September 6, 2014

AsiaSat CEO Says Cape Canaveral Has its Drawbacks (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Expect some frustrations from bureaucratic red tape if you're a commercial company looking to launch from Cape Canaveral, says the head of AsiaSat as it prepared to send up a satellite Sunday. Based in Hong Kong with an international staff, AsiaSat is in the midst of back-to-back launches with SpaceX. The missions from Cape Canaveral mark AsiaSat's first time launching from Florida since 2003, when an Atlas 3B booster delivered one of the company's satellites to orbit.

"I think Cape Canaveral is a great place to launch, but it does have its downside, which is it's quite bureaucratic here," said William Wade, AsiaSat's president and CEO. "There are a lot of regulations and clearances and restrictions, which I think hinders the processing of commercial satellites here," Wade said in an interview at Cape Canaveral. "I think that's too bad because it is a bit of a negative."

SpaceX's launch pad and processing facility is on U.S. Air Force property. The military controls access to the launch base, meaning employees and visitors must comply with Defense Department security and safety restrictions. "Even though our processing has gone well, it's not been without some frustrations from the various teams just having to deal with some of the bureaucracy of the government in working at the Cape," Wade said. Click here. (9/6)

Vladimir Putin, Space Cadet (Source: Behind the Black)
Two news stories today demonstrate without question that Russia’s newly reorganized aerospace industry and its project to build a new spaceport are not merely the efforts of mid-level bureaucrats in that aerospace industry. No, these efforts have been instituted and are being pushed at the very top of the Russian government, by Vladmir Putin himself.

It appears that he has decided, or has always believed, that Russia deserves a strong and vibrant space program, run from Moscow, and is doing everything he can to make it happen, as part of his personal vision for Russia. The first story described a visit on Tuesday that Putin made to Russia’s new spaceport, Vostochny, in the far eastern end of Russia. While there he noted that construction is several months behind schedule and that this slack must be made up.

He then endorsed the proposal put to him by space agency officials that the number of people working on construction should be doubled. The second story described Putin’s endorsement of the construction of a new Russian heavy lift rocket, capable of putting 150 tons into orbit. Such a rocket would be comparable in power to the largest version of the U.S.’s SLS rocket, not due to be launched, if ever, until the 2020s. (9/3)

One-Way Mars Colony Project Launches Suborbital Spaceflight Raffle (Source:
A private Mars colonization effort is asking for your help to make its bold plans a reality, and it's dangling a pretty hefty prize as an incentive — a trip to suborbital space. The Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One, which aims to land four astronauts on the Red Planet in 2025, announced today Sep. 4 that it's raffling off a round-trip suborbital flight aboard XCOR Aerospace's Lynx rocket plane. (9/5)

Will NASA Ames Workers Be 'Guinea Pigs' for Google? (Source: Mountain View Voice)
Google is planning to take a leap forward in the development of its self-driving car by removing drivers from test vehicles in a real-world environment. The only problem is that some NASA Ames Research Center employees aren't happy about the prospect of becoming test subjects as they walk around the Moffett Field campus.

Leland Stone says Ames employees will be subjected to the "potentially risky" experiment this fall, when Google is slated to begin running its self-driving car prototypes -- without live drivers to take the wheel if needed -- around the Ames campus, where more than 2,000 people work for NASA. Google needs to begin proving the cars can work in a real world environment, and Ames management obliged, signing an agreement to allow the cars to operate driverless among pedestrians at Ames, located on a Federal base that's not subject to state laws regulating self-driving vehicles. (9/5)

Air Force Using Lasers to Preserve Historic Space Launch Pads (Source: Collect Space)
The U.S. Air Force has a new tool in its effort to preserve space history: lasers. The 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida has partnered with the University of South Florida Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies (AIST) to use a laser scanner to survey, map and create virtual models of some of the historic space launch complexes at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Spaceport.

"Some of these [launch] complexes are in poor shape," Tom Penders, the cultural resources manager for the 45th Space Wing, said in an Air Force interview. "A couple [of the structures] are on the verge of collapsing, so I wanted highly detailed documentation before something happens." (9/5)

The Telescope We Need to Find Earth 2.0 (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The past two decades of exoplanet hunting have turned up hundreds of new worlds, and in recent years, that tally has grown to include many that appear to be close to the Earth in size. Yet most of these new planets are discovered indirectly, though the wobbling or dimming light of their parent stars. The planets themselves are just too far away to see.

For scientists seeking truly Earth-like worlds out there in the cosmos, that's a problem. Those astronomers want to know not just the size and probable temperature of an exoplanet, but also whether it has the ingredients for life. As NASA plans for a new generation of powerful satellite telescopes designed to seek out habitable worlds—the latest design being the Advanced Technology Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST)—scientists are also wondering if our best tech would even be good enough to catch biomarkers such as water, oxygen, or photosynthetic greenery. (9/5)

Whale-Sized Asteroid Due for Earth Flyby (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A tiny remnant of the solar system’s formation, an asteroid designated 2014 RC, will pass very close to Earth on Sept. 7. At 2:18 p.m. EDT, the asteroid will conduct closest approach over New Zealand. Far from the hunk of space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs, 2014 RS is estimated to be about 60 feet (20 meters) in size. (9/5)

New Space Shop, The Space Store, Lands in Cocoa Village (Source: Florida Today)
Readying for his grand opening on Sept. 12, Brett Anderson filled display shelves with merchandise, placing a meteorite bracelet next to an X-37B space plane model and a lunar rover toy. An inflatable space shuttle and spacewalker hung from the ceiling of what was previously a dress shop at 212 Brevard Ave. A solar system mat and moonwalker beach towel lay on the floor.

This might seem like a tough time and place to open a store celebrating the space program, which is mired in the middle of a projected six-year gap between astronaut launches from the Space Coast, the area hit hardest by shuttle program layoffs. But after sales at his online business,, fell off over the past two years, an indirect casualty of the shuttle's 2011 retirement, Anderson decided a retail shop here presented the best opportunity to grow. (9/5)

CU-Boulder Student Teams Win Awards for Space Mission Design (Source: CU-Boulder)
Two University of Colorado Boulder student aerospace engineering science teams have won prestigious international and national awards for the design of real-world space missions to Mars and the moon. One CU-Boulder student team placed second in the world in a competition to design the best concept for a two-person manned flyby of Mars mission as inexpensively, safely and simply as possible.

The competition, the International Inspiration Mars Student Design Contest sponsored by the Mars Society, required the teams to choose a launch trajectory, a launch vehicle, flight systems and a concept of operations. The flight system design selected by the CU-Boulder team included environmental control and life support systems, solar flare protection, navigation, communication and re-entry and landing technology for a proposed 2018 mission to Mars. (9/4)

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