March 4, 2016

Coast Guard: No Boat Request from SpaceX, Air Force in Recent Launch Attempt (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard say SpaceX and the Air Force's 45th Space Wing did not request boat coverage for a launch Sunday, meaning response to a vessel thought to be in a restricted area might have taken longer than normal. That boat, described by news reports as a tugboat towing a barge stopped a launch countdown with less than two minutes left, leading SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to say on social media that it caused the eventual scrub. (3/3)

Test Dummies to Help Assess Crew Safety in Orion (Source: Space Daily)
Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, are preparing for a series of water-impact tests to evaluate the Orion spacecraft and crew safety when they return from deep-space missions and touch down on Earth's surface.

After venturing thousands of miles beyond Earth, Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. At Langley, engineers are preparing to mimic various mission finale scenarios this year by dropping a mockup of Orion, coupled with the heat shield from the spacecraft's first flight, into Langley's 20-foot-deep Hydro Impact Basin. (3/4)

NASA Delays Asteroid Mission One Year (Source: Space News)
NASA has pushed back launch dates for robotic and crewed elements of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). In a presentation earlier this week to a NASA Advisory Council committee, the agency said it is now planning to launch the ARM robotic spacecraft in late 2021, a year later than previously planned. That would push out the crewed mission to the boulder that robotic mission will return by a year as well, to 2026. The delays will give NASA more time to complete studies in earlier phases of the robotic mission, and does not change the cost of the mission. (3/3)

Texas Locals Worry About Labor Issues at SpaceX Launch Site (Source: El Rron Rron)
After receiving $1 billion in incentives from Nevada for Tesla's battery plant, local labor leaders are saying Elon Musk is using loopholes to fill labor slots with outside, cheaper, labor. In Texas, the political leadership from the Governor's mansion to the city commission have embraced SpaceX's promises of good-paying jobs and gave Musk $25 million in incentives.

Is Brownsville (and Harlingen) in for a rude awakening from Musk as well? Is Brownsville also going to lose those high paying jobs to our partners in Mexico just across the river? Click here. (3/2)

Kelly Grew Two Inches in Space — NASA More Interested in Changes We Can’t See (Source: Washington Post)
When astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston on Thursday morning, he was about two inches taller than when he left for the International Space Station a year before, according to NASA representatives. That’s pretty normal for an astronaut: Without the full strength of gravity pressing down on gel-filled discs between the vertebrae, they expand and lengthen the spine. It’s a weird but temporary side effect of spaceflight.

But even if Kelly hadn’t had his vitals checked immediately upon landing, he might have noticed the slight height change: One of the first Earthlings he saw was his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly — a man now notably, if only temporarily, shorter.

Kelly’s twin brother made him a perfect candidate for such a mission. The earthbound twin was used as a sort of “control” for experiments being run on his orbiting brother. Even identical twins aren’t alike enough that NASA can pin every difference between them on the effects of spaceflight, but finding changes that occurred in one man and not the other over the course of a year might give them some important clues. (3/3)

US Military Set to Unveil Concepts Based on Skylon Space Plane Tech (Source:
Within the next year, the U.S. Air Force plans to unveil novel spacecraft concepts that would be powered by a potentially revolutionary reusable engine designed for a private space plane. Since January 2014, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been developing hypersonic vehicle concepts that use the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which was invented by England-based Reaction Engines Ltd. and would propel the company's Skylon space plane. (3/3)

Hawaii Space Simulation Crew Hits Halfway Mark til August Re-Entry (Source:
The six crew members of the fourth Hawai?i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, have spent more than six months of their 12-month mission in a solar-powered dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The crew has been living in isolation as part of a University of Hawai?i at Manoa research project simulating long-duration space travel.

"It's fun to know you've made it halfway," said crewmember Tristan Bassigthwiaghte. The doctor of architecture candidate at UH Manoa said, "Getting halfway is a great validation in the work you're doing for yourself, academically or just personally. You also find you're listening to Life on Mars by David Bowie a lot more often."

This fourth mission is the longest in HI-SEAS history. As with the previous two missions in the NASA funded study, the current mission is focused on crewmember cohesion and performance. (3/4)

Plan Set to Deliver Space Shuttle External Tank to Los Angeles (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The California Science Center Foundation announced the route for “Mission 26: ET Comes Home,” the journey of the external tank (ET-94). It will travel from the Michoud Assembly Facility through the Panama Canal by barge to Los Angeles, then on through city streets, pulled by a truck on dollies, to its final destination near the California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Pavilion. The entire journey will take six to eight weeks, arriving around May 21. (3/3)

NASA Seeks Suborbital Space Companies to Flight Test Space Technologies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has been working with commercial space companies for several years to deliver astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. The agency has also sought commercial suborbital space companies to verify the performance of technologies and systems in suborbital space with the goal of reducing the cost and risk of future orbital space missions.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities Program has re-opened its solicitation seeking to on-ramp suborbital reusable launch vehicle services that will fly NASA internally sourced or NASA-directed research and development technology payloads.  The suborbital flights will provide these payloads exposure to space, reduced gravity or high-altitude environments required to test technology performance and advance technology readiness levels. (3/3)

Astronauts From 6 Space Agencies to Convene in Costa Rica (Source: Tico Times)
Former astronauts from various international space agencies will share their experiences at a public event at the National Stadium in San José on Mar. 9. The International Astronauts Forum is part of a workshop on human space technology, sponsored by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which Costa Rica will host from Mar. 7-11.

