February 12, 2015

NASA Plans More Flight Demos Under New Strategy (Source: Aviation Week)
With an almost $100 million boost to its fiscal 2015 budget from Congress and a 2016 request that is $20 million up on what the administration originally sought last year, NASA’s aeronautics leadership believes its restructured research program is off to a strong start. This includes a renewed commitment to flight demonstrations.

NASA is seeking $571 million for aeronautics research in fiscal 2016, 3% of its total budget request for more than $18.5 billion. That is down from the $651 million enacted last year, but up from the $551 million requested for 2015. “We think that is strong for aeronautics,” says Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for aeronautics. (2/9)

Mojave Air and Space Port Video Focus (Source: KGET)
Mojave Air and Spaceport moves forward, refusing to let the setback derail progress. “Nobody that I work with thinks that we’re going to evolve into the next phase of human transportation without a mishap in the r and d phase,” said Mojave Air and Spaceport General Manager Stu Witt. “We have a lot of people who said, ‘this is too important, and you guys gotta keep going.’”

They are not alone in their dedication to progress. Following the crash of SpaceShipTwo, against all odds, Virgin Galactic ticket sales spiked. Perhaps it is Mojave’s history that inspires such confidence. The airspace over the desert there is steeped in aviation history. It’s where we broke the sound barrier, where countless military aircraft have been tested, concepts validated and innovations integrated. Click here. (2/11)

Let's Send a Private Mission to Europa, Expert Says (Source: Space Daily)
Jupiter's icy moon Europa puzzles astrobiologists and sparks the imagination of extraterrestrial life seekers. It is believed that the moon has a subsurface ocean of liquid water, where life could possibly be similar to microbial life forms on Earth. The likely presence of liquid water has ignited persisting calls to send a probe there. Currently NASA and ESA plan their own missions to the potentially habitable moon.

Europa Clipper mission has just got approved for $30 million in the 2016 NASA budget and ESA's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) is scheduled for launch in 2022. But an astrobiology expert, Christopher Impey of the University of Arizona, thinks that the private sector could also take part in the race to Europa.

"I think the private sector could step in. If Google or Amazon wanted to fund a more ambition mission and 'brand' what would potentially be the first detection of life beyond Earth, it would be an enormous coup," Impey told astrowatch.net. He is the author of popular books about astrobiology: 'The Living Cosmos: Our Search for Life in the Universe', 'Talking About Life: Conversations on Astrobiology', and 'Frontiers of Astrobiology'. (2/11)

Air Force Space Budget a 'Placeholder' For Future (Source: Defense News)
In its fiscal 2016 budget request, the US Air Force sought $2.5 billion in procurement and $1.2 billion for research and development funds just for space programs. It is a sizeable cost that should meet service priorities, but also comes at a time when the Air Force is trying to figure out its next steps in the space realm.

A former high-ranking Air Force official told Defense News that while the budget covers the necessities of America's space systems, it also reflects the fact the service is not ready to change the way it does business. The official referred to it as "a placeholder" budget, one designed to hold the service over until a series of studies on the future of US military space architecture are completed. "I think we're in a little bit of a wait and see until those studies produce their results," the official said. (2/11)

Satellite Imagery Is Revolutionizing the Way We Respond to Wars (Source: Defense One)
“It’s the power of the image,” the Nigerian human-rights lawyer Clement Nwankwo told the news agency IRIN. “The reason people questioned whether 2,000 people were killed [last month in Nigeria] was because that level of brutality was unimaginable. But the images validate that claim.”

It was just the latest demonstration of how a 60-year-old technology is being reinvented to illuminate the world’s blind spots, and better investigate—and even predict and prevent—conflicts and humanitarian disasters. And yet there was also something disturbing about relying on satellites 400 miles above the earth’s surface to confirm killings committed within a couple of square miles back on earth. (2/9)

Victoria's Secret Designer Helps Build Next-Gen NASA Spacesuit (Source: MyNews13)
What do Victoria's Secret runway models have in common with space travel? The answer — besides both being out of this world — one runway costume designer is now also part designer of the next-generation spacesuit. The suit was tested by 12 future astronauts at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as part of "Project PoSSUM."

Final Frontier Design, based in Brooklyn, New York, designed the spacesuit with NASA's seal of approval. The company was co-founded by two designers: Nikolay Moiseev, a former cosmonaut spacesuit designer; and Ted Southern, who brought to the company an unlikely connection to fashion: The Victoria's Secret runway. "He was one of the people who fabricated wings for their runway show," Kari Love, Final Frontier Design's chief pattern maker and fabricator, said of Southern. (2/11)

New Mexico Town Split on Turning Senior Center Into Spaceport Visitor Center (Source: KOB4)
There was high-flying drama in Truth or Consequences Tuesday night involving the Spaceport and two visitor centers that are in the works for it, and the smaller of those centers has some families in town claiming their city leaders are breaking the law.

