March 1, 2015

Scooby Doo Gets Commercial Space Mission (Source: Reel Life with Jane)
A new Scooby adventure was just released on DVD and Digital HD, “Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness,” in which Scoob and the gang blast off for an epic journey into outer space! After winning the last five seats in a lottery, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma are off to space in billionaire Sly Barron’s brand new ship, the Sly Star One, a space tourism vessel setting off on its inaugural voyage.

It’s all gravity-free fun until a mysterious alien begins to destroy the ship. As the vessel breaks down, the crew is forced to land on Sly Baron’s base – located on the dark side of the moon. Will the gang unravel this alien mystery? Will Scooby and Shaggy find snacks on the moon? Hop aboard, fasten your seat belts, and get ready to travel to the outer limits with Scooby-Doo to find out.

Bonus Features include the featurette, “Space Travel is Groovy!” Join Mindy Cohn, the voice of “Velma,” as she introduces viewers to some of the real world technology and training that is part of modern space flight. Click here. (2/28)

Hawaii Legislature Considers 3 Space Measures (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In early February, the Pacific International Center for Space Exploration Systems (PISCES) submitted three legislative bills intended to further the Center’s project goals and development. The first bill, SB 672, appropriates general funding for the Center to continue its planetary surface systems work enabling Hawaii to move to the forefront of the aerospace sector, as well as an additional appropriation for the acquisition of a central headquarters and testing facility.

SB 671 is a PISCES-led basalt rebar initiative requesting funds for an engineering study to determine how volcanic basalt can be used as an asset and potential new industry in the state of Hawaii.  The study will assess if Hawaii’s basalt can be used as a material in manufacturing basalt rebar – a considerably lighter, and stronger alternative to steel rebar – while investigating the necessary energy support needed for production. The bill requests federal matching funds for the engineering study, to be conducted over a one-year period.

Special Fund bill SB 1158 proposes the establishment of a special fund for the operation, maintenance, and management of all PISCES projects, facilities, services, and publications.  The bill also provides the ability for the Center to accept outside revenue. (3/1)

Land, Sea and Space: Naval Aviators Have Led the Way (Source: Rocket STEM)
The United States Navy and NASA have had a working relationship for over 55 years now and they continue to complement each other in many different aspects of space exploration. This relation was forged way back in the late 1950s when NASA first began to look for pilots to become Astronauts that would eventually fly aboard their new Mercury spacecraft. Click here. (2/17)

Rocket Lab Gains Development Funding (Source: Rocket Lab)
Rocket Lab USA has completed a Series B financing round. In addition, Lockheed Martin will make a strategic investment in Rocket Lab to support the exploration of future aerospace technologies. Rocket Lab will use the funding to complete the Electron launch system and plans to begin operations as a commercial launch provider as early as 2016.

David Cowan has joined Rocket Lab’s Board as part of BVP’s funding. “On the South Pacific islands of New Zealand, a world class team of engineers is designing a rocket that will revolutionize aerospace,” says Cowan. “With unprecedented economy, reliability, fuel efficiency and frequency, Electron is the transformational launch option that small satellite constellations need to usher in a new era of space colonization.”

Rocket Lab expects to reveal further details about the Electron launch system in April 2015 at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. (3/2)

Lockheed Invests in Rocket Lab (Source: Rocket Lab)
“Lockheed Martin pursues technology investments that help us keep pace with innovation across the industry,” said Lockheed Martin’s Chief Scientist Ned Allen. “Rocket Lab’s work could have application in a number of aerospace domains, and we look forward to working with them to complement our overall efforts in small lift capabilities and hypersonic flight technologies.” (3/2)

Rocket Crafters Taps New CEO (Source: Florida Today)
Rocket Crafters Inc., a Titusville-based company developing a suborbital spaceplane, has tapped former NASA astronaut Sidney Gutierrez as its new chairman and CEO. Gutierrez, a retired Air Force colonel, piloted space shuttle Columbia's STS-40 mission in 1991 and led the STS-59 mission aboard Endeavour in 1994. The New Mexico resident previously served as chairman of the company's board.

"There is no question in my mind that the type of dedicated small satellite launch system Rocket Crafters is developing is crucial to the expansion of space commerce," Gutierrez said in a statement. "We are developing a system that is an order of magnitude more responsive and economical than the vertically launch, multi-stage rockets we have used for over half century." (3/1)

Space Department Gets Rs 6000 Crore; Focus on Launch Vehicle Tech (Source: New Indian Express)
The government has allocated Rs 6000 crore for the Department of Space for 2015-16, with a major thrust on Launch Vehicle Technology projects. With the emphasis on Launch Vehicle Technology projects, the government has allocated Rs 2148 crore for developments in this direction. For Total Launch support, tracking the satellites, the government has allocated Rs 651 crore. For operations of the INSAT programs that includes the GSAT and INSAT satellites, Rs 1281 crore has been allocated. (2/28)

Ticket to Space for Research (Source: Slate)
We’re at the doorstep of cheaper, more reliable access to space. Ticket prices are within reach of wealthy individuals and, perhaps more importantly, companies that do science. A lot of Dan Durda’s experiments can be done easily in the few minutes of weightlessness these suborbital flights provide. Click here. (3/1)

Chris Hadfield's Flight Suit Found in Thrift Store (Source: CBC News)
A flight suit once worn by astronaut Chris Hadfield is apparently now the property of a Toronto doctor who found it in — of all places — a local thrift store. "I thought, wow, what is a flight suit like that doing up there?" Dr. Julielynn Wong told CBC News, recalling how she stumbled upon the bright blue jumpsuit in one of the many second-hand stores on Queen Street West. Then she saw the name stitched on the left-hand side: Chris Hadfield.

She says she bought it for $40, marked down from $80. The suit looks just like the one the former commander of the International Space Station is seen wearing on the back cover of his book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. "[Hadfield] started asking questions. He said, 'Well, does it have a puncture marks in the badge?'" It did. And other details also matched up. Hadfield said it was, indeed, his old suit. "That's a mystery to me as to how it got there," he wrote. (3/1)

Hands-On Activities, Children's Camp Launch Texas Space Exploration Exhibit (Source: Victoria Advocate)
"3-2-1 Blast Off!" might sound like a rocket's countdown, but at the Museum of the Coastal Bend, it's a day of hands-on workshop activities launching the opening of the Museum's new exhibit. The exhibit is "Above Texas Skies: Space Exploration in the Coastal Bend." (3/1)

NASA Spacecraft Arrives at Dwarf Planet Ceres This Week (Source:
NASA's Dawn spacecraft will begin orbiting the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres this week, ending a deep-space chase that lasted 2 1/2 years. Dawn is scheduled to reach Ceres — the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — on Thursday night (March 5). The probe has been headed for Ceres since September 2012, when it departed Vesta, the asteroid belt's second-biggest denizen. (3/1)

Air Force Eyes 28 Launches, Shared Investment for Next Rockets (Source: Global Post)
The U.S. Air Force may kick off a multibillion-dollar competition for 28 launches of government satellites this spring to help end U.S. reliance on Russian-built rocket engines, according to an Air Force document. The Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center mapped out the possible tender, which would include government and private sector investment, in a request for information sent to selected companies on Feb. 18, with responses due March 20.

The Air Force said it may award contracts between the first quarter of fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2018. The first rockets would launch no later than 2022. The contracts would cover about 28 launches of military and intelligence satellites. The issue is being closely watched by ULA and SpaceX, which hopes to be certified to do at least some DOD launches by mid-year. Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne have also expressed interest.

The Air Force plan follows an approach taken by NASA to use commercial providers to ferry cargo and crew to the ISS, a strategy favored by the White House. It is at odds with Congress, which hopes to develop a U.S. rocket engine as a national asset with the government to own the design and make it available to all launch providers. Editor's Note: So Orbital ATK would not be able to offer the Antares with its Russian engines. Maybe this is an opportunity for their hibernating Liberty rocket, which would share LC-39B with NASA's SLS. (3/1)

Space Coast Pitch Series: Where Ideas Become Realities (Source: SCTC)
Making your idea a reality just got easier. The Space Coast PitchSeries offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to get exposure to the know-how and networks needed to take their idea to the next level. This series of four networking and workshop events is free and aims to connect innovators with a diverse panel of serial entrepreneurs and subject-matter experts. Click here. (2/28)

Brevard Man Finalist for One-Way Trip to Mars (Source: Florida Today)
George Hatcher of Merritt Island recently advanced to the final round of 100 candidates vying to be selected as astronauts by the Mars One Foundation, which wants to establish a human settlement on the Red Planet in the next decade. The NASA KSC engineer was his son's age when dreams of spaceflight took hold, after his mother gave him a Lego set that included a spaceman. (3/1)

Hyperloop Gets Its First Commercial Contract For Short Track In California (Source: Forbes)
The first commercial agreement to build a working hyperloop was announced between Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and Quay Valley, a 12-square-mile ecotopia planned along a desolate strip of grassland on Interstate 5. The hyperloop, you may recall, is a transportation concept pitched in 2013 by industrialist Elon Musk, in which passenger or cargo capsules shoot through tubes at speeds of up to 750 miles an hour.

HTT is a loose federation of 200-plus volunteers working on different parts of the project for equity. It recently announced plans to issue $100 million in public stock in the fall in a Dutch auction. A part of that money will pay for construction of the Quay Valley track. A second contender, Hyperloop Technologes of Los Angeles, is backed with $8.5 million and a dream team of investors from Silicon Valley. The third effort is by Musk himself, who has agreed to fund the construction of a sub-scale test track in Texas.

HTT’s plan is to sell tickets to earn a return on investment, says HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn, but more important is the opportunity this represents to iron out the many remaining technical challenges such as how to load and unload the 28-capsule passengers from the capsule every 30 seconds and how to maintain a consistent near-vacuum in a miles-long tube. (2/26)

Nimoy And Why Space Needs Real Spocks (Source: Forbes)
Maybe it was those Vulcan ears. But news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing automatically triggered memories of the 83 year-old actor’s most celebrated role as Mr. Spock — both the Starship Enterprise’s first officer and science officer.

Try as he might to break free of being typecast as the dispassionate half human/half Vulcan we all came to know and love, audiences never let Nimoy forget that it was his role as Mr. Spock that continually got under their skins. How could such a cool customer like Spock capture the hearts and minds of so many over the last half century? Click here. (2/27)

Life 'Not As We Know It' Possible on Saturn's Moon Titan (Source:
A new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on Earth has been modeled by a team of Cornell University researchers. Taking a simultaneously imaginative and rigidly scientific view, chemical engineers and astronomers offer a template for life that could thrive in a harsh, cold world - specifically Titan, the giant moon of Saturn.

A planetary body awash with seas not of water, but of liquid methane, Titan could harbor methane-based, oxygen-free cells. Their theorized cell membrane is composed of small organic nitrogen compounds and capable of functioning in liquid methane temperatures of 292 degrees below zero. (2/27)

Florida ‎Legislative Leaders Need Challenging Space Goals (Source: FSDC)
Going into the 2014 annual Legislative Session in Tallahassee, the Speaker of the Florida House and the President of the Florida Senate both have the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in their districts. This is an encouraging development for the state's space industry because these leaders will understand the importance of supporting smart space-focused policy and funding decisions by the Florida Legislature.

Unfortunately, they aren't yet being asked to do much heavy lifting. We'll know more when their own separate House and Senate budget drafts are released, but thus far Governor Rick Scott's budget request includes less than was appropriated last year. Gov. Scott currently wants only enough to keep Space Florida operational and hasn't requested, for example, continued funding for commercializing the Shuttle Landing Facility, which should soon be transferred by NASA to Space Florida. (2/28)

India to Increase Satellite Launch Capabilities (Source: Deccan Herald)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has ambitious plans to increase its satellite launching capabilities, said S K Shivakumar, Director, ISRO Satellite Center. Since 1975, India has launched 72 satellites on its own, through 45 launch vehicle missions.

