June 2, 2016

NASA Plans to Offer Property for New Launch Pads at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
New launch pads, a solar farm or research facilities could be built on Kennedy Space Center land that NASA will make available in an announcement Thursday, June 2. The spaceport will invite companies to develop parts of nearly 5,000 acres pegged for different uses under the spaceport’s master plan.

KSC’s master plan carves out room for two more vertical launch complexes, numbered 48 and 49, that bookend the center’s two major pads, 39A and 39B. NASA just last year solicited interest in the new launch sites and concluded that “the market wasn’t sufficiently mature to make the commitment NASA sought.” But interest has grown since then, particularly among an emerging class of small rockets being developed to launch small satellites into orbit.

KSC has a small pad, 39C, that could support launches by companies such as Rocket Lab or Firefly Space Systems. But as flight rates grow, companies might want another facility. “What we think we’re going to see is significant interest by that small launcher community to build potentially a launch pad in addition to the 39C capability that we have,” said Tom Engler. “It allows companies to be more versatile and have options." (6/1)

Florida-Based Harris Corp. Produces 81 ADS-B Payloads for Aireon on Iridium's New Satellite Constellation (Source: Aireon)
Aireon LLC, developer of the world’s first space-based global air traffic surveillance service announced today that Harris Corporation finished production on all Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) 1090 Extended Squitter receiver payloads that will enable its global air traffic surveillance service. The 81 ADS-B payloads were completed ahead of schedule and represent the largest implementation of a hosted payload solution ever achieved.

Completion of these payloads represents another milestone toward deploying Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service and enabling real-time air traffic surveillance worldwide. The payloads are being incorporated into the Iridium NEXT satellites where they will operate as an independent global air traffic surveillance system. (6/1)

XCOR Confirms Engine Focus, Committed to Mojave, Midland (Not Florida?) Locations (Source: Parabolic Arc)
“Given that we remain a small-scale company, we are planning to place more emphasis on fine-tuning the hydrogen engine program to achieve an optimal closed loop system for cryogenic rocket engines. We are convinced that this effort will ensure that XCOR is better positioned to finish the Lynx Project in a more efficient, reliable and safer manner. Instantly Reusable Launch Vehicles will make the edge of space accessible for everyone and our efforts with ULA on the LH2 propulsion systems will do the same for deep space.”

XCOR will continue to keep working from both the Mojave and Midland locations. Their innovative propulsion technology has applications to upper stage liquid hydrogen engines suitable for the Atlas V, Delta IV, and the planned NASA Space Launch System (SLS) and further underscores the partnership between XCOR and ULA. (5/31)

Why the Most Detailed Photos of Pluto Took So Long to Reach Us (Source: Vox)
On May 27, NASA posted the most detailed photos of Pluto's surface ever taken, an absolutely stunning look at the dwarf planet's mountains, craters, and nitrogen ice plains. This is likely to be the best Pluto close-up we'll have for a long, long time. The images were taken by NASA's New Horizons craft on July 14, 2015, as it flew by Pluto. But they're only being publicized now, 10 months later.

And that delay has provoked, uh, consternation from Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. But there were good reasons for the delay. First, Pluto is very, very far away. New Horizons was about 3 billion miles from Earth when these photos were taken. It takes a long time to send those images. But that's not the only hurdle. The large distance means the signal that reaches us is extremely faint.

On top of that, New Horizons is doing more than just sending photos. As Joseph Stromberg explained last year, NASA initially had the craft send back a small set of images in July 2015 so that the public could ooh and aah, but then switched over to transmitting scientific data. (6/1)

New Pluto Photos Reveal Earth-Like Terrain That's “a Total, Complete Mystery” to Scientists (Source: Quartz)
Close-up imagery of Pluto’s surface has scientists wondering how the dwarf planet’s terrain came to be. The photos, which show expansive mountain ranges and valleys, were taken by the New Horizons probe in July 2015 and were released by NASA this week. “We traveled 3,000 miles and found something a lot like the Earth,” says Alan Stern. “It was a big surprise.” Click here. (6/1)

Papa John's Honors British Astronaut Tim Peake by Putting His Face on a Pizza (Source: Mashable)
Papa John's Pizza is planning to deliver a pizza to British astronaut Tim Peake when he returns to Earth from the International Space Station later this month. "We can’t imagine not being able to eat pizza for six months and so if that’s what Tim wants as his first meal back on Earth, that’s what we’ll give him!" Papa John’s Senior Marketing Director, Andrew Gallagher, said in a statement. (6/1)

Arianespace Aims High in Asia-Pacific (Source: Flight Global)
Arianespace is confident about the Asia-Pacific launch market, and says 40% of Ariane 5 launch capacity in 2016 is for customers in the region. "Asia-Pacific has always been a great market,” says Jacques Breton, senior vice president of sales and business development at Arianespace. “It's a market where we've been quite successful. Our market share in the telecommunications market is 50%, but in Asia-Pacific it's slightly above this figure, around 60%.” (6/1)

Mars Hopper: NASA Takes Notice of Ukraine's Space Project (Source: Ukraine Today)
The Ukrainian Mars Hopper project won People's Choice award in NASA SpaceApps Challenge 2016. The computer model of an aircraft, designed to investigate Mars and its surroundings, was praised by the space agency itself.

"It uses the dry ice of Mars to produce liquid carbon dioxide to buildup and release pressure to make a jump and fly in the planet's atmosphere, then land, harvest the dry ice and make a jump again", explains Mykola Denysenko, a member of the team which created Mars Hopper. (6/1)

Tiny ‘Chipsat’ Spacecraft Set for First Flight (Source: Nature)
On 6 July, if all goes to plan, a pack of about 100 sticky-note-sized ‘chipsats’ will be launched up to the International Space Station for a landmark deployment. During a brief few days of testing, the minuscule satellites will transmit data on their energy load and orientation before they drift out of orbit and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The chipsats, flat squares that measure just 3.2 centimetres to a side and weigh about 5 grams apiece, were designed for a PhD project. Yet their upcoming test in space is a baby step for the much-publicized Breakthrough Starshot mission, an effort led by billionaire Yuri Milner to send tiny probes on an interstellar voyage. (6/1)

No comments: