Cygnus Completes First Commercial Cargo Run to Station

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station's robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)
Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station’s robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus spacecraft, which delivered nearly one-and-a-half tons of supplies and scientific equipment to the International Space Station in January, completed its first commercial cargo mission to the orbiting laboratory Tuesday.


Bigelow Eyes Wallops for Human Space Missions

Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Antares rocket on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bigelow Aerospace’s Mike Gold told the Eastern Shore Defense Alliance this week that his company is looking for human space launches from Wallops Island, Virginia.

“We are prepared to make a proposal that will include human spaceflight from Wallops,” said Michael N. Gold, director of D.C. Operations for Bigelow Aerospace, a private company based in Las Vegas.

The company is talking to NASA about the possibility of conducting a demonstration mission that would involve human spaceflight — and Bigelow wants to use Virginia’s spaceport as its base.


Kate Upton…Zero Gravity…Bikini…Va-Va-Voom!

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity Kate Upton Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)
Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity
Kate Upton
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

Arlington, Virginia, February 18, 2014 (ZERO-G PR) – Kate Upton and Sports Illustrated (SI) have taken swimsuit modeling where it’s never gone before. Flying with Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), Upton flipped, floated and modeled in true weightlessness – as if in outer space – for SI’s 50th anniversary Swimsuit issue.

SI’s landmark Swimsuit Production hit newsstands today, complete with a major package, Upton, floating in zero gravity. For Upton, who appeared on SI’s swimsuit covers in 2012 and 2013, her weightless shoot was a way to bring modeling to new heights.


Virgin Galactic to Ramp Up PR Efforts

Looking back as SpaceShipTwo's rocket engine fires during the third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
Looking back as SpaceShipTwo’s rocket engine fires during the third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

PR Week reports that Virgin Galactic is preparing to ramp up its publicity as it gets closer to what the company hopes will be flights into space later this year.

Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of a major pitch in the UK and the US to help oversee a broad range of comms for the company, PRWeek understands.

The article notes that Virgin Galactic has a history of failing to meet flight dates, and that the company has recently come under fire from author Tom Bower, who says it still lacks an engine capable of getting SpaceShipTwo into suborbital space.

Virgin Galactic works with Griffin Communications Group in the United States.

PR Week also published a story dated May 23, 2013, that said Virgin Galactic was in talks with PR agencies at that time.  That story followed Richard Branson’s claims that he and his children would be flying into space on the first commercial mission on Christmas Day 2013. That flight did not happen, and now Branson is hoping to fly in late summer.

Hey Mojavians! Do You Want a Fitness Center at the Spaceport?

Credit: Douglas Messier
The Stuart O. Witt Event Center at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Credit: Douglas Messier

The Mojave Foundation reports on efforts to bring a fitness center to town:

Mojave Air & Space Port is in negotiations with Monster Fitness in Lancaster to expand into the new community center on the Airport. Monster may provide amenities, such as state-of-the-art equipment, martial arts classes, Zumba classes, and personal trainers to provide the most modern, comprehensive fitness center in the Antelope Valley – right here in Mojave!

The fitness center would be established in the Stuart O. Witt Event Center, previously known as the Pool Building on Poole Street (No Relation)TM.

Monster Fitness needs to know whether there is enough interest in the community to make it worth the effort. The Mojave Foundation has set up a form that people can use to show their interest. They need about 200 people to do so.

Parabolic Arc Visits The Space Show on Tuesday Evening

I will be talking with Dr. David Livingston on The Show Space this Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. PST (10:00 to 11:30 p.m. EST). I’m expecting a wide ranging discussion about space tourism, Virgin Galactic, XCOR and all the activities here in Mojave. I also will talk about Google’s plan to launch a broadband satellite constellation of more than 1,000 satellites.

Tune in to the live webcast on Tuesday at or listen to the archived show later in the week.

The Space Show schedule for the week:

1. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. CURT BILBY CEO of Terapio with updates on RLIP 76 for radiation exposure.

2. Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014:, 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DOUG MESSIER of for space news reports and updates.

3. Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 9:30-11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30 AM-1 PM CST): We welcome back LIZ KENNICK for a very special report on Teachers In Space and some important news regarding this fine organization.

4. Sunday, February 23, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). OPEN LINES. All callers welcome dealing with space, STEM, and related topics. We especially want first time callers, new callers.

Astrobotic to Deliver Lunar Dream Time Capsule to the Moon

Pittsburgh, 17th February 2014 (Astrobotic PR) – Singapore-based ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD. has contracted with Astrobotic Technology to send the Lunar Dream time capsule on its October 2015 lunar mission. The time capsule contains the popular Japanese sports drink, Pocari Sweat, which is sold across Asia and in much of the Middle East. The first commercial beverage to be delivered to the Moon’s surface, the Lunar Dream time capsule will be placed on the lunar surface by Astrobotic’s Griffin lander after it touches down in the Lacus Mortis region of the Moon.


