September 13, 2014

Stennis will Help Launch US Into Deep Space (Source: SunHerald)
"We're going to Mars," was the message Friday as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited Stennis Space Center. The path to deep space travel and Mars -- "It comes right through Hancock County, Mississippi," said Robert Lightfoot's, NASA's associate administrator. Every rocket that has lifted manned space flights from Earth was tested at Stennis and the Space Launch System for Orion, the next phase of space travel, also will be tested at Stennis' B-2 test stand. (9/12)

Michoud Proudly Reveal Monster Welder for SLS Cores (Source:
The Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) is continuing its lengthy transition towards its new flagship role, marked by ribbon cutting event on Friday for a huge tool that will help construct the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS). Known as the Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), the tool is the centerpiece of the new era for the New Orleans facility. (9/12)

Es’hailSat Taps Mitsubishi for 1st Fully-owned Satellite (Source: Space News)
Qatar’s new satellite fleet operator, Es’hailSat, selected Mitsubishi (Melco) of Japan to build the Es’hail 2 satellite after a competition in which, to the surprise of many, Melco bested its U.S. and European competitors with a price between 10 and 15 percent lower. Ali Al-Kuwari said the bidding competition, which was the first for Es’hailSat opened his eyes to the rough-and-tumble aspects of the satellite industry, where spreading blatantly false rumors about competitors is a regular feature. (9/12)

Aerospace, Defense Face Labor Shortage (Source: AIA)
Just as they're being hit with a wave of retirements, the aerospace and defense industries are facing a serious shortage of new workers entering the fields, warns Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. "We do not have a robust pipeline of young people with the right skills and training coming into the workforce," said Blakey, speaking this week at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit. She added that industry would like to see beefed-up science, technology, engineering and math skills in its job candidate pool. (9/11)

Contractors: RD-180 Engine Replacement Possible in Under 3 Years (Source: Aviation Week)
It could be possible to test a prototype rocket engine that would replace the Russian-made RD-180 in 2 1/2 years, say engine makers, especially with advanced risk-reduction work. Dynetics and Aerojet Rocketdyne are working to accelerate development of the AR-1 hydrocarbon-fueled rocket engine they hope can replace the RD-180. (9/12)

Spaceflight Conference Scheduled for Las Cruces (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
The International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight will hold a two-day conference in Las Cruces next month. The meeting, to be held on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16, will be the 10th annual conference sponsored by the ISPCS.

“Over the past 10 years, commercial space companies have demonstrated the will to channel and control not only physical power but also political and economic power to build successful launch companies, manufacture space vehicles, and construct spaceports,” said Pat Hynes, ISPCS chair. (9/12)

Win a Trip to Space with Three Friends (Source:
As part of their partnership with Virgin Galactic, Land Rover have announced a very special competition which could see you and your friends blasting off into space...  “We are inviting aspiring adventurers from all over the globe to enter our Galactic Discovery competition to win a trip to space,” explain Land Rover. “Simply by submitting a short film or photographic entry in response to the question ‘What does the spirit of adventure mean to you?’ you could be among the first pioneering travelers to view the Earth from space and experience out-of-seat zero gravity.” (9/12)

Elon vs. Richard: How a Friendly Rivalry Led Virgin Galactic to Bitcoin (Source: UpStart)
Richard Branson was one of the first notable investors to get in on bitcoin. In November of last year, Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, began accepting bitcoin for advance sales of tickets, beginning with a bitcoin-rich flight attendant from Hawaii, and in March selling two more bitcoin tickets to space to Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the co-founders of Winkdex, a bitcoin index.

Branson tells the story of how just the thought of one of his competitors and friends, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, helped inspire him to accept the cryptocurrency. “I’m not foolish,” he told Bloomberg in the video. “If people have got lots of bitcoins and they want to go to space I’d much rather they spend that money on a Virgin Galactic spaceship than Elon’s spaceship.” Elon isn't even selling tickets to space, so Branson's concern was only about the possibility of such competition. (9/12)

Musk Won't Take SpaceX Public Because He Wants a City on Mars (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Those sci-fi concepts you dreamt about as a kid seem to be on the cusp of reality more and more these days. From DARPA’s tanks that duck and self-healing implants (just like Wolverine) to Martine Rothblatt’s glance into digital immortality, these are all concepts people are taking so seriously that they’re closer to truth than fiction. In that same vein, Elon Musk, the man behind SpaceX and Tesla Motors, appears to be our real-life Ray Bradbury character.

