February 27, 2015

Major Aerospace Project Considering Volusia, with Tie to Shiloh (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Project Panther — a major economic development project being considered for Volusia County — involves aerospace-related metal manufacturing that could support a proposed spaceport at the Volusia/Brevard county line or possibly commercial spaceflight operations elsewhere. The name of the company is evaluating potential locations and remains anonymous, but interviews with several Volusia County civic leaders this week revealed it’s an aerospace company looking to build a manufacturing facility.

Economic development boosters say the project is pivotal to efforts to attract higher-paying jobs and tap into the growing commercial space market that NASA and Space Florida are trying to develop in the region. A project consultant met recently with Clay Henderson, a local attorney who has been among those opposed to Space Florida’s proposed Shiloh project. “He identified himself as a site selection consultant for an entity that was interested in developing a commercial spaceport at Shiloh,” Henderson said. Click here. (2/27)

Russia Installs Nanny Cam at Siberian Spaceport (Source: Air & Space)
We wrote last year about the Vostochny cosmodrome in Siberia, planned to be a partial replacement for the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan after constuction is finished this summer. Russia hopes that switching to the eastern spaceport will lessen its reliance on another country for launch services.

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin is not happy with the pace of construction at Vostochny, however. Not happy at all. So he ordered webcams to be installed at the launch site, so the public could keep watch over the workers. There, that should speed things up. Live scenes from Vostochny are now available. Click here. (2/27)

The Big Melt: Antarctica's Retreating Ice May Re-Shape Earth (Source: AP)
From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth. Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea — 130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations.

That's the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings, enough ice melt to fill more than 1.3 million Olympic swimming pools. And the melting is accelerating. In the worst case scenario, Antarctica's melt could push sea levels up 10 feet (3 meters) worldwide in a century or two, recurving heavily populated coastlines. Parts of Antarctica are melting so rapidly it has become "ground zero of global climate change without a doubt," said Harvard geophysicist Jerry Mitrovica. (2/27)

Russia Launches Spy Satellite Atop Soyuz From Plesetsk (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A Soyuz-2-1a rocket lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the town of Mirny, north of Moscow, Russia, carrying the first Bars-M spy satellite for the Russian military. (2/27)

CubeSats Offered Deep-Space Ride on ESA Asteroid Probe (Source: Space Daily)
Think of it as the ultimate hitchhiking opportunity: ESA is offering CubeSats a ride to a pair of asteroids in deep space. Teams of researchers and companies from any ESA Member State are free to compete. The selected CubeSats will become Europe's first to travel beyond Earth orbit once the Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) is launched in October 2020. (2/27)

India Plans to Test-fly Reusable Launch Vehicle by Mid-2015 (Source: Indian Express)
Taking India’s ‘space shuttle’ dreams a notch closer to reality, ISRO plans to test-fly the Re-usable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) by the middle of 2015. “The test-flight will take place either by the end of the first half of this year or the beginning of the second half. Work is progressing satisfactorily,” ISRO’s new chief A S Kiran Kumar said. “This first test is one of a segment. Work on the RLV is progressing in steps,” he said. (2/27)

Who's Paying £34 Million to Blast Sarah Brightman Into Space? (Source: Daily Mail)
Just before 11am on September 1, a mighty Soyuz‑FG rocket will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome deep in the desert steppes of Kazakhstan. On board will be a space capsule containing three highly-trained cosmonauts bound for the International Space Station (ISS), including Sarah Brightman, who ironically once fronted Hot Gossip for their 1978 smash hit I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper.

It seems like a joke. But the star, who has sold more than 30 million albums, is deadly serious. Recently, she was shivering in sub-zero temperatures in a forest outside Moscow during survival training with her fellow cosmonauts. Brightman may well have been prepared by the man she has most recently been romantically linked to, a flaxen-haired Californian inventor and aeronautics engineer called Dezso Molnar. With or without his help, Brightman passed through Star City with flying colors.

However, we must return to that thorny question of who is paying for all this. One clue could be found at the press conference in Moscow in October 2012 when Brightman announced her stellar ambitions. Sitting alongside her was a man called Neil Ford, who is the director of the sector for external relations and public information of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). As it happens, Brightman is a UNESCO ‘Artist for Peace’, which means she is an international advocate for its work. Click here. (2/27)

Spaceflight Growth Means New Opportunities for Aspiring Aerospace Engineers (Source: Spartan Daily)
The future is looking bright for aerospace students looking for jobs in the next few years. Large shifts in some of the industries that employ large numbers of aerospace engineers, most notably the spaceflight and unmanned aerial system industries, will make it easier for many people to get jobs.

According to Demarest, college-level engineers will occasionally get jobs with large companies right out of college. He referenced a rare event when Elon Musk, the founder of prominent spaceflight company “SpaceX” visited Stanford and pulled some engineers out of its aerospace department to work for him. (2/27)

University of Texas Creates Master's Degree Program for Space Entrepreneurship (Source: Daily Texan)
The University is planning to offer a master’s degree in space entrepreneurship beginning in May.
The program will be a part of the larger Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization program, which began in 1996, according to program director Gary Cadenhead. The space entrepreneurship degree, first announced earlier this semester, will be tailored directly to students who want to learn about combining space exploration and business management. (2/27)

Astronaut Speaks with Space Alabama Group From ISS (Source: WAAY)
Expedition 42 Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts, the two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station, spoke with SpaceAlabama.com the morning of February 26, 2015. The interview covered 3D printing in space, working with ground teams at the Marshall Space Flight Center, living and working in space and of course, spacewalking. (2/27)

Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 (Source: New York Times)
Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. (2/27)

Early Space Exploration Artifacts on Display at California Spaceport (Source: Lompoc Record)
When Jay Prichard first entered the main building at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex-10 nearly 23 years ago, the Air Force veteran likened the scene to cracking open the vault of a time capsule. “I pried that door open with a crowbar in June of 1992 because it was literally rusted shut,” Prichard said this week while standing in the nondescript building that, prior to his crowbar, had essentially gone untouched since 1981. Click here. (2/27)

Space Intel Gives France Policy Independence (Source: Defense News)
France draws on its own system of military intelligence satellites to deliver geospatial intel, a resource seen as key to political independence and used for sharing valuable data with the armed forces and allies, a defense official said. That geospatial or geointel capability is intended to support an "autonomous appreciation" of conflicts such as Ukraine by the French Defense Ministry, the chiefs of staff and political leaders, the official said, who spoke on condition of anonymity. (2/27)

Ron Garan Thinks We Should Colonize The Moon Before Mars (Source: Huffington Post)
As the Dutch-based Mars One venture continues to narrow down candidates for its one-way mission to the red planet, the idea of a permanent human settlement in space is seeming less far-fetched. But NASA astronaut Ron Garan revealed that he thinks there's a better option than Mars for a first attempt at interplanetary colonization: the moon.

"I think we have a long, long way to go both figuratively and literally to get to Mars," Garan told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. "There's many steps, I think, and I think personally what makes sense as a next step in space exploration is to establish a transportation infrastructure between the Earth and the moon and to determine a permanent human presence on the moon."

Providing routine missions to the moon and creating a base for humans there will offer a means of exploring "the entire solar system, including Mars," Garan said. For instance, with a natural supply of water, spaceships could refuel on the moon. Click here. (2/27)

Moon Versus Mars: Are They Really That Different for Settlers? (Source: SPACErePORT)
Mars settlers won't be able to wander the planet without space suits. They'll have to use airtight habitat structures and closed-loop life support systems. The same will be true on the moon. Sure there are some major differences, but if the objective for an initial habitat/settlement is to gain experience and perfect requisite life support technologies, the moon seems like the faster, lower cost option. The moon also is close enough to Earth to allow more feasible escape/abort/rescue plans. (2/27)

Engility Acquires TASC, Expands Into Analysis of Space (Source: Intelligent Aerospace)
Engility Holdings has completed its acquisition of TASC Inc. for approximately $1.3 billion, creating “a leading government services provider with a customer footprint that spans the federal services market,” officials say. (2/26)

NASA Satellites Start Tracking Down the Sources of Climate Change (Source: NBC)
NASA scientists are showing off some of the first results from a fresh crop of satellites and space station sensors designed to track the factors behind climate change and extreme weather on a near-real-time basis. Some of the observing instruments are still being calibrated, but they're already providing data for weather forecasts and climate modeling, the scientists said. Click here. (2.26)

US Needs a Mars Colony, Buzz Aldrin Tells Senators (Source: Space.com)
The U.S. must do more than just plant a flag on Mars if it wants to continue as a leader in the field of space exploration, Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin told senators this week. "In my opinion, there is no more convincing way to demonstrate American leadership for the remainder of this century than to commit to a permanent presence on Mars," Aldrin told members of the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. (2/26)

Worden Leaving NASA To Pursue Private Sector Dreams (Source: Space News)
Simon “Pete” Worden, the retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general who transformed NASA Ames Research Center into an incubator for innovative public and private space projects, is stepping down as the director of the Silicon Valley facility “to pursue some long-held dreams in the private sector,” he announced. Worden said he does not have a job lined up, but that he has his eye on academia. (2/26)

