September 21, 2014

SpaceX Launches Cargo to Space Station From Florida Spaceport (Source: MyNews 13)
A SpaceX cargo ship blasted off toward the International Space Station on Sunday. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 1:52 a.m., nearly 24 hours since it was scrubbed early Saturday morning due to weather conditions and rain. The rocket went off from Launch Complex 40, at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

In total, the unmanned Dragon capsule is delivering more than 5,000 pounds of space station supplies for NASA. Dragon should reach the International Space Station by Tuesday. It's the fifth station shipment for the California-based SpaceX. (9/21)

Space Florida Backing Satellite Processing Facility at Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Florida's board of directors during an August 20 public meeting approved plans for the agency to move forward with negotiations for "Project Athena." The project involves re-use of an existing Satellite Assembly Building at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. "The property will consist of approximately 22,500 sf and the permitted use of the premises by the customer will be for Project Athena or any other approved program under the Commercial Space Launch Act."

"Routine maintenance, utilities, and common area costs, including capital repairs, will be funded via an annual fee, to be funded by the customer, of approximately $282,000. The customer will be responsible for any other direct costs associated with their use of the property. Space Florida anticipates this agreement to be effective through May 2016, with potential renewable options. In addition, the customer will be required to provide a quarterly report indicating the activity related to the Project Athena program including scheduled launch activity as well as jobs created."

So what is Project Athena? It could involve repurposing an Air Force satellite processing facility for Athena rockets, or it could provide an alternative capability for commercial payload processing by companies like SpaceX. Astrotech has had a virtual monopoly on such business for decades, and their Titusville-based operations have recently been acquired by Lockheed Martin, a SpaceX competitor. (9/21)

Space Florida's Next Board Meeting Planned in Orlando on Sep. 29 (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida's board of directors will hold a public meeting in Orlando on Sep. 20. Among the items to be considered are: 1) Continuation of "Project Syros" for re-use of one of NASA's Orbiter Processing Facilities (OPF) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport; 2) Amended support for "Project Magellan" to continue Northrop Grumman's expansion in Melbourne; and 3) Financing ($5M) for "Project Icarus" to support equipment needs for one of the NASA Commercial Crew competitors.

Editor's Note: It is unclear whether Project Icarus is for Sierra Nevada Corp., though it appears it might be. If SNC is the company, it will be telling whether the company decides to proceed with the deal. SNC has indicated that it may pursue its Dream Chaser vehicle development without NASA's Commercial Crew contract. (9/21)

Some Customers Seeking Refunds From Virgin Galactic (Source: Arabian Business)
Some customers who paid up to $250,000 for a ticket on the Virgin Galactic are reportedly looking for their money back, following the latest delay to the space rocket project. Richard Branson said the inaugural flight would now be delayed until “February or March or next year”, having previously planned to launch by the end of this year.

An unnamed customer, who had paid a deposit of $150,000, told Sunday Times: “I think it will fly, but I am not sure whether it will get me into space as I was promised. If they don’t get above 60 miles I will certainly be withdrawing my money. I don’t think you can be considered an astronaut unless you cross that line.” (9/21)

Texas City Plans SpaceX Party (Source: Brownsville Herald)
Celebrating the future SpaceX commercial rocket site, the Brownsville Economic Development Council will launch a community celebration Monday. Gilbert Salinas, executive vice president of BEDC, said this free event will bring together many entities, including the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas Southmost College, Brownsville Independent School District, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, Brownville Visitor’s Bureau and the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport. (9/20)

India to Develop Remote Sensing Satellites with China (Source: Times of India)
India will, for the first time, join hands with China to develop remote sensing satellites. ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said an agreement in this regard was signed two days ago. Right from the initial days of its space program in the 1960s, India had collaborated with the US, USSR (now Russia) and some European countries, but ISRO never had a tie-up with China. Radhakrishnan said space scientists of the two countries would work together to prepare a roadmap for a series of missions to be implemented together.

The agreement aims at encouraging cooperation for "peaceful purposes", and a lot of emphasis will be on research and development, including in communication satellites. "We look forward to it as both the countries are crucial in creating a strong space presence in Asia. There were some steps in 1991, but nothing much happened. This is a concrete step forward," Radhakrishnan said. (9/21)

Space Club Invites Nominations for Kolcum Award by Sep. 26 (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club, Florida Committee, each year recognizes area representatives of the news media and other communications professionals for excellence in telling the space story along Florida's Space Coast and throughout the world with a Harry Kolcum Memorial News & Communications Award. The award is named in honor of Harry Kolcum, the former managing editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology, who was Cape bureau chief from 1980 to 1993.

