October 24, 2014

Space Traffic Management Conference Planned in Daytona on Nov. 5-6 (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Commercial Space Operations degree program is hosting the inaugural annual conference on Space Traffic Management at the university's Daytona Beach campus. The November 5-6 event offers academia and leaders of government and industry a forum for discussing the complex, diverse, and timely issues of aviation and space traffic coordination, space launch, space weather, and space debris. Click here. (10/23)

Stratosphere Jump Breaks World Record (Source: New York Times)
Orlando native (and current Google VP) Alan Eustace has parachuted from a balloon near the top of the stratosphere, falling faster than the speed of sound and breaking the world altitude record set just two years ago by Felix Baumgartner (128,100 feet). Wearing a specially designed spacesuit, Eustace ascended to 135,908 feet attached to a balloon before separating himself for an 800mph freefall.

The mission was supported by Paragon Space Systems. Mr. Eustace said he gained a love of space and spaceflight from growing up in Orlando during the 1960s and 1970s. His family crowded into a station wagon to watch every launch from Cape Canaveral. Click here. (10/24)

Argentina’s Satellites Protected by ‘Launch Plus Life’ Insurance Plan (Source: Space News)
The first telecommunications satellite assembled and tested in Argentina, and also the first operated from there, is subject to an unusual insurance policy that covers, in part, the satellite’s in-orbit performance for its full 15-year life. An identical policy has been purchased for a second Argentine telecommunications spacecraft, ArSat-2, scheduled for launch in 2015. ArSat-1 was launched Oct. 16 and is healthy in orbit.

Each of the two ArSat satellites has been insured for about $230 million, a figure that covers the launches, both aboard European Ariane 5 rockets, and various stages of the satellites’ in-orbit performance. ArSat’s insurance broker, Aon International Space Brokers (ISB), said the coverage is divided into three tranches. One is the classic launch-plus-one-year policy. A second covers the launch plus an intermediate period of several years. The third covers the full scheduled 15-year service life. (10/24)

NASA Ames Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Open House (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA's Ames Research Center welcomed about 120,000 visitors on Saturday, Oct. 18 during an Open House held in celebration of the Center's 75th anniversary. The event featured a 2-mile self-guided walking tour, panel discussions, "Ask-An-Expert" sessions, static aircraft displays and "Backstage Pass" guided tours of Ames Research labs and wind-tunnel facilities. (10/23)

Huntsville Leaders Want to Build ‘Space Academy’ in Rocket City (Source: WHNT)
Local leaders are looking into the idea of bringing a space academy to the Rocket City. The plan is in the conceptual phase, but local, state and federal leaders are involved, according to information provided by U.S. Space and Rocket Center CEO Dr. Deborah Barnhart.

Barnhart says this is not a USSRC project necessarily, but the organization would benefit from having a world-class space academy in North Alabama. “This is about an economic mandate for our community to continue to be the space capital of the universe,” Barnhart said. Currently there is not a “space academy” anywhere in the county, but Barnhart and others who support the plan say other cities are eager to create a facility like this to their city due to the economic benefits. (10/23)

SpaceX Land Holdings Grow Near South Texas Spaceport Site (Source: Valley Morning Star)
In preparing the site of the world’s first commercial and vertical orbital launch complex at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County, SpaceX continues its land purchases, public records show. SpaceX recently purchased six more lots, bringing the number of tracts of land that it now owns to 93, which comprise approximately 110 acres of land. (10/23)

Oculus Rift Could Make Grueling Trips to Mars More Tolerable (Source: Washington Post)
When you think of the Oculus Rift, you probably think of interactive gaming or entertainment experiences made possible through virtual reality. But NASA is also considering how those same types of virtual reality experiences could be used during long-haul missions to address the unique psychological and physiological problems encountered by astronauts traveling in small teams through cold, dark space over extended periods of time. Click here. (10/23)

India's Human Spaceflight Endeavor Inches Ahead (Source: Deccan Herald)
Taking a first flight-related step in its Human Space Flight (HSF) endeavour, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will, in nearly 45 days’ time, launch an unmanned crew module on the experimental GSLV MK III flight. According to ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan: “The government had sanctioned Rs 145 crore towards the HSF program. With that funding we have been able to develop a crew module that will fly the astronauts to space, space suits, life support systems and a host of technologies relevant to the HSF." (10/23)

Russia to Spend Around $50 Billion on Space Program in 2016-2025 (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia’s Roscosmos space agency estimates the costs of most ambitious space projects in the federal space program for 2016-2025 at about $7.5 billion, a source says. Roscosmos has requested about $50 billion from the federal budget for the program, while another $6 billion is to be spent from manufacturers’ own funds and incomes from commercial projects. (10/24)

Government, University Commitments Keys To Aerospace Engineering (Source: Aviation Week)
What are the opportunities and challenges for aerospace engineering as it enters its second century? One opportunity is to adapt the education curriculum to a very different world. The aerospace profession has evolved from hardware-based science, technology and engineering to include systems  and even system-of-systems engineering.

