August 18, 2014

ULA Leadership Shift Could be Precursor for More Changes (Source: Defense News)
An unexpected leadership change at the United Launch Alliance (ULA) may be just the first move for a company facing competition for the first time. After leading ULA since its inception in 2006, Michael Gass is stepping down. Craig Cooning, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems and a ULA board member, said Bruno is “well-qualified to ensure ULA keeps pace with changing customer needs and launch industry dynamics.”

The announcement put as positive a spin as possible on Gass’ departure, but reading between the lines makes it clear leaders at the parent companies felt a change was needed, said Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres. “Gass hung his hat on ULA’s track record of successful launches,” Caceres said. But ULA looked complacent when matched against the dynamic Elon Musk, whose SpaceX will shortly begin competing with ULA for military space launches.

“Generally, when you see abrupt leadership changes, there’s an abrupt change of strategic or tactical course needed,” Callan said. “You don’t make those changes unless you see something that needs fast corrective action.” Caceres said he expects to see layoffs and a streamlining of ULA to find all possible cost savings. “My sense is you’re going to see at ULA a restructuring of some sort, because ultimately they’re going to have to find a way to be a lot more competitive on price,” he said. (8/18)

Dentons Creates ‘Space Law’ Group (Source: Washington Post)
International law firm Dentons has created a practice group focused on representing companies that manufacture, operate and invest in satellites, as it eyes potential in the fast-growing commercial space industry.

The new group is led by attorneys Del Smith, Liz Evans and Deepak Reddy, who recently joined Dentons from Jones Day. Smith is in Washington and Evans and Reddy are in New York. The group includes 15 attorneys spread across 10 of the firm’s offices around the world, whose legal expertise spans mergers and acquisitions, finance, restructuring, regulatory, insurance, intellectual property, antitrust and litigation. (8/17)

Zero-G Flights Offer That Floating Sensation (Source: The National)
UAE residents will be able to float and flip weightlessly for a few minutes when they sign up for “zero gravity” flights scheduled to take off next year. Starting at just under Dh10,000, the 90-minute flights, operated by Swiss Space Systems (S3), are scheduled to take place over six days from April 9 to 11 and April 16 to 18. The UAE is one of more than 15 countries the flights will depart from around the world from January next year.

S3 is one of several private companies offering civilians the chance to experience weightlessness, something that is generally experienced only by scientists and astronauts. The company uses modified Airbus jets to perform 15 parabolas, each providing between 20 and 25 seconds of weightlessness during the course of the hour-and-a-half-long flight. (8/18)

Challenger Center Holds Back to School Bash in Tallahassee (Source: WCTV)
It was back to school for Leon County Schools on Monday. Today the Challenger Learning Center held a back to school bash for children and their families. Folks enjoyed hands on science demonstrations and tours of the space mission simulator. The center also held several free screenings in its IMAX and Planetarium theaters, including Madagascar's Island of Lemurs, Hidden Universe, and The Last Reef.

Staff at the center says it’s their way of saying thank you for a great summer. Michelle Personette, the Executive Director of Challenger Learning Center, said, "The community supports us. We are a non-profit. And the community supports us throughout the year. This is our way to give back to them. It's an exciting time. All the kids are going back to school and we want to make sure the community and the kids are ready and excited to go back to school." (8/16)

The Cosmos in a Cornfield (Source: Space Review)
When it comes to space museums, people most likely think of the National Air and Space Museum or one of the NASA visitor centers. Dwayne Day describes the impressive collection of artifacts that can be found in a museum located right in the middle of the country. Visit to view the article. (8/18)

Alternative Propulsion Concepts Power Debate (Source: Space Review)
New propulsion technologies that promise to greatly reduce travel times would seem to be universally welcomed, but such concepts often get mired in debates about their feasibility. Jeff Foust reports on developments involving a couple of different proposals that have either been treated as revolutionary advances or dismissed as ineffective or even impossible. Visit to view the article. (8/18)

India's SAARC Satellite Proposal: a Boost to a Multilateral Space Agenda (Source: Space Review)
India's new prime minister recently proposed that India collaborate with other South Asian nations on a joint satellite program. Ajey Lele examines the potential benefits of such cooperation and how to best implement it. Visit to view the article. (8/18)

NASA Won’t Abandon Commercial Crew Loser (Source:
As NASA closes in on the next major milestone of its Commercial Crew Program (CCP), the agency has noted its desire to continue the “sharing of knowledge” with any partner that loses out on continued NASA funding. The first NASA crew to ride on a US commercial vehicle is expected to occur in December, 2017 – a date that continues to be challenged by funding uncertainties.

The transition toward commercial transportation of NASA astronauts is a flagship program for the Agency. The last NASA crew to ride into space on an American vehicle were the astronauts of STS-135, as Atlantis closed out the 30 year career of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP). A painful void between the end of Shuttle and the availability of the next American crew vehicle was always going to be unavoidable. However, due to continued changes to NASA’s direction – including the aborted Constellation Program (CxP) – the gap has grown. Click here. (8/17) 

Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Engine Test for Super Strypi Launch Vehicle (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Aerojet Rocketdyne's new Low Earth Orbiting Nanosatellite Integrated Defense Autonomous System (LEONIDAS) first stage solid propellant rocket motor (LEO-46) successfully completed a hot-fire static test at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Aerojet Rocketdyne monitored the full-scale, full-duration firing of the 52-inch diameter by 40-foot long motor as it generated nearly 300,000-lbf of thrust during the 73-second test. LEO-46 is the first stage of a three-stage propulsion system developed for the Super Strypi rail-launched, spin stabilized launch vehicle.