Nominations for this year’s honorees will be accepted through Friday, Sep. 26. Beginning this year, nominations for the Kolcum Award will only be accepted via an easy-to-complete online form available on the NSCFL web site. You can find the full selection criteria, a list of past winners and nomination instructions listed there. Please give some thought to who you think does a great job telling the space story and is worthy of some special recognition, and then take five minutes to fill out the online form. Click here. (9/19)

Texas Governor Touts SpaceX Move, Says Florida Becoming "More Competitive" (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Part of Perry’s preparation [for another presidential campaign] has been building relationships with other Republicans, especially those that represent states that could be key to the electoral landscape in 2016. In the interview, Perry praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who reportedly crossed paths with Perry on Thursday night at a Tex-Mex restaurant in the Dallas area.

“Florida is becoming substantially more competitive and we look over our shoulder often to see how Florida is doing now,” Perry told Bartiromo. The Texas governor still didn’t miss an opportunity to tout his state’s economic progress. He cited SpaceX’s decision to bring a commercial spaceport to the Rio Grande Valley, where he said he will join the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, on Monday to break ground on the project. (9/19)

Vatican Astronomer: Matter of Time Before Life Found Elsewhere in Universe (Source: Boston Pilot)
Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, has no doubt that life exists elsewhere in the universe and that when humanity discovers it, the news will come as no big surprise. He suggested that the likely discovery -- whether next month or a millennium from now -- will be received much the way that news of planets orbiting far off stars has filtered in since the 1990s.

The longtime Vatican astronomer addresses the same question and a series of others that cross the threshold between science and religion in a new book, "Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? ... and Other Strange Questions From the Inbox at the Vatican Observatory," set to be published in October. Not all is as black and white as people imagine, and there's no conflict between science and religion, Brother Consolmagno said. (9/20)

Canadian Government Needs to Recognize Value of Space Sector, Invest Accordingly (Source: CSCA)
This is obviously an exciting time to own a company or start-up a company in the commercial space market. Unfortunately, while Canada has seen some successes in the commercial space market, notably through such companies as MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), COM DEV, and Neptec, the government has done little to foster a strong commercial space market in Canada for either the domestic or the export market.

Over the last six years the Canadian government has tasked each new President of the Canadian Space Agency to develop a Long Term Space Plan for the country. We’re still waiting for that plan. The government initiated the Aerospace Review in 2011. Of the eight recommendations outlined for the space sector it could be argued that only one was truly enacted, the creation of the secretive deputy minister-level Space Program Management Board. (9/19)

University of Colorado Finds Room to Grow in Space (Source: Daily Camera)
CU is the only university in the world to have designed, built and launched instruments to every planet in the solar system. And a student-built dust counter instrument is on New Horizons, a mission due to reach former planet Pluto in July. Private-sector space research partnerships for CU include Ball Aerospace, Blue Canyon Technologies, Braxton Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Surrey Satellite Technology. "We'd like to cross what seems to be this boundary between academia and industry," she said, "so that we can help industry solve complex problems." (9/19)

Asteroids: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Source: Guardian)
The explosion over Chelyabinsk occurred with a force equal to 500 kilotons of TNT, or a couple of dozen Nagasaki bombs. Had it come down a little steeper, directing the might of its detonation at rather than over Chelyabinsk, the asteroid would have killed thousands on the ground. A little later, it might have done for many more in Moscow, or Riga, or Gothenburg. It was an event of such calamitous potential that the asteroid was classified by certain astronomers a "city-killer". Astronomers have wondered, since, if we're not being a little complacent. (9/20)

NASA Launches New Citizen Science Website (Source: NASA)
NASA is opening registration for its Mars Balance Mass Challenge and the launch of its new website, NASA Solve. The Mars Balance Mass Challenge seeks design ideas for small science and technology payloads that could potentially provide dual purpose as ejectable balance masses on spacecraft entering the Martian atmosphere. The payloads will serve two roles: perform scientific or technology functions that help us learn more about the Red Planet, and provide the necessary weight to balance planetary landers.

Submissions are due by Nov. 21. A winner will be announced in mid-January 2015 and receive an award of $20,000. “We want people to get involved in our journey to Mars,” said Lisa May, lead program executive for NASA’s Mars exploration program. “This challenge is a creative way to bring innovative ideas into our planning process, and perhaps help NASA find another way to pack more science and technology into a mission.” Click here. (9/19)

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