October 3, 2015

Lockheed Receives Approval to Begin Building Space Fence (Source: Satellite Today)
The Air Force has approved Lockheed Martin's Space Fence design following a three-day review. "Once complete, Space Fence will deliver revolutionary capability to the US Air Force with a flexible system capable of adapting to future missions requiring new tracking and coverage approaches," said Lockheed Martin's Steve Bruce. (10/1)

Virgin Galactic Test-Fires Liquid-Fueled Rocket Engine (Source: Tech Times)
A Virgin Galactic pump-fed engine fueled with kerosene and liquid oxygen has been test-fired successfully. The NewtonThree engine will be the first stage of an air-launched multistage rocket, generating as much as 73,500 pounds of thrust. (10/1)

Space Companies Support United Way Fundraiser Trivia Event (Source: Space Florida)
KSC and CCAFS employees are encouraged to form teams of 6 persons and attend a 100% fund-raiser in aid of United Way of Brevard on Oct. 29 at 7:30pm at Nolan’s Irish Pub, Cocoa Beach. Space Florida is donating cash prizes to first, second and third placed trivia winners and aerospace ‘swag’ bags will be presented to each team, courtesy of ULA, Lockheed Martin, NASA Education, SpaceX and Nolan’s Irish Pub, to name a few. If you wish to reserve your table at Nolan’s in advance, please call (321) 783-8499. (10/2)

Moon Express Launch Agreement Needs Verification for X PRIZE (Source: NASA Watch)
Moon Express' contract with Rocket Lab must be verified by the Google Lunar X PRIZE authorities for the competition to be extended beyond this year. According to an X PRIZE official, "Our decision is based on a holistic assessment of whether the launch contract is genuine, whether there are any legal issues that might pop up, whether there are any obvious non-compliances with the rules, and whether a substantial commitment was made by both the team and the launch provider (e.g. non-refundable deposit of some certain minimum value)." (10/2)

Bruno Says ULA Can't Bid on GPS 3 Launch (Source: Space News)
ULA has multiple options to get around a congressionally imposed ban on the Russian-built main engine on its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket that the company says will prevent it from bidding in a competition to launch a GPS satellite, a senior U.S. Air Force official said.

“There are several avenues that ULA could take,” said Claire Leon, director of the launch enterprise directorate at Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. However, in remarks reported by Reuters and confirmed by ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye, ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno told reporters in Florida Oct. 2 that the company cannot bid for the GPS 3 mission absent some relief from the RD-180 ban imposed in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. (10/2)

French Agencies To Collaborate on Reusable Rocket (Source: Space News)
The French government’s two aerospace-focused agencies on Oct. 2 said they are pooling resources to study a launching system that would return its entire first stage to Earth for reuse, a goal shared by SpaceX but not one being pursued by Europe’s Airbus Defence and Space rocket prime contractor. In a joint statement, the French space agency, CNES, and France’s ONERA aerospace research institute said the objective of the work is to “develop a rocket first stage that is capable of returning to its launch base.”

Earlier this year, Airbus disclosed that it had been working on a reusable design that would separate the rocket’s first-stage engines and part of the avionics suite for a return to Earth and later reuse. Airbus said the value of the first stage lies mainly in its engines and that returning the entire first stage for refurbishment and reuse would not improve the economics of launching satellites. (10/2)

Flowing Hype Found on Mars! (Source: SpaceKSC)
The Martian hypothesizes how NASA's bureaucracy and culture would respond to a lone astronaut stranded on Mars. Although the novel's depiction of NASA is less than flattering, the story is an overall positive paean for the government space program. The real-life NASA is exploiting the film's popularity, in particular to hype its plans to send people to the Mars surface by the end of the 2030s. Click here. (10/2)

Ice House Wins NASA’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
One of the challenges of sending humans to Mars is providing a habitat on the planet's surface that will shield astronauts from radiation and extremely low temperatures. One strategy that has been proposed is 3-D printing a habitat out of materials available on Mars.

