October 22, 2014

Irish Researchers Develop New Tool to Protect Earth From Space Debris (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Researchers from the Trinity College in Dublin have designed a risk assessment tool for spacecraft re-entry, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA ). The tool developed by the team of scientists from the School of Computer Science & Statistics, Professor of Statistics, Simon Wilson and Cristina De Persis is now being filed with the European Patent Office to become Trinity’s 500th patent.

The tool designed to help protect Earth and its inhabitants from the falling debris of defunct and disintegrating spacecraft and satellites that eventually re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. The invention is directed towards providing improved accuracy of modelling to achieve more accurate predictions for any given space vehicle (spacecraft, satellite, space station) on re-entry into the atmosphere.

According to Wilson, due to development in IT sphere they also managed to create new tools that will calculate more accurately impact points of satellite parts that didn’t burn in dense atmosphere. “Particularly, we are now able to calculate with higher probability whether objects in dense atmosphere will burn or not,” he noted. Other details will be kept secret until researchers get international patent. (10/22)

Japan, US Plan Military Space Cooperation to Counter Chinese Threat (Source: Itar-Tass)
Japan and the United States will carry out joint space observation in order to counter possible attacks of China. These plans are indicated in the main updated principles of Japan–US of defense cooperation, which will be published by the end of a year. Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State, said the US is concerned about increasing capabilities of the Chinese armed forces. (10/22)

The Man Who Dreams of Mining the Moon (Source: Globe and Mail)
Most look to the moon as a beacon for bedtime stories and lovers' strolls. Robert Richards sees it differently, more as a destination for an outer-space trucking service and ultimately as a giant, orbiting hunk of minerals and resources to exploit.

The Toronto-bred entrepreneur has dedicated his career to organizing various ventures geared to the heavens and is now focused on the ambition of mining the moon and asteroids for what he says are trillions of dollars worth of resources. But to do that, his company is developing a spacecraft to deliver equipment to those orbiting bodies. Click here. (10/22)

The Warped Astrophysics of Interstellar (Source: WIRED)
Kip Thorne into the black hole he helped create and thinks, “Why, of course. That's what it would do.” This particular black hole is a simulation of unprecedented accuracy. It appears to spin at nearly the speed of light, dragging bits of the universe along with it. In theory it was once a star, but instead of fading or exploding, it collapsed like a failed soufflĂ© into a tiny point of inescapable singularity. A glowing ring orbiting the spheroidal maelstrom seems to curve over the top and below the bottom simultaneously. Click here. (10/22)

X37-B is Back. And So is the Militarization of Space (Source: GQ)
The guessing game surrounding the X37-B's mission underscores a crucial fact behind the entire history of manned exploration of space: it's always been militarised. The writings of Verne or Tsiolkovsky describing the possibility of manned spaceflight might have made imaginations run wild, but it was the Nazi V-weapons that demonstrated it was possible.

When the first manned expeditions were launched in the 1960s, the military industrial complexes of both superpowers tagged along for the ride. Military experiments were authorised on Project Gemini; the Soviets explored deployment of an armed space station. Both sides routinely spied on one another with the aid of reconnaissance and signal interception satellites. (10/22)

This Is the Comet That Just Buzzed Mars (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Comet Sliding Spring was 86,000 miles from Mars when one of NASA's explorers snapped these pictures. And while you might not see much more than a dot, you're looking at history. This is the closest look we've ever gotten at such a comet.

It came from the Oort Cloud, a vast region of icy objects 50,000 times farther from the sun than we are, and even much further than the Kuiper Belt that's home to Pluto. Comets from the fringes of the solar system find their way into our area from time to time, but this time luck was on NASA's side. As the ice ball passed within 100,000 miles of the Red Planet, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) turned its instruments on Sliding Spring. Click here. (10/22)

Space Tourism Society Plans Tour for Students (Source: Nigerian Tribune)
In its resolve to further boost tourism education in the area of space travel, Space Tourism Society, Nigeria Chapter is packaging a two-week tour of space facilities and activities for students and tourists in the United States of America. The space tour will take students and tourists on different fact-finding mission on space adventure, logistics and innovations, which will also avail them the opportunity experiencing a zero gravity activity at a space camp.

