August 6, 2016

VASIMR Plasma Engine Readies for Key Test (Source: Tico Times)
The VASIMR spacecraft engine that is the brainchild of Tico physicist Franklin Chang Díaz is one step closer to reality, Chang’s company Ad Astra Rocket Company reported this week. The VASIMR is scheduled in late October for a test aimed at bringing the former NASA astronaut’s engine to a technology readiness level 5, meaning it would be a step just before space flight.

Ad Astra expects the VASIMR engine to be the propulsion technology that will facilitate long-distance space travel as well as allow the transport of larger loads in a more efficient way. The stage is part of the three-year contract that Chang’s Ad Astra Rocket Company has with NASA and that this week began its second year, the company reported. (8/5)

Canadian Company Granted Second U.S. Patent for Space Elevator (Source: MarketWired)
hoth Technology Inc. has secured further patent protection for its space elevator technology. The invention, published in this week's United States Patent Gazette, describes an innovative space elevator car mounting method. "The spiral elevator mechanism allows bi-directional travel up and down a space tower," its inventor Brendan Quine said.

Thoth CEO Caroline Roberts describes the benefits of the new technology: "Access to near space is set to revolutionise the way we do business on Earth. The advantages for wind-energy generation, communications and space tourism are immense," she said. Thoth plans to construct pneumatic ThothX towers to access first 1.5 km and then 15 km above Earth within a decade. (8/5)

A NASA Engineer Needs Your Help to Make the SLS Rocket a Lego Set (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Everyone loves Legos, even structural dynamics engineers who work on the Space Launch System, NASA's newest rocket that will hopefully send astronauts on the first mission to Mars. "I see working with Lego as a fun embracement of the problem solving process," said Nicholas Mastramico, an engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "They are simple blocks and shapes, but if you use your imagination you can design almost anything with them... That's pure engineering—and with Lego you can do it at home on your kitchen table." (8/5)

Venus Could Have Been Habitable While Life Evolved on Earth (Source: New Scientist)
Nicknamed Earth’s evil twin, Venus seems like everything our planet is not: scorching hot, dried out and covered in toxic clouds. But a mere one or two billion years ago, these two wayward siblings might have been more alike. New computer simulations suggest that early Venus might have looked a lot like our home planet – and it might even have been habitable.

“It’s one of the big mysteries about Venus. How did it get so different from Earth when it seems likely to have started so similarly?” says David Grinspoon at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “The question becomes richer when you consider astrobiology, the possibility that Venus and Earth were very similar during the time of the origin of life on Earth.” (8/5)

The Next Big Thing in Space Business is Tiny Rockets (Source: Quartz)
Back in June, NASA tested a booster for the most powerful rocket it has ever tried to build, the Space Launch System (SLS). The booster alone was more than 150 feet long, producing 3.6 million pounds of force, and reaching temperatures of nearly 6,000°F during a ground test in Promontory, Utah. The whole rocket is so expensive it will probably only fly twice in the next four years, if at all.

A month later, in the Mojave Desert, a very different test took place, involving a prototype rocket just 12 feet long. Built by a small company called Vector Space, it flew just a few thousand feet in the air, successfully demonstrating 3-D printed engine parts that will plug into a full-scale version just 42 feet long, not even a third of the size of one of SLS booster.

If its designers are right, the Vector 1, as the small rocket is called, will fly hundreds of times before the SLS becomes operational, making the company a bundle along the way. The buzz in the space business isn’t always about bigger rockets and farther journeys. Today, it’s about downright small rockets, practically bespoke, and designed to go just a few hundred or thousand miles. (8/6)

Singapore Startup Creates Hybrid Rockets and 3D Printed Fuel (Source: IB Times)
A Singapore and Australian start-up is building hybrid rocket engines powered by 3D-printed fuel that could revolutionise space travel and challenge Elon Musk's SpaceX ambitions by making it much safer and cheaper to get payloads into space.

This is the brainchild of Adam Gilmour, 42, an Australian former Citibank employee who is now a space tech entrepreneur. He has pioneered the design of a 3D printer that creates 3D-printed space rocket fuel by combining two different materials.

The patent-pending prototype 3D printer was designed by a team of 15 engineers and researchers, aided by a grant from the Singapore government's National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster that helps companies to develop new capabilities in 3D printing. (8/6)

Trump Is Running Curious Outer Space Ads (Source: Advertising Age)
"Aspire to Greatness" is the lofty message seen in digital ads from the campaign spotted around the web by online ad tracking firm Moat Pro. Two intergalactic ads, one featuring an astronaut in full NASA gear including a space helmet and another with a shot of a NASA spacecraft blasting off into the cosmos, have run since late July, just in time for the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

But why space? The candidate's use of intergalactic imagery and recent hat-tips to NASA seem intended to loosely associate him with the elevated goals of U.S. space exploration, rather than any concrete promises about its future funding.

"47 years ago our nation did something that NOBODY thought we could do - we were the first to put a man on the moon. It is time to be number one, again! Believe me, as President, we will once again, Make America First Again!‪" The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the use of space imagery. (8/3)

Trump Disses Space in Florida, Ignoring Stunning Accomplishments (Source: SPACErePORT)
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump made some damning comments about the U.S. space program last week in Daytona Beach, suggesting our space leadership has been lost and our efforts are now worthy of only "third-world" status. He intended to stoke the anger of a region that suffered thousands of job losses after the Space Shuttle's retirement by NASA.

But most (if not all) of those jobs have returned as the Space Coast experiences an aerospace/defense industry renaissance. While NASA develops its new SLS and Orion spacecraft, the agency has impressed the world with missions to Mars, Pluto and Jupiter, and is working with Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, ULA, Blue Origin and other companies to develop new launch capabilities for payloads and people. In the end, Trump's comments probably did more to offend than excite U.S. space industry workers. (8/5)

NASA Exploration Focuses on Deep Space Hab Systems and Crew Health (Source:
As part of its comprehensive review to the NASA Advisory Council, the US space agency has presented its review of progress on the development of a Deep Space Habitat that will allow astronauts to perform multi-month and multi-year missions in deep space – all while guiding the agency towards its ambitious plan of landing humans on Mars by the end of the 2030s. Click here. (8/5)

Space Florida Issues Fourth Call for Israel/Florida Projects (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida and the Israel Innovation Authority (OCS) have issued a new joint call for project proposals worth $2million in R&D funding. This is the fourth year that Space Florida and the Israel Innovation Authority (OCS) are conducting the competition. In October 2013, Florida and Israel initiated an annually recurring $2 million joint program to support research, development and commercialization of aerospace and related technology projects that benefit both Israel and the State of Florida. Click here. (8/5)

Papers Invited for Embry-Riddle Space Traffic Management Conference (Source: ERAU)
The Commercial Space Operations Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announces the 3rd Space Traffic Management Conference. The conference will be held in Daytona Beach, Florida 16 - 18 November 2016 at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. We have decided to expand the conference format to include roundtable discussion as well as more traditional presentations of research and papers. Click here. (8/5)

More Hawaiians Want Observatory Than Oppose It (Source: Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
A new poll indicates strong local support for the construction of a controversial Hawaiian observatory. The poll found that 60 percent of residents of Hawaii's Big Island support development of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop the island's Mauna Kea, with 31 percent opposed. The poll, commissioned by the organization seeking to build the TMT, was similar to one it conducted last fall. Protests halted construction of the TMT last year, and a state court revoked its permit because of flaws in the permitting process. Backers of the TMT hope to resume construction of the observatory by April 2018. (8/5)

NASA-Funded Experiments Will Fly on World View Balloons (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
World View, operating from a county-owned spaceport near Tucson International Airport, will participate in two recently announced NASA-funded space experiments. One, conducted by Space Environment Technologies, will use one of World View’s “stratolite” balloons to measure the radiation environment at altitudes up to 130,000 feet. The other flight will be a test of World View’s own technology for keeping its balloons nearly stationary by raising and lowering altitude with a proprietary air-ballast system. (8/5)

Truth Test: Trump on Space, Jobs and Economy (Source: WESH)
“We will be bringing jobs back,” Donald Trump told the crowd of thousands inside Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center Wednesday. Trump was not just saying jobs in general. He was referring specifically to a conversation he had with WESH 2's Greg Fox before his appearance, in which he talked about the painful decline of space industry jobs in Central Florida when the shuttle program was scuttled.

Trump said he will "invest" in NASA. Fox: "Has the president (Obama) not served this area well in continuing the investment in our space exploration?" Trump: "Well, he's not only served it badly, he's told lies. Because he's talked about investing and it's going in the opposite direction.” It's true that twice under Obama, the NASA budget was cut, in 2012 and 2013, and in his first year in office, it was frozen.

But upon examination of the present-day funding compared to the year he was sworn in, the Truth Meter rings false on Trump’s claim. In 2010, the NASA budget was $17.8 billion. The current budget is $19.3 billion, up $1.5 billion since Obama was sworn in. Will Trump bring jobs back? Moody's Analytics compared Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton's economic plans and found Clinton's plan more favorable. In fact, CNBC reports the Moody's analysis scenario will bring a "stronger economy" under Clinton, and a "recession" with Trump. (8/5)

New NASA Game Lets Players Drive Rover Across Mars (Source: Cosmos)
To coincide with the Curiosity rover's fourth anniversary (in Earth years) on Mars, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has collaborated with GAMEE to develop the social media game Mars Rover. While Curiosity explores the red planet, gamers can join the fun by driving a rover through rough Martian terrain, challenging themselves to navigate and balance the rover while earning points along the way. The game also illustrates how NASA’s next Mars rover, in development for launch in 2020, will use radar to search for underground water. (8/5)

Mexico, Argentina Sign Space Cooperation Agreement (Source: Space Daily)
The governments of Mexico and Argentina have signed a space cooperation agreement for peaceful purposes, the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) said. The ministry said this agreement was made during Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's recent state visit to Argentina. The agreement will enable the existing links between the two countries to be strengthened while promoting the creation of new mechanisms, and supporting exchange between Argentine and Mexican research groups. (8/5)

Women Take An Astronaut Stress Test From 1959 (Source: Buzzfeed)
Project Mercury was NASA's first human spaceflight program. In 1959, seven astronauts were chosen to participate. All applicants were required to take a physical fitness test. These three women volunteered to take three parts of the test. Click here. (8/4)

No comments: