October 30, 2015

Cape Canaveral: The World's Busiest and Most Capable Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
With a growing annual launch manifest, several new launch service providers seeking access to launch facilities, and Eastern Range improvements that will facilitate increased throughput, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is postured to once again become the world's busiest spaceport. In addition to having more launches, the spaceport is also becoming significantly more capable.

Consider the mission options: launches and landings, orbital and suborbital, manned and unmanned, vertical and horizontal, ground launch and air launch, large and small, high and low inclination, expendable and reusable, commercial and government. No other spaceport has this breadth of capabilities, and the ready support of multiple federal and state agencies, contractors, suppliers, and space-trained workers. (10/30)

Professor Working on Hybrid Engine Technology (Source: Daily Lobo)
A UNM professor is developing a hybrid engine, combining the advantages of chemical rocket and electric propulsion to make travel in space less time consuming and more energy efficient. Peter Vorobieff, a professor of mechanical engineering, is working on this project in collaboration with Dark Sea Industries, a local aerospace company targeted at introducing new propulsion technologies to access space.

Vorobieff and his team are trying to combine the advantages of both chemical and ion propulsion by ionizing the discharge of air breathing or a chemical route. That would allow them to have much higher velocity with the same amount of fuel, he said. He said the project has received a small grant from New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program and the scientists are applying for more funds. (10/30)

Former NASA Langley Employee Pleads Guilty in Federal Case (Source: Daily Press)
A former NASA Langley Research Center employee pleaded guilty to violating a NASA regulation by allowing a foreign national unrestricted access to a company computer. Glenn Woodell entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count and was sentenced to six months probation and a $500 fine. The charge stems from Woodell allowing Bo Jiang, who worked as a contractor at NASA Langley, access to a computer of a deceased NASA employee in 2011. (10/30)

Latest ORS-4 Launch Delay Reinforces Government Watchdog’s Assessment (Source: Space News)
Just days before the scheduled Oct. 29 inaugural launch of a rocket intended to launch small satellites on relatively short notice, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that the mission had been delayed, again, until further notice.

As if on cue, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Oct. 29 saying none of several Defense Department efforts to field quick-reaction launch vehicles has advanced past the development stage. Among the programs cited in the report was the just-postponed Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-4 mission, which features a rail-launched rocket dubbed Super Strypi.

For more than a decade, the Defense Department has been working on what it calls “responsive launch” capability, which would allow it to launch satellites or payloads into orbit on relatively short notice. Lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about the lack of progress in ORS efforts. (10/30)

Cape Canaveral Spaceport On Track for 19 Launches in 2015 (Source: SPACErePORT)
If ULA and SpaceX conduct the four launches they still have planned this year, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport will have achieved 19 launches in 2015. That's compared to a manifest of up to 24 launches that were forecast for the year in January 2015. At most, we'll see nine ULA Atlas-5, two ULA Delta-2, and eight SpaceX Falcon-9 launches.

Despite falling short of its 24-launch target, the 19-launch total is part of a steady trend, with 16 in 2014 and 10 in 2013, 2012 and 2011. One published manifest for 2016 currently includes 19 launches, seven Atlas-5, three Delta-4, eight Falcon-9, and one Falcon-Heavy. That is a partial-year manifest, likely to grow if SpaceX finds its groove and dramatically increases its tempo. Space Florida suspects that we could see more than 30 launches in 2016.

I count 17 launches for 2015 from Kazakhstan's Baikonur spaceport (Proton, Soyuz, Zenit) and 11 for 2015 from French Guiana's Kourou spaceport (Ariane, Vega, Soyuz). If ULA and SpaceX launch at least three of those four remaining missions before January, the Cape Canaveral Spaceport will win the prize for busiest spaceport of 2015. (10/30)

Cassini Makes Closest Dive Into Enceladus Plumes (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In an effort to better understand hydrothermal activity inside Saturn's moon Enceladus, which is believed to harbor a global subsurface ocean, NASA's Cassini spacecraft conducted a daring plunge into the moon's icy plumes on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The spacecraft flew within 30 miles (50 km) of the moon's surface, taking pictures and collecting samples that scientists hope will answer questions about Enceladus' habitability for primitive life. (10/29)

Pro-Business Groups Ask Ige to Move Forward on Telescope Construction (Source: KITV)
Nearly a year since a ceremonial groundbreaking took place atop Mauna Kea for construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, progress remains stalled. On Sunday, fourteen pro-business groups expressed their displeasure over the lack of any headway and demanded Gov. David Ige provide “safe passage” so the $1.4 billion telescope can be built. The groups include various chambers of commerce as well as pro-union trade groups.

