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Where's the Ozone Damaging Carbon Tetrachloride Coming From?

By Marc Boucher on August 20, 2014 2:56 PM.

Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists, NASA Research Shows [With Video], NASA

"NASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide."

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Cygnus "Speeding" Away From the ISS

By Marc Boucher on August 20, 2014 2:47 PM.

Timelapse Video of Cygnus Release from the Space Station, ESA

"This video shows a timelapse of the Orbital Science's Cygnus Orb-2 spacecraft departing from the International Space Station on 15 August 2014."

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SpaceX Reportedly Attracts Another $200 Million in Investment (Update)

By Marc Boucher on August 20, 2014 8:29 AM.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Raising Money At A Valuation Approaching $10B, TechCrunch

Space Exploration Technologies, the commercial space transportation startup founded by Elon Musk with ambitions to land people on Mars, is raising investment that values the company somewhere south of $10 billion, TechCrunch has learned.

Musk's SpaceX Denies Blog Report of Capital Raising Plan, Bloomberg Business Week

"SpaceX is not currently raising any funding nor has any external valuation of that magnitude or higher been done," John Taylor, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. "The source in this [TechCrunch] report is mistaken."

Marc's note: It should be noted SpaceX did not refute the original story by Quartz in April where Quartz said SpaceX was close to closing a round of funding at that time.

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Russian Scientists Claim That Algae Lives On ISS Exterior - In Space

By Keith Cowing on August 19, 2014 8:07 PM.

Sea creatures are discovered living on the exterior of the ISS, Daily Mail

"Traces of plankton and other microorganisms have been found living on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), according to Russian space officials. They claim the plankton were not carried there at launch - but are thought to have been blown there by air currents on Earth. Incredibly, the tiny organisms were found to be able to survive in the vacuum of space despite the freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and cosmic radiation. The discovery was made during a routine spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Olek Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov, who were launching nanosatellites into space.
They used wipes to polish the surface of windows - also known as illuminators - on the Russian segment of the ISS and later found the presence of plankton and other microorganisms using 'high-precision equipment'.

Keith's note: I'm certain that were I to ask CASIS or the ISS National Laboratory folks for a peer-reviewed publication for these results that they'd be more than happy to comply, right? And if this news story is not true, I should expect an equally swift statement to that effect, right? Astrobiologists ought to be jumping up and down about this - if it is true, that is.

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Northrop Grumman XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane

By Marc Boucher on August 19, 2014 5:16 PM.

Northrop Grumman Developing XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane Design for DARPA

"Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic is developing a preliminary design and flight demonstration plan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 program.

XS-1 has a reusable booster that when coupled with an expendable upper stage provides affordable, available and responsive space lift for 3,000-pound class spacecraft into low Earth orbit. Reusable boosters with aircraft-like operations provide a breakthrough in space lift costs for this payload class, enabling new generations of lower cost, innovative and more resilient spacecraft."

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CCtCAP Commercial Crew Announcement - Soon?

By Keith Cowing on August 18, 2014 4:38 PM.

CCtCAP Commercial Crew Announcement Expected Soon, SpacePolicyOnline

"NASA declined today (August 18) to confirm rumors that it will announce the winner(s) of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCAP) contract by the end of the month, but anticipation is mounting. Whenever it happens, it will be a major step forward for the commercial crew program and achieving the oft-stated goal of restoring America's ability to launch American astronauts into space on American rockets from American soil. A NASA spokesman replied to an email query this morning by saying only that NASA still expects to make an announcement in the late-August, early-September time frame, as it has been saying for months. NASA officials are not allowed to discuss the selection process before announcing the award(s), even to say who submitted bids. Expectations are that at least the three companies being funded under the current phase of the program - Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) - did so."

