April 11, 2015

Jimmy Fallon Weighs 'Pros and Cons' for Astronaut Scott Kelly's Year in Space (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly's mission was the subject of The Tonight Show’s “Pros And Cons” skit Wednesday. Kelly is one of two astronauts who embarked on a year long mission living aboard the International Space Station in March. Host Jimmy Fallon weighed the pros and cons for Kelly. Click here. (4/10)

India Needs to Upgrade Technology for Manned Space Missions (Source: Avenue Mail)
India created history by becoming the first country to enter Mars orbit in maiden attempt on September 24, 2014 but what is it that we are still lacking behind in technology? By 2030 United States is planning to send human beings to Mars, When can ISRO do the same?

K Radhakrishnan said, “Space is a complex system and it is tough to send man to Mars as there is no affirmation of bringing him back safely but it’s easy to send robots. Sending human beings to Mars can be of advantage as he will explore many things out there but robots will perform the work we will feed in them. Sending human beings to space requires ability to provide the environment and life support system for the crew, minimising the failure rate and developing an escape system, etc. We have been able to send robots to space. (4/9)

Spaceport America to Open Visitor Center in June (Source: KFOX)
On Thursday, students from Sierra and Doña Ana counties got a preview of the Spaceport America Visitor Experience. “There are games that are fun but they're educational. So everything has a purpose behind it but it's also fun,” said Christine Anderson, Spaceport America’s Executive Director. “We wanted to get feedback from this so we can make a few changes before the official opening in June but I'm pleased from the reaction I got from kids.”

Once the visitor experience is finished, there will be three parts: a visitor center in Truth or Consequences, the bus ride to Spaceport and the Gateway Gallery. The Gateway Gallery features interactive displays, original videos, a 3D globe and G-Shock Simulator. (4/10)

Moray Council Claims Its UK Spaceport Bid is Still Alive (Source: Press and Journal)
Councillors yesterday restated their commitment to bringing a spaceport to Moray in the hope that a new government might re-examine the region’s case. The vow to keep fighting for a potentially lucrative slice of the emerging commercial space travel industry was voiced at yesterday’s economic development and infrastructure services committee.

It follows last month’s shock announcement that the UK government had ruled both RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks off a short list of possible sites due to “overriding military operational factors” and their “vital role” in national defense. “We didn’t expect Lossiemouth, but certainly Kinloss we felt was very high up the ladder as far as being capable and had the infrastructure to take a spaceport. “The fact that my letter has not been replied to by Michael Fallon does leave the door open." (4/10)

Criminal Inquiry Launched Into $900,000 Embezzlement at Vostochny Spaceport (Source: RBTH)
A criminal inquiry has been launched over LLC Stroyindustria-S salary debts to builders of the Vostochny spaceport in the Amur region, the regional prosecution service said. "The organization received an upfront payment of 48 million rubles ($916,000) for building spaceport facilities, but its executives spent the money on other financial and economic activity, unrelated to the construction works," the report said.

Criminal charges have been brought against LLC Stroyindustria-S executives under part 4, article 160 of the Russian Criminal Code (embezzlement of another's entrusted property in especially large amounts). LLC Stroyindustria-S CEO Sergei Terentyev has been arrested under part 3, article 145.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (failure to pay salaries for over two months with severe consequences). The detectives said he intentionally withheld all salaries of the workers in January, February and the first half of March 2015. (4/10)

3 Reasons Why We Haven’t Conquered Space Yet (Source: PJ Media)
When the first explorers set out to the New World, they knew some of them would not return. People would die and ships would sink. Later, as we developed new technology, we knew jets would blow up and trains crash as we figured out the technology. We accepted danger as the price of progress. Nowadays, we’re less likely to accept that risk. Click here. (4/10)

NASA Invites ESA to Build Europa Piggyback Probe (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
After walking away from a previously planned joint mission to Jupiter, NASA has asked the European Space Agency if it can furnish a lander or ice-penetrating probe for a rejuvenated U.S.-led robotic spacecraft to visit Jupiter’s moon Europa. NASA’s mission to Europa is scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s to begin a multi-year journey to Jupiter. Once it arrives, the probe will loop into an ever-changing orbit carrying it past Europa dozens of times. (4/10)

SpaceX to Try Daring Rocket Landing Again Monday (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX will try again to make history during the launch of its robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station on Monday. The company aims to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back to Earth for a soft touchdown on an unmanned "spaceport drone ship" in the Atlantic Ocean after the booster sends Dragon on its way toward the orbiting lab. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT) Monday from Florida's Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (4/10)

NASA Awards Architect-Engineer Services Contract for Launch Infrastructure (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected BPRH Architect and Engineers, Inc., of Melbourne, Florida, and Jones Edmunds and Associates, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, to provide architect-engineer services to rehabilitate, modernize and develop new and existing civil infrastructure and facilities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and other NASA assets, launch or landing sites worldwide.

Two indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts will be awarded, one for each of the respective firms. Each contract will be for five years and will not exceed $20 million. The scope of work includes architect-engineer services for complex civil infrastructure including preparation of studies, designs, specifications, reports and other contract documents for construction, roadways, parking facilities, traffic signalization, specialized ground transportation infrastructure for flight hardware.

Also included are railroads, airport runways and hangars, wharf facilities and dredging, security systems and force protection, water distribution, wastewater collection, storm-water management, coastal management, and geotechnical evaluations. Services also include the study and design of new facilities, refurbishment of existing facilities, and deconstruction of existing facilities. (4/10)

Honeywell Tracking System Passes ESA Final Test (Source: UPI)
Honeywell's new global tracking system has received the seal of approval from the European Space Agency after passing its final acceptance tests. "Our Medium Earth Orbit-based search-and-rescue solution will lead to faster recovery missions and improved international search-and-rescue operations, and we're pleased to partner with the European Space Agency to help execute on this important, life-saving system," said Honeywell's David Sharratt. (4/9)

Launch of Secretive X-37B Shuttle Delayed Until May 20 (Source: Space.com)
United Launch Alliance (ULA ) has announced the postponement of the Air Force Space Command mission, AFSPC-5. The current schedule puts the launch at taking place no earlier than May, 20, 2015. ULA has stated that the delay was caused so as to accommodate a spacecraft issue that was encountered with the mission's U.S. Air Force X-37B mini shuttle. (4/10)

NASA Hopes Mars Plans Flexible Enough To Survive Administrations (Source: Space News)
As NASA develops its plans for eventual human missions to Mars, the agency is deferring decisions on a number of major details, in part to retain flexibility to keep the program alive when President Barack Obama leaves office in two years. At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, NASA officials discussed progress on a set of ongoing studies, collectively known as the Evolvable Mars Campaign, designed to address key issues for future human missions to Mars.

NASA could wait until 2020, Bill Gerstenmaier said, before making a decision on the destination of the first mission to the vicinity of Mars, including whether the mission would land on Mars or one of its moons, or instead remain in orbit. “We don’t need to make those decisions right now,” he said. “We think we can study those, understand their benefits.”

Another advantage of delaying that particular decision, he offered, is that it avoids making enemies of proponents whose destination was not selected. “Once you make that decision, you’ve now created ‘x’ number of friends, and you’ve created ‘y’ number of enemies,” he said. (4/10)

Advisors to NASA: Dump Asteroid Mission for Mars Orbit Instead (Source: Houston Chronicle)
At the conclusion of its meeting the NASA Advisory Council adopted a “finding” that the asteroid redirect mission should be dropped in favor of demonstrating solar electric propulsion on a Mars orbit mission. That could include a Phobos or Deimos sample return, but the council wanted to leave NASA some flexibility to study all options.

“If this technology is designed to go to Mars and back, let’s send it to Mars and back,” said Steve Squyres, chairman of the advisory committee. The vote was unanimous. This “finding” represents the opinion of the committee and is not binding on NASA. However it will likely spur NASA to at least further study a Mars orbit option, and will embolden the many critics of NASA’s asteroid mission. Click here. (4/10)

Radiation and Boredom: Manned Mars Mission Faces Challenges (Source: Space.com)
Humanity has long dreamed of visiting Mars, and has made some progress toward that goal in recent decades. But a lot of logistical and biological problems still need to be worked out. Astronauts will need to bring all the food, water and other resources needed for the 6- to 9-month journey to Mars. Their bodies will need to be able to withstand the reduced gravity and increased radiation in deep space. And they'll have to find a way to deal with the boredom, experts say. Click here. (4/10)

Editorial: Nothing To Hide on James Webb Space Telescope (Source: Space News)
The latest of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s annual status reports on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope served as another reminder that the long-troubled project, which was reset in 2011, still faces a number of technical challenges, most if not all of which have previously been identified.

