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Oklahoma Space Alliance NSS Chapter UPDATE for August, 2010

August Meeting

        Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 14 at Tom and Heidi Koszoru’s house in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome. The house is at 514 Fenwick Court in Norman.
         To get the meeting either: (1) Take the Robinson Street west exit off I-35. Proceed west to 36th Street where you will turn left, and go south until you turn left on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. Tom's house is the last on the left side, or (2) Take the Main Street west exit off I-35, proceed west past the Sooner Fashion Mall, and turn right at 36th Street, and go north until you turn right on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. The Koszoru house is the last on the left side.

  1. Introductions (if necessary)
  2. Read and approve agenda
  3. Read and approve minutes and reports of activities
  4. Old Business
    1. Start Up Kit for Chapters in Second Life
    2. Research funding
    3. A New OSA Logo
    4. Treasurer’s Report
    5. 50th Anniversary of Manned Space Flight (Yuri's Night 2011)
    6. Space Solar Power
    7. Marketing for Burns Flat (Claire to check with OSIDA)
    8. Space Week
    9. Supporting drivers for Starbase
  5. Read and discuss mail
  6. New Business – be prepared to carpool to Cheddar Ranch Observatory if desired.
  7. Create New Agenda

Minutes of July meeting

         Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszoru house on July 17. Attending were Tom and Heidi Koszoru, John Northcutt and Syd Henderson. We also communicated with Claire McMurray and Tim Scott by telephone for voting purposes.
         Several of our members have frequent conflicts which make it difficult to get to meetings on the third Saturday of the month. Claire requested that we change to a different weekend of the month, and the one with the fewest conflicts is the second Saturday. This passed unanimously, including phone votes from Claire and Tim, who were two of the members who had conflicts. Thus the August meeting will be on the 14th.
         Note that OSIDA meets on the second Wednesday of the month, which follows the second Saturday three months out of seven, so many OSIDA updates will have to appear in the newspaper for the following month. This already happens when the OSIDA meeting happens the Wednesday before a meeting and it’s a month when Outreach is mailed, since that has to go out before Wednesday afternoon. It will now happen a lot more often.
         Syd, to his surprise, found himself in possession the money from the “Tom Doesn’t Sing Fund” from the 2004 ISDC. It amounted to $195 for this good cause, plus a $100 check which was never cashed and has expired. Tom thinks the money should go to the Foundry, assuming that still exists. The Foundry goes (or went) through the Huntsville NSS chapter, which is hosted the 2011 International Space Development Conference.
         Claire found the clipboard with the signup sheet from SoonerCon. This added eight people to the mailing list, and several to the e-mail list, of which four addresses bounced.
         The University of South Dakota has classes on grant funding.
         Tom Stafford’s daughter likes the idea of having Yuri’s Night at the Stafford Museum.
         Can an OU professor assign promotion of the Oklahoma Spaceport as a class project. We also need to check with OSIDA to see if such promotion is kosher.
         We voted to support Starbase through personal donations.  Tom donated $20. Syd will donate at the next meeting. Do we need to get the money to Tim? We’re pledged to donate $100 which a fraction of the actual cost.
Rocketplane Limited and its daughter companies, Rocketplane Kistler and Global Rocketplane, have declared bankruptcy. This ends the Pioneer Rocketplane saga. It received millions of dollars in tax breaks from the Oklahoma legislature to launch space tourists from the Oklahoma Spaceport. Rocketplane Limited (the family tree is complicated) left Oklahoma in February 2009 and never launched a thing.

Local Astronomy Activity – Perseid Meteor Shower August 11-14

         This year’s Perseid shower is expected to be the best in many years, and the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has invited the public to a relatively-dark-sky site on Aug. 12, and an even-darker site on Aug. 14. Local weather should be fairly favorable: “partly cloudy” on Thursday through Saturday, with lows in the mid to upper 70s. Saturday chance of thunderstorms is only 30 percent, and the Cheddar Ranch Observatory has good shelter, including restrooms and a kitchen. If you bring a flashlight, be sure to cover it with red cellophane or something similar, so as not to destroy others’ night vision.

Public Star Party Lake Hefner, Thursday, Aug. 12

         OKCAC member volunteers will be sharing views through their telescopes with the public at Windsurfers Point, Lake Hefner, map available on the star party page. Four planets will be in view, starts at sunset. From Norman, take I-35 north then I-240 west. Merge onto I-44 ( north “toward Tulsa”) but stay on State Hwy 74 north when they separate. Take the Hefner Rd. exit and proceed west to Old Lakeshore Drive. Take Old Lakeshore Drive to the parking lot and picnic pavilions at Windsurfer’s point on the northeast shore of Lake Hefner.

Public Meteor Night At Cheddar Ranch Observatory Saturday, Aug. 14

         The public is invited to the OKC Astronomy Club’s dark sky site for a night of observing the Perseid Meteor Shower. We do not post maps so we will meet at the Cherokee Truck stop on I-40 at exit 108. Glen Kilgour will have liability release forms there to sign before going on, print one at http://www.okcastroclub.com/Docs/CRO_LiabilityReleaseForm.pdf to bring with you.

Report on July 14 OSIDA Meeting

         The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority met on July 14 at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building. Board members present were new chairman Jack Bonny, Gilmer Capps, Lou Sims, Cal Hobson, Ken McGill and Joe King. There were six in the audience.
         The security fence at the Oklahoma Spaceport was completed about a week before the meeting. Since then there have been two incidents of cars crashing into the fence, one by the highway patrol. There was $2600 worth of damage done.
Armadillo Aerospace has requested from the FAA permission to fly up to 50,000 feet. FAA wants a radius where the vehicle could possible land. Armadillo would fly under regulations from the Office of Commercial Space.
         Leftover FAA money from PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicators) can be used at the Oklahoma Airport in Elk City if that is okay. This money has to go to an FAA program so it can’t go to the Spaceport.
Bill Khourie was designated to go to a meeting with the Starbase people.

Space News

COTS vs Constellation

         House and Senate committees have approved Whitehouse plans to pay commercial companies to develop and operate orbital cargo vehicles (under the NASA budget). However, the Senate voted to authorize (not appropriate funds) parts of NASA’s Constellation program space but only $1.3 billion (less than half the proposed funding) for the commercial crew initiative. The Senate’s bill adds one shuttle flight in 2011 and requires NASA to start immediately on a heavy-lift vehicle to support manned missions beyond Earth orbit. Opponents blocked the correspond-ing House bill (H.R. 5781) from reaching the floor before the August recess. It would cut all but $150 million of the commercial crew appropriation.
         A 2nd full-duration test firing of the shuttle-derived Ares 1 rocket’s first stage is scheduled for August 31. This time it will be cooled to just a little above freezing, testing new joint materials in the hope of eliminating the heaters now used on the shuttle’s boosters. Other upgrades include a redesigned nozzle and new insulation.         
        NASA’s budget proposal cancels both Ares 1 and Ares 5 programs to work on a new rocket, perhaps kerosene-fueled, but Congress seems headed toward requiring a new heavy-lift rocket to incorporate Ares technology. There has already been considerable job dislocation at NASA, which Congress may be trying to minimize. However, many observers see a danger in half-hearted starts in two directions instead of choosing one and sticking to it. Full funding seems unlikely no matter what the direction, and in the long run that usually raises costs. Strong financial support in early stages of any design process often allows choices which lead to lower maintenance and operating cost.

Near-Earth Objects

         At a workshop August 10 & 11, NASA brought together experts and key leaders to identify objectives for a mission to a near-Earth object (such as an Earth-crossing asteroid). One suggestion was to detach a compartment from the International Space Station after the 2020 retirement, and use it as the crew compartment for such a mission. The Tranquility node (launched last February) could be particularly useful because it has where a couple of smaller, fuel-efficient spacecraft could be attached. Once at the asteroid, astronauts could inspect the asteroid up close using the smaller ships. An illustration of the idea can be seen somewhere on www.newscientist.com/data. One hopes the ISS will still be in good condition by then. At press time, astronauts still had not fixed the ailing cooling system.
         The workshop also considered a proposed 2016 mission (OSIRIS-Rex) to land a probe on a 1,800-foot-wide asteroid that could hit the Earth in two centuries. An analysis of the orbit of asteroid 1999 RQ36 says it will come closest to hitting Earth -- scientists put the odds at 1-in-1,000 -- in the year 2182, but a sample of the rock could help determine what factors—reflectivity? outgassing? other?—might affect its path and how much. A decision whether to fund this mission or one to Venus will be announced next year.
         Japan’s Hayabusa probe succeeded in returning dust particles from near-Earth object 25143 last June. Now their Space Activities Commission is expected to recommend a Hayabusa-2 mission to visit, land on, deploy a miniature rover and collect and return a sample of a C-class asteroid. This class is believed similar to carbonaceous chondrites, dark meteors containing features apparentlying result from water crystallization. Such a sample could contain clues to the formation of the solar system.

         NASA Seeks Data from Innovative Lunar Demonstrations
[Quoted from http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/aug/HQ_10-185_ILDD_BAA.html]

        “WASHINGTON -- NASA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to purchase specific data resulting from industry efforts [such as those inspired by the Lunar X-Prize] to test and verify vehicle capabilities through demonstrations of small robotic landers. The purpose is to inform the development of future human and robotic lander vehicles.
         The Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) BAA will result in multiple small firm-fixed price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts with a total value up to $30.1 million through 2012. Multiple awards are possible with a minimum government purchase of $10,000 for each selected contractor. A minimum order will be funded using FY10 dollars. Orders above the minimum would be competed among the successful offerors dependent on future budget availability. The deadline for submitting proposals is Sept. 8.”
         NASA is also working on technologies for sending a humanoid robot to walk on the Moon by 2013, although congress may be deleting most funding for robotic precursor and technology demonstration projects. However, a “waist-up” version of Robonaut 2, a NASA/General Motors robot with excellent sensors and manual dexterity, is scheduled for the ISS later this year. If public interest is high, more money might follow from the USA and partner nations.

Mars Exploration

         The latest set of new images from the telescopic High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter offers detailed views of diverse Martian landscapes. Features as small as desks are revealed in the 314 observations made between June 6 and July 7, 2010, now available at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ and NASA's Planetary Data System, http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/.
         NASA and the European Space Agency have begun discussing plans for a joint Mars science orbiter in 2016 which can also serve as a communications relay for future landers, including a sample return mission. However, this would mean discontinuing NASA’s Mars Scout missions after the 2016 Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission. The joint orbiter would be launched by NASA and carry some NASA instruments; ESA would supply other instruments and a short-lived lander. Unfortunately, this plan replaces more ambitious plans, both because funding is scarce and because the 2016 launch opportunity offers a tougher trajectory and a higher probability of strong dust storms after landing.

Mercury Exploration

         Although NASA’s Messenger mission won’t reach Mercury orbit until next March, the 3 flybys (of Mercury, in addition to 1 of Earth and 2 of Venus) needed to reduce speed to orbital velocity have returned valuable pictures and magnetic field data. Mercury seems, like Earth, to have a dipolar magnetic field closely aligned with its spin axis. More information is available at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/main/index.html.

M-Class Solar Flare Erupts

         An M-class flare erupted in active sunspot region 1093, peaking at 1824 UTC on August 7, 2010. The eruption hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the flare. The CME was not fully directed toward Earth, but some of the plasma cloud may have grazed the magnetosphere between August 9 and August 10, causing a geomagnetic disturbance and possible aurora. A 4-second video of the flare can be seen at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=17179129.

Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe is in critical condition, and his son Kevin in serious condition, after their plane crashed into an Alaska mountain Tuesday, August 10. Although the O’Keefes are expected to recover, former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and several others died in the crash.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation
added 6 companies in July, for a total of 31 members in the advocacy organization.

Small satellites
are in the news lately. NASA expects to solicit proposals in October for fostering subsystem technology breakthroughs for both civil and commercial small-satellite missions. Small, low-cost satellites could be used for biological, physical and planetary research, in-space servicing and orbital debris management.
The U.S. Army has been working for 2 years on a launcher for putting lots of tiny satellites into orbit. The army’s “nanosatellites” would cost only $1 million for up to 3 of them, with the most basic “nanolaunchers” costing as little as $150,000 each if produced in quantity.

Orbital debris
has been a growing problem for years, but became much worse in 2007 when China deliberately destroyed its own defunct weather satellite. ATK then started evaluating various techniques for getting rid of dangerous pieces too small (under 10 cm) to track from the ground, but big enough (e.g. over 1 cm) to damage the space station and other satellites. ATK now proposes a “small” (roughly 1000 lbs) multilayered sphere of unspecified materials. Debris would be broken into smaller and smaller pieces as it passes through successive layers and also hits other pieces, until the bits are small enough to stop with normal satellite & ISS shielding. Government funding would be needed to further develop the concept, ATK says.


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