Earlier this year, NASA's Centennial Challenges program announced a 3-D habitat contest in conjunction with the industry group America Makes. NASA awarded prize money to the top three teams in the first stage of the 3-D Habitat Design Challenge at the World Maker Faire in New York on Sunday, September 27.

Over 165 submissions were made and 30 finalists had their designs displayed and judged at the Maker Faire event. The $25,000 first prize was awarded to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for their design Ice House. Team Gamma won the second prize of $15,000 and also received the People’s Choice Award. Team LavaHive took third place. (10/2)

Hotel Offers $2,000-a-Night 'Space Station' Experience (Source: CNN)
Always dreamed of going to space but never felt cut out for grueling astronaut training? Soon it'll be possible to (almost) indulge this fantasy without leaving Earth. A hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, has just unveiled a new suite kitted out to look like the inside of a space station.

Grand Kameha's Space Suite comes equipped with a "zero gravity" bed -- built to look like it's floating above the ground -- and steam bath designed to simulate a view into the universe. With Ridley Scott's "The Martian" hitting cinemas this month, It could be an ideal escape for someone inspired to seek interstellar isolation.

The suite was designed by German artist Michael Najjar, who for the last three years has been training for a civilian journey to space on board Virgin Galactic, and often uses it as inspiration for his work. However, those who simply seek a restful place to lay their head at the end of the day might want to stay away. "The intention was not at all to create a comfortable bedroom," says Najjar. "It's more about creating an immersive environment which makes the hotel guest feel like living on a space station." (10/2)

2 UCF Professors Receive $6M NASA Space Research Grants (Source: FOX35)
Two professors from the University of Central Florida have received $6 million in grants from NASA for space research. If NASA likes what they come up with, they could be getting a lot more money. Physics professor Dan Britt and associate professor of physics Yan Fernandez are members of two teams that were given the grant money.

Their mission: To build space crafts to study Venus and objects near Earth like asteroids and comets. The two UCF teams will compete against three others next year for a chance to win a half a million dollar prize. (10/1)

NASA Weighing Double-Barrel Discovery Award (Source: Space News)
NASA might end up funding two of the five mission concepts just selected for further study in the latest Discovery-class planetary science mission competition, a senior agency official said. “We are not committing to selecting two, but we are stating that we may choose either one or two,” David Schurr, NASA’s deputy director for Planetary Science, wrote in an Oct. 1 email.

NASA winnowed a field of 27 competitors down to five Sept. 30, evenly splitting $15 million in one-year study money among two Venus concepts and three asteroid concepts in the long-awaited first down-select for the agency’s 13th small robotic solar-system mission competition. Final selection, of either one mission or two, is expected in September 2016, NASA said in a press release. Click here. (10/2)

Oxygen on Exoplanets May Not Mean Alien Life (Source: Space.com)
Although scientists have long considered oxygen a sign that life exists on an alien planet, new research suggests the element could be produced without it. Oxygen may function as a sign of life on Earth, but that's not necessarily the case for planets around other stars. The new research shows that the interaction of titanium oxide with water could produce oxygen in the atmosphere of an exoplanet without the involvement of living organisms. (10/2)

Ring in Oktoberfest with These Space Beers (Source: Space.com)
The beloved German folk festival known as Oktoberfest wraps up this weekend (at least in Munich), so we decided to get in on the celebration and taste-test a beer made with yeast that's been to space. In 2014, the Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing Co. sent vials of brewer's yeast on a rocket to more than 70 miles (112 kilometers) above the Earth. The yeast returned unharmed and ready for brewing. The final product is an imperial stout called Ground Control. Click here. (10/2)

VAFB's New Commander Excited for Future of Launch Technology (Source: Lompoc Record)
Looking back over the various assignments he’s had during the course of his Air Force career, Col. J. Christopher Moss fondly recalls his three years at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where he aided in about 10 launches of the now-defunct U.S. Space Shuttle program.

A framed photo of one of those launches hangs on a wall in his office at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Moss, who assumed command on June 15, expressed excitement over the possibilities that lie ahead for VAFB’s launch sites. “As the Range is integral to launching to rockets, we’ve got to change with that technology and with the times to be able to support it,” he said. (10/1)

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