August 21, 2014

Aerojet Rocketdyne To 3-D Print Rocket Engine Parts Under Air Force Demo (Source: Space News)
Aerojet Rocketdyne will demonstrate the use of additive manufacturing techniques to produce selected, full-scale rocket engine components under a Defense Production Act (DPA) Title 3 contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the company announced Aug. 20.

The contract is valued at $11.75 million over a three-year period, according to Jeffrey K. Smith, executive agent program manager for DPA Title 3, a Pentagon-wide initiative to develop affordable and commercially viable manufacturing capabilities for critical defense hardware. The program is housed at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (8/21)

Ready for a Ride on a Space Elevator? (Source: CNBC)
To push the envelope of transportation technology, you need to think big... Sometimes even the best ideas never leave the drawing board. Some are derailed by a wide range of forces—from advances in competing technologies to changes in the cost of materials or fuel. For engineers working on the cutting edge, that can be a delicate balancing act. "It's sort of like, how do you write a song—do the lyrics come first or the music?" said Robert Boyd, a program manager at Lockheed's Skunk Works. Click here. (8/21)

Rosetta's 10-Billion-Tonne Comet (Source: BBC)
The comet being followed by Europe's Rosetta spacecraft has a mass of roughly 10 billion tonnes. The number has been calculated by monitoring the gravitational tug the 4km-wide "ice mountain" exerts on the probe. Ten billion tonnes sounds a lot, but it means Comet 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko has quite a low bulk density, something in the region of 300kg per cubic meter. If you could put the object in an ocean, it would float. The calculation would seem to confirm suspicions that the comet is highly porous, and may even hide voids inside its body - but this is all to be determined. (8/21)

Sarah Brightman & Buzz Aldrin Discuss Space Travel (Source Broadway World)
Internationally celebrated soprano Sarah Brightman shares her enthusiasm for the universe with world renowned astronaut Buzz Aldrin in a new photo set now available to view. Brightman shared the shots via social media earlier this week, commenting, "Spent a great afternoon with a very renowned astronaut. I am a fan. Guess who? :-)". Click here. (8/21)

House Intel Panel Seeks Reform of NRO Acquisition (Source: Space News)
The U.S. House committee that oversees the nation’s spy satellites plans to include language in its latest authorization bill to reform the National Reconnaissance Office’s satellite procurement practices, the panel’s chairman said. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report July 31 saying the NRO is buying intelligence satellites at a faster rate than necessary and could save billions of dollars in the next decade by scaling back orders.

The report said the NRO’s buying habits stem from a risk-averse mentality, including concerns about the health of critical component suppliers that are based on unverified feedback from its prime contractors. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence panel, said the report has already started a discussion at the NRO on how to buy satellites more efficiently. (8/21)

A Piece of Vesta Has Been Stolen! (Source: Universe Today)
Calling all meteorite collectors and enthusiasts! There’s a hot space rock at large and, as Indiana Jones would say, it belongs in a museum. Perhaps you can help put it back in one. On Aug. 19 a burglary was reported at the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands, and one of the items missing is a meteorite that is thought to have originated from the asteroid Vesta. (8/21)

Long-Term Spaceflights Challenged as Harm to Astronauts' Health Revealed (Source: Russia Today)
NASA is looking into whether astronauts can survive long-term spaceflight, with the latest study identifying possible health risks including asymptomatic infections, increased allergies and persistent rashes. The new study points out that long duration flights may temporarily confuse astronauts’ immune systems by altering cell functions.

It was revealed that some cells begin to function either lower than normal, which the researchers describe as ‘depressed’, or their activity is heightened. If the cells’ activity is depressed then the immune system is not exhibiting any symptoms from the illness, leading to the risk of asymptomatic or dormant viruses that awaken without proper bodily response. On the other hand, if the cells’ activity is heightened there is a higher risk of increased allergy symptoms and persistent rashes. Click here. (8/21)

Space Travel Alliance to Offer Variety of Services (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Space Travel Alliance (STA) is a new Swedish venture aiming to make the dream of space discovery a reality to mankind with the vision to become the premier European space travel company. Operating from Spaceport Sweden, STA will offer commercial suborbital spaceflights for tourism, research, development and education, astronaut training and space adventures. Click here. (8/21)

Canada Devising Action Plan for Taking Over Troubled Space Projects (Source: Space News)
The Canadian Space Agency is working on a plan  to intervene in troubled government space projects, providing commercial firms the technical expertise, if necessary, to complete what they had been hired to do. The backup plan comes after an internal audit found that the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), built on contract by a commercial firm, ran into difficulties and fell 41 months behind schedule.