Tico scientist and former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz will join David Saint Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, Marcos Pontes of the Brazilian Space Agency; Kenneth Cameron from NASA, and Takao Doi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and current UNOOSA’s director of the Space Applications Section. (3/4)

Space Firm Seeks Germany's First Female Astronaut (Source: The Local)
Ever since the time of Neil Armstrong, males felt like a men's world wasn't big enough for them. They wanted a men's universe. But to Claudia Kessler, that's too much testosterone even for outer space. She's pushing to get more female energy out among the planets.

The CEO of HE Space, a human resources firm for air and space travel specialists, has recently launched the campaign "Astronautin" (female astronaut), in which they are looking for a German lady to blast off for the final frontier. The company is expecting between 500 and 1,000 candidates to shoot for the stars.

Though the selection procedure is privately organised, it's in no way easier than the ESA version. The company requires applicants to have a degree in medical or natural sciences plus three years of work experience; they want them to be athletic, adventurous and preferably experienced with unusual hobbies such as rock climbing or spelunking. (3/4)

Aldrin Addresses Conservative Convention; Urges Continued Space Exploration (Source: Town Hall)
Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin received a standing ovation at CPAC on Thursday, speaking "not as a Republican" or as a Democrat, but as someone who is concerned that America needs to maintain its space exploration program. Taking the stage to Kenny Loggins' song Danger Zone, Aldrin cut to the chase and began to discuss how America should be focusing on exploring the planet of Mars.

The bulk of Aldrin's speech focused on the need to colonize Mars, and suggested that this could be done as early as 2030. "If not now, when? If not us, who?" Aldrin described details of exactly how humans could settle Mars, and challenged the next president to have courage and to continue to advance science. (3/4)

That None of the 2016 Candidates Have a Space Policy is Tragic (Source: Foxtrot Alpha)
Go to any of the 2016 presidential candidates’ websites and look for their space policy. Actually, don’t bother, because you would be wasting your time. None of them have one. It is a sad symptom of just how far space exploration has plummeted off the list of national priorities, and just another reminder of how modest our human spaceflight hopes have become.

Sure, if you dig deep enough, you can usually find some offbeat comment on the space program from most of the people who want to be the leader of the free world, some of which are pretty wild, but this is a far cry from having an actual, publicly-listed policy position on the matter.

What’s even worse is that there has been no real questioning of the candidates on the national stage regarding their views on space and NASA. There have been close to 20 debates so far in the election cycle, and not one question has been asked about America’s future out among the stars. It’s quite a change from elections past. Even as recently as the 2012 election, space was a fairly recurring topic. (3/4)

Casino Offering [World View?] Trips to Outer Space (Source: WBAL)
A Baltimore-area casino is offering the chance of a lifetime. Throughout March, Maryland Live! Casino is giving away $400,000 in prizes, including four free trips to outer space. Very few people know what that is like, but one astronaut shared his experience with others. Buzz Aldrin was was in Maryland to promote this out-of-this-world contest

Maryland Live's Mario Maesano said they are the first casino in the country to host such a contest, which will take place every Saturday in March. Maryland Live is partnering with a yet-to-be-named company in Arizona [World View?] that hopes to start offering trips to space by the end of 2017. To enter, contestants need to just sign up for a Live rewards card and play. Maesano said that an actual ticket to space would cost $75,000.

The casino is giving away four trips to outer space plus trips to the Kennedy Space Center, along with zero gravity flights and telescopes among other prizes. As for the inspiration behind this, Aldrin said he keeps his feet firmly on the ground. "I think about this little kid who grew up in New Jersey and the wonderful things that have come my way," Aldrin said. "And a good bit is because of education." (3/4)

KSC Testing Stabilizer for SLS Launch Platform (Source:
Engineers at the Kennedy Space Center are set to test the Vehicle Stabilizer (VS) via a motion simulator at the Launch Equipment Test Facility (LETF). The VS will have a key role during Space Launch System (SLS) pad flows, dampening out the loads on the huge structure as the monster rocket “sways” in the often-windy conditions at her coastal launch site. (3/3)

Quick Switch from Russian Rocket Engines Could Cost $5 Billion (Source: Reuters)
Quickly ending U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines could add up to $5 billion to the cost of upcoming satellite launches, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said at a contentious Senate hearing. James said Air Force efforts to develop a U.S. rocket engine for powering heavy satellites into space were advancing, but an early ban on use of RD-180 rocket engines from Russia would force the service to choose other launch providers. (3/4)

No comments: