January 19, 2016

Space Tourism in Tucson Prepared for Take Off (Source: Tuscon News Now)
A $15 million bond sale will provide funds to be used to build the World View world headquarters on 28 acres on the south east side rather, than moving its operations to Florida or New Mexico, both of which have offered incentives to lure the company out of southern Arizona. The company hopes to have a payroll of 500 high paying jobs in Pima County in the next few year as space tourism heats up.

The cost of a five-hour trip to near space will be $75,000 and company officials said it has a list of people and families who have already paid a deposit for the trip. The people will be taken on the journey inside a large capsule by a large balloon. The capsule can hold up to six. The capsule will have 360 degree views, which will allow patrons to view the curvature of the earth, something which up to now, has been generally seen only by astronauts. (1/18)

“Space Wafers” Made on Parabolic Flights (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
It seems the best way to produce next-generation “space wafers” is to not actually fly to space. ACME Advanced Materials — an Albuquerque startup that planned to use suborbital rocket flights to produce high-quality semiconductor wafers in microgravity — has opted instead to create its own microgravity environment with parabolic aircraft flights.

ACME has partnered with Sierra Industries — a flight operations and maintenance center in Uvalde, Texas — to pilot a Cessna aircraft for the company. “Pilots at Sierra Industries have worked it out to give maximum time in microgravity with no jitters, shaking or vibrations,” Glover said. “They created an in-house app for flights that keeps track of all the forces and jitter on the craft during parabolic flight. We did 29 flights with them in 2015.” (1/18)

Build Telescope, Scrap Convention, Most Hawaiians Say (Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser)
A majority of Hawaiians support the construction of a controversial telescope. Two thirds of registered voters support construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. However, a majority of native Hawaiians said they opposed the telescope. Construction of the telescope was set to start last spring but was halted by protests, and in December the state supreme court revoked the observatory's construction permit, concluding that a state agency failed to provide opponents proper opportunity to comment before awarding the permit. (1/18)

Preparations Underway for First Launch From New Russian Spaceport (Source: Tass)
Preparations for the first launch from Russia's new spaceport are ramping up. The upper stage of a Soyuz rocket, and its payload of satellites, will be transported by air this week to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East, joining the lower stages of the Soyuz rocket previously shipped there. The first launch from Vostochny, previously planned for late last year, is now tentatively scheduled for April. (1/18)

Kelly's Year in Space Featured in PBS Special (Source: PBS)
Astronaut Scott Kelly's year in space will be the subject of a PBS special. The network announced Monday it will air a two-part special called "A Year in Space" produced in cooperation with Time magazine. PBS will air the first installment of the special on March 2, around the time Kelly is scheduled to return from the International Space Station. The second part of the show will air in 2017 to cover Kelly's adaptation to life back on Earth. (1/18)

The Amazing Perks of Being a NASA Astronaut (Source: Business Insider)
Every job comes with its own unique perks, but NASA astronauts seem to have the best perk of all: the opportunity to visit space. That's not the only bonus, however, according to NASA astronaut Andrew J. Feustel. "The other wonderful thing about this job is the opportunity to go and talk to people about what we do — especially kids," Feustel said.

"I hope that every time I go to talk to a school, youth organization, or university that there's somebody there that heard what I said and was inspired personally to go off and pursue whatever goal they had. It doesn't have to be space exploration," he said. (1/18)

SpaceX Failure a Natural Setback in an Emerging Industry (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
“Landing a rocket vertically on a barge is really, really hard,” said Ray Lugo, director of University of Central Florida’s Florida Space Institute. In December, the Falcon 9 completed its first successful landing at Cape Canaveral, perhaps heightening expectations for this week’s sea-based landing. But Lugo said a moving target changes the landing sequence tremendously.

“It’s like a pilot landing on an aircraft carrier,” he said. “Landing on the carrier is a lot harder than landing on a runway.” Still, Lugo said the Falcon 9 explosion will be something to build upon. “They are learning every time,” he said. “My guess is they will get better at this and eventually solve the problem and do this on a regular basis. Everyone expects Elon to hit everything the first time. But he’s learning firsthand that space is hard.” (1/18)

Opinion: There Is No U.S. Strategy Driving Technology Investment (Source: Aviation Week)
Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, there is an urgent need to reconcile U.S. national strategy and requirements for governmental aerospace science and technology (S&T). More specifically, there is an urgent need to conceive, articulate and plan for a new national security strategy that can be connected to actual force structures, force application plans and ultimately to new aerospace S&T requirements.

