May 6, 2016

NASA Makes Dozens of Patents Available in Public Domain (Source: NASA)
NASA has released 56 formerly-patented agency technologies into the public domain, making its government-developed technologies freely available for unrestricted commercial use. In addition to the release of these technologies, a searchable database now is available that catalogs thousands of expired NASA patents already in the public domain.

These technologies were developed to advance NASA missions but may have non-aerospace applications and be used by commercial space ventures and other companies free of charge, eliminating the time, expense and paperwork often associated with licensing intellectual property. The technologies include advanced manufacturing processes, sensors, propulsion methods, rocket nozzles, thrusters, aircraft wing designs and improved rocket safety and performance concepts. (5/5)

US Celebrates First National Astronaut Day (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The day was May 5, 1961. Alan Shepard, aided by Gunter Wendt and the rest of the launch pad crew, was strapped into the seat of the most daring vehicle America had constructed—the one-man Mercury space capsule. Moment later, he rocketed to the heavens becoming America's first astronaut crossing into the new frontier of space. The entire sub-orbital trip lasted just 15 minutes.

National Astronaut Day was created by talent and marketing agency Uniphi Space Agency, a firm representing over 20 former NASA astronauts. Uniphi is partnering this inaugural year with Fisher Space Pens. Together they have created a set of collectible space pens featuring astronaut autographs.

Proceeds from the sale of these collectibles will be donated to charities chosen by Uniphi’s astronauts. In addition to the collectible pens, a set of downloadable trading cards featuring the astronauts is also available. Just as Yuri’s Night marks the start of human space exploration, National Astronaut Day reminds Americans of the steps the U.S. has taken to open the door to the frontier of space. (5/5)

Resignation Points to 'Negative Business Environment' at Virginia Spaceport Research Park (Source: Eastern Shore Post)
Tom Young (former Martin Marietta president) has resigned as chairman of the Wallops Research Park (WRP) Leadership Council after criticizing the Accomack County Board of Supervisors. Young wrote, “Unfortunately, I believe the negative business environment created by the … supervisors along with other factors is just the opposite of what is required for success. Potential businesses and projects (and) those who make decisions about the NASA infrastructure in the future will … be influenced by this adverse environment.”

Supervisors took offense at Young’s words because they have voted for the aeronautics activities. In September 2013, the state approved a $4 million grant to help finance a taxiway from NASA’s runway to the WRP. Accomack put up another $4 million plus for construction of infrastructure at the park, which is nearly completed.

Editor's Note: In the late 1980s, Young was chairman of the Florida Governor's Commission on Space, which gave birth to the initiative to establish what is now Space Florida. As an economist at the Florida Department of Commerce, I was assigned as staff to that commission, working at the time for Secretary of Commerce Jeb Bush. (5/6)

SpaceX Launches Japanese Commercial Satellite, Lands Rocket on Barge (Source: Space News)
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on May 6 successfully placed Sky Perfect JSat’s JCSat-14 commercial telecommunications satellite into transfer orbit, with the rocket’s first stage landing gracefully on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. JCSat-14 manufacturer SSL confirmed that the 4,700-kilogram satellite was healthy in geostationary transfer orbit and sending signals.

It was the second consecutive drone-ship touchdown by the rocket’s first stage and was accomplished despite what SpaceX officials had said were particularly challenging conditions due to the velocity necessary for the launch. The previous successful drone-ship landing, performed in April, was done following a launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule into low Earth orbit.