The unique design of the solid rocket motors (SRM), combined with the simplicity of the launch vehicle architecture, enables low cost space access for small satellite packages up to 250 kg to 300 kg. The LEO-46 firing completes the series of three successful LEO motor ground test demonstrations. The LEO-7 second stage motor and the LEO-1 third stage motor were successfully tested in August 2012 and September 2013, respectively. (8/15)

Lockheed Taps GenDyn for Space Fence Ground Equipment (Source: Space Daily)
Ground structures for housing the U.S. Space Fence program are to be designed and built by a General Dynamics business unit under contract from Lockheed Martin. The structures - as well as integration of mechanical systems for the project - will start next year on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (8/14)

ISS Dumps Trash with Cygnus (Source: Space Daily)
Nearly 3,300 pounds of trash burned up in the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday, disposing of waste produced by the International Space Station and giving astronauts a chance to study atmospheric re-entry. Astronauts aboard the ISS bid farewell to the "SS Janice Voss" Cygnus resupply ship at roughly 6:40 a.m. Friday, about 90 minutes after unberthing it from the station. Using a Canadian-built robotic arm called an SSRMS, the resupply craft was held ten meters from the station, allowing it to safely use its own thrusters to detach and successfully descend. (8/15)

The Future of CubeSats (Source: Space Daily)
To investigate climate change, scientists and engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are developing the IceCube satellite, which will be no larger than a loaf of bread. In 2016, this satellite will mature technology that scientists will use to analyze cloud ice in the atmosphere. "We're using IceCube to test a radiometer that we want to fly on a big space mission," said Jeffrey Piepmeier, associate head of Goddard's Microwave Instruments and Technology Branch.

"Climate scientists have never used this frequency to measure cloud ice from space before." The project highlights a growing trend toward testing instruments and running scientific experiments aboard CubeSats. Scientists however face a number of challenges when working on CubeSats. Due to their size, CubeSats cannot power many of NASA's formidable scientific instruments, and there are limits to what can be miniaturized. (8/18)

Rocket Launch from Wallops Rescheduled for Aug. 23 (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
The launch of a Department of Defense rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has been rescheduled. The Terrier-Lynx suborbital rocket was scheduled to be launched Saturday. NASA says in a news release that the new launch date is Aug. 23. NASA didn't say why the launch was postponed. (8/18)

Black Holes Do Come in Medium Sizes (Source:
Black holes do indeed come in three sizes: small, medium and extra large, a new study suggests. Astronomers have studied many black holes at either size extreme — "stellar-mass" black holes, which are a few dozen times as weighty as the sun, and supermassive black holes, which can contain millions or billions of times the mass of the sun and lurk at the heart of most, if not all, galaxies.

Researchers have spotted hints of much rarer medium-size black holes, which harbor between 100 and several hundred thousand solar masses. But it's tough to weigh these objects definitively — so tough that their existence has been a matter of debate. But that debate can now be put to rest, says a research team that has measured an intermediate black hole's mass with unprecedented precision. (8/18)

Skylon Tech Could Power Hypersonic Aircraft​ for US Military (Source:
Engine technology being developed for a British space plane could also find its way into hypersonic aircraft built by the U.S. military. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is studying hypersonic vehicles that would use the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which the English company Reaction Engines Ltd. is working on to power the Skylon space plane, AFRL officials said.

SABRE burns hydrogen and oxygen. It acts like a jet engine in Earth's thick lower atmosphere, taking in oxygen to combust with onboard liquid hydrogen. When SABRE reaches an altitude of 16 miles (26 kilometers) and five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), however, it switches over to Skylon's onboard liquid oxygen tank to reach orbit. (8/18)

Wanted: Unmanned Space Plane to Fly On the Cheap (Source:
It's a dream older than the Space Age itself: a fully reusable rocket that can fly into space, deploy its cargo, return to Earth and then do it again rapidly, cheaply and with minimal maintenance. Despite billions of dollars and decades of work spent on projects as diverse as NASA's space shuttle, National Aerospace Plane and Rotary Rocket, cheap access to space is not yet a reality, making it difficult to unlock the enormous potential of outer space.

However, all that could change in the next few years, according to those working on a new set of vehicles. "The need is there. The technology is ready. So, let's go do it," said Jeff Lane, chief engineer of Advanced High Speed Systems at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, during a cheap access to space panel discussion during the NewSpace Conference in San Jose, California. Lane's company leads one of three competing teams in the XS-1 program, which is the U.S. government's latest attempt at cheap access to space. (8/18)

Russians Take ISS Spacewalk (Source: Itar-Tass)
Oleg Artemyev and Aleksandr Skvortsov, flight engineers of the International Space Station (ISS) crew, will take a spacewalk on Monday and hand-launch a Russo-Peruvi an nanosatellite, the Chasqui-1. Their extravehicular activities will be mainly scientific. Artemyev and Skvortsov will assemble scientific instrumentation of equipment for the Expose-R experiment, take a swab from a porthole under the Test experiment, remove panels of the Endurance experiment and the third container of Biorisk one, and photograph the shield vacuum insulation on the surface of the orbital station.

The cosmonauts will carry out a number of other technical operations as well. Artemyev is to launch the Russo-Peruvian nanosatellite Chasqui-1. The cosmonaut told a pre-flight news conference that the process of launching the satellite by hand had been thoroughly tried out on the ground. The calculated duration of the spacewalk is six hours and 16 minutes. (8/18)

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