August 24, 2014

Virginia Spaceport Hosts Successful DOD Suborbital Launch (Source: WBOC)
A Department of Defense rocket successfully launched tonight from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. NASA officials said the Terrier-Lynx suborbital rocket, which is carrying cargo for DOD, launched at 9:13p.m. The launch was postponed earlier this month due to inclement weather.

The launch was not shown live on the internet, and real-time status updates were not available because DOD wanted to keep it private. Additionally, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops was not open for viewing. The next launch scheduled from Wallops is a NASA Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket for a technology demonstration between 5 and 6 a.m., Thursday, August, 28. (8/23)

SpaceX Test Mishap Prompts Delay of Falcon 9 Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX says it has delayed liftoff of the next Falcon 9 rocket until Wednesday to ensure the problem that caused a prototype rocket to self-destruct in a test flight Friday will not pose a risk to the launch of a telecommunications satellite for AsiaSat. Launch is now set for 12:50 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch window extends for 3 hours, 15 minutes. A backup launch opportunity is available Thursday morning, pending final approval by the U.S. Air Force. (8/23)

Tech Council Plans 3D Printing Event (Source: SCTC)
The Space Coast Tech Council (SCTC) will host a 3D Printing dinner meeting on Aug. 28 in Melbourne, featuring NASA's Jack Fox and other industry experts. Click here. (8/23)

Argentina Announces Progress Toward Satellite Launch Vehicle (Source: CONAE)
Argentina reports a successful test toward the development of its Tronador II launch vehicle, with the launch of VEX Experimental Vehicle 1 B. This flight test proved the propulsion system and the navigation, guidance and control systems, all developed indigenously. (8/23)

SpaceX Supplier Acquires Texas Firm (Source: Valley Morning Star)
Paragon D&E, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company that is already a certified supplier to SpaceX, announced it has purchased the assets of Rio Grande Tool Co. in Brownsville and plans rapid expansion of its new operations in South Texas. Paragon designs, engineers and manufactures highly complex tooling systems for a customer base that includes the automotive and heavy truck industries, aerospace, agriculture and oil and gas. Paragon said it has broadened its involvement in commercial and defense aerospace in the last five years. (8/23)

One of These Vehicles Will Be NASA's Spacecraft of the Future (Source: Vox)
We're now at a critical juncture, as we're about to finally have a firm idea of what the craft will look like. We know it'll be capable of carrying at least seven astronauts to and from the Space Station — but beyond that, it could take one of three different shapes. Here are the three vehicles in development, built by SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada, respectively. At this point, it seems that SpaceX and Boeing are in the lead, but it's still hard to say which design will be selected. Click here. (8/23)

South Korea’s First Astronaut Lands in Washington State to Settle Down (Source: The Olympian)
Puyallup isn’t out of this world, but Soyeon Yi will take it. Sitting in a cafe off East Main Avenue, Yi looks like an average 36-year-old resident. But she doesn’t have an average career. She is an international icon after becoming the first South Korean to travel to space.

Yi was chosen from 36,000 applicants in a 10-month, high-profile selection process. She never imagined she would be a finalist, and never dreamed as a young girl of being an astronaut. “It’s not my lifetime goal,” Yi told The News Tribune. “I just tried.” Since moving to East Pierce County two months ago, Yi said it’s refreshing not to have all eyes on her, as was the case in her home country. (8/23)

Roscosmos Wants $6 Billion to Get Russian Boots on the Moon by 2030 (Source: Moscow Times)
Forty-five years after the Soviet Union lost the race to the Moon, Russia's Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, wants to revive its plan to put Russian boots on the lunar surface — a mission for which it says it needs almost 230 billion rubles ($6.3 billion) through 2025, Interfax reported Friday.

Russia's current national space agenda envisions cosmonauts walking on the lunar surface by 2030, but the intention is more symbolic than genuine, as it allocates no money to realizing the idea.  Now, the agency plans to spend 152 billion rubles ($4.2 billion) on the construction of launch facilities for a new super-heavy rocket at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, currently under construction in the Far East. The rocket is slated to launch sometime after 2025. (8/22)

Inquiry Into Galileo Launch Anomaly to Focus on Fregat (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
European and Russian engineers are studying the cause of Friday's botched launch of two Galileo navigation satellites, with the initial focus of the investigation on the Soyuz rocket's Russian-made Fregat upper stage, Arianespace announced Saturday. "According to the initial analyses, an anomaly is thought to have occurred during the flight phase involving the Fregat upper stage," Arianespace said in a statement.