The letter addresses the positive impacts of TMT, such as jobs and support of high-tech industry, but also appears to blame Ige for not enforcing the rule of law. "We have been enforcing,” the governor said, “(But), obviously we want to be sensitive to cultural perspectives. The reason for the emergency rules being adopted was to assure that we had the rules in place that would allow us to enforce." (10/30)

Mauna Kea Fiber Optics Cable Network Damaged (Source: KITV)
Hawaii police are investigating damage to a fiber optics cable network on Mauna Kea. Police say an employee with Mauna Kea Observatories Support Services reported the damage on Thursday. The employee notified police after an investigation into what caused a malfunction of a buried fiber optical line linking observatories to the University of Hawaii network on June 24.
That's also the date when hundreds of protesters on the mountain blocked crews from resuming construction on a controversial telescope. Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope. (10/28)

Iridium Delays Deployment of Next-Generation Satellites (Source: Space News)
Iridium is delaying the launch of its first next-generation satellites because of a component issue. The company said Thursday that the launch of the first two Iridium Next satellites on a Dnepr rocket, previously scheduled for December, is now planned for no earlier than April. The company blamed the delay on a problem with a Ka-band transmit/receive module, a component built by ViaSat. Iridium still expects to deploy the entire 72-satellite constellation, primarily using SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, by late 2017. (10/29)

Inaugural Launch of Small-Class Rocket On Hold in Hawaii (Source: SpaceFlightNow)
The maiden test flight of a new rail-guided launcher from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, which was scheduled for Thursday, has been delayed while engineers resolve issues encountered in pre-launch preparations. The mission, managed by the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space office, will carry 13 spacecraft into orbit after blasting off from Kauai, Hawaii, aboard a Super Strypi launcher, a three-stage vehicle based on a sounding rocket design and sized as a dedicated ride for small satellites. (10/29)

Republicans Outraged Over NASA Earth Science Programs… That Reagan Began (Source: Ars Technica)
Perhaps the biggest budget battle this spring in NASA policy concerned earth science, and after slumbering this summer, that fight could soon return to prominence thanks to the new Congressional budget deal. Whereas President Obama sought to increase NASA’s budget for earth science in this fiscal year, Republicans in Congress sought to slash it by hundreds of millions of dollars.

From a historical perspective, the staunch Republican opposition to studying climate and weather changes on Earth is surprising. Both Presidents Reagan and the first George Bush supported robust plans to study Earth from space, and the fleet of satellites in orbit today are one of the main space legacies of their terms in office. (10/29)

NASA Speaker Recalls How Hurricane Katrina Threatened Space Program (Source: NASA)
When Hurricane Katrina came ashore 10 years ago, not only did the Category 4 storm do catastrophic damage to cities along the Gulf Coast, it also endangered the operations of two NASA facilities that were critical to the Space Shuttle Program.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, David Throckmorton will present "In the Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina — The NASA Experience" at 2 p.m. in the Pearl Young Theater. Throckmorton was deputy director of NASA's Stennis Space Center – located less than 50 miles from New Orleans – when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. (10/30)

Eutelsat To Pay Full Price of Ariane 5 Mission, Inks Multilaunch Deal with ILS (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat has signed a multilaunch agreement with International Launch Services for Proton rocket missions between 2016 and 2023 in a deal that helps restore the Russian vehicle’s credibility in a commercial market that recently has been dominated by Europe’s Ariane 5 and SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

