Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Singularity University Fires Up Synbio Startup Launchpad

Comments


An update on the Singularity University’s synthetic biology effort via the Singularity Hub:

Synthetic biology is poised to become one of the big technologies of the 21st Century – a game changing area of science that could alter everything we know about health, energy, and humanity. But if the synthetic biology revolution ever wants to get off the ground, it’s going to need a new wave of entrepreneurs to develop companies and establish the [infrastructure] and industry. Singularity University is looking for those entrepreneurs…and it’s going to help them succeed.  The Synbio Startup Launchpad is SU’s latest effort to empower the next generation of business leaders with the disruptive influence of accelerating technologies. Using software incubators as a model, the Synbio Startup Launchpad will give top tier startups up to $50k in funds, supplies, and lab services. [...]

Continue reading ‘Singularity University Fires Up Synbio Startup Launchpad’

Ukraine Celebrates 50 Years in Space

Comments

Ukraine recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first satellite launch into space. On March 16, 1962, the Cosmos-2 rocket lifted off with the Cosmos-1 satellite aboard. Both the rocket and the spacecraft were developed by the Ukrainian-based Special Design Office 586 (OKB 586), now known as Yuzhnoye SDO.

In addition to the Cosmos family of rockets, Yuzhnoye’s other launch vehicles include the Zenit rockets flown by Land Launch and Sea Launch, the Dnepr ballistic missiles used to launch small satellites, the Cyclone-4 boosters set to make begin flights out of Alcantara in Brazil next year, and the first stage tanks and structure for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s new Antares rocket that will lift off from Virginia later this year. The company also provides an upper stage for Europe’s new Vega launcher.

Ukraine’s contributions to space are often overlooked, and this anniversary went largely unnoticed outside of that nation. So,  I thought it would be nice to give the Ukrainians their due. I found an account of the launch prepared by the good folks at the Yuzhnoye press office. It begins after the break.

Continue reading ‘Ukraine Celebrates 50 Years in Space’

NASA, Partners Solicit Creative Waste-Management Solutions

Comments

Tony Soprano and his family know a few things about waste management and disposing of unwanted....uh, how can we say this delicate like?...stuff. Maybe they will enter NASA's latest challenge. (Credit: HBO)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department and Nike today announced a challenge to identify 10 game-changing innovations that could transform waste-management systems and practices. Waste management is important for planning long-duration human spaceflight missions to an asteroid, Mars or beyond.
Continue reading ‘NASA, Partners Solicit Creative Waste-Management Solutions’

NMSA Approves $7 Million Runway Extension at Spaceport America

Comments

Spaceport America's runway under construction
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has approved a $7 million extension to the runway at Spaceport America to accommodate safety and all-season flying concerns raised by Virgin Galactic.  The runway will be extended from 10,000 to 12,000 feet.

NMSA Chairman Rick Holdridge said Virgin Galactic originally wanted a 15,000-foot runway, but the state decided it couldn’t afford it under the original $209 million budget. So, a 10,000-foot runway was built with a provision that the state pay for extending it if necessary.

Continue reading ‘NMSA Approves $7 Million Runway Extension at Spaceport America’

Russia Plans Megawatt Nuclear Space Engine by 2017

Comment

RIA Novosti reports on Russia’s plans for advanced space nuclear propulsion, an effort that now apparently involves the Skolkovo Foundation:

A Russian Megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft must be ready by 2017, Skolkovo Foundation’s Nuclear Cluster head Denis Kovalevich said on Wednesday.

“At present we are testing several types of fuel and later we will start drafting the design,” Kovalevich said. “The first parts [of the nuclear engine] should be built in 2013, and the engine is expected to be ready by 2017.”

The engine is being developed for interplanetary manned spacecraft to ensure that Russia maintains a competitive edge in the space race, including the exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Read the full story.

Kazkosmos Turns 5, Looks to Future

Comments

Kazkosmos Chairman Talgat Musabayev

Officials celebrated the fifth birthday of Kazakhstan’s space agency, Kazkosmos, on Tuesday as they looked ahead to building a full-fledged space industry that would serve as a key high-tech sector for the nation. A key part of this effort is cooperating with foreign space powers, including Europe, and training a new generation of aerospace workers abroad.

When the Soviet Union broke up 20 years ago, Kazakhstan inherited control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, the country lacked a space agency and much in the way of a domestic space industrial sector. There were few trained engineers and technicians, a problem the nation is still addressing today.

Continue reading ‘Kazkosmos Turns 5, Looks to Future’

NMSA Awards IT, Space Ops and Road Contracts to New Mexico Firms

Comments


LAS CRUCES, NM (NMSA PR) –
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has announced three contract awards to companies located in the State of New Mexico. The contracts include Information Technology (IT) Services, Space Operations Services, and the Southern Road Environmental Analysis.

Continue reading ‘NMSA Awards IT, Space Ops and Road Contracts to New Mexico Firms’

Enter the Dragon: Astronaut Performs Crew Interface Test

Comments

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur takes part in a crew equipment interface test inside the Dragon capsule. (Credit: SpaceX)

By Cheryl L. Mansfield
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

In preparation for the upcoming SpaceX demonstration flight, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur performed a crew equipment interface test March 28 in Florida. The test was part of current prelaunch preparations for the scheduled April 30 liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. McArthur worked together with SpaceX flight controllers for five hours in their hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-40, as the team entered its final phase of testing the Dragon capsule. The SpaceX launch is part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services partnership with U.S. industry.

Continue reading ‘Enter the Dragon: Astronaut Performs Crew Interface Test’

Report: Government Spending on Space to Decline

Comments

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Paris and Montreal (March 27, 2012 – Euroconsult PR) – Euroconsult, the leading international research and analysis firm specialized in the space sector, today announced that global budgets for space programs have reached a plateau of roughly $70 billion, confirming a slowdown in expansion experienced by the space industry for the last 10 years.

According to Euroconsult’s new report “Profiles of Government Space Programs: Analysis of 60 Countries & Agencies,” Space programs received a short-term boost in recent years from several governments to counter the economic crisis. However, they must now undergo even more stringent budget constraints exemplified by the European public debt crisis and the U.S. Budget Control Act of 2011.

Continue reading ‘Report: Government Spending on Space to Decline’

More Nonsense From Congress

Comments
“This show ain’t no good.” Elvis cancels The Scratchy Show. (Credit: The Simpsons/20th Century Fox)

Jeff Foust has a long and rather depressing accounting of the Senate hearing on NASA’s budget yesterday.  Some of the nonsensical things that were said:

Sen. Richard Shelby: “Mr. Administrator, I believe that the core mission of NASA is to build cutting-edge systems that allow us to expand our knowledge of the universe.”

Shelby’s “cutting edge systems” involve a monster Space Launch System (SLS) based on shuttle booster technologies designed in the 1970′s that will cost a fortune to build, maintain and operate.  In fact, it’s so expensive that we won’t be able to fly it very often, limiting our ability to explore the universe.  Continue reading ‘More Nonsense From Congress’