Officials have not said whether the two Galileo satellites, which carry propellant for limited maneuvers in space, can recover from the orbital injection error or can broadcast usable navigation signals from their current positions. (8/23)

Sierra Nevada Elaborates on Flight Tests (Source: America Space)
With the pace of assembly accelerating for the first private Dream Chaser space plane, plans for its maiden blastoff on an “orbital test flight on a fully autonomous mission in Nov. 2016″ are moving forward, Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada said. The first unmanned flight will be followed by the launch of the first manned Dream Chaser before the end of 2017, under NASA’s current timetable, Sirangelo stated.

The first manned Dream Chaser will launch with a two-person crew that is virtually certain to include one of two veteran former NASA astronauts and space shuttle commanders, now on staff at Sierra Nevada as managers and test pilots, Sirangelo elaborated. (8/23)

Live From the Moon (Source: The New Yorker)
Neil Armstrong’s moon walk had been conveniently scheduled for Sunday night, but Apollo 12’s took place at six in the morning on a Tuesday; few people were awake to watch. The astronauts hadn’t been properly trained as cameramen, and, shortly after the landing, Alan Bean, the lunar-module pilot, pointed the mission’s only television camera directly at the sun, burning out its circuitry.

Left only with audio, CBS cut to a Long Island studio where two actors in space suits pantomimed what was happening on the moon; NBC used astronaut marionettes, created by Bil Baird, the puppeteer who performed “The Lonely Goatherd” in “The Sound of Music.” The next morning, when the first photographs of the My Lai massacre were printed in The Plain Dealer, the news from the moon couldn’t compete. (8/23)

'Thigh Bone' on Mars Is Just Another Rock, NASA Says (Source:
A photo from NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars set the Internet abuzz this week with claims that the robot had found a "thigh bone" on the Red Planet. But not so fast. That so-called bone? Just a weathered Martian rock, NASA says. The erroneous bone claim first appeared on a UFO blog and was quickly picked up by media outlets. So much so, that NASA released Curiosity's "thigh bone" Mars rock photo with a science explanation on Thursday (Aug. 21).

In the photo description, NASA officials wrote that while "this Mars rock may look like a femur thigh bone," it is not the fossilized remains of a mysterious Martian. "Mission science team members think its shape is likely sculpted by erosion, either wind or water." (8/23)

Mining Asteroids and Exploiting the New Space Economy (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The quest for commercial access to low earth orbit is a glowing example of the progress that can be made when government lays the groundwork that allows commerce to succeed. Yet beyond low-earth orbit—typically 200-300 miles up—government encouragement for space commercialization is notably weaker.

A few companies, such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, have formed with the goal of mining asteroids. Why asteroids? Because it currently costs several thousand dollars per pound to put anything from Earth into low-earth orbit. Asteroids are probably made of all the ingredients necessary to live in space, including water. These companies intend to supply the raw materials to support an entirely new space economy.

Water will be particularly important. Beyond sustaining human life, water can shield people from harmful radiation and serve as fuel for spacecraft. It can be separated into its two components to generate energy or be heated with focused energy from the sun. Enter the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities In Deep Space (Asteroids) Act, introduced last month by Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA). This bill, which applies only to asteroids, explicitly assigns the ownership of mined resources to "the entity that obtained such resources." Click here. (8/22)

Galileo Satellites Delivered to Incorrect Orbit by Soyuz Rocket (Source: BBC)
The European Space Agency says the latest two satellites for Europe's version of the American GPS satellite navigation system have not gone into the correct orbit. However, it says the fifth and sixth satellites launched from French Guiana on Friday are under control. The agency is examining the implications of the anomaly.

The satellites Doresa and Milena went up on a Soyuz rocket after a 24-hour delay because of bad weather. "Observations taken after the separation of the satellites from the Soyuz VS09 (rocket) for the Galileo Mission show a gap between the orbit achieved and that which was planned," said launch service provider Arianespace, in a statement.

"They have been placed on a lower orbit than expected. Teams are studying the impact this could have on the satellites," it added. Arianespace declined to comment on whether their trajectories could be corrected, the AFP news agency reports. (8/23)

Japan Looks to Space for Missile Detection (Source: Japan Times)
Japan's Defense Ministry plans to use space more effectively to detect early signs of ballistic missile launches by North Korea and bolster Japan’s defensive capabilities, a draft of its new space policy showed Friday. In the basic policy to be formally adopted by the end of August, the ministry hopes to promote empirical research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It will also consider setting up a special force for space surveillance within the Self-Defense Forces, and developing smaller satellites that can be launched more easily. (8/23)

Former Astronaut Steve Nagel Dies (Source: Collect Space)
NASA astronaut Steven Nagel, who flew four space shuttle missions, died Thursday (Aug. 21). He was 67. Nagel died after a long battle with cancer, the Association of Space Explorers stated on Facebook. The international organization, to which Nagel belonged, includes more than 350 men and women who have flown in space. (8/22)

'Moon Museum' Exhibit Opens at Florida College (Source: WBBH)
A 45-year secret is being revealed in Lee County. A new art exhibit opened Friday at Florida Southwestern State College. The Bob Rauschenberg Gallery is presenting the "Moon Museum." The exhibit includes audio and video that transports visitors to the 1960s. The main artifact on display though is only the size of a thumbnail. Following the successful Apollo XI mission in 1969, Rauschenberg and several of his artist friends wanted to leave their mark on the moon.

Six artists came up with drawings which engineers condensed onto a dozen tiny ceramic wafers. At the request of the artists, an engineer working on the Apollo 12 mission secretly placed one of the wafers on a leg of the lunar module. “I think NASA just feared,” said the director of the Rauschenberg Gallery, Jade Dellinger. “They didn't know what they were in for… and the artists in the end managed to do this without permission.”

Fewer than a dozen were made in 1969 and only a handful remain. The “Moon Museum” at the Rauschenberg Gallery is the only one in the world on display for the public to see. It will remain on the campus of Florida Southwestern State College until September 27th. (8/22)

All-Solid Antares Would Require Changes to Wallops Pad, Safety Rules (Source: Space News)
Should Orbital Sciences convert its Antares rocket into an all-solid-fuel vehicle, the company will have to overhaul its launch infrastructure on Virginia’s eastern shore and figure out how to comply with a NASA launch safety rule written to protect area bystanders from broken glass. If a rocket explodes in midflight, the shockwaves could bounce off the ground or even clouds to shatter windows many kilometers from the blast zone.

NASA’s Range Flight Safety Program document therefore requires launch operators to calculate, based on up-to-the-minute weather conditions fed into complex computer models, which areas are at risk for shattered glass. Click here. (8/22)

Galileo Glitches Remain a Mystery (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency on Aug. 20 said it has still not determined what caused a sudden power drop in May aboard one of the four in-orbit Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites and that it has dropped broadcast power on all four as a precautionary measure. Agency officials said reducing power levels by 1.5 decibels on all four satellites will have no perceptible effect for Galileo system users.

Also unaffected will be the launch campaigns for the 22 Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites that began Aug. 22 with the launch of two satellites aboard a Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport on the northeast coast of South America. Galileo ground controllers shut down one of the four in-orbit satellites following a sudden loss of power in May. Since then they have searching for a root cause of the incident, without success.

Javier Benedicto, ESA’s Galileo program manager, said during the briefing that Galileo teams have examined more than 40 different failure scenarios in the search for a cause, with no firm results thus far. The investigation has included asking satellite component builders to reproduce certain components for testing. It has also included tilting the affected satellite to assess radiation pattern changes on the spacecraft’s L-band antenna, he said. (8/22)

Scientists Searching For Alien Air Pollution (Source: NPR)
Air pollution is clogging the skies of our planet. Now one scientist thinks Earth may be just one of many polluted worlds — and that searching for extraterrestrial smog may actually be a good way to search for alien intelligence. "People refer to 'little green men,' but ETs that are detected by this method should not be labeled as green," says Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University.

The idea of finding alien polluters may be a bit of a long shot, but Loeb says it's possible. Astronomers have been able to glimpse the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system for a while now. In 2018, NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be larger and better than ever at looking at extrasolar atmospheres. (8/22)

Sea Launch Consortium Suspends Operations Until Mid-2015 (Source: Itar-Tass)
Sea Launch, an international spacecraft launch service, has suspended its operations until mid-2015, the company reported. Sea Launch which launches a Russian-Ukrainian Zenith-3SL rocket from a mobile platform in the Pacific Ocean will resume selling its services in the middle of 2015, the report said. The company is going to dismiss some of its staff leaving only the key personnel. (8/22)

Space Florida Criticizes KSC Master Plan (Source: Florida Today)
Unrealistic launch pad locations. Projects so vague no meaningful environmental review is possible. A business model that could discourage, rather than attract, new commercial launch activity at Kennedy Space Center. Those are among significant concerns state officials identified with KSC's new 20-year master plan in a broad critique submitted as part of the plan's environmental review. In general, the proposed new projects — none of which NASA would pay for — "are too vague to enable meaningful environmental analysis," Kuzma wrote.

Space Florida said neither option being considered by NASA's environmental review — to adopt the master plan or not — represents "the best interests of either the nation or the State of Florida," and master plan revisions may be necessary. "Space Florida suggests more dialogue and collaboration between KSC and its stakeholders before proceeding" with the review, Chief Operations Officer Jim Kuzma wrote

Space Florida said federal government dominance of the spaceport has "increasingly disadvantaged" the state compared to others like Texas and New Mexico that are winning commercial launch business. (Virgin Galactic will fly space tourists from New Mexico, and SpaceX recently confirmed plans to build a private complex in Texas for launches of commercial satellites.) Click here. (8/23)

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