At one point, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Department of National Defence, who were co-funding the 24-million-Canadian-dollar ($23 million) microsatellite, considered abandoning the project. But the two organizations decided to take a risk and continue while at the same time providing technical advice to the contractor, Microsat Systems Canada Inc. (MSCI) of Mississauga, Ontario. (8/21)

New Delay for Launch of Europe Navigation Satellites (Source: AFP)
Bad weather delayed the liftoff Thursday of a rocket with two new satellites for Europe's rival to GPS, launch firm Arianespace said as it announced 12 orbiters will join the constellation from next year. The liftoff of the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites, already delayed by more than a year, had been scheduled for 1231 GMT from the European space centre at Kourou in French Guiana on a Russian-made Soyuz rocket on Thursday. But "unfavourable" weather intervened to cause an indefinite delay, Arianespace said in a statement. (8/21)

Wallops Prepares for Hurricane Missions (Source: SpaceRef)
The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission is flying two NASA instrumented Global Hawk aircraft to investigate how hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean basin form and change in intensity. The aircraft, based at Wallops Island, are capable of flying as high as to 55,000 feet and can stay airborne for 30 hours. This is the third and final year of the HS3 mission. (8/20)

Roscosmos Wants $770 Million to Take Russia to the Moon (Source: Moscow Times)
Having virtually ignored the Moon since the 1970s, Russia's Federal Space Agency has requested 28 billion rubles ($770 million) from the government to finance its resurgent robotic Lunar exploration program as part of its proposal for a national space strategy through 2025. In recent years, Russia has been dumping ever more money into its space program and surrounding industry in a bid to ensure that it remains one of the world's premier spacefaring nations.

Russia's robotic space exploration program suffered disproportionately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when money was only available to sustaining manned space operations and launch capabilities. NASA's most recent robotic mission to the Moon, LADEE, cost $280 million overall. It is not clear if the Russian budget proposals include the full research and development costs — much of the hardware and research is rooted in the Soviet space program — as well as construction and launch costs. (8/20)

Arianespace Signs Three New Launch Deals for Ariane 5 ES (Source: SpaceRef)
Today saw Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA), acting on behalf of the European Commission, convene at the Guiana Space Center, European spaceport, to sign a contract for three launch services with Ariane 5 ES in order to step up the deployment of the European navigation system Galileo, the European Union’s flagship program.

With this new launch contract and thanks to the performance of Ariane 5 ES, a total of 12 Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites will be launched using three dedicated Ariane 5 ES launch-vehicles, each carrying four satellites. The Ariane 5 ES launches will take place from 2015 onwards. (8/20)

Chris Hadfield’s Memoir to Become TV Sitcom (Source: Globe & Mail)
It looks like space really wasn’t the final frontier for Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Deadline reports that ABC has committed to the creation of a family comedy inspired by Hadfield’s 2013 bestseller An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. According to the ABC announcement, the proposed series will focus on a post-mission astronaut readjusting to life on terra firma, which “might be the hardest mission he’s ever faced.”

Hadfield, the pride of Sarnia, Ont., was the first Canadian to officially command a space mission and came down to Earth himself in May, 2013, following a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station. Perhaps more famously, it was during that same mission, which was his third spaceflight, that Hadfield garnered a massive global following on social media courtesy of his videos and musical performances recorded in zero-gravity conditions. (8/20)

Humans to Mars a Principle of Space Exploration (Source: Mars Daily)
Let's say it straight. Mars is, without any doubt our next step in space exploration, sparking our imagination for many years in spaceflight history. After sending tons of scientific rovers, it's about time to send human pioneers to start colonizing the Red Planet. The only question is when will we reach that highly anticipated milestone? "Sending humans to Mars around 2033 should be the single organizing principle of future space exploration," said Scott Hubbard. (8/21)

Forget Space Travel: Build This Telescope (Source: Huffington Post)
In 1609, Galileo turned a telescope skyward -- a move that no one else seems to have considered. His instruments had lenses about the size of a half-dollar coin, and magnifications that were only about 20 times. I think it's fair to say that, given your 'druthers, you'd want an instrument that could map exoplanets in the kind of detail you get with Google Earth, with enough resolution to actually see the Great Wall of the Klingons, in case they've built one. Could we construct such a telescope ... ever? Click here. (8/20)

