October 12, 2014

SpaceX ISS Supply Flight Slips to NET Dec. 9 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The launch of one of SpaceX's Dragon cargo vessels has been pushed back to no-earlier-than (NET) Dec. 9, 2014, from its earlier scheduled departure on Dec. 1. The flight will carry experiments, crew supplies, cargo and spare parts to the orbiting laboratory. (10/13)

This VC Is Helping Space Exploration Become A 'Multi-Billion' Industry (Source: Business Insider)
Spend a few minutes talking to space tech venture capitalists Ilya Golubovich and Mike Lousteau of I2BF Global Ventures, and you'll feel psyched about the future of humanity. Known as green tech investors, Golubovich, based in Moscow, and Lousteau, in New York, have fallen in love with the nascent space industry.

They've backed three space companies so far: Dauria Aerospace, Planetary Resources and CloudEO, with more on the way, making them one of most active space tech investors on Earth. Sure, they see space as a huge financial opportunity, "a multi-billion market, it can be even bigger," as Golubovich describes. But it's also an industry filled with visionary entrepreneurs and they now see space tech as much bigger than just money; it's the next step in human development. Click here. (10/12)

X-37B Military Space Plane Could Land in California Tuesday (Source: Space.com)
The U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B space plane will return to Earth this week —possibly as early as Tuesday — after 22 months in orbit on a secret mission. The robotic X-37B space plane, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, will land at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where Air Force officials are gearing up for its return. As of today (Oct. 12), the X-37B mini-shuttle has been in orbit since December 2012 and racked up a record-shattering 671 days in space. (10/12)

Space Exploration Remains Final Frontier in Florida Congressional Race (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Voters on the Space Coast have two congressional candidates who put space exploration among their top priorities but agree on little else: incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Rockledge and Democrat Gabriel Rothblatt. Posey, 66, a former NASA engineer, realtor and state lawmaker, is seeking a third term in Congressional District 8. He says "jobs, jobs, jobs" are his top priority and that ties in with his second priority, the space program.

"It's important for the national security of this nation, for our technological advancements and education, and for ultimately the survival of our species," Posey said. "I've been probably the greatest advocate in Washington. We have even established space advocates in my staff."

Rothblatt, 32, of Melbourne Beach is a property manager who is making his first bid for elective office. He criticizes Posey for not doing enough. "The space program is what will bring us, in our district, the jobs," Rothblatt said. "It is my personal opinion that Representative Posey, while he has advocated, he has not championed the issue." Rothblatt dreams of settlements in space and believes only support for such a goal could spur the private sector to full activity. Click here. (10/11)

NASA lines up Exploration Upper Stage workhorse for SLS (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) has taken another step forward, following NASA’s request to industry to provide evaluations and costings into engine options. Four engines are expected to power the large Upper Stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) – a stage that is expected to become the workhorse of NASA’s deep space human missions. Click here. (10/12)

Interorbital to Take Ramen to a Whole New Level (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In its latest AD-venture, Interorbital Systems, partnering with Nissin/Ajinomoto, and F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, will engage in three progressively more difficult rocket and space-themed cooking challenges, which will culminate in the hardest way to cook Ramen: taking the popular noodles beyond the Karman Line—the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and Outer Space–and returning the dish hot and ready to eat—cooked by the heat of re-entry. Not only will this event be a culinary milestone, the technology created for the project will be applied directly to Interorbital’s future unmanned and manned reentry spacecraft development. (10/12)

The USSR's Race to the Moon's Far Side (Source: Daily Beast)
Ponder something for a moment. Most of humanity, people living today and those who died over the last hundred thousand years, have never seen the far side of the Moon with their own eyes. In fact, before October 7, 1959, no human had ever seen the other side of the Moon, even in photographs.

Last week marked the 55th anniversary of the first photographs of the lunar far side, taken by the Luna 3 probe. Today we’re spoiled by the ubiquity of beautiful images from any number of spaceships exploring the Solar System, but in 1959, the entire field of space exploration was very new. The Soviet Union had only launched the first Sputniks two years before, with the United States’ Explorers following the next year.

The first photos from the far side of the Moon are singularly unimpressive to modern eyes. They are grainy, low-resolution black-and-white pictures, more scruff than science. However, when you realize how difficult it was to take those photos in 1959 and how new the images were to audiences on Earth, they become more moving. And not least, they were the first glimpse at a Moon mystery we still haven’t fully solved: Why is the far side so different from the side we see from Earth? Click here. (10/12)

Turn Your Phone Into A Cosmic Ray Detector (Source: Huffington Post)
You don't need a degree in astrophysics and lots of fancy equipment to detect cosmic rays, those invisible subatomic particles that zoom through space and crash into Earth. All you need is some duct tape and a couple of free apps, and you can turn your smart phone into a pocket cosmic ray detector.

“It would be great to get students and the public interested in gathering data and understanding the particles around them, things they ordinarily don’t get a chance to see,” the creator of one of the apps, University of Wisconsin physicist Dr. Justin Vanderbroucke, said in a written statement.

Scientists themselves have a fuzzy understanding of cosmic rays, which they believe are high-energy subatomic particles emitted by black holes and supernovas, according to Live Science. By studying the elusive particles, scientists hope to discover more about dark matter -- and you can help! Click here. (10/12)

Virginia is for Stargazers (Source: Brownsville Herald)
The Wallops Flight Facility has been in operation since 1945, playing host to thousands of tests, suborbital launches and, beginning in 2013, resupply missions to the International Space Station. The Wallops Flight Facility has been woven into the local fabric of AccomackCounty since it was built by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor. Rocket tests and suborbital launches have been part of daily life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore dating back to before the Space Race, when Mercury rockets were being tested there ahead of manned missions from Florida.

But Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce Director Evelyn Shotwell said things really took off for the area when Wallops began launching International Space Station-bound payloads with Antares rockets in 2013. The state-run Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport, or MARS, is now looking for new tenants to use its launch pad while construction is finishing up at the new Wallops Research Park. The research park will act as an incubator for research companies in a manner similar to what has been proposed for the University of Texas’ STARGATE partnership with SpaceX at Boca Chica beach.

A university consortium is already located at the park, but construction won’t be complete until at least December. That hasn’t stopped Julie Wheatley, the park director, from trying to attract new businesses to bring their business to the park, which is targeting space-related companies. Wheatley said although the rocketry industry has had a presence on the Eastern Shore for years, the new opportunities afforded by the research park are unprecedented. (10/11)

Texas Community Looks for Business, Education Returns from SpaceX (Source: The Monitor)
McAllen’s economic development arm hopes its $500,000 injection to SpaceX will help the Rio Grande Valley strengthen its economic muscles. Keith Patridge, executive director of the McAllen Economic Development Corp., likened incentives to a diamond ring for companies who want a promise, and something to show for it.

SpaceX is required to prove it purchased $20 million in goods and services over the next 10 years from McAllen-based businesses. The company is also bound to holding at least two annual conference meetings within McAllen’s city limits. In the event of a hurricane, due to the proximity of the coast and sea level, McAllen hopes SpaceX will consider using inland warehouses for its most sensitive electronics. Officials anticipate a 2016 opening alongside 300 jobs and about $100 million of investment in the local economy.

McAllen’s incentives to SpaceX also require the company to detail how its making the city aware of possible suppliers or other companies supporting the launch site, and how the city could be a place to base those operations. McAllen is providing its $500,000 in incentives via installments of $25,000 per $1 million spent by SpaceX at city-based businesses, up to $200,000 per year. The McAllen EDC also has the ability to audit SpaceX records to make sure it’s holding up its end of the agreement. If the EDC finds SpaceX isn’t abiding by the terms of the deal, it would have to give up the incentives. (10/12)

GenCorp Reports 2014 Third Quarter Results (Source: GenCorp)
Net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 totaled $419.5 million compared to $367.5 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Net loss for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 was $(9.5) million, or $(0.17) loss per share, compared to a net income of $197.4 million, or $2.39 diluted income per share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2013. The net loss for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 included a pre-tax contract loss of $17.5 million on the Antares AJ-26 program.