Sustainable aviation provides another opportunity. The quest for faster, larger and longer-range aircraft is over—for now. Today’s challenge is to achieve the industry’s stated goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2020. Aircraft technologies help solve only one piece of the puzzle; next-generation air traffic management and biofuels also will contribute. Engineering schools will need to step up to these multi-disciplinary challenges.

The commercialization of space offers a third opportunity. In speaking with students, I’m struck by their interest in entrepreneurial companies like SpaceX, Orbital Sciences and Blue Origin, where big, bold ideas are being implemented by teams of young engineers. The same is true of the unmanned aerial systems sector, which is poised to explode when airspace liberalization occurs. Click here. (10/20)

Dummy Astronaut Shows ISS Crew Better Protected from Radiation than Thought (Source: Space News)
A decade-long experiment using a human-like mannequin to assess radiation absorption inside and outside the international space station has concluded that the human body is much better at protecting astronaut internal organs than previously thought.

The experiments, which used U.S. technology monitored by U.S., Russian, Japanese and European teams, conclude that previous radiation-intake measures, mainly dosimeters worn by astronauts in their pockets or on their chests, overstate the radiation exposure to internal organs.

For an astronaut working inside the space station, the overestimate was about 15 percent — a fairly close correlation given that the station’s exterior shell provides much of the protection needed. But for astronauts working outside the station, the radiation absorption measured was substantially less than what had been registered by the personal dosimeters worn by astronauts. (10/24)

Miami-Based Startup Plans Microsatellite Launch Services (Source: Mishaal)
Mishaal Aerospace Corp., the Miami-based launch vehicle provider for small satellites, is pleased to announce that SpaceQuest Ltd., a Virginia based advanced satellite developer, signed a Letter of Intent for launch of their satellites once Mishaal Aerospace’s M-OV, Orbital Vehicle, is ready. Mishaal Aerospace's M-SV propulsion system successfully completed its first static test on August 11, 2014. Click here. (10/22)

SpaceX Builds Enough Merlin 1D Engines for 10 Falcon 9 Flights (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Less than two years after SpaceX began producing the Merlin 1D engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket, the 100th Merlin 1D engine is complete. SpaceX is currently the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world. The Merlin 1D is an all-American engine designed and built in-house at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

Engines are currently manufactured at a rate of four per week, projected to rise to five per week by the end of 2014. The production process begins with major engine components – injector, turbopump, gas generator, thrust chamber, valves and actuators – integrated with tubing, sensors, and other small components to form the major sub-assemblies of the engine. These sub-assemblies are put together to become the engine’s lower and upper assembly. Once the lower and upper assemblies are stacked and mated, the engine undergoes a series of quality checks prior to testing. (10/23)

China Launches Flyby Mission to the Moon (Source: CBS)
A Long March 3C rocket launched a robotic Chinese space probe Thursday, setting the stage for a looping flight around the moon and a high-speed dash back to Earth to test technology and procedures needed for a planned robotic sample return mission in 2017.

Chinese news agencies reported the 184-foot-tall Long March booster blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, but the launch time and other details were not immediately available. The ascent was intended to put the solar-powered spacecraft, known in some quarters as Chang'e-5 T1, on a "free return" trajectory around the moon. (10/23)

Report: KSC Must Do More to Succeed as Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center has made progress transitioning into a multiuser spaceport but must do more to compete with a growing number of alternative launch sites, according to a NASA audit report. "The better Kennedy can position itself now as a commercial-friendly launch site, the more competitive it will be in the future," says the report by NASA's Office of Inspector General.

In interviews with the auditors, six companies and KSC's closest government partner, Space Florida, continued to raise concerns about bureaucracy, high costs and potential mission conflicts that can hamper commercial operations at KSC. The companies have not abandoned the spaceport given limited options available today, but "this may change as the commercial space industry grows and additional non-Federal launch sites become available," the report says. (10/23)

Report: KSC Offers Weak Reason for Resisting Shiloh Support (Source: Florida Today)
The OIG audit of KSC's commercial spaceport efforts undercuts one of NASA's primary reasons for resisting a state proposal to develop a site that might make the Cape more attractive for commercial launches. Space Florida two years ago sought NASA's permission to develop one or two pads on up to 200 acres at the north end of KSC and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, in an area known as Shiloh.