NASA Studies Affects of Spaceflight on Human Immune Systems (Source: Red Orbit)
Changes to the immune system of crew members on spaceflights could create dangerous situations for long-term space flights, according to NASA research. "Things like radiation, microbes, stress, microgravity, altered sleep cycles and isolation could all have an effect on crew member immune systems," said Brian Crucian, a biological studies and immunology expert working with NASA. (8/19)

NASA’s Green Rocket Fuel Set for Major Space Test (Source: Network World)
NASA said today it would launch a spacecraft that would for the first time test fire green propellant technology in space. NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will use a small satellite using a Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate fuel/oxidizer mix, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, is also is known as AF-M315E propellant. This fuel may replace the highly toxic hydrazine and complex bi-propellant systems in-use today, NASA said.

The green propulsion system will fly aboard a Ball Aerospace & Technologies Configurable Platform 100 satellite and is slated for launch on a Space X rocket in 2016. Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory the green propellant is less harmful to the environment, increases fuel efficiency, and diminishes operational hazards. The propellant offers nearly 50% higher performance for a given propellant tank volume compared to a conventional hydrazine system and will feature a catalyst technology, pioneered by Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA stated. (8/19)

Boeing Completes CST-100 Commercial Crew Design/Safety Reviews (Source: Boeing)
Boeing recently completed the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its CST-100 spacecraft and the Critical Design Review (CDR) of its integrated systems, meeting all of the company’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones on time and on budget. The reviews were Boeing’s final two milestones in the current phase of its partnership with NASA.

Completed in July, the CDR milestone marks a significant step in reaching the ultimate design that will be used for the spacecraft, launch vehicle and related systems. Propulsion, software, avionics, landing, power and docking systems were among 44 individual CDRs conducted as part of the broader review. (8/21)

NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements (Source: NASA)
NASA's spaceflight experts in the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) met throughout July with aerospace partners to review increasingly advanced designs, elements and systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicles under development as part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiatives.

Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX are partners with NASA in these initiatives to develop a new generation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit. Company engineering representatives meet regularly with NASA engineers and specialists to survey advancements. As progress is checked off, larger, more formal reviews are conducted to show the achievement of milestones in system development. Click here. (8/21)

How The ISS Helps in Saving Lives (Source: Space Safety)
What most people still do not know is the importance of the scientific research carried out aboard the space station. In the field of medical science, on the ISS there are not only studies about the adaptability of human bodies to space, but the research offers some applications that will greatly improve the quality of life in the near future, both in space and down to Earth.

The ISS is an exceptional environment for performing investigations that affect human health not only in space but also and especially on Earth. The microgravity environment and the necessity of supporting astronauts’ health allowed advances in in many fields, increasing our understanding of the human body and mind. Space affects naturally not only humans as a whole, but also the cells and the dangerous microorganisms as viruses and bacteria. Click here. (8/21)

SpaceX Denies Blog Report of Capital Raising Plan (Source: Bloomberg)
SpaceX said it isn’t raising funds from private sources, denying a report of plans to do so. The TechCrunch blog said yesterday the aerospace company was seeking “a large secondary investment” of about $200 million, without saying where it got the information. The fundraising push would result in lifting the California-based company’s value to almost $10 billion, TechCrunch said.

“SpaceX is not currently raising any funding nor has any external valuation of that magnitude or higher been done,” John Taylor, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. “The source in this report is mistaken.” SpaceX has a contract from NASA for at least 12 missions to resupply the space station, worth $1.6 billion, according to the company’s website. (8/20)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Receives Award for Role in Helping Save Stranded Satellite (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Electric Propulsion Technical Committee at the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics for its contribution to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-1 (AEHF-1) Rescue Team. The team, which included two other aerospace companies and the U.S. Air Force, helped save the AEHF-1 military communications satellite and place it into proper orbit after the spacecraft's main bipropellant engine failed to ignite.