According to the Chief Executive Officer Space Media Technologies and National President, Space Tourism Society, Mr. Oladunni Paul Olanrewaju, “we are taking students and tourists on an educational tour of space and a space camp at Alabama and Los Angeles in the United States of America. (10/22)

Were We Contacted by Aliens in 1977? (Source: BBC)
In the 1960s, radio astronomy was put to work in the search. Radio telescopes surveyed the sky, searching for something that might come from an alien civilization. For years they heard nothing except the background hum of space. Then one day in 1977, a radio telescope in the US received a signal...

The Wow! signal fitted the profile of an alien transmission. Other explanations have been ruled out. Transmitters on Earth can’t use the same frequency, and the signal was too narrow to come from natural sources. Interstellar scintillation, the audio equivalent of a star twinkle, has also been dismissed. Scientists immediately searched for a repeat of the Wow! signal.

They scanned the sky in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, where the signal had come from. And as technology improved, more sensitive telescopes were put on the case, along with software that was designed to find signals among the background noise. Click here. (10/22)

Kickstarter for Preserving America's Space History (Source: Kickstarter)
Abandoned in Place is a photography book exploring and documenting America's early space launch and research facilities. Click here. (10/22)

Northrop Grumman Reports Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results (Source: SpaceRef)
Northrop Grumman reported third quarter 2014 net earnings of $473 million in the third quarter of 2013. Third quarter 2014 net earnings were reduced by $62 million. (10/22)

China's Space Policy Gets Even Tighter (Source: Space Daily)
The recent policies concerning China's upcoming lunar test launch are a shocking testimony to a new "dark age" of media coverage for the Chinese space program. Even less has been said about this flight in the lead-up to launch than for any comparable mission. This is a major achievement for China. Only two other nations have recovered a spacecraft from the Moon. Unfortunately, reportage and imagery have been tighter than for any previous lunar launch.

China may be seeking to control the flow of "state secrets" to outsiders. China could also want to avoid generating too much interest in a lunar program that was partially tainted by the problems experienced by the Yutu lunar rover. But this is counter-productive. The Chinese space program is an outstanding triumph for this nation, and matched by so few.

Greater publicity would be in China's best interests. It would also promote greater international co-operation in space, which is something China apparently wants. With this excessively high level of secrecy, China misses out on these gains, and space enthusiasts also miss out on the fun. Nobody wins in this new "dark age". Not even China. (10/22)

Court Rejects Sierra Nevada Motion to Reinstate Commercial Crew Stop-Work Order (Source: Space News)
A federal court ruled against a motion by Sierra Nevada Corp. to reinstate a suspension of work by two companies on commercial crew contracts awarded by NASA last month. NASA had issued stop-work orders to Boeing and SpaceX shortly after Sierra Nevada filed its protest of the CCtCap awards on Sep. 26.

In a statement announcing the protest, Sierra Nevada alleged there were “serious questions and inconsistencies” in NASA’s selection process. On Oct. 9, NASA announced it was lifting the stop-work order, citing “statutory authority available to it” in order to keep the overall commercial crew effort on schedule. NASA warned of risks to operations of the international space station and NASA’s ability to meet its international commitments if the development of commercial crew systems was delayed. (10/21)

Pentagon Report: Commercial Bandwidth 4 Times More Expensive than WGS (Source: Space News)
A U.S. Defense Department study says buying bandwidth from commercial satellite providers is nearly four times more expensive than using military-owned communications satellites. The study provides a counterpoint to the long-held position of commercial satellite operators that leasing is cheaper than buying, and illustrates the uphill challenge they face in seeking to change the way the Pentagon meets its satellite communications needs.

The report says the U.S. Air Force-owned and -operated Wideband Global Satcom system should remain a top priority and that the Defense Department should use commercial satellite bandwidth only when WGS capacity is not available. (10/21)

KSC To Offer Undeveloped Property for Commercial Use (Source: Space News)
With most of its surplus space shuttle-era infrastructure handed over to other organizations — including the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B military spaceplane program — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon solicit proposals from companies that want to develop new facilities there, including new launch sites.

“Now that our assets, for the most part, are spoken for or transitioned from shuttle, they can provide us a proposal for undeveloped land” on center property that companies would like to develop, said Scott Colloredo, director of KSC’s Center Planning and Development Directorate.

