March 8, 2015

43rd Space Congress Registration Opens (Source: CCTS)
The 43rd Space Congress will be held in Cape Canaveral on April 28-30. The event will celebrate our area's space history while highlighting current space accomplishments and future direction. The multi-day schedule of events features panel discussions with local, state and federal leaders, technical paper sessions, and exhibits. Click here for information and registration. (3/7)

What's Next for NASA's Dawn Probe at Dwarf Planet Ceres? (Source:
NASA's Dawn probe has begun orbiting Ceres, but the spacecraft still has some traveling to do before it starts taking the dwarf planet's measure. Dawn arrived at Ceres early Friday morning (March 6), becoming the first spacecraft ever to circle a dwarf planet, as well as the first to orbit two bodies beyond the Earth-moon system. (Dawn studied the protoplanet Vesta up close from July 2011 through September 2012.)

But Dawn is still on the move, and will be for another six weeks, when the spacecraft reaches a position to begin making science observations. Dawn "is working now to reshape its orbit around Ceres," Dawn mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman. (3/7)

NML Fails at Attempt to Seize Argentina's Space Assets (Source: Buenos Aires Herald)
NML Capital, a unit of billionaire Paul Singer’s “vulture fund” Elliott Management, lost a new battle in its efforts to seize Argentine assets abroad as a United States judge ruled in favour of Argentina regarding the country’s rights under a contract for satellite launches with a private US firm.

The holdout fund had filed a lawsuit in March 2014 over Argentina’s rights as part of a contract with SpaceX. The company had unveiled in 2009 an agreement with Argentina’s National Commission on Space Activity (CONAE) for at least two satellite launches to study the global environment, expected for 2015 and 2016.

NML claimed that the launch service rights were used for commercial activity because they were acquired in a commercial transaction and that SpaceX maintains an open launch slot as a result. Nevertheless, the accusation was dismissed by Judge Stephen Wilson of California, the district from which the satellites will be launched. (3/7)

Tucson Space Tourism Company Nearer to Manned Flight (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
Commercial space tourism is one step closer to being a reality. Last month, World View Enterprises Inc., a Tucson-based commercial balloon spaceflight company, successfully flew the first parafoil, a wing-like parachute, from the edge of space. Though the company has flown a high-altitude balloon at that height before, this is the first time a parafoil has been flown at 102,200 feet, which is roughly the altitude it hopes to fly passengers. Click here. (3/7)

Giant Methane Storms on Uranus (Source:
Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system. But, when we picture the seventh planet in our solar system invariably the image of a calming blue hazy disc that the spacecraft Voyager 2 took in 1986 comes to mind. However, all we have previously known about the atmosphere of Uranus has been 'thrown to the wind' with observations made last year.

In August 2014 a group led by Imke de Pater pointed the Keck telescope at Uranus and were a little bit surprised to see storms raging. It wasn't as though clouds haven't been seen before, but the clouds they spotted last year were very much brighter than any seen before. The fact that the storms are bright in the methane spectrum isn't a surprise – Uranus, and its neighbour Neptune, are pretty much just big balls of methane, water and ammonia (but it does make for a snigger-worthy headline). (3/2)

Florida Environmental Agency Asked to Avoid 'Climate Change' (Source: FCIR)
The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years. But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records. The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting. “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said. This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. (3/8)

Venture Finance Firm Starts Spacetech Practice (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Bessemer Venture Partners has recruited Scott Smith of Iridium Communications as a part-time Operating Partner, where he will help identify and advise portfolio companies in what BVP calls the emerging “spacetech” sector.

Smith will continue to serve as Chief Operating Officer and a board director of Iridium, operator of the world’s largest commercial satellite constellation. He previously served in the same role at Digital Globe. In addition to his experience at aerospace industry leaders, Smith’s background includes space tech startups: in 1995 he co-founded Space Imaging, and he recently served on the board of Skybox until its acquisition by Google. (3/6)

NASA Orders Missions to Resupply Space Station in 2017 (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
NASA has ordered four additional launches to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in 2017 — three from SpaceX and one from Orbital ATK — to cover the research lab’s logistics needs until a new set of resupply contracts take effect. The extra missions will serve as a bridge between the current contracts and new commercial cargo deals that will cover resupply missions launching from 2018 through at least 2020.

SpaceX and Orbital ATK won Commercial Resupply Services contracts from NASA in December 2008, covering 12 cargo deliveries by SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and eight missions with Orbital ATK’s Cygnus supply ship. A NASA spokesperson said the space agency has extended the CRS contract one year. (3/7)

NASA’s MMS Mission Set to Continue Busy Month at Cape (Source: Florida Today)
The second of four launches planned this month from Cape Canaveral is nearing a Thursday night liftoff. NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, is targeting blastoff at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, the opening of a 30-minute window, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The $1.1 billion science mission will deploy a laboratory consisting of four identical spacecraft that will fly in a pyramid formation to study a phenomenon called “magnetic reconnection.” It’s a fundamental physics process seen throughout the universe in which collisions of magnetic fields generate explosive bursts of energy. (3/7)

China to Launch Tianzhou-1 Cargo Ship in 2016 to Rendezvous with Space Lab (Source: Xinhua)
China will send a cargo ship into the space in 2016 to dock with a future space module scheduled to be launched earlier the same year, a leading Chinese space scientist said. The Tianzhou-1, which literally means "heavenly vessel", will carry propellants, living necessities for astronauts, research facilities and repair equipment to China's second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, said Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China's manned space program. (3/7)

China Has Ability But No Plan for Manned Lunar Mission (Source: Xinhua)
The world's third country to softland on the moon has the ability to achieve the manned lunar landing but it has no plan to do it, a leading Chinese space scientist said Friday. "With China's current technologies of manned space flight and moon probe, we have the technology basis to realize the manned lunar mission," said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program. But the scientist said his nation has no plan to land its astronauts on the moon for the time being. (3/7)

What on Earth is SpaceX Doing at a Vdeo Game Conference? (Source: Business Insider)
Ah, the Game Developers Conference — where anybody with an interest in the industry can bump elbows with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Valve, Epic Games, and... SpaceX? It's true: Elon Musk's private space travel startup SpaceX has a booth in the Career Center at GDC 2015. And while they're being typically tightlipped with the press, Business Insider has heard that they're here recruiting programmer talent, just like everybody else in Silicon Valley. (3/5)

Space Frontier Foundation Calls for NASA to Expand Public/Private Partnerships (Source: SFF)
Powerful public-private partnerships, a model that dates back to the days of U.S. Railroad Industry, continues to thrive as the preferred model for NASA’s partnership with the emerging commercial space industry. Space Frontier Foundation calls for NASA and Congress to continue this highly successful model for future space endeavors, as humanity expands into the solar system. (3/3)

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