The AEHF-1 Rescue Team was assembled and devised a plan to use the spacecraft's smaller hydrazine thrusters to lift the orbit above the atmosphere and then use the electric Hall thruster system to complete the orbit-raising mission—with whisper-like impulses—until it reached its desired orbit 14 months later. (8/20)

Where NASA Learned to Spacewalk (Source: Air & Space)
Sam Mattingly was a trailblazer who made the early spacewalks possible. Nearly half a century ago, in a Baltimore swimming pool, his small group at Environmental Research Associates invented the techniques of neutral buoyancy simulation. A Baltimore native and World War II C-47 flight engineer, Mattingly co-founded ERA with Harry Loats. In 1963, Sam and his fellow ERA engineers were analyzing spacecraft configuration and docking concepts for NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Click here. (8/20)

How We'd Have Colonized the Moon if the Soviets Got There First (Source: New Statesman)
Looking back at the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s it can be startling to realize just how much was pioneered in such a short period of time. The narrative of that era is often constructed as a political one, with two superpowers spending significant proportions of their national budgets on scientific endeavour in an effort to be the first to reach the Moon.

This is fine, and true, but with the passing of time it feels as if that story we tell - one of the Soviet Union reaching space first with Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, but the United States coming from behind to triumph with Apollo 11 - implicitly downplays the fact that both "sides" involved were responsible for some astonishing scientific advances and breakthroughs, both before Neil Armstrong's first lunar step and after. Click here. (8/20)

ULA Takes Delivery of Two RD-180 Rocket Engines from Russia (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance took delivery of a pair of Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines Aug. 20, boosting the inventory at the company’s Decatur, Alabama, assembly facility to 15. “We expect another shipment of three engines later this year,” ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye added. The engines, which power ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket, are produced by NPO Energomash of Khimki, Russia, and imported by RD-Amross, a joint venture between Energomash and United Technologies Corp.

Mark Peller, ULA’s director of the hardware value stream, said earlier in August that those three engines should arrive in October. Between 2015 and 2017, ULA expects Energomash to ship eight RD-180 engines a year, Peller said. In June, ULA signaled its willingness to get involved in domestic production of an RD-180 alternative by entering into what it called feasibility studies with undisclosed U.S. industry partners. The company said then it hoped to choose a single engine concept by the fourth quarter of this year, with a first launch targeted for 2019. (8/20)

Roscosmos to Develop Anti-Asteroid System by 2025 (Source: Interfax)
The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is planning to launch a space system for countering asteroids, comets and space junk by 2025, according to the draft of the 2016-2025 federal space program sent by the agency to the government for approval. The document proposes to create "means of ensuring the delivery and interference with objects dangerously approaching the Earth, with the aim to change their orbits to prevent collision with the planet."

The system should also include space 'cleaners' designed to remove from orbit large "space junk" such as spacecraft debris and old satellites. The orbital segment will be an addition to the ground component of a system that will control and test anti-asteroid and anti-space junk technologies, it said. Roscosmos has asked for nearly 23 billion rubles for the system. (8/20)

Plans to Beef Up Russia's Segment of the Space Station (Source: Moscow Times)
Russia's space agency says it plans to continue expanding its segment of the International Space Station, or ISS, in 2017, amid concerns that Moscow will pull out of the program in 2020 due to fraying relations with its major partner in space, the U.S., over the crisis in Ukraine, Interfax reported Wednesday.

In May, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin — who oversees the space industry — said Russia was not interested in accepting a NASA proposal to extend the life of the space station beyond its current 2020 end date. Roscosmos, has yet to comment officially on these remarks, but Russia's ISS program manager said two weeks ago that the government had not yet given Roscosmos permission to accept the proposal because of the situation in Ukraine.

Regardless of the future of the station, a proposed federal space plan for 2016-2025 envisions an expansion of the existing Russian segment of ISS in 2017. That year, Russia would launch its long-delayed Multipurpose Laboratory Module, as well as a new hub module and docking module — allowing five ships to dock with the station. The overall cost of Russia's ISS extension will be almost 4 billion rubles ($110 million). (8/20)

NASA Wants Robot Swarms to Mine the Moon and Mars (Source: Beta Boston)
Today they’re scuttling around the parking lot of the Kennedy Space Center looking for barcoded scraps of paper. But one day, NASA hopes to use similar robots to comb the surface of the moon, or Mars, or an asteroid, looking for fuel or other valuable material underground. The robots are simple “swarmies,” and carry a webcam, WiFi antenna, and GPS device.

The goal, NASA explains, is to deploy a group of them to each search a section of land, then report back to each other if and when they find something. This divide-and-conquer approach is one that ants use, to cover large areas in the most efficient manner. It’s also a more reliable approach: If one bot in a group is lost, the mission isn’t in jeopardy. (8/20)

Cubesats to the Moon (Mars and Saturn, Too) (Source: Air & Space)
A swarm of tiny spacecraft, not unlike Vermont Tech’s Lunar CubeSat, could be injected directly into Saturn’s rings, where they would orbit along with the ice particles. Those CubeSats could then release hundreds of even smaller spacecraft, called chipsats, that would “tag” individual ice particles, recording basic information about their composition, density, and motion within the rings. Click here. (8/20)

Shareholders Approve Astrotech Sale to Lockheed Martin (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech Corp. has received the approval from 14,835,132, or approximately 75% of its outstanding shares, to sell substantially all of the properties and assets related to or used in the Astrotech Space Operations business unit to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. for $61 million. 12,407,003, or approximately 82% of shares that voted, also approved The Golden Parachute Proposal by non-binding advisory vote. (8/20)

Microbes Beneath Antarctic Ice: What It Means for Alien Life Hunt (Source:
The discovery of a complex microbial ecosystem far beneath the Antarctic ice may be exciting, but it doesn't necessarily mean that life teems on frigid worlds throughout the solar system, researchers caution. Scientists announced Aug. 20 that many different types of microbes live in subglacial Lake Whillans, a body of fresh water entombed beneath 2,600 feet (800 meters) of Antarctic ice. Many of the micro-organisms in these dark depths apparently get their energy from rocks, the researchers report.

The results could have implications for the search for life beyond Earth, notes Martyn Tranter of the University of Bristol in England, who did not participate in the study. "The authors' findings even beg the question of whether microbes could eat rock beneath ice sheets on extraterrestrial bodies such as Mars. This idea has more traction now." But just how much traction is a matter of debate. For example, astrobiologist Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center in California doesn't see much application to Mars or any other alien world. (8/20)

Sea Plankton on Space Station? Russian Official Claims It's So (Source:
A Russian official claims that samples collected by cosmonauts show evidence of sea plankton on the outside of the International Space Station, news agencies are reporting. Cosmonauts on the orbiting outpost have allegedly discovered trace amounts of sea plankton and other microscopic organisms living on the outside of the station, exposed to the vacuum of space, according to Vladimir Solovyov.

However, NASA has not confirmed the reports. "As far as we're concerned, we haven't heard any official reports from our Roscosmos colleagues that they've found sea plankton," NASA spokesman Dan Huot said. The unconfirmed claims  were reportedly the result of a long-term study done using specialized equipment by Russians on the station, according to the news agency. (8/20)

Boeing Would Pay $1 Million a Year for KSC Facilities (Source: Florida Today)
If it wins a NASA contract in the coming weeks, Boeing would pay up to $1 million annually to rent KSC facilities to assemble and refurbish the spacecraft it would use for commercial flights of astronauts to the International Space Station. Under terms Space Florida's board approved today, the company would be expected to sign a 10-year lease of a former space shuttle hangar, main engine shop and offices effective in January, after renovations are completed.

Space Florida expects to spend $20 million on renovations to the KSC facilities including Orbiter Processing Facility-3, where Boeing hopes to assemble and refurbish its CST-100 capsules. Haug said Boeing — which was referred to only by the once-secret deal's project name of "Syros" — planned to invest roughly $60 million in capital improvements.

The CST-100 would be assembled and refurbished at KSC and launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop an Atlas V rocket. Terms disclosed Wednesday would require Boeing to commit to a temporary agreement within 30 days of winning a NASA contract, specifying how much of the renovated space it wants — expected to be all of it. (8/20)

Northrop Unveils XS-1 Spaceplane Design For DARPA (Source: Aviation Week)
Northrop Grumman has unveiled its vertical-launch, horizontal-landing reusable booster design for the DARPA XS-1 experimental spaceplane program. Northrop, teamed with subsidiary Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, is working under a 13-month, $3.9 million Phase 1 preliminary-design contract, awarded in July. Contracts also went to Boeing with Blue Origin, and Masten Space Systems with XCOR Aerospace.

Northrop’s unmanned spaceplane is launched vertically from a transporter/erector/launcher, in a "clean pad"-operation with minimum infrastructure and ground crew. The spaceplane is designed for highly autonomous flight operations, the company says. The reusable first stage would accelerate to Mach 10 or beyond and release an expendable upper stage designed to carry a 3,000-lb.-class payload into low Earth orbit, then return to a horizontal landing and recovery on a standard runway. (8/20)

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