August 15, 2015

Tiniest Monster Black Hole Discovered (Source:
The smallest supermassive black hole ever identified is gobbling material at rates similar to its larger cousins, providing insights into how these behemoths evolve. Located at the heart of a dwarf galaxy known as RGG 118, the black hole contains about 50,000 times more mass than the sun. It's therefore less than half as heavy as the second-smallest known supermassive black hole, researchers said. (8/14)

Citizens in Space Announces Payload Manifest for First Space Mission (Source: Reuters)
Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, has announced a list of 10 experiments selected for its first research mission on the XCOR Aerospace Lynx spacecraft. The experiments will be carried aboard the Lynx Cub Payload Carrier, an open-source payload carrier developed for the Lynx spacecraft by Citizens in Space.

Experiments will be controlled in flight by a Citizens in Space science-mission-specialist astronaut. The experiments cover a wide range of subjects from microgravity crystallization to plant growth, antimicrobial materials for space habitats, and the interaction of water with lunar surface materials. Editor's Note: Five of the 10 experiments selected are being developed by Florida organizations. Click here. (8/12)

Space Tourism: Star Wars-Themed Land Coming to Walt Disney World in Florida (Source: Theme Park Review)
Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida., allowing Star Wars fans to step into the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions. Along with the thrilling battle experience, another attraction puts guests behind the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, as they take on a customized secret mission. (8/15)

DARPA's XS-1 Spacecraft Could Hit Speeds of Mach 10 (Source: Fox News)
The XS-1 is airplane-like space vehicle that can fly to space and rapidly launch small satellites, space weapons, and more into orbit at the edge of Earth's atmosphere. This space plane can then return, land, get refueled, and take onboard another delivery, before it blasts off again. The idea is that this craft would be a game-changer allowing the U.S. to travel to space and then return to Earth and fly again within 24 hours.

In just a few short years, the XS-1 it may make it possible for one single aircraft to take ten return trips to space over the course of ten days. The quest to achieve a small, reusable robotics-flown space plane is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) XS-1 program or Experimental Spaceplane 1. The hope is that it will blast off on its first mission in a few years. The Agency has chosen three companies — Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Masten Space Systems — to move forward and continue in competition to become the XS-1 producer.' (8/14)

Bang for the Buck (Source: SpaceKSC)
NASA has delayed its selection of new commercial cargo contractors, which was supposed to happen in August or September. The incumbents, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, presumably submitted bids. Boeing has proposed a cargo version of its CST-100 commercial crew capsule. Lockheed Martin has proposed the Jupiter, described as a “reusable space servicing vehicle.” Sierra Nevada has long touted its Dream Chaser spaceplane as a versatile robotic craft for transporting crew or cargo.

The House of Representatives is in recess for the month of August. It will be interesting to see if Rep. Smith calls an investigative hearing when he returns from vacation to further his accusations in an attempt to pressure NASA into selecting a vendor other than SpaceX. Click here. (8/14)

How to Acquire an Intern (Source: SCTC)
On August 27th, at the SCTC Morning TechTalk, our Education Committee will be hosting a panel to discuss some of the existing internship programs available through our local educational institutions and other partners. Click here. (8/13)

Swanson Leaving NASA Astronaut Corps (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
NASA is poised to lose another member of the U.S. space agency's Astronaut Corps. Experienced space flight veterans Stephen Antonelli, Mike Foreman and Stephen Frick ended their time with the agency in a roughly one-week time frame last month. Now, three-time shuttle veteran Steven Swanson joins them, becoming one among many who have opted to leave the agency in the post-shuttle era. (8/14)

World Trade Center Beam Makes Solemn Journey to KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Firefighters and onlookers bowed their heads in prayer Friday afternoon before a piece of a World Trade Center beam entered Kennedy Space Center for installation at a fire station’s 9/11 memorial. Pastor Russell Frahm of Faith Lutheran Church on Merritt Island said 343 firefighters killed when the Twin Towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, had responded to a crisis out of love for God, families, country and even strangers. (8/14)

NASA Awards Grants for Tech That Could Transform Space Exploration (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative, early stage technologies that will address high-priority needs of America's space program. The selected proposals for unique, disruptive or transformational space technologies will investigate challenges in the areas of solar cell operations at high temperatures, atmospheric entry model development, synthetic biology applications for space exploration and dynamic tensegrity-based space structures. Click here. (8/14)

Gecko Feet Inspire Climbing Space Robots (Source:
NASA robots may climb the walls of the Space Station one day using grippers inspired by the super-adhesive feet of geckoes. Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are developing a "gecko gripper" system that could help robots inspect and repair the space station's exterior, and perhaps conduct a wide range of activities in Earth orbit. NASA released a video describing the gecko space robot concept Wednesday. Click here. (8/13)

Why Water Worlds Won't Host Life (Source: Science)
Although ocean worlds are swimming in what is thought to be a key ingredient for life—water—their lack of land may limit how much of it they can host. Water covering the surface interacts with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in ways that can turn chilly planets frigid and make warm ones even hotter. Click here. (8/14)

Virgin Galactic CFO Departs After 18 Months (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Virgin Galactic’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is departing after about 18 months on the job to serve as CFO at Tremor Video, Inc., a premium video marketplace elevating brand advertising effectiveness across all screens. Rego was named Virgin Galactic CFO in February 2014. He replaced Ken Sunshine, who joined the company as CFO in July 2011. (8/14)

Roscosmos Compensated for Progress Loss (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Roscosmos has received 1.9 billion rubles [$29.8 million] in insurance compensation from Sogas and Ingosstrakh due to the destruction of Progress spacecraft. Sogaz and Ingosstrakh insurance companies have fully compensated for the damage caused by the emergency launch of Progress M-27M cargo transport spacecraft on April 28, 2015, from Baikonur Cosmodrome. (8/14)

Cygnus Arrives at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A pressurized cargo module that soon will take four tons of materials and supplies to the International Space Station began the intensive processing for launch when it arrived Monday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Cygnus spacecraft – developed and produced by Orbital ATK – will be assembled at Kennedy and launched for the first time in December on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. (8/14)

XCOR Signs Agreements with DLR, ESA-ESTEC (Source: Parabolic Arc)
XCOR signed an agreement with Germany's DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicine for a medical screening protocol for XCOR’s future astronauts. The protocol establishes a standard internationally valid procedure for flight participants in the XCOR Lynx space vehicle. It is based on the experience of humans in space so far as collected by the institute as it is also responsible for the medical screening of ESA’s professional astronauts.

XCOR also agreed with ESA-ESTEC, the Royal Dutch Air Force, and Delft University to develop, research, test, and demonstrate a new space mission concept. The useful knowledge acquired from this project will contribute to research, aerospace development and education. This new space travel development is proven to be strikingly more cost and time efficient than traditional aerospace missions and launches. (8/14)

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