December 20, 2014

NASA, Planetary Scientists Find Meteoritic Evidence of Mars Water Reservoir (Source: Space Daily)
NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface. Though controversy still surrounds the origin, abundance and history of water on Mars, this discovery helps resolve the question of where the "missing Martian water" may have gone. (12/19)

SpaceX Successfully Completes Static Fire Test (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Dec. 19, SpaceX successfully completed a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used in the company's fifth commercial resupply  mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The test was performed with the rocket on the pad at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC 40) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida and ran for the full duration. (12/20)

State Spaceports Receive Federal Funding (Source: Space Daily)
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) will receive half of the $6 million in the Federal Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations Omnibus Bill (HR83) for state owned spaceports. AAC has been working with the Alaska congressional delegation for the past two years to establish a program to support non-Federal spaceports that provide launch services in support of the national security space program, similar to the funding program used to support launches from Federal launch complexes.

It could not have come at a more critical time. With the state under pressure to reduce state expenditures, this appropriation recognizes that the Federal government has an obligation to provide financial support to non-Federal spaceports that provide launch services for the Federal government. This appropriation allows non-Federal spaceports to remain competitive in launch service costs, which should generate increased launches in future years.

Editor's Note: I wonder which state will get the other $3 million. Meanwhile, Virginia will receive $20 million for repairs to the Antares launch pad at Wallops Island. (12/20)

Tax On Smartphones Could Help Pay For Space Debris Removal (Source: io9)
So far, governments have opted to deal with the problem of space junk by implementing policies to reduce the creation of more debris. But that alone won't cut it — we also need to be removing stuff from orbit. One way to cover the high costs of space junk disposal would be a $1 tax on every GPS chip in a smartphone. Click here. (12/15)

ESA Scientists Say Philae Lander Will Wake Up in 2015 (Source: Space Daily)
The team of scientists and engineers responsible for this fall's historic comet landing are confident Philae's current slumber is only temporary. "I think within the team there is no doubt that we will wake up," lead lander scientist Jean-Pierre Bibring said. "And the question is OK, in what shape? My suspicion is we'll be in good shape."

The lander isn't necessarily dead, only out of juice. After a bouncy landing, Philae ended up in the shadow of a cliff at the edge of crater. Researchers quickly ordered the lander to begin collecting samples and taking measurements, but the science could only last so long. With little to no sunlight, Philae's solar panels weren't able to recharge its batteries. (12/17)

Airbus Breaks World In-Orbit Longevity Record (Source: SpaceRef)
Inmarsat-2 F2, the second Eurostar satellite designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, was retired from operational service and safely decommissioned this week after completing a record breaking flawless commercial mission in geostationary orbit of 23.5 years. It takes the record away from Airbus Defence and Space’s first ever Eurostar satellite, Inmarsat-2 F1 which achieved 22.5 years – both far outliving their projected design life of ten years. (12/19)

Moon Express Readying Lunar Lander for Tether Tests at KSC (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A private space company, Moon Express, is preparing for their first tethered tests of a prototype compact lunar lander at the Lunar Terrain Field at Kennedy Space Center. The MTV-1X lander is about the size of a coffee table and is dwarfed in size by the NASA-developed Morpheus Lander. (12/19)

SpaceX's Planned Ocean Landing for Falcon Tests Limits of Accuracy (Source: Business Insider)
SpaceX's attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform after its mission to the International Space Station will be like "trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm," according to the company. The feat will demonstrate a new level of landing accuracy for rocket retrieval and reuse. If successful, the company will set a new standard in space exploration — one that could eventually cut the cost of space travel by a factor of 100, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk. (12/16)

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