April 5, 2015

Yuri's Night Celebrates Manned Spaceflight (Source: Florida Today)
Following his passion for space exploration, Ryan Kobrick has performed Mars simulations in the desert and the Arctic and earned a doctoral degree in bioastronautics. But you don't have to be an aspiring astronaut like the 35-year-old Cape Canaveral resident to celebrate human spaceflight.

Events locally and around the globe will provide an opportunity to do that in the week ahead as part of Yuri's Night, an annual initiative led by a nonprofit whose volunteer board Kobrick chairs. Yuri's Night officially falls on April 12, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space in 1961, and of the first space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center in 1981. Click here. (4/4)

Lunar Workshop Lands in Cocoa Beach (Source: Florida Today)
The moon may no longer be the focus of NASA's human exploration program, but it remains a destination of great interest to many researchers and a number of startup commercial space companies. An upcoming workshop in Cocoa Beach will bring them together to discuss their missions, technologies and business and science opportunities.

"The moon is rich with resources and on the way to wherever we go," said Bonnie Dubrow of Flexure Engineering, organizer of the fifth International Workshop on Lunar Surface Applications. "We'll be exploring lunar science investigations, the lunar missions and much more." Participants in LSA5, which runs April 14-17 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cocoa Beach, include six U.S. developers of lunar landers: Astrobotic, Interorbital Systems, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, NASA's Resolve mission and Part-Time Scientists (PTS).

Two evening events are free and open to the public: project presentations and posters on April 14, and an April 15 panel discussion titled, "Isolated and Dangerous: Analogue Research for Human Space Exploration," which is also part of Yuri's Night events. The rest of the lunar workshop is available with ticket purchases. For more information visit http://lsaworkshops.com. (4/4)

NASA Joins Consortium to Develop Cutting-Edge Aircraft (Source: Daily Press)
The National Institute of Aerospace is managing a consortium that includes NASA and private partners working in cooperation to develop cutting-edge aircraft based on composite materials technology. Members of the consortium include the Federal Aviation Administration, General Electric Aviation, Boeing Research & Technology, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. and Pratt & Whitney. (4/2)

Economic Impact of Drones will be Huge in Ohio (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
Ohio skies one day will be filled with unmanned aircraft systems that will monitor construction sites, pipelines and farmers’ fields, and shoot scenes for films. They might even deliver packages to your doorstep. But the day of the drone is still a year or two away.

The FAA announced its proposed rules for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems on Feb. 15. The FAA will accept public comments on the rules through April 24, and at some point after that date, the agency will issue its final rules. The process is expected to take 12 to 24 months, said Richard Honneywell, executive director of the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex.

Once commercial use of drones gets underway, the economic impact of the industry is expected to be $13.6 billion in the first three years and $82.1 billion over 10 years, according to a study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The study found that the economic impact in Ohio is expected to be about $2.2 billion in the first 10 years and the industry will create 2,725 jobs. (4/3)

Editorial: Asteroid Redirect Mission - Option "B" as in Boondoggle (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With NASA’s selection of “Option B” for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a robotic probe will retrieve a boulder from an asteroid instead of towing an entire asteroid to lunar orbit. What started out as an already uninspiring, wasteful mission has become even more uninspiring and wasteful. The ARM has been compared to digging a pond – in front of the Atlantic Ocean; Option B is more like going to a swimming pool, filling a bucket with water, and bringing said bucket to the beach.

The basic question is, what is the purpose of the ARM? Basically the goals are, 1) to retrieve asteroid samples to determine the feasibility of asteroid mining, 2) to test methods of diverting an asteroid on collision course with Earth, 3) practicing rendezvous and Extra0Vehicular Activity techniques which will be used on a mission to Mars, and 4) to test new space technologies, such as Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP).

On the outside those seem like viable goals, but a closer look reveals ARM to be a colossal waste of money and resources that will not take us further into space, but instead could be a massive setback which will likely not inspire the public who has been asked to foot the bill. (4/4)

New Study Finds Unusual Mathematical Pattern In Cosmic Radio Bursts (Source: America Space)
Take a set of enigmatic radio flashes that briefly appear across the sky, throw in a seeming uncertainty regarding their distance and you have a first-rate astrophysical mystery at your hands. And if the nature of this baffling phenomenon, better known as ‘fast radio bursts’ wasn’t enigmatic enough already, a new study comes to make it even more perplexing, by providing evidence for the existence of a possible mathematical pattern in the time delay of arrival between the various frequencies of these cosmic signals. Click here. (4/4)

CERN II: The Search for Dark Matter Begins (Source: Sputnik)
Over the next three months, engineers will slowly inject protons into the LHC at relatively low energy, gradually increasing the beams' energy levels to 13 trillion electronvolts, compared to 8 trillion electronvolts used in the first round of experimentation between 2010 and 2013. Scientists expect that any new discoveries are unlikely until mid-2016.

In 2012, CERN scientists finally found the Higgs boson particle, following years or research. The Higgs boson, known in the Standard Model of particle physics as a "force carrier", was the last to be found among 17 subatomic particles used to describe the universe in the Standard Model.

This time, scientists hope that the new findings from LHC experimentation will allow them to break out of the Standard Model and into the realm of New Physics. This includes an explanation of "dark matter", an all-encompassing force believed to make up about 96 percent of the universe, but detectable only by its influence on visible matter. (4/5)

'Rocket Man' Scott Kelly to Face Rigors and Rewards (Source: Athens Banner-Herald)
Scott Kelly is to stay aboard the station for a year, longer than any other American has traveled in orbit around our planet. Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov spent more than 437 days in space before he returned from his country’s Mir space station in 1995.

American “rocket man” Kelly is the identical twin of astronaut Mark Kelly, now retired from the space program after flying four missions aboard space shuttles. Scott Kelly is a veteran of three previous space flights aboard shuttles and Russian Soyuz orbiters. Scientists will study the two men to learn more about the effects of long-duration space travel on the body and the mind, but many astronauts and cosmonauts who have journeyed into space say that the experience is not just physical and mental, but also spiritual and philosophical.

When Scott Kelly returns to his home planet next year, he will complete a long and lonely mission filled with both rigors and rewards. The words of science fiction writer Robert Heinlein may be a sweet summation of his space odyssey: “I pray for one last landing/ On the globe that gave me birth;/ Let me rest my eyes on the fleecy skies/ And the cool, green hills of Earth.” Click here. (4/4)

UAE Space Agency Seeks Strategic Cooperation with United States Space Sector (Source: Zawya)
The UAE Space Agency continued its efforts to strengthen international strategic partnerships, including improving the UAE's role and place within the international space sector, by organising an official Agency visit to the United States. The Agency delegation was headed by HE Dr. Khalifa Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency board and the Agency's Director General, HE Dr. Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi.

The agenda for the trip included official visits and gatherings with various entities in Washington, D.C. aimed at seeking out and improving cooperative frameworks and partnerships between the two countries in the field of space. The five day trip to the US started with a visit to the US State Department where the two parties explored opportunities for partnership between the UAE and the United States in the space sector, on both the civil and security sides. (4/5)

Rogozin Vows Spaceport to Be Completed Without Any More Corruption Scandals (Source: Sputnik)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin has vowed that the construction of Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome will be completed without any further corruption scandals. Managing to reach a compromise with striking workers over wage arrears which may have been embezzled by one of the subcontractors charged with the construction of the site, Rogozin promised that the situation will not be allowed to repeat itself. (4/5)

Two Air Force Satellites Yet to Launch are Already Out of Date (Source: Washington Business Journal)
They cost more than $2 billion under a program that provides early warnings of a ballistic missile attack on the United States. But with designs that are about two decades old, the two new satellites to launch under the Space Based Infrared System might be out of date before they ever get off the ground.

SBIRS serves as a missile-warning system using a combination of orbiting infrared sensors and satellites. To replace the first two satellites on orbit by 2020 and 2021, the Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin last year, opting for two more of the same design, “aside from limited changes to accommodate obsolete parts,” according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

Here’s the problem, according to the GAO: The basic SBIRS design is years old. The system has been in development for more than 18 years, and some of its technology has already become obsolete. Ideally, the program would replace old technologies with newer ones, but the Air Force has not come up with a way to do that, which is both effective and affordable. The GAO chalked it up to poor planning. (4/3)

Company Will Let Kids Send Science Fair Experiments To Space (Source: 4/5)
Tiny satellites are becoming so ubiquitous that there is now a startup dedicated to giving students access to these satellites so they can conduct space experiments. This company, Ardusat, has a partnership with satellite data company Spire to get an "education payload" on every satellite that Spire launches.

But first, Ardusat needs to do some testing. On April 4, the company will launch a high-altitude balloon filled with science experiments from the winners of the AstroSat Challenge—a new yearly program that asks schools, science clubs, and other student groups to submit experiment ideas for a free trip to space. For this first competition, Ardusat selected 15 winners, including an astronomy club in Pennsylvania, a Boy Scout troop in California, and a group of high school students in Ohio. (4/3)

Aliens Are Enormous, Science Suggests (Source: Newsweek)
Aliens, if they exist, are likely huge. At least that’s the conclusion of a new paper by cosmologist Fergus Simpson, who has estimated that the average weight of intelligent extraterrestrials would be 650 pounds (300 kilograms) or more. ET would have paled in comparison to these interstellar behemoths.

The argument relies on a mathematical model that assumes organisms on other planets obey the same laws of conservation of energy that we see here on Earth—namely, that larger animals need more resources and expend more energy, and thus are less abundant. There are many small ants, for example, but far fewer whales or elephants.

Thus, throughout the universe, as is the case on Earth, there are likely more small animals than large ones, says Simpson, a scientist at the University of Barcelona. Since the number of planets inhabited by relatively small animals would outnumber the amount of worlds where large ones predominate, it is most likely that we find ourselves on a planet with relatively small animals—and are ourselves probably one of the smaller intelligent beings, he adds. (4/5)

NASA Disputes Report it is Reassessing Lunar Surface Plans (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA officials are disputing the Houston Chronicle’s April 3 story that NASA is “quietly” reassessing the need for missions to the lunar surface before traveling to Mars. Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger wrote that “senior NASA engineers” are involved in the reassessment, but NASA officially responded that the agency continues to plan only for operations in cis-lunar space.

Berger’s article quotes NASA Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight Bill Gerstenmaier discussing the advantages of producing fuel from lunar resources (called in-situ resource utilization or ISRU) to propel astronauts to Mars. Berger characterizes Gerstenmaier as favoring lunar surface missions, saying he “appears to be steering the agency back toward a program that would more fully utilize the moon” as part of NASA’s "Evolvable Mars Campaign" that lays out the steps to landing humans on the Martian surface.

NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said Gerstenmaier was only responding to a question from Berger about the possibility of using lunar resources for Mars missions. “The Evolvable Mars Campaign, which envisions using the lunar vicinity to support a human mission to the Red Planet, is in line with and designed to advance the president’s ambitious space exploration plan... A key element of our plan to get to the Red Planet is employing a stepping stone approach, including living, working and learning in cis-lunar space.” (4/5)

Sexism in Space (Source: Motherboard)
What happens when men and women live together in close proximity and under intense conditions for long stretches of time—like, say, in space? On December 3, 1999, Judith Lapierre, a 32-year-old Canadian health sciences specialist and astronaut candidate, arrived in Moscow to help find out. On the outskirts of the city, researchers from Russian and international space programs had set up the Simulation of Flight of International Crew on Space Station mission, or Sphinx-99: A 60s era three-room chamber mocked up to feel like a spacecraft on a trip to Mars.

It was halfway through the experiment, and Lapierre was joining two other prospective astronauts, one from Japan and one from Austria, who planned to spend 110 days in the module, alongside four Russian men who had already been inside for six months. She was the only woman.

Things were fine until December 31—less than one month after Lapierre and her Japanese and Austrian counterparts had arrived at the simulation—when the inhabitants held a small New Year’s Eve party. Celebrated in typical Russian fashion with a number of shots of vodka—there were reportedly many bottles of vodka and cognac involved, per local custom—the revelry was interrupted when the Russian mission commander, Vasily Lukyanyuk, approached Lapierre and suggested a make-out session. Click here. (4/2)

Let's Talk About Sex in Space (Source: Motherboard)
Now that Earth has had a co-ed space station in orbit for over three decades, the obvious question must be raised once again: What goes on behind closed hatches? Have any of the astronauts ever taken things to the next level? There have, for the record, been no official, confirmed reports of inappropriate behavior, consensual or otherwise, among Shuttle, Soyuz, Shenzhou, or ISS crew members. Yet these official denials haven’t stopped the dirtier minds on Earth from contemplating just how those in orbit might be passing their private time. Click here. (3/30)

Russian Spaceport Workers Start Hunger Strike Over Unpaid Wages (Source: Voice of America)
Twenty-six workers at Russia's newest spaceport in the Far East have begun a hunger strike to demand overdue salaries. One hunger striker said on April 3 that the workers at the Vostochny spaceport construction site have not been paid for several months and the building company owes each worker up to $2,500.

