Meteor Confirmed Cause of Loud Boom in Quebec.
It’s now confirmed: the loud boom and flash of light many people spotted Tuesday evening from Montreal as far west as Ottawa was a meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario said the rock from space passed over Montreal at around 8 p.m. from north to south. They were able to confirm the phenomenon by sounds from shock waves picked up by acoustic ground sensors around Montreal and upper New York state. NASA’s Meteor Environment Office had been searching for footage of a meteor captured by its cameras, but cameras were obscured by thick clouds.
No Injuries in SpaceX Explosion in McGregor, Texas
No one was injured Tuesday night when over-pressurized nitrogen caused an explosive sound on SpaceX property in McGregor, SpaceX officials said. The sound occurred at about 10:30 p.m. during a SpaceX “slosh baffle test,” officials said. McGregor firefighters responded, but waited about 3 miles outside the area until they were cleared by SpaceX employees to enter the scene. McGregor Fire Chief Moe Spradley said that because nitrogen clears the air of oxygen, no one was allowed into the area until after midnight when the gas had dissipated and it was safe to enter.
Florida Kid Injured After Meteorite Hits Him on the Head
The odds are astronomical, but 7-year-old Steven Lippard and his dad are convinced the boy was struck by pebbles from a meteorite Saturday while playing outside. Steven has a gash — stitched up with three staples — on his head to prove it. Initial testing at Florida Atlantic University indicates the little stones — pea sized and smaller — are metallic, a good sign they came from space. Other testing supports the meteorite theory.
Navy Civilian Firefighters Save NASA Satellite
Civilian firefighters and their leaders based at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) helped save a $450 million satellite, belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from destruction Monday. JBAB firefighters were dispatched at approximately 1 p.m. to an outside fire at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Firefighters assigned to Engine Co. 41; Truck Co. 21; Ambulance 41 and Battalion Chief 41, joined forces with firefighters assigned to NRL-based Engine Co. 43 to quickly extinguish the fire.
Orion Flight Test Hardware Thrives Under Pressure
Hardware that will keep harmful gases away from the Orion spacecraft during its first trip to space proved it won’t bend under pressure during a recent test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The diaphragm for Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 was joined to an adapter prototype for pressurized testing. The adapter will connect Orion to a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket being constructed at ULA’s facility in nearby Decatur, Ala.
For the test, the adapter was sealed and a vacuum pump was connected to the diaphragm. The vacuum pressure simulates atmospheric conditions the hardware may experience during the mission. “Pressure testing helps us validate the design and integrity of the hardware, ensuring that it is flight ready,” said Brent Gaddes, Spacecraft & Payload Integration Adapter Subsystem manager at Marshall.
Mighty Eagle Tests Moon Express Software
Engineers with NASA and private space flight company Moon Express declared the latest flight of NASA’s Mighty Eagle lander a success as it tested flight control software for MoonEx. “During flight, it was very stable. It was, all in all, a great success,” said Mighty Eagle Flight Manager Jason Adam. The Eagle is meant to be a test platform for flight control and navigation systems for robotic spacecraft to land on the moon or other bodies such as asteroid. In a 20 second flight on Monday, the craft lifted off, hovered, and then landed safely, guided by software which Moon Ex plans eventually to use in unmanned lunar landing craft of its own.
NASA’s HugeYard Sale Still Going?
NASA is in the midst of a huge yard sale at KSC, peddling unused hangars, assembly buildings, launch complexes and even a landing strip to commercial space companies.
But at the request of U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, Congress soon may be asking whether the space agency is cleaning out the closets thoroughly enough. NASA is trying to save millions of dollars it spends maintaining rocket-launch properties it no longer needs because of the space shuttle’s retirement while hoping to fuel the emerging commercial space industry at Cape Canaveral.
Mica said he will call for a congressional hearing early next year to explore NASA’s options for land or buildings that might no longer be needed among the 140,000 acres and scores of facilities at KSC. Mica has not suggested that NASA is hoarding assets. But he said he wants to have a look as part of his ongoing crusade to spotlight federal property that’s wasted or underused. At stake is how extensively KSC is transformed into a multiuser spaceport, with the Air Force, NASA and commercial space companies working side by side to develop and launch or fly whatever they need.