Net sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2014 totaled $1,152.3 million compared to $897.8 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2013. Beginning in the third quarter of fiscal 2013, net sales included the Rocketdyne Business. As of August 31, 2014, the Company had $2.1 billion of funded backlog compared to $1.7 billion as of November 30, 2013. (10/12)

Bed-Hopping in Outer Space (Source: The Telegraph)
Canada has thrust upon India the dilemma of choosing between a buddy and bucks. The North American country has offered the Indian space agency a chance to launch a Canadian satellite — a mission that can fetch around Rs 495 crore, going by earlier yardsticks. For Isro, which managed to keep the cost of its Mars mission to Rs 450 crore, the prospective fee is no small change.

The catch: Canada had earlier offered the same job to Russia, only to withdraw it over the Ukraine crisis. Tensions between the West and Russia have been rising over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. India has not only refused to criticise Russia over Ukraine but also contended that Moscow had “legitimate interests” in the peninsula. (10/11)

Space Tourism and 'Overview Effect' Will Change the World (Source: The Telegraph)
Promising that the first commercial flights into space will begin next Spring, Virgin's George Whitesides, said: “It’s a simple observation but there is something called the overview effect, which is scientifically documented. When people go into space they come back with a different perspective and I think many of the challenges we face over the next century are essentially planetary challenges and so we need to have that planetary perspective to solve them.

“So I think we are going to have tens of thousands of people who are leaders in their community coming back and bringing that planetary perspective with them. I think that perspective is really important to solving some of our biggest problems on Earth.” That may be a bold promise, but it is one to which Mr Whitesides – and his boss – appear committed. (10/12)

Embry-Riddle Lecture Focuses on Orion on Tuesday (Source: ERAU)
On Oct. 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Embry-Riddle's IC auditorium, Dr. Roger McNamara (Lockheed Martin), director of the Orion Program Exploration Test Flight 1, will offer an overview of the Orion project as the “first step to deep space.” He will also and discuss how Orion fits into the larger U.S. space exploration picture, and comment on the competition for crew services and on the new entrants hoping to provide LEO crew services. This lecture is free-----and all students, faculty, staff, and general public are welcome to attend. (10/8)

Answers to Questions Posed by Cosmology to Philosophy (Source: Science News)
Not that long ago, most serious scientists considered cosmology a branch of philosophy. But in recent decades, observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and probes of the microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang have put cosmology on a sound observational footing. Still, many important issues about the origin and evolution of the universe remained unresolved. So now some serious cosmologists are suggesting that it might help to develop a philosophy of cosmology. Click here. (10/10)

Would Finding Alien Life Change Religious Philosophies? (Source: Space.com)
The discovery of extraterrestrial beings — be they slimy microbes or little green men — would dramatically change the way we humans view our place in the universe. But would it shatter religion? Well, that depends on what you believe.  Public polls have shown that a large share of the population believes aliens are out there. In one survey released last year by the company Survata, 37 percent of the 5,886 Americans who were polled said they believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life, while 21 percent said they didn't believe and 42 percent were unsure.

Responses varied by religion: 55 percent of atheists said they believed in extraterrestrials, as did 44 percent of Muslims, 37 percent of Jews, 36 percent of Hindus and 32 percent of Christians. Weintraub found that some religions are more accommodating to the idea of E.T. than others. Those with an Earth-centric spiritual point of view are the most likely to be made uncomfortable by questions about the discovery of aliens. Certain evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, for example, are of the opinion that God's sole intent was to create people here on Earth. (10/10)

If Bill Nye Had 60 Seconds To Persuade Congress To Fund Space Exploration (Source: Huffington Post)
Could Bill Nye persuade Congress to fund space exploration in just 60 seconds or less? After hearing him give it a shot during a recent episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk Radio, we're pretty sure he could. A listener called in to ask him to give a hypothetical member of Congress his elevator pitch for funding space exploration. The "Science Guy" didn't disappoint.