“This was a three engine landing burn, so triple deceleration of last flight,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in a Twitter post after the landing. “That’s important to minimize gravity losses.” Before the launch, Musk had sought to lower expectations for the landing. “Rocket reentry is a lot faster and hotter than last time, so odds of making it are maybe even, but we should learn a lot either way,” he said. (5/6)

Falcon-9 Landing Overcame Significant Challenge (Source: SPACErePORT)
This morning's successful landing by SpaceX was a surprise to many--even Elon Musk--given the technical challenges faced by the landing team. The launch required more velocity than previous ones, so the landing maneuvers had to shed a lot more energy to reach a safe landing speed. Previous landings used only one of the rocket's nine engines to slow and drive the rocket to landing while this one had to use three. (5/6)

The Future of Fashion with Couture in Orbit (Source: Space Daily)
ESA is in partnership with top European fashion schools to harness next-generation technology and explore the future of fashion. The Couture in Orbit project is bringing space back to Earth through designs from some of Europe's brightest fashion minds - tasked to develop desirable and practical clothing, incorporating technology to make life better.

Fashion schools in Paris, London, Milan, Copenhagen and Berlin are each assigned a theme linked to ESA's ethos of sustainability, climate protection and recycling. These themes include technology, environment, innovation, health and sport. At the same time, all designs must be practical for daily use.

The schools are taking inspiration for their designs from the mission experiences of ESA astronauts from their own country. Whenever possible, they have talked directly with their national ESA astronaut to learn more about topics such as Earth observation, climate monitoring, health and nutrition - as well as details of everyday life in the void beyond our homeworld. (5/6)

Banner Year for French Aerospace, Defense (Source: Space Daily)
A French industry group reports that 2015 was a record year for the country's Aeronautical, Space, Defense and Security Industry. Turnover increased 8.5 percent on a like-to-like basis to about $67.28 billion, and exports rose 14 percent to about $45.47 billion, which represented 83 percent of consolidated turnover. (5/6)

Texas Incentive Attracts SATA to Brownsville (Source:
Governor Greg Abbott announced that SATA Group, a high-tech components manufacturer, will be constructing a new machine plant in Brownsville, Texas. This project is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $114 million in capital investment in the Texas economy. A Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) offer of $1.8 million has been extended to SATA Group. (5/4)

NASA and NSBRI Fund Research for Long-Duration Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's Human Research Program and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 27 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long duration missions beyond low Earth orbit.

The selected proposals will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioral health and performance, bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, sensorimotor adaptation and the development and application of smart medical systems and technologies. All of the selected projects will contribute towards NASA's long-term plans, such as those planned for the journey to Mars. (5/6)

Air Force pits Boeing, Lockheed and Northrop for Next Group of GPS Satellites (Source: Space News)
The Air Force awarded three contracts Thursday for studies on producing the next batch of GPS 3 satellites. The contracts, valued at $5 million each, went to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The contracts cover efforts by each company to demonstrate they can produce two "low-risk, high-confidence" GPS 3 satellites a year. The studies set the stage for a competition later this decade for a contract to build as many as 22 GPS 3 satellites. (5/6)

Antares to Launch From Virginia in July with New Rusian Engines (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK plans to return their Antares rocket to service in July with a launch from Virginia's spaceport on Wallops Island. The re-engined Antares uses Russian RD-181 engines for the first stage. They replace an earlier Russian design that Orbital no longer trusted after the October 2014 Antares failure, which was the vehicle’s fifth and last flight.

Orbital has enough NASA station-resupply work to assure two or three Antares launches per year well into the next decade and the company expects to widen its customer base once the redesigned Antares has proven itself. But even in a worst-case scenario in which Antares is used only for the NASA work, it will be a good business for Orbital. A flight rate of two or three per year is generally considered exceptionally low for a rocket that must pay its own way in a competitive environment. (5/5)

Orbital ATK To Decide Next Year on EELV-Class Rocket (Source: Space News)
Orbital and the U.S. Air Force are investing in early research on a heavier-lift rocket that would use all U.S.-built engines and would be capable of serving both the U.S. government and the international commercial market. Orbital ATK CEO David Thompson said the joint investment would remain modest, with a decision in mid-2017 on whether to proceed with full-scale development of the rocket. (5/5)

Coming Soon: Swarms of Space Robots (Source: Air & Space)
In Earth orbit, a group of shoebox-size spacecraft swarms around the hull of a communication satellite, checking for damage. Further out in the solar system, a flock of glittering reflective spheres, each no bigger than a postage stamp, sweeps past an asteroid, measuring the pull of its gravity. A rain of wafer-thin circuit boards flutters down through the atmosphere of Titan, taking measurements as they fall.

