August 14, 2014

Space Coast Economic Development Efforts at Risk in Election (Source: FSDC)
State-level support for economic development is important, but it is only part of the story when it comes to inducing companies to relocate or expand in the state. Local governments are essential providers of tax abatements and other incentives, and can be key players for the state's outreach and marketing to targeted industries. Florida's Space Coast has been among the state's most aggressive and successful communities for economic development, as evidenced by the vibrant aerospace/defense industry in the Melbourne area.

So, the Aug. 26 Primary election of Brevard County commissioners is of concern to economic development advocates who hope the county will step up its efforts to attract new space and aerospace businesses in the wake of SpaceX's decision to move its commercial launch operations to Texas. Some commission candidates, if elected, are expected to seek deep cuts to the county's economic development budget, a prospect that should worry residents eager for space industry expansion.

Some 15 candidates are competing for two open commission seats. Click here for a series of interviews with many of them. FSDC will not endorse any candidates, but we do urge everyone to pay attention, learn about the candidates, and vote on Aug. 26 (or before with early voting. (8/14)

Space Florida Hopes to Get Blue Origin Launches (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Blue Origin LLC — the brainchild of founder Jeff Bezos — also has established a facility in western Texas, where it is testing engines and other systems for its New Shepherd launch vehicle. The Kent, Wash.-based company plans to use its Texas complex to launch rockets for suborbital space-tourism and research flights. Does that mean the Lone Star State has the inside track on capturing Blue Origin's full-scale commercial launches in the future?

Space Florida, the state's space development arm, thinks not. Space Florida executive Dale Ketcham said the Space Coast is in the thick of the competition for Blue Origin's launch business as it advances to include the lucrative orbital flights, which are in most demand. "Blue Origin is looking at Florida, Georgia and a few other states where they would set up shop," Ketcham said. "The launch schedule they're talking about makes it pretty clear they are likely to start here, like SpaceX did, where we already have the needed facilities."

Blue Origin has been quietly, secretly working on the New Shepherd system, a reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing vehicle — at its Washington and Texas facilities. The company also has a small staff at Cape Canaveral. Unlike SpaceX, which uses the Falcon 9 to send cargo capsules to the International Space Station, Blue Origin plans to start out with space-tourism flights. "Our goal with Blue Origin is to make space travel safer and less expensive so anyone who wants to go can go," Bezos said. "We have a great team, and they are making rapid progress towards this goal." (8/10)

Space Club Plans Space Worker Award (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee has developed a new award to recognize the “Space Worker” workforce in the areas of Space Launch Technology, Space Flight Support, Human Space Flight Advancement and Space Flight Advocacy and Education. This award is intended to focus on the entire population of space workers regardless of position, discipline or time of service.

We intend to award no more than 15 individuals per year. Recognition will include a certificate, honoree at the December Social, and inclusion in to the NSC Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognition includes the individuals’ name being added to a Space Walk of Fame Pylon at their park in Titusville. The nomination process and form have been posted on the NSC website at The nomination period will be from August 11 to August 29th. (8/11)

Canadian Tool Could Provide Deep Space Healthcare (Source: CTV)
A new Canadian technology could be the key to ensuring an astronaut's health and well-being as they embark on deep space missions. Researchers at St. Mary's Hospital in Montreal are part of a team that is developing a cutting-edge medical tool designed to provide remote care to astronauts who are likely to be cut off from home as space exploration evolves.

The tool could also have usefulness beyond far-flung outer space missions: researchers think it could make first-world health care available worldwide. It sounds like something out of science fiction -- a virtual medical consultant combining the knowledge of a psychologist, occupational therapist, family doctor and emergency-room physician all in one.