- Who Will Win the Next Round for the Commercial Crew Program?, Earlier Post
- SpaceX Hater Article Disappears From Forbes Website, Earlier Post

NASA Closes On Commercial Crew Selection, Aviation Week

"Almost five years after beginning its search for a U.S.-developed spacecraft to carry humans into orbit, NASA is poised to award at least one contract to its industry partners in the Commercial Crew Program."

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The Future of Earth Observation

By Marc Boucher on August 18, 2014 11:17 AM.

Use of Space-Based Earth Remote Sensing Data In Support of Scientific and Societal Needs - AIAA Space 2014, SpaceRef [Watch]

"In this session, representatives of agencies, organizations, and communities that make use of space-based remote sensing data in support of scientific and societal needs will discuss those uses, including both those now carried out using existing data, as well as potential future uses based on the data that are anticipated to become available in the future. Uses will cover topics such as operational forecasting/prediction, resource management, policy development, scientific assessment, and commercial product development."

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SpaceX Hater Article Disappears From Forbes Website

By Keith Cowing on August 17, 2014 7:39 PM.

When SpaceX Falters, Washington Looks The Other Way (From Forbes) Loren Thompson at Lexington Institute

"Space Exploration Technologies Corporation -- SpaceX -- has won broad support in Washington by offering a low-cost, innovative alternative to traditional launch providers for lofting satellites into orbit.  However, the company is struggling to meet commitments to its government customer, and eventually that may tarnish its image. ... I have written a commentary for Forbes here."

Keith's note: The Forbes article that Thompson refers to at Forbes is no longer online. Several websites have apparently reprinted the article such as this one [update - now removed]. Hmmm why did Forbes pull this article offline? Could it be that the article was ... inaccurate?

The curious case of a deleted Forbes.com commentary on SpaceX, Space Politics

"SpaceX is no stranger to both strong support and harsh criticism of its activities, particularly in political circles. Last month, for example, three members of the House of Representatives asked NASA for details on an "epidemic of anomalies" they claimed the company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have experienced. But the company's decision early this month to establish a commercial launch site near Brownsville, Texas, generated praise from various officials, including US Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)."

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The Space Industrial Revolution?

By Marc Boucher on August 17, 2014 10:58 AM.

Emerging Space: The Next Industrial Revolution - AIAA Space 2014, SpaceRef Business [Video]

"At this years AIAA Space 2014 conference a panel of experts from industry and government discussed Emerging Space: The Next Industrial Revolution.

The availability of the International Space Station and the corresponding improved access to and from LEO has ushered in the start of a new entrepreneurial renaissance. In addition there are companies exploring revolutionary approaches to Earth observation, space manufacturing, and resource utilization of the lunar and asteroidal material. This panel will explore the broad sweep of possible applications as well as looking at how these companies could combine to form a new commercial space ecosystem."

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How NOT To Treat The Media

By Keith Cowing on August 14, 2014 8:06 PM.

Failed Intercept Attempt in Huntsville: Conference Bungles Press at SMD 2014, Aviation Week

"In the next session, with USNORTHCOM chief Adm. Charles Jacoby, Stewart approached the three of us media and said she'd heard we were taking pictures of the presentations and slides. This is not allowed, she said, and she would have officers compel us to remove these files from our phones. The three of us noted her concerns but declined; she eventually walked away. Anticipating a phone show down, I tweeted the slides."

'Ham-handed' treatment of national media at Huntsville Space and Missile Defense conference sends a bad message: opinion, Huntsville Times

"During his presentation to the full room of SMD attendees, [Vice Admiral James Syring, Director of the Missile Defense Agency] showed a series of slides detailing work done by MDA. Using slides is a common procedure at such conferences and it's typical for reporters and others to take pictures and post the slides to social media or use them for future reference when writing about the presentation. At the bottom of Syring's slides were the words "Approved for Public Release." [Amy Butler senior Pentagon editor for Aviation Week] started tweeting images of 12 slides in succession. At the bottom of Syring's slides were the words "Approved for Public Release." Butler started tweeting images of 12 slides in succession. That's when things took a turn for the worse."

Essay: Censorship, Police Intimidation at Missile Defense Conference, Defense News

"Reporters and even patrons were sternly warned by on-site security not to take photos anywhere in the Von Braun Center, even though there was no mention of such a policy in writing, on signs or on the conference website. During Syring's speech, a number of reporters tweeted pictures of his briefing slides that contained historical information about US missile defense tests conducted over the past 20 years. The slides were marked "Approved for Public Release."

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SpaceX Chase Plane Video of Falcon 9 First Stage "Soft" Landing

By Marc Boucher on August 14, 2014 6:53 PM.

SpaceX Releases Falcon 9 First Stage Reentry Footage from Chase Plane, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has released a video from the July 14th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying six ORBCOM satellites showing the first stage reentry from a chase plane."

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New Bigelow Video Released

By Marc Boucher on August 14, 2014 10:06 AM.

Bigelow Aerospace Releases BEAM Promotional Video, SpaceRef Business

"Bigelow Aerospace has released a promotional video on their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). It runs six and a half minutes and includes new footage."

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Big Union Vote at NASA HQ

By Keith Cowing on August 13, 2014 2:26 PM.

300+ Workers at NASA's Washington Headquarters Vote to Form a Union, IFPTE

"This successful vote will allow us to work with management to improve working conditions for NASA support and administrative staff here at NASA headquarters, thereby improving operations, saving money, and retaining an engaged and professional workforce," said Tifarah Thomas, a program specialist within NASA's Office of the Chief Health & Medical Officer. Professional support specialists at NASA headquarters include budget analysts, policy analysts, administrative specialists, secretaries, and others."

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Panel Discussion - Building Blocks to Mars

By Marc Boucher on August 13, 2014 8:21 AM.

Building Blocks to Mars - AIAA Space 2014, SpaceRef Business

"At this years AIAA Space 2014 conference a panel of experts from NASA and industry discussed the building blocks of to Mars.

The panel discussion: The first step on a path of exploration that will lead to human landings on Mars will be taken in the coming months with the Exploration Flight Test 1 of Orion on a Delta IV Heavy rocket. After that, Orion and Space Launch System will begin a series of exploration missions that will lead to human journeys to Mars. As a capabilities-driven framework, these systems will enable a variety of potential paths to the Red Planet."

Marc's note: The panel discussed the "current" NASA approach. Politics, the private sector, other efforts outside the U.S. were not part of the discussion.

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JSC Does Whatever Warp Drive Stuff It Wants to Because Why Not

By Keith Cowing on August 12, 2014 8:31 PM.

Keith's note: If Harold White's warp drive research is so exciting why won't NASA openly talk about it? Why aren't REAL experts in the field raving about it? It would be entertaining (and no doubt embarrassing) to watch Harold White explain his warp drive technobabble to actual experts in the field. But we won't see White and his warp drive research in a regular scientific forum any time soon. NASA JSC is afraid to let this happen - and NASA HQ is afraid to push JSC on this issue. When the movie "Interstellar" comes out NASA is going to have to say *something* about the warp drive research they have been funding with everyone's tax dollars. If they don't say something then people are going to ask why.

White spoke at NASA Ames today. A video of this presentation is supposed to be posted on YouTube "in a month" according to ARC. The sooner that White's warp drive presentation is posted for all to hear, the sooner NASA can either endorse White's research - or not endorse it.

- JSC's Warp Drive: Fact or Fluff?, earlier post
- JSC's Strange Thruster Violates The Laws of Physics, earlier post
- JSC is Still Silent When It Comes To Their Space Drive, earlier post

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Timelapse Video of Cygnus Release from the Space Station

Timelapse Video of Cygnus Release from the Space Station Video in Story

This video shows a timelapse of the Orbital Science's Cygnus Orb-2 spacecraft departing from the International Space Station on 15 August 2014.

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