October 30, 2016

Aeromod Moves Aerospace Jobs From Michigan to Florida's Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
AeroMod International announced Thursday at its Melbourne headquarters the addition of 150 new jobs at the current facility, which will be expanding over the next year in hope of adding more than 100 more. The growth for AeroMod International — a company that specializes in aircraft modifications, electronics and repairs — comes just over six months after the company moved its headquarters from the Detroit area to the Orlando Melbourne International Airport in April.

It offered another sign that the Melbourne airport is cementing its spot as an aviation sector hub. Embraer recently announced that they've delivered their 700th Phenom executive jet, which is manufactured in Melbourne. The jet was delivered to NetJets, a company that sells shares in private jets .

Aviation infrastructure at the airport is growing outside of the business sector, too.  Eastern Florida State College recently began its aviation maintenance technology program there, where students can earn certificates in two different specialties: aviation airframe mechanics and aviation powerplant mechanics. During the certification process, half of a student's time is spent in a traditional classroom setting while the other half is spent in the aviation shop learning hand-on skills. (10/27)

Infographic: Mining Asteroids (Source: WIRED)
Check out this WIRED infographic describing where to mine asteroids to get the deep-space dollars. It shows the potential for big money in asteroid mining. Click here. (10/29)

Infographic: NASA's Future Milesones (Source: NASA)
Check out this NASA infographic describing the agency's anticipated milestones in space exploration, aeronautics, and space science through 2021. Click here. (10/30)

Colonizing Mars is a Herculean But Necessary Endeavor (Source: Gulf News)
Mars seems to be on the news everyday now. Two weeks ago, US President Obama announced that America will go to Mars sometime in the 2030s; Elon Musk unveiled new designs of a big rocket-craft that could take 100 people on each trip to the red planet, while his company, SpaceX, was successfully testing reusable rockets, which could cut launch costs by a factor of 100.

The idea of people going to Mars that has taken off lately. People loved The Martian so much that NASA received some 20,000 applications from people volunteering to go to Mars. Elon Musk said that he himself dreams of dying on Mars (though hopefully not in a crash) and told potential volunteers to accept the possibility of dying on the ‘Red Planet’, either on arrival or shortly thereafter.

To me the question is not why but how to go to Mars safely and soundly. I would hope that an international collaboration (the United States and China, and perhaps India, and why not the UAE?) and the public and private sectors (NASA and SpaceX and others) can pool together the financial, human, and technical resources and minimize efforts and times. I just hope to be alive when we walk a few “small steps” on Mars. Click here. (10/30)

Bezos Dismisses Idea of a Backup Plan, Says We Must Protect Earth (Source: Ars Technica)
Bezos' philosophy differs significantly from the other titan of the new space industry, Elon Musk of SpaceX. Both men agree that reusable spaceflight is essential to lowering the cost of access to space, but they disagree about what to do once we get there. Musk has spoken openly of providing humanity with a "backup plan," and recently revealed his ultra-ambitious plans to colonize Mars with 100 passengers at a time via his Interplanetary Transport System.

Bezos dismissed this approach on Oct. 22, during the Pathfinder Awards at the Seattle Museum of Flight. In remarks first shared by GeekWire, Bezos said Earth should be zoned as a residential area. "I don't like the Plan B idea that we want to go into space so we have a backup planet," he said, noting NASA's efforts to send probes throughout the solar system. "Believe me, this is the best planet. There is no doubt this is the one you want to protect. This is the jewel. We evolved here, we're kind of made for this planet. It's gorgeous, and we can use space to protect it."

Humanity has two futures, Bezos said. It can continue to grow, or it can settle into some kind of population equilibrium. As an example of the planet's limitations he offered energy as an example. Taking the baseline energy use on Earth, and compounding it at 3 percent for 500 years, would require covering the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells to meet the demand by the year 2500. "We need to go into space if we want grow as a species," he said. "Another route would be just to face stasis, but I don't think that's as interesting. I don't think we want to just survive on this planet, I think we want to thrive and do amazing things." (10/30)

Amateur Radio Enthusiast Bounces Signals Off the Moon with Balcony Antenna (Source: Hobby Space)
The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) recently sponsored the “Moon bounce” EME Contest in which contestants demonstrate “Two-way communications via the earth-moon-earth [EME] path on any authorized amateur frequency above 50 MHz”. One entrant did his Moon bouncing from his balcony. Click here. (10/30)

U.S. Raises Concerns Over SpaceX Texas Launch Site Near Gas Projects (Source: Bloomberg)
A U.S. agency is looking into the impact that a failed rocket launch at billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX site in Texas may have on a set of natural gas export terminals developers want to build nearby. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has asked the companies proposing to run liquefied natural gas plants along the coast of Texas to hire experts that can weigh in on how a failed rocket launch at the SpaceX site in Boca Chica Village could affect LNG operations and shipping. They have 90 days to respond, letters filed by the commission show.

