October 13, 2014

Shana Dale Joins FAA Commercial Space Office as Deputy AA (Source: Space Policy Online)
Shana Dale will become Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) at the FAA as of November 3, 2014. She succeeds George Zamka who left AST this summer to join Bigelow Aerospace. Dale has served in a number of positions on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush Administration. She is perhaps best known in space policy circles as the first woman to serve as Deputy Administrator of NASA from 2005-2009 while Mike Griffin was Administrator. (10/11)

Why NASA Rejected Sierra Nevada's Commercial Crew Vehicle (Source: Aviation Week)
“I consider SNC’s (Sierra Nevada Corp.) design to be the lowest level of maturity, with significantly more technical work and critical design decisions to accomplish. The proposal did not thoroughly address these design challenges and trades.” Gerstenmaier goes on to say that Sierra’s proposal “has more schedule uncertainty. For example, some of the testing planned after the crewed flight could be required before the crewed flight, and the impact of this movement will greatly stress the schedule.” Click here. (10/11)

Women in Space Database (Source: Telegraph)
The Women In Space database is brought to you by Telegraph Jobs. This educational and motivational resource enables you to view what the historic heroines have accomplished on their missions to space and what the current modern female marvels are accomplishing in their day to day job role. If you happen to be working in these fields of work and are not currently on the database then feel free to email the Telegraph Engineering Jobs team today to be featured. Click here. (10/13)

NASA Now Says Vast Methane Cloud over US Southwest is For Real (Source: Digital Journal)
A cloud of methane gas about the size of Delaware was detected over the Four Corners area of the American southwest years ago. The readings were so unusually high that NASA scientists dismissed them. A new study confirms the methane hotspot is real. Methane gas is the most potent of the so-called “greenhouse gases” that trap the Earth’s heat and contribute to global climate change. Carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, is far more plentiful in the atmosphere, but methane is about 80 percent more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

The source of the methane is believed to be extensive coal-mining activity in the San Juan Basin, according to Eric Kort. He calls the Basin “the most active coalbed methane production area in the country.” The study shows that there were 0.59 million metric tons of methane released every year during the period 2003-2009, 3.5 times more than earlier estimates. There is currently a sharp increase in hydraulic fracturing – commonly called fracking – in the region, but because the cloud predates the fracking activity, Kort and Frankenberg say the earlier coal-mining activity is most likely to blame. (10/11)

How Viewing Earth as an Exoplanet Can Help Search for Alien Life (Source: Space.com)
An extraterrestrial spacecraft lurking in a satellite's orbit near Earth would be able to see city lights and pollution in our atmosphere. But what if it searched for signs of life on Earth from afar? This question has great pertinence to those searching for other Earths outside of our solar system. NASA's Kepler space telescope is among a fleet of telescopes and spacecraft searching for rocky planets similar to our own. Once the size and location of these worlds are plotted, the next step is examining the chemical composition of their atmospheres.

From afar, Earth-like worlds appear as tiny points of light, making it hard to imagine ever finding out much about them. The best we can do with telescope technology at the moment is to examine some atmospheric components of worlds that are larger than Jupiter. But that doesn't mean we should discount the possibility of ever finding a planet similar in size to our own, researchers say. Telescopes are only getting more powerful. Click here. (10/11)

Microgravity Manufacturing — the Next Frontier (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
ACME Advanced Materials in Albuquerque is helping to push the boundaries of the emerging space industry. Today, most commercial space research and development is focused on satellites and spacecraft, including future launch vehicles to take cargo and people beyond gravity. But ACME is focused on manufacturing in space, something few companies are currently pursuing.

“Of the 800 or so companies that our analysts track globally, very few are targeting microgravity research and manufacturing,” said Dick David, CEO and co-founder of NewSpace Global, a New York-based information service focused on the new space industry. “That’s still a very nascent market today, but we expect it to grow over the next several years.”

ACME is taking advantage of the dead still of microgravity to cure, or “heal,” defective semiconductor wafers sent on flights to suborbit. The company says space can offer many more such opportunities for new manufacturing processes. ACME is not Glover’s first space venture. An electrical engineer, Glover launched Microgravity Enterprises Inc. in 2006 with a number of partners to create space drinks made from ingredients flown to suborbit. The company produced and sold an energy drink called Antimatter and Space20 bottled water. (10/13)

India Sending Up Third Satellite to Build GPS on Par with U.S. (Source: First Post)
The 67-hour countdown for the launch of India's navigation satellite IRNSS 1C began today at the spaceport of Sriharikota. The IRNSS 1C is the third of seven satellites in a series which aims to build an Indian navigation system that will be on par with US' Global Positioning System, on board PSLV C 26. Following the clearance from the Launch Authorization Board (LAB) yesterday, the countdown commenced at 6.32 am today as planned and was proceeding smoothly, ISRO said.

Based on the mission requirements, the launch window is 01:32 AM to 01:47 AM (IST) on 16 October. The lift-off is scheduled at the opening of the launch window at 1.32 am, the national space agency had earlier announced. As part of its aspirations to build a regional navigational system equivalent to the Global Positioning System of the US, ISRO plans to send seven satellites to put its Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) in place. The first two satellites in the series, IRNSS 1A and IRNSS 1B were launched from Sriharikota on 1 July 2013 and 4 April this year respectively. (10/13)

Department of Defense Rocket Launched from Wallops (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
NASA has launched a rocket for the Department of Defense from its Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. The space agency says the Terrier-Lynx suborbital rocket was launched at 12:27 a.m. Sunday. The next scheduled launch from Wallops will be Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket on Oct. 24. NASA says the rocket will carry Orbital's Cyngus cargo carrier to the International Space Station. The launch is expected to be visible to Mid-Atlantic residents. (10/13)

Venture Capitalists Return to Backing Science Start-Ups (Source: New York Times)
Vestaron makes an eco-friendly pesticide derived from spider venom. Bagaveev uses 3-D printers to make rocket engines for nanosatellites. Transatomic Power is developing a next-generation reactor that runs on nuclear waste. They all have one thing in common: money from Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

After years of shying away from science, engineering and clean-technology start-ups, investors are beginning to take an interest in them again, raising hopes among entrepreneurs in those areas that a long slump is finally over. But these start-ups face intense pressure to prove that their science can turn a profit more quickly than hot tech companies like Snapchat and Uber. Click here. (10/12)

Hawking Radiation Mimicked in the Lab (Source: Nature)
Scientists have come closer than ever before to creating a laboratory-scale imitation of a black hole that emits Hawking radiation, the particles predicted to escape black holes due to quantum mechanical effects. The black hole analogue, reported in Nature Physics1, was created by trapping sound waves using an ultra cold fluid. Such objects could one day help resolve the so-called black hole ‘information paradox’ - the question of whether information that falls into a black hole disappears forever.

The physicist Stephen Hawking stunned cosmologists 40 years ago when he announced that black holes are not totally black, calculating that a tiny amount of radiation would be able to escape the pull of a black hole. This raised the tantalising question of whether information might escape too, encoded within the radiation.

Hawking radiation relies on a basic tenet of quantum theory — large fluctuations in energy can occur for brief moments of time. That means the vacuum of space is not empty but seethes with particles and their antimatter equivalents. Particle-antiparticle pairs continually pop into existence only to then annihilate each other. But something special occurs when pairs of particles emerge near the event horizon — the boundary between a black hole, whose gravity is so strong that it warps space-time, and the rest of the Universe. Click here. (10/12)

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