October 7, 2014

Japan Launches Meteorological Satellite on H-IIA Rocket (Source: JAXA)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 25 (H-IIA F25) with the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite “Himawari-8” onboard on October 7 from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch vehicle flew as planned, and, at about 27 minutes and 57 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the Himawari-8 was confirmed. (10/7)

Ten Years After the X PRIZE (Source: Space Review)
Saturday marked the tenth anniversary of SpaceShipOne's final flight, a suborbital journey that allowed it to win the $10-million Ansari X PRIZE. Jeff Foust reports on a commemoration of that anniversary at the site of the flight in Mojave, California, as well as Virgin Galactic's efforts to get SpaceShipOne's successor finally flying. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2613/1 to view the article. (10/7)

US Space Policy and Planetary Defense (Source: Space Review)
Events like the Chelyabinsk meteor more than a year and a half ago have raised the profile of measures governments should take to prevent more devastating impacts. James Howe examines the history of American space policy in this area and the gaps in those policies. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2612/1 to view the article. (10/7)

The Strange Contagion of a Dream (Source: Space Review)
The history of spaceflight has been shaped by a few key individuals who have worked to convince governments to enable their dreams of space exploration. Brian Altmeyer examines how these visionaries have enabled progress in spaceflight and what that means for humanity's future in space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2611/1 to view the article. (10/7)

Editorial: A Big Change in U.S Space Travel (Source: Ocala Star Banner)
Believe it or not, for-profit space ventures have been around awhile. In pulp magazine stories of the 1930s and '40s, and later in sci-fi movies of the 1950s, rockets to the moon and Mars were almost always built by private companies and eccentric billionaires. When moviegoers visited the huge space station in “2001: A Space Odyssey” (released in 1968), what did they see? A Howard Johnson and a Hilton hotel.

The agency that took Americans to the moon in 1969 is today hobbled by bureaucracy and constant complaints of funding woes. We've already gone far too long without manned rockets lifting off from nearby Kennedy Space Center, a sight many in Central Florida would drop everything they were doing to climb to the nearest rooftop to watch — if they hadn't already driven to Cape Canaveral to get an up-close view.

NASA hopes that once Boeing and SpaceX start ferrying astronauts to the space station, the government's lumbering, decades-old space program can concentrate on boldly going where no one has gone before — to the asteroids and Mars. Assuming, of course, that private companies don't get there first. (10/7)

Branson’s Rival in the Great Space Race (Source: Daily Beast)
Let’s just assume, for a moment, that you are both incredibly rich and totally bonkers. So there you are, planning a trip to space. With whom would you feel more confident traveling there—and back—with? A trained aerospace engineer whose father was an astrophysicist and who has spent several years working at the European Space agency, or Richard Branson?

I know who my money would be on. In the great race to put a tourist in space, it is just possible that the quietly confident Spaniard José Mariano López-Urdiales, whose project Bloon plans to serenely float tourists 36km above the earth in pressurized capsules slung beneath giant gas balloons (no, you won’t be hanging out of a gondola), may quietly trump the bigger and noisier rocket-driven efforts of Virgin Galactic. (10/7)

Texas STARGATE Gets $1.2M Federal Grant, Will Support SpaceX Launch Tracking (Source: Brownsville Herald)
U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, and Pedro Garza, regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will announce the award of a $1.2 million grant for construction tied to STARGATE. STARGATE stands for the South Texas Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Giga-hertz astrophysical Transient Emission. It will be the first research Center of Excellence for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

It is a cooperative effort with SpaceX to develop and support commercialization of phase-array technology for satellite and space vehicle communication. Rick Jenet, an astrophysics professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville, will speak about STARGATE and the impact on faculty and students. The EDA grant will be used to fund a business incubator for radio frequency laboratories, classrooms, incubator offices, warehouse space and outdoor radio systems at the STARGATE Technology Park located at the SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County.

Editor's Note: Looks like SpaceX is leveraging more Texas and federal money to build-up a phased-array radar tracking capability to support its launches at Boca Chica. (10/7)

$9 Million for STARGATE, In Support of SpaceX Launch Activity (Source: UT System)
A total of $4.4 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, $4.6 million from the UT System and $500,000 from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation will enable STARGATE researchers to develop the next generation of radio signal receiving and transmitting systems based on "phased-array" technology. This technology has the potential to be transformational in the commercial space and aviation sectors as well as in commercial communications markets. UT System’s contribution will primarily fund facilities and support infrastructure for the project.