Tom Engler, who helps oversees that change as deputy director of KSC planning and development, said the agency has received plenty of interest from private companies. Some specialized facilities, such as a parachute-repacking plant, were relatively easy to pitch to specific businesses. Other prospects, such as parts of the huge, iconic Vehicle Assembly Building, have also drawn interest, but he said NASA is being careful about how to package such opportunities.
“It takes a little bit of time, but we are moving forward,” Engler said. Leaving the facilities unused is not without cost. A report issued by NASA’s inspector general in February estimated that the agency is spending more than $1.3 million a year to maintain the shuttle landing strip, and as many as seven launch-related facilities are underutilized or may not be needed anymore, costing $29 million a year.
Mica said he wants a hearing on KSC properties before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February, possibly on the Space Coast. “We have evolved the space program, but we haven’t evolved the property and assets,” Mica said in an interview this week. “Times change, and our needs for assets evolve.” NASA already has put a few facilities in private hands, while others have been mothballed or demolished to reduce maintenance costs.
Earlier this year, for example, NASA signed deals to lease its parachute-repacking facility to Ballistic Recovery Systems Aerospace for 10 years, at $158,314 a year; a fuel complex to United Paradyne Corp. for 15 years at $33,000 a year; and its Hangar N to PaR Systems for 15 years, at $147,376 a year. The pattern was set two years ago, when NASA cut a similar deal with Boeing and Space Florida, the state’s public-private agency, to take over, rebuild and run an orbiter-processing facility. The partners have turned it into a manufacturing plant for Boeing’s next-generation manned space capsule, Orion.
Among the biggest deals in the works, NASA and Space Florida are expecting to enter negotiations soon for the state to lease the shuttle landing strip. Space Florida wants private customers to do everything from test-driving land vehicles to launching horizontal-takeoff spacecraft. “We’re talking to customers already. We have a business case built around that facility. We believe that can be turned into a real magnet. We won’t have to wait very long before users will find it attractive,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “It’s a great place.”
Space Florida also wants land on the center’s far north end to build a new, state-run launchpad that would be free of much of the federal red tape and therefore more attractive to private-rocket companies now sending their business overseas. But there are environmental issues with that plan, and it could be years before NASA has a chance to consider it.
Kennedy also is in talks with companies for the massive Launch Complex 39A, used by rockets from Apollo to the space shuttle; and three mobile launch platforms used for rocket assembly. Other items, such as the launch control center and the orbiter-processing facilities, used to prepare space shuttles for flight, also are available. “We are headed right now toward having a multiuser spaceport at the Kennedy Space Center and are doing a lot with commercial operations to maximize reuse of underutilized assets,” Engler said.
NASA Wants to Drive Ottawa-Designed Rover On the Moon
Neptec Design Group of Ottawa is the front-runner to build the next moon rover — a travelling robot that will hunt for water on an unmanned NASA mission in 2017. NASA has asked the Canadian Space Agency specifically for Neptec’s rover, called Artemis Jr., said Mike Kearns, president of space exploration with the Ottawa aerospace engineering firm. It has chosen a Canadian drill and Canadian avionics, too. NASA wants to explore the moon as a stepping stone for eventual human flight to Mars. “One of the missions on that path is called RESOLVE, renamed by some people now as the Lunar Prospector Mission,” Kearns said.
SpaceX Achieves Milestone in Safety Review
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) met in late October to review the safety of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. They are being developed to launch humans into low-Earth orbit later this decade. The detailed overview of safety practices the company is implementing was a major milestone for SpaceX under a funded Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).
SpaceX is one of NASA’s commercial partners working to develop a new generation of U.S. spacecraft and rockets capable of transporting humans to and from low-Earth orbit from American soil. NASA intends to use new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station within the next four years. A team of NASA engineers went to SpaceX headquarters for two days of detailed presentations and question-and-answer sessions that reviewed the company’s safety practices.
New Head of Canadian Space Agency Working on 10-Year Space Plan
NASA Hails Success of Commercial Space Program
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Wednesday hailed the success of the agency’s public-private partnership with American companies to resupply the International Space Station. He also announced the next phase of contracting with U.S. companies to transport astronauts is set to begin next week. A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, the United States now has two space transportation systems capable of delivering science experiments and supplies from U.S. soil to the International Space Station.