In something straight out of “The Martian Chronicles,” Musk said he has repeatedly eschewed an initial public offering for SpaceX because of his impressively outlandish endgame, according to Bloomberg. The reason I haven’t taken SpaceX public is the goals of SpaceX are very long-term ... to establish a city on Mars,” the science impresario said this week in Tokyo. (9/12)

WhiteKnight Two Lands in El Paso for Training Exercise (Source: KFOX)
Virgin Galactic’s spaceship carrier WhiteKnightTwo landed in El Paso on Thursday as part of a training exercise. Mike Moses, who is the company’s vice president of Operations, told KFOX14, “El Paso is an airfield we’ll use in a divert situation.”

Moses said the aircraft could be rerouted to El Paso International Airport if there was a situation on the runway at Spaceport America in Las Cruces. Michael Massucci is one of the plane’s pilots and said, “There’s always the possibility that the runway won’t be usable when we need it.” (9/11)

ThalesAleniaSpace Replacing U.S. Parts on Satellite for Russia (Source: Wall Street Journal)
U.S. and European sanctions against Russia haven't been a major headache for most Western companies yet, but they are sending some executives scrambling for ways to avoid getting snarled up in them. The latest example: One of Europe's leading satellite makers, ThalesAleniaSpace, is replacing U.S. components from a Russia-bound spacecraft to avoid running afoul of American sanctions against Moscow. (9/12)

Russian Recon Satellite Fails in Orbit Above U.S. (Source: US News)
Russia insists one of its reconnaissance satellites is fully operational and still circling the Earth, despite U.S. assertions it fell out of orbit and burned up in the skies over the U.S. mainland last week. The Russian rebukes stem from a string of eyewitness reports from Montana to New Mexico of a mysterious fiery object in the sky the night of Sept. 3, compiled by the American Meteor Society, a nonprofit organization that tracks such sightings.

Science blog matched the sightings to local news reports of people who witnessed a bright object in the sky, and imaging that shows something re-entering the atmosphere. The U.S. military units that oversee space operations confirm that the Russian satellite, also spelled Cosmos-2495, did indeed fail, drop out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. (9/12)

Russia Denies Spacecraft Cosmos-2495 Exploded Over US Territory (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia's Air and Space Defense (ASD) troops have dismissed reports of an explosion of the spacecraft Cosmos-2495 over the US territory. "All spacecraft of Russia's orbital group are functioning in designated orbits in established modes and are steadily monitored by ground means of the space monitoring system of the Main Space Situation Exploration Center of the ASD Space Command.

There are no malfunctions or deviations in the standard operation of Russian spacecraft," Colonel Alexey Zolotukhin, ASD spokesman, told ITAR-TASS. "Statements by a spokesman for the Strategic Command of the US Armed Forces about an alleged fact of a Russian spacecraft exploding, the Cosmos-2495, over the US territory was yet another attempt at finding out the position of a Russian space object lost by them," Zolotukhin added. (9/12)

Space Control Airmen Ensure Constant Communication (Source: AFSPC)
Air Force Space Command's 16th Space Control Squadron in partnership with the Air Force Reserve Command's 380th SPCS is responsible for ensuring the Defense Department has uninterrupted global satellite communications. Located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., two squadrons are responsible for operating space control capabilities to rapidly achieve flexible and versatile space superiority in support of theater campaigns and U.S. Strategic Command's space superiority mission.

To accomplish this, Airmen operate a variety of antennas deployed globally to detect, characterize, geo-locate and report sources of radio frequency interference on Defense Department and commercial satellites supporting combatant commanders. "Adversaries [have] identified that communication is one of our primary keys to being successful as a military organization," said Capt. Andrew Buck. "They are working on depriving and degrading our abilities to actually use satellite communication." (9/12)

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