"I'd say space exploration brings out the best in us," Nye says. "It's inherently optimistic, it stimulates the economy in the U.S. at least $3.60 for every dollar that goes in, and we make discoveries that literally change the world... Who knows what new physics, who knows what's over the next horizon? Don't you want the U.S. to continue to lead in this thing? Isn't that what you want?" (10/10)

Volunteer in Space (Source: Huffington Post)
Space exploration has come to the forefront of the public's interest in recent years with success stories coming from all over the world. As well as the recent successes reported by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, the European Space Agency boast an impressive track record and is the world leader in environmental research into the ozone layer. India is doing alright too having launched their Mars Orbiter mission in November of last year, so the present and the future seem bright. Click here. (10/10)

'Space Detective' Is Now A Thing Thanks To Satellite Imagery Evidence (Source: Huffington Post)
The world's first space detective agency has been created to help provide authentic satellite imagery during court battles. New Scientist reports that the company was started by satellite image specialist Professor Raymond Harris and space law expert Raymond Purdy the company will provide authentic and legally sound satellite imagery that can stand up in a court of law.

According to the pair there are inherent problems with using satellite and digital imagery in a court because both can be faked or edited. One of the biggest problems is that while it may seem easy enough to take an image from Google Maps, you then have to prove that the image was taken on the right day, or that the satellite was over that particular part of the world at the right time. Click here. (9/10)

The Moon and the Oh-My-God Particle (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Let's turn the moon into the largest cosmic ray detector in the solar system. That's the proposal from Justin Bray. He's in search of "ultra-high-energy" cosmic rays—protons or heavier atomic nuclei that are whipped into a frenzy by galaxy-sized magnetic fields that make Earth-bound particle accelerators look like pea shooters. "Oh my god" is all a scientist in Utah could say in 1991 when he discovered such a particle that had an energy of 3x10^20 electron-volts. That's a million times more energetic than what scientists can create with the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth.

The cosmic ray was travelling at 99.99999999999999999 percent of the speed of light, according to Bray. Since the "Oh my God" particle, scientists have spent decades searching for more like it, with limited success. These particles are so rare that current experiments detect only about 15 of them per year. That's not enough data to answer fundamental questions about where these things come from. That's where Bray's radical plan comes in. He says his method will provide more data on ultra-high-energy cosmic rays in just a few months than has been collected in the entire last century. (10/10)

Martian Methane Sniffer Adapted for Earth (Source: New Scientist)
What's that gassy smell? The hypersensitive methane detector on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is being repurposed to ferret out gas leaks on Earth. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco, and global energy giant Chevron, are testing a handheld, earthbound version that is 1000 times as sensitive as existing methane sniffers.

The device looks like "a funky golf club" with a laser at the end, says PG&E spokesperson Hailey Wilson. "It's the same technology as on Mars," she says. "When it picks up trace amounts of methane, it kind of sings to the operator, and changes pitch depending on the concentration." Cliff Johnson, president of the Pipeline Research Council International, says the detector will help find leaks in pipelines before they get large. "It's become a critical issue for the industry." (10/11)

No Nobel Prize for ISS This Year (Source: Florida Today)
A Nobel Peace Prize for the International Space Station partnership will have to wait until next year. The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 prize to children's advocates Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yousafzay of Pakistan. Calling it the "largest international peacetime endeavor in human history," advocates believe the 15-nation partnership that has put together and maintained the $100 billion station is worthy of Nobel recognition as a model of peaceful collaboration and engineering achievement whose scientific and symbolic benefits span the globe. (10/10)

NSC to Host 'Celebrate Space' Under Atlantis, Names Kolcum Award Winners (Source: Florida Today)
The National Space Club Florida Committee on Saturday, Oct. 18, hosts its annual Celebrate Space dinner beneath retired shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This year's event features an 80s theme paying homage to the shuttle program's early years.

