June 10, 2016

NASA Deal Gives Dream Chaser A Shot In The Arm (Source: Aviation Week)
Sierra Nevada Corp. is using its multibillion-dollar NASA contract to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) as a marketing starting gun aimed at selling its Dream Chaser lifting-body vehicle for missions throughout the emerging low-Earth-orbit economy and beyond. With its selection as a third cargo carrier in NASA’s $14 billion, second-round Commercial Resupply Services competition, the privately held aerospace company is pushing Dream Chaser into the international marketplace. (6/9)

How to Build Satellites Much Faster—and Cheaper [In Florida] (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The manufacturing of satellites is about to get an overhaul: Space Age, meet the assembly line. Satellites have always relied on highly customized, by-hand procedures that have slowed production and kept their costs sky high. But now proponents of faster, cheaper methods envision bringing together standardized, pretested modular components and sidestepping some of the painstaking testing for which over the years U.S. aerospace has become famous.

The driving force behind the change is U.S. entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has teamed up with European aerospace powerhouse Airbus Group SE to try to reshape the satellite industry with a proposed automated manufacturing facility at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Mr. Wyler’s plans are for a high-volume, computer-assisted factory that churns out hundreds of satellites annually with assembly practices akin to those now used for medical devices or airplane equipment.

Such a shift in satellite production methods could push the boundaries of robotic manufacturing, as OneWeb and other satellite makers incorporate manufacturing concepts previously dismissed by the industry largely due to reliability concerns. If they succeed, however, similar fundamental changes in cost and quality control could be in store for commercial, scientific and military space programs. (6/9)

Want to be an Astronaut? Your Chariots Await (Source: Popular Science)
The human race is quickly becoming a spacefaring civilization. During the Cold War, aggression and technological rivalry between two superpowers led to humanity’s first journey into space and to those first footsteps on the Moon. Today, exploration is driven by competition in the commercial space industry. Private companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada are already signed up to carry cargo to the ISS. Later, they'll also build and fly their own human-capable spacecraft, while NASA itself focuses on building a vehicle that will eventually take humans to Mars. Click here. (6/6)

Colorado Spaceport Designation Could Come Before Summer’s End (Source: Colorado Space News)
Pending approval by the Federal Aviation Administration’s office of commercial space transportation, Colorado could have a commercial spaceport by the end of the summer. A spaceport designation would allow the existing Front Range Airport to add FAA-licensed suborbital flight capabilities to its current General Aviation operations.

David Ruppel, Airport Director for Front Range, spoke last week at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Broomfield, Colorado. He said Spaceport Colorado is envisioned as a horizontal launch facility in which FAA-licensed Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV) will take off and land from existing airport runways. Spaceport Colorado will not operate vertical launch rockets or “Experimental” vehicles.

Once established, the spaceport will provide access to space for scientific research, education and space tourism in the short-term and point-to-point, high speed, suborbital transportation to other international spaceports in the long-term. Ruppel said that despite many delays in the licensing process, he hopes to receive federal government approval for the facility within the next few months. (6/9)

Stephen Hawking Just Published a Mind-Bending Theory About Black Holes (Source: Mic)
Previously, we thought black holes just swallowed up and destroyed everything for good. If you fell into a black hole, there'd be no coming out. Then, in the 1970s, Hawking proposed that radiation can actually escape from a black hole. Basically this happens when a black hole swallows one of two entangled particles. The one that isn't swallowed escapes from the black hole in the form of radiation.

The problem is that this radiation wouldn't carry any record of information about the particle that fell into the black hole. That doesn't match up with one of the pillars of physics: Theoretically, if we were to reverse time, the universe would look the same whether it's going forward or backward.

Hawking and two colleagues, Malcolm Perry and Andrew Strominger, think they're getting close to a solution. In their paper, they argue black holes might be covered with "soft hair" — a layer of zero-energy particles that record information about any objects that fall in. A pattern of all the things a black hole has ever swallowed gets imprinted on the hair. (6/8)

Wormholes Might Burrow Through Black Hole Cores (Source: Space.com)
According to a team of physicists, the weird physics of a black hole's singularity could turn our "classical" idea about black holes on its head. What if general relativity breaks down and the singularity isn't a singularity at all? What if we replace the singularity with a wormhole? Suddenly, instead of being the ultimate trash compactors of the universe, black holes become the ultimate sci-fi dream: they could be space-time transportation hubs.

But, as is the case with most black hole stories, there's a catch. In previous calculations, The team created a theoretical model of a black hole without a singularity. To their surprise, in the singularity's place, a finite-sized and spherical wormhole structure appeared. This is very important; it seems that instead of spitting out a confounding singularity, the math naturally creates a wormhole. (6/8)

Before Silicon Valley, Cocoa Beach Area Brimmed with the Best Technical Minds (Source: Space Coast Daily)
Cocoa Beach came to life during the 1960s when America’s space program took off. Over the next decade the local population swelled from 23,000 to 70,000. Before there was a Silicon Valley for high-tech entrepreneurship, Cocoa Beach and other surrounding towns were brimming with the best and brightest technical minds around. Young families flocked here with one or both parents working on some aspect of the space program.

Their kids were dubbed the “Cape Brats.” After manned space flights, the town staged parades with astronauts riding in flashy Corvettes. Space fever was everywhere. Motels named The Sea Missile and Satellite popped up alongside offbeat diners like The Moon Hut. Dining out, locals often rubbed shoulders with astronauts and packs of rocket scientists. Click here.

Editor's Note: Brevard County (aka the "Space Coast) continues to top the state's K-12 scores for math and science, probably an example of the continued impact of having a large population of aerospace industry workers. (6/9)

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