January 12, 2015

Tolerance for Testing (Source: Space Review)
On Saturday, SpaceX attempted to land a Falcon 9 first stage on a ship, and while coming close, was widely considered in the media to have failed that test. Jeff Foust examines whether the public and the media need a better understanding of, and appreciation for, aerospace flight test and what constitutes success and failure. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2676/1 to view the article. (1/12)

Encouraging Private Investment in Space (Source: Space Review)
Jonathan Babcock concludes his two-part examination of property rights in space by examining several options for protecting private investment in space, in some cases without major changes to existing space treaties. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2675/1 to view the article. (1/12)

Two Astronomy Missions Back From the Brink (Source: Space Review)
Two major NASA astronomy projects, the Kepler space telescope and SOFIA airborne observatory, had been facing early ends for technical and fiscal reasons. Jeff Foust reports from a major astronomy conference how both have managed to continue their missions even with tightened budgets. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2674/1 to view the article. (1/12)

Better Than the Real Thing (Source: Space Review)
Museums often desire to show real flight hardware, but often have to settle with replicas, trainers, and other test articles associated with spaceflight. Jeff Foust visits one museum to find that, sometimes, such items have benefits that flown hardware doesn't. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2673/1 to view the article. (1/12)

Ted Cruz, Longtime Foe of NASA and Science, Will Oversee NASA and Science (Source: Huffington Post)
Following the ratification of Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committtee last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was named chair of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, where he will oversee NASA and science programs. But the Republican senator's words and actions during his time in office have painted him to be a far cry from an advocate for the sciences, leaving many concerned about the future of space and science funding.

On Monday, Cruz blamed the Obama administration for cutting funding for NASA. "One of the problems with the Obama administration is that it has degraded NASA. It has degraded for space exploration, degraded manned exploration because the Obama administration has undervalued that and shifted to funding other priorities," Cruz said in a statement. "It shifted the funding to global warming pursuits rather than carry out NASA’s core mission." (1/12)

With New Congress, Military Space Has New Overseers (Source: Space News)
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will replace former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) as chairman of the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the nation’s spy satellites, in the just-convened 114th Congress. Rogers did not run for re-election this past November. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) will serve as the committee’s ranking member. Schiff replaces Rep. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD), whose term on the committee expired.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) will chair the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, which oversees military space and missile defense programs. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) will head the full committee. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) will chair the full House Appropriations Committee, while Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) will head the defense appropriations subcommittee. (1/12)

World’s Most Powerful Camera Receives Funding Approval (Source: SLAC)
Plans for the construction of the world’s largest digital camera at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have reached a major milestone. The 3,200-megapixel centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will provide unprecedented details of the universe and help address some of its biggest mysteries, has received key “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE.

Science operations are scheduled to begin in 2022 with LSST taking digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce the widest, deepest and fastest views of the night sky ever observed. Over a 10-year time frame, the observatory will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will catalog more objects in the universe than there are people on Earth—and will create movies of the sky with details that have never been seen before. (1/9)

Florida Tech Experiment Heads to Space Station (Source: Florida Today)
A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule that is due to arrive at the International Space Station this morning is carrying a small but ambitious experiment designed and built by students at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. The box of nine vials will study how proteins organize themselves into long, thin strands, a process of self-assembly relevant to research about the origins of life and about degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's.

"Once we understand that process, we might be able to then lead to an understanding of the cause of Alzheimer's disease, and maybe even eventually a cure or a treatment," said Sam Durrance, a Florida Tech professor leading the investigation, during a recent NASA interview. "That's the long-term dream." The experiment was selected by a 2012 competition sponsored by Space Florida and NanoRacks, a company that provides equipment and support for non-NASA research on the ISS. (1/12)

NASA Astronaut Suit Enables a Disabled Boy to Walk (Source: Inhabitots)
For three year-old Georgie Craig, learning to walk hasn’t been categorized as a normal developmental milestone: it’s the result of hard work and the innovative use of a NASA spacesuit. Georgie, who was diagnosed with Global Development Delay at age 1, struggled to learn to walk and to communicate until his parents discovered an alternative therapy involving a Therasuit, originally used by astronauts to help rebuild muscle strength after returning from outer space.

The challenging and rigorous play therapy helps Georgie train his brain, reflexes, and muscles to work together to help him walk. Since he began using the spacesuit last month, Georgia has made tremendous progress, including taking eleven unaided steps on Christmas Eve. His parents are hopeful that Georgie will continue making strides (literally) in his treatment and that he will begin making verbal progress as well. (1/12)

SpaceX’s Rocket Landing Platform Back in Port (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
SpaceX’s ocean-going rocket landing pad — dubbed the autonomous spaceport drone ship — is back in port after a Falcon 9 rocket booster crashed on the platform during an experimental flyback maneuver following Saturday’s successful liftoff with supplies for the International Space Station.

Under tow from a tugboat, the 300-foot-long Marmac 300 cargo barge arrived at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida on Sunday afternoon. The images below show it in the St. Johns River near Dames Point Bridge. Photos of the barge show signs of blast and burn damage to cargo containers and possible wreckage from the rocket covered by tarps on the platform’s deck. The rest of the vessel appeared undamaged. Click here. (1/11)

Virgin Galactic Has New Vice President of Safety (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic has named one its pilots, Todd Ericson, as its new vice president of safety and test. The appointment comes about a year after the company’s previous vice president of safety retired from the company. Ericson, who previously flew for the U.S. Air Force, joined Virgin Galactic as a pilot in July. (1/11)

What’s Behind the Hole in the Sun? (Source: Cosmos)
There were no fireworks from the Sun this New Year's. Instead NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft saw the exact opposite, as a gigantic dark hole appeared on the Sun’s surface. Located around the Sun’s south pole, the hole measured around 400,000 kilometers at its widest point – the equivalent of more than 30 Earths placed side-by-side.

So what caused this immense blotch on the underside of our Sun? Coronal holes were first seen by the Skylab space station in the 1970s. We still don’t know why they occur, but we do understand something of what’s going on. Click here. (1/12)

CRS-5 Docks with International Space Station (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Saturday, Jan. 20, 2015, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, carrying an unmanned Dragon spacecraft with supplies and scientific experiments for the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft made rendezvous with the ISS early Monday morning, was grappled by the ISS’s robotic arm, and successfully berthed to the station three hours later. (1/12)

NextGen Upgrades Required by 2020 (Source: Forbes)
The Federal Aviation Administration has mandated that all planes, including business jets, be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) by 2020. Airplane owners should be thinking now about how they will upgrade their craft, says Jens Hennig, vice president of Operations at the General Aircraft Manufacturers Association. (1/9)

Contractors Receive Boost from NASA Climate Change Study (Source: Washington Post)
Exelis, Orbital Sciences and Science Systems and Applications are among the contractors helping NASA study the movement of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in one of the first large-scale attempts to understand the specifics of climate change. (1/11)

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