Eutelsat earlier announced its intention to forgo a co-passenger and purchase an entire Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket for its Eutelsat 65 West A satellite, to be stationed over Latin America. Eutelsat said its decision to pay more for a dedicated launch — Ariane 5 typically launches two geostationary-orbiting satellites at once — was made to capture the opportunity of having the satellite in service before the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. (10/30)

Fire at ISRO Facility Damages Lab, Equipment (Source: Web India)
The Electro Optical Lab of the Space Application Center of ISRO, where several space mission-related equipment and camera lenses are tested, has been affected due to a fire caused by short circuit today. The Lab itself has been affected due to the heavy smoke deposit and heat caused by the fire. The duct of air conditioning plant, its wires and other delicate electric equipments and panels have been destroyed by the fire and the smoke. (10/30)

India Developing Green Propellants (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is developing a range of environment-friendly propellants to power its launch vehicles and satellite thrusters. Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), K. Sivan said here on Thursday that efforts were on to develop a green monopropellant based on ammonium dinitramide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN) as a replacement for hydrazine. (10/30)

Malaysia Intends to Send Second Astronaut to ISS (Source: Malaysia Kini)
The Malaysian government intends to send a second astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) to conduct scientific research by next year-end. To this effect, the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry will submit a proposal to the government, says Deputy Minister Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah.

He said the ministry was currently working out the details through meetings, discussions and consultations with scientists, academics and those involved in determining the appropriate types of research to be carried out by the nation’s second astronaut. (10/30)

Israel Accepted to UN Space Committee, Despite Arab Pressure (Source: Israel National News)
Despite pressure from Arab countries, Israel on was accepted on Thursday as a member in the United Nations space committee. The decision to accept Israel to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space passed by a majority of 117 votes in favor and one against and is a great victory for the Israeli delegation to the UN, especially after Syria exerted pressure in an attempt to prevent Israel’s entry.

Diplomat Hadas Meitzad, who led the efforts on behalf of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations said on Thursday, "This is an important victory for Israeli diplomacy. The advanced capabilities of the State of Israel in the field of space, combined with a complex and sensitive diplomatic process, resulted in Israel’s acceptance into the prestigious organization." Israel's accession to the space committee involved complex and sensitive diplomatic maneuvering, as the Arab states have thwarted Israel's admission to the organization in the past. (10/30)

This is How You Get Wasted in Space (Source: Aol)
Houston, we have liftoff ... and a stiff cocktail. We're closer than we think to the days of commercial space travel — and not just if you're Lance Bass. But one big problem? You can't drink so easily up there — try to pour one out and your cosmo might float about the cabin, threatening to spill all over your shiny new spacesuit. Click here. (10/28)

Stott Lands in Oldsmar for Presentation (Source: Oldsmar Connect)
Rule number one of being a journalist is to always remain impartial. But occasionally, that rule is broken. This reporter was guilty of being a little, well, star struck recently, when I had the opportunity to meet former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott. Stott, who spent 28 years working for NASA, was the featured speaker at a luncheon for the Caladesi chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at East Lake Woodlands Country Club on October 19. (10/30)

Port Canaveral Decides to Pursue Rail Line Through Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
Port Canaveral commissioners approved a plan to move forward with efforts to establish a cargo rail link through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They voted to enter into a "joint endeavor" with Gilbane/Renaurt/Larkin/Mid-Atlantic Railway Services Group, which also could involve increased port cargo facilities, an industrial park and an office park on Air Force land.

The port and the group will work on pursuing an enhanced-use lease agreement with the Air Force. Port officials are hoping that working with the Renuart/Larkin principal Gene Renuart, a retired Air Force four-star general, will help in the port's discussions with Air Force officials. Renuart’s nearly 39-year Air Force career culminated as commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. (10/29)

NASA, Orbital Differ on Root Cause of Antares Launch Failure (Source: Space News)
A NASA investigation into last year’s failure of an Orbital ATK Antares launch vehicle could not identify a single technical root cause of the accident, a conclusion at odds with Orbital’s own investigation. An executive summary of a NASA Independent Review Team (IRT) report concluded there was an explosion in the liquid oxygen turbopump in one of the two AJ-26 engines.

The explosion was triggered when rotating and stationary components in part of the turbopump came into contact. “This frictional rubbing led to ignition and fire” in the turbopump, and thus the explosion, the report states. The report could not determine what cased the turbopump problem in the first place. “The IRT was not able to isolate a single technical root cause..” the report states. Instead, investigators identified three potential root causes, “any one or a combination of which could have resulted in the E15 failure.”

One potential root cause was an “inadequate design robustness” of the engine. Acceptance testing of the engines was not sufficient to detect those problems, according to the report. A second potential root cause was foreign object debris, in the form of silica and titanium, found in the engine after the accident. The final potential root cause was a manufacturing defect with the engine, similar to one found in another AJ-26 engine that exploded on a test stand during acceptance testing in May 2014. (10/29)

Female Scientists Asked How They Will Cope Without Men or Makeup in Space (Source: Fusion)
Institute director Igor Ushakov said, per Phys.org, that “it will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology,” adding, “they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together.” Hm. Highly-trained scientists are not housewives!

During a press conference prior to the start of the ground mission, the crew members answered questions on their mission. Questions like: How will you deal with being without makeup for eight days? How will you cope with not being around men? These are very bad questions.

The women, however, handled both with grace. “We are doing work. When you’re doing your work, you don’t think about men and women,” said Anna Kussmaul. Plus, said Darya Komissarova, “We are very beautiful without makeup.” Well played. (10/28)

After 7 Months, is Scott Kelly Wondering What He’s Gotten Into? (Source: Ars Technica)
After seven months in space, Michael Lopez-Alegria missed the little things about his home on Earth, which spun lazily just 250 miles below the International Space Station. Drinking a beer. Taking a shower. Lying down to go to sleep. Even so, up until the end of his then-record-setting spaceflight in 2007, Lopez-Alegria suffered the minor annoyances of living in space as the “price of admission” to the best room in the universe.

Today, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is probably going through some of these same emotions as he matches Lopez-Alegria’s 215-day spaceflight, en route to spending nearly a full year on the space station. During his unprecedented mission for a US astronaut, Kelly has garnered much attention. Earlier in October, President Obama called him for Astronomy Night at the White House, saying, “You’re setting a record that’s nothing to sneeze at.” (10/29)

PISCES Unveils Basalt Landing Pad in Hawaii (Source: Big Island Now)
On Wednesday morning, Big Island Now got an exclusive on the ground look at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems’ new lunar landing pad site, located at Puna Rock in Kea’au. The construction project, which began during the fall, was recently completed through a partnership between PISCES and the NASA.

PISCES Helelani rover, outfitted with a robotic arm, demonstrated how the landing pad would be built using basalt concrete, which was has also been tested along Kinoole Avenue in Hilo, near the Lincoln Park tennis courts. The rover’s method of placing basalt pavers on the site is hoped to be one day used in space. (10/29)

Russia to Open Four New Glonass Stations Abroad (Source: Sputnik)
"We now have five stations outside Russia that are already open for the monitoring and signal relay ground segment. We will open four stations in the near future, talks are underway with other countries," Rogozin said at a meeting with the Russian president and members of the cabinet. He added that Glonass satellites will have an extended service life of 10 years, rather than the current seven. (10/28)

Russia Signs Contract With Eutelsat to Launch Satellites Through 2023 (Source: Sputnik)
A subsidiary of Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center signed a contract with Eutelsat, the French-based satellite provider, to put the companies satellites into orbit during the period of 2016-2023, Russia's space agency Roscosmos said in a statement Thursday.

From the Russian side, the contract was signed by Khrunichev's subsidiary the International Launch Services (ILS) company. The first launch under the contract will put a Eutelsat 9B satellite, designed to provide digital television and data services in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, into orbit. (10/29)

Forging a New Consensus on America’s Future in Space (Source: Center for American Progress)
From the Apollo moon landings to the International Space Station, America’s human space exploration achievements have inspired awe and admiration the world over. They have represented the best of the nation’s skill, ambition, and imagination.