Global Space Spending Suffered Slight Decline in 2013

euroconsultParis, Montreal, Washington D.C., February 13, 2014 (Euroconsult PR) — According to Euroconsult’s newly released research report, Profiles of Government Space Programs, global budgets for space programs dropped to $72.1 billion in 2013 following peak spending at $72.9 billion in 2012. This is the first time since 1995 that public space programs worldwide have entered a downward trend, a direct result of the cyclical nature of countries’ investment in space-based infrastructures combined with governments’ belt-tightening efforts during tough economic times.

“Nevertheless, the current global context for public space programs shows many positive signs brought by new leading space nations and an ever-growing number of countries who have initiated plans to build up their space-based capabilities. We anticipate government space spending to recover in the second part of the decade in many countries currently experiencing intense budget pressure,” said Steve Bochinger, COO at Euroconsult and Editor of the report.


Whitesides, Mickey to Appear at Business Outlook Conference in Mojave

MOJAVE, Calif. (AVBOT PR) – Senior executives of two companies partnered in pioneering civilian space travel and new commercial space business will be among the speakers for the Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference at Southern California’s Mojave Air and Space Port.

The Antelope Valley Board of Trade, organizer of the annual day-long event, announced that George T. Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson, and Kevin Mickey, President of Scaled Composites, which won the X-Prize by being the first private company to carry passengers to space and back, have accepted invitations to appear on the program.

The two private sector aerospace leaders will address an audience of up to 800 at the conference, which also includes Astronaut Mark Kelly. Email for ticket reservations.


CU-Boulder Invites Teachers, Kids to be Part of Ants in Space Experiments on ISS


BOULDER, Colo. (CU-Boulder PR) — Want to compare a kid’s experiment you can easily conduct on Earth to a similar one on the International Space Station, which is whipping around in weightlessness 200 miles over our heads at a mind-blowing 17,000 miles per hour? Well, here’s your chance.

The University of Colorado Boulder and its educational partners are seeking K-12 teachers, students and life-long learners around the world interested in how the low gravity on the ISS, which makes astronauts float, may affect the behavior of ants up there. Dubbed “Ants in Space,” the educational ant payload was designed and built by CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies and launched to the space station Jan. 9. The project involved shipping ants in specially built containers developed by BioServe, a part of the university’s aerospace engineering department, to the ISS using a commercial Cygnus spacecraft.


Future of Italian Booster Company Avio Deeply Intwined With Ariane 6 Decision

Avio_logoSpace News reports on the status of Italian rocket builder Avio S.p.A., whose future is dependent on its owners efforts to sell it and ESA’s decision later this year on whether to proceed with development of the Ariane 6 launch vehicle.

Italy’s space strategy will be key to the outcome of a scheduled December meeting of European Space Agency ministers on the future of Europe’s launch sector and its participation in the international space station.


Is Google Planning Son of Teledesic?

A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.  (Copyright 2008: Douglas Messier)
A P3 Navy aircraft with Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Copyright 2008: Douglas Messier)

Clark Lindsey over at New Space Watch  reports on the following rumor from Silicon Valley:

NSG Analysts have heard from several usually reliable industry sources that a major company, possibly “Google or Facebook,” could be announcing the launch of a very large constellation of satellites in the near future.

“Very large constellation” is defined as up to 1,600 small satellites. Based on information Parabolic Arc has received, the story seems to be true. Google appears to be pursuing a plan to provide global broadband services that is similar to a failed attempt by a company called Teledesic.


ISS Science Highlights for Week of Feb. 3

JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata works on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata works on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

ISS Science Highlights
Week of Feb. 3, 2014

John Love, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 37/38

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata installed the Medaka chamber in preparation for the Medaka Osteoclast 2 microscope observation, which will last seven days. During spaceflight, bone mineral density is decreased by the influence of osteoclast activation. Its molecular mechanism is under investigation. To determine the effect of microgravity, imaging analyses for gene expression and cell mobility are performed. In combination with a long-term growth study, the principal investigator examines the alteration of osteoclast activity under microgravity with a microscope. The results of this investigation will provide additional information to develop pharmaceuticals for treating senescent osteoporosis.


NASA Tests New Technologies for Robotic Refueling

GREENBELT, MD (NASA PR) — It’s corrosive, it’s hazardous, and it can cause an explosion powerful enough to thrust a satellite forward in space. Multiple NASA centers are currently conducting a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer this dangerous fluid — satellite oxidizer — into the propellant tanks of spacecraft in space today.

Building on the success of the International Space Station’s landmark Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) demonstration, the ground-based Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test (RROxiTT) is taking another step forward in NASA’s ongoing campaign to develop satellite-servicing capabilities for space architectures and human exploration.


ESA Alters Procurement Practices for Ariane 6 Program

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

ESA has tossed aside one of its key spending practices — juste retour — in an attempt to produce a new Ariane 6 launch vehicle that can compete with cheaper ones offered by SpaceX and Chinese and Indian providers.

Juste retour (“fair return”) is the space agency’s way of spreading work around to companies in different nations in proportion to what national governments  put into a program. The approach produced the highly reliable but expensive Ariane V, whose components and systems are produced throughout Europe.