector. The walkout occurred even as ministers responsible for space policy in five European governments were meeting in Geneva to assess competing designs for a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket. (7/9)

How Wheel Damage Affects Mars Rover Curiosity's Mission (Source: Space.com)
If there were mechanics on Mars, NASA may have taken the Curiosity rover into the shop by now. The 1-ton robot has accumulated quite a bit of wheel damage since touching down inside Gale Crater in August 2012 to investigate Mars' past and present potential to host microbial life. "We always expected we would get some holes in the wheels as we drove. It's just the magnitude of what we're seeing that was the surprise."

But the damage has not imperiled the rover's mission, said Curiosity's handlers, who are employing a number of troubleshooting measures to keep the robot rolling along. They're confident Curiosity can still reach and explore its ultimate science destination: the foothills of the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) Mount Sharp. (7/9)

As Engines Sputter To Life, Vintage Spacecraft Turns Toward Moon (Source: NPR)
A gung-ho group of space enthusiasts has started the process of putting a vintage NASA spacecraft on a new flight path, so that this venerable piece of hardware will be able to do useful science once again. The old spacecraft, called ISEE-3, launched back in August 1978. Its original job was to hang out between the Earth and the Sun and study their interactions. Click here. (7/9)

Prairie Chicken Holds Up Midland Spaceport License (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)
It appears the mating rituals of the lesser prairie chicken are imposing on Midland International Airport’s pursuit of a spaceport license. After the chicken was federally listed in March, the airport submitted an addendum to its environmental assessment explaining why the spaceport wouldn’t be a threat to the now “threatened” species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, worried about sonic booms negatively impacting the small chicken’s early-morning spring mating habits, has yet to approve the addendum. But Midland Director of Airports Marv Esterly -- who offered to send biologists to Andrews County to study how the first five launches would impact the chickens -- fully expects the service to sign off and the Federal Aviation Administration to deliver a finding of “no significant impact.” (7/9)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Study on Common Upper Stage Service for NASA (Source: SpaceRef)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed a study with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to develop a common upper stage service for NASA, designed to enhance the performance of the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II medium and heavy launch vehicles for planetary and heliophysics missions, and pave the way for additional missions by providing more affordable launch services. (7/9)

As the CCtCap Decision Looms, CCiCap Companies Enter Home Stretch (Source: NewSpace Journal)
With a decision on the next phase of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program expected as soon as next month, companies with funded awards from the program’s current phase, Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap), are approaching some of the final milestones of those agreements. For at least two of the companies, though, those efforts may not be done until next year. Click here. (7/9)

Options for Assuring Domestic Space Access (Source: US Senate)
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Strategic Forces will hold a joint hearing titled, “Options for Assuring Domestic Space Access,” on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Science and Space, and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, will co-chair the hearing.

Maintaining affordable, reliable, and sustainable space access across agencies and missions is of critical national importance. The joint hearing will consider the current state of the U.S. launch enterprise and the risks posed to U.S. space operations by relying on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine. In assessing the full range of risk mitigation options, the joint hearing will also examine civil, commercial, and national security launch requirements, as well as the potential cost and schedule implications of developing launch systems. (7/9)

Inside a Once-Secret Cosmonaut Training Facility (Source: Slate)
During the development of the Soviet space program, a secret Air Force facility in the woods northeast of Moscow transformed into a cosmonaut training center and residential settlement called Zvezdny Gorodok, or Star City. Omitted from the era's maps, and referred to officially as "closed military townlet number one," the area centered on the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where prospective cosmonauts would undergo strenuous physical, technical, and psychological preparation for space flight. Click here. (7/9)

KSC Renaming Facility in Honor of Neil Armstrong (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
NASA's Kennedy Space Center is renaming one of its iconic facilities in honor of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon. The July 21 ceremony will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. July 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. The space center's operations and checkout building was built in 1964 and previously was known as the manned spacecraft operations building.

Its high bay was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. The facility is still being used today to process and assemble NASA's Orion spacecraft, which the agency expects to use to send astronauts to an asteroid and Mars. Editor's Note: The facility was refurbished by Space Florida to support Orion processing by Lockheed Martin. (7/9)

A Dutch World Cup Victory Would Send The Team To Space (Source: Forbes)
The Netherlands National Team is now just one of four teams left in the World Cup. And if they manage to win the whole thing, they’ll get something in addition to the glory of the victory. They’ll also get a chance to visit the stars. (Making Robin van Persie a literal “Flying Dutchman.”)

That’s the promise of XCOR Aerospace, who has promised a free flight to every member of the team should they make the goal. The odds might be against them – FiveThirtyEight currently has them the least likely team to win, with only a 13% chance- but who knows? Space travel may be a heck of a motivator. (7/9)

Tampa Microwave Teams with Hughes for Portable Satellite Terminals (Source: SpaceRef)
Hughes Network Systems has recently teamed with Tampa Microwave to embed their HX-based modem into the Tampa Microwave ManPack family of small tactical satellite terminals. The terminals range in size from 45cm to 1.3m and feature WGS and FIPS compliant Hughes HX technology that can support X, Ku- and Ka-band communications for both star and mesh type networks. The terminals' compact design and lightweight backpack facilitate one-person set-up, operation and transportation.

The ManPack satellite terminals offer a portable SATCOM solution that can stand up to and function in harsh tactical military environments. They feature auto-assist pointing which allows for rapid set up and satellite acquisition by personnel with limited training. Each unit in the family is rugged and quiet as they operate efficiently in any environment without the need for cooling fans. (7/9)

Boeing to Build Intelsat 35e EpicNG Satellite (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Boeing will build the Intelsat 35e Epic Next Generation satellite for Intelsat, the world’s leading provider of global satellite services and Boeing’s largest commercial satellite customer. This also marks Intelsat’s ninth order for a satellite based on Boeing’s 702MP (medium power) platform. (7/9)

New Journal Focuses on Space Safety Engineering (Source: JSSE)
The Journal of Space Safety Engineering (JSSE) is a new quarterly publication of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS). The JSSE is published using an open access publication model, meaning that all interested readers are able to freely access the journal online without the need for a subscription, and authors are not charged and retain the copyright of their work.

JSSE provides an authoritative source of information in the field of  space safety design, research and development. It serves applied scientists, engineers, policy makers and safety advocates with a platform to develop, promote and coordinate the science, technology and practice of space safety. JSSE seeks to establish channels of communication between industry, academy and government in the field of space safety, and also covers related environmental issues. Click here. (7/9)

Space Florida: Cape Risks Irrelevance (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello today delivered a call to action to make Cape Canaveral a more attractive site for commercial space operations, or else risk becoming irrelevant in the growing industry. DiBello said he expects Texas leaders to announce within a week or two that SpaceX has agreed to build a private launch complex on the Gulf Coast near Brownsville.

He said Florida should be "mad as hell" that it has been unable to create a competitive alternative for SpaceX and other emerging space companies considering launch operations in Texas, New Mexico and Georgia, among other states. "Unless we can evolve the state's spaceport capabilities into the kind of business environment they seek, we will spend the next 50 years still celebrating the glories of the past five decades," he said. Click here. (7/8)

Next Generation of Space Cowboys Get Ready to Fly (Source: New Scientist)
Say hello to the next generation of space cowboys. This week, private aerospace firm FireFly Space Systems in Austin, Texas, revealed the design of the FireFly Alpha, a shiny new vehicle that aims to launch lightweight satellites at low cost. FireFly was founded in January this year and has former SpaceX and Virgin Galactic employees on staff.

The company's mission is to reduce costs for lighter loads going to low Earth orbit, such as constellations of small satellites used for communications networks or monitoring Earth. Most probes like this currently piggyback into space on larger missions that can afford to fly on big rockets. But that means small satellite operators have a limited choice of launch dates and orbits.

To improve efficiency, the FireFly Alpha will use an unusual engine design called an aerospike, which has a wedge-shaped nozzle to produce thrust, rather than the traditional bell shape. Aerospike engines have been tested on a variety of vehicles but never used for an orbital launch. The same is true of Alpha's methane and liquid-oxygen fuel system, which will reduce engine weight because it does not require an extra inert gas to pressurize the fuel. (7/8)

What Spaceflight Planning Can Teach Us On Earth (Source: Aviation Week)
International Space Station crewmates are looking forward to a little more fresh food with their processed nutrition, thanks to a new plant-growth chamber delivered by the most recent SpaceX Dragon to reach the orbiting outpost. Developed by Orbitec in Madison, Wisconsin, the “Veggie” unit is a very small farm—11.5 X 14.5 in.—that will allow the crew to grow red romaine lettuce for researchers to evaluate and them to eat. Click here. (7/8)

Confirmed: Voyager 1 in Interstellar Space (Source: Space.com)
New data collected by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft have helped scientists confirm that the far-flung probe is indeed cruising through interstellar space, the researchers say. Voyager 1 made headlines around the world last year when mission scientists announced that the probe had apparently left the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields surrounding the sun — in August 2012.

They came to this conclusion after analyzing measurements Voyager 1 made in the wake of a powerful solar eruption known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME. The shock wave from this CME caused the particles around Voyager 1 to vibrate substantially, allowing mission scientists to calculate the density of the probe's surroundings. This density was much higher than that observed in the outer layers of the heliosphere, allowing team members to conclude that Voyager 1 had entered a new cosmic realm. (7/8)

Russia to Phase Out Older Soyuz Rockets For Space Station Runs (Source: Moscow Times)
Roscosmos, will upgrade the Soyuz rocket and secure its supply chain by phasing out older versions in favor of the newer Soyuz-2 series to support the International Space Station, the head of the company that builds Soyuz said. The rocket is set to begin launching unmanned Progress resupply vehicles to the Space Station. If all goes well, the Soyuz 2 rockets may begin transporting astronauts and cosmonauts to the space station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft as early as 2016.

The older Soyuz rockets rely on a Ukrainian control system — a relic of the rocket family's Soviet heritage that in the aftermath of Russia seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in March looks like a threat to Russia's space program. The rockets are based on the same core design that launched Sputnik and Yury Gagarin into space at the dawn of the space age. "The Soyuz-U and Soyuz-FG control systems are analog [systems] made in Ukraine," Alexander Kirilin, CEO of the Progress Rocket and Space Center in the Volga city of Samara said. (7/7)

Cosmic Accounting Reveals Missing Light Crisis (Source: Carnegie Institution)
Something is amiss in the Universe. There appears to be an enormous deficit of ultraviolet light in the cosmic budget. The vast reaches of empty space between galaxies are bridged by tendrils of hydrogen and helium, which can be used as a precise “light meter.” In a recent study, a team of scientists finds that the light from known populations of galaxies and quasars is not nearly enough to explain observations of intergalactic hydrogen. The difference is a stunning 400 percent.

Strangely, this mismatch only appears in the nearby, relatively well-studied cosmos. When telescopes focus on galaxies billions of light years away (and therefore are viewing the universe billions of years in its past), everything seems to add up. The fact that this accounting works in the early universe but falls apart locally has scientists puzzled. Click here. (7/8)

Buzz Aldrin Calls NASA ‘Adrift,’ Wants to Go to Mars, But First to White House (Source: Washington Post)
Right now, Aldrin's big focus is the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. His company has launched a social media campaign, featuring a YouTube video in which celebrities and scientists relay their memories of July 20, 1969. Buzz speaks into the camera: “I feel we need to remind the world about the Apollo missions and that we can still do impossible things. The whole world celebrated our moon landing, but we missed the whole thing, because we were out of town.”

Buzz told me he hopes to meet with President Obama on July 20, the 45th anniversary of the lunar landing, in keeping with a tradition that Aldrin says goes back to 1969. President Richard M. Nixon met the quarantined Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins in the Pacific after they splashed down, and every five years since, the Apollo 11 crew has been honored with a ceremony at the White House, Aldrin says. Obama met with the three astronauts in 2009.

I asked him what the other Apollo astronauts think about the future direction of NASA. “The few that I know are so interested in calling attention to their achievement in life that they’re interested in return to the moon. I think that’s the biggest mistake we could ever do,” he said. Of NASA, Buzz said, “I believe that we are — in other people’s terminology — adrift right now. We cannot take our own people to the space station. We invested 100 billion dollars.” Click here. (7/8)

Kentucky GOP Lawmaker: ‘We all Agree’ Mars is the Same Temperature as Earth (Source: Raw Story)
A coal plant-owning Kentucky Republican offered an out-of-this-world argument against new EPA carbon emissions regulations. State Sen. Brandon Smith (R) joined other lawmakers in attacking the Obama administration and EPA regulations July 2 in a meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.

“I won’t get into the debate about climate change,” Smith said. “But I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

While there are no known coal mines or factories on Mars, the average temperature on Mars is significantly colder than here on Earth. The average temperature on Earth is about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average temperature on Mars is about -81 degrees Fahrenheit. Smith, who has been elected to the Kentucky Senate twice and elected four times to the state House, was joined by other lawmakers who questioned the science behind climate change. (7/8)

Space Law Boom (Source: Legal Bisnow)
We're in the second era of the space program, says Jones Day senior telecom counsel Del Smith, who's been working in the area for more than 40 years. With the shuttering of NASA's shuttle program, the final frontier is largely in the hands of private companies like Boeing and SpaceX. Issues that used to be worked out by foreign ministries and diplomacy are now handled by law firms, though there is little settled law.

Take situations like disagreements between astronauts or satellite damage caused by orbital debris: They'll have to be resolved, though exactly where is unclear. Should they be referred to a court (in which country?), arbitration, treaty-interpreters (the last space treaties are from the '60s), international agencies, or even the UN? Click here. (7/8)

ULA Asks Court To Dismiss SpaceX’s Block-buy Protest (Source: Space News)
U.S. government launch services provider United Launch Alliance has joined the U.S. Air Force in asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by rival SpaceX that challenges the service’s $11 billion order of a large batch of rockets from ULA, according to a July 8 court filing.

ULA’s filing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims follows a similar motion by the Air Force seeking to derail SpaceX’s lawsuit, which was originally filed April 28.  In its June 30 filing, the Air Force said SpaceX lost its right to sue because it did not challenge the service’s original notice of intent to award the sole-source contract, issued in 2012, within the allotted window. (7/8)

ULA Completes Launchpad Design Review for Boeing Crew Accommodations (Source: ULA)
ULA completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) of the launch site accommodations that will support commercial crew launches of Boeing’s CST-100 at Launch Complex 41 in Florida. The CDR, supported by Boeing, NASA, and the Air Force, approved the design for the Crew Access Tower, Crew Access Arm as well as the White Room that will allow the flight crews the ability to safely ingress and egress Boeing’s CST-100 crew module for launch. In addition, the team reviewed the conceptual design of the emergency egress system which is similar in design to the space shuttle basket escape system. (7/8)

Sierra Nevada Completes Propulsion and RCS Design Milestone (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corp. has completed a major Main Propulsion System (MPS) and Reaction Control System (RCS) risk reduction milestone for the Dream Chaser Space System, maturing the design of each system close to Critical Design Review (CDR). The milestone positions SNC one step closer to restoring U.S. crew transportation to low-Earth orbit (LEO). (7/8)

Independent Scotland Boosts Space Travel (Source: The Scotsman)
Independence could be worth between £15 million and £20m a year to the space sector in Scotland in the medium term and potentially £100m over a longer period, industry experts have said. Dr Malcolm Macdonald, of the Strathclyde space institute at Strathclyde University, made the claim in a “politically neutral” report on the impact of independence on space travel.

The report – jointly written with Professor Lesley Jane Smith, a “space law” expert from Leuphana University Lüneburg in Germany – suggested Scotland could gain access to millions of pounds from the European Space Agency (ESA), an inter-governmental body dedicated to space exploration.

The authors said: “Scottish independence could be said to be worth £15-20m per year to the sector in the medium term, and the long-term size and scale of the sector may be of the order of £100m, almost triple the current size.” The figure is based on contracts the authors suggest an independent Scotland could win from the ESA, with the returns increasing as the country grows in influence. (7/8)

Scotland’s First Satellite Launched Into Space (Source: The Scotsman)
Scotland's First space satellite has been launched successfully in Kazakhstan. The team behind UKube-1 cheered at their headquarters in Glasgow as the space mission got under way. The nanosatellite, designed and manufactured by Clyde Space, is about the size of a shoe box and features GPS devices aimed at measuring space weather, as well as a camera that will take images of the Earth. (7/8)

Planet Mercury a Result of Early Hit-and-Run Collisions (Source: ASU)
Planet Mercury’s unusual metal-rich composition has been a longstanding puzzle in planetary science. According to a new study, Mercury and other unusually metal-rich objects in the solar system may be relics left behind by collisions in the early solar system that built the other planets. (7/8)

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