January 6, 2015

SpaceX to Attempt to Land Rocket on Barge Off Jacksonville's Coast (Source: WJAX)
SpaceX will make a first of its kind landing attempt, landing a 14-story piece of the rocket on a barge 200 miles of Jacksonville’s coast. It's a move that not only will make history but save a ton of money in the long run. However, the chance for success is a toss-up.

It's all supposed to happen on a 300-foot automated barge 200 miles away from our local beaches. The point of all of this is to eventually be able to re-use these expensive rockets over again instead of it splashing down only once in corrosive salt water. (1/6)

Falcon 9 Fizzles: No Launch Until Jan. 9 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The fifth operational flight under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS ) contract, carried out by SpaceX, will have to wait just a little longer before taking off into the early-morning skies. This was caused by an issue with the thrust vector control system, an actuator drift on the Falcon 9 v1.1's second stage, which caused the terminal account to be cancelled just one minute and 21 seconds prior to the 6:20 a.m. EST launch time. (1/6)

North Dakota Test Site Grounded as it Waits for FAA Drone Rules (Source: MPR)
As one of only six sites in the U.S. cleared for the testing of commercial drones, North Dakota has received requests from hundreds of businesses inquiring about using the facility, but a lack of rules from the Federal Aviation Administration has so far kept the industry grounded. (1/6)

New Ideas in Space Technology Getting Short-Changed by Congress (Source: PRI)
While new technologies for planetary science and space exploration show great promise, the budget for space technology got short shrift in the spending bill recently passed by Congress. The space technology program, which in the early years of the Obama administration had been funded at the level of a billion dollars, has only been funded at five hundred million or six hundred million dollars a year,” says Mason Peck. Click here. (1/6)

SpaceX Looking at Unused Cape Canaveral Launch Complex for Future Landing Site (Source: Florida Today)
The company and the Air Force are negotiating a deal for SpaceX to use Launch Complex 13, a former Atlas launch pad near where John Glenn blasted off, as a future landing site for returning boosters. "We expect to have a final decision on such agreement no later than Jan. 31," said Chris Calkins, a spokesman for the Air Force's 45th Space Wing.

Editor's Note: Landing back at the spaceport will require a very high-elevation trajectory for the Falcon-9 launches, which would not be optimal for payload throw-weight. This would also bring a whole new facet to the range safety equation. SpaceX will have to prove the landing concept works well and accurately for multiple far-downrange landings before the Air Force would permit a landing alongside the Cape's other high-value launch pads. (1/6)

New Mexico Lawmaker Introduces Bil to Limit Spaceport Spending (Source: Parabolic Arc)
New Mexico State Senator Lee S. Cotter (R-Las Cruces) has introduced legislation to repeal the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s (NMSA) power to issue bonds and limit its ability to used tax revenues to support Spaceport America.

Senate Bill 75 aims to remove the ability of NMSA to “issue revenue bonds and borrow money”. The measure would also require the full amount of spaceport gross receipts tax revenues collected in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to be dedicated to paying the principal and interest on bonds that were issued to fund spaceport construction. This provision would take effect on July 1, 2015. (1/5)

How to Make a Planet Just Like Earth (Source: Science)
Only a small number of worlds around other stars look anything like Earth: roughly the same size and at the right distance from their star for liquid water to be present. But are these Earth-like exoplanets really made from the same sort of stuff—a rocky surface, an iron core, and just a dash of water?

A study presented here today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society suggests that exoplanets, at least up to 1.6 times the mass of Earth, follow pretty much the same recipe as our home. So if we’re looking for life out there, we can probably ignore anything bigger than that.

NASA’s Kepler satellite has detected the greatest number of exoplanets. It detects them by the dip in brightness they cause when they pass in front of their parent star. This decrease allows researchers to deduce the diameter of the planet but not its mass. Measuring mass requires an entirely different technique. As an exoplanet orbits its star, its own gravity makes the star wobble back and forth very slightly—the heavier the star, the greater the wobble. (1/5)

Israel Seeks To Strengthen Space Ties with Japan (Source: Space News)
Israel aims to strengthen trade ties with Japan in space research and cybersecurity, among other sectors, under an investment plan the Israeli cabinet approved Jan. 4. The plan calls for investing an unspecified “millions” of shekels over three years to foster bilateral trade ties, expand joint research grants and increase cooperation in space, cyber and information security, according to a Jan. 4 announcement.

Editor's Note: Perhaps this will be similar to the joint Florida-Israel grant program for aerospace R&D, which is in its second year under Space Florida's management. (1/6)

Middle East Investment in Space Continues to Grow (Source: Zawya)
National investment in space technology is continuing to grow, as the UAE seeks to develop a long-term strategic plan for a solid and sustainable foundation for advanced space innovation and exploration. All of which is expected to aid the growth of science and knowledge based economy.

Compared to the $300 billion international space industry, the UAE's investment in space technology is already substantial exceeding AED 20 billion ($5.44 billion). Leading industry experts from around the world will meet in Dubai at the Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF) in May to discuss how commercial space and satellite technology is creating new economic, social and educational benefits for nations globally. (1/6)

NASA Astronaut: Why We Need To Visit The Moon, Not Mars (Source: Business Insider)
There's so much talk about going to Mars that we tend to overlook a more reasonable mission that is staring us in the face, says former NASA astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman. A mission to the moon would be infinitely cheaper, shorter, and safer than a trip to Mars, which is partly why Hoffman says it makes more sense to revisit our lunar neighbor before we attempt to conquer the Red Planet.

The moon is nearly 600 times closer than Mars, and we already have a history of successfully landing on it. "We basically just scratched the surface during Apollo, you know," Hoffman told Business Insider. "Some people say, 'Oh, been there. Done that.' They just don't understand." And he's not the only one who thinks this. (1/6)

Coming Soon From SpaceX's Elon Musk: How to Move to Mars (Source: NBC)
lon Musk, says this is the year that he'll unveil his plan for getting human colonists to Mars, as well as his 21st-century design for spacesuits. Those are just a couple of the tidbits from a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat session he conducted on the eve of an ambitious SpaceX Falcon 9 launch — an effort that will involve trying to land the rocket's first stage on a floating ocean platform.

More than 6,200 comments were registered during Monday night's hour-plus session, and Musk could answer only 26 questions. Click here for a sampling. (1/6)

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