But however much these accomplishments have transcended their origins, they ultimately rest on a foundation of geopolitical conditions and considerations. It is difficult to imagine the Apollo mission without the Cold War and equally hard to conceive of the International Space Station without the end of the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Today, the United States faces a set of geopolitical conditions and considerations that makes it possible to forge a new national consensus on human spaceflight. While the circumstances are not identical to those that bred Apollo or the International Space Station, there are powerful incentives for the United States to undertake a bold, difficult, and constructive national project in space to show that America is still a society capable of impressive feats that benefit all of humanity. (10/28)

Mystery Bright Spots Could be First Glimpse of Another Universe (Source: New Scientist)
Data from ESA’s Planck telescope could be giving us our first glimpse of another universe, with different physics, bumping up against our own. That’s the tentative conclusion of an analysis by Ranga-Ram Chary. Armed with Planck’s painstaking map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – light lingering from the hot, soupy state of the early universe – Chary revealed an eerie glow that could be due to matter from a neighboring universe leaking into ours.

This sort of collision should be possible, according to modern cosmological theories that suggest the universe we see is just one bubble among many. Such a multiverse may be a consequence of cosmic inflation, the widely accepted idea that the early universe expanded exponentially in the slimmest fraction of a second after the big bang. (10/29)

Oxygen Found on Comet in Rosetta Mission: 'Most Surprising Discovery So Far' (Source: LA Times)
Scientists from the Rosetta mission have found oxygen in the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a discovery that could change our understanding of how the solar system formed. The molecular oxygen (O2) was detected by the ROSINA mass spectrometer, one of a suite of instruments aboard the Rosetta spacecraft that has been traveling with the comet since August 2014.

The revelation came as quite a shock. "The first time we saw it, we all went a little bit into denial because molecular oxygen was really not expected to be found on a comet," said Kathrin Altwegg, the project leader for ROSINA, the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis. "It is actually the most surprising discovery we have made so far on 67P." (10/29)

Birth of Universe Modeled in Massive Data Simulation (Source: Space Daily)
Researchers are sifting through an avalanche of data produced by one of the largest cosmological simulations ever performed, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

The simulation, run on the Titan supercomputer at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day - from its earliest infancy to its current adulthood. Over the course of 13.8 billion years, the matter in the universe clumped together to form galaxies, stars and planets; but we're not sure precisely how. (10/29)

Russian Moon Mission Would Need 4 Angara-A5V Launches (Source: Space Daily)
Organizing for Russian cosmonauts to fly to the Moon will require four launches of Angara-?5V heavy-class carrier rockets during the initial stage of the mission, head of Russia's Energia space corporation Vladimir Solntsev said. On Tuesday, Solntsev said that a manned lunar landing by Russian cosmonauts is planned for 2029, while a maiden flight of a new spacecraft made of composites specifically for moon missions is scheduled for 2021. (10/30)

Water Leak Delays Atlas Launch to Saturday (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
With slightly more than 16 hours before launch, ULA was forced to slightly postpone the launch of the 11th Block IIF GPS satellite due to a leak in ground support equipment located at Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. A leak was discovered in a ground support equipment valve for launch pad water suppression system. The launch has been rescheduled for Oct. 31. The launch window is 12:13-12:32 p.m. EDT. (10/29)

Russia Postpones Maiden Flight of its Progress-MS Spacecraft (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Russia decided to delay the first launch of the newest version of its flagship Progress cargo craft. The RKK Energia company, which manufactures the spacecraft, revealed on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that the maiden flight of the Progress-MS vehicle will be postponed for a month – until Dec. 21, 2015. Extra checks are needed to make sure that there is no repeat of the Progress M-27M spacecraft launch mishap on April 28 of this year and to complete all the work linked with this accident. (10/29)

House and Senate Reach Agreement on Commercial Space Legislation (Source: Space Policy Online)
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a compromise version of commercial space legislation that passed the House and Senate earlier this year. Details of the compromise have not been made public, but the revised bill could be voted on soon.

The Senate bill, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (S. 1297) passed in August.  The House bill, Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act (H.R. 2262), passed in May. The House and Senate versions have many differences, but Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), the new chair of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, recently characterized them as minor. Click here. (10/29)

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