September 28, 2014

Space Florida Board to Consider Projects on Monday (Source: Space Florida)
The Space Florida board of directors will hold a public meeting at Walt Disney World on Monday, where they will be asked to approve the continuation and amendment of three major projects. The first involves the approval of management negotiations for terms and conditions related to the lease of Orbiter Processing Facility #3 (for Boeing's CST-100 capsule) at Kennedy Space Center.

The second involves minor changes to Northrop Grumman's agreement with nine state and local agencies to support the company's major aerospace business expansion on the Space Coast. The third project involves approval for $6 million in financing for a Commercial Crew competitor and one of its component suppliers to purchase machinery and equipment to support their program. Click here for the meeting materials. (9/28)

Proton-M Returns to Flight with Russian Military Launch (Source: ILS)
A Proton Breeze M launch vehicle successfully launched a satellite for the Russian Federal Government today. The vehicle lifted off at 12:23 a.m. Moscow time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This was the 5th launch of the Proton vehicle this year. The Proton vehicle is manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center of Moscow. This was the 398th Proton launch since its inaugural flight in 1965. (9/27)

What is the Pentagon’s Secret Space Drone Doing? (Source: New York Post)
For almost two years, an unmanned space plane bearing a remarkable resemblance to NASA’s space shuttle has circled the Earth, performing a top-secret mission. It’s called the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle — but that’s pretty much all we know for certain. The Pentagon’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Officially, the only role the Pentagon acknowledges is that it’s used to conduct experiments on new technologies. Theories about its mission have ranged from an orbiting space bomber to an anti-satellite weapon.

The truth, however, is likely much more obvious: According to intelligence experts and satellite watchers who have closely monitored its orbit, the X-37B is being used to carry secret satellites and classified sensors into space — a little-known role once played by NASA’s new retired space shuttle. Its cargo bay, often compared to the size of a pickup truck bed, is just big enough to carry a small satellite. Once in orbit, the X-37B deploys a foldable solar array, which is believed to power the sensors in its cargo bay.

For several years, the X-37B was developed in plain sight, with the military saying it was just a test vehicle. But in 2009, the Air Force suddenly said it was classified, and it went from being just another technology project to an object of obsession for amateur satellite spotters and aviation enthusiasts. On Dec. 11, 2012, the X-37B was launched for a third time, and that vehicle has now spent over 600 days in space. (9/26)

Snowdonia Fears Impact of UK Spaceport Decision (Source: Guardian)
More than 800 families at a time can pitch their tents at Shell island, Europe's biggest campsite, at the edge of the wild Rhinog mountains in Snowdonia. But they could soon get more than tranquillity, fresh air and massive sand dunes. The barely used Llanbedr airstrip that adjoins the camp, near Harlech, is one of eight coastal locations identified by the government as potential sites for Britain's first commercial spaceport.

Should the old RAF site be picked to launch satellites and host wealthy space tourists paying £120,000 or more for short, sub-orbital flights 65 miles above the Earth, the runway inside the national park would have to be extended through the protected dunes, narrow lanes would have to be widened, and giant fuel dumps, a terminal, hangars and dozens of other facilities would need to be built. (9/27)

China Launches Another Secretive Shijian-11 Mission (Source:
The Chinese have orbited a new satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Sunday. Utilizing their Long March 2C (Chang Zheng 2C) launch vehicle, the mission involved another of the secretive Shijian-11 (SJ-11) series of “experimental satellites”. Launch took place at 05:13 UTC according to Chinese reports. This is the seventh in a series of satellites that – according to the Chinese media – are only known to be “experimental satellites” developed by the China Spacesat Co. Ltd.

As with the previous Shijian-11 satellites, the true mission of Shijian 11-06 was not revealed by the Chinese authorities. However, some observers noted that the Shijian-11 series could be related to a constellation of operational early warning satellites, carrying infrared sensors. ‘Shijian’ means ‘Practice’ and this series of satellites have been used in a variety of configurations and missions for scientific research and technological experiments. (9/28)

Cleveland State's Space Law Expert Expands his Global Portfolio (Source: Crain's Cleveland Business)
Cleveland State’s resident space law expert — yes, there are laws in space — will help out the U.S. delegation to the United Nations committee on the peaceful uses of outer space. Mark J. Sundahl, associate dean of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, was appointed as industry adviser to the group and will attend its meetings in Vienna.

The committee works on legal issues when it comes to the use of outer space, and Sundahl will advise the delegation on how those legal efforts will affect the operation and competitiveness of the United States’ space industry. The biggest legal issue in space? Space junk, Sundahl said. Think satellite debris and other man-made material floating aimlessly through space that could pose a threat to anyone doing business beyond Earth’s boundaries. (9/27)

Toronto Hosting International Space Convention (Source: CP24)
Toronto will be the center of the universe next week. The city will host the 65th International Astronautical Congress, a conference aimed at helping companies in the space business. As well as looking at where man has gone and may go in the future, the meeting will examine how the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence could affect society.

The Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute is hosting the week-long event, which begins Monday with 3,000 participants from about 70 countries. "It's a great convening of the global space community," Geoff Languedoc, the institute's executive-director, said in an interview. "We have brought the world of space to Canada." Besides industry, the congress brings together academia and government representatives from countries that include Russia, China, the United States and Europe. Editor's Note: It's about time the IAC was held in the U.S. again. Orlando next year? (9/28)

SpaceX Begins Major Mods to LC-39A in Leadup to First Falcon Heavy Flights (Source: Spaceflight Insider)
SpaceX has begun making changes to historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), the site where Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission, and numerous other crewed flights got their start. These include many Space Shuttle missions, including the very first flight of one of the orbiters, STS-1 - with shuttle Columbia.

SpaceX initially stated that the heavy version of the Falcon 9 booster would first be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, these plans have apparently changed as SpaceX now states that the first launch of the Falcon Heavy will take place from LC-39A in 2015. SpaceX informed SpaceFlight Insider that the company and the Space Agency have a system in place that details who is responsible for historic items removed from the pad.

A key element required to launch the shuttles was the gaseous oxygen vent arm with its "beanie cap." SpaceFlight Insider noted that this historic piece of equipment had been removed and was lying at the base of LC-39A. What will happen to this and other historic artifacts once they are removed? Click here. (9/28)

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