"So dig out your shoulder pads, leisure suits and big hair for a festive night of food, fun, friends and dancing," an event poster reads. Tickets are $85 for NSC members and $95 for non-members. The space club last week announced this year's winners of its Harry Kolcum Memorial News and Communications Award. Reuters correspondent Irene Klotz will be honored on the news side, and Alysia Lee ofAbacus Technology for communications. The awards will be presented at the NSC's Nov. 12 meeting in Cape Canaveral.

Editor's Note: I have known Irene Klotz since I moved to the Space Coast from Tallahassee in the 1990s and she was a reporter with Florida Today. She has always been inquisitive and fair, with an instinct for uncovering important facts that other reporters ignored. (10/10)

Satellites will Help Observe Florida Keys Biodiversity (Source: Florida Today)
The Florida Keys is one of four places where NASA and NOAA will partner to establish a prototype system for monitoring marine biodiversity with help from satellite observations. Three demonstration projects funded with $17 million over five years will "lay the foundation for the first national network to monitor marine biodiversity at scales ranging from microbes to whales," according to a NASA press release.

"We now have large amounts of biologically relevant information on marine ecosystems, including global observations of ocean color and sea surface temperature from space," said Woody Turner, manager of the Biodiversity Research Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "But we need a more effective way of combining different types of information to get a better picture of how marine ecosystems are changing if we are to sustain these important ecosystem resources."

Frank Muller-Karger of the University of South Florida will help lead one of the projects focused on biodiversity within NOAA national marine sanctuaries in the Keys and in California's Monterey Bay. (10/10)

Ames Wins Popular Mechanics Award, Again (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission has been recognized as a recipient of the 2014 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards, a recognition that has applauded innovation in science and technology annually for the past ten years. The spacecraft was “designed, developed, built, integrated, tested and controlled” by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. (10/10)

New Russian Batch of Lunar Soil to be Delivered to Earth in 2023-2025 (Source: RIA Novosti)
New samples of lunar soil will be delivered to Earth in 2023-2025, an official from a Russian aerospace company said Friday. "The program currently has four missions: the first demonstration landing in 2025, an orbiter, which is needed to support all landing missions, then, the full landing mission Luna-27, and, around 2023-2025, there will be a project to deliver substance samples to Earth from areas near the [Lunar] south pole," said Maksim Martynov, Deputy Designer General of Russia's NPO Lavochkin. (10/10)

Russia to Take Moon Exploration as Core of Space Program (Source: Xinhua)
Russia will take the Moon exploration as a core of its space program for the next decade, Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. "This year Roscosmos has prepared a long-term program of deep space exploration, with exploration of the Moon as the core," the agency's official Yuri Makarov said. According to the Roscosmos official website, the new program is also aimed at exploring other planets in the Solar System. (10/10)

China's Ailing Moon Rover Weakening (Source: Xinhua)
China's ailing moon rover Yutu has entered its 11th dormancy as the lunar night falls, with its functions degrading gracefully, its designer said Friday. The rover is currently in good condition and works normally, but its control problem persists, said Yu Dengyun, deputy chief designer of China's lunar probe mission. "Yutu has gone through freezing lunar nights under abnormal status, and its functions are gradually degrading," Yu said. (10/10)

Final Powered Tests Beckon For SpaceShipTwo (Source: Aviation Week)
A late switch to a new rocket fuel earlier this year may have slowed Virgin Galactic’s bid to establish the world’s first suborbital spaceline service, but the operator’s plans have not stalled, nor has it been standing still. While officials at Virgin Galactic are among the first to admit that the opening up of this new frontier has taken perhaps much longer than anyone expected in 2004, the company insists it is finally on the verge of full-duration powered test flights and the start of commercial suborbital flights in 2015. (10/10)

Globalstar Strikes Back Against Short-Seller Attack (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar on Oct. 9 mounted a defense against a short-seller investor whose attack savaged Globalstar stock, with Globalstar Chief Executive Jay Monroe saying he stands ready to add to his $600 million investment in the company to take advantage of its collapsed stock price.

