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space

NASA Considers Manned Mission to Asteroid

December 31, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA could send a team of astronauts into space to explore an asteroid located close to the Earth's orbit, according to Harvard University. The NASA Asteroid Robotic Retrieval Mission would involve capturing a near Earth object called NEO 2009BD, dragging it onto a new trajectory that traps it in the Earth-moon system and investigating it.

Lockheed Martin Awarded Space Vehicle Launch Funds

December 30, 2013

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., has been awarded an $116,069,077 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification (P00548) on contract (F04701-02-C-0002) for Space Vehicle (SV) 4 launch operations and support to integrate the space vehicle into the launch vehicle. The contractor will perform pre-launch planning and preparation activities for the launch and early orbit operations rehearsal campaign. The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity.

NASA Grants Support Interactive STEM Exhibits for Students

December 19, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

NASA has selected 10 education organizations to share approximately $7.7 million in grants with the hope of attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. The money will go toward interactive exhibits, virtual worlds, professional development activities and community-based programs.

Honeywell Receives Fiber Optic Gyro Contract Modification

November 14, 2013

Honeywell International Inc., Aerospace-Clearwater (Space), Clearwater, Fla., has been awarded a $7,279,938 modification (P00048) to an existing cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (FA9453-08-C-0263) for the Strategic Systems and Launch Technologies (SSLT) program. The contract modification is for an in-scope add work to Option III for additional work required to identify, test, and modify the design to develop a radiation hardened loop closure Application Specific Integration Circuit for the Strategic Fiber Optic Gyro. Detachment 8, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Contracting Division, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is the contracting activity.

Exploring the
 Outer Edge of
 Space Technology

October 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

NASA’s core culture is to push the boundaries of what has been to create what can be. And within this cutting-edge organization is an entire group dedicated solely to ensuring that the revolutions continue to expand. The Game Changing Development Program exists to find the disruptive technologies available in relevant fields, then move them into the proper channels for development and deployment.

Stephen Gaddis, director of the program, describes its straightforward mission saying, “We are looking for the game changers. We either transform or disrupt the way that the country, that the agency, is doing business in space. We want to have a high impact on new missions and new capabilities. In essence, we’re looking to change the way NASA does business.”

The group has even defined what they mean by the term. Gaddis explains that most people have the right philosophy to understand a game changer, but his program explicitly explains one as an orders-of-magnitude improvement over current resources. “It’s not just incremental, not just evolutionary,” he adds. “It’s revolutionary.” The work involves both creating new technologies as well as changing how processes are followed or products are made.
 

China in Space

October 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

China’s activities in space have caught the attention of U.S. and other countries’ officials, altering how personnel must consider the domain. The importance of the area outside of Earth to military operations makes the location critical for any nation looking to put itself into a terrestrial position of power. During 2012, China conducted 18 space launches and upgraded various constellations for purposes such as communications and navigation. China’s recent expansion into the realm presents new concerns for civilian programs and defense assets there.

In the U.S. National Military Strategy, officials discuss their concern about China’s military modernization and assertiveness in space, also stating that the “enabling and warfighting domains of space and cyberspace are simultaneously more critical for our operations yet more vulnerable to malicious actions.” The United States has released several pieces of guidance on its approach to the domain such as the National Space Policy and the Defense Department’s National Security Space Strategy. The military defines the latter as a “pragmatic approach to maintain the advantages derived from space while confronting the challenges of an evolving space strategic environment. It is the first such strategy jointly signed by the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence.”
 

Unlike the 1960s-era space race when Soviets and Americans competed to be first, China approaches space with a different set of goals. Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who focuses on Chinese political and social affairs, explains that the Sino perspective asks, “What do we want to do in space? What can space do for us?”

Calling All Rocket Scientists

September 18, 2013

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop a fully reusable unmanned aircraft that would provide access to space faster, easier and at a lower cost than current satellite launch vehicles. According to Jess Sponable, manager of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, the agency aims to build on proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system that can be used to launch payloads into space, return to Earth and repeat the process the next day. Technical goals include the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days achieving speeds of more than Mach 10.

Current concepts call for a reusable first stage that would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude then one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into low-Earth orbit. The aim is to achieve this at a cost of less than $5 million per flight for 3,000- to 5,000-pound payloads. “How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table. We’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible,” Sponable states.

DARPA has scheduled an XS-1 Proposers Day for October 7 and plans to hold one-on-one discussions with potential proposers on October 8. Registration for the event must be received by noon on October 1. Additional information is available via email and on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Updated Doctrine 
Addresses Contested Space Operations

October 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have updated doctrine for future warfighters to realign space situational awareness as the fifth mission area and to offer direction on operating in a contested or degraded space environment. The updated document will guide combatant commanders and other warfighters for years to come, influencing training, mission planning and global operations.

The importance of space operations is increasing because of the enabling capabilities provided to the joint force. Space-based enabling technologies are now vital to overall military mission accomplishment and provide advantages needed for success in all joint operations. Space assets provide a range of services, including global communications; positioning, navigation and timing; environmental monitoring; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Furthermore, space forces simultaneously support multiple users, which requires extensive coordination, planning and early identification of requirements and capabilities.

The Joint Chiefs update the various doctrinal documents roughly every two or three years. The space doctrine, Joint Publication 3-14 (JP 3-14), governs the activities and performance of the U.S. armed forces in joint operations and provides the doctrinal basis for interagency coordination and for U.S. military involvement in multinational operations. It also provides military guidance for the exercise of authority by combatant commanders and other joint force commanders and prescribes joint policy for operations, education and training. Additionally, JP 3-14 guides military leaders in planning operations.

Contest Seeks Creative Uses for Space Imagery

August 27, 2013

European Space Imaging is challenging innovators to propose new applications for 50-centimeter optical satellite imagery through its High-Res Challenge. The winner will receive €20,000 (more than $25,000) of imagery data to support the realization of the idea.

The competition only requires submission of an idea and not a prototype or finished product that uses high-resolution satellite data. Ideas must be easily implementable and sustainable as well as cut costs and create efficiencies. Last year’s challenge winner used the data package within Cerberus, an emergency mapping crowd sourcing game. Entry information is available online.

European Space Imaging’s challenge is part of Copernicus Masters 2013, a program to provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. Other challenges that are part of the program include GEO Illustration, Best Service and ESA App.

The deadline for entries is September 15, 2013.

Emerging Space Program Investments Reach $1.8 Billion in 2013

August 13, 2013

 

Twenty-seven countries have begun investing this year in space programs estimated to be valued at $1.8 billion, according to an executive brief, Trends & Prospects for Emerging Space Programs, published by Euroconsult, a Paris-based consulting firm. The report includes projects, development models, lessons learned and perspectives of countries starting their first or second generation satellite programs. Investments are more than two times what they were in the company’s 2007 estimate. Of the 29 countries assessed in the report, 27 have begun investing in a space program, including $1.4 billion in satellite procurement. Seventeen of those countries have reported funding for a satellite communications program for a combined value of $950 million, and 18 countries are undertaking an Earth observation program with associated budgets of more than $500 million by 2015.

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