July 11, 2015

Logs Detail Bad Behavior by Some Hawaii Telescope Protesters (Source: Monterey Herald)
After months of protesters camping on Mauna Kea to block construction of a giant telescope near its summit, the state is trying to limit their access to the mountain, which is held sacred by many Native Hawaiians. Even though camping is already prohibited on the mountain, state Attorney General Doug Chin said it's necessary to implement rules restricting being within a mile of the mountain's access road during certain nighttime hours, unless in a moving vehicle, and prohibit camping gear.

Protest leaders say that won't stop them from keeping constant vigil on the mountain. Simply saying no camping is allowed is too vague, Chin told the state's Board of Land and Natural Resources during a meeting Friday to consider the emergency rule. More than 40 protesters were arrested during the two days that crews unsuccessfully attempted to restart construction. Bad behavior by some protesters— ranging from putting boulders in the road to threats and harassment— have created unsafe conditions that make the emergency rule necessary, Chin said. (7/10)

Astrobotic in Wait-and-See Mode Following Falcon 9 Explosion (Source: Pittsburgh Business Times)
As SpaceX continues to piece together what happened to the Falcon 9 rocket that exploded last week, a spokeswoman for Astrobotic Technology Inc. said the Pittsburgh-based company is watching to see how the investigation unfolds. Astrobotic, which is one of the odds-on favorites to make the first successful attempt at the Google Lunar XPrize, is expected to launch to the moon on a Falcon 9.

"At this point, we're waiting to get all the facts on the table," said Astrobotic spokeswoman Jackie Erickson. She deferred further comment to SpaceX on how it may impact Astrobotic's launch date. SpaceX officials have said they informed customers booked to fly on upcoming Falcon 9 launches to expect delays of a few months, but have not disclosed more specifics. (7/11)

The Rebirth of Cape Canaveral (Source: Popular Mechanics)
When the Space Shuttle retired in 2011, a pall came over Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The Obama administration had killed the Constellation moonshot program. NASA had no backup. And while the Air Force and United Launch Alliance would keep lofting government payloads into space from Cape Canaveral, there was no way to deliver crew or cargo to the International Space Station (other than to rely on the Russians) and no manned programs on the books.

Compare that dire moment with today's hopeful environment. "Right this minute, we have three different launchpads under construction for three different human spaceflight programs," says Scott Colloredo, director of the Center Planning and Development Directorate at KSC. "That's Complex 41 with the Atlas 5 and Boeing CST-100, 39A with Falcon and SpaceX's Dragon, and then 39B with the Single Launch System and Orion. It's just amazing that we could be at this point, with such a diversification." Click here. (7/10) http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a16404/the-rebirth-of-cape-canaveral/

The Inside Story of New Horizons’ ‘Apollo 13’ Moment on its Way to Pluto (Source: Washington Post)
The people in the Mission Operations Center — “the MOC” — had been tracking NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft for 9½ years as it journeyed the breadth of the solar system. It was just 10 days away from the dwarf planet Pluto when, at 1:55 p.m. on July 4, it vanished. Gone. No more data, no connection at all. As if the spacecraft had plunged into a black hole. Or hit an asteroid and disintegrated.

Mission Operations manager Alice Bowman called the project manager, Glen Fountain, who was spending the afternoon of July 4 at home. “We just lost telemetry,” she told him. He raced to the MOC, in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. Also arriving within minutes was the mission’s leader, Alan Stern, a planetary scientist. Everyone canceled July 4 plans. They weren’t going home tonight. This was a sleep-on-the-office-floor crisis. Click here. (7/10)

Space Station Users Seek More Certainty about its Future (Source: Space News)
As NASA takes steps to make it easier for researchers and companies to use the International Space Station, some of those potential users want more guidance about how long the station will be around and what might replace it. “When is ISS going to end? When will it terminate? We don’t know, and that’s a problem,” said John Shannon, Boeing vice president and program manager for NASA’s Space Launch System exploration-class rocket.

In early 2014, NASA announced it planned to extend operations of the ISS from 2020 through at least 2024. Since then, the governments of Russia and Canada have endorsed that extension, but the other two major partners, Europe and Japan, have yet to decide on whether to participate. (7/10)

Harris Corp. Will Keep HQ in on Florida's Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
Harris Corp. will keep its headquarters in Melbourne, a relief to state and local officials who lobbied hard to keep the Fortune 500 company's base here after its recent acquisition of Virginia-based Exelis Inc. Harris is one of Brevard County's largest employers and has approximately $8 billion in annual revenue and about 23,000 employees — including 9,000 engineers and scientists.

The announcement means about 400 corporate employees will continue to be based on the Space Coast. The headquarters has been here since 1978. Harris, much larger after its acquisition of Exelis, also announced where it basing its business segments and two of them will be in Palm Bay. Those segments could mean significant more research dollars and engineering talent flowing into Brevard in the future. (7/10)

India Successfully Launches its Heaviest Commercial Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched five British satellites on Friday, July 10, from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Sriharikota. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifted off with the record-breaking commercial payload – weighing about 1.44 metric tons – for India. (7/10)

Russia to Send Six Female Scientists on Mock-up Voyage to the Lunar Surface (Source: Daily Mail)
Russia will send six women scientists on a mock up flight to the moon and back to study how the female mind and body reacts. The eight day experiment comes as Moscow space chiefs plan to make their first visit to the earth's satellite and in order to set up a lunar base. A total of 10 women have been selected, of whom six will make the 'voyage,' locked in a cramped fake spacecraft for the time it takes to fly to the moon, orbit once, and return. (7/6)

The Weird White Spots on Ceres Might Nnot be Ice After All (Source: Washington Post)
Pluto may be the star of the dwarf planet scene for the next few days, but let's not forget about Ceres: We've been salivating over the mysterious white spots on its surface since NASA's Dawn orbiter sent its first photos home. But according to the mission's principal investigator, the crowd favorite theory -- that the spots are made of some kind of water or ice -- is probably about to be debunked.

"The general consensus on the team right now is that water is definitely a factor on Ceres, but that the spots themselves are more likely to be just highly reflective salt, rather than water," said Christopher Russell. Based on the spectral data the team got, Russell said, the spots "really don't look like mounds of ice."

The mystery is far from completely solved, Russell cautioned. The team failed to get the quality of measurements they wanted in examining the spots, and they'll have to try again at a closer orbit -- like the next planned mapping orbit, which will take them from 2,700 miles over the surface to just 900. The photos taken at that height will also have significantly better resolution, which should further help the team determine what the spots are made of. (7/10)

Dunford: China, Russia Pose an "Existential Threat" to the U.S. (Source: Military Times)
Gen. Joseph Dunford, likely incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that China and Russia "present the greatest existential threat" to U.S. security. "If you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. (7/9)

Pensacola-Based RocketSTEM Inspires Learning with Space (Source: RocketSTEM)
RocketSTEM Media Foundation, established in 2012 in Pensacola, Florida, has volunteers located throughout the U.S., England and several other countries. RocketSTEM’s goals are to a) inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts; b) keep educators informed on space developments and help them better work STEM lessons into their classrooms; c) raise awareness of the benefits of space exploration; and d) encourage international cooperation in space exploration. Click here. (7/9)

New Horizons Has Plenty from Colorado On Board (Source: Denver Business Post)
When Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. delivered Ralph — the imaging instrument providing the "eyes" of the New Horizons mission — to NASA in April 2005, program manager Lisa Hardaway's son Nathan was 6 months old. Now, as New Horizons positions for its historic flyby of Pluto on Tuesday, he's entering middle school.

Hardaway, an engineer at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, led the team that built Ralph, an instrument which will both provide navigational images and study Pluto's surface geology to create color, composition and thermal maps of Pluto and one of its moons, Charon. And now, as the world turns its attention to Pluto, thousands along the Front Range who've had a role in New Horizons finally will see their work come to fruition.

