July 19, 2016

Project PoSSUM Graduates 13 Scientist-Astronaut Candidates Trained at Embry-Riddle (Source: ERAU)
Project PoSSUM, a non-profit research program devoted to the study of Earth’s upper atmosphere, has graduated 13 new Scientist-Astronaut candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1601.The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut program, designed by former NASA astronaut instructors and hosted by Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach Campus, gives its candidates the skills to effectively conduct research on commercial space vehicles as part of an international research campaign dedicated to the study of our global climate.

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, uses commercial suborbital spacecraft and high-altitude balloons to study rare “space clouds” called noctilucent clouds. These elusive clouds can help scientists address critical questions about Earth’s climate, but can only be studied in the upper atmosphere from polar latitudes during a small window of time in the summer. (7/18)

2 Newfound Alien Planets May Be Capable of Supporting Life (Source: Space.com)
NASA's Kepler space telescope has spotted four possibly rocky alien planets orbiting the same star, and two of these newfound worlds might be capable of supporting life. The four exoplanets circle a red dwarf — a star smaller and dimmer than the sun — called K2-72, which lies 181 light-years from Earth in the Aquarius constellation.

All four worlds are between 20 percent and 50 percent wider than Earth, making them good candidates to be rocky, discovery team members said. Two of the four planets, known as K2-72c and K2-72e, appear to be in the star's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances at which liquid water can exist on a world's surface, the scientists added. (7/18)

UCF Students Design NASA Firing Room Desks (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Someday, years from now, UCF student Sylvia DiPaulo may look at a photograph snapped during a NASA launch and see her legacy. With her University of Central Florida classmates, DiPaulo helped design a working space for NASA engineers in the agency's firing room, the area where launches are orchestrated at the Kennedy Space Center.

On Monday, DiPaulo and the team presented their finished prototype in front of engineering faculty members and Dan Tran, a NASA IT project manager. Their design included a desk with a rocking footrest to keep workers moving when they are stuck in the room during long, stressful days, and three touch-screen, adjustable computer screens. (7/18)

UCF and The Next Space Frontier: Making the Case for Mars (Source: UCF)
Many feared the United States’ role in space exploration was over after an accident took the lives of a second space shuttle crew in 2003. After another long grounding of the shuttle fleet, flights restarted briefly but by 2011 the program was retired and no manned missions were on the horizon. Prospects were dim.

But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The pioneering American spirit soon ignited. University of Central Florida researchers are working on a variety of current and future projects that will help get us to the red planet, including OSIRIS-REx. Many projects include the idea of turning asteroids into refueling stations that spacecraft on long trips could use. UCF is in the thick of making a trip to Mars a reality. (7/18)

NASA, Industry Boost Opportunities for Small Businesses with Mentor-Protégé Agreement (Source: NASA)
NASA and Boeing will announce a Small Business Mentor-Protégé Program agreement Tuesday, July 26, at Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The NASA Mentor-Protégé Program provides a platform for large companies, such as Boeing, to assist eligible small businesses with strengthening business and technical capabilities in order to successfully compete for larger, more complex prime contract and subcontract awards. Click here. (7/18)

COSPAR Cancels Space Science Conference After Turkish Coup Attempt (Source: Space News)
Organizers of a major space conference that was set to start in less than two weeks in Istanbul said July 18 they were cancelling the event after an attempted coup of the Turkish government by its military. The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) has planned to open its biannual Scientific Assembly on July 30 in Istanbul, but said a July 15 coup attempt and resulting instability in the government now made the event infeasible. (7/18)

Blue Origin and SpaceX Vets Raise Cash for Relativity Space (Source: GeekWire)
Two engineers with experience at Blue Origin and SpaceX have raised almost $10 million for their own rocket startup, Relativity Space, which promises to build orbital rockets “with zero human labor.” The funding rounds are described in two documents filed in May and this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The first filing reports that $1.1 million in equity was sold to investors. The second filing serves as a new notice of $8.4 million in equity sold, out of a $9.6 million offering. The filings indicate that Relativity Space is based in Seattle, but in response to an email inquiry, the company declined to say anything further about its location, its business plan or its investors. “We are entirely in stealth mode and will comment more when we are ready,” the company said. (7/18)

Boeing Plans Challenge Bezos and Musk’s Race to Mars (Source: Bidness Etc)
Boeing kicked off its hundredth year of existence yesterday, unveiling plans of moving towards supersonic commercial planes and rockets with the ability to take humans to Mars and other planets. Although the possibility for humans to go to Mars may still be decades away, the Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg said "I'm anticipating that person will be riding on a Boeing rocket.” Following its announcement, shares of the company are trading up 0.64% at $ 132.39 yesterday.

SpaceX Seeks Approval for Two Additional Landing Pads on Space Coast (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
“SpaceX expects to fly Falcon Heavy for the first time later this year,” the company said in a statement responding to questions. “We are also seeking regulatory approval to build two additional landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. We hope to recover all three Falcon Heavy rockets, though initially we may attempt drone ship landings” at sea. (7/18)

SpaceX Breaks Two Records with Latest Mission (Source: Quartz)
With its ninth mission to the International Space Station (ISS) today (July 18), SpaceX has reached two significant milestones. It returned an orbital rocket booster to a Cape Canaveral, Florida landing pad for the second time. And it eclipsed its own record for most rockets launched in a year, making seven successful missions in 2016 so far. Click here. (7/18)

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