While NASA let the state start an environmental review of the proposed site, it continues to claim that it needs the land as a safety buffer zone and to support future missions. When questioned by auditors, however, "Kennedy personnel were unable to provide any details as to the need for a buffer zone of information about specific future missions involving the property." Click here to download the report. (10/23)

Hold Your Breath: 'Aquastronauts' Go Underwater to Train for Space (Source: NBC)
Have you ever wondered where astronauts train before heading into space? They actually travel in the opposite direction of the International Space Station: they go underwater. Since 2001, NASA has sent astronauts-in-training to take part in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program, alongside astronauts from the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. So far, they’ve completed 19 missions, each of which comprises a six- to ten-day stay in the habitat.

I had the rare opportunity to join a group of NASA astronauts-in-training underwater at the Aquarius base off of Key Largo, Florida, located 63 feet underwater. The base offers the would-be space-faring candidates the most extraterrestrial experience available while still on Earth. Click here. (10/23)

Florida Transportation System is Adding More Intermodal Components (Source: Florida TaxWatch)
"One of the selling points for relocating space-oriented businesss to Florida is that our state includes areas where multi-modal transport is possible for payloads to space. The Cape Canaveral Spaceport already provides access for four modes of transportation: roads, rail, sea, and space; and this combination of efficient transfers between modes has helped companies decide to relocate to Florida to pursue delivery of payloads of satellites and other space-oriented items." (10/23)

Original Redstone Launch Team Recalls Start of Modern Space Program (Source: Florida Today)
Bill Grafton ran. As the last one on the pad before the launch of the first Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral, on Aug. 20, 1953, it was his job to plug an igniter into the enormous, seven-story missile. "I was a little bit nervous, because this thing was filled with all the fuel and it was sitting there puffing like an old train," Grafton, 89, remembered recently.

Four of the five living members of the original Redstone launch team gathered last week in Titusville home to reminisce and record some of their stories. Reed Barnett, of Melbourne Beach, and Bill "Curly" Chandler, of Astor, Fla., joined Rigell and Grafton, visiting from Flagstaff, Ariz. Their friend Jim Rorex was unable to make the trip from Huntsville, Ala. Click here. (10/23)

CASIS Awards Life Sciences Research Grants (Source: Parabolic Arc)
CASIS announced a series of unsolicited investigations focused on life science studies for flight to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. These unsolicited investigations represent targeted areas of emphasis in the life and biological sciences as determined by the CASIS Science and Technology Advisory Panel as well as the CASIS business development team. Click here. (10/23)

Suborbital Rocket Launched at Spaceport America (Source: Parabolic Arc)
New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced the launch of the third NASA “Flight Opportunities Program” rocket from Spaceport America. The launch of SpaceLoft XL 9 (SL-9) took place from Spaceport America’s Launch Complex-1. Today’s liftoff marks the 21st launch at Spaceport America and the 13th flight conducted by UP Aerospace, the spaceport’s oldest launch customer. (10/23)

Ukraine Seeks to Revive Space Industry (Source: Parabolic Arc)
On Oct. 21, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko held a meeting to discuss progress, problems and prospects of development of the space industry. General Designer Alexander Degtyarev presented on participation in international projects like Sea Launch and Land Launch; in the joint Ukrainian-Brazilian Cyclone-4; the Antares; and remote sensing satellites.

President Poroshenko said that Ukraine’s space industry suffered through a break ties with Russia as key partners in space programs. However, there are prospects for cooperation in space with such countries as Brazil, Turkey, and the USA. He also raised questions about the prospects for space cooperation with other interested countries, including the Republic of Kazakhstan.

"We need to develop a strategy to return the status of great space power,” he said. According to him, Ukraine requires political will and support of the international community. Also, According to a Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, YS Alekseev was dismissed as Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine. (10/22)

Buzz Aldrin Says One-Way Trips to Mars Could Actually Work (Source: Space.com)
Buzz Aldrin wants to send people on a trip to Mars, and he doesn't want them to come home — at least not at first. The time and resources that will be used to get humans to the Red Planet only make sense if the astronauts stay there and help to jump-start an outpost on the new world, Aldrin said.

"It [will] cost the world — and the U.S. — billions and billions of dollars to put these people there, and you're going to bring them back?" Aldrin said. "What are you going to do when you bring them back here that can possibly compare [to] the value that they would be if they stayed there and Mars wasn't empty? And then, they helped to work with the next group and it builds up a cadre of people. When we've got 100 — or whatever it is — then we start bringing people back." (10/23)

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