March 15, 2015

Ted Cruz, Brevard Space Champion? (Source: Florida Today)
Sen. Ted Cruz suddenly matters to the Space Coast in a constructive way, not a destructive one. Two years ago, the tea party Republican from Texas led the gamesmanship over Obamacare that caused a government shutdown, which sent thousands contractors home without pay from KSC. That wound came on the heels of a 2012 Republican platform and national convention — in Florida, no less — that called for no improvements or urgency for U.S. spaceflight.

"60 Minutes" had just showcased Brevard as an example of lost potential and personal fortunes since the shutdown of the shuttle program. Cruz's antics kicked us while we were down, and I couldn't have disliked him more. But today, with Republicans in charge of the Senate, Cruz leads the subcommittee that oversees the space agency's budget and priorities. And he is pushing in ways that stand to benefit Brevard most.

He says developing a rocket and capsule to fly astronauts to Mars by the 2030s is "critical" to the nation's leadership. That means NASA's Space Launch System rocket, Orion Capsule and their launch equipment, now in the works at KSC. Cruz also has championed NASA's privatized "commercial crew" program, in which SpaceX and Boeing will fly astronauts to the International Space Station. Both companies will launch from KSC, with Boeing hiring hundreds to build its capsule at the Cape. (3/15)

NASA Dreams of Future Morpheus Project Templates (Source:
NASA’s Morpheus team have completed a review of its operations, following the conclusion of its test program. This week’s overview – which also hinted at the possibility of a new lander vehicle – provided a glowing review of a project that conducted 63 test flights and only cost $14 million over four years. Click here. (3/15)

Cubesats Compete to Hitch a Lift to a Binary Asteroid (Source: SEN)
The European Space Agency (ESA) is offering researchers and companies the chance to let small satellites known as CubeSats hitch a ride to a pair of asteroids in deep space. The selected CubeSats will become Europe’s first to travel beyond Earth orbit. The initiative is part of ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), scheduled to launch in October 2020. It will be the first mission to a binary asteroid system, the Didymos asteroids, which be 11 million km from Earth at the time of the spacecraft's arrival in 2022. (3/15)

User-Friendly ‘Satellite Kit’ to Go On Sale in May (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Osaka Prefecture University will begin selling a user-friendly “satellite kit” for ¥3 million to ¥3.5 million as early as May, university officials said. The nation’s first relatively inexpensive satellite kit was developed by the Sakai, Osaka Prefecture-based university, which has been striving to develop artificial satellites in recent years.

The kit contains a set of basic micro satellite components, allowing users to install observation devices and other add-ons. Micro-satellites have attracted the interest of nations in Asia as well as developing countries since they can be developed quickly and cheaply. The university aims to sell satellite kits to research institutes and companies both at home and abroad. (3/15)

Scientists Call Out Ted Cruz Over NASA "Core Function" Jab (Source: The Week)
The American Geophysical Union, which is made up of more than 60,000 Earth and space scientists, sent a letter to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Friday, one day after Cruz told NASA administrator Charles Boden that there is too much focus on Earth science missions. "Earth Science Division missions aid in flood prediction, earthquake response, and severe storm tracking," the letter reads. "The applicability of these missions cannot be overstated given their impact on your constituents." (3/14)

Battle Brewing Over NASA Funding (Source: The Hill)
A battle of interplanetary proportions is brewing on Capitol Hill. It’s not “Star Wars,” but partisan lines are quickly being drawn in a budget battle over the future of NASA, which could have a long-term impact on the space agency’s ability to explore the deepest corners of space as well as the ground beneath our feet.

On one side are Republicans who accuse the Obama administration of taking its eye off the ball by funneling too much money into research about the planet Earth, rather than focusing on distant worlds and stars.
On the other, Democrats argue that the administration’s plan is critical to harness the best of NASA’s talents, protect our planet and consistent with the agency’s wide-ranging mission.

Now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress for the first time in years, the fight is spilling into the open. Cruz pledged to flex Capitol Hill’s muscle by passing a NASA authorization bill that “continue[s] this discussion of getting back to the core priorities of NASA.” But Democrats are likely to push back. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the top Democrat on Cruz’s panel, warned against “false choices” between exploring distant worlds and studying our own planet. (3/14)

SpaceX Prepping for Texas Spaceport Construction (Source: Brownsville Herald)
Elon Musk’s plans to develop the world’s first commercial and vertical orbital launch complex at Boca Chica Beach in Cameron County are heightening with the near completion of its design and continuing land purchases. Detailed design work for the proposed $100 million launch complex at Boca Chica is expected to be completed soon.

This also coincides with Musk’s statement at the groundbreaking ceremony held in September that while advance preparation work toward construction of the complex would be underway, it would not be until this year when construction would begin in earnest. (3/14)

Qatar’s First Zero-Gravity Flight Experience Postponed to Next Year (Source: Doha News)
A traveling space-focused project that is offering people around the world a chance to experience weightlessness aboard an airplane has postponed next’s month trip to Doha. According to Swiss Space Systems (S3) ZeroG’s website, the zero gravity flights will now be offered in Qatar sometime in the first half of 2016, instead of in April.

The company did not respond to questions about why the trip was postponed, but indicated that all Middle East flights, including to Bahrain and the UAE, were being moved to next year. Registration for the flights first opened last August. For safety reasons, no passengers under eight years old will be permitted to fly, and those between the ages of 8 and 14 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. (3/13)

Embry-Riddle Alum Navigates Space Probe on Historic Mission (Source: Daily Courier)
Many young people have dreamed about becoming an astronaut and visiting strange new worlds, but Yu Takahashi found a way to do it without leaving the Earth. Takahashi finished high school, got an F-1 visa, and left his home in Tokyo to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2004.

After completing a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado-Boulder, he was hired at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. in 2012. Takahashi is on the navigation engineering team for NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the first probe to study two planetary bodies in one mission. (3/14)

Russia Plans to Start Moon Exploration Jointly With Partners (Source: Space Daily)
Russia plans to start exploring Earth's moon alongside partners from other states, a senior Russian space official said Thursday. Last month, Russian space agency Roscosmos said it hoped to send manned missions to the Earth's natural satellite by 2030. "We are going to include the moon program on our agenda soon. We are discussing these issues together with our new partners," said Vladimir Mitin. He did not specify which countries would be teaming up with Russia. (3/15)

Roscosmos: Manned Flight to Mars Impossible Without Russia's Help (Source: Space Daily)
Roscosmos said Thursday that ambitious projects involving manned trips to deep space, including Mars, will have to be international in nature. Igor Bourenkov said "projects involving [human] flight into deep space can only be international in nature. If a trip to Mars takes place, it will be with Russia's participation."

Bourenkov added that without accounting for Russia's vast experience in manned space flight, as well as unmanned flight to other planets, including Mars, a manned mission to Mars will be next to impossible. Bourenkov added that rocky diplomatic relations between Russia and the US do not have to impede on international space cooperation. (3/15)

Sale Would Likely Kill Spaceport America (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
It is a bad idea to sell Spaceport America, as a bill sponsored by Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, has proposed. To do so would throw away 20 years of planning, put the project behind at least 10 years and likely kill the spaceport. The bill has already been publicized in the commercial space industry and has sent a signal that New Mexico – much to the delight of our competitors in Texas, California, and Florida – may not be serious about being a key player in the very nascent, but very important, commercial space business. (3/15)

Indian Cryogenic Engine Test Successful (Source: Indian Express)
A GSLV MK-3 high power integrated cryogenic engine was hot tested successfully at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) on Saturday. IPRC Director D. Karthikesan said as part of an important milestone in developing a heavy lift launch vehicle. It was successfully tested for 20 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex(IPRC), Mahendragiri on Saturday. (3/15)

Spaceflight Federation Announces New Members (Source: CSF)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is excited to announce the addition of two new Executive members and one Associate member. They include Midland International & Space Port and World View Enterprises as Executive members, and Planet Labs as an Associate member.

“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation board unanimously approved the new members, all of which are driving innovation in commercial space. The inclusion of these new members will strengthen the unified voice of the industry, making our organization a more effective advocate for commercial interests,” said Frank DiBello, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. (3/12)

Bigelow Plans Include Private Space Station, Moon Base (Source: NBC)
Bigelow said the first B330 [large modules] would be launched into low Earth orbit, like the International Space Station, but he said it was too early to specify which launch vehicle or launch site would be used. An even bigger expandable module, known as the Olympus, would offer 2,250 cubic meters of pressurized volume — more than twice as much as the entire International Space Station.

Bigelow had no firm timetable for building the Olympus, but he said the monster module could serve as a warehouse in deep space, in lunar orbit, on the moon or on Mars. One of Bigelow's mission concepts calls for a fleet of lunar landers to be stored inside the structure.

Hiroshi Kikuchi, senior managing director of Japan Manned Space Systems Corp., said a wide variety of clients could use the Bigelow-made stations — including manufacturing companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a major Japanese carmaker that he declined to identify, entertainment ventures and pharmaceutical companies. "Many companies are waiting for the opportunity to use space station commercialization," Kikuchi told NBC News. "Bigelow Aerospace could make it happen." (3/14)

NASA: California Has One Year of Water Left (Source: Newsweek)
Plagued by prolonged drought, California now has only enough water to get it through the next year, according to NASA. In an op-ed published Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, painted a dire picture of the state's water crisis.

California, he writes, has lost around 12 million acre-feet of stored water every year since 2011. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, the combined water sources of snow, rivers, reservoirs, soil water and groundwater amounted to a volume that was 34 million acre-feet below normal levels in 2014. And there is no relief in sight. (3/14)

Zero Gravity Solutions Appoints Timothy A. Peach as CFO (Source: ZGSI)
Florida-based Zero Gravity Solutions, Inc. (ZGSI) has named Timothy Peach as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer. The Company also announced that as of February 23, 2015, the Company’s Form 10 Registration Statement was deemed effective. Mr. Peach has extensive experience in all aspects of reporting company financial requirements along with a substantial background in corporate finance and corporate governance.

ZGSI is an agricultural biotechnology public company commercializing its technology derived from and designed for Space with significant applications on Earth. These technologies are focused on providing valuable solutions to challenges facing world agriculture. (3/14)

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