The launch and control facility presents extraordinary opportunities for the development of high-tech jobs for South Texas, both directly with SpaceX and with the associated commercial development it will draw to the Rio Grande Valley. For The University of Texas System, the arrival of SpaceX provides a platform for the establishment of STARGATE – the first research center of excellence for the new UT Rio Grande Valley. STARGATE will be a cooperative effort with SpaceX to develop and support commercialization of phased-array technology for satellite and space vehicle communication.

The STARGATE facility will be a radio frequency technology park located adjacent to the SpaceX launch site command center. SpaceX will assemble and launch their signature advanced rockets and spacecraft, with launches every month at the Boca Chica Beach site. When not being used for launches, SpaceX facilities will be used by student and faculty researchers at STARGATE for training, scientific research and technology development. (9/22)

Why Astronauts Get the ‘Space Stupids’ (Source: BBC)
As he was hurtling into orbit, Cosmonaut Gherman Titov had the distinct feeling that his body was cartwheeling through the air. It started as soon as Vostok 2 separated from its booster and he was thrust into weightlessness. “I felt suddenly as though I were turning a somersault and then flying with my legs up,” he said later on. In reality, there was no cartwheel – the feeling was simply an illusion, something akin to an out-of-body experience.

For many astronauts, these sensations tend to stop after a couple of days in space, but others suffer the discombobulating feelings throughout their trip. “I knew I was standing upright… and nevertheless I felt upside down, despite the fact that everything was normally oriented around me,” is how one astronaut described his experience on the Spacelab space station.

And disorientation is not the only strange experience faced by astronauts. Space travel can also cause distorted vision and duller thinking, and might even influence mood. These mind-bending consequences are sometimes known as the “space stupids”, and could potentially put future missions in jeopardy. So what is the solution? Click here. (10/7)

Space Will Go Fully Commercial with 2015 Launch by Bigelow, SpaceX (Source: Venture Beat)
The International Space Station will continue its home improvement project next year, this time by adding a large, inflatable workroom from Bigelow Aerospace. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, will head to low-Earth orbit (LEO) in 2015 aboard the Dragon, a rocket built and operated by the privately run, Elon Musk-founded company SpaceX.

NASA is paying Bigelow $17.5 million for its extra room. The addition of a relatively inexpensive room, built by a private company and put into orbit by a private company, marks a fairly significant transition for manned spaceflight: From an activity led primarily by government agencies to one dominated by commercial interests.

“LEO will become a commercial domain,” Mike Gold, the director of D.C. operations for Bigelow Aerospace, told Space.com. Gold added that this mirrors an earlier transition with unmanned satellites. In the 1950s and 1960s, nearly every artificial satellite orbiting the Earth was put there by a government entity. Now, the publicly funded satellites are the exception, while most orbiters are put there by companies like DirecTV, Sirius/XM, Hughes, Loral Skynet, and many others. (10/7)

SpaceX Launching Seattle-Area Office, Recruiting Microsoft Engineers (Source: Geek Wire)
SpaceX, has been heavily recruiting engineers from Microsoft and other companies in the region as it gears up a new Seattle-area office. Recent status updates on LinkedIn show several former Microsoft engineers in the Seattle region joining SpaceX within the past month, and we’re hearing that the numbers are actually larger than that. Examples include a former Microsoft senior electrical engineer and a former principal electrical engineering lead at Microsoft who worked on “an incubation team developing proprietary hardware concepts” for the Redmond company. (10/6)

Virgin Galactic Teams with Hotel Near Spaceport (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Another local business has been picked by Virgin Galactic to offer hospitality to southern New Mexico's space tourists. And, no surprise, it's a Truth or Consequences lodge owned by media mogul and New Mexico land magnagte Ted Turner.

Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJS, announced that it has partnered with Ted Turner's Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa as it continues to expand its New Mexico accommodation options for future astronauts and their families. The Sierra County partnership complements the hospitality partnership in Dona Ana County with Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces. (10/6)

Russian Scientists Develop Mechanism for Rover’s Descent to Mars (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian scientists have developed a unique mechanism for the rover's descent to the surface of Mars, Lev Zeleny, the head of the Russian Space Research Institute said. "Our European colleagues want maximum safety for the rover, for it to be able to slide down, if necessary, to the surface of Mars in any direction. We have developed such a system," Zeleny said, adding that the solution presupposes the construction of two ramps upon which the rover will be able to drive off the landing deck. (10/3)

Utah State, NASA Partner to Test Atmosphere-Measuring Tool (Source:: Cache Valley Daily)
NASA is assisting a team from Utah State University in the testing of an instrument designed to measure upper-atmosphere weather conditions, a precursor to trialing the instrument on satellites. The team tested its split-field Etalon Doppler Imager device by attaching its to a NASA balloon that flies at high altitude. The effort was part of NASA's University Student Instrumentation Program, which gives students hands-on, scientific experience. (10/2)

NASA CRS 2 Competition Heats Up (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
With its Nov. 14 deadline, NASA's Commercial Resupply Services, or CRS 2, competition is expected to draw interest from a number of suppliers, including incumbents Orbital Sciences and SpaceX, as well as Sierra Nevada and Boeing. Within the next several weeks, Orbital is expected to choose a supplier for the Antares rocket first stage, a key step for its NASA CRS 2 bid. (10/3)

Skyscanner Predicts Space Vacations of the Future (Source: The Independent)
Travel site Skyscanner has predicted that holidays will be far more exotic in the future. By 2024, they say we could be jetting off outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The Future of Travel 2024 report shows new destinations we could potentially travel to, and how holidays will look ten years from now. Experts might dispute how realistic the predictions are when it comes to non-astronauts frequenting space by that time, but also say it's feasible that in the future we could all be following in the steps of Yuri Gagarin, who first ventured into space in 1961. (10/6)

Mankind Returns to the Moon (Source: The Telegraph)
While Virgin Galactic staggers towards its inaugural flight, Space Adventures is quietly getting on with business. The only company to have sent private individuals into space – seven people since 2001 – it is now preparing to launch the world’s first private mission to the moon. In 2018, two paying passengers and a Russian cosmonaut will travel around the moon and back, flying within 62 miles of its surface and witnessing Earth rise over the horizon.

It will be the first time humans have travelled beyond low-Earth orbit in more than 40 years. The last people to walk on the moon were Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in December 1972. The trio who make this circumlunar journey will come to within 60miles (100km) of the moon’s surface and will travel around the satellite’s far side before witnessing an “Earthrise” as they return home. 

The trip begins with the group first travelling to the International Space Station by Soyuz spacecraft. They will undertake 10 days’ acclimatisation there before recommencing their flight around the moon – a process that is expected to take six days. (10/6)

10 Years Since the X Prize—So Where Is My Space Taxi? (Source: Popular Mechanics)
When SpaceShipOne rocketed out of the atmosphere over Mojave, California, on October 4, 2004, it reached suborbital space for the second time in less than a week and the third time that year, capturing the $10 million Ansari X Prize. To those of us on the ground that morning, it seemed that the competition had done what X Prize founder Peter Diamandis had hoped, opening the door to commercial space travel.

Not long after, Richard Branson bolstered our hopes by signing SpaceShipOne builder Scaled Composites to build a bigger craft, SpaceShipTwo, for his Virgin Galactic outfit. Branson promised that VG would soon fly paying passengers on suborbital flights, offering the chance to see the curvature of the earth and experience a few minutes of microgravity.

And here we are 10 years later, still stuck on the ground. SpaceShipOne hangs on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, and no other craft has duplicated its achievement. In the decade since the X Prize, Scaled has completed SpaceShipTwo and its White Knight 2 mothership. And this past January, the craft completed its third rocket-powered flight. (10/6)

Countdown Continues on Commercial Spaceflight (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Ten years ago this month, the first private, reusable, manned spacecraft to rocket to the edge of space won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, setting in motion a commercial race to space that has sputtered since and taken longer than most imagined. The prize caught the eye of Richard Branson, who agreed to finance a fleet of commercial spacecraft built by Scaled Composites. Virgin Galactic – the catalyst and anchor tenant for New Mexico’s Spaceport America – was born.

The past decade has seen an explosion of research and development in technology to make suborbital and orbital travel possible – not funded in the old model by government but by industry. Although SpaceShipOne proved that a commercial venture could send a man to space, replicating that early success has proved difficult. No company, including Virgin Galactic, has sent a human to space since.

Spaceports hoping to host these budding commercial spaceflight companies have proliferated. New Mexico’s $212 million, taxpayer-funded spaceport plans to host Virgin Galactic once that company starts flying passengers commercially. The FAA has licensed nine spaceports around the country, including New Mexico’s Spaceport America and, the latest addition to the roster, a spaceport in Midland, Texas, licensed last month. (10/6)

Southern Hemi Analysis: Global Warming Underestimated By 24% To 58% (Source: Neomatica)
Oceanographers have discovered the heat content change of the Earth has been severely underestimated. New calculations suggest that the amount of heat added to the Earth in the last 35 years is 24% to 58% higher than thought, due to poor sampling of ocean temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere. The results have global implications as the ocean absorbs over 90% of the heat due to trapping by greenhouse gases.

The implications are that there has been greater net inflow of energy from the Sun, and greater amounts being stored in the world’s oceans. The scientists obtained satellite measurements of sea surface heights, and combined it with ocean temperature data collected between 1970 and 2004, a 35 year period. The reason for using sea surface height is that the volume change of the ocean is intimately linked to temperature: water expands as it is being warmed and additional water is added by increased melt from land ice. (10/6)

Groundbreaking for new Kennedy Space Center Headquarters (Source: News 13)
An Orange County construction company is getting ready to break ground on new headquarters for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday for the space center’s new 200,000-square-foot headquarters.

The seven-story building will consolidate services and administrative offices. Hensel Phelps Construction Company was awarded the two-year contract for more than $64 million. Plans call to demolish the current headquarters building. NASA said it will save $400 million over the next 40 years by cutting square footage, lowering operation and maintenance costs. Click here. (10/6)

Virgin Galactic Poised To Resume SpaceShipTwo Powered Flights (Source: Space News)
California — A nine-month pause in powered test flights of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle will end “imminently” as the company plans to take official possession of the vehicle and receive its launch license, company officials said Oct. 4. “Those are going to start imminently, literally very imminently,” said Mike Moses, vice president of operations of Virgin Galactic. SpaceShipTwo made its last powered test flight Jan. 10. In May, the company announced it was switching the fuel used in the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of rubber, to a polyamide-based plastic. (10/6)

Editorial: ADS-B Opposition for No Apparent Reason (Source: Space News)
International regulators should brush aside a curious recommendation by an alliance of high-profile satellite operators against approving satellite transmissions in radio frequencies currently reserved for air-to-ground links. The surprise recommendation by the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), if adopted, could complicate efforts by Aireon LLC and others to offer services to allow aircraft flying beyond the range of ground-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) antennas to relay their position via satellite to air traffic management authorities. ADS-B signals are derived from GPS position-location data. (10/6)

Incredible Shrinking Research Investments (Source: Space News)
For many years technology advancement and innovation have been at the heart of the great U.S. advantage that propelled us from an agrarian nation, focused primarily on farming in 1900, to the world’s only remaining superpower. Our military remains the singular dominant military in the world. But what will happen when we begin to fall behind in technology breakthroughs and innovation?

Investigating technology in a pure research sense in and of itself does not make a nation great; it takes the innovator to figure out how to turn that technology into something important. However, without technology advances the innovator has little to work with. It is not just the military that has been propelled forward with the technology advances made possible through U.S. investments in military and civil capabilities. What a different world we would be in today without the technology and innovation advancements made by government investments. Click here. (10/6)

Private Inflatable Room Launching to Space Station Next Year (Source: Space.com)
A privately built inflatable room for astronauts on the International Space Station is on track to launch into orbit next year. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is expected to head to space inside SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft in 2015, according to a senior representative for the company Bigelow Aerospace, which is building the module. Once BEAM gets to the space station, the robotic Canadarm2 will install it on the Tranquility node's aft port to test out expandable-habitat technology.

NASA is paying Nevada-based Bigelow $17.8 million to send the demonstration module to the station, where it will be in place for at least a couple of years. Here at the International Astronautical Congress Thursday (Oct. 2), Bigelow representative Mike Gold said BEAM provides an example of what the company, and private firms in general, can do in low-Earth orbit (LEO). "LEO will become a commercial domain," said Gold, Bigelow's director of D.C. operations and business growth. (10/6)

NASA Selects New Science Teams for Astrobiology Research (Source: Astrobiology)
NASA has awarded five-year grants totaling almost $50 million to seven research teams nationwide to study the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. "With the Curiosity rover characterizing the potential habitability of Mars, the Kepler mission discovering new planets outside our solar system, and Mars 2020 on the horizon, these research teams will provide the critical interdisciplinary expertise to help interpret data from these missions and future astrobiology-focused missions, " said Jim Green. Average funding for each team will be approximately $8 million. Click here. (10/6)

NASA Study Finds Earth’s Ocean Abyss Has Not Warmed (Source: NASA)
The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself. "The sea level is still rising, We're just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details." (10/6)

SpaceX Wins Safety-by-Design Award (Source: Space Safety)
The International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety has announced that this year’s Vladimir Syromiatnikov Safety-by-Design Award will go to Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) for safety accomplishments related to its Dragon vehicle. The award will be received at the 7th IAASS Conference Awards Gala Dinner by SpaceX Director of Risk and System Safety Michael Lutomski. (10/6)

Roscosmos: Russia Remains Committed to Space Tourism (Source: Moscow Times)
The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos says that the country remains committed to space tourism, and that international cooperation in space is continuing despite international tensions over the Ukraine crisis. Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko pointed out that British pop-star Sarah Brightman will arrive in Russia in January to begin training for her Oct. 4, 2015, flight to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Brightman is scheduled to spend 10 days aboard the ISS and return to earth with a departing ISS crew in mid-October. (10/6)

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