Best 3D View of Deep Universe Reveals Astonishing Details (Source: Space.com)
Astronomers have just released a brand-new, best-ever 3D view of the deep universe, and it's a doozy. The amazing new photo, released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) reveals never-before-seen cosmic objects in a relatively small patch of sky. The MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile spent 27 hours staring at the Hubble Space Telescope's Deep Field South region, helping scientists learn more about far-flung galaxies. Click here. (2/26)

Virginia Launch Pad Repair Set to Halt in Funding Spat (Source: Reuters)
Work to repair a Virginia-owned launch pad damaged by an Orbital ATK rocket explosion is about to halt amid a debate about who should pick up the bill, according to officials in the dispute. The Oct. 28, 2014 accident at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), located on Wallops Island, Virginia, caused about $20 million in damages to the state-owned launch pad.

Orbital was launching its third Antares rocket for NASA under a $1.9 billion contract to fly cargo to the International Space Station. Orbital had insurance to cover its losses at Wallops, as well as damage to federal property and other entities as required by the FAA. That insurance, however, does not cover the MARS pad owned by Virginia, according to spokespeople for the company and the FAA. “We looked at insurance for the pad, but the coverage was inadequate to our needs, and to the extent it was available, was exorbitantly costly,” MARS Executive Director Dale Nash wrote. (2/26)

Boeing's Satellite Launcher Gives Rockets a 'Butt Boop' (Source: Popular Science)
Elon Musk isn’t the only one interested in reusing his rocket launch systems. Now Boeing, a fellow winner of NASA’s Commercial Crew contracts along with SpaceX, just successfully patented a reusable launch system for getting satellites into lower Earth orbit. The patent seems to be the result (update: Boeing has clarified that it is a different initiative) of the company's partnership with DARPA, which contracted Boeing to come up with a novel airborne satellite launch vehicle.

The patent is for a first-stage supersonic aircraft, as well as a second-stage hypersonic aircraft, which carries a satellite-toting rocket. The first stage vehicle actually shoves its nose up into the butt of the second stage vehicle; the combined aircraft are then mounted onto a carrier aircraft, such as a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress or a Scaled Composites White Knight. Click here. (2/26)

510 Smallsat Launches Planned Over Next Five Years (Source: SpaceRef)
According to Euroconsult's newly released research titled Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, a total of 510 small satellites, or smallsats (meaning nanosats, cubesats, microsats and minisats) are to be launched in the next five years, a two-third increase in the average number of smallsats per year versus that of the past decade. This total includes 14 constellations of different sizes and capabilities that represent a total of 140 satellites. (2/26)

Air Force Leaders Visit Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: AFSPC)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody visited the Morrell Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Feb. 8 for the scheduled launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Deep Space Climate Observatory. During their visit, they had the opportunity of interacting with range, weather and launch teams at work before the launch. (2/25)

Quilty Handicaps the Silicon Valley-fueled Space Race (Source: Space News)
The recent flood of investment in audacious commercial space projects is spookily reminiscent of the late-1990s satellite gold rush, which famously turned into a rout. Google stepped up last year with its nearly $500 million purchase of satellite imaging startup Skybox and followed that up with a $900 million investment in SpaceX’s newly announced plan to deploy a 4,000-satellite Internet-delivery constellation, which is also being backed by Fidelity Investments. Meanwhile, chipmaker Qualcomm and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group have cast their lot with the 650-satellite OneWeb Internet venture led by O3b founder Greg Wyler.

Proposed mega-constellations bear a striking resemblance to the Teledesic and Skybridge Internet-in-the-sky ventures of yesteryear, which never got off the drawing board. By contrast, mobile telephony ventures Globalstar — Qualcomm was a ground-floor investor — and Iridium, along with machine-to-machine (M2M) messaging service provider Orbcomm, did manage to launch large low-orbiting constellations, only to declare bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

The new crop of financiers, a combination of venture capitalists, institutional investors and well-heeled technology giants, are not oblivious to the history — clearly they are betting that a different set of circumstances will carry the day this time around. Click here. (2/26)

New Alliance To Promote Space Development and Settlement Policies (Source: Space News)
On the heels of a closed-door meeting that concluded space development and settlement should be long-term goals of the United States, a group of 11 organizations announced a new coalition that will promote policies to achieve those goals. The Alliance for Space Development (ASD), led by the National Space Society and the Space Frontier Foundation, plans to advocate for legislation and other initiatives to achieve its goal of accelerating the development and settlement of space. (2/26)

No comments: