September 29, 2014

Rocket to Cameron: Start-Launch Company Eyes Texas County (Source: Valley Morning Star)
Firefly Space Systems, a start-up satellite launch company, needs a launch site and Cameron County is among prospective locations. The firm, which said it recently relocated from California to Cedar Park, outside Austin, issued a written statement Friday: “While launch sites have yet to be determined, Firefly’s Chief Operating Officer PJ King has interest in Texas’ Brownsville area launch site.

“We absolutely want to build a launch site here in Texas. Having our launch site in Texas would be a triple whammy bringing together design and engineering, testing and a launch site all in one state,” King said. The company was asked to clarify whether it hopes to access the launch complex that SpaceX will develop at Boca Chica near Brownsville or if it proposes a new site, the firm’s Vice-President of Business Development Maureen Gannon said Friday that the company is in the “very initial” stages of exploring sites and options “from the Cape to Kodiak.”

With a newly acquired 200-plus acre test site facility in Briggs, in Central Texas, Gannon said that it “makes sense” to launch from Texas. In a Tweet sent Friday, the firm stated that a site-search was under way: “With any luck, we may find something along the Tx Coastal Bend! AK, HI, NM, FL, others being considered.” SpaceX declined to comment. Brownsville Economic Development Council Vice-President Gilbert Salinas would neither confirm nor deny whether Firefly has contacted BEDC. “We’re currently working different projects in the space industry,” Salinas said. (9/28)

Brevard Will Face Plenty of Aerospace, Aviation Challengers (Source: Florida Today)
With its history as home to the Kennedy Space Center, satellite launches and Patrick Air Force Base, Brevard County is a natural fit for companies in the aerospace and aviation industry. But communities throughout the United States, and the world, are attempting to lure those companies away from this region, and make sure any companies looking to expand or relocate choose their areas over the Space Coast.

And their quivers are filled with arrows similar to Brevard's — economic incentive programs, community support, powerful lawmakers and lobbyists, quality education partnerships and engineering talent. With billions of dollars and thousands of jobs on the line in this economic competition, the stakes could hardly be higher, and some states and municipalities have proven to be relentless in their efforts to recruit space and aviation business. In short: There are no free rides and no opportunities to let the guard down and relax.

"There is no one, single competitor," said Dale Ketcham, the chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, the state agency charged with developing the aerospace and aviation industries in Florida. "Different states and cities bring different capabilities to the table," Ketcham said. "Many places have strong aerospace and aviation infrastructure. Even states like South Carolina and Kansas are in the running." Click here. (9/28)

Boeing Raises its Reach (Source: Post & Courier)
NASA is counting on Boeing's proven record for success with Commercial Crew. John Elbon, vice president and general manager for Boeing's Space Exploration operation, rightly cited that impressive experience Tuesday when he said: "Boeing has been part of every American human space flight program, and we're honored that NASA has chosen us to continue that legacy." The timetable calls for taking a NASA astronaut on a test flight to the station by the middle of 2017.

The CST stands for Commercial Space Transportation, the 100 for the kilometers (about 62 miles) from our planet's surface to space. Designed at Boeing's Houston Product Support Center, it will be manufactured at the company's Commercial Crew Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., leaving just a short roll to the launching pad.

So no, the CST-100 won't be made at Boeing's Dreamliner 787 factory in North Charleston. But Boeing did announce last week that will open a new North Charleston research center at Crosspoint in Palmetto Commerce Park, where it will employ from 300 to 400 people working on advanced manufacturing technology and composite fuselage manufacturing. (9/29)

National Space Society Launches "Enterprise In Space" (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society is launching a new project called "Enterprise In Space" (EIS).  This project will design, build, launch, orbit, re-enter, tour, and display a science-fiction-inspired satellite as a science education and technology demonstration project for all ages and as a tribute to the great visionaries of science and science fiction. Inspired by the classic science fiction writers of the 20th century including Heinlein, Clark and Roddenberry, the EIS project is a grassroots effort by a dedicated team of aerospace, information technology, and education veterans.

The goal of the EIS project is to launch an orbital mission by 2019 that will carry 100 or more competitively selected student experiments from around the globe, and to test out new space technology. This is an opportunity for people to directly support something truly historic. EIS will reach out to people with interests in space, science, education, astronomy, cosmology, and science fiction. A three-minute video explains the entire idea at the Enterprise in Space website here. (9/24)

NASA Expands Commercial Space Program (Source: Space Daily)
On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S. commercial space companies to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the next round of contracts for private-sector companies to deliver experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 RFP, NASA intends to award contracts with one or more companies for six or more flights per contract. As with current resupply flights, these missions would launch from U.S. spaceports, and the contracted services would include logistical and research cargo delivery and return to and from the space station through fiscal year 2020, with the option to purchase additional launches through 2024.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration decided to extend the life of the International Space Station until at least 2024. The ability to continue commercial deliveries to the station is critical to continuing the use of the station as a platform for discovery that improves life on Earth, expands the commercial use of low-Earth orbit, and helps advance America's journey to Mars through high-quality scientific research and technology development. (9/29)

Africa's Socio-Economic Development Depends on Satellite Services (Source: Space Daily)
New research has revealed that wireless industry efforts to take massive amounts of additional spectrum - amounts that have been shown to be in excess of actual requirements - would undercut African economies, and threaten social and safety-of-life services by disrupting mission-critical satellite services for key applications delivered throughout the continent.