Under an ambitious plan funded by the Obama Administration, the agency is seeking to partner with American companies to send NASA astronauts to the space station as soon as 2017. Bolden provided remarks at NASA Headquarters in Washington as agency officials announced the successful conclusion of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, an initiative that aimed to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.
“USA and Nth American News’ compiled and presented by Tomarsz Novakovsk from Astro Watch. Webpage: http://www.astrowatch.net/ Contact Tomarsz by email: email@example.com Visit his pages @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Astro_Watch Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AstroWatcher Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/astrowatchnet
SpaceX Completes First Geostationary Satellite Launch (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX successfully completed its first geostationary transfer mission, delivering the SES-8 satellite to its targeted 295 x 80,000 km orbit. The upgraded Falcon-9 executed a picture-perfect flight, meeting 100% of mission objectives after lifting off from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.
Approximately 185 seconds into flight, Falcon-9’s second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 20 second burn that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit. The restart of the Falcon-9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.
Editor’s Note: If not for SpaceX’s marketing the Falcon-9 for commercial satellite missions, this payload would surely have been launched by an overseas competitor. Unfortunately, such commercial missions are proposed by SpaceX to be conducted from their proposed Texas-based spaceport, leaving only government missions to be launched from Florida. (12/3)
SpaceX Launch Moves Company Closer to Military Mission Approval (Source: SpaceX)
Tuesday’s Falcon-9 mission marked SpaceX’s first commercial launch from its Central Florida launch pad and the first commercial flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in over five years. SpaceX has nearly 50 launches on manifest, of which over 60% are for commercial customers.
This launch also marks the second of three certification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. When Falcon 9 is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete for all National Security Space (NSS) missions.
Editor’s Note: I don’t think SpaceX is correct in claiming that this was the first commercial flight from CCAFS in over five years. In November 2009, only four years ago, an Atlas-5 launched Intelsat 14. And in March 2010, a Delta-4 launched GOES-P (a NOAA payload) on an FAA-licensed commercial mission. (12/3)
SpaceX Makes Its Point (Source: SpaceKSC)
In the last three years that SpaceX has been launching from the Cape, I’ve heard all sorts of vicious false rumors spread to disparage SpaceX. A recent one claimed that President Barack Obama secretly owns SpaceX stock. (That came from a ULA employee.)…
From the comments section: “The rumor-mongering is almost anti-American; being as it is coming from the folks who totally lost US dominance of the commercial launch sector, and is aimed at practically the only company trying to win that sector, and the money and jobs that come with it, back here to the US. And it’s being done by a non-US born immigrant, no less!
“SpaceX’s first success in the commercial launch market is mainly a threat to the Russians and the Europeans (in that order). Expect the rumor-mongering to get nastier the next two years as SpaceX tries to take the military orders away from Boeing/Lockheed/ULA, which is their bread and butter. The rumor-mongering is spread by people who know they can’t compete with SpaceX.” (12/4)
Let the Space Price War Begin (Source: Bloomberg)
Eleven years in, the grand entrepreneurial experiment called SpaceX still has to prove itself. On Tuesday evening it reached a major milestone, sending a satellite for paying customer SES into geostationary orbit. SpaceX has flown its Falcon 9 rocket seven times and shown that it can reach orbit, dock with the International Space Station, and bring cargo home. Now it’s put a satellite 22,236 miles above the earth’s surface for a fraction of the going price.
This latest launch is bad news for Russia, Europe, Boeing (BA), and Lockheed Martin (LMT). SES paid $55 million to SpaceX for the launch; rivals typically charge $100 million to $200 million. SpaceX has a backlog of about $4 billion worth of launches, many for commercial customers that it can now begin to serve. One more successful flight should open the way for the company to handle some of the military work that has gone to Boeing and Lockheed through their joint venture, United Launch Alliance.
We’ll really get a sense of SpaceX’s abilities over the next year. The company plans to launch rockets at a much more ferocious clip, to refine their reusability and to prepare for sending humans to the International Space Station. You can also expect to see SpaceX tormented by politicians with ties to existing launch contractors and military suppliers. May we live in interesting times. (12/5)
Atlas V Rocket Launches From California Coast (Source: Huffington Post)
A rocket carrying a secret payload for the U.S. government has successfully launched from the central California coast. The Atlas V rocket lit up the night sky at about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base toward low-Earth orbit. The 19-story-tall rocket carried a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation’s system of intelligence-gathering satellites. (12/6)
Atlas Lifts 12 Cubesats Along with Spy Satellite (Source: Breaking Defense)
The makers and operators of America’s spy satellites have lofted at least 13 assets on their way to orbit with the early morning launch today of NROL-39, atop the always impressive Atlas V rocket. The main payload may be a highly advanced space radar, according to several educated guesses (which is about the best we can hope for at this stage).
The huge payload also included one dozen nanosats, part of the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite payload (GEMSat) program. The Naval Postgraduate School’s CubeSat Launcher actually deploys the satellites. Four of the satellites were built by universities; four were built by the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC); one each by the the Aerospace Corp. (12/7)
United Launch Alliance Celebrates Centaur’s 50th Anniversary (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On November 22nd, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Centaur upper stage’s first successful flight. Developed during the pioneering years of spaceflight, Centaur has been and still is a workhorse of America’s space program. Originally flying on Atlas rockets in the 1960s, Centaur was the very first high-energy cryogenic upper rocket stage. (12/2)
Blue Origin Shows Off its Engine (Source: NewSpace Journal)
Unlike some of its fellow NewSpace companies, Blue Origin keeps a very low, even secretive profile. The company, founded and funded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has gained a reputation for saying very little about what it’s up to. “We like to talk about things after we’ve done them, and not before that, and hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot from us in the future,” Brett Alexander said.
And, earlier this week, we did hear a little more from Blue Origin. The company held a rare teleconference with reporters tied to a press release—itself a rare event—about the latest tests of the company’s BE-3 engine. The engine, which uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants, will power the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle and, eventually, the upper stage of a planned orbital launch vehicle. (12/7)
Blue Origin Debuts the American-Made BE-3 Liquid Hydrogen Rocket Engine (Source: Blue Origin)
Blue Origin reached a key milestone in the development of the liquid-fueled BE-3 engine by successfully demonstrating deep throttle, full power, long-duration and reliable restart all in a single-test sequence. The BE-3 is the first completely new liquid hydrogen-fueled engine to be developed for production in the U.S. since the RS-68 more than a decade ago.
The test demonstrated a full mission duty cycle, mimicking flight of the New Shepard vehicle by thrusting at 110,000 pounds in a 145-second boost phase, shutting down for approximately four and a half minutes to simulate coast through apogee, then restarting and throttling down to 25,000 pounds thrust to simulate controlled vertical landing. To date, the BE-3 has demonstrated more than 160 starts and 9,100 seconds of operation at Blue Origin’s test facility near Van Horn, Texas. Here‘s a video. (12/3)
Rocket CraftersMay No Longer Be Crafting Rockets (Source: NewSpace Journal)
One of the lesser known, and more quixotic, companies in the NewSpace field in recent years has been Rocket Crafters. The company entered the field a few years ago with plans to develop hybrid rocket motors and vehicles that would use them, including suborbital spaceplanes. They signed agreements with spaceports and local governments eager to attract a part of the commercial spaceflight industry, including a deal to put the company’s corporate headquarters in Titusville, Florida.
The company received “a State of Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund (QTI) and workforce incentives,” and a welcome from KSC officials, who wanted to talk with Rocket Crafters about “how Kennedy’s unique assets and technical capabilities may be made available to enable their success.” There’s been little public activity from Rocket Crafters since then, beyond an Oct. 2012 announcement for proposed operations at Spaceport Colorado, east of Denver. Rocket Crafters also proposed creating up to 80 fulltime jobs at the Colorado site, in addition to its activities in Florida.
A recent Miami Herald article says Rocket Crafters “has abandoned plans to create a rocket that can transport cargo and humans into space.” It wasn’t clear from the article what the company would do instead of developing suborbital or orbital vehicles; one possibility would be to focus on its rocket motor technology for other applications. Click here. (12/7)
Astronaut Mark Kelly Joins World View’s Near-Space Balloon Team (Source: NBC)
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who commanded the second-last space shuttle mission — and spent months at the side of his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, while the congresswoman recovered from a near-fatal shooting in 2011 — has joined a venture to send tourists 100,000 feet up to get their own space-style view of Earth. “This is the next step,” Kelly told NBC News on Sunday.
Kelly will serve as director of crew operations for Arizona-based World View Enterprises, which is developing a high-altitude balloon and capsule that would take passengers to an altitude of roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles, or 100,000 feet) for an hours-long view of the curving Earth beneath the black sky of space. World View says its flight system could also be used for high-altitude research. (12/8)
23 Selected to Fly on Lynx Through Axe Apollo Space Academy (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Axe has posted a photo of the winners of the Axe Apollo Space Academy competition in Florida. There appear to be 21 men and 2 women selected for suborbital flights aboard XCOR’s Lynx space plane. They appear with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The competition was run by Unilever in conjunction with Space Expedition Corporation. Click here. (12/7)
DARPA Targets Lower Launch Costs With XS-1 Spaceplane (Source: Aviation Week)
Never deterred by past failures, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) once again wants to develop a reusable-spaceplane launch vehicle to reduce dramatically the cost and time required to orbit satellites. This time, the agency’s goal with its new Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program is to demonstrate a reusable capability that can transition to industry for low-cost military and commercial satellite launches as well as hypersonic technology testing. Click here. (12/2)
X-37B Marks One Year On Orbit (Source: Space Daily)
On December 11, 2013, the secretive X-37B robot spaceplane celebrates one year in orbit. This controversial spacecraft has been out of the limelight for a long time, attracting almost no media coverage for most of its mission. The third flight of one of the most secretive objects in space has been its most elusive mission to date! (12/4)
FAA Rules on NASA Astronaut Participation in Licensed Launch/Re-Entry (Source: SpaceRef)
On July 3, 2013, NASA asked the FAA whether the FAA would restrict NASA astronauts, who are U.S. Government employees, from engaging in operational functions during an FAA-licensed launch or reentry. NASA noted that all NASA astronauts undergo extensive training and must meet rigorous medical and training requirements. NASA will also ensure astronauts complete training specific to each launch and reentry operator’s vehicle and operations.
The FAA understands that the following scenarios are likely, but not definite. It is the FAA’s understanding that a NASA astronaut’s interaction with the controls of a launch or reentry vehicle may vary depending on a launch or reentry operator’s designs and operational procedures, which are currently under development. During a nominal launch, a launch operator under an FAA license would most likely conduct the ascent using a flight computer as the primary means of controlling the flight path of the vehicle.
We conclude that, under 51 U.S.C. ch. 509 (Chapter 509), the FAA’s space regulations at 14 CFR ch. III, and consistent with the FAA’s discussion of its human space flight requirements,\1\ a NASA astronaut may engage in operational functions, up to and including piloting the vehicle, the conduct of aborts, emergency response, and monitoring and operating environmental controls and life support systems, and the launch or reentry would remain under FAA jurisdiction. (12/3)
NASA Astronauts To Fly as ‘Participants’ on Commercial Space Taxis, FAA Rules (Source: Space News)
NASA astronauts will fly as “space flight participants” aboard commercial spaceships being developed to taxi crews to and from the international space station, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation has determined. “NASA astronauts do not meet the definition of ‘crew’ as provided in the statute … because the definition of crew requires them to be employees of the licensee or subcontractor licensee.”
“NASA astronauts are neither, so they will be flying under the category of ‘space flight participant,’ under the current regulations,” Pam Underwood, FAA deputy division manager at the Kennedy Space Center, said during a Dec. 4 industry briefing at the Florida spaceport. The ruling does not limit the scope of the work government-employed astronauts can perform aboard commercial space taxis, including piloting the vehicle, aborting launch if necessary, overseeing emergency response and monitoring and operating environmental controls and life support systems, the FAA said.