Such a strategy does not exist today and, therefore, too much of governmental aerospace S&T is unfocused, stovepiped and solely aspirational. To be sure, more resources are needed for aerospace R&D, but without clear strategic direction, federally funded aerospace S&T will not produce results that lever America’s technology might for future security. Click here. (1/15)

Orbital ATK Unveils Plan For ‘Next-Gen’ EELV Competitor (Source: Aviation Week)
Orbital ATK plans to start ground tests next year of first elements for an all-new, next-generation launch vehicle to compete for the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The company disclosed details of the plan on Jan. 14 following revelations from the Air Force that awards made to the company the previous day for work on new boosters and a modified upper-stage engine were destined for an “Orbital ATK next generation launch vehicle.”

Orbital ATK hatched a plan to develop the as yet unnamed new launch vehicle following a 2014 congressional directive to the Defense Department to develop a U.S.-produced rocket propulsion system which will enable the Air Force to transition off the Russian-supplied RD-180 propulsion system used on the Atlas V rocket. The move will bring Orbital ATK into direct competition with ULA and SpaceX, both of which are already contesting for launch national security payloads. Click here. (1/15)

The Votes are In: Exoplanets Get New Names (Source: Science News)
Step aside Venus and Neptune, our solar system is no longer the only one whose planets have catchy names. On December 15, the International Astronomical Union announced the winners of a contest to name the planets and suns of 20 systems. Exoplanet enthusiasts in 182 countries and regions cast more than 573,000 votes. Here are five favorites along with some monikers that didn't fly. Click here. (1/18)

What's the Deal with Pluto's Blue Sky? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
When New Horizons flew by Pluto last year, it took photos of the dwarf planet backlit by the sun showing a thin blue  sky atmosphere. NASA released a video this week answering the question, if an astronaut were to look up at the sky from the surface of Pluto, would they see a blue sky? The answer is yes, but only around the part of the sky where the sun rises and sets. Why? Click here. (1/18)

Black Hole Sun Could Support Bizarre Life on Orbiting Planets (Source: New Scientist)
A black hole sun could be friendlier than you might expect. Planets orbiting a black hole – as they do in the film Interstellar – could sustain life, thanks to a bizarre reversal of the thermodynamics experienced by our sun and Earth. According to the second law of thermodynamics, life requires a temperature difference to provide a source of useable energy. Life on Earth exploits the difference between the sun and the cold vacuum of space, but what if you flip the temperatures around, with a cold sun and a hot sky? Click here. (1/18)

UAE and Japan Look to Cooperate on Space Initiatives (Source: Gulf News)
Building strong ties in the field of space exploration are the key themes behind Japan’s Space Week, being held in the UAE over the next three days. The events began on Sunday in the capital, and saw several high-ranking Japanese officials from the government and space sector meet their Emirati counterparts, discussing ways in which both countries could enhance their cooperation when it comes to space science. (1/18)

What Happens to Your Body in Space? (Source: Independent)
Tim Peake is the first official British astronaut to walk in space. The former Army Air Corps officer has spent a month in space, after blasting off on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station on December 15 last year, but the spacewalk will doubtless be his most gruelling test. But what exactly will he be going through, during his remarkable spell aboard the space station? Space travel leads to many changes in the human body. Click here. (1/18)

Anderson: Long-Term Investment Paying Off (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Spaceport America is a long-term investment. It is already paying off in terms of jobs and educational opportunities for our students. We have come a long way from that first turn of the shovel in June 2009. We are optimistic about the commercial space industry and our role in it – just look at what incredible feats have taken place in the last several months. Click here. (1/18)

David Bowie: Astronomers Give the Starman his Own Constellation (Source: Guardian)
David Bowie has been given his own constellation, consisting of seven stars that shine in the shape of the lightning bolt. Belgian astronomers announced the registration of the constellation, which appropriately sits in the vicinity of Mars, following the artist’s death last week. It is a fitting homage to Bowie, who used the universe as a key inspiration throughout his career. (1/17)

Flowering Plants Are Helping NASA on Its Journey to Mars (Source: Motherboard)
Astronauts aren’t the only life forms on board the International Space Station right now. A crop of Zinnia flowers are beginning to bloom in spite of a recent mold outbreak. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a picture of the first Zinnia blossom yesterday.

The Zinnias are part of a plant growth experiment known as Veggie. The plants are housed in a special plant growth chamber, first installed in the station’s Columbus module in 2014. So far, two crops of red romaine lettuce have successfully grown in the chamber, with astronauts sampling some of the leafy greens last year. Veggie has simple goals: to provide astronauts with fresh food and to help boost morale. Click here. (1/17)

Bridging the Past and Future on the Shoulders of the Atlas Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
On top of an Atlas rocket, the place where orbital spaceflight for American astronauts began, will sit Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to launch humans into space starting next year. It was Feb. 20, 1962 when an Atlas D booster blasted off with Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 capsule and John Glenn to become the nation’s first person to orbit the Earth.

More than a half-century later, a bold new era of commercial travel to and from space is about to start, and Atlas rockets will again play a pivotal role. Click here. (1/19)

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