There are more than 5,700 people working on the Vostochny spaceport. Some 100 workers also went on strike on March 24 to demand unpaid wages. Earlier this week, local authorities promised to pay off the debts and some workers received their salaries, but the payments stopped after officials ran out of money. (4/3)

NASA Assures Skeptical Congress JWST is on Track (Source: Scientific American)
A telescope project that has become notorious for its ballooning cost and repeated delays has lately been operating on schedule and within budget, NASA officials told Congress last week. One of the most ambitious and powerful observatories ever built, the $8.8-billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is on track to launch in 2018, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. (3/30)

45th Space Wing Commander Wins Space Leadership Award (Source: PAFB)
Congratulations Maj. Gen. (Sel) Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander, who received the 2014 Gen. Jerome F. O'Malley Distinguished Space Leadership Award during an Air Force Ball hosted by the Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association and Air Force Space Command held in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 20.  (4/4)

FSDC Hosts Longevity Science Discussion on April 10 (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council will host a lecture and discussion with Dr. Aubrey deGrey on April 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the Florida Beer Company in Cape Canaveral. Dr. deGrey is a founder of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation, a California-based organization focused on life-extending rejuvenation research. The event is open to the public. The location is 200 Imperial Boulevard, Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In addition to this lecture FSDC will honor the life of Leonard Nimoy, whom we all remember as Spock. He passed away 2/27/15 from pulmonary disease. We remember his contributions to science and culture and honor the inspiration he gave to so many people. Click here. (4/4)

SpaceX Preparing for Busy Season of Missions and Test Milestones (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
SpaceX is set for a salvo of events over the coming months, ranging from resupply runs to the International Space Station, to abort test objectives for its Dragon 2 program. The company envisions two launches of its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket in April, followed by a pad abort test in early May – all conducted from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40.

The SpaceX team has already conducted three successful launches in 2015, kicked off by the CRS-5/SpX-5 Dragon mission to the ISS in January. The Dragon concluded her mission with a splashdown finale in the Pacific Ocean the following month, just a few days prior to SpaceX’s next launch – with the successful lofting of the DSCOVR spacecraft. (4/4)

SpaceX Tours Texas Campus, Informs Students of Job Opportunities (Source: Valley Morning Star)
More than 300 students from different programs convened in the Cultural Arts Center last week to listen to presentations by SpaceX about the company and potential jobs with the space transport services company. SpaceX is based out of California but recently announced the construction of a launch site on Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville.

Representatives from SpaceX were on campus to speak to students about potential jobs and meet with faculty and staff. After a brief presentation and a question-and-answer portion with students then faculty, the representatives toured the Engineering Center and met with students and faculty. Mechatronics Technology Program Chair Adam Hernandez said the visit and tour of the Engineering Center were exciting and a sign that his program and the Engineering Division is moving in the right direction. (4/3)

We Were Supposed to Be on Mars by Now! Why Aren't We? (Source: Huffington Post)
Humanity's advancement into space has not progressed quite as predicted. In the 1960s and 1970s, futurists, as well as science fiction movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey or the old campy television show, Space 1999, took it for granted that regular passenger flights, moon bases, interplanetary exploration, and other extraordinary advancements in space would be a reality before the end of the 20th Century.

We have obviously fallen well short of that vision, but as fantastical as that speculation may seem today, it wasn't entirely based on wishful thinking or flights of fancy. After the United States successfully landed humans on the moon, there were high level discussions at NASA and elsewhere that advocated for sending humans to Mars by the mid-1980s.  In view of the truly remarkable speed in which America achieved the Moon landings, Mars by the 1980s didn't seem all that far-fetched at the time. Click here. (3/30)

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