January 15, 2015

NASA Just Sent its Astronauts Some Weird Stuff (Source: Quartz)
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station on Jan. 12, and astronauts will be unloading more than 5,100 lbs (2,300kg) of cargo it brought up for NASA and other space agencies over the next month. Beyond the supplies, late Christmas presents, and replacement equipment that astronauts had been waiting for patiently, there were a few unusual items that the Dragon took up. Click here. (1/15)

Musk Looks to Poach Microsoft, Boeing Workers with Huge New Seattle Office (Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal)
Seattle is becoming a pit stop on the way to space. SpaceX, the California-based commercial space exploration and manufacturing company, will soon join the ranks of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Planetary Resources, by adding a Seattle-area office. The main focus of the office will be satellite technology. But the office may also dabble in rockets.

"[It will be] primarily satellites," said Musk. "But for people – really excellent talent – who want to work on rockets but refuse to live in L.A. then they can work in the Seattle office." It's no wonder the contracted-NASA researcher set its sights on the Puget Sound region. Musk said about one-third of SpaceX's employees come from the aerospace industry and that tech giants, such as Microsoft, are also a good source of promising employees. (1/14)

Cruz: US Must Go Deeper Into Space (Source: The Hill)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the new head of the Senate’s subcommittee on space, wants to go where no man has gone before. “We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond, and not on political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate,” the Texas Republican said.

Cruz was installed as the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness last week. Texas is a major hub of the U.S. space industry, and Cruz seems ready to defend the agency’s gradually shrinking budget. Cruz lauded private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX that are pushing to bring Americans back to outer space, and which present “important new opportunities for us all.” (1/14)

Camden Administrator to Pitch Spaceport (Source: Brunswick News)
Camden County Administrator Steve Howard is trying to drum up all the support he can for a regional spaceport. He has accepted an invitation to speak to the Coastal Regional Commission. The message Howard said he plans to deliver is simple: A spaceport in Camden County will have an impact that will affect the region in a positive way. A spaceport could bring as many as 2,500 jobs to Camden County, according to estimates. “I’m confident it will transform the whole coast,” Howard said. “It’s not just a Camden project. It impacts the entire coast and state.” (1/14)

Surplus Sale of NASA-Flown Gold (Source: Collect Space)
A government surplus auction is selling a NASA space artifact that may be worth its weight in gold. That's because it is gold. "One lot consisting six 24KT gold plates weighing 6,015.5 grams," the General Services Administration (GSA) listed on its auction site. "These plates were reportedly flown in space for 69 months." As of Wednesday (Jan. 14), the gold plates had attracted six bids totaling more than $150,000. The auction ends in eight days on Jan. 22. (1/14)

Space Debris Expert Warns About Dangers of Orbital Junk (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The emerging problem of floating space junk becomes more and more evident and bothersome. Spacecraft and satellites are currently subject to high-speed impacts by more than 19,000 trackable objects, mainly old satellites, spent rocket stages, and fragments from disintegration, erosion, and collisions. There are also several hundred thousand objects the size of marbles, and several million the size of sand grains. Even a tiny piece of debris can inflict considerable damage, or even destroy an orbiting operational spacecraft. (1/14)

Russia Delays Decision on Using ISS after 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia has delayed a ruling on its future use of the International Space Station, a source in Russia's space agency said Tuesday, as economic turmoil buffets the country's space program. NASA has said the ISS will remain operational until 2024

"No decision will be made on the ISS" until the government has come up with a new long-term space space programme expected later this year, a space agency source said. Russia was supposed to have taken a decision in December about the future of the ageing international space laboratory, which was put into orbit in 1998. (1/13)

Tom Feeney Elected to Space Foundation Board of Directors (Source: Paramus Post)
The board of directors of the Space Foundation today elected former Florida Congressman Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, to a three-year term as a member of the board. Feeney joins the Space Foundation board as another Floridian, former Congressman David Weldon, M.D., retires after two terms of service.

Feeney represented Florida's 24th Congressional District in Congress from 2002 to 2008. He had previously served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1990 to 2002, and was Speaker of the House from 2000-2002. Weldon represented Florida's 15th Congressional District from 1994 to 2008. (1/14)

USAF Awards Support Contract for Launch Ranges (Source: Space Daily)
A joint venture company of Raytheon and General Dynamics is to operate, maintain and sustain U.S. Air Force launch and test ranges in Florida and California. The $1.5 billion award - the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support contract - has a one-year base performance period with nine one-year options. The contract consolidates existing operations and maintenance work at the ranges at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base. (1/12)

Long Duration Weightlessness in Space Induces a Blood Shift (Source: EurekAlert)
Researchers found that in space, the shift of blood and fluid from the lower to the upper body caused by weightlessness is much higher and the blood pressure much lower than previously thought. Researchers measured the volume of blood ejected by the heart into the blood vessels and monitored the blood pressure in eight astronauts aged between 45-53 years during a 24 hour period with portable equipment. (1/14)

Experts Explore Medical Safety Needs of Civilian Space Travel (Source: EurekAlert)
The commercial aviation industry has medical care standards, as does NASA for traditional space missions, and the emerging commercial space transportation industry will need to define medical care practices as well. The unique risks posed by commercial spaceflight warrant the establishment of Medical Levels of Care to account for the different phases of suborbital and orbital missions. Click here. (1/14)

Orion Test Flight “Tremendously Successful” But Schedule Challenges Remain (Source: Space News)
An initial analysis of data from Orion’s first test flight last month indicates that the spacecraft performed better than expected in many respects, although NASA officials confirmed that this success won’t accelerate its next test flight, still planned for 2018.

In presentations at a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee Jan. 13 at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, officials also said that plans for the first crewed Orion mission will depend on which upper stage is available in time for that 2021 flight. (1/14)

Can Crowdfunded Astronomy Work? (Source: Space.com)
Just as crowdsourcing has emerged as a new way to solve immense scientific problems, crowdfunding is emerging as a way to address the immense scientific funding crisis. Crowdsourcing, in which many participants use the Internet to contribute bits of content toward a larger goal, has allowed problems of previously insurmountable scale to be efficiently analyzed and solved. Astronomy has been at the forefront of this "citizen science" approach. Click here. (1/13)

Don't Panic, Just Look: Asteroid 2004 BL86 Will Fly Past Us (Source: NBC)
NASA says an asteroid about a third of a mile wide (500 meters wide) known as 2004 BL86 will pass within 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of Earth on Jan. 26. The space rock should be big enough and close enough for amateurs to spot using a small telescope or a powerful pair of binoculars — but it won't pose any risk to Earth in the foreseeable future, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says. (1/14)

Space Industry Growing, Looking for Talented Postgrads (Source: Guardian)
“The space industry is growing massively in the UK,” says Chris Bridges, lecturer at the University of Surrey’s MSc in space engineering. “Space is a good place to be as an engineer – it’s very multidisciplinary; if you can build something for space, you can build it for anywhere.” UK technology is now in orbit around Saturn, Mars, Venus and the moon, as well as aboard numerous satellites orbiting the Earth. The sector contributes about £9bn to the UK economy. (1/14)

ISS Crew Back to US Segment After False Alarm (Source: Florida Today)
Astronauts have returned to their home on the International Space Station after an alarm suggesting a possible ammonia leak forced the crew to seal themselves in a Russian segment of the orbiting outpost — twice.

In an update issued by NASA, station managers directed the ISS residents to fully return to the American segment by end-of-day Wednesday after no ammonia was detected in the cabin. The crew is still safe and teams at the Johnson Space Center in Houston continue to evaluate data from Wednesday morning's suspected false alarm. (1/14)

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