Marc Boucher: May 2013 Archives

Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones, NASA

"The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket."

"... Boeing now has completed two of eight performance milestones under CCiCap and is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones around mid-2014."

Heads Up Marshall

NASA Image of the Day - Huntsville, Alabama From Space (Large view and downloads), NASA

"The ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System or ISERV - a camera aboard the International Space Station - captures an image of her hometown. ISERV was designed and built at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala."

Russians Propose Space Billiards for Planetary Defense

"The way out just might be to hit dangerous asteroids with other asteroids, Russian scientists say.

Several near-Earth asteroids can be towed into the vicinity of the planet to serve as a cache of celestial projectiles against incoming space threats, said Natan Eismont of the Space Research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.

'I was skeptical about it myself, until we actually tried to do computer modeling of the situation,' Eismont, one of the project's authors, told RIA Novosti in a recent interview."

Marc's note: Wasn't there a 1950's era movie with this plot? ;-)

NASA Education Express

"Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

NASA has taken the first steps in addressing the mandatory spending cuts called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law mandates a series of indiscriminate and significant across-the-board spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

As a result, NASA has been forced to implement a number of new cost-saving measures, policies, and reviews in order to minimize impacts to the mission-critical activities of the Agency. Guidance regarding conferences, travel, and training that reflect the new fiscal reality in which the agency must operate has been provided.

For specific guidance as it relates to public outreach and engagement activities please reference the following webpage.

Check out the following NASA opportunities for the education community. Full descriptions are listed below..."

Marc's note: Yup, education gutted, but here's a list of what's left for you.

NASA's Grail Mission Solves Mystery of Moon's Surface Gravity, NASA

"NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission has uncovered the origin of massive invisible regions that make the moon's gravity uneven, a phenomenon that affects the operations of lunar-orbiting spacecraft."

"Because of GRAIL's findings, spacecraft on missions to other celestial bodies can navigate with greater precision in the future. GRAIL's twin spacecraft studied the internal structure and composition of the moon in unprecedented detail for nine months. They pinpointed the locations of large, dense regions called mass concentrations, or mascons, which are characterized by strong gravitational pull. Mascons lurk beneath the lunar surface and cannot be seen by normal optical cameras."

Southwest Research Institute Team Calculates the Radiation Exposure with a trip to Mars, SwRI

"Energetic protons constitute about 85 percent of the primary galactic cosmic ray flux and easily traverse even the most shielded paths (reds) inside the MSL spacecraft. Heavy ions tend to break up into lighter ions in thick shielding, but can survive traversal of thin shielding (blues) intact."

The Asteroid Set to Make a Close Encounter with the Earth on Friday Has a Moon (Watch), NASA

"New radar data obtained by NASA shows Asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. The asteroid will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

The new radar data was obtained on May 29th when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. 1998 QE2 measures approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter."

Space and Art

Heaven and Earth, NASA

"There are patterns of beauty across our Earth and throughout the Universe."

Marc's note: You can watch a large version on SpaceRef's updated OnOrbit site.

Planetary Resources Embarks on First Crowdfunded Space Telescope, Planetary Resources

"Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, has launched a campaign for the world's first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers."

Planetary Resources Falls Back on Kickstarter For Funding, earlier post (2012)

"At the ISDC conference just a few weeks ago Eric Anderson from Planetary Resources was positively bragging about how much money they had."

Keith's note: It seems a little odd for a company like Planetary Resources to brag in public about its financial resources, list its billionaire investors at every given opportunity - and then hype a big announcement which was, in essence, "send us your money". Well, people have responded - in an impressive fashion. Thus far the current tally for a few hours' work is just under $150,000 - over $190,000 $235,000 $321,000 - that's more than 10% nearly 20% 25% 33% of their goal of $1,000,000.

Not bad at all - indeed its rather impressive - especially when you consider that the Golden Spike Company took 70 days to raise only $19,450 out of a planned $240,000. Planetary Resources has raised the entire sum Golden Spike originally sought - and they did so in less than 12 hours. They have 32 days left to reach their goal.

Having helped with the successful Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project and the AIA "We Are the Explorers" crowdfunding campaigns, I can suggest that the answer is simple: fire up people's imagination. Then tell them what you want to do, why it is important, explain how their contribution can help - and offer them something of value in addition to just thanking them for their money. When you get that balanced right, people will respond. However when you don't explain yourself, people won't give you much of anything. Not much of mystery there.

Oh yes - the Planetary Resources people really need to work on their media relations skills. At their first event last year they charged all invitees for their meal - all while promoting the billionaire backing they had. At today's event their webcast had no offsite media interaction (i.e. few questions) and the webcast backfired such that when there actually was a webcast the participants looked like they were doing Max Headroom impressions and sounded like they were stuttering underwater. Its not hard to do this stuff. I did it every day for several weeks from Everest Base Camp.

Space Florida Welcomes New Chair, Members of the Board, Space Florida

"Space Florida, the state's aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, has recently welcomed a new interim Board Chair and three new members to its Board of Directors.

Bill Dymond was appointed interim Chairman of the Board at the May 8, 2013 Space Florida Board of Directors meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Dymond is the president, CEO and managing partner of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., a multi-practice law firm with more than 100 attorneys, located in Orlando."

Mars is Hard

The private road to Mars, The Space Review

"Mars is hard.

That's the message that NASA and others in the space community have hammered into the public for years. It is, they argue, difficult enough to send a spacecraft to Mars, and even harder to land one there, a message clearly communicated by the "Seven Minutes of Terror" video released by NASA before the (successful) landing of the rover Curiosity last summer. Try to do the same with people--a task requiring larger spacecraft with life support systems, among other challenges--and the difficultly multiplies exponentially.

That extreme level of difficulty, and corresponding implied extreme expense, has led to the conclusion that only a government, or a coalition of governments, can send humans to Mars. It's also been a long-term goal: President George W. Bush's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration featured human missions to Mars at an unspecified date after a 2020 return to the Moon, while President Barack Obama in 2010 called for a human mission to orbit Mars in the mid-2030s and a landing to follow presumably shortly thereafter."

Soyuz TMA-09M Docks WIth ISS

"Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano docked their Soyuz to the station's Rassvet module at 10:16 p.m. this evening."

New Space Station Residents on Fast Track to Orbital Laboratory (With video), NASA

"Three new Expedition 36 crew members lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:31 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, May 28, (2:31 a.m. Kazakh time, Wednesday, May 29) on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station.""

NASA Collaborates with Google and USRA for Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, SpaceRef

"Quantum computing may be the key to solving some of the most challenging computer science problems. This is why Google in collaboration with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association today announced that they will launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab."

USAF, SpaceX Close To Agreement On Launch Certification Plan, Aviation Week

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the U.S. Air Force are "days away" from agreeing on the details of a certification plan that would enable the private company to compete for national security payload launch contracts with the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy."

NASA to Mark 40th Anniversary of Skylab and Life Off Earth

"NASA will commemorate the 40th anniversary of America's first space station Monday, May 13, with a televised roundtable discussion featuring Skylab astronauts, a current astronaut and agency managers planning future space missions."

Participants will include:

- Owen Garriott, science pilot, Skylab 3
- Gerald Carr, commander, Skylab 4
- Kevin Ford, commander, International Space Station Expedition 34
- D. Marshall Porterfield, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, NASA Headquarters
- Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA Headquarters

Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Will competing plans hurt nation's future in space?, Florida Today

"But Commercial Crew has been a tough sell, politically. Lawmakers reluctantly have provided enough money for it to limp along, but not nearly enough to meet some of the ambitious deadlines the Obama administration originally set. And they question whether aerospace companies are being given too much flexibility in developing a new vehicle to carry U.S. astronauts to the space station."

Apollo Moonwalkers Sell Right Stuff in $1 Million Space Auction, Bloomberg

"Owning something flown on the Apollo lunar missions has always been challenging. However since last September, when the U.S. house passed a resolution granting astronauts clear title to the items they carried into space, it has become a lot easier."

Auction dates: May 16 to May 23

Previous: NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items



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