August 29, 2016

A Tech Agenda For the Next U.S. President (Source: Aviation Week)
This is your aerospace technology agenda, President (fill in the blank). Follow it, and the U.S. will stay ahead of its adversaries and competitors, air travel will stay affordable and profitable, and the industry will continue to win exports and create jobs. Click here. (8/29)

Abner, Heard, Ray and Spence to Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) will present its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Awards to Charles Abner, Marshall Heard, Gary Ray and Michael Spence. They will be recognized for their distinguished roles in the space community at the September 13, monthly luncheon meeting. 1st LT S. Kyle Futch, 5th Space Launch Squadron, 45th Space Wing will also be recognized as the 2016 Rising Star Honoree. The event will be held at the Radisson at the Port, Cape Canaveral, at 11:30 am. (8/29)

Russian 'Starshot' Billionaire May Switch Destination to Proxima B (Source: Science Alert)
Back in April, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner pledged $100 million toward a crazy plan to visit another star system. The mission - Breakthrough Starshot - aims to get this done by propelling teeny, tiny spaceships to 20 percent the speed of light with powerful lasers.

Milner and famed physicist Stephen Hawking initially said their destination would be Alpha Centauri: a star system located some 4.37 light-years (25.7 trillion miles) away from Earth. But the groundbreaking discovery of a nearby planet could switch things up for Starshot. Astronomers on Wednesday announced they’d discovered an Earth-like and potentially habitable world, called Proxima b, circling Proxima Centauri - a red dwarf star that’s about a trillion miles closer than Alpha Centauri.

"The discovery ... provides an obvious target for a flyby mission," wrote Avi Loeb, a physicist at Harvard University and a Starshot mission advisory committee chair. "A spacecraft equipped with a camera and various filters could take colour images of the planet and infer whether it is green (harbouring life as we know it), blue (with water oceans on its surface) or just brown (dry rock)." (8/26)

Juno Completes First Jupiter Orbit (Source: CBS)
NASA's Juno spacecraft completed its first orbit of Jupiter with a close flyby of the planet Saturday. Juno passed 4,200 kilometers above the planet's cloud tops on closest approach Saturday at 9:44 a.m. Eastern. The spacecraft operated as planned during the flyby, project officials said. The flyby marked the end of Juno's first orbit after arriving at the planet July 4, and is also the closest the spacecraft will get to the planet during its prime mission. A maneuver on its next flyby in October will put the spacecraft into a 14-day orbit for the main phase of the mission. (8/28)

India Tests Scramjet Engine (Source: PTI)
India's space agency ISRO successfully tested a scramjet engine Sunday. A sounding rocket lifted off early Sunday and accelerated the experimental scramjet to supersonic speeds, allowing the engine to operate for five seconds on the brief suborbital flight. ISRO declared the test a key milestone in its long-term efforts to develop air-breathing propulsion systems for use on future reusable launch vehicles. (8/28)

New Test Finds No Damp Soil at Mars’ Seasonal Dark Streaks (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
A new study using data collected by NASA's Mars Odyssey mission indicates that there is little water to be found in seasonal dark streaks on Mars. The dark streaks, known as recurring slope lineae or RSL, have been a hot topic in planetary exploration since they were first discovered in 2011.

The new study uses ground temperature data collected by Mars Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). While these findings do not contradict previous studies that identified the presence 0f hydrated salts at these flows, the temperature measurements identify an upper limit for how much water is present at these darkened streaks: about as much as in the sands of Earth’s driest deserts. (8/29)

Despite Setbacks, FIU Students’ Satellite Destined for Space (Source: FIU News)
A team of mechanical engineering students designed and created a satellite that won a NASA-sponsored competition, and as a result, will launch into space in about two years. But the journey to the great beyond, once complete, would have taken nearly a decade to realize.

Pradeep Shinde, a doctoral student at the College of Engineering and Computing, has been reaching for the stars since 2009. Back then, while working toward his master’s degree at FIU, Shinde was part of the first team of students who created the first generation of a CubeSat to compete in the FUNSAT Design Competition. FUNSAT, which stands for Florida University SATellite, challenges students to design an actual system in the first year, and complete flight model construction in the second year as part of the contest.

The competition is sponsored by the Florida Space Consortium, a NASA-sponsored program administered by the University of Central Florida and the Florida Space Institute. Its main goals are to promote an interdisciplinary project for systems engineering; support a test-bed for advanced technologies; and promote career development for Florida students in the aerospace field. (8/25)

New Weather Satellite is a Game Changer — If it Can Survive the Journey to Launch (Source: Washington Post)
The lid on a white, RV-size box is lifted off with painstaking care to prevent damaging the multimillion-dollar, next-generation weather satellite housed inside. Two dozen engineers and technicians in white jumpsuits surround the container in a 10-story airlock. I watch as the specialists execute their specific jobs. One controls the crane that raises the lid inch-by-inch; another is carrying a molecular air sampler. Two attach ropes to the lid to guide it.

They are meticulous. Any disturbance — a misplaced step, exposure to the wrong air molecules, an uncontrollable sneeze — has the potential to leave the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter, without critical weather observations that save lives. If it successfully launches in November, the NOAA satellite will monitor things like hurricanes and blizzards from space with higher resolution than any other U.S. satellite of its kind. It will be a game-changer for weather forecasting. Click here. (8/25)

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