In fact, the mission to Pluto started in Colorado. New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern was a graduate student at the University of Colorado when he and five or six others — including mission co-investigator and now-CU professor Fran Bagenal — formed a group called Pluto Underground. Click here. (7/10)

GenCorp Posts 2Q Profit (Source: AP)
GenCorp Inc. (AJRD) on Friday reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $18.4 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. The Rancho Cordova, California-based company said it had profit of 26 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 1 cent per share. The maker of aerospace and defense products and systems posted revenue of $456.9 million in the period. (7/10)

Philae Comet Lander Reawakens, Phones Home (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Philae comet lander, which for unexplained reasons had been silent since June 24, reawakened July 9 for a nearly uninterrupted period of about 20 minutes, sending signals through the Rosetta orbiter, the French and German space agencies said July 10.

The communications raised hopes that stable links between Philae and Rosetta, and then to ground controllers, would be established in time to allow the lander to provide data as Comet 67P makes its closest approach to the sun on Aug. 12-13. (7/10)

NASA Downplays Falcon-9 Failure's Effect on Space Station (Source: Space News)
While SpaceX struggles to determine the cause of a failure of its Falcon 9 rocket, NASA managers and other users of the International Space Station say the loss of the cargo on the Dragon spacecraft on that rocket should not have a major effect on station operations. Click here. (7/10)

SpaceX Rocket Failure Cost NASA $110 Million (Source: LA Times)
Taxpayers lost $110 million when a SpaceX rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station disintegrated shortly after liftoff last month, a NASA official said. “That's gone,” William Gerstenmaier, a NASA associate administrator, said of the cargo lost when the SpaceX rocket failed June 28 far above Florida's coast.

But that loss is just the beginning. NASA will also pay SpaceX all but 20% of the fee it was scheduled to receive for the mission. A NASA spokeswoman said the agency does not reveal specific fees it pays to contractors. SpaceX has a $1.6-billion contract to fly 12 cargo missions to the space station — details that suggest an estimated payment of more than $100 million for a successful trip. (7/10

Roscosmos May Miss UN Satellite Conference in Australia Due to Visa Issues (Source: Sputnik)
Eight out of 10 of Russia's Roscosmos space agency delegates have not received Australian visas, which may force the whole team to miss out on the 2015 International Global Navigation Satellite Systems symposium. "Visas were issued to two delegation members out of 10," said the co-chairman of the working group of the International Committee on GNSS for the United Nations, Sergey Revnivyh. (7/10)

Space Coffee (Source: NASA)
Astronauts on the Space Station give up many pleasures to take those giant leaps in the name of science. They leave behind fresh vegetables, hot showers, warm sunshine, gently misting rain, and much more. One of the things they miss most is a good cup of coffee. How would YOU like to start your morning sucking freeze dried coffee through a straw from a sealed plastic bag? Good news for astronauts: on April 20, SpaceX delivered to the space station a new microgravity coffee machine named “ISSpresso.” (7/10)

How London Helped Conquer Space (Source: Londonist)
We will be cheering when New Horizons makes its closest approach to Pluto on 14 July. But we also know that even if Britain gets a spaceport, it is more likely to be in Scotland than in Star Lane, E16. However, the capital can still be proud of its role over centuries as a launch pad for ideas and experiments which are still helping space exploration today. Click here. (7/10)

DubaiSat 2 to Monitor Vegetation, Water Resources (Source: Zawya)
Data received from UAE’s DubaiSat-2 earth imagery satellite along with Deimos-2 of the UK will be used to monitor and detect changes in vegetation, water resources, road networks and buildings in support of the Dubai Smart Government initiative.

The project named ‘SAFIY’ or ‘Smart Application for Feature extraction and 3D modelling using high resolution satellite Imagery’ will develop mapping applications that utilise DubaiSat-2 and Deimos-2 high resolution optical data to improve the efficiency and accuracy of many routine tasks carried out by government agencies. (7/10)

You Can't Curb Your Enthusiasm for 'Kerbal Space Program' (Source: Daily Camera)
You might never have heard of "Kerbal Space Program," but if you are a fan of challenging strategy games, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Thanks to a unique open development, I have been tinkering with "Kerbal Space Program" for a couple of years now. Finally, the software has officially moved into version 1.0 and is ready for public consumption.

The game focuses on the cartoony inhabitants of the planet Kerbal and their quest for the stars. Your job, stalwart gamer, is to help them get there. Build spacecraft, chase milestones such as achieving orbit, landing on the moon and exploring deep into space. Make no mistake, while the goals are straightforward, this is not an easy game. Click here. (7/10)

Air Force Launcher Certification Process Reviewed (Source: AFSPC)
Air Force Space Command has announced the completion of the Institute for Defense Analyses Broad Area Review of AFSPC launch vehicle certification.  The independent review examined the process and provided specific recommendations to apply certification lessons learned. The intent of the review is to assure access to space for National Security Space missions.

"Assured access to space is still our prime directive," said General John Hyten, AFSPC Commander. "We're not going to put a multi-billion dollar satellite on top of a rocket that we are not confident in, but industry survival is also paramount to assured access. Any event or development that could lead to a single launch vehicle and thusly a single point of failure for NSS missions degrades our assured access."

One of the findings of the study posits that with the certification of SpaceX's Falcon 9 to launch medium-weight class National Security Space missions, those NSS missions alone will not be able to sustain multiple launch providers' bottom lines. Launch providers will need to stay competitive in both the NSS and commercial launch sectors. (7/9)

Spaceport Tours: Baikonur Cosmodrome to Be Equipped With Viewing Platforms (Source: Sputnik)
Comfortable viewing platforms for tourists are due to be installed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan by 2017, according to an official from the Kazakh Investment and Development Ministry. n array of local and foreign investors will take part in the project to build the viewing platforms, which are expected to accommodate 200 people. (7/10)

Russian Military Space Programs to Continue Despite Sanctions (Source: Sputnik)
The deputy minister noted that the military space branch is exposed to external factors, especially to sanctions imposed against Russia by the European Union, the United States and their allies. "Although there is a certain risk, the program of launching can be completed this year with a high probability," Borisov said at the annual meeting with the defense industry's trade union's leaders.

Since the Ukrainian conflict escalated in April 2014, the European Union, the United States and their allies have imposed a number of economic sanctions against Moscow, blaming it for interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Russia has repeatedly denied these allegations and has adopted import substitution plans for the defense sector. (7/10)

Dava Newman Brings Her Optimism, Passion for Space From MIT to NASA (Source: Radio Boston)
When she was a kid, Dava Newman wanted to be an astronaut. “I loved space,” NASA’s new deputy administrator told us. “I was hugely influenced by the Apollo program. What it taught me was — I grew up in Montana, so for a young girl growing up in Montana, to dream. And space flight and exploration are just boundless, and I took that as a call to exploration.” Dava Newman is a former professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, a job she took a leave from earlier this year to join NASA. (7/10)

Dawn Prolongs 2nd Reconnaissance Orbit at Ceres After Orientation Issue (Source: Aviation Week)
Momentarily flying in the shadow of New Horizons fast approaching close encounter with distant Pluto, NASA's ground breaking Dawn mission at the large asteroid Ceres provided some recent drama of its own. Earlier this month, Dawn emerged from a safe mode triggered by the spacecraft on June 30 after activating its ion propulsion system to take the third in a series of steps closer to the surface of the heavily cratered asteroid. The difficulty was linked to the spacecraft's orientation control system.

Ceres has gained fame for its mysterious bright spots, hints of a tenuous atmosphere and speculation that it may host subsurface water. In March, Dawn earned the distinction of becoming the first spacecraft to visit a minor planet -- four months ahead of New Horizons' Pluto flyby. As a result of the safe mode incident, Dawn is hanging in at its second mapping orbit a little longer than originally envisioned while engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory unravel the reasons for the incident and replan. (7/9)

SpaceX: First Flight of Dragon to be All-NASA Crew (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
SpaceX and Boeing must conduct a crewed test flight with at least one NASA astronaut on board. SpaceX has confirmed a report that appeared on Facebook that it has opted to go with an all-NASA crew (2 astronauts) on this important test flight. SpaceX could have opted to just send one NASA astronaut along with one SpaceX astronaut (per the milestones listed under CCP). (7/10)

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