March 20 News Items

India Set to Launch Imaging Satellite with Israeli Support (Source: PTI)
India is all set to launch a radar imaging satellite (RISAT) built with "substantial inputs" from the Israel aerospace industry from Sriharikota spaceport, an ISRO official said. Israel has supplied Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which is the "heart" of the 1780-kg remote sensing satellite. "Israel has supplied substantial systems," the ISRO official said. The Israeli "inputs" are seen as a "return gesture" by the Jewish State to New Delhi for launching an Israeli spacecraft Techsar on board India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota last year. (3/20)

Orbiting Carbon Observatory Team Proposes Replacement (Source:
Climate scientists are making the case to NASA for a new satellite to replace a $273 million carbon dioxide monitoring mission lost in a launch failure last month. The new mission would focus on the scientific goals of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which crashed back to Earth after the payload shroud of its Taurus booster failed to separate. (3/20)

China’s Space Coup With First Western Satellite Launch Order in 10 Years (Source: Telecom)
A recent decision to build a new rocket launch site in Hainan island and securing a deal to launch Europe-based Eutelsat Communications’ 5-ton satellite have put the spotlight on China’s space ambitions. These developments testify to China’s success in pursuing space technology under its own steam following a U.S. policy in 1990 barring it from launching satellites with U.S. components. The impact has left China to seek customers from second-tier operators from Asia, Africa and South America.

The Eutelsat order is the first satellite launch deal from a major western country in more than a decade for China marking a high point in its space exploration and satellite-building program. As a supplier of commercial satellite products and services to the United States, Eutelsat’s order with China is seen as controversial by industry observers and officials on both sides have been cagey about confirming the order. (3/20)

Uncertainty Surrounds North Korea Launch (Source: Aerospace Daily)
Three top U.S. commanders told a Senate hearing March 19 that they can't be sure whether North Korea plans to launch a communications satellite or test an offensive missile during an announced missile launch next month. But the heads of Pacific Command, Strategic Command (STRATCOM) and Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command said they believed the U.S. already has the capability to knock out an attacking North Korean missile. "We have a high probability" of intercepting an incoming missile, said Navy Adm. Timothy Keating of Pacific Command. STRATCOM chief Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton agreed with Keating, with the caveat that U.S. missile defense forces still would need "adequate warning, which I believe we have." (3/20)

North Korea has announced plans to launch a communications satellite between April 4-8, but many observers believe the launch will actually be the test of another long-range ballistic missile. North Korea launched a Taepodong 2 missile in July 2006, but it failed shortly after launch. Pyongyang also has successfully tested a nuclear device, to the dismay of its neighbors and U.S. commanders.

University Scientists One Step Closer to Stopping Spaceflight Bone Loss (Source: U. of Washington)
Bone loss in long-duration spaceflight has been identified for decades as a significant problem affecting astronauts. More recently, scientists have found that the absence of gravity is causing astronauts on the Space Station to lose up to 10 times more bone mass in key regions of the body each month than most post-menopausal women do in the same period of time back here on Earth. Now, researchers at the University of Washington have found -- for the first time -- a way to prevent bone loss in a specific region of the hip. Using bedrest as an analog of spaceflight.

Half of the study participants are randomized to perform individually prescribed intermittent treadmill exercise similar to workouts by astronauts in space -- but with one important difference: they are pulled towards the treadmill surface by a harness applying greater force than what the research team has previously measured during walking and running on the International Space Station treadmill. "We have found that we can, on average, prevent bone loss in an important region of the hip with this intervention," said the principal investigator of the study. "No bedrest study ever before has accomplished this." (3/20)

Arms Race in Space (Source: Foreign Policy in Focus)
The new arms race in space is shaping up to be the largest industrial project in Earth's history. To pay for this project, the aerospace industry has been lobbying Washington for a dedicated funding source. Budget allocations for missile defense — Star Wars — are only part of the huge sums of money redirected toward preparations for war in space. When Bill Clinton first came into office in 1993 he ceremoniously announced that Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), at that time funded at $3.5 billion a year, was dead. Then he quietly created the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and moved the $3.5 billion into the new space weapons development organization. George W. Bush left office having changed the name to Missile Defense Agency (MDA) with an annual budget of $10 billion per year.

Not counted in the MDA budget is the money that goes into space technology programs at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Energy, NASA, and others. Conservative numbers indicate that the total military space technology annual budget runs in the neighborhood of $75 billion per year. Click here to view the article. (3/19)

NASA Scores Big With Social Networking (Source: Florida Today)
This just in from the nation's space agency: NASA's microblog on Twitter, @NASA, has cracked the top 100 by a service that tracks nearly 30,000 accounts. rated @NASA's influence #88 out of 29,744 tracked Twitter users, just behind country music star Taylor Swift and ahead of pop star Britney Spears, CNN Breaking News microblog, and former Vice president Al Gore. In fact, NASA is the only federal agency on the list. (3/20)

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