The federal inquiry follows a Sept. 1 fireball that destroyed one of SpaceX’s rockets on a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company’s working to send rockets to space from the same area along the Texas coast that LNG shippers are hoping to use to send shale gas overseas. There are “possible siting concerns posed from potential failed rocket launches,” the energy regulatory commission said in letters to the developers this week. “We have determined that more information" is necessary, it said. (10/28)

Soyuz Space Capsule Lands Safely with Crew of 3 (Source: Space.com)
Three space travelers are safely back on Earth after a 115-day stay on the International Space Station. Returning on a Russian Soyuz space capsule, U.S. astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi landed near Kazakhstan at 9:58 a.m. local time on Oct. 30. (10/30)

NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid (Source: NPR)
A large space rock is going to come fairly close to Earth later tonight. Fortunately, it's not going to hit Earth, something astronomers are sure of thanks in part to a new tool NASA is developing for detecting potentially dangerous asteroids.

The tool is a computer program called Scout, and it's being tested at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Think of Scout as a celestial intruder alert system. It's constantly scanning data from telescopes to see if there are any reports of so-called Near Earth Objects. If it finds one, it makes a quick calculation of whether Earth is at risk, and instructs other telescopes to make follow-up observations to see if any risk is real.

NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. "The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night," says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL. But then the trick is to figure out which new objects might hit Earth. (10/30)

Inside the Quest for a Real ‘Star Trek’ Warp Drive (Source: National Geographic)
Within the Star Trek universe, traveling across the galaxy is a breeze thanks to the famed warp drive. This fictional technology allows humans and other civilizations to zoom between star systems in days rather than centuries. Such rapid travel times are impossible in the real world, because our best theory for the way the universe works, Einstein’s special relativity, says that nothing moves faster than the speed of light.

While current rocket propulsion systems are bound by this law, plenty of hopeful engineers and physicists are working on concepts that might bring us a step closer to Star Trek’s vision of racing across the cosmos. Click here. (10/29)

A Spacefaring Nation on a Scientific Mission to Mars (Source: Herald Scotland)
Mars, the red planet: it has been the subject of countless science-fictions films, theories about alien life and madcap scientific proposals, and long before man ever stepped foot on the moon, we were obsessed with the idea of reaching our nearest planetary neighbor. However, almost 50 years on, our dream of landing on the red planet is still just that – a dream ... but that could all be about to change. Advances in technology have started to remove some of the barriers to a human expedition to Mars, allowing a handful of entrepreneurs to turn their minds and their money to space exploration.

One proposed mission, Mars One, plans to send volunteers to the planet on a one-way trip, while SpaceX CEO and business magnate Elon Musk has set out his plans for the colonisation of Mars, allowing people to travel back and forth from Earth. Nasa have also put a project in place for a colony on the planet by the 2030s. But with so many unknowns, and a recent Mars mission ending in disaster when a probe crash landed on the planet's surface, just how close are we to getting there – and are we really prepared for life on another planet? Click here. (10/29)

Where Does Jeff Bezos Foresee Putting Space Colonists? Inside O’Neill Cylinders (Source: GeekWire)
SpaceX’s Elon Musk wants to settle humans on Mars. Others talk about a Moon Village. But Seattle billionaire Jeff Bezos has a different kind of off-Earth home in mind when he talks about having millions of people living and working in space. His long-range vision focuses on a decades-old concept for huge artificial habitats that are best known today as O’Neill cylinders.

The concept was laid out in 1976 in a classic book by physicist Gerard O’Neill, titled “The High Frontier.” The idea is to create cylinder-shaped structures in outer space, and give them enough of a spin that residents on the inner surface of the cylinder could live their lives in Earth-style gravity. The habitat’s interior would be illuminated either by reflected sunlight or sunlike artificial light. Click here. (10/29)

Virgin Galactic Set to Begin SpaceShipTwo Glide Flights (Source: Space News)
Virgin Galactic is planning to begin glide flight tests of its second SpaceShipTwo next Tuesday, almost exactly two years after a fatal test flight of its first suborbital spaceplane. Virgin Galactic test pilot CJ Sturckow said the company has scheduled the first glide flight of the vehicle, named VSS Unity, on Nov. 1. That flight would come after a single “captive carry” test flight of the vehicle in September, when the vehicle remained attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft for its entire flight. (10/29)

Aerospace Firm Expands to Pensacola, Bringing 400 Jobs (Source: Gov. Scott)
Governor Rick Scott joined state and local officials at the groundbreaking of VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering’s new hangar at the Pensacola International Airport. This brand new maintenance and engineering facility will add 400 new job opportunities for local families. VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering plans to build the 173,000 square foot facility which will sit on approximately 19 acres of property at the airport.

Design and construction of this project is being made possible through a combination of funds from the State of Florida/Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, and the Industry Recruitment, Retention and Expansion Fund. FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “The Florida Department of Transportation is proud to provide $23.8 million in grants to the airport and work with all of its partners to make this vital project a reality in Pensacola. (10/28)

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