The research, which was conducted by international consultancy firm Euroconsult and commissioned by the European Space Agency, was revealed here during the VSAT 2014 conference, as organizations representing a variety of African user groups - including broadcasters, humanitarian and disaster-response agencies, civil aviation authorities, and other stakeholders - reach out to their governments to convey how essential C-band satellite services are for continued socio-economic development. (9/29)

Delta IV Booster Integration Another Step Toward First Orion Flight (Source: Space Daily)
Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the first test flight of NASA's new Orion spacecraft, in December. The three primary core elements of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket recently were integrated, forming the first stage of the launch vehicle that will send Orion far from Earth to allow NASA to evaluate the spacecraft's performance in space.

The three Delta IV Common Booster Cores were attached in ULA's Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF), at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. The HIF building is located at Space Launch Complex 37 where the mission will lift off. The first booster was attached to the center rocket in June with the second one was attached in early August. (9/29)

Beijing Start-Up Plans to 'Low-Cost' Space Travel in Ultra-High Balloon (Source: South China Morning Post)
A private mainland company plans to offer near-space tourism for ordinary people in a high altitude balloon, according to a Beijing newspaper. Passengers would ascend to 40,000 metres in a pressurised capsule, where they would enjoy not just the spectacular view of the earth's curvature set against a backdrop of deep, dark space, but a few moments of reduced gravity, according to Spacevision, a start-up in Beijing, The Mirror reported.

The project was still in its "design phase" while the launch date and ticket prices were yet to be determined. The extreme balloon ride would also face hurdles such as safety laws and the government's strict regulation of civilian air space, a mainland space expert said. According to the report, the capsule would be carried up by a balloon filled with non-toxic and non-flammable helium and descend under a large parachute. (9/29)

China Sees its Military Edge Coming From Space (Source: New York Post)
China may have found a way to surpass the United States militarily — in space. Two years ago, China successfully launched four commercial satellites; the US launched two. The Chinese government spends billions of dollars annually on their space program, while the US continues to strip funding for NASA (in 2012, it was 0.48 percent of the federal budget).

China now has a manned spacecraft; we don’t. The only way our astronauts reach the International Space Station — for now — is through Russia, and if relations with Putin continue to deteriorate, that may no longer be an option. And China has set the year 2022 as the launch date for its first space station.

“This is the golden age for China’s space program,” says Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst & China Project Manager at the Global Security Program Union of Concerned Scientists. “China invests more in space. They have a younger, larger, more highly motivated cadre of space professionals focused on clear objectives.” Those objectives include finding ways to trump the US, which relies on satellites for targeting, reconnaissance and strategy. (9/28)

ISRO: The Inspiration Fountain for Indian Engineers (Source: EE Herald)
There is hardly anyone who don’t know the success of India's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft by ISRO. Engineers in India see ISRO as an immense source of inspiration. The precision, application of science, team work, resource management and will to convert failure into success need to be made into movie and to be screened on national channel.

The ISRO work culture is something which can be emulated all around India. ISRO's founders Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan need to be thanked for building the foundation for a such a work culture. On the importance of space technology for India, Vikram Sarabhai made below comments at that time of founding ISRO:

"There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society." (9/29)

What Became of Pakistan’s Space Program? (Source: New York Times)
Nearly 20 years ago, I remember walking through the packed halls of the then Taj Mahal hotel in Karachi where the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Commission (Suparco) had set up a magnificent display of the cosmos and their crowning jewel, the first Pakistani satellite Badar-1. I remember how it captured the imagination of the young and old alike. How travel to the galaxy of stars, which at the time was only felt to be a figment of Hollywood’s unrestrained imagination, seemed like a reality to us.

Fast forward to present day, space is once again capturing our attention with neighboring India managing a successful program of not just launching into space but orchestrating the highly complex mission of sending a satellite to Mars– and that too on a shoestring budget. It speaks volumes about their focus and of the capacity they have managed to build.

Suparco, initially formed under Pakistan’s sole Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam, seems to be creaking along to its Indian counterparts. Starved of funds, its focus has been limited to communication satellites, tracking weather in addition to working on specific military applications. From being at the forefront of space exploration and development in Asia with the launch of Rehbar-I in the early 1960s, Pakistan today is far behind its neighbors including Iran, India and China. (9/29)

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