Monthly Archive for November, 2011

NASA Selects 300 SBIR, STTR Projects


NASA PR — NASA has selected 300 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for possible contract awards through the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

These competitive awards-based programs encourage U.S. small businesses and research institutions to engage in federal research, development and commercialization. The programs enable teams to explore technological potential while providing the incentive to profit from new commercial products and services.

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Made in Space Selected for NASA Contract to Develop ISS 3D Printing Capability


Made in Space tests a 3D printer in microgravity. (Credit: Made in Space)

Made in Space, Inc. has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to develop in-space 3D manufacturing capability for the International Space Station. No terms have been released, but NASA says that SBIR agreements are typically funded for six months at amounts of up to $125,000.

The 3D system, called the Additive Manufacturing Facility, “will allow for immediate repair of essential components, upgrades of existing hardware, installation of new hardware that is manufactured, and the manufacturing capability to support commercial interests. Additive manufacturing is the process of building a part layer-by-layer, with an efficient use of the material. The process leads to a reduction in cost, mass, labor and production time,” according to Made in Space’s proposal.

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Astrobotic Wins NASA Contract for Cave Exploration Rovers on Moon, Mars


ASTROBOTIC PR – PITTSBURGH, PA – NOV. 29, 2011 – NASA today selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. for a contract to develop robotic teams to explore extensive caves on Mars, the Moon, and other planetary destinations. Astrobotic will develop robots that cooperate to overcome the challenges of underground planetary missions: no light for solar power, radio communications blocked by rock, and mobility challenged by rough terrain.

Through a subcontract to Carnegie Mellon University, the research will build on multi-robot and subterranean robot research pioneered at CMU to improve capabilities and reduce risk of failure relative to single-robot missions.

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Virgin Galactic Moving to Las Cruces


Gear down. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

The New Mexico Business Weekly reports that Virgin Galactic will be moving into a new headquarters in Las Cruces in January:

Virgin Galactic will oversee its space flight business from a 2,500-square-foot office on the east side of Las Cruces.

The company, which plans to send paying tourists to space from the New Mexico Spaceport in southern New Mexico, has rented the top floor of the new Green Offices at 166 South Roadrunner Parkway, about two blocks south of the MountainView Regional Medical Center.

The office suite will serve as Virgin Galactic’s New Mexico headquarters, housing about a dozen employees to start.

Read the full story.

Study Recommends Measures to Boost Virginia’s Space Industry Competitiveness


Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

A new analysis shows that Virginia’s diverse space industry is highly competitive with those in other states, and it makes a half dozen recommendations on how the Commonwealth can improve its standing with additional government and private spending.

“The Commonwealth’s industry diversity is a major advantage in the future growth of the industry. These space assets currently align in a way that with a number of strategic financial investments, Virginia’s already robust space presence can be tailored to foster development over the coming decades,” reads the 32-page report written by the Performance Management Group @ Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Garvey Space Gets NASA Contract for Nanosat Launches


Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)

GSC PR — Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) has been awarded a contract from the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center, FL to provide a high altitude launch service for demonstration NanoSatellites. This contract consists of a single launch with potential extension at the Government’s discretion to up to four additional launches.

NASA LSP plans to evolve this capability to provide low-cost, frequent near-term flight opportunities for universities and other academic institutions who are pioneering the development of CubeSat and NanoSat-class payloads. It is anticipated that the results and experiences from these entry-level flight projects will complement and contribute to subsequent orbital missions that LSP is also responsible for under its Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) program.

To satisfy NASA’s requirement that the launch vehicle have at minimum one successful previous launch, GSC and its partner California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are providing the Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) that has already undertaken three flights since March of this year. The P-18 is the latest in a series of test vehicles that are establishing the foundation for an operational nanosat launch vehicle (NLV) capability.

“This LSP launch service leverages our team’s ongoing efforts to develop an operational nanosat launch vehicle that is dedicated to this emerging market,” remarked GSC’s CEO John Garvey. “Like the payload providers, we expect to learn a great deal and intend to apply these insights to an NLV that can take such spacecraft all the way to orbit.”

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Mars ’12 Update: Curiosity Healthy, Phobos-Grunt Not


This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface. ChemCam fires laser pulses at a target and views the resulting spark with a telescope and spectrometers to identify chemical elements. The laser is actually in an invisible infrared wavelength, but is shown here as visible red light for purposes of illustration. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has a healthy spacecraft on its way to Mars.

Engineers have received data from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory showing that all systems are operating normally. The approximately eight-month journey to Mars is underway.

MSL, aka Curiosity, was launched from Cape Canaveral on Saturday en route to an Aug. 6 landing on the Red Planet.

Meanwhile, things continue to look grim for Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, which has been stuck in low Earth orbit for three weeks.

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Awesome Video: Moon Express Lander Touches Down in Vegas…Baby!


On Tuesday November 29thm 2011, Moon Express took the main stage at the Autodesk University convention in Las Vegas to announced its selection Autodesk software to design its private missions to the Moon; unveils lunar micro-rovers and announces global design competition for lunar mining at Autodesk University.

Here is a clip of the opening sequence of that presentation – Moon Express, Vegas-style..

GLXP News: Moon Express Teams with Autodesk to Explore Lunar Surface


LAS VEGAS, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender,  announced today that it has selected Autodesk design software to develop commercial lander and robotic systems for lunar exploration.