The tool is dubbed the advance crew medical system (ACMS) and is comprised of small body sensors that are attached to an astronaut to monitor their health. Using information gathered in real time and comparing it to previous medical history, the tool can provide treatment instructions and advice to the crew medical officer. The technology is important as exploration moves beyond the International Space Station to long-haul space missions. (8/13)

Calgary’s Best Auction Item Ever? A Lynx Flight to Space (Source: Metro News)
Attendees of a Calgary auction next month will have the opportunity to boldly go where no bidder has gone before. The David Foster Foundation has partnered with owners of the XCOR Lynx rocket plane and secured a seat aboard the pioneering aircraft when its space tourism program officially takes off. The seat will be up for auction at the foundation’s Miracle Gala & Concert on Sept. 27. (8/13)

ViaSat Blasts High-Demand Downloads (Source: Advanced Television)
Broadband satellite operator ViaSat is removing all limits to its top-of-the-range ‘Exede’ high-speed Internet service.  ViaSat’s ‘Freedom’ scheme allows users up to 150 GBs of data per month without any caps, and more than suitable for streaming movies and the like. The new service goes live on August 18th, and is priced extremely competitively at $70 a month. (8/14)

Five Colorado Companies Celebrate Launch of WorldView 3 (Source: ABC)
Hundreds of Colorado moms, dads and kids broke into applause, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Wednesday afternoon, as the WorldView 3 "high resolution imaging" satellite was launched into orbit. The launch, a partnership between five Colorado based companies, underscores the central role Colorado plays in the global aerospace industry. Click here. (8/14)

Google Lunar XPrize: Astrobotic Lifts Off (Source: C/Net)
Getting an object off the surface of the Earth and safely transporting it across the nothingness of space to the moon is one of the greatest technological challenges mankind has ever overcome. The moon may be our closest interstellar neighbor, but it's still some 382,500km away -- on average, anyway. That's about 10 trips around the equator, all made outside of our comforting atmosphere, never with a chance to stop and regroup should anything go wrong.

This summer, $6 million is being awarded to teams that can prove their ability to complete that mission through a series of terrestrial tests, and Astrobotic is one of those teams. Astrobotic is working with Masten Space Systems to test the landing phase of its mission. Masten is itself a former XPrize contestant, winning the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge by creating a lander that could lift off, fly up to 50 meters in altitude, fly laterally for 100 meters, and then land on a designated spot. Natural, then, that Astrobotic would work with Masten to test the landing system for its own Griffin lander.

As part of its earlier XPrize, Masten developed a vehicle called XA-0.1B -- or Xombie, for short. Masten would go on to build more advanced landers, but this initial unit was put into service for the Astrobotic test. Xombie uses a single thruster firing straight down, gimbal-mounted to allow for precise control. But this also means navigation is tricky, as the entire weight of the lander is effectively balanced on end. (8/14)

Russia to Develop New Satellite Communication System (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia intends to create a new powerful satellite communication system that will provide global coverage and communication security, Izvestia newspaper reported Thursday. The development of such a system will require the launch of a space complex ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The budget of the project is estimated at 65.6 billion rubles ($1.8 billion).

The system throughput is expected to reach 80 gigabits (Gb) by 2020, and 120 Gb by 2025. That will allow the simultaneous coverage of about a million high-speed terminals. The new secure communication system is to be used by the country’s leaders and the military, according to the newspaper. The system will be based on the Gonets-M1 and Gonets-M2 communication systems. (8/14)

Japan Sends Hello Kitty Into Space (Source: Reuters)
Hello Kitty, Japan's ambassador of cute, is on a government-funded mission to space. The project to launch Sanrio Co Ltd's white cat with a pink bow into orbit is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to promote Japan's high-tech industry and engineer economic growth. A 4-cm (1.6-inch) tall Hello Kitty figure is aboard the Hodoyoshi-3 satellite, looking through a window at Earth, Sanrio announced this week. (8/14)

OCO 2 Makes its First Carbon Measurement From Space (Source:
A satellite launched last month has reached its operational perch 438 miles above Earth and started collecting data on the global distribution of carbon dioxide, a gas linked to climate change, NASA announced this week. The $468 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 mission will spend at least two years identifying sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide, places where the gas is emitted into the atmosphere and absorbed back into oceans and plants. (8/14)