And then there was this little nugget: JWST prime contractor Northrop Grumman Aerospace denied a GAO request to interview 30 technical experts responsible for individual JWST program elements unless a supervisor was present.

The episode certainly was unusual — from any perspective. Then again, there’s nothing normal about the JWST, NASA’s most expensive and ambitious undertaking outside of human spaceflight. Politics — the JWST has powerful friends in Congress — and the emotional tug of sunk investment were factors in keeping it alive after its projected lifecycle cost ballooned to nearly $9 billion. Click here. (4/10)

Iridium Next Seen as Likely Host For MDA’s Kill Assessment Sensors (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has been careful not to identify the satellites that would host its planned network of experimental kill assessment sensors, but industry sources say the likeliest candidate is the Iridium Next constellation of mobile communications satellites.

To be clear, the MDA has not even confirmed that the host satellites would be commercial, and in fact there are publicly disclosed examples of military payloads operating aboard classified satellites. But industry sources say the MDA’s host satellites are indeed privately owned. (4/10)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Faces June Deadline for Taking RD Amross Stake (Source: Space News)
Aerojet Rocketdyne, which is suffering from two separate headaches caused by Russian rocket engines, on April 9 said it is likely to decide by June 12 whether to exercise its option to buy a 50 percent stake in the company that sells Russian RD-180 rocket engines for use in U.S. Atlas 5 rockets.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s parent company, GenCorp Inc. of Rancho Cordova, California — which as of April 27 is changing its name to Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings — has been postponing a decision on the RD-180 since it bought the rest of Rocketdyne’s assets from United Technologies Corp. (UTC) in June 2013. UTC owns 50 percent of RD Amross, a joint venture with RD-180 manufacturer Energomash of Russia. (4/10)

Icarus Interstellar: Visions of Our Starship Future (Source: Discovery)
Last November at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW), Rob Swinney -- a former Royal Air Force squadron leader, engineer, and MSc who's now in charge of Project Icarus -- presented a progress report on the work being done under the project. Swinney reviewed the history of the project, from the inspiration of the original Project Daedalus report by the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) in 1978, to the decision in 2009 by a group of BIS and Tau Zero enthusiasts to update the study, to the latest work being done in 2014.

The original Daedalus study was conceived to address a key aspect of the Fermi paradox: "If intelligent extra-terrestrials exist and interstellar travel is possible, then where are they?" The Daedalus study was intended to determine if it was indeed possible to engineer a realistic starship, using only reasonable extrapolations of existing technologies. The conclusion was a resounding yes. Click here. (4/10)

ULA to Unveil America’s Next Generation Launch System on Monday (Source: ULA)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno will unveil the Next Generation Launch System and its name, which was determined after more than one million votes were received March 23 – April 6. The Next Generation Launch System will impact the future of the space launch industry by making space more affordable and accessible, while continuing to deliver on ULA’s history of reliability and precision. (4/10)

Call for Streamlining Space Laws (Source: New Indian Express)
Growing commercial interests in outer space and space exploration calls for stringent provisions to control the multifarious aspects including liability and intellectual property rights in space-related activities, Justice K G Balakrishnan, chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said on Thursday.

Balakrishnan was speaking after inaugurating an ‘International Conference on Space Law: Contemporary challenges, opportunities and way forward’ organized by the Cener for Advanced Legal Studies and Research, Kerala Law Academy Law College.

‘’We are all bound by conventions and treaties on space law. But now the problem in space exploration is the huge commercial interest,’’ he said, citing the example of helium-3, a non-radioactive energy source thought to be in abundance on the moon. ‘’Three days of rocketing time is enough to reach the moon. It has great commercial value. It is estimated that a single shuttle-load of He-3 can provide energy the US for a full year,’’ Balakrishnan said. (4/10)

Grazer, Howard Working on Space Series with Elon Musk (Source: CNN)
Hollywood producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are working on a eight hour mini-series about Elon Musk's space ambitions. "I'm obsessed with him, because he succeeded at three different things that were so different than one another," said Grazer. "He has such a unique brain and the brain of the future." Musk is the visionary behind the Tesla (TSLA) electric car, SpaceX and PayPal.

One of Musk's biggest ambitions: To colonize Mars. That makes the venture a natural fit for Grazer and Howard, who produced the Oscar-winning movie Apollo 13, based on one of America's space missions to land on the moon. When will it appear and where? Grazer declined to give more details. (4/10)

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