February 14, 2015

Astronaut With North Brevard Roots Will Fly to ISS (Source: Florida Today)
An astronaut with local roots will return to the International Space Station next year, NASA announced this week. Shane Kimbrough grew up visiting Mims, where his grandparents lived and his mother grew up. "Anything that launched, my grandfather would be dragging me out to see it, and that’s kind of where my whole interest sparked,” Kimbrough, now 47, said in 2008 before his first and only spaceflight to date aboard shuttle Endeavour. (2/13)

Researchers Call for Interstellar Messages to Alien Civilizations (Source: Science)
Is it time to send deliberate messages to the stars, in the hopes of reaching alien civilizations? Advocates in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) say that moment is long overdue. But other researchers want to take a more cautious approach and seek an international consensus before outing Earth to the rest of the universe. Click here. (2/12)

NOAA: 4500 Space Weather Enthusiasts and Counting (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With this week’s launch of DSCOVR, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center discussing space weather. NOAA now boasts 45,000 subscribers to their space weather alerts. (2/13)

More Texas Jobs Posted at United Launch Alliance (Source: Valley Morning Star)
United Launch Alliance’s aerospace manufacturing facility near Valley International Airport in Harlingen has three new jobs postings. ULA is looking for a structural assembler, a structural assembler Sr., and a stock controller, its website says. (2/13)

Spaceport Authority Battling Bill to Limit its Financing Ability (Source: Albuquergue Business First)
A bill headed to the Senate Finance Committee could seriously limit Spaceport America's authority to finance new projects. Senate Bill 75, sponsored by Republican Senator Lee Cotter of Las Cruces, seeks to limit the Spaceport's future bonding ability. The Spaceport, when originally planned, was to have several tenants and Virgin Galactic had planned to launch space tourists from the site.

But a major Virgin Galactic wreck last year, competition from other spaceports and slower growth in the sector has held it back. Newly reconfirmed Spaceport Authority board member David Buchholtz said Friday the board does not think the timing is right for the bill. (2/13)

New Mexico Lawmaker: Sell the Spaceport (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
One New Mexico lawmaker is tired of spending money on Spaceport America and wants to sell the futuristic hangar, its nearly two-mile-long runway and the 18,000 acres that surround it. “A bill of goods that never was going to happen in the first place” is how Sen. George Munoz described the spaceport Friday.

Under legislation introduced by Munoz, D-Gallup, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and other agencies would have to come up with a marketing plan by October to sell the spaceport. Money from the sale would be used to pay back development bonds, and taxes imposed in Sierra and Doña Ana counties to pay for the project would be rescinded. (2/14)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Replaces President (Source: Space News)
The chief executive of the parent company of Aerojet Rocketdyne announced Feb. 13 that he is taking over as president of the space propulsion company as the firm faces financial challenges. In a Feb. 13 internal memo to employees obtained by SpaceNews, Scott Seymour, chief executive of parent company GenCorp, announced he was taking over as president of Aerojet Rocketdyne from Warren M. Boley, Jr., effective immediately. The memo gave no reason for Boley’s departure. (2/13)

Weird Sub-Neptunes and Super-Earths Pop Up in Kepler's Planet Search (Source: NBC)
ne of the most common kinds of planets detected by NASA's Kepler telescope appears to be a type that doesn't exist in our own solar system. This type of planet has a size in the range between two and four times Earth's diameter, but it shouldn't be called a "super-Earth" or a "mini-Neptune," said Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, one of the world's most experienced planet-hunters. For now, he's calling them "sub-Neptunes."

Based on an analysis of the Kepler planets' sizes and densities, sub-Neptunes should have a rocky core that's swathed in a thick layer of hydrogen and helium gas. That combination distinguishes them from rocky planets like Earth, as well as gas giants like Jupiter and ice giants like Neptune. "They dominate the planet census, and yet none of them are found in the solar system," Marcy said. (2/14)
Boeing’s Space Efforts to be Managed by Newly Created Organization (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Boeing has announced the creation of BDS Development, an organization within its Defense, Space & Security (BDS) unit, which will centralize its defense and space efforts. The company stated that this move will enhance its performance on the pre-production development activities that significantly influence its ability to provide customers with the right capabilities at the right time and cost. (2/14)

Elon Musk is Getting $3.5 Million to Write a Book About Earth and Mars (Source: Business Insider)
Elon Musk, the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, is taking on a new project. He is writing a book for Penguin. We're told it's a book about Earth and Mars. It will be half about the issues facing us on Earth — sustainability issues in particular. The second half will be about the idea of a multiplanetary existence — about what's possible, about the adventure of experience. (2/13)

NASA Wants to Send a Submarine to Titan's Seas (Source: Discovery)
In a sneak peek of a possible future mission to Saturn’s moon Titan, NASA has showcased their vision of a robotic submersible that could explore the moon’s vast lakes of liquid methane and ethane. Studying Titan is thought to be looking back in time at an embryonic Earth, only a lot colder.

Titan is the only moon in the solar system to have a significant atmosphere and this atmosphere is known to possess its own methane cycle, like Earth’s water cycle. Methane exists in a liquid state, raining down on a landscape laced with hydrocarbons, forming rivers, valleys and seas.

Several seas have been extensively studied by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during multiple flybys, some of which average a few meters deep, whereas others have depths of over 200 meters (660 feet) — the maximum depth at which Cassini’s radar instrument can penetrate. So, if scientists are to properly explore Titan, they must find a way to dive into these seas to reveal their secrets. Click here. (2/13)

Four Shuttle Fliers to be Inducted by Astronaut Hall of Fame (Source: Collect Space)
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will honor four space shuttle astronauts this spring as it marks 25 years since its founding.

Spacewalker John Grunsfeld and Rhea Seddon, who was one of NASA's first female astronauts, will be enshrined alongside space shuttle commanders Steven Lindsey and Kent Rominger during a May 30 ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four astronauts, who are the 14th class of shuttle veterans to be added to the Hall, will bring the total number of members to 91. (2/12)

NASA Engineer Spurs Leesburg Students' Interest in STEM Subjects (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Students at Rimes Early Learning and Literacy Center got a chance to launch "rockets" when NASA engineer Ali Shaykhian showed up at the prekindergarten through second-grade school. His recent visit launched the school's first STEM —science, technology, engineering, mathematics — Day. (2/12)

One Reason Your Weather Forecast Might Get Much Worse (Source: ABC)
Most Americans check the weather every day on TV, the Internet or through an app. Though the daily forecast is close to accurate, it may get a lot worse if the satellites providing that information aren't replaced. Aging satellites are wearing out and the agency is scheduled to launch replacements starting in 2016. But extra costs and delays have already pushed back the launch schedule.

As a result, there could be a period of time when NOAA and other agencies are unable to collect critical weather data, according to a GAO report. “The American public may not spend much time thinking about where their weather forecasts come from, but they will notice if those forecasts aren't reliable.” Rep. Suzanne Bonimici, D-Oregon, said during a House committee hearing today. (2/13)

UK Observatory Work Threatened by Housing Plans (Source: Guardian)
One of Britain’s most ambitious astronomy projects is under threat due to a large housing development being planned nearby, scientists have warned. Prof Simon Garrington, director of Jodrell Bank observatory, said proposals to build 119 houses just over a mile from the Lovell telescope in Cheshire would seriously compromise observations of deep space. (2/13)

Air Force Considers Expanded Role for Resilient ORS Office (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force is contemplating an expanded role for the rapid-response space development shop it proposed shuttering as recently as last year, but the service has yet to identify how it plans to fund the office beyond next year.

Maj. Gen. Marty Whelan, director of space operations for the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff, said the service is considering having the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office take the lead in developing next-generation replacements for satellites currently used for space surveillance and weather monitoring. (2/12)

Eutelsat Offers Russian Broadcasters Relief From Falling Ruble (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on Feb. 12 said it is renegotiating euro-based television broadcast contracts with Russian customers whose satellite bandwidth costs have doubled in the past six months with the collapse of the Russian ruble. Russia accounts for about 5 percent of Eutelsat’s revenue, and Eutelsat has viewed Russia and a partnership with Russian fleet operator Russian Satellite Communications Co. as a long-term growth market. (2/13)

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