Rolling Boulder on Mars Leaves Trail Visible from Space (Source:
NASA has a case of Mars rock and roll ... literally. The agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently orbiting the Red Planet has spotted the trail left behind after a tall boulder tumbled down a Martian slope. The Mars rock's misshapen prints are clearly visible in the spacecraft's view from orbit. By looking at the large rock's shadow, scientists at NASA have calculated that the boulder is about 20 feet tall (6 meters) and 11.5 feet wide (3.5 m). Click here. (8/14)

How to Create a Logo for a Space Engine That Physicists Can’t Explain (Source: WIRED)
It didn’t take long to settle on a direction. “When you’ve got your creative meeting with Joel and Guido and the knuckleheads at House Industries, of course we head toward the world of science fiction,” Cruz says. They spent hours talking about their favorite sci-fi films and their visual languages. Ultimately, the challenge was creating a brand identity that alluded to familiar ideas futuristic technologies without feeling like a parody of them. It needed to look like something that would be emblazoned on a rocket, not an arcade machine. Click here. (8/14)

Could Tensions Over Ukraine Hit Space? (Source: BBC)
"...But perhaps even more ironic is that we are providing the Russians with literally billions of dollars to their defense industry... and who knows what they're using that money for. They might even be buying anti-aircraft missiles to supply to the rebels in the Ukraine with this money."

The hostility has left the US and Russia searching for new friends. America is turning towards home-grown commercial industry to bring space manufacturing back to US soil. Russia, though, has been looking further afield. Its eye has been caught by a new player in space: China. Dmitry Rogozin has said Russia might end its role on the ISS in 2020, and could turn instead to the East. He's been holding talks in China to discuss deepening space cooperation between the two nations. (8/14)

Court Upholds Verdict in ViaSat Versus SS/L (Source: ViaSat)
A federal court judge has upheld a jury’s verdict that Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) breached its contract with ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq:VSAT) by misusing ViaSat’s proprietary and intellectual property and infringed ViaSat patents covering the groundbreaking ViaSat-1 technology. In addition, the judge ordered a new jury trial on the damages phase of the case, where ViaSat will be given the forum to present its case to show the full damages caused by the breach and infringement. In April, a jury awarded $283 million in damages to ViaSat.

In addition, the court also set an August 26 hearing on ViaSat’s motion for a permanent injunction prohibiting SS/L from manufacturing or selling infringing satellites or satellite components, including the continued manufacturing of infringing satellites under construction. In February 2012, ViaSat served a complaint for patent infringement and breach of contract against SS/L and Loral Space & Communications related to the unauthorized use of ViaSat’s intellectual property, including technology ViaSat developed for its ground breaking 100+ Gbps ViaSat-1 satellite. (8/12)

New Space Command Chief Wants Revamped Satellite Constellations (Source: Space News)
In his first public comments since the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment as the next leader of Air Force Space Command, Lt. Gen. John Hyten made a forceful case for the service to adopt a new space architecture and said he expects to make recommendations to the Pentagon on the future of several major satellite programs by the end of the year.Hyten said the Defense Department and Congress must increasingly view space as they do other war domains. This view argues for improving space situational awareness and bolstering the resiliency of military satellite constellations. (8/13)

NASA Seas Black Hole Bending Light, Space, Time (Source: CNN)
NASA's black-hole hunting telescope has captured a cosmic battle between dark and light. NuSTAR, formally known as the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, has observed a supermassive black hole's gravity tugging on X-ray light that's being emitted near that black hole. That light is getting stretched and blurred, and researchers are getting to see it all in unprecedented detail, said NASA in a news release. (8/13)

We Could Find Alien Life, but Politicians Don’t Have The Will (Source: The Conversation)
While alien life can be seen nightly on television and in the movies, it has never been seen in space. Not so much as a microbe, dead or alive, let alone a wrinkle-faced Klingon. Despite this lack of protoplasmic presence, there are many researchers – sober, sceptical academics – who think that life beyond Earth is rampant. They suggest proof may come within a generation. These scientists support their sunny point of view with a few astronomical facts that were unknown a generation ago.