In a nearly two-hour conference call with investors, company officials sought to dismantle the down-with-Globalstar investment thesis published Oct. 6 by Kerrisdale Capital Management. Kerrisdale said Globalstar’s hope of using its spectrum to sell a carrier-grade, secure Wi-Fi service was going nowhere because there is no shortage of Wi-Fi spectrum. (10/10)

Signal Interference Proposal Could Make the ITU a Watchdog with Some Teeth (Source: Space News)
International regulators would have access to a global network of satellite Earth stations capable of verifying that telecommunications satellites are doing what they are registered to do under a proposal that has been accepted by European regulators and has won at least initial U.S. support, European, U.S. and international regulatory officials said.

Whether it will pass muster with other regions of the world to find a worldwide consensus — a prerequisite for enactment — remains unknown. But as more than 100 governments meet Oct. 20-Nov. 7 in Busan, South Korea, to discuss new orbital slot and wireless-broadcast issues, officials said the proposal has at least an even chance of winning approval. (10/10)

Flexible 'Tentacle Robots' Could Aid Planetary Exploration (Source: Space.com)
Space robots are about to get a whole lot sleeker and slinkier. Researchers are developing new types of robotic systems inspired by elephant trunks, octopus arms and giraffe tongues. These flexible, maneuverable "tentacle robots" could have a variety of space applications, from inspecting hard-to-reach gear on the International Space Station to exploring crevices on Mars, scientists say.

These machines perform precision tasks in highly structured environments, with limited flexibility and adaptability, Walker said. "The goal is to develop "something that can adapt its shape more completely down its structure, and to be able to adapt to environments you haven't seen before. So it's the non-factory scenario, in many ways." Such snakelike robots could aid spaceflight and exploration, Walker said. (10/10)

When Start-ups Should (and Shouldn’t) Partner with Industry Leaders (Source: Harvard Business Review)
The hard work and dedication you’ve devoted to your startup has finally paid off; your industry’s largest incumbent has invited you to join it as a partner and key supplier. Should you accept? On the surface, the decision may seem straightforward, but before you sign on and cash in, there are risks to consider. A high-profile test case is unfolding before us in the space race between Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Click here. (10/9)

Commercial Licenses, Waivers Needed for Orion Test Flight (Source: Space News)
The upcoming launch of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft features an unusually complex regulatory environment, including the use of commercial launch and re-entry licenses and risk levels several times higher than normally allowed. A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch the Orion spacecraft Dec. 4 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on a mission called Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1.

Orion will make two orbits of Earth before performing a high-speed re-entry over the Pacific Ocean, splashing down off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Complicating the licensing process is the mission’s unusual profile. After placing the Orion spacecraft into orbit, the Delta 4 Heavy’s second stage performs a second burn to put Orion into an elliptical orbit with a peak altitude of 5,800 kilometers. The stage will then separate from Orion and perform a final burn to make a targeted re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

That flight profile creates risks on the ground should the second stage malfunction in one of those additional maneuvers. “If we have a failure, debris is going to be spread over a very long and skinny area,” Wilde said, with a footprint as far as 2,000 kilometers. For a commercial launch license, the FAA sets a limit of 30 expected casualties per one million launches. The FAA uses the same limit for a commercial re-entry license, which includes the risks of both launch and re-entry. However, ULA calculated that the expected casualty risk from the EFT-1 launch would be 164 per one million launches, with the second stage re-entry accounting for most of that risk. (10/10)

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