March 9 News Items

Editorial: Funds Should Be Spent on Ocean Research Before Space Exploration (Source: Hawaii Reporter)
I don't think I'd have spent $600 million on a rocketed-into-space telescope to see if there are any Earth-like planets out there that escape detection by our Earth-bound telescopes. And that from a fellow who heartily endorses space exploration. I can't see, for that price, what it will mean to either say yes, there are some far-away planets situated just right from their suns to be like us, or no, we haven't found anything.

I suspect there are life-sustaining planets out there in the vastness. But the distances, even if we find evidence of them, will be so great that we could never go there in a hundred generations or more. I'm not a religious person so I don't think we were uniquely created by a Superior Being. I think we evolved quite accidentally, and that if the evolution were to happen all over again the results would be significantly different.

I'd spend the money looking more at Mars. Why? Not just for the potential mineral resources there. It's for that day when we detect a huge asteroid heading on a collision course with Earth (just as one hit Mars maybe three billion years ago) and we've got to go. Colonization could keep homo sapiens from extinction like the dinosaurs... I'd rather have spent that money on ocean exploration. (3/9)

NASA Cooperating with Congressional Probe of UF Professor (Source: Florida Today)
NASA said it will cooperate with a congressional probe into charges that a University of Florida professor funneled millions of NASA grant dollars into the personal bank accounts of his family members. The chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has oversight of NASA policy, requested the investigation after reports surfaced last week about the alleged scam. (3/9)

Boeing Hardware To Bring ISS To Full Potential (Source:
Space Shuttle Discovery is preparing to deliver the Starboard 6 (S6) truss segment built by Boeing - along with the segment's solar array wings and batteries - to the International Space Station (ISS). This marks the completion of the U.S. "core" of the station and delivery of the last major U.S., Boeing-built element. (3/9)

Why So Many Spaceports (Source:
All in all, there are some 20 active, or soon to be active, space launch sites around the world. Last year the total worldwide orbital launch count was 68. Simple arithmetic tells us that the average number of launches for each site is around three. Just last week it was reported that China would soon start construction of a new space launch center in the southernmost Hainan Province. Apparently, the State Council and Central Military Commission approved the new spaceport in late 2008.

According to the report this new site will boast high capacity and low costs. One might think this new launch site is badly needed due to high launch demand, but the truth is the world has plenty of launch sites already. A quick survey shows active space launch sites at Alcantara in Brazil, XiChang and Shuang Cheng Tzu in China, Baikonur in Kazakhstan, Kapustin Yar in Russia, Plesetsk in Russia, Kourou in French Guiana, Sriharikota in India, Palmachim in Israel and Kagoshima and Tanegashima in Japan. In addition, we now have a new site in Iran, and North Korea may soon have a launch site. Click here to view the article. (3/9)

Ohio Delegation Seeks Space Support in Their State (Source: NASA Watch)
U.S. Senators George V. Voinovich and Sherrod Brown have led a letter with the Ohio delegation expressing a desire to work with President Obama to strengthen the presence of NASA in Ohio. Ohio is home to the Glenn Research Center. "We would encourage you to pay particular attention to the Glenn Research Center and its testing facility, Plum Brook Station," the letter states. "While we are excited by all the work that has been done to date, it is but the beginning of opportunities that will span generations. Ohio has a skilled engineering labor force and manufacturers that have proven themselves on multiple NASA flight projects. When combined with NASA Glenn's experienced federal workforce and world-class facilities, Ohio is a competitive choice for the location of additional contract and sub-contract work in design, development, manufacturing and testing." (3/9)

Satellite Firm's Growth Dealt Blow on Two Continents (Source: Space News)
EchoStar Chief Executive Charlie Ergen gave investors a sobering assessment of near-term prospects for leasing the company's excess North American satellite capacity to compete with established fleet operators Intelsat, SES and Telesat and said its venture in satellite-delivered mobile television in China shows no sign of restarting. In a March 2 conference call - roughly a year after the Englewood, Colo.-based company was split off from satellite television broadcaster Dish Network - Ergen said he was "very disappointed that we haven't been very successful" in carving out a piece of the North American fixed satellite services business for EchoStar. (3/9)

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Is Shrinking (Source: Space News)
On Earth, hurricanes form and dissipate in a matter of days. On Jupiter, storms can rage for years or even centuries. The Great Red Spot, a colossal storm twice the diameter of our planet, has lasted at least 300 years. But now that mother of all storms is shrinking just as other spots emerge to challenge its status. Observations of cloud cover over the past decade or so have suggested the huge, oval tempest was getting smaller as Jupiter's climate changes. But such observations are tricky. Nearby storms can nip off parts of the giant storm, and in turn the Great Red Spot can consume nearby clouds. (3/9)

India's Youth Now Fancy Space: ISRO Chief (Source: Economic Times)
Youth and school children in the country now have a new-found fancy for careers in space science, ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair said. He said the young minds in the country seemed to have developed a much keener interest in space science following the recent successful Chandrayan mission. This, he said, was in stark contrast to the past few years when youngsters were hooked to careers in IT, biotechnology, etc. ISRO director K Radhakrishnan said India’s space efforts were particularly noteworthy considering that we had spent only a fraction of what the US, Europe or China had spent on their space efforts and had achieved so much with so little. (3/9)