In particular, and thanks largely to the success of NASA’s Kepler space telescope, we can now safely claim that the universe is stuffed with temperate worlds. In the past two decades, thousands of planets have been discovered around other stars. New ones are turning up at the rate of at least one a day. More impressive than the tally is their sheer abundance. It seems the majority of stars have planets, implying the existence of a trillion of these small bodies in the Milky Way galaxy alone. (8/12)

Could We Detect an Alien Civilization's Waste Heat? (Source: Discovery)
As far as technological races go, humans are welterweights in comparison to hypothetical alien civilizations that could, conceivably, inhabit an entire galaxy. But if these vastly advanced extraterrestrials do exist, how could our current (and, frankly, meager) technology go about detecting them? The answer could be in seeking out the galactic waste — heat waste to be precise — that such huge civilizations would generate. What’s more, we may already have the observational data to begin a detailed search of the Cosmos.

In a new study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, a team of astronomers headed by Jason Wright of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, Penn State University, argue the case for using survey data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer space telescopes to identify advanced extraterrestrial intelligences that have fully utilized all the energy from a star or even spread throughout their host galaxies. (8/13)

300+ Workers at NASA’s Washington HQ Vote to Form a Union (Source: IFPTE)
Professional support specialists employed at NASA’s Washington DC headquarters voted overwhelmingly today to form a union.The vote was 97% in favor of partnering with the NASA Headquarters Professional Association, Local 9 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), 320 NASA workers were eligible to vote in the election. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) conducted the vote.

“This successful vote will allow us to work with management to improve working conditions for NASA support and administrative staff here at NASA headquarters, thereby improving operations, saving money, and retaining an engaged and professional workforce,” said Tifarah Thomas, a program specialist within NASA’s Office of the Chief Health & Medical Officer. Professional support specialists at NASA headquarters include budget analysts, policy analysts, administrative specialists, secretaries, and others. (8/12)

Google Chrome Experiment Visualizes The 36-Year Journey Of A Spacecraft (Source: Fast Co.)
A new Chrome Experiment from Google Creative Lab called A Spacecraft for All tells the story of ISEE-3’s history and the recent revival effort through a combination and interactive graphics. “We got really excited about this project,” Google Creative Lab’s Richard The says. Over the course of a month, the Google team pulled together video interviews and designed 3-D graphics to make a complicated story about astrophysics digestible for non-NASA folks. Click here. (8/12)

Veteran Reporter Barbree to Talk Space at FIT Event (Source: Florida Today)
Longtime NBC News correspondent Jay Barbree is touting the topic he knows best — space — during a special event at FIT. The New York Times best-selling author will appear at a reception and book signing from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Denius Student Center lounge at Florida Institute of Technology. A dinner will be served in the Hartley Room at 7 p.m. FIT President Anthony Catanese will speak, as well as former shuttle astronaut Winston Scott, senior vice president of external relations and economic development for Florida Tech. (8/13)

NASA Supports STEM Education Projects at Community and Technical Colleges (Source: NASA)
NASA's Office of Education will award more than $17.3 million through the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program to increase student and faculty engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at community colleges and technical schools across the U.S. Each award has a two-year performance period and a maximum value of $500,000.

The 35 awards were granted after a solicitation to members of the national Space Grant Consortia. Winning proposals outlined ways to attract and retain more students from community and technical colleges in STEM curricula, develop stronger collaborations to increase student access to NASA’s STEM education content, and increase the number of students who advance from an associate to a bachelor’s degree.