Precursors of these future space “swarm” missions are scheduled to begin flying this year. They’ll test basic functions like networking and communication; some will fly just to prove that extremely small, simple satellites can actually work in space.

In mid-May, the two CubeSats of NASA’s Nodes mission will deploy from the space station into low Earth orbit, to became the agency’s first free-flying, coordinated satellite swarm in space. The SPHERES satellites—three round, flying vehicles about the size of volleyballs—have been demonstrating formation flying inside the station since 2006. (5/6)

DSI and Luxembourg Partner to Test Asteroid Mining Tech (Source: DSI)
Asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries, together with the Luxembourg Government and the Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI), the national banking institution in Luxembourg, have signed an agreement formalizing their partnership to explore, use, and commercialize space resources as part of Luxembourg’s initiative.

The Luxembourg Government will work with Deep Space Industries to co-fund relevant R&D projects that help further develop the technology needed to mine asteroids and build a supply chain of valuable resources in space. The co-funding will be implemented under the Luxembourg space program, (LuxIMPULSE), the national R&D support program, and using financing instruments of the SNCI. (5/5)

GoPro Hitched a Ride on a Rocket and the Video is Incredible (Source: Tech Crunch)
GoPro released some pretty incredible footage of a suborbital rocket launch that climbed to 396,405 feet at speeds as high as Mach 5.5. The launch in the video took place from Spaceport America in New Mexico on November 6, 2015, with a 20-foot tall SpaceLoft-10 sounding rocket from Colorado-based launch provider UP Aerospace. Click here. (5/5)

Bigelow's Expandable Habitats May Take Us to Mars (Source: CNN)
In sci-fi movies, space habitats are huge structures with labyrinth layouts. But Hollywood doesn't have to deal with the issues real aerospace engineers face when contemplating future space homes -- such as gravity and financial constraints. "Gravity ... is a really serious problem," Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow says.

He's not kidding. NASA estimates the International Space Station cost upward of $100 billion to build in the 1990s and required more than 115 space flights to construct. At about 250 miles above Earth, it's in what's known as low-Earth orbit. In space terms, that's relatively close. What happens when we want to live on Mars? Click here. (5/6)

Arizona County Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over WorldView Space-Tourism Incentive Deal (Source: KVOA)
Pima County has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit over its deal with World View Enterprises. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative think-tank in Phoenix, has sued the county on behalf of some residents. Goldwater claims the $15 million loan to the space-tourism company is illegal. However, the county’s motion claims the suit does not have merit. Officials argue that the loan is perfectly legal. Goldwater’s response is due May 23. (5/5)

Because Failure is an Option SpaceX Can Do Stuff Like Land Rockets on a Boat (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA’s legendary flight director Gene Kranz entitled his memoir Failure is Not an Option, referring to his days in mission control from the Mercury missions through the Apollo program. That mindset helped Kranz and teams of engineers at Johnson Space Center heroically return the crew of Apollo 13 safely home. But there is a belief among some that, since the heady Apollo days, such an attitude has made NASA’s managers too timid and too risk averse.

More than a decade ago, even before the failure of his first Falcon 1 rocket, Elon Musk had already made it clear he did not adhere to this belief. During an interview for a 2005 article in Fast Company, the founder of SpaceX gave what has become one of his most enduring quotes: "There's a silly notion that failure's not an option at NASA,” Musk said. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough. (5/6)

KSC is Looking for Partners for Technology Development (Source: NASA KSC)
NASA KSC's Swamp Works is seeking potential partners for technology development through NSPIRES, a program where NASA will directly benefit by partnering with external entities to create innovative ideas and solutions that could advance technology needs at KSC. Click here. (5/6)

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