September 2, 2014

A Mission to Pluto Enters the Home Stretch (Source: Space Review)
It's been more than eight and a half years since New Horizons lifted off, but the spacecraft is now less than a year away from its long-awaited flyby of Pluto. Jeff Foust reports on a milestone the mission achieved last week, and the expectations the science team has for the upcoming encounter. Visit to view the article. (9/2)

Deflecting Near Earth Asteroids with Paint (Source: Space Review)
When the concept of deflecting threatening asteroids comes to mind, it's usually associated with visions of using impactors, or other kinds of weapons, to shove the object off course. Shen Ge describes an ongoing effort to study a far more subtle technique for deflecting hazardous objects. Visit to view the article. (9/2)

Complications of the Legal Definition of "Launching State" (Source: Space Review)
A key tenet of international space law is the concept of the "launching state," the nation or nations responsible for a particular launch. Babak Shakouri Hassanabadi examines some complications that the original definitions of the term create as more nations and non-state entities become involved in spaceflight. Visit to view the article. (9/2)

Review: Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce (Source: Space Review)
While NASA experiments with the use of public-private partnerships to support the development of space capabilities, such partnerships are hardly novel in general. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines analogies to other such partnerships from American history and the lessons they offer for spaceflight. Visit to view the article. (9/2)

Canadian Space Agency to Fund Firms That Will Use Mission Data (Source: The Gazette)
Nine firms, four of them from Quebec, have qualified for funds from the Canadian Space Agency to develop projects that will use data collected by CSA space missions. The “novel concepts ... will capitalize on the use of Earth Observation (EO) data acquired by the CSA,” the St-Hubert-based agency said in a statement.

The nine “contribution agreements ... will support research and development in the field of space technologies. This initiative will also build capacity in Canadian industry and increase the use of radar data, to serve various sectors of the economy.” Click here. (8/26)

Japan Space Agency Unveils Asteroid Hunting Probe (Source: Space Daily)
Japanese space scientists have unveiled the asteroid hunting space probe they hope to launch later this year on a mission to mine a celestial body. The probe, named Hayabusa-2, is expected to be flung into space on a rocket for a mammoth four year voyage to the unpoetically-named 1999JU3 asteroid.

When it gets there, some time in 2018, it will release a powerful cannon which will fire a metal bullet at the asteroid's barren crust, once the probe itself has scuttled to safety on the far side of the rock. It will then return to scoop up material uncovered by the cannon blast. If all goes well, these pristine asteroid samples will be returned to Earth by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020. (9/2)

Britain's High-Flying Aerospace Sector Hits Record Order Book (Source: Telegraph)
Orders for British-made commercial aircraft and engines to power them have surged to a new record, boosted by orders revealed at the Farnborough airshow. Data released today from industry trade body ADS revealed that last month – during which the biennial air show took place – the total orders UK manufacturers have on their books rose by to stand at more than 12,000 aircraft and more than 21,000 engines with a combined value of between £135bn and £155bn. (8/28)

Algal Growth a Blooming Problem Space Station to Help Monitor (Source: NASA)
The green stuff that clouds up fish tanks – it’s not just an aesthetic annoyance. In fact, if you’ve been watching recent news of algal bloom concerns in Lake Erie, you know that the right conditions for algae can lead to contamination of local water sources, potentially impacting aquatic life and humans. What you might not have known is that among the resources to help study this problem you will find the International Space Station’s Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO).

This instrument, mounted to the exterior of the orbiting laboratory, provides a way for researchers to see 90 wavelengths of light not visible to the human eye. This can help with research on harmful algal blooms (HABs) because they, along with other organic materials, have a “spectral signature.” The biological matter emits a unique wavelength as it absorbs and scatters solar energy, resulting in fluorescence and backscattering. Essentially the light reflects back to HICO, which reads the data like a fingerprint. (8/29)

3-D Printer Could Turn Space Station into 'Machine Shop' (Source: NASA)
Riddle: It's the size of a small microwave, and it may alleviate the need for NASA astronauts to wait for resupply ships to arrive at the International Space Station to get some essential items. Answer: A 3-D printer -- the first ever to be flown to space. And it could change the way NASA does business aboard the space station.

The 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3-D Printing In Zero-G), led out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, provided a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to Made In Space Inc. to build the first 3-D printer for operation in microgravity. It is scheduled to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX-4 resupply mission. (9/2)

KSC Emergency Response Team Sharpens Edge Through Adaptation (Source: NASA)
Just as NASA requires its launch teams and astronauts to practice complex skills and techniques over and over and over, the center's Emergency Response Team (ERT) members run regular simulations that can focus on a single, specific skill or combine a host of operational needs. After all, even a momentary distraction can cause a finger to slip or a hand to miss the grasp and the trooper to fall a couple stories onto the ground. That's why fellow officers watch each of the simulations closely and bring back a number of corrections and tips for the team to work on.