He said that the objective of increasing the number of satellite launches was to expand the space program taken up by ISRO. Earlier, ISRO used to launch four to five satellites every year. From the current year, the space agency will launch ten satellites into orbit every year, he said. (2/27)

How Much Earth Science Should NASA Be Doing? (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA is talking proudly on its website today about the five Earth-observing satellites it has launched in the last two years. Agency leaders are pointing to accomplishments like the first global rainfall and snowfall map as examples. NASA says Earth missions expand our view of the home planet. In addition to global rain and snowfall, the agency says new satellites are measuring "atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean winds, clouds, and airborne particles called aerosols."

But is this too much Earth science and not enough space science? Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says it is, and Cruz is now in a position to do something about it. So, is it either Earth science or space science for NASA? Or should it be both? But if it's both, which is most important in a tight budget environment? It's an ongoing debate and a question that space enthusiasts will put to both candidates running for president in 2016. (2/27)

NanoRacks Resumes ISS Satellite Deployment (Source: Forbes)
Last summer, satellite deployers on board the International Space Station belonging to space science company NanoRacks developed issues that prevented some cubesats deployed into their orbits. After several months of work and repair, that company has been able to solve those issues and celebrated a deployment of two satellites belonging to Planet Labs on Friday.

The satellite deployment system allows commercial space companies to deliver cubesats – small satellites just a few inches around – into orbit at a low cost. The cubesats get delivered to the space station during its normal cargo runs and then are deployed by astronauts from the station itself. The satellite deployers were developed and built by NanoRacks. (2/27)

NASA Storms Ahead With Urgent Space Fix (Source: Forbes)
NASA has hit a breakthrough on an urgent in-space software fix, empowering its Mars exploration. The space agency on Tuesday uploaded an highly-inventive, rigorously tested software patch to the Mars Rover Opportunity vehicle, which was experiencing severe flash memory problems on one bank of memory. The issues had been leading the Rover to constantly reset and lose data. (2/26)

DARPA Seeks Tiny Satellites to Map Terrain for US Troops (Source: Sputnik)
An American defense contractor is developing small satellites capable of quickly providing US ground troops with images of their surroundings. In December, DARPA awarded a $1.5 million contract to Raytheon to develop the satellites. The technology has been named the SeeMe satellite – after DARPA's quest for Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements. It is about the size of a water cooler and is cheaper to make and launch than the typical hardware sent into orbit. (2/28)

Are We Winning the War for Talent? (Source: SSPI)
 The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) today released Are We Winning the War for Talent? The 2015 International Satellite Industry Workforce Study. It is the satellite industry's first multi-company, multinational study of workforce practices, employee compensation and engagement, and the make-up of the industry’s workforce. Click here. (2/24)

Are We Alone? Do We Want to Know? (Source: Washington Post)
Some SETI researchers are pushing a more aggressive agenda: Instead of just listening, we would transmit messages, targeting newly discovered planets orbiting distant stars. Through “active SETI,” we’d boldly announce our presence and try to get the conversation started. Naturally this is controversial, because of . . . well, the Klingons. The bad aliens.

“ETI’s reaction to a message from Earth cannot presently be known,” states a petition signed by 28 scientists, researchers and thought leaders, among them SpaceX founder Elon Musk. “We know nothing of ETI’s intentions and capabilities, and it is impossible to predict whether ETI will be benign or hostile.”

This objection is moot, however, according to the proponents of active SETI. They argue that even if there are unfriendlies out there, they already know about us. That’s because “I Love Lucy” and other TV and radio broadcasts are radiating from Earth at the speed of light. Aliens with advanced instruments could also detect our navigational radar beacons and would see that we’ve illuminated our cities. (2/28)

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