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Commercial Mars Telecom?

By Marc Boucher on July 23, 2014 4:30 PM.

NASA Seeks Proposals for Commercial Mars Data Relay Satellites, NASA

"NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the possibility of using commercial Mars-orbiting satellites to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to the Red Planet.

"We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars."

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GAO Report on SLS Issued

By Keith Cowing on July 23, 2014 2:19 PM.

SLS Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability, GAO

"NASA also faces challenges integrating existing hardware that was not originally designed to fly on SLS. For example, SLS is using solid rocket boosters from the Constellation program, but integrating a new non-asbestos insulating material into the booster design has proven difficult and required changes to the booster manufacturing processes."

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Is Voyager 1 in Interstellar Space?

By Marc Boucher on July 23, 2014 1:24 PM.

AGU: Voyager Spacecraft Might Not Have Reached Interstellar Space, AGU

"In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space, traveling further from Earth than any other manmade object.

But, in the nearly two years since that historic announcement, and despite subsequent observations backing it up, uncertainty about whether Voyager 1 really crossed the threshold continues. There are some scientists who say that the spacecraft is still within the heliosphere - the region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles - and has not yet reached the space between the stars."

NASA Responds: NASA Voyager Statement About Solar Wind Models

"A paper recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters describes an alternate model for the interaction between the heliosphere -- a "bubble" around our planets and sun -- and the interstellar medium. It also proposes a test for whether Voyager 1 has, indeed, left the heliosphere.

NASA's Voyager project scientist, Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, responds."

Related: Voyager 1 stories on SpaceRef

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Landsat Greatest Hits Video

By Marc Boucher on July 23, 2014 1:09 PM.

Landsat's Global Perspective Over 40 Years, NASA

"On July 23rd, 1972, the first Landsat spacecraft launched into orbit. At the time, it was called "Earth Resources Technology Satellite," or ERTS, and was the first satellite to use a scanning spectrophotometer.

...

Celebrating this anniversary, this video is a "greatest hits" montage of Landsat data. Throughout the decades, Landsat satellites have given us a detailed view of the changes to Earth's land surface."

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SMD Planetary Science Review Due For Release Soon

By Keith Cowing on July 23, 2014 10:49 AM.

NASA Planetary Science Review To Be Released Soon, Space News

"The planetary senior review, from a scientific report standpoint, has just been completed," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, in a presentation at the NASA Exploration Science Forum at NASA's Ames Research Center here. NASA is now drafting "letters of direction" to the various missions covered by the review, he said."

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OIG Dings NASA on IT Security - Again

By Keith Cowing on July 22, 2014 4:27 PM.

Audit of the Space Network's Physical and Information Technology Security Risks, NASA OIG

"With regard to physical and IT security, we found NASA has not ensured security controls are in place on certain wide area network infrastructure, needs to clarify waiver requirements for IT security controls and mitigations, and should take additional steps to ensure that long-standing physical security risks are addressed. We also found that the Space Network is not using NASA's Agency Consolidated End-User Services (ACES) contract to obtain administrative computers and associated end-user services and therefore may be spending more than necessary for equipment and services without realizing the operational and security benefits of systems provided through ACES."

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SpaceX F9 ORBCOMM 1st Stage "Soft" Landing Video

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 3:46 PM.

SpaceX Releases ORBCOMM First Stage Return Video, SpaceRef Business

"Following last week's successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage reentered Earth's atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity."

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Budget Stalled, Again

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 10:14 AM.

Republicans Prep Short-Term Funding to Keep Government Open Through Election Day, National Journal

"Abandoning all pretense of the House and Senate agreeing on appropriations bills on time, House GOP leaders are tentatively planning to vote next week on a resolution keeping the government temporarily funded at current levels beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year--and probably past Election Day."

Marc's note: Here we go again. Thanks to Jeff Foust for the tip.

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Progress 55 Leaves the ISS

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 10:05 AM.

VIDEO: Russian Cargo Ship Departs the International Space Station

"Three months after delivering 2 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 40 crew, the unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 55 cargo ship undocked from the International Space Station July 21."

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KSC Operations and Checkout Building Renamed in Honor of Neil Armstrong

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 5:54 PM.

VIDEO: NASA Renames Historic Facility in Honor of Neil Armstrong, NASA

"During a ceremony at Kennedy Space Center on Monday, July 21, NASA renamed the center's Operations and Checkout Building in honor of late astronaut Neil Armstrong, who passed away in 2012."

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Another Nano/Microsatellite Market Report

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 12:20 PM.

SpaceWorks Releases Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment Report for Nano and Microsatellites, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceWorks has released a mini-study "Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment, A study of launch services for nano/microsatellites in 2013". The reports aims to capture the growing number of future nano/microsatellite missions requiring a launch."

Marc's note: I received an email from Spaceworks to clarify that is not their annual assessment but rather a mini-study they conducted.

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New Space Commerce Monograph Released

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 11:25 AM.

NASA Releases Space Commerce Monograph

"NASA has released a new monograph "Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce" in the Monographs in Aerospace History series (no. 54)."

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Solving The Russian Problem

By Keith Cowing on July 21, 2014 11:15 AM.

Former NASA Boss: Russia Has US Space Program in 'Hostage Situation', ABC

"We're in a hostage situation," former NASA administrator Michael Griffin told ABC News. "Russia can decide that no more U.S. astronauts will launch to the International Space Station and that's not a position that I want our nation to be in." But there is a new sort of space race happening now to help reestablish U.S. autonomy. Three private companies -- Boeing, Space-Ex and Sierra Nevada -- are currently competing for billions of dollars in NASA funding to build the next ride to space for American astronauts."

Keith's note: Funny thing: at least one of these commercial ventures will crews fly sooner than Mike Griffin's Ares/Orion would ever have flown under even the most optimistic of scenarios.

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Apollo 11 - The Eagle Prepares to Land

By Marc Boucher on July 20, 2014 5:01 PM.

The Eagle Prepares to Land, NASA

"The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, in a landing configuration was photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Inside the module were Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin."

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Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2014 8:32 PM.

Lost and Found in Space: Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All, op ed, Keith Cowing, New York Times

"NASA likes to say that "space is hard," but to make itself relevant to the people whose taxes fund it, it must get outside its comfort zone. To its credit, NASA saw the potential of our project to reach beyond the traditional audience. The interactions via social media with our supporters have borne this out. Imagine what feats of exploration might be possible if an empowered and engaged citizenry realized that exploring space is really something anyone can do."

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More stories for July.

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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 21 July 2014

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 21 July 2014

Today: 5 Progress (55P) Undock: 55P successfully undocked from the ISS at 4:44pm CDT. Progress will remain in orbit for the non-ISS-related "Radar-Progress" experiment. Final deorbit burn is planned for July 31 at 4:54pm CDT.

More updates...

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