NASA sought the clarification because FAA regulations prohibit “space flight participants” to pilot launch or re-entry vehicles for public safety reasons. “The FAA’s concern … was based on the possibility that space flight participants would not have the proper vehicle and mission-specific training.” (12/6)
House Approves Bipartisan Launch Liability Measure (Source: SpaceRef)
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act (H.R. 3547) by a vote of 376 to 5. The bipartisan bill extends for one year a commercial space transportation risk-sharing and liability regime that was established by Congress in 1988. The bill extends provisions of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments, which cover third-party liability for licensed commercial space launches. (12/2)
ERAU Conference on Aviation Challenges to Include Commercial Spaceflight (Source: ERAU)
The Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace International Research (A³IR) Conference, presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, will bring together industry and academic leaders for presentations and discussions covering topics on the cutting edge of aviation thought and technology. The Jan. 17-18 conference will be held in Arizona and include a discussion on commercial spaceflight systems and safety. Click here. (12/4)
Legislator Presents Alabama Spaceport Idea to Black Belt Committee (Source: Selma Times-Journal)
Rockets, bound for space, could be taking off from just outside of Selma in the future. State Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) is leading the charge for Alabama to land one of nearly a dozen spaceports to be licensed by the federal government. Dial presented his proposal to the Black Belt Commission Infrastructure Committee meeting Thursday.
“I got to thinking, a spaceport, what in the devil is a spaceport and why do you need one?” Dial said. “I did a little research and found out the federal government is going to license nine to 10 spaceports in America.” Dial helped create the Alabama Spaceport Authority last year, which oversees planning. The next step, Dial said, is to submit a grant proposal for approximately $400,000 through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The grant would be used to conduct a feasibility study and determine possible locations for the spaceport.
Before the grant application can be made, Dial said a bill must be passed in the Alabama Legislature allowing ADECA to make the application. He explained spaceports would be used for commercial travel to space, for personal travel and freight, and potentially be a tool for economic development. (12/7)
Sierra County Residents Have a Lot Riding on Spaceport (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
Spaceport America is being developed on visionary technology, taxpayer dollars and promises.
But some of the spaceport’s supporters think the New Mexico Spaceport Authority isn’t honoring promises it made early on to the town. The Spaceport Authority’s executive director, Christine Anderson, said everyone just needs to keep being patient and recognize the immense challenge of building this complex and inherently dangerous project.
Spaceport America wouldn’t exist without the support of Sierra County residents. Both Sierra County and Doña Ana County approved a 0.25 percent gross receipts tax on goods and services to help pay for the spaceport’s construction. The state Legislature required two counties to approve the tax before the spaceport could move forward. The Spaceport Authority promised an economic boom for the two counties in return for the investment.
Two decades have passed, however, and the first commercial passenger flight into space by Virgin Galactic is still at least a year away. Until those flights start and full-service visitors centers are built, the spaceport can’t wholly fulfill its economic promise. Some people wonder if the economic boom will ever happen. Others worry the boom will benefit a few, not the many. (12/8)
Doña Ana, Sierra Counties May Oppose Spaceport Sale-Tax Changes (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Officials in Doña Ana and Sierra Counties are about to consider formal stances against a state lawmaker proposal that has implications for Spaceport America sales-tax dollars going to local public schools. Tuesday, Doña Ana County commissioners will vote on a resolution against a proposed change to state law that school officials said would negate the benefit of the sales tax dollars to Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch school systems.
Also, the Sierra County commission later this month will consider passing a statement opposing the state legislator proposal. In addition, the school board for the Truth or Consequences Municipal Schools will consider a similar statement of opposition next week. Sierra County Commission Chairman Walter Armijo said he wouldn’t necessarily mind the legislators’ proposal, if the entire state was paying a sales tax to support Spaceport America. (12/7)
Commissioners’ Views Mixed on Spaceport America Tax Spending (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Doña Ana County commissioners warily are eyeing their options in light of a recent challenge to the county’s Spaceport America sales tax money that goes to local schools. At issue is a recent state lawmaker’s proposal that seeks to reclassify the educational portion, allowing it to be distributed statewide instead of only within Doña Ana County.
County Commissioner Ben Rawson said he’s concerned about the way the county routes educational dollars from the 1/4 of 1 percent tax and is looking into possible changes to the practice. He met with county staff Tuesday to look at options for the 25 percent of the spaceport sales-tax revenue set aside for education. Some lawmakers last week endorsed a proposal that would block Doña Ana County from spending its share of spaceport tax money on teacher salaries and operations. (12/3)
Space Travel to Transform Sleepy Desert Town Into a ‘Spaceopolis’ (Source: CNN)
The town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, is tiny. The population barely reaches 7,000, and the smattering of tourists it attracts throughout the year are undoubtedly lured by its rustic, small-town charm. Its handful of attractions include some vintage hot spring resorts (pre-World War II, the town was a hotspot for wellness tourism), some nearby ghost towns and roaming buffalo.
