May 26, 2015

NASA’s Europa Mission Begins with Selection of Science Instruments (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected nine science instruments for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life. NASA’s 2016 budget request includes $30 million to formulate a mission to Europa.

The mission would send a solar-powered spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around the gas giant Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of Europa over a three-year period. In total, the mission would perform 45 flybys at altitudes ranging from 16 miles to 1,700 miles.

The payload of selected science instruments includes cameras and spectrometers to produce high-resolution images of Europa’s surface and determine its composition. An ice penetrating radar will determine the thickness of the moon’s icy shell and search for subsurface lakes similar to those beneath Antarctica. The mission also will carry a magnetometer to measure strength and direction of the moon’s magnetic field, which will allow scientists to determine the depth and salinity of its ocean. (5/26)

Aerojet Begins Tests for Air Force Rocket Engine Program (Source: SpaceRef)
Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed the first in a series of hot-fire tests on the sub-scale oxygen rich pre-burner in support of the U.S. Air Force Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. In coming months, multiple injector configurations will be tested to evaluate the performance and stability parameters that are critical for a high-performance, high-reliability liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket engine.

The sub-scale test series will be used to aid the design and development of the full-scale pre-burner and engine development. An oxygen-rich pre-burner is one of the enabling technologies of the Oxygen-Rich Staged Combustion (ORSC) cycle needed to provide high thrust-to-weight and performance regardless of hydrocarbon fuel type. (5/26)

A Stagecoach to the Stars (Source: Space Review)
Concepts of interplanetary spacecraft often face challenges with power, propulsion, radiation shielding, and more. Brian McConnell offers a concept for a "spacecoach" spacecraft that overcomes many of those obstacles by making use of water and solar electric propulsion in unique ways. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

Congress Launches Commercial Space Legislation (Source: Space Review)
Both the House and Senate are considering legislation to support the US commercial launch industry, including extending key provisions of current law. Jeff Foust reports on those efforts, including the contrast between the partisan debates in the House and the bipartisan effort in the Senate. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

A Quick Look at Trade Secrets in Outer Space (Source: Space Review)
As commercial ventures in outer space grow, so do issues like the protection of trade secrets such companies may obtain from their space activities. Kamil Muzyka explores the issue of trade secrets and offers one approach to protecting them. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

India's GSLV Mark III: Another Step Ahead (Source: Space Review)
India is making progress, albeit slowly, on the next generation of its GSLV launch vehicle designed to end the country's dependence on foreign launchers. Debalina Ghoshal examines the state of the vehicle's development. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

UWF, Space Florida Collaborate on Cybersecurity (Source: Pensacola Today)
Space Florida, the state’s aerospace and spaceport development authority, has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with the University of West Florida Center for Research and Economic Opportunity to further develop Florida’s cybersecurity technologies.

CREO’s mission includes helping Northwest Florida communities recover from the negative economic impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which disproportionally affected eight coastal Panhandle counties. In recent years, cybersecurity-related programs have expanded in this area. Space Florida and UWF will work together to determine opportunities to further develop and transfer these technologies to the commercial sector, when possible.

Northwest Florida has a long history in space, aeronautics and cybersecurity-related programs, said Brice Harris, assistant vice president of CREO. “The cybersecurity industry here provides a prime opportunity to foster economic growth and job creation in the panhandle and Space Florida has the capabilities to help ensure these tech programs see commercial application,” Harris said. (5/26)

Elon Musk and Craig Venter Want to Print Life on Mars (Source: Motherboard)
Elon Musk knows that Mars will not be terraformed in his lifetime. Still, the SpaceX and Tesla renaissance man does have a vague plan on how to seed life there: He wants to team with legendary geneticist Craig Venter to print life on the Red Planet.

Printing life is not something that's going to be done tomorrow, but, as we've covered before, it's not a line of thinking that's totally unprecedented or outside the realm of possibility. Some of NASA's very best scientists believe that in order to colonize other planets, we'll need to encode the human genome into bacteria, send those bacteria into space, and reassemble the genomic data they carry once they finally land on another planet. (5/20)

Kazcosmos Wants Slot on ISS Flight as Sarah Brightman Replacement (Source: RBTH)
Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov may replace singer Sarah Brightman onboard Russia's Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft, which is due to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in September. "The Russian side has notified us that our cosmonaut may be allowed to fly in September. Sarah Brightman's seat is vacant today. That is why we are considering the possibility of our cosmonaut Aimbetov's flight." (5/26)

Progress Failure Investigation Might Take Dramatic Turn (Source: Russian Space Web)
According to industry sources, on May 21, Aleksandr Danilyuk was preparing to sign off on a conclusion confirming the disintegration of the oxygen tank on the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1a rocket due to a manufacturing defect. At the time, the prevailing theory was that the welded seam connecting the upper bulkhead to the rest of the tank had given way, because it had to be welded twice during its production.

A source familiar with the investigation reported on the online forum of the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine that the disintegration of the oxygen tank had been accepted as the primary cause of the failure primarily because the tank was deemed to be the only source of thrust, which could send the spacecraft 40 kilometers above its projected altitude according to TsNIIMash calculations, which were reportedly doubted by at least some engineers. (5/26)

India Considers Ground Station in Vietnam (Source: Times of India)
The Indian Space Research Organization has mooted a proposal for a ground station in Vietnam. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is also keen on the project. The organization already has a network of ground stations within the country, one in Mauritius and two in Indonesia. The proposal is going to help India receive, process and use data from Indian satellites for a variety of applications including disaster management support, a senior scientist told TOI. (5/25)

NASA’s Historic VAB Set for New Era of Human Spaceflight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With their new super heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS ) booster set to take to the skies as soon as 2018, engineers are busy refurbishing the Vehicle Assembly Building for use with this new huge booster. Perhaps one of NASA's more iconic structures, the VAB has been around since the late 1960s – as have the systems that were used in the building to stack launch vehicles and spacecraft since the Apollo Program. Click here. (5/26)

Forget Space-Time: Information May Create the Cosmos (Source:
What are the basic building blocks of the cosmos? Atoms, particles, mass energy? Quantum mechanics, forces, fields? Space and time — space-time? Tiny strings with many dimensions? A new candidate is "information," which some scientists claim is the foundation of reality. The late distinguished physicist John Archibald Wheeler characterized the idea as "It from bit" — "it" referring to all the stuff of the universe and "bit" meaning information. Click here. (5/25)

NASA Railroad Rides Into Sunset (Source: Florida Today)
The NASA Railroad has reached the end of its line. Last month, the Florida East Coast Railway pulled NASA locomotives No. 1 and No. 3 from Kennedy Space Center on their way to new homes. Their departure closed another chapter in the story of the space shuttle program’s retirement. One of the trains’ primary responsibilities was to haul large solid rocket booster segments to the Launch Complex 39 area.

The NASA Railroad cost $1.3 million a year to operate and maintain by the end of the shuttle program. NASA will continue to maintain about 17 miles of a rail network that once spanned 38 miles, branching out to KSC’s two launch pads and to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Meanwhile, an environmental study is also looking at the impacts of a potential extension of KSC’s rail line to Port Canaveral, which would increase traffic on the line. (5/23)

Crew Tower Progress at ULA's Atlas Pad (Source: Florida Today)
The first several tiers of the crew access tower that will be erected at ULA’s Launch Complex 41 pad at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport are complete, Boeing reports. They’ll be stacked and installed at the pad this summer before ULA’s next Atlas V rocket launch, planned for July 15. The 200-foot tower will enable astronauts to board Boeing’s CST-100 capsule atop ULA’s Atlas V for flights to the International Space Station targeted for 2017. (5/23)

Sarah Brightman's Place on Spaceflight Could be Taken by Her Backup (Source: RBTH)
Satoshi Takamatsu, the Japanese astronaut backing up British singer Sarah Brightman on the flight to the International Space Station (ISS), could take her now vacant seat on board the Soyuz TMA-18M ship since the pop diva has decided not to fly, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax-AVN on Monday.

"The contract between Roscosmos (Russia's Federal Space Agency) and Space Adventures for the training of space tourist candidates remains in force. Satoshi Takamatsu continues training for the flight," the source said. The final decision regarding Brightman's successor will be taken in the very near future, he said. The source also said that the British singer had to withdraw from the flight for financial reasons. "One of the sponsors failed her," he said. (5/25)

Dh100 Million Boost to UAE’s Space Research (Source: Khaleej Times)
The UAE Space Agency is currently working on the establishment of the Middle East’s first Space Research Centre which is expected to cost Dh100 million over the next five years. The details of this project were unveiled at a glittering event held on Monday to mark the official unveiling of the UAE Space Agency’s strategy, plans and objectives for the coming years.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, witnessed the launch of the plan in Abu Dhabi. “The establishment of a fully-fledged space sector in the UAE, with all necessary human resources, infrastructure and scientific research, is a primary national objective. It requires everyone involved to work as one team to establish the UAE’s leadership in this sector and to build advanced scientific capabilities in the space domain,” Shaikh Mohammed said. (5/26)

Inside Vostochny Cosmodrome (Source: Siberian Times)
New images have been released showing the progress at the multi-billion-rouble cosmodrome with officials now confident the first launch will take place on schedule. For the first time, Roscosmos has allowed journalists to take pictures of the ultra-modern and high-tech equipment being installed at the Vostochny spaceport.

It is estimated that about 60 per cent of the construction and installation work has been completed, and the first training tests will begin in August. The first rocket is also expected to arrive at this time, ahead of the first highly-anticipated launch of a Soyez-2-1a on December 25. Click here. (5/25)

Buzz Aldrin on Why Mars is Our Future and Why We Should Leave People There (Source: Global News)
Heading to Mars is a must for Buzz Aldrin. But don’t plan on coming back anytime soon. The former NASA astronaut and second man on the moon was in Toronto this weekend for the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference, an event that brought together scientists, businesses, educators, and students from around the world to discuss the future of space.

Aldrin believes that we need to have patience and that it would be more cost-effective to leave people on Mars as settlers. His vision consists of getting people to the planet by 2035 and in various stages. And the idea is to continue to send humans to Mars in intervals. Click here. (5/26)

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