As the training grows in complexity, it begins to involve the units they work with, such as Kennedy's aerial operations team that flies the helicopters. "This reality-based exercise is the most important training we do. At least once a month we conduct some type of scenario-based training," said Bill Young, commander of the ERT. "We have to know that we can make the right decisions in a very composed way under stressful conditions." Click here. (9/2)

Can Microgravity Disrupt Astronauts’ Genes? (Source: Space Safety)
Results of research conducted on fruit flies suggest that long term space flight might be more dangerous than expected. Molecular Biologists at the Spanish Center for Biologic Research together with physicists from the University of Nottingham in the UK studied fruit flies levitated by powerful magnets, a state that resembles the weightlessness experienced by astronauts in space. The observed insects suffered changes in crucial genes. Scientists are not sure whether it is microgravity itself or the effects of magnetism that is to blame for the condition. Click here. (9/2)

Three Pathways to the 1980s (Source: WIRED)
In the 1966-1967 period, NASA began serious planning for its post-Apollo future. Alas, Apollo was widely seen as a means of demonstrating U.S. technological might on the world stage, not as a first small step beyond Earth. Our society’s rapid abandonment of the moon causes me to question whether we have every truly qualified as a spacefaring people.

Had it been otherwise, what pathway might NASA have followed into the future? There were many possibilities, but in my forthcoming book I will describe in detail only three. I call these “moon base,” “space base,” and “flyby.” All might have led to humans on Mars in the 1980s, though in none of them was this a requirement. A lot would depend on knowledge gained as NASA moved along the pathways. Click here. (9/2)

The Dogs that Conquered Space (Source: Guardian)
Humans were too risky, monkeys too fidgety, so the Soviet Union chose dogs as its first cosmonauts. It is a story of science, sacrifice and – for those that survived – sausage-filled celebrity. Click here. (9/2)

DOD Pricing Chief: Suppliers Must Give Pentagon Market Price (Source: National Defense)
Too many contractors are overcharging the Pentagon for products also supplied to the commercial market, says Director of Defense Pricing Shay Assad. Now, the government will push contractors to prove that they're charging the Pentagon what they would charge the commercial market. "Our policy is simple," Assad says. "If you have a market-based price that can be substantiated through sales in the commercial marketplace, we pay what the market pays." Editor's Note: It will be interesting to see how this might apply to launch services. (9/1)

U.S. Senator Nelson: It's Mars or Bust (Source: MyFOX Orlando)
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson says it is time to get to Mars, and he is willing to put taxpayer money where his mouth is. The newest generation of NASA rocket, called the Space Lunch System, or SLS, has been plagued with delays and budget overruns, but Nelson is confident this is the right system and the right time to get it on track again.

"Every time we have always exceeded the expectations. We have kept the space program on the way and on its goal," he says. Senator Nelson says extra money is already in the appropriations budget on the Senate side to boost the timeline for launching a manned capsule by a full year from the President's goal of 2018 to NASA's new goal of December of 2017.

"If you fund it at the level requested by the president, they won't make December of 2017. That's why we are going to put in about $225 million more. Then NASA will have a chance." The SLS system resembles the rockets of America's past, like the Saturn and Apollo rockets. At the end of this year, NASA hopes to test the capsule that will eventually carry astronauts into space. Click here. (9/1)

Orion Outreach on Social Media (Source: This Is True)
...Are they trying to build awareness, or panic? "My god! NASA is shooting a spacecraft at an airliner! 'Did you know' that it'll be going 29,000 MPH (46,670 km/h), which according to NASA is 50 times faster than a passenger jet? There's no way they'll be able to turn fast enough to avoid getting hit!"... Click here. (8/31)

Swiss Space Systems Wins Florida/Israel Aerospace Grant (Source: Parabolic Arc)
S3 USA Operations, a division of Swiss aerospace company Swiss Space Systems – S3, and SpacePharma R&D Lts (Israel) a fully owned subsidiary of Swiss SpacePharma SA, which specializes in solutions for medical experiments in microgravity, announce today having been selected as winners in a prize awarded by Space Florida in the Space Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership RFP for the development of a pioneering 2-way communications platform.

This platform enables live data transfer between microgravity experiments onboard a Zero Gravity aircraft and a ground station. The goal is to finalize this development in September 2015, in order to conduct live tests during S3 Zero Gravity flight campaign to be held from the Kennedy Space Center’s SLF runway. This interactive microgravity solution could later be implemented in other aircraft and for future space communication systems. (9/2)

SpaceX Challenges Blue Origin Barge-Landing Patent (Source: SpaceRef)
SpaceX had filled a challenge to the patent owned by Blue Origin for "Sea landing of space launch vehicles and associated systems and methods", which was granted earlier this year. Blue Origin has three months to provide a preliminary response. Click here. (9/2)

Signal Sought From Canadian Satellite Gone Astray (Source: Globe and Mail)
About once a day, mission controllers at the University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory point a radio dish at a piece of orbiting space debris and say “Hello” to Montreal. One day they hope to get an answer back. In this case, Montreal is not a city but the name of a small Canadian astronomy satellite launched from Russia on June 19 along with more than 30 others. All, including Montreal’s sister satellite named Toronto, were successfully lofted into orbit by a repurposed Soviet-era missile.

But Montreal failed to signal Earth after launch and has not shown up on radar. Its disappearance has left engineers with a million-dollar mystery. There is also a lingering tension among engineers at the Downsview, Ont., laboratory over how little information they’ve been able to pry from the satellite’s Moscow-based launch provider, ISC Kosmotras. “They sent us some telemetry, but it didn’t tell us anything,” said Robert Zee, the lab’s director. (8/26)

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