March 23 News Items

To Limit Debris, What Goes Up Must Come Down (Source: Business Wire)
In a band 1,000 kilometers above Earth, a growing collection of mechanical debris is accumulating. Old rocket boosters, retired satellites, even pieces of exploded satellites, threaten to destroy millions of dollars worth of orbiting surveillance, weather, and telecom satellites that we increasingly rely on in our daily lives.

Mathematical analysis by two Stanford researchers suggests that if space programs around the world could be forced to take out their own “garbage,” the problem of colliding space debris could be reduced to less than one chance in a thousand that a live satellite would be damaged by a passing object. Click here to view the article. (3/23)

USSR Earned International Respect With the Help of Space Exploration (Source: Pravda)
It is generally believed that many developing countries, such as Russia and China, need to complete their reforms and improve national living standards and ecology before they could deal with space exploration. Indeed, there are too many urgent problems that governments have to solve on the planet, whereas space does not seem to be important at all.

The state of economic affairs in the USSR was extremely difficult in the beginning of the 1960s. Many workers were going on strikes in 1962, the next year after Yuri Gagarin’s epoch-making first-ever manned space flight. However, the ambitious space program of the Soviet Union began to develop speedily in the beginning of the 1960s. The program resulted in the creation of such vital industrial branches as electronics, automatics and instrument engineering. Click here to view the article. (3/23)

Student Experiments to Launch Into Space from New Mexico (Source: AP)
Several New Mexico college and high school students will launch experiments into space with help from Spaceport America. The experiments will take a space-bound ride on a SpaceLoft XL rocket and launch provided by Spaceport America, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and UP Aerospace. The launch is part of a program to allow students annual access to space.

Spaceport officials say the program will develop the state's work force by encouraging students to pursue space sector careers. Pay Hynes, the state's space grant director, says the economic benefits from the spaceport depend on giving academics and students the opportunity to compete in emerging space industries coming to the state. The launch is planned for April 25. (3/23)

Astronauts Complete 3rd and Final Spacewalk (Source: AP)
Two astronauts who were teaching math and science to middle school students just five years ago went on a spacewalk together Monday, their path cleared of dangerous orbiting junk that had threatened the space station and shuttle. On Sunday, the linked shuttle-station complex had to move out of the way of a 4-inch piece of debris that had been projected to come perilously close during the spacewalk. Astronauts Joseph Acaba and Richard Arnold II had no luck trying to free up a jammed equipment storage shelf at the international space station, one of their main tasks. (3/23)

Funnyman Colbert Wins NASA Space Station Name Contest (Source: AP)
NASA's online contest to name a new node at the international space station went awry. Comedian Stephen Colbert won. The name "Colbert" beat out NASA's four suggested options in the space agency's effort to have the public help name the addition. The new "room" will be launched later this year. NASA's mistake was allowing write-ins. Colbert urged viewers of his show, "The Colbert Report" to write in his name. And they complied, with 230,539 votes. That clobbered Serenity, one of the NASA choices, by more than 40,000 votes. Nearly 1.2 million votes were cast by the time the contest ended Friday. NASA reserves the right to choose an appropriate name. Agency spokesman John Yembrick said NASA will decide in April, but will give top vote-getters "the most consideration." (3/23)

Gravity Probe's Launch Boosts Rocket Firm's Coffers (Source: Space News)
The successful March 17 launch of the European Space Agency (ESA) GOCE Earth observation satellite aboard a Russian Rockot vehicle was a life-saving event for Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, the German-Russian company that sells commercial launches on the converted ICBM. The launch followed the October 2005 failure of the last Eurockot mission for ESA, when a Rockot vehicle sent the Cryosat satellite into the ocean in the Arctic Circle even as launch teams continued to broadcast a launch success to ESA officials.

Since then, a series of delays relating to Rockot's Breeze upper stage and other factors had delayed the GOCE satellite so long that mission teams feared they would be forced to change the satellite's orbit, a decision that would have reduced the scientific harvest. In addition, Russian inflation during the same period forced Bremen, Germany-based Eurockot to increase its prices abruptly. (3/23)

Space Storm Alert: 90 Seconds From Catastrophe (Source: New Scientist)
It's midnight on Sep. 22 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power. A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation's infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event - a violent storm, 150 million kilometers away on the surface of the sun.

It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn't create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that. Over the last few decades, western civilizations have busily sown the seeds of their own destruction. Our modern way of life, with its reliance on technology, has unwittingly exposed us to an extraordinary danger: plasma balls spewed from the surface of the sun could wipe out our power grids, with catastrophic consequences.

The projections of just how catastrophic make chilling reading. "We're moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster," says the chair of the NAS committee responsible for the report. It is hard to conceive of the sun wiping out a large amount of our hard-earned progress. Nevertheless, it is possible. The surface of the sun is a roiling mass of high-energy plasma, some of which escapes the surface to travel through space with the solar wind. A billion-ton glob of plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection, could hit the Earth's magnetic shield, with truly devastating results. Click here to view the article. (3/23)

Consulting Firm Expects Quiet Year in Aerospace (Source: AIA)
Following a "catastrophic" second half in 2008, the aerospace industry in 2009 will be merely "subdued," according to an analysis by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Big defense contractors may make a few bargain purchases as private equity firms look to reduce debt, though conserving cash will be the top priority overall. On the civil aviation side, the big unknown for 2009 is the pace of order cancellations, according to PwC. (3/23)

San Diego Space Society Members Look Up and Say 'Good Heavens' (Source: SD Union Tribune)
Maria Catalina and Gerry Williams are star-struck, and it has nothing to do with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They are captivated by the vastness of the universe and contemplative of humanity's exploration of space far beyond what ever has been experienced. The thought of deep-space exploration makes them almost giddy. “Think about what it would mean to visit Mars, travel though space,” said Catalina, a seventh-grade science teacher at Mar Vista Middle School in San Ysidro.

“It's a frontier to be explored – where we will learn and come to understandings never before realized.” Catalina, freelance photographer Williams and about a half-dozen other members of the San Diego Space Society met in Golden Hill to finish homemade, water-powered rockets, tweak spacesuits and fine-tune model Mars rovers in preparation for a science expo April 4 in Balboa Park. The expo will culminate the San Diego Science Festival, a monthlong educational event designed in part to promote the county's scientific sector. (3/23)

Beginning the Journey of a Thousand Miles? (Source: Space Review)
Should the United States and China cooperate in space, and if so, how? Dean Cheng describes both the obstacles to working together and the prospects for meaningful cooperation in the near term. Visit to view the article. (3/23)

Does the ISS Have a Future? (Source: Space Review)
As the International Space Station approaches completion, now is the time to examine what the station's long-term future should be. Taylor Dinerman outlines the questions about the station that will have to be answered. Visit to view the article. (3/23)

Battle's Laws (Source: Space Review)
One of the key lessons of space efforts throughout the Space Age is the importance of proper systems engineering. Dwayne Day recounts an early event that demonstrated that need, and the rules that were promulgated as a result. Visit to view the article. (3/23)

Liberals, Space Activists, and the Great Orange Satan (Source: Space Review)
Are liberals really opposed to space exploration and settlement? Ferris Valyn examines just how interested they are in space and what more can be done to convince them to support it. Visit to view the article. (3/23)

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