Taking the main stage before more than 8,000 attendees at Autodesk University  2011, Edwin “EJ” Sabathia of the “Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation” (MERLIN) unveiled lunar micro-rovers designed with Autodesk software. EJ was one of eight student robotics engineers hired by Moon Express in September from a  team of the nations’ brightest engineering students. MERLIN is utilizing Autodesk design software for developing robotic technology supporting the  company’s lunar exploration missions.

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Aerojet and FTT Announce Major Next Generation Engine Milestone


SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 28, 2011 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it has successfully completed a major milestone in the development of a ground demonstrator for the Next Generation Engine (NGE) program. Aerojet, along with its partner Florida Turbine Technologies, Inc. (FTT), recently completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the turbopump assembly before an Independent Review Team comprised of third party turbomachinery experts.

“We continue to make steady progress on a modern, all-U.S. LOX/hydrogen upper stage engine which will significantly reduce U.S. launch vehicle propulsion costs and improve performance,” said Aerojet’s Vice President of Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck.

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Moon Express Rolls the Dice in Vegas….Baby!


Millions of people have sought fame and fortune in Las Vegas. To name just a few:

Bugsy Seigel. The Rat Pack. Sam “Ace” Rothstein. And, of course, the Griswolds.

Now, we can Bob Richards to the list.

What could it be? I’m hoping that they’ve upgraded their little moon rover into a manned vehicle and that Elvis has returned from his deployment fighting in the Wensyek Nwad Wars on Rigel 4 to drive it across the lunar surface to the Apollo 11 landing site. (I always believed he faked his death.)

But, that’s just me.

And it probably won’t happen. Maybe.

We’ll find out later today.

A shout out to Clark Lindsey at HobbySpace for spotting this news.

Space Review: SLS, SBSP, ExoP’s and the RPB (Red Planet Blues)


Phobos-Grunt in preparation. (Credit: Roscosmos)

This week in The Space Review….

Red Planet blues
With Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft all but dead, Russian scientists are making plans for future missions even as the president of Russia threatens prosecution for those involved with the failure. Dwayne Day examines what Russia should, and should not, do to reinvigorate its planetary exploration program.

The SLS: too expensive for exploration?
The Space Launch System, NASA’s new heavy-lift vehicle, has not met with universal acceptance since the design was formally announced in September. John Strickland argues that the SLS, as currently conceived, will be too expensive to support the exploration missions and other applications envisioned for it.

Making the case, again, for space-based solar power
Space-based solar power is a concept that has strong support from a small number of space advocates, but little attention or funding from broader audiences. Jeff Foust reports on a new study that offers optimism for the future of space solar power even as the political landscape for supporting it becomes even more challenging.

EU Code of Conduct: commentary on Indian concerns and their effects
A European Union proposal for a “Code of Conduct” for space activities has run into opposition from some countries, including India. Michael Listner discusses what Indian officials find objectionable in the code and the options for handing those concerns.

Review: Journey to the Exoplanets
The search for extrasolar planets has become one of the fastest-paced areas of astronomy, with over 700 such worlds now discovered. Jeff Foust reviews an iPad app that provides a multimedia look at some of those worlds and the science behind the search.

Exclusive Video: Robert Bigelow Talks China, ITAR and U.S. Space Leadership


Here are parts 1 and 2 of an interview that Robert Bigelow gave to reporters during the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, NM. Bigelow had just given an address to the conference in which he warned that China could claim the moon in the early 2020s and urged American leaders to renew their commitment to leadership in space.

Look for the third part of the interview later this week.

The Space Show Schedule


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston….

1. Monday, Nov. 28, 2011: 2-3:30 PM PST We welcome Matthew Kleiman, Atty, re his Space Review article, “Protecting Apollo artifacts on the Moon.” See

2. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, , 7-8:30 PM PST: We welcome Dave Reneke from Australia to the show. David Reneke, one of Australia’s most well known and respected amateur astronomers and lecturers, has over 40 years experience in astronomy with links to some of the world’s leading astronomical institutions. David is the Editor for Australia’s Astro-Space News Magazine, past news editor of Sky & Space Magazine and is now affiliated as a writer and publicist for the prestigious Australasian Science magazine.

3. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, 2-3:30 PM PST: We welcome back Dr. Jeff Bell on many current topics for discussion. Note that this program, while broadcast live, will archive on Dec. 9, 2011.

4. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011: 9:30-11:30 AM PST: We welcome Dr. James Huges, author of “Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future.” We will apply this to long duration space flight. Note that this program will be broadcast live but not archived until Dec. 18, 2011.

5. Friday, Dec. 2, 2011: 9:30-11AM PST: We welcome back Dr. Roger Launius, noted space historian and of the Smithsonian Institution to the show.

6. Sunday, Dec.4, 2011: 12-1:30 PM PST: We welcome Dr. Bob Lancaster to the show regarding leadership ideas for space advocacy.

Brazil, Ukraine to Boost Cooperation in Space, Technology and Defense


Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Mercadante with Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. (Credit: Office of the Ukraine Prime Minister)

McTier PR:Brazil and Ukraine have decided to deepen the strategic partnership and strengthen cooperation in the spheres of space and military science. This was discussed at the meeting of the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in Brazil, Mercadante, with Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov.

Mercadante said the strategic cooperation in the space between the countries and expressed interest in signing the relevant contracts for 20-30 years with the possibility of private sector involvement.

In particular, he noted the prospects for bilateral cooperation in the Cyclone-4 project.

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