“Here, you’re in the middle of what I consider to be the real West,” says John Mulcahy, mayor of Truth or Consequences (or T or C, as it’s known locally). Not surprisingly, T or C lacks the name recognition of, say, Santa Fe or Albuquerque. That is set to change in the next couple of years however, as the town is on the brink of becoming the epicenter for space tourism. Spaceport America — which next year is slated to send a troupe of multi-millionaires up into the stratosphere when Virgin Galactic moves in — is a mere 30 miles to the northeast. (12/3)
New Frontier for Space Coast Jobs (Source: Miami Herald)
Brevard County’s unemployment rate rose above 11 percent when NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. Now it sits at 7 percent, and Gov. Rick Scott has millions in tax incentives on the line to take the number even lower. Things are better on the Space Coast, and getting better still. But in Scott’s zealous quest to find more private-sector jobs, the CEO-turned-governor sometimes relies on federal and state tax money to do the heavy lifting, according to a review of 342 jobs incentive deals crafted since Scott took office.
The trend is particularly acute in Brevard, which leans on NASA and the federal contracts it could bring. Boeing, which Scott offered nearly $7 million in exchange for 550 well-paying jobs, is expanding in Florida to team with NASA to build the successor to the space shuttle. A federal contract would cover much of Boeing’s expansion costs.
A start-up company called Rocket Crafters is considering a similar plan, though it intends to focus on the private sector. It has promised 1,500 jobs and $72 million in investment in Titusville to develop new space launch technology. In exchange, Scott offered about $7 million. Today, nearly 18 months after the state and Rocket Crafters signed their deal, there is little to show for it. The company has two employees in Florida, not 1,500. Click here. (12/6)
United States and North American News
Giving thanks for Tucson’s astronomy scene Arizona Daily Star
Locally, every year I give thanks for Tucson being the astronomy capital of the world and for our relatively dark urban skies compared with other cities around the …
Space shuttle replica sprayed with graffiti Houston Chronicle
KHOU-TV is reporting that the Space Shuttle Independence outside of Space … The exhibit will open sometime in 2015, according to Jack Moore with Space …
12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ Seattle will celebrate the arrival of 2014 with one of the world’s largest structure-launched fireworks displays as the Space Needle …
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center Hosts Sunday … HispanicBusiness.com
NASA announced its Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center in Greenbelt, Md. , will host this month’s Sunday Experiment on Nov. 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. …
Californian skies coming into view for Cork students Irish Independent
It is thanks to Project TARA, which gives Irish students live access to robotic astronomical telescopes in California, and allows them capture their own images of …
Washington: The first test mission of a new deep space capsule that could one day take humans to Mars is on track for September 2014, the US space agency …
Space Junk Is All Around Us Businessweek
Luckily, the scorched remnants of the European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite fell harmlessly from the sky. Even so, there are millions of pieces of space junk …
Next Space Station Launch to Be Shown on Time Square Toshiba … HispanicBusiness.com
By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Defense & Aerospace Week — The Toshiba Vision screen in New York’s Times Square will give the public a big-screen …
Space veterans remember JFK’s last visit USA TODAY
MELBOURNE, Fla. — Kennedy Space Center as we know it was just getting off the ground when President John F. Kennedy visited Cape Canaveral for the last …
Pennsylvania Starwatch: Telescopes, books make great gifts Republican & Herald
Got someone on your holiday gift list who loves astronomy and stargazing? Maybe that someone is you! Well, there’s much to choose from. There are books …
US Issues New Space-Transportation Policy Wall Street Journal
The White House issued a new space-transportation policy on Thursday with a strong emphasis on accelerating development of commercially built and …
Space research in San Diego KFMB News 8
Exciting space research is happening right here in San Diego. … Clinical Physiology Laboratory at U.C. San Diego is leading the research in space physiology.
In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, a Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) undergoing a full power level 290.04 second test firing at the National …
Letter provided to us by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, from a man who received it and … The top of the letter says it is from the Space and Rocket Center.