April 17, 2016

Escape From a Space Station on Fire! (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Station Crisis! Locked in a room filling with smoke. Can you escape? That's the pitch for a new "escape room" attraction in Cocoa Beach. Escape rooms are apparently an increasingly popular entertainment business nationwide, following a trend of reality television programs. The Space Station Crisis scenario may be unique to the genre, luring "date night" customers to Escape Gametime's Cocoa Beach location, about 20 minutes south of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Cick here. (4/17)

Deal to Bring Satellite Builder OneWeb to Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
A major announcement scheduled Tuesday morning is expected to confirm a high-profile startup’s decision to build hundreds of satellites on the Space Coast that will help expand global Internet access. Space Florida’s deal with OneWeb promises to generate 250 jobs and $80 million in capital investment, including a $36 million factory to be built at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

“It is a big deal,” said Edward Ellegood, a local space policy analyst. “It’s so far diversified from launching that it’s going to require a whole new class of worker, a whole new skill set. So it’s going to be a big economic deal.”

With its vision to “enable affordable Internet access for everyone,” OneWeb plans to build and launch some 900 small satellites, including spares, flying about 750 miles up. The satellites by 2019 would serve areas of the world lacking broadband access and help fill growing demand for connectivity on airplanes, ships and oil and gas platforms. (4/17)

OneWeb Deal Confirms the Space Coast is On the Road to Full Recovery After Shuttle Retirement (Source: Florida Today)
OneWeb’s founder, Greg Wyler, is a Florida resident who started another satellite venture, O3b Networks, that has 12 satellites in orbit. Wyler's new venture would produce 250 local jobs with an average salary of $86,000. The company hopes to move into their new Space Coast home as soon as next March.

Space Florida will build and own a factory between 100,000 and 120,000 square feet in Exploration Park, with the help of $17.5 million in matching funds from the Florida Department of Transportation. OneWeb would lease the facility.

Combined with the 330 jobs Blue Origin expects to base here to build its orbital rocket, OneWeb would make Exploration Park home to nearly 600 high-paying space manufacturing jobs, near communities hit hard by the space shuttle’s retirement five years ago. That growth builds hope that more business could follow. “If we’re able to bring OneWeb here and build the talent base for satellite manufacturing, then the door’s open for more of that,” said Ellegood. “Success breeds success.” (4/17)

Oh My! George Takei, Buzz Aldrin to Host Gala at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Star Trek celebrities George Takei and Nichelle Nichols will join Buzz Aldrin to host the Apollo 11 anniversary gala July 23 at Kennedy Space Center. The event will include a reception, celebrity photo ops, dinner under the Saturn V rocket and a program that will "teleport guests back to a time when space travel transitioned from fantasy to reality," a news release states.

Proceeds will go to Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation, which educates thousands of children about science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Tickets are $1,000, $750 for students and military and $1,800 for VIP with sponsorships ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. (4/16)

Science Committee Chairman Hosts Climate-Change Denial Movie Premier in Washington (Source: Climate Depot)
The U.S. premiere of a documentary, Climate Hustle, took place at a Capitol Hill briefing in the historic Rayburn Office Building, hosted by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Also present was Sarah Palin. Climate Hustle debunks the myths and hype about man-made global warming in an informative and entertaining style. The film examines whether there is a genuine scientific consensus about alleged man-made global warming and features more than 30 scientists and experts. (4/16)

Lockheed Martin's School Bus Takes You on a Ride Across Mars (Source: Engadget)
Lockheed Martin's Generation Beyond initiative aims to "inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers." And what better way to spark young students' curiosity than to give them ride on a bus that simulates a ride across the Martian surface?

Passengers aboard the Mars Experience bus are treated to an immersive virtual reality adventure. As the bus moves, it makes the students feel like they're driving across the red planet by showing 200 square miles of its surface on the boarded-up windows.

Lockheed Martin's high-tech vehicle will tour the US to give students from different regions a chance to try it out. It's not Generation Beyond's only projects, though. The company is also providing a free deep space curriculum to all middle school teachers and has released an app that sends you real-time Mars weather reports. (4/15)

SpaceX Hauls Dirt to Build Texas Launch Pad, Ready in 2018 (Source: Brownsville Herald)
At some point in the future, rockets will tower over the SpaceX launch site at Boca Chica Beach. Until that happens, the only thing towering out there will be a pile of dirt — a very large pile of dirt, one that’s grown substantially since trucks started bringing in the stuff on a daily basis late last year.

The purpose is to raise and stabilize the area before actual construction of the launch pad and associated buildings begins. When the final load is delivered, 310,000 cubic yards of soil will have been brought in, enough to cover a football field 13 stories high. Adding dirt is a much more cost-effective solution than, say, driving steel beams or pouring 200-foot concrete pillars, though it does take longer.

Once the mountain of dirt is in place it will be graded, then allowed to settle, then actual construction of the launch pad will move quickly, according to the company. The official groundbreaking took place in September 2014. Elon Musk at the time speculated that launches could commence as early as 2016. The need for more dirt has extended that timeline, though SpaceX expects to be ready for its first launch from the site in 2018. (4/16)

NASA KSC Innovation Makes Hydrogen Leaks Easy to Spot (Source: Space Daily)
From Apollo through the Space Shuttle, NASA has relied on liquid hydrogen to fuel its launch vehicles. Hydrogen is the most efficient propellant there is: measure for measure, it provides more thrust when burned than any other fuel source. But Hydrogen, the smallest and lightest element, escapes through the tiniest of cracks and certain high-pressure leaks can cause combustion. So NASA has long taken serious precautions to monitor the miles of pipelines carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of rocket fuel to the launch pad.

In the early days of the space program, inspectors held brooms to the pipes as they slowly walked the lines. If the broom's head began to burn, they knew there was a leak burning. Later, during the launches of the 1980s and '90s, they used ultraviolet sensors to detect flames; to find non-burning leaks they began utilizing electrochemical and combustible gas sensors.

Kennedy Space Center collaborated in the mid-2000s with the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) at the University of Central Florida to come up with something a little smarter. The researchers started with a Japanese patent for a hydrogen-detection tape that changes color when exposed to the substance, but they wanted to make the color change more noticeable. Two years later, another team of scientists and engineers from KSC improved the tape to make it robust enough to withstand harsh conditions ranging from shuttle launches to unruly weather. (4/18)

UCF Gets Grant to Plan for Space Mining on NASA Mission (Source: Space Daily)
UCF physics professor Dan Britt has been named to the New Horizons mission team as the spacecraft heads to the Kuiper Belt. He's also just landed a grant to help create fake asteroid material, which will help NASA and private companies prepare the technology needed to mine asteroids and eventually other planets.

"It's been a pretty good month," Britt said from Boulder, Colo., where he's working on another proposal for NASA. "This is a great time to be in this field." Britt joins the team responsible for sending New Horizons to Pluto and which made Professor Named to NASA Mission, Lands Grant to Plan for Space Minings last year when it unveiled the first pictures of Pluto's surface. Mountain ranges and perhaps even oceans under its frozen surface have been recorded by the spacecraft. (4/18)

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