Audon Trujillo, a fifth-generation New Mexican, says he's concerned about the plans to turn a Truth or Consequences senior center into a visitor's center for the Spaceport that would feed into its main visitor center, which is set to open next month. "I don't think there's a building that's as historic for this town," Trujillo said. Tuesday night, there was plenty said about the plans at the city commission's meeting. (2/11)

China, Russia Strengthen Satellite Navigation Cooperation (Source: Space Daily)
China and Russia strengthened cooperation in satellite navigation by holding the first meeting of the China-Russia Cooperation Program Committee on Satellite Navigation. The meeting reviewed the two countries' collaboration in this area so far, set up several working groups and made plans for the future. Both sides agreed that China-Russia cooperation will play an important role in the world's development of satellite navigation. (2/11)

Planetary Suicide (Source: Nation of Change)
Sea-level rise has been going on for a long time, eating up coastal lands all over the world.  But now sea-level rise is accelerating and at such a rapid rate that virtually all major coastal cities are extremely threatened. Emissions already in the atmosphere spell tragedy for 316 US cities where 3.6 million people live, according to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  And without forceful action, things will only get worse.

People may not care much about a few islands disappearing.  But untold millions of people will face the need to escape cities worldwide that will not be able to cope with and survive many feet of higher oceans flooding their infrastructure, streets, and housing. Where will those millions of people go?  How will such deep economic disaster be managed by governments? Click here. (2/11)

SpaceX Launches DSCOVR at Last, but Skips Rocket Landing (Sources: NBC, Space News)
The third time was the charm for SpaceX — which launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory with its Falcon 9 rocket, but decided against trying to land the rocket's first stage on an oceangoing platform in rough seas. SpaceX explained that the weather was too dangerous to keep the drone barge's equipment and crew stationed hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic.

Only three of the ship's four engine were functional, and the seas were very high. However, SpaceX announced that the rocket's first stage decended for a soft landing within 10 meters of its intended target, before dropping into the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the DSCOVR satellite was released about 35 minutes after launch, on a trajectory to the Earth-sun Lagrange point 1 about 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth in the direction of the sun. (2/11)

Astronomers Find Surprising Storm in Galaxy's Core (Source: Sputnik)
Astronomers have gained some insight into how supermassive black holes can have catastrophic effects on the galaxies in which they reside, after detecting energetic activity in an otherwise thought to be “boring” galaxy with a lack of star activity. Click here. (2/11)

Meteor Lights Up Night Sky Across New Zealand (Source: New Zealand Herald)
A "blinding" flash, intense explosion and sonic booms experienced over much of the country last night were probably caused by a meteor, experts agree. About 10pm, the flash, described by many as a burst of blue and white light, was seen from Whangarei to the upper South Island. (2/12)

Cecil Airport Prepares to House a Spaceport (Source: WJAX)
International Airport last year alone. Getting to where you want to go takes time. But what if you could slash that travel time, even cut those long international flights in half? Just 30 miles away from JIA, Cecil Airport is preparing for the next frontier -- space.

Todd Linder, senior manager of spaceport development, showed Action News around a future space hub. It's the first FAA commercial horizontal launch spaceport on the East Coast. The license is proudly displayed on a hanger wall. Horizontal launch means the spacecraft takes off and lands on a runway instead of the vertical space launches we're used to seeing here in Florida. (2/11)

Russia’s Last Satellites for Identifying Ballistic Missile Launchers Cease Operation (Source: Itar-Tass)
Two last satellites of the Oko program for identifying ballistic missile launchers ceased operating in January, the Kommersant daily wrote on Wednesday. The launch of the first satellite Tundra of Russia’s unified space system will take place no earlier than in June, the daily said. Until then, there will be no satellites in the space echelon of Russia’s missile warning system. (2/11)

IXV Makes a Splash as ESA Spaceplane Effort Treads Water (Source: Space News)
A European spaceplane technology demonstrator was successfully launched Feb. 11 on a 100-minute suborbital mission that took it into space for nearly an hour before it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean more than half-way around the world.

The 5-meter-long Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV) successfully sent telemetry as it reentered the atmosphere, delivering data from its sensors and making physical recovery of the ship less crucial. The launch extended the perfect record of Europe’s Italian-led Vega small-satellite launcher – four successes in its first four missions.

“All that we need to work on now is the price,” said one European government official, referring to Vega’s current cost structure, which is considered too high for the market. (2/11)

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