September 27, 2015

Iridium Will Make Skies Safer (Source: Winnipeg Free Press)
Iridium is planning to replace its existing constellation with new satellites. The plan is low-risk; it will use robust technologies and mature launch services. Iridium now uses 66 satellites. They are in six orbits, 766 kilometers above sea level. Each links to four others and to ground stations. They offer voice and data services to remote places. The new satellites will upgrade these services. They will also automatically track planes that carry the appropriate equipment. Click here. (9/26)

Vandenberg Launch Pad Has a History of Canceled Programs (Source: SLO Tribune)
While their likely launch capabilities were being developed at Vandenberg, President Nixon canceled the HEXAGON and MOL programs and they replaced eventually with a satellite program more similar to HEXAGON. The result of the termination in Lompoc was a nosedive in the local economy as dozens of high-paying jobs supporting the program were gone.

Nixon later endorsed the space shuttle concept for manned spaceflight. The shuttle was a second chance for Lompoc, and an attempt was made to recycle the launch facility (SLC-6) into the West Coast base for the space shuttle. Reconstruction was well along when the shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida. The California engineering was re-examined, and it was found that SLC-6 had a hydrogen entrapment issue, and the control center was too close to the launch pad. The Vandenberg shuttle program was scrapped.

The ill-fated Athena rocket project occupied the facility in the 1990s. Janene Scully wrote in the Lompoc Record in 2005 that the pad would be used for Delta rockets, where that program continues today. (9/23)

SSPI and Korn Ferry Partner on Satellite Industry Workforce Study (Source: SSPI)
The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) announced today that Korn Ferry, the preeminent authority on leadership and talent, will partner on development of the Society’s 2nd annual Satellite Industry Workforce Study.
The study is the industry’s only multi-company, multinational examination of workforce practices, employee compensation and engagement, and the make-up of the industry's workforce.  The report compares compensation across job categories and regions, and analyzes employee engagement at all levels. It aims to share best practices in attracting and managing talented people, and to spark a management dialogue on collective actions to improve the industry' performance. (9/23)

PISCES, NASA Team Up for Landing Pad Project in Hawaii (Source: Hawaii Tribune)
A Hilo-based aerospace agency plans to build a prototype for a launching and landing pad this fall that could help bring the concept of sustainability into space. The 100-square-foot pad will be made entirely of basalt, the volcanic rock that makes up the Hawaiian Islands and found commonly on the moon and Mars, according to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems.

PISCES, which operates under the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, is teaming up with NASA on the cutting-edge project. The idea is to help future space explorers make their own infrastructure from materials they find on celestial bodies, according to PISCES. (9/25)

Fish Reveal Details of Bone Density Loss During Space Missions (Source: JAXA)
Spending time in space in a reduced gravity environment can have lasting effects on the body. For example, it is known that gravity plays a key role in the correct formation and maintenance of bone structure. Studies have shown that astronauts experience a significant drop in bone mineral density when they have been on space missions, but the exact molecular mechanisms responsible for this are unclear.

Now, Akira Kudo at Tokyo Institute of Technology, together with scientists across Japan, have shown that medaka fish reared on the International Space Station for 56 days experienced increased osteoclast activity – bone cells involved in the re-absorption of bone tissue - likely leading to a subsequent reduction of bone density. They also found several genes that were upregulated in the fish during the space mission.

The team generated fish with osteoclasts that emit a fluorescent signal. They sent 24 fish into space as juveniles, and monitored their development for 56 days under microgravity. The results were compared with a fish control group kept on Earth. Kudo and his team found that bone mineral density in the pharyngeal bone (the jaw bone at the back of the throat) and the teeth of the fish reduced significantly, with decreased calcification by day 56 compared with the control group. (9/24)

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