April 14 News Items

China Launches Second Navigation Satellite (Source: CRI)
China successfully launched the second Beidou satellite (COMPASS-G2), the Chinese version of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), into the orbit early Wednesday morning. The satellite was sent by a Long March 3C rocket from the Xichang spaceport in China's Sichuan Province. China launched the first satellite, Beidou Navigation System, into geostationary orbit in Oct. 2000, in an effort to build up its own positioning system independent from the US's Global Positioning System (GPS), EU's Galileo Positioning System and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). China has sent five positioning orbiters into the space. The current Beidou system only provides regional navigation service within China's territory. (4/14)

Computer Program Targets Psychological Effects of Space Travel (Source: Vermont Public Radio)
The difficulties of space travel extend beyond the technical problems that come with surviving in a hostile environment. There are psychological challenges, as well, brought on by separation from family and confinement for long periods with a small group of co-workers. Astronauts do their best to prepare for these things before a spaceflight, but with talk of longer space flights, there's an effort underway at Dartmouth to better train astronauts to cope with the emotional effects of space travel. Click here to view the article. (4/14)

Arianespace to Launch New Dawn Satellite (Source: Arianespace)
New Dawn Satellite Company Ltd. (“New Dawn”), a joint venture between Intelsat and a South African investor group led by Convergence Partners, has awarded Arianespace the launch contract to deliver the Intelsat New Dawn satellite into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). This new contract is the 6th signed in 2009 by Arianespace with the major satellite operators. The launch is planned for the end of 2010, using an Ariane 5 or Soyuz launcher from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. (4/14)

Nowak Attorney Wants State Sanctioned (Source: Florida Today)
An attorney for former astronaut Lisa Nowak filed a motion today in Orange County Court, seeking sanctions against the state for failing to turn over evidence. The evidence in question is a fire department report, in which a paramedic states that Colleen Shipman “denied any direct contact with the pepper spray and was not experiencing any burning sensations or any medical problems.” Nowak’s attorney, Donald Lykkebak, complained that this information has been known to the prosecution for more than two years, but the prosecution failed to give him a copy. (4/14)

Salmonella Vaccine Could Result From Space Studies (Source: Discovery News)
A series of experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station may soon lead to a vaccine against food poisoning from salmonella bacteria. Researchers are analyzing a batch of the bacteria brought back by the shuttle Discovery crew last month. Earlier studies showed salmonella can become more virulent in weightlessness; further investigations proved its virulence can be controlled, toggled on and off like a switch. Now two groups are working to develop compounds for a salmonella vaccine, said space station program scientist Julie Robinson. The studies began because NASA was concerned its astronauts might be more susceptible to food poisoning in space due to their weakened immune systems -- an unfortunate, but well-documented effect of microgravity. (4/14)

ISRO to Launch Anna University's ANUSAT on April 20 (Source: EduNews)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch Anna University's 50-kg micro satellite ANUSAT, designed and fabricated at the University, on April 20. The satellite is being sponsored by ISRO. (4/14)

Space Race: Are Solar Satellites the Next Big Thing? (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Is Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan for space-based solar power as crazy as it sounds? Yes and no--it’s not as crazy as it is expensive with today’s technology. The California utility, which just requested permission to enter a 15-year agreement with privately-held Solaren Corp. to deploy a big solar-power satellite in space, buried all the technical and economic details of the proposal in the confidential section of its regulatory filing. In a ho-hum manner, PG&E largely portrayed space-based solar as just another way for the power company to comply with increasingly-stringent state targets for clean-energy generation.

The biggest challenge, PG&E said, is building a large, multi-megawatt satellite to harvest solar power in space; the small solar arrays currently in use are a fraction of that size. For the Pentagon, which took a close look at space-based solar power in 2007, the idea has both more potential and even bigger challenges. The report called space-based solar a “viable and attractive” way to diversify the nation’s energy supplies.

The upside: Solar arrays in space would have unfettered, 24-hour access to solar radiation, making it true baseload power. The 2007 report notes that a single, kilometer-wide strip in space holds more energy potential than all the world’s oil and gas reserves. The downside: Putting solar arrays in space in the first place. Simply put, “existing launch infrastructure cannot close the business case,” the report found. Click here to view the article. (4/14)

University of Alabama in Huntsville Hires Ex-NASA Administrator (Source: Birmingham News)
The University of Alabama in Huntsville received approval this morning to hire former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to be a tenured professor and "eminent scholar." Griffin, who came to NASA in 2005 and left with the change of presidential administration, will teach in the school's department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. He'll be paid out of a special endowment created 20 years ago for this position that has never been used, UAH President David Williams said. (4/14)

Editorial: Boldly Going Nowhere (Source: New York Times)
It's a birthright proffered by science and prophesied by “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica” and a thousand other space operas: We’re destined to go to the stars. Our descendants will spread beyond this nondescript solar system and seek adventure and bumpy-headed pals in the stellar realms. Well, cool your warp jets, Mr. Scott, because we’re not about to breach the final frontier. Piling into a starship and barreling into deep space may long remain — like perfect children or effort-free bathroom cleaners — a pipe dream.

The fastest rocket ever launched, NASA’s New Horizons probe to Pluto, roared off its pad in 2006 at 10 miles per second. That pace would be impressive in the morning commute, and it’s passably adequate for traversing the solar system, something we’ve done and will continue to do. Combustion rockets, like New Horizons, can deliver you to the Moon in a matter of days, Mars in a matter of months, and the outer planets in a matter of years. But a trip to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star beyond the Sun and 100 million times farther from us than the Moon, would consume a tedious 800 centuries or so. You’ll want to upgrade.

While there’s little doubt that humanity will soon explore and eventually colonize the Moon, Mars and the satellites and asteroids of the outer solar system, sending humans beyond that is impractical for the foreseeable future. But there’s another technology that’s developing at a breakneck clip, and with which our grandchildren could make virtual trips to other solar systems. It’s called telepresence — a collection of technologies that extends vision, hearing and touch far beyond the corporeal confines of our nervous system. Click here to view the editorial. (4/14)

Deal Made to Develop First KSC Park Building (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida deal with Orlando-based Pizzuti includes plans to build and lease the first building in its Kennedy Space Center-based research campus known as Exploration Park. "The goal is to deliver the building in early to mid-2011," said a Pizzuti official. "The design phase would start in June or July." Before construction can begin, however, Space Florida must secure a federal grant for nearly $3 million to build roads and sewer lines.

Pizzuti, a 32-year-old company, has developed more than 40 million square feet of office and industrial space nationwide. The first phase of Exploration Park would include eight buildings totaling 315,000 square feet on 60 acres of KSC land near the Space Life Sciences Laboratory. The first 25,000-square-foot building will cost $8 million to $10 million. Pizzuti would fund the construction and find tenants, the first of which would be Space Florida. (4/11)

Aging Mars Rover Spirit Has Unexplained Computer Reboots (Source: AP)
NASA's aging Mars rover Spirit has rebooted its computer at least twice for unknown reasons. Rover project manager John Callas at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said Monday that the rover is in a stable operations state called automode and can remain that way for some time while the problem is diagnosed. The reboots occurred during the past weekend. Callas says Spirit's batteries are charged, its solar arrays are producing energy and its temperatures are within allowable ranges. Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, have been exploring the cold and dusty red planet since 2004. (4/14)

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