That land use, which he said could include additional launch sites or manufacturing facilities, would have to be consistent with KSC’s master plan published this year. That plan sets aside land at the center for additional horizontal and vertical launch and landing sites, as well as locations for assembly, testing and processing buildings. “As long as it’s compatible with our master plan and our future planning, we’ll entertain it,” Colloredo said. (10/21)

Marshall Partnerships Push Boundaries of Technology (Source: WAAY)
Going to and developing space is one of the biggest challenges that face humanity. As such, it requires some of the brightest minds and most motivated agencies to overcome the problems that the harsh environment of space presents. The Marshall Space Flight Center knows that they can't do it alone, and forge partnerships with industry, government and academic entities to combine resources and manpower to create groundbreaking technology not only for use in space, but also to make life better on Earth. Click here. (10.21)

Zero-G Printer Shares History with Voyager Mission (Source: Made In Space)
Jon Lomberg is without question the preeminent space artist and the world’s most experienced designer in creating messages for other times and other beings. From artwork on far-reaching probes like Voyager and New Horizons to sun dials on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. It is a rare privilege for Made In Space to work with him on yet another milestone in space history; artwork on the the first manufacturing device in space. Click here. (10/21)

Florida Space Day 2015 Invites Sponsorships (Source: FSD)
On March 25, 2015, Florida-based companies that support the aerospace industry will be meeting with legislators in Tallahassee for Florida Space Day 2015. This event includes legislative visits with our House and Senate Representatives to discuss their support of our industry and to bring them our collaborative messages on space-related issues and pending legislation.

The funding for Florida Space Day is solely supported by Florida aerospace partners like you. Sponsorship allows involvement in various planning committees, and provides budget for developing and communicating our message, as well as partner recognition. All contributors are invited to participate in the planning and implementation of the Florida Space Day 2015 event; as well as attend the March 25th evening reception on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol Building, and to attend other events that are presently being scheduled. Click here. (10/20)

Fox Plans Billionaire Space Race TV Drama (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Fox is going for a new take on space race with an untitled drama, from 20th Century Fox TV. It falls under a deal Film 44 inked with the Fox network at the beginning of the summer. Written by Attie, the present-day drama us about a space race — but between people instead of nations, as two wildly ambitious egos with a long and ugly personal history battle to control the future of space exploration. Attie, Berg and Aubrey executive produce. (10/21)

Virgin Galactic Now Has More Land Rovers Than Spaceships (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic has received the first production vehicle of Land Rover’s Discovery Sport vehicle after it rolled off the assembly line in Halewood, England last week. The vehicle was sent to Virgin Galactic headquarters in London, Land Rover announced. This brings to at least six the number of Land Rover vehicles Virgin Galactic has received under a partnership and promotional deal between the two companies that was announced earlier this year.

Five Land Rovers have been seen at Virgin Galactic’s production and test center in Mojave, California. Virgin Galactic also will use Land Rovers at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the company will fly tourists on suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. (10/21)

Sleepy Sun Could Make Mars Trips Deadly (Source: New Scientist)
Space is getting more dangerous. Just as missions will ramp up, it seems that exploring the solar system will become more deadly. The sun is going through a quiet period. Simulations suggest that, by the 2020s, this means astronauts spending a year in space will exceed NASA's safety limits for radiation exposure, potentially thwarting missions to Mars or to asteroids.

High-energy particles from deep space called cosmic rays bombard the solar system and can damage spacecraft and human DNA. The sun's magnetic field shields us from much of this radiation, but the field's strength waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. The most recent peak in activity – a solar maximum – has been abnormally weak, reducing the shield's effectiveness.

Earth's own magnetic field protects people on the ground and even on the International Space Station, but a sleepy sun could be bad news for those going further afield. (10/21)

Doses of Radiation Contracted by Cosmonauts Overstated (Source: Itar-Tass)
Doses of radiation contracted by cosmonauts during orbital missions are smaller by a factor of several times that it was thought previously, suggest the results of the Matryoshka-R experiment held aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by scientists from different countries, including Russia, since 2004.

“This finding is crucial to the planning of protracted space flights,” Dr. Vyacheslav Shurshakov from the Moscow-based Institute of Medical-Biological Problems, one of the authors of the research, told TASS. "It means in practical terms we can fly longer and go further." (10/21)

Russia Launches Proton Rocket (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia launched on Tuesday an Express-series communications satellite on board the Proton-M carrier rocket from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. Based on the heavy-class Express-2000 platform, the spacecraft will have an active lifespan of 15 years and carry 11 antennas as well as 72 transponders, according to Russia's Reshetnev Company, which designs and builds Express-series satellites. (10/21)

Ice Spotted on Mercury—Yes, We Know It Sounds Nuts (Source: TIME)
At high noon on Mercury, the temperature can soar to 800°F—and no wonder. The Solar System’s smallest planet (as of 2006, anyway) averages only 36 million miles from the Sun, which is right next door compared with Earth’s 93 million. You’d be justified in thinking that ice couldn’t possibly exist on such a scorching world.

But you’d be wrong. Scientists using the MESSENGER space probe are reporting in the journal Geology that they’ve taken images of that reveal what they call “the morphology of frozen volatiles” in permanently shadowed crater floors near the planet’s north pole. That’s ice, in plain English. “This is making a lot of people happy,” said Nancy Chabot of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, lead author of the report.

It’s good news because the discovery confirms circumstantial evidence for ice on Mercury that’s been mounting for decades—first from radar observations with powerful radio telescopes on Earth that showed high reflectivity from the polar region, then from MESSENGER’s neutron spectrometer, which picked up the atomic signal of hydrogen in the same area. That pointed to H2O, almost certainly in the form if ice. (10/21)

Inmarsat Details The Forensic Search For MH370 (Source: Aviation Week)
A fresh assessment of satellite data has shifted the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) to another zone in the southern Indian Ocean, based in part on new analysis from satellite operator Inmarsat, which cautions that “significant uncertainty” remains as to the location of the missing Boeing 777-200ER.

As the underwater search for MH370 moves to an area approximately 800 km (500 mi.) south of the previous zone, London-based Inmarsat, which has been criticized for its part of the investigation, shared details of the refined data analysis on which the shift was largely based. Click here. (10/20)

Lockheed Tumbles as Sales Fall Short of Analyst Estimates (Source: Bloomberg)
Lockheed Martin declined the most in almost two years after its third-quarter sales fell short of analysts’ estimates and margins declined in the unit that includes its F-35 fighter jet. Lockheed is increasingly reliant on the $398.6 billion F-35 program, the Pentagon’s most-expensive weapons system.

The jets were temporarily grounded earlier this year after an engine fire on one plane. While the company’s sales have suffered amid U.S. budget cuts, Lockheed’s shares had been buoyed on speculation that increased global tensions will improve the prospects for defense spending. Sales decreased 2.1 percent to $11.1 billion, the company said, the ninth straight quarterly decline amid government budget cutbacks. Analysts had projected $11.27 billion. (10/21)

NASA Has Found a Way to Listen to Space (Source: Esquire)
When a spaceship whooshes by in the middle of a sci-fi movie, every nerd worth his salt blurts out, “There is no sound in space!” There isn’t. No sound detectable to the human ear, that is. The only vibrations that survive the vacuum of space are electromagnetic waves. NASA has found a way to hear them.

Using a “plasma wave antenna” to record vibrations within 20 to 20,000 hertz, the range of human hearing, NASA has captured the actual sounds of our planets. It should come as no surprise that our Solar System sounds more majestic than any sci-fi director could fabricate. (10/21)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Selected to Power and Propel 2020 Mars Rover (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With NASA preparing to send crews to travel to Mars some time in the 2030s, the space agency is developing mechanical pathfinders which will blaze the trail that their human counterparts will retrace when their time comes to make history. However, getting to the Martian surface – is more difficult than recent missions have made it out to be.

To help ensure that NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover makes it safely to the dusty terrain – it has selected a well-known aerospace entity, under a larger collaborative effort - to provide key systems to help ensure success. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s thrusters have been selected for the follow-on mission to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity. In its current configuration, the robotic explorer will be very similar to Curiosity – which landed on the Martian surface in August of 2012 after a nine-month journey across the void. (10/21)

China Launches New Satellite Via Orbital Carrier Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
China has launched its new Yaogan-22 remote sensing optical satellite into scheduled orbit Monday, Chinese News Service reported. The satellite was launched atop a Long March 4C rocket, which blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, a Chinese space and defense launch facility and a spaceport. (10/21)

Russia to Create Space-Based Ballistic Missile Warning System (Source RIA Novosti)
Russia will create a space-based ballistic missile warning system capable of detecting launches of existing and test missiles, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday. "The creation of an integrated space system is one of the key directions in which Russian nuclear deterrent forces will be developed." (10/21)

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