April 6, 2015

Army Officer Heidi Beemer Keeps Mars Dream Alive (Source: The Globe)
Last year’s NASA’s flight test of Orion renewed mainstream discussions about human travel to Mars. But for Heidi Beemer, the notion of going to Mars is nothing new. She’s been thinking about it for more than 20 years.

A former candidate for the Mars One mission to Mars, Beemer is a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and graduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide. Although she is not one of the remaining 100 Mars One candidates, Beemer says her dream is still alive and looks forward to new opportunities to get to Mars. Click here. (3/31)

Human Spaceflight Industry Seeks Another Extension of Regulatory ‘Learning Period’ (Source: Space News)
With less than six months to go before a limitation on regulating U.S. commercial human spaceflight companies expires, industry and government officials have yet to find agreement on whether to extend the current arrangement or, if not, how to replace it.

Much of the discussion at a daylong meeting of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) here April 1 dealt with what many in the industry call the “learning period” that limits the FAA’s ability to regulate commercial human spaceflight.

A provision of the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 restricts the FAA’s ability to issue commercial spaceflight safety regulations except in cases of serious accidents or other high-risk incidents. The intent of the restriction was to allow companies to develop flight experience that could then be used as the basis for regulations. (4/6)

Could NASA Stop on the Moon on the Way to Mars? (Source: Smithsonian)
With a succinct, practical statement in 2010, President Barack Obama quashed the pipedreams of aspiring lunar astronauts: “I have to say it pretty bluntly here, we’ve been there before.” But NASA says to not write off the moon quite so fast. Stopping there could make it easier to reach the next big destination in space: Mars.

But whether Americans will actually return to the moon likely boils down to political relationships and money. The space race of the 1960s was largely spurred on by Cold War competition, but a new moon landing would be about cooperation (or, at the very least, a shift in who is considered the competitor).

“[NASA’s] international partners, including many European countries, have expressed a desire to explore the moon, but faced with NASA’s public disinterest in the moon since 2010 these partners have begun working with China,” the Houston Chronicle reports. (4/6)

Hawaiian Students Test ‘Lunar Dust Buster’ at NASA Ames (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Future missions to the Moon will have to deal with the serious problems caused by Moon dust. The fine electrostatic dust which covers the lunar surface is very sharp and clings to surfaces. The abrasive dust can damage camera lens, solar panels and other equipment and even wear through multiple layers of an Apollo spacesuit. 

A group of students from Kealakehe High School on the Big Island of Hawaii recently spent three days at NASA Ames Research Center testing an electrodynamic dust shield (EDS) in the center's Lunar Regolith Simulant Test bed. The test was host by NASA's Solar System Exploration Virtual Institute (SSERVI) which is headquartered at Ames. (4/5)

Build and Launch Your Own Satellite for £20,000 (Source: Guardian)
The 25-year-old founder of the PocketQube Shop, a Glasgow-based company which provides the components for making tiny 5cm³ PocketQube satellites, is taking advantage of a new generation of space technology that allows small businesses to join an industry previously the preserve of governments and well-funded private companies.

Dubbed ‘NewSpace’, this fresh market is based around technology which would have previously been prohibitive in cost. Now it can be bought off the shelf and small satellites like those sold by Walkinshaw can be launched into orbit at a price unthinkable in previous decades.

Corentin Guillo, the head of missions at the Satellite Applications Catapult - one of the UK government’s centers for fostering innovation - said technology used in mobile phones and laptops can now be used in small satellites. This in turn makes them more disposable than their predecessors, which were typically large and lasted for more than five years. (4/5)

Astronomers See Robotic Mowers Invading Their Space in FCC Fight (Source: Bloomberg)
The timeless quest for the perfect lawn may be putting at risk efforts to unlock the secrets of the universe. Scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory have objected to a proposal by iRobot Corp. to sell lawnmowers guided by radio waves. The scientists say the machines may interfere with the ultra-sensitive radio telescopes they are using to scan the heavens. (4/6)

Design Work Begins on Asteroid Lander Mission (Source: SEN)
Preliminary design work has begun on the European Space Agency's Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), scheduled for launch in October 2020, which will rendezvous with and study a binary asteroid. The pairing of space rocks, called Didymos, consists of a main asteroid measuring about 800 m across, and a moon—nicknamed Didymoon—which measures about 170 m across.

AIM is part of a larger initiative with NASA called the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, the objective of which is to help us understand how we could defend Earth from an asteroid heading for impact. Both AIM and NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe will arrive at the Didymos system in 2022. (4/6)

Rogozin Orders to Fire Deputy Head of Company Building Vostochny Spaceport (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister ordered Monday to fire the deputy head of Dalspetsstroy, the company in charge of the Vostochny spaceport construction. "The former head of Dalspetsstroy, Mr. [Dmitry] Savin, who is now deputy head of Dalspetsstroy, will be fired on my order," Rogozin said. Before Savin is fired, he will have to return 800,000 rubles (around  $14,000) to Dalspetsstroy which he paid to his wife as one month’s salary. "He had enough for a car, but did not find any money to pay the workers their salaries," Rogozin said. (4/6)

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