October 26, 2014

Atlas Set for Wednesday Launch at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Air Force and United Launch Alliance managers will meet Monday to confirm an Atlas V rocket's readiness to launch the nation's next Global Positioning System satellite this week. The launch is scheduled for 1:21 p.m. Wednesday, the opening of an 18-minute window at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport's Launch Complex 41. The 19-story rocket is expected to roll to its pad Tuesday. The $245 million GPS IIF-8 spacecraft was attached to the rocket last Monday. (10/25)

ULA Talking to States About Hosting New Launch Vehicle Work (Source: The Monitor)
Salvatore T. “Tory” Bruno, the new president and CEO of United Launch Alliance, says the space company’s vision is to build on its foundation and strengths through innovation, new technologies and initiatives. These include plans for a new rocket and, in partnership with aerospace company Blue Origin, LLC, the development of a rocket engine made in the United States that would provide more performance, lower costs, and end ULA’s reliance on Russian-made engines.

“I’m really pretty excited about it,” Bruno said Thursday at ULA’s manufacturing and integration facility in Harlingen. Ending ULA’s reliance on Russian-made rocket engines is a priority. ULA provides launch services for the Department of Defense, National Reconnaissance Office and NASA.

“We’re going to invest a lot of money in this new launch system so we are talking to various states about what we can do where and there are a lot of state governments that understand that they can play a role in stimulating jobs to come in and the tax base to increase, all that good stuff. So we are anxious to enter into those arrangements and partnerships with them,” Bruno said, referring to economic development agreements. (10/25)

Profile of ULA's Tory Bruno (Source: Valley Morning Star)
Tory Bruno found a box of old dynamite in his grandmother’s barn one day. He was about 12 or 13 years old when he made the finding — and built his first homemade “rocket.” Rockets have always fascinated Salvatore T. “Tory” Bruno, the new president and CEO of United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Boeing Co. Click here. (10/25)

Roscosmos to Test its Moon Base on Earth (Source: Russia Today)
Russian space agency Roscosmos will build a prototype of the base it plans to build on the Moon beyond 2030 on Earth. The base will consist of four parts – habitable module, energy module, laboratory module and junctional module. The prototype will allow the developers test all architectural and technical solutions for the actual Moon base.

The Roscosmos source added that the agency plans to supply the base with various robots – some of which will be constructing it. They will also be tested on Earth at the prototype base. The agency estimates the costs of its most ambitious space projects in the federal space program for 2016-2025 at about $7.5 billion, the source said.

Editor's Note: I've been waiting to see something like this from NASA, either for the Moon or Mars. All of the mock bases I've read about (in Canada, Utah, Hawaii, etc.) seem to have focused on crew operations and not so much the architectural/engineering designs for potential bases. (10/26)

Infertile Field of Mars? Colonization Plans Marred by Gravity, Radiation Fears (Source: Russia Today)
The Mars One mission - to bring humans to the Red Planet - is underway, with nearly 80,000 applicants for a possible one-way trip. But will they go forth and multiply? Low gravity and cosmic rays lie in the path of the ambitious plan. Mars is considered to be the most hospitable planet in the solar system, after Earth.

The mission is aimed at sending first four Mars inhabitants in 2024, and their journey will become a Dutch reality TV program. One of the things the first settlers will not be allowed to do, however, is to have children. Still, Mars One acknowledges that to lead “true” life on Mars, having children is “vital,” so Adams and Eves could still descend on Mars. But what’s in store for them?

The planet’s gravity is just 38 percent of Earth’s, the atmosphere is so thin it resembles a laboratory vacuum, and is terribly cold. Typical nighttime temperatures close to the equator are -70 C. Scientists have been examining the issue of reproduction in space for decades – in conditions of reduced gravity and limited space. What concerns scientists are the dangers and risks space conditions pose to a potential baby and his surviving abilities. Click here. (10/25)

Huntsville Aim for Mars (Source: Huntsville Times)
As NASA prepares to take its next giant leap in space exploration with a human journey to Mars in the 2030s, Huntsville is again at the forefront, developing the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy lift rocket that will carry our astronauts farther into the solar system than anyone has ever gone before.

Marshall has a diverse portfolio of technology development and science research underway that will make it possible to explore, live and work in space beyond low-Earth orbit. None of this would be possible without the more than 6,000 civil service and contractor employees at Marshall who are dedicated to America's spirit of exploration and innovation. (10/26)

Dragon Splashes Down with Critical Research on Human Spaceflight (Source: CNN)
SpaceX's Dragon spaceship splashed down Saturday in the Pacific Ocean, returning from a four-week resupply mission to the International Space Station and bringing back a valuable payload of potentially groundbreaking experiments. Dragon, an unmanned spacecraft, successfully came down about 300 miles west of Baja California just after 3:30 p.m. EST, carrying a return load weighing 3,276 pounds

Dragon was expected to be hauled to a port near Los Angeles where some of the cargo would be removed almost immediately, the space agency said, while the rest of the research aboard the rocket will return to SpaceX's facility at McGregor, Texas, for further processing. (10/26)

SpaceX Plans to Start Reusing Rockets Next Year (Source: MIT Technology Review)
At a shipyard in Louisiana, SpaceX is building a floating platform measuring 90 meters long by 50 meters across. The company plans to land part of its Falcon 9 rocket on the platform after its next mission to the space station, planned for December 2014. Musk predicts a 50 percent chance of success. The company has previously performed a controlled landing into water, rather than on a platform.

Over the next year, SpaceX plans to carry out 12 missions, and he says there’s an 80 percent chance one of those will be successful, allowing the vehicle to fly again. “So we’re quite close,” he said at the event. (10/25)

Facility at NASA Plum Brook Station Receives $2M Ohio Grant (Source: Sandusky Register)
A state grant aims to reinvigorate rocket testing a world-class space test facility in Erie County. The Ohio Development Services Agency recently awarded $2 million for a high-technology company based in Milan to inspect and refurbish sophisticated pumps used for rocket testing at NASA Plum Brook Station's B-2 facility.

The facility's three pumps cool rocket exhaust as it passes from the nozzle throughout the rest of the facility, allowing for productive small rocket engine testing — the first step toward handling larger rocket testing. The B-2 facility is Earth's only experimental chamber capable of testing full-scale, upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines. Workers or contractors representing Sierra Lobo will use the money so they can remove, repair and reinstall the three pumps to make this happen. (10/25)

Film Looks at Women in Space (Source: Boston Globe)
Now we take for granted the notion of female astronauts, but for two decades it was strictly an all-male affair. Not so well known is how women finally breached that barrier. Michael Epstein’s “Makers: Women in Space” is one of six documentaries in the PBS “Makers” series about pioneering women. It relates the story from the earliest days of the space program, when female candidates — some of them proven to be more qualified than their male counterparts — were still denied. (10/25)

U.S. Still Spends More on Space Than Every Other Country—Combined (Source: Washington Post)
Ever since NASA retired its last space shuttle in 2011, American space travel has taken a back seat to news of growing Chinese space ambitions, Indian Mars missions, Iranian space chimps, and Russian space geckos. But make no mistake, the U.S. is still the global powerhouse in space spending. Last year, the U.S. spent roughly $40 billion on its space program, which is more than every other country combined.

According to a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), China's space budget, which is the second largest in the world, was just under $11 billion in 2013; Russia's the third largest, was roughly $8.6 billion; and India's, the fourth largest, was about $4.3 billion. Click here. (10/27)

China's Main Competitor in Space Exploration is India, Not Russia (Source: RIA Novosti)
China's principal competitor in space exploration is India, not Russia, a researcher at the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said. "China and India are two new space powers. They have vast resources and consider their space programs from the national prestige perspective," the expert said.

He added that China and India are following Russian and US footsteps in space exploration. "China's more developed space-rocket industry and immense resources have let it take the lead in the two countries' space race," he argued. Despite being behind China in space exploration, India has a significant advantage, according to the researcher.

"China is still under rigid restrictions on any form of cooperation with the United States, including on the purchase of components … The Chinese are forced to do many things on their own and they sometimes cannot produce components of a required level. The Indians have less resources, but they are in good relations with everyone. India can cooperate with both Russia and the West, adopting their best technologies," he concluded. (10/24)

Space Dive Sets Stage for World View Space Flights (Source: World View)
Following the record-breaking 135,908-foot space dive accomplished by Google’s Alan Eustace and the Paragon StratEx team, World View Enterprises, the commercial balloon spaceflight company, has acquired the technology from this history-making project. The acquisition will advance the company’s mission to pioneer a new frontier at the edge of space for travel and research.“

For StratEx, Eustace was lifted to his peak altitude of 135,908 feet via high-altitude balloon, the same ballooning system that World View will employ to launch sailing-like journeys to the edge of space. While World View’s voyagers will ascend within a luxuriously engineered pressurized capsule, Eustace was kept safe from the elements in a self-contained space suit system designed with the goal of allowing manned exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet.

The patent-pending technology developed for StratEx has been acquired by World View for future space travel and research flights, adding depth to World View’s systems for launch, recovery, communications, ballooning, tracking, mission control, avionics and aerodynamics, among others. World View will have Voyagers floating peacefully to the edge of space for a one-to-two-hour space cruise within a luxury capsule complete with bar and lavatory, which is transported by a parafoil and high altitude balloon. (10/24)

Ashes Rocketed Into Space (Source: KVID)
Families got a special wish granted Thursday at Apaceport America thanks to a collaboration between two aerospace companies. Ashes from deceased loved ones were rocketed into space. The Spaceloft XL Rocket launched from Spaceport America, containing the ashes of 24 people from all over the country. The $1,000 memorial spaceflights were first introduced by Celestis in 1995. Currently, they operate the flights jointly with Up Aerospace. The ashes are put into individualized flight capsules, which are then attached to the tip of the rocket. After the rocket reaches space, it then returns, bringing the ashes back to the families. (10/24)

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