April 13 News Items

Space Losing Popularity Among Russians (Source: Russia Today)
Most Russians do not want to fly into space, and do not know contemporary cosmonauts, according to the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM). On Sunday April 12, Russia celebrated Cosmonautics Day, marking the anniversary of man’s first flight into space. VCIOM conducted a survey to find out Russians’ opinion about space flights and the profession called 'cosmonaut'. (4/13)

The Shuttle Retirement Restarts in May, Says Top NASA Official (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A top NASA official said Monday that the agency plans to restart its shutdown of the space shuttle program next month, despite calls from several Florida lawmakers to extend the shuttle era beyond its planned retirement in 2010. Congress had barred NASA from taking any steps that would prevent shuttle flights beyond 2010 under legislation that passed last year. But that ban expires April 30 and NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said the agency must resume dismantling the program next month or risk running out of money before the agency completes its final eight or nine flights into low-Earth orbit. (4/13)

India: Food Security Tops Great Space Challenges (Source: Business Standard)
Though advancements in space technologies in the last half a century have brought about tremendous benefits, achieving food security has been one of the most important of them, an Indian space official said. Food security has been a cause for concern as the country’s food production has remained nearly static over the last five years, about 200-215 million tons. The country needed around 350 million tons of food to meet the growing population needs, he said.

Though the Green Revolution increased food production, the use of fertilizer and chemicals had damaged soil fertility, water was still not being used efficiently, Rao said delivering a technical lecture on ‘Science & Technology — Great Challenges in Space’ here. “Soil and water conservation have to be achieved if we have to increase food production,” he said. He listed energy, environmental, resource and space securities followed by space transportation, exploring universe and colonisation of Mars as other challenges. (4/13)

Space Solar Power: The Next Frontier? (Source: Next100.com)
PG&E is committed to providing more renewable energy to its customers, using a wide range of technologies. Now PG&E is extending that approach to tap renewable energy at an entirely new level: solar power in space. PG&E is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp., a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power over a 15 year period. Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid. Click here to view the article. (4/13)

Orbital Sciences to Launch Lunar Mission from Virginia Spaceport (Source: Spaceports Blog)
An Orbital Sciences Corporation five-stage Minotaur V is being scheduled to rumble from Pad 0B at the Virginia-based Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in March 2011 on a voyage to the moon, carrying as a payload the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) as a part of the NASA Lunar Science Program. The civil space launch would be the first to the Moon from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility thereby making some Virginia history from the promising commercial spaceport that could. (4/13)

Above the Clouds: The White Cloud Ocean Surveillance Satellites (Source: Space Review)
In the 1970s the NRO and the Navy developed a new series of spacecraft designed to monitor naval vessels on the high seas. Dwayne Day describes the history of this effort, which until recently had been shrouded in secrecy. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1351/1 to view the article. (4/13)

CERN Versus Mars (Source: Space Review)
A columnist recently wondered why the space community cannot come together to advocate for major projects in much the same way physicists do for major particle accelerators. Roberto Battiston, a scientist who has worked in both the high energy and space physics fields, explains why the two communities are so different. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1350/1 to view the article. (4/13)

NASA Gets Pwned Online (Source: Space Review)
In an effort to better engage with the public, NASA has held some online competitions in recent weeks to name an ISS module and select the "greatest mission" in the agency's history. Jeff Foust examines how a comedian and some overzealous voters kept things from going how the agency might have planned. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1349/1 to view the article. (4/13)

The Ares 1-X Test Flight: Crunch Time for Constellation (Source: Space Review)
Later this year NASA plans to carry out the first test launch of the Ares 1 rocket that will be a cornerstone of Project Constellation. Taylor Dinerman discusses what's on the line for NASA with this launch. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1348/1 to view the article. (4/13)

Lost Over the Horizon: Discoverer 1 Explores Antarctica (Source: Space Review)
When North Korea claimed this month to launch a satellite into orbit, no one else could find any evidence of the spacecraft. Dwayne Day recounts an episode from the early years of the Space Age when the US Air Force claimed to have put a satellite into orbit that may have only reached Antarctica. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1347/1 to view the article. (4/13)

Sen. Shelby: America Can't Afford Space Shuttle, Station and Ares Rockets (Source: Huntsville Times)
Plans making the rounds of the U.S. Congress to extend the space shuttle and keep using the Space Station cannot be allowed to delay the Marshall-led Ares rocket projects and may force "something to give," Alabama's Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) said. He said America probably could not afford to continue flying the space shuttle past its set September 2010 retirement date, continue supporting the $100 billion space station past 2015 and build the shuttle's intended successor - the Ares I.