Editor's Note: Among the winning projects is the NASA Olympionics, which will bring Florida students to Kennedy Space Center to participate in an "Olympic" style event in which they will compete on teams in three different technical challenges. Students from Florida Keys Community College (FKCC), Hillsborough Community College (HCC), and North Florida Community College (NFCC) will be invited to participate in this program. (8/13)

Another Day, Another Successful Launch for ULA (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-3 satellite for DigitalGlobe launched at 11:30 a.m. PDT today from Space Launch Complex-3. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission. This is the fourth successful launch in six weeks and the 87th successful mission since ULA was formed in December 2006. (8/13)

Astronaut Leroy Chiao: America Should Embrace China For Mars Missions (Source: Forbes)
Chinese-American astronaut Leroy Chiao is a bit of a contrarian. He advocates embracing China, rather than shunning it, in the new space race to Mars. He also says America’s relationship with Russia on travel to the International Space Station (ISS ), despite recent turmoil in Ukraine, is a good thing for both countries. Click here. (8/13)

Explore Vastness of Space at New Daytona Beach Planetarium (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Tilting back in one of the theater-like chairs inside the new planetarium at the Museum of Arts & Sciences and looking up toward the dome-shaped ceiling is probably the closest most people will ever get to space travel. A digital projector spreads crystal-clear images across the dome and surround-sound speakers pump in music and narration that shuts out the world beyond the building’s walls.

The armchair astronauts begin their journey looking down at Florida, then rocket skyward until thousands of satellites densely packed around Earth come into view. They float around the International Space Station and keep ascending, past the sun and its planets, traveling all the way to the edge of the universe with a view of hundreds of billions of galaxies. (8/13)

ViaSat Emphasizes Revenue over Subscriber Numbers (Source: Space News)
Satellite broadband hardware and services provider ViaSat Inc. on Aug. 12 asked investors to focus on revenue and gross profit, and not raw subscriber numbers, in judging the company’s Exede U.S. consumer satellite broadband service. ViaSat reported that for the three months ending July 4, the company’s consumer service posted zero subscriber growth. The Exede service delivered by the company’s ViaSat-1 satellite had 518,000 subscribers as of July 4, and another 112,000 were using the slower service, on ViaSat’s WildBlue satellite, that is being phased out in favor of Exede. (8/13)

Harlingen Eyes Incentives for SpaceX (Source: Valley Morning Star)
The Harlingen Economic Development Corp. board on Tuesday recommended an incentive package of $450,000 for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which plans to develop a launch site at Boca Chica Beach, even as the company continues to invest in land in Cameron County. In return, 10 percent of a minimum of 100 jobs that SpaceX proposes to create would be filled by Harlingen residents.

Furthermore, SpaceX subsidiary company Dogleg Park LLC and other landowners in Cameron County are petitioning Cameron County Commissioners Court to close parts of Meike Place and Rio Grande Boulevard as SpaceX continues work on replatting property toward development of the world’s first private commercial vertical launch site. The $450,000 would be allocated during the span of three years at $150,000 per year. The proposal also calls for jobs that pay at least $9 an hour, and an average salary of $55,000 a year. In addition, SpaceX would expend a total payroll of $24,750,000 over five years. (8/13)

Doña Ana County Commission Delays Action on Spaceport Tax Changes (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Doña Ana County commissioners didn't make any decisions Tuesday on a proposed overhaul of Spaceport America sales tax dollars for education. But the board of commissioners did OK a request asking the state to eventually take over ownership of a southern road — deemed by many people to be important to Doña Ana County — to the more-than-$200 million, taxpayer-owned facility.

The commission didn't act on the proposed sales tax changes after County Commission Billy Garrett specified that Tuesday's item was meant to be the first introduction of the proposal for commissioners to give feedback. He said the item will appear at two other public meetings before a final vote. (8/12)

It Does Take a Rocket Scientist For NASA Job (Source: Kendall FL Gazette)
When she was four-and-a-half-years old, Josephine (Josie) Burnett watched the Apollo astronauts set foot on the moon. The family settled into Calusa in West Kendall where Burnett was part of the second graduating class at Sunset High School. At Sunset, her math teacher encourage her to go into engineering — which at the time was not a career attracting many women.

She attended the University of Florida and got a degree in aerospace engineering and later earned a master’s from the Florida Institute of Technology while working at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Today she is the director for the International Space Station Ground Processing and Research. (8/13)

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