January 27, 2015

Swarm of Microprobes to Head for Jupiter (Source: Space Daily)
A swarm of tiny probes each with a different sensor could be fired into the clouds of Jupiter and grab data as they fall before burning up in the gas giant planet's atmosphere. The probes would last an estimated 15 minutes according to planetary scientists. Transmitting 20 megabits of data over fifteen minutes would be sufficient to allow scientists to get a picture of a large part of the atmosphere of the planet.

"Our concept shows that for a small enough probe, you can strip off the parachute and still get enough time in the atmosphere to take meaningful data while keeping the relay close and the data rate high," said John Moores. The team suggests that the presence of the European Space Agency (ESA) JUICE orbiter in the Jovian system set to begin in 2030 might facilitate a tandem mission that carried micro satellites to the planet. (1/27)

SLS Solid Booster Ready for Test (Source: Space Daily)
A full-scale version of the booster for NASA's new rocket, the Space Launch System, is ready to fire for a major ground test and is paving the way on NASA's journey to Mars. When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 engines will power the SLS to orbit and enable astronauts to explore destinations in deep space, including an asteroid and the Red Planet.

The two-minute, full-duration static test -- scheduled for March 11 at booster prime contractor ATK's test facility in Promontory, Utah -- is a huge milestone for the program and will qualify the booster design for high temperature conditions. Editor's Note: The ATK solid fuel boosters would initially be used on SLS, but they may be replaced with liquid fuel boosters as the SLS design evolves. (1/27)

Asteroid That Flew Past Earth Has Moon (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86. The images show the asteroid, which made its closest approach today (Jan. 26, 2015) at 8:19 a.m. PST (11:19 a.m. EST) at a distance of about 745,000 miles (3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon), has its own small moon.

The 20 individual images used in the movie were generated from data collected at Goldstone on Jan. 26, 2015. They show the primary body is approximately 1,100 feet (325 meters) across and has a small moon approximately 230 feet (70 meters) across. (1/27)

M-TeX and MIST Experiments Launched from Alaska (Source: Space Daily)
The Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere Turbulence Experiment, or M-TeX, and the Mesospheric Inversion-layer Stratified Turbulence, or MIST, experiment were successfully conducted the morning of Jan. 26, 2015, from the Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska.

The first M-Tex rocket, a NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket, was launched at 4:13 a.m. EST and was followed one-minute later by the first MIST experiment payload on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion. The second M-TeX payload was launched at 4:46 a.m. EST and also was followed one minute later by the second MIST payload. (1/27)

It Takes Vision to Build a New Industry (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
I agree with the governor's optimism: Here's why. The New Mexico Legislature has been in session for two weeks now. Reports are coming from Santa Fe about southern New Mexico. More debate is occurring about the future of our spaceport. Establishing a new industry like commercial space transportation requires demand for its products and services.

Commercial products of the commercial space transportation industry include new launch vehicles, satellites and their related technologies. A new industry also requires leaders who are committed and have the ability to articulate and advocate. There is a way to separate advocacy from hype: results.

Yet, local attention is growing into a gathering storm as more legislators begin to discuss again, what are we doing with this spaceport? While the spaceport has been a subject of controversy, the legislators are becoming more familiar with the project, but are they familiar with commercial space? Click here. (1/27)

Commercial Space Rides for U.S. Astronauts to Save Millions (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. space program should save more than $12 million a seat flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station on commercial space taxis rather than aboard Russian capsules, the NASA program manager said on Monday. In September, NASA awarded contracts worth up to a combined $6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX to fly crew to the station.

NASA expects to pay an average of $58 million a seat when its astronauts begin flying on Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon capsules in 2017, Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, told reporters. “I don’t ever want to have to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017, hopefully,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

For its manned test flight, Boeing plans to fly one as-yet-unnamed company astronaut and one NASA astronaut. SpaceX said it is still deciding on a test flight crew. Though schedules show SpaceX being ready ahead of Boeing to fly operational missions, NASA currently expects Boeing to begin flight services first in December 2017, Lueders said. (1/26)

ULA's Challenge is Good News for Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
ULA seems committed to driving down costs for its launch services at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Redesigning the Atlas may be one way to achieve this, but the company's quest should include efforts -- alongside SpaceX, other users, and stakeholders like Space Florida -- to make the spaceport more competitive. So in addition to potentially winning new commercial launch contracts, ULA may become a more aggressive ally for tackling some of the impediments historically blamed for making the Cape unattractive to commercial users. (1/27)

Weird X-Rays Spur Speculation about Dark Matter Detection (Source: Scientific American)
Many major discoveries in astronomy began with an unexplained signal: pulsars, quasars and the cosmic microwave background are just three out of many examples. When astronomers recently discovered x-rays with no obvious origin, it sparked an exciting hypothesis. Maybe this is a sign of dark matter, the invisible substance making up about 85 percent of all the matter in the universe. If so, it hints that the identity of the particles is different than the prevailing models predict. (1/26)

The Limits of Cruz Control (Source: Space Review)
During a slow time in space policy in recent weeks, one topic that has attracted attention and controversy is the selection of Ted Cruz to chair a Senate subcommittee on space. Jeff Foust discusses what the senator can, and can't, do from his new chairmanship. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2684/1 to view the article. (1/26)

Mars One, the "Third Quarter Effect" (Source: Space Review)
Long-duration expeditions, on Earth and in space, can suffer from psychological issues, particularly just beyond the halfway point of the mission. John Putnam argues that those issues could be more serious for a mission that does not have an end at all. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2683/1 to view the article. (1/26)

Spacewalking Through America's Attic (Source: Space Review)
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum doesn't just place space artifacts on display; it also restores them. Dwayne Day describes some of those artifacts under restoration the museum showed off during a recent open house. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2682/1 to view the article. (1/26)

Asteroid Mission Makes Sense (Source: BayNews 9)
Space experts said the asteroid redirect mission as it’s called would be a cheaper endeavor than other options being considered. "To me, the asteroid mission make sense because I don't think Congress is ever going to give us the money necessary to go to the moon or Mars any time in the distant future," said Dale Ketcham, from Space Florida. By landing on an asteroid, NASA also hopes we can learn how to avert a future collision. However, scientists are more worried about the space rocks we cannot detect. (1/26)

Orbital Sciences Expects First RD-181 Engines To Arrive by July (Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. expects to take delivery of the first pair of its newly purchased Russian rocket engines in June or July, with a second pair arriving before the end of the year, under a contract whose value Orbital said has been overstated in the Russian press.

Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital, mindful that using of Russian rocket hardware raises eyebrows in some quarters given U.S. and European sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, also said it stands ready to swap out its Russian hardware with a U.S. supplier should a suitable product be made available for Orbital’s Antares medium-lift rocket. (1/26)

‘Orange is Not Going To Be the New Black for Shotwell’ (Source: Space News)
At a NASA press conference Jan. 26 to discuss the U.S. space agency’s commercial crew transportation efforts, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that SpaceX anticipated performing at least 50 launches of its Falcon 9 rocket before the first test flight of a Dragon spacecraft carrying crew, planned for early 2017.

During a question-and-answer session that followed, one reporter asked Shotwell if that estimated number of Falcon 9 launches included Air Force missions that the company might win as a result of a settlement the Air Force and SpaceX reached Jan. 23, about which neither side has revealed many details. Shotwell, in her response, indicated no desire to get into trouble with the government by offering more details about that settlement.

“Much of the agreement between the Air Force and SpaceX remains embargoed, and orange is not going to be the new black for Shotwell. So I can tell you that we did not anticipate a huge number of Air Force missions in my 50-flight assessment prior to flying crew, but we were obviously pleased with the outcome of the discussions.” (1/26)

Registration Opens for 43rd Space Congress on Space Coast (Source: CCTS)
The 43rd Space Congress is planned for April 28-30 in Cape Canaveral. The event is being organized by the Canaveral Council of Technical Societies and will feature panel, paper and poster sessions focused on the future of space and aerospace in our state. Click here for information and registration. (1/26)

NASA Observes Day of Remembrance (Source: NASA)
NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency's annual Day of Remembrance Wednesday, Jan. 28. NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Following the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, various NASA centers will hold remembrance events for their employees. Kennedy Space Center in Florida will hold a brief ceremony. (1/26)

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