Shelby said economic slowdowns and federal budget shortfalls would mean one of the major programs would have to be cut or retired. Shelby said the Marshall-managed Ares rockets were key to NASA's future and that he supported their development. "We have to go to the future." As the Ares programs have undergone delays and development problems, support has been building over the past year to extend the shuttle and keep using the Space Station. (4/13)

NASA Blog: Where Things Stand with Constellation (Source: NASA Watch)
"First, some facts: NASA’s commitment has been and continues to be to achieve the first human launch of Orion by March 2015. We see that as eminently achievable, but it’s not a guarantee – there is no such thing in any large scale development program and especially for one where the available funding is never known more than one year in advance." (4/13)

The Search for the Solar System's Lost Planet (Source: Space.com)
The solar system might once have had another planet named Theia, which may have helped create our own planet's moon. Now two spacecraft are heading out to search for leftovers from this rumored sibling, which would have been destroyed when the solar system was still young. Some researchers believe it existed 4.5 billion years ago — and that it collided with Earth to form the moon," said a NASA scientist. Theia is thought to have been about Mars-sized. Many researchers now figure that indeed some large object crashed into Earth, and the resulting debris coalesced to form the moon. It is unclear though if that colliding object was a planet, asteroid or comet. (4/13)

Europe Tweaks Ariane-5 Rocket to Haul Heavier Satellites (Source: Space News)
Europe's Arianespace commercial launch consortium has begun making multiple minor adjustments to its Ariane 5 ECA rocket that should result in a 400-kilogram increase in the vehicle's commercial payload-carrying power by the end of 2010. The increased capacity would enable the Ariane 5 ECA to lift two telecommunications satellites weighing a combined 9,100 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit. (4/13)

China to Launch New Navigation Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch the second Beidou satellite, the Chinese version of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), into the orbit on the upcoming Wednesday. Both the rocket, a Long March-3III carrier, and the satellite are in sound conditions and ready for the planned projection, an official said. (4/13)

India Launch Plans Harm Fishing Industry (Source: Times of India)
The proposed launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from the Sriharikota spaceport later this month has evoked a strong protest from the fisherfolk community as the state government banned fishing in about 15 villages for security reasons. The state fisheries department last week distributed pamphlets among the villages at Pazhaverkadu where around 25,000 fishermen families live, asking them not to go for fishing till April 15. The PSLV, the pamphlets warned, could be launched from Sriharikota at any time. (4/13)

Orion Spacecraft Looking Good in Key Advances (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA's next planned spacecraft - the Orion Crew Vehicle - made major advances over the past two weeks, completing a major test and choosing a key piece for the six-person capsule. Space agency and Navy divers put the capsule through water-recovery tests, and NASA managers selected a protective heat shield material. Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Ares rocket development. NASA aims to use the Ares I to loft six people to the International Space Station by 2015 and possibly four people to the moon by 2020. (4/13)

NASA's Orion Could Use European Avionics (Source: Flight Global)
European avionics technology could be used for NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV) following an unfunded space act agreement with Vienna based-TTTech Computertechnik. The agreement, signed in mid-March, is to support NASA's development of technology for Orion's electronic systems and create an ethernet based standard potentially for the CEV's video, audio and sensor systems' data needs. TTTech's involvement marks the second time a European company has been considered for NASA's return to the Moon vehicles. France's Snecma Propulsion Solide's nozzle technology was examined for NASA's Ares rockets' upper stage Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X engine before the space agency chose a US-made metal alternative. (4/13)

Zenit 3SLB to Carry U.S. Satellite from Baikonur in June (Source: Interfax)
The launch of a Zenit 3SLB rocket carrying the MeaSat-3a satellite of U.S. Intelsat from the Baikonur spaceport is planned for June within the framework of the Land Launch program, a source at the Sea Launch international consortium said. MeaSat-3a is the renamed MeaSat-1R, which was due to take off last August. The launch was postponed as the satellite had been damaged in preparations for the takeoff at Baikonur. (4/13)

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