Japanese Astronaut Takes On Quirky Space-Age Challenges (Source: Atomic MPC)
There's many a person who has dreamt of having a ride in a zero-g environment, and all the odd and unnatural stuff you can get up to without the large pull of gravity on you, but not many have had the chance to. A Japanese astronaut, Koichi Wakata, has been given a list of 1597 tasks that have been set by hundreds of people ranging through all ages and from all walks of life. He picked sixteen of them, from riding a carpet around in the air to folding clothes, arm-wrestling, pushups and more. (3/9)

NASA's Funding Issues Cloud Future Space Efforts (Source: Wall Street Journal)
A U.S. space shuttle slated to blast off Wednesday will carry the final solar-panel assembly to provide power the International Space Station needs to support more crew members, but the mission comes amid uncertainty over the future of America's manned space efforts. NASA appears to be losing momentum as it confronts retirement of the temperamental shuttle fleet in less than two years. The agency is also operating without a permanent administrator and has yet to receive the significant long-range funding boost telegraphed by President Barack Obama in his campaign.

Plans envision spending a total of as much as $50 billion to build a new generation of rockets and space capsules able to take astronauts to the moon by 2020 and eventually to other planets. But Mr. Obama's initial budget leaves those questions in limbo and essentially locks in his predecessor's spending priorities. NASA's travails coincide with stepped-up space-exploration efforts by China, Russia, India, Japan and the European Union. Within the U.S. space community, it has become routine to talk about Chinese astronauts beating their American counterparts to land on the moon. Click here to view the article. (3/9)

Iridium Provides Update on Satellite Constellation (Source: Iridium)
Iridium has completed the replacement of the operational Iridium satellite lost in the collision three weeks ago with a non-operational Russian satellite. The unique architecture of Iridium's fully-meshed network of 66 satellites enabled the continuity of service to Iridium's customers while one of Iridium's in-orbit spares was prepared and maneuvered into the constellation. (3/9)

Editorial: Legislators Need to Stop the Decline of Florida's Space Industry (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Florida legislators now meeting in their annual session are understandably focused on trying to keep the state afloat amid the worst fiscal crisis in decades. But that's not a good excuse for overlooking an economic calamity looming for the state's Space Coast. The Obama administration has reaffirmed the plan to ground the shuttle, and the worst-case scenario may be materializing.

As we've argued before, legislators need to complete a thorough but expeditious review of Space Florida. They need to do whatever it takes to make the agency more efficient and effective. The time for patience has passed. Legislators also need to seriously consider other ways to help Florida attract space investment to make up for the loss of the shuttle program, and to develop research and engineering jobs in other high-wage industries. Members from both parties, in both chambers, have proposed a series of programs and financial incentives to accomplish these goals. Most of them are relatively modest in cost.

Of course, any new spending is a tough sell after repeated rounds of cuts in the state budget. But Florida needs to keep up with the competition for space jobs and other high-wage work. Saving a little now could cost a lot more in the future. If the space industry crashes here, and efforts to add other good jobs don't get off the ground, Florida will never reach its economic potential. (3/9)

China to Launch 15 to 16 Satellites in 2009 (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch 15 to 16 satellites this year. "Though the global financial crisis is taking toll on world economy, it has no impact on China's space programs," an official said. China has sent an average of eight satellites into space annually during the first two years of its 11th five-year-plan (2006-2010), and the number was 1.5 before its ninth five-year-plan (1996-2000), figures from the China Academy of Space Technology showed. (3/9)

Embry-Riddle Observatory Hosts Open House (Source: ERAU)
The ERAU Amateur Astronomy Club and the Physical Sciences Department sponsored an Open House on Mar. 11 for the university's Creekside Observatory.
Dr. Jason Aufdenberg answered astronomy questions along with members of the Amateur Astronomy Club and the Society of Women Engineers. (3/9)

Lunar Probe Will Restart NASA Exploration of the Moon (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA's upcoming robotic mission to the Moon will set some basic signposts for human exploration there far into the future, while giving Earthbound scientists a much better view of the distant past. Developed by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate as a source of detailed maps for the Moon base already in development, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will join orbiters from China, India and Japan in producing the best look ever at Earth's natural satellite. Exploration planners at NASA will use data from the 12-month mapping mission to begin picking a site for the human outpost that is the current U.S. human-exploration goal by 2020. (3/9)

Is the US Serious About Space Policy? (Source: Space Review)
The space community has focused intently of late on civil, commercial, and military space policy issues. However, as Jeff Foust reports, the problem is implementing those policies, and the degree to which the highest levels of government are interested in those issues. Visit to view the article. (3/9)

A Space Launch Vehicle by Any Other Name... (Source: Space Review)
Tensions are rising about the impending launch of what North Korea claims is a space launch vehicle but what the US, Japan, and others believe is a long-range ballistic missile. Brian Weeden examines how to tell the difference between the two. Visit to view the article. (3/9)

Phasing Dragon (Source: Space Review)
China's plans to develop a small space station have made their way back into the news in the last week. Dwayne Day suggests that these reports say less about Chinese plans than about western biases and fears. Visit to view the article. (3/9)

Launch Failures: An Atlas Groundhog Day (Source: Space Review)
Normally when a launch failure takes place the cause is identified and corrected. Wayne Eleazer describes a case where that course of events took place, only to have the same failure happen again. Visit to view the article. (3/9)

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