Monday, October 31, 2011

Boeing to Build Spacecraft at Shuttle Hangar

Boeing will announce an agreement with Space Florida on Monday to lease the hangar that housed the space shuttles to build similar craft that will bring people and cargo to space.

The deal with the state’s space agency will create 140 jobs in the next 18 months and 550 jobs by 2015 in an area that’s lost jobs as the space shuttle program was retired earlier this year, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s office and President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Florida has five decades of leadership in the space industry, which makes our state the logical place for the next phase of space travel and exploration,” Scott said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. “Boeing’s choice of Florida for its Commercial Crew program headquarters is evidence Florida has the world-class facilities and workforce expertise needed for aerospace companies to succeed.”

Likewise, the Obama administration praised the agreement between the Chicago-based Boeing and Space Florida.

“The next era of space exploration won’t wait, and so we can’t wait for Congress to do its job and give our space program the funding it needs. That’s why my administration will be pressing forward, in partnership with Space Florida and the private sector, to create jobs and make sure America continues to lead the world in exploration and discovery,” Obama said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.

[Read More…]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Enhanced Dragon capsule begins launch preparations

SpaceX’s first Dragon spaceship scheduled to fly to the International Space Station is now in Florida, where it will be assembled, fueled and attached to a Falcon rocket for blastoff as soon as Dec. 19.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule was trucked cross-country from Hawthorne, Calif., the headquarters of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. SpaceX builds its Falcon launch vehicles, rocket engines, and Dragon spacecraft in a spacious 550,000-square-foot factory near Los Angeles International Airport.

It arrived Sunday at the SpaceX hangar in Cape Canaveral. The first and second stages of the Dragon’s Falcon 9 booster are already at the launch site.

The Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket will be prepared in the same hangar, then attached to each other and rolled on rails 600 feet to Launch Complex 40, SpaceX’s launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

According to Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, engineers completed a 12-day thermal vacuum test of the Dragon spacecraft with “no notable issues” before shipment to Florida.

SpaceX added two solar array wings to generate electricity and a redundant active thermal control loop to reject heat into space and project the spacecraft from extreme temperatures.

[Read More…]

Monday, October 24, 2011

NASA moon rock sting nabs terrified granny

The elaborate mission to recover a moon rock led NASA agents to one of the most down-to-earth places: a Denny’s restaurant in Riverside County.

But at the end of the sting operation, agents were left holding a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and a 74-year-old suspect who was terrified by armed officials. Five months after NASA investigators and local agents swooped into the restaurant and hailed their operation as a cautionary tale for anyone trying to sell national treasure, no charges have been filed, NASA isn’t talking and the case appears stalled.

The target, Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, asserts the lunar material was rightfully hers, having been given to her space-engineer husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s.

“It’s a very upsetting thing,” Davis told The Associated Press. “It’s very detrimental, very humiliating, all of it a lie.”

Full article: http://www.cbsnews.c … andmother-terrified/

Friday, October 21, 2011

NASA: Back space taxis or pay more for Russian rides

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Reuters) - An extra year of buying rides for astronauts to the International Space Station will cost the United States $450 million — money that would be better spent speeding development of private space taxis, NASA’s deputy administrator said Thursday.

With the retirement this summer of the space shuttles, the United States is dependent on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station, a $100 billion project by 16 nations that orbits about 225 miles above Earth.

Russia charges more than $50 million per person for rides on its Soyuz capsules.

Continue reading: http://www.orlandose … 1020,0,5006092.story

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hypersonic X-37 spaceplanes ‘could carry astronauts’

The Boeing X-37B, the mysterious uncrewed space-plane developed for the US Air Force, could be scaled up and modified to carry astronauts. That’s the tantalising possibility posited by a Boeing chief at Space 2011, an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Long Beach, California, last week.

In a paper entitled “X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle and Derivatives”, Boeing’s X-37B project chief Art Grantz revealed that at least two more versions of the 9-metre long space-plane are under investigation - one of which involves adding a crew to a much-enlarged version of the space drone. If built, the bigger brother would give the US back its ability to shuttle people to the International Space Station.

The X-37B is launched on an Atlas V rocket and has small thrusters that allow it to change its orbit at the whim of ground controllers. But, like the space shuttle, it glides in for an unpowered landing. So far, one X-37B has completed one eight-month space flight, while a second, launched in April, is still in orbit. Its missions are secret - but space flight enthusiasts have done their best to track them.

According to Aviation Week, Grantz told delegates that the next evolutionary step for the spacecraft is to have it deliver cargo - small stuff like gyros and pumps - to the ISS using the capacity of its current payload bay. Next, he says, the machine will be scaled up from its 9-metre length to 14.3 metres, allowing even bigger payloads to be delivered to the station.

Success at this level would then pave the way for “a human-carrying derivative” capable of carrying “five to seven astronauts”, Grantz says. Space.com has pictures from Grantz’s paper showing what an “X-37C” derivative with a 6-person pressurised crew compartment could look like. Smaller numbers of astronauts could allow for more cargo, says the website.

Full article: http://www.newscient … -spaceplane-cou.html

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