August 16 News Items

Space Elevator Chase Yields Earthly Rewards (Source: CNN)
It was the seventh time Michael Laine had gone into foreclosure in just five years, all in pursuit of an entrepreneurial dream. This time, he was out of luck, as was the nine-employee company, LiftPort, that Laine financed almost entirely by leveraging his property. Two years later, Laine still doesn't regret the obsession that led him to repeatedly default on his mortgage and gamble the $140,000 he received in rental income each year. "I could have retired at 35 with a lifetime income," he says. "Or I could build an elevator to space." (8/16)

Laine is one of the most devout proponents of the sci-fi phenomenon known as the space elevator -- an as-yet hypothetical alternative to rockets -- but he's not the only entrepreneur inspired by the idea. This week's fifth annual Space Elevator Conference, sponsored by Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), brings a host of academics, space enthusiasts and small business owners together to discuss everything from the technology to the regulatory framework required to build a giant elevator to space.

The conference will be closely followed by the Space Elevator Games. Teams of scientists, tinkerers and entrepreneurs will gather to test out technologies that could one day lift riders through the Earth's atmosphere toward the stars. Space elevators may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but there's cold, hard cash attached to the race to build one. NASA's Centennial Challenges program has put up $4 million in prize money for teams that successfully conquer the Games' two key engineering competitions, and large companies are keeping a close eye on the innovative technologies created by competitors in the power beaming challenge, which requires teams to remotely power a robotic vehicle using a laser. (8/16)

South Korean Aegis Destroyer to Track Space Launch (Source: Korea Times)
Sejong the Great, the Navy's 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer, will monitor and track the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV)-1, or Naro-ho, in an effort to evaluate its missile tracking capability. Naro-ho is set to blast off Wednesday from the country's southern region. The KDX-III destroyer, equipped with the Aegis Combat System developed by Lockheed Martin of the U.S. (8/16)

Middle East: Plans for Space Education and Research (Source: University World News)
The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to boost space science in higher education, as well as research and development in the UAE and the Middle East region. The July 30 launch of DubaiSat, the Emirates first $50 million earth-observation satellite, was the first step in implementing the plan. Although Emirati technicians were responsible for only 30% of the work on DubaiSat-1, two others dubbed DubaiSat-2 and 3 are expected to be ready by 2020 and will be developed by Emiratis.

"Developing a core team of UAE scientists and experts was the most definitive outcome of a strategy that is geared to support mature, knowledge-based development," said Ahmad Obaid Al Mansouri, Director-General of the Emirates institute. The plan also includes the establishment of a $800 million Gulf space center and satellite program based in Abu Dhabi. This will be the largest in the Middle East and North Africa region. As well as setting up a spaceport and a satellite observation center, the institute is developing a $22.5 million assembly, integration and verification facility for testing satellites which will include shock testers and machines that simulate the effects of space.

One of the important home-grown space projects is the establishment of a US$30 million Gulf Earth Observation Center, expected to be operational within six months. It will have a space academy providing education up to university level in telecommunications, electronics and space engineering. The plan also includes establishing a federal space authority to coordinate national R&D programmes for spacecraft-satellite projects in government, private companies and academic institution research. (8/16)

Loss of Ares I Work Wouldn't End World (Source: Huntsville Times)
If NASA is directed to stop work on the Ares I rocket, space experts say Marshall Space Flight Center would likely be asked to focus on new rocket engines or a rocket based on the current space shuttle. The White House-appointed panel last week continued its discussions on NASA's future, and much of the talk centered on stopping work on the Ares I rocket - after almost five years and $3 billion. With about 2,500 federal employees and 7,000 contractor workers, any of the Augustine Panel options would mean work for Marshall, said a propulsion engineer who has worked on engine development at Marshall for the past 50 years...The same thing has happened many times since I started out there working for contractors in the 1960s. There's always a need for rockets and research, and that's Marshall's bread and butter." (8/16)

Bill Posey: Washington Must be Willing to Invest in NASA (Source:
Space exploration is one thing for which the United States is undeniably, unequivocally and universally respected around the world. But our international competitors are eager to catch up. Russia, China, India, and others are challenging our position as the world leader in aerospace. We should not and cannot afford to surrender this leadership to others. Not for the sake of national pride but because it is an integral part of our future and will inspire future generations of Americans. We must press the envelope and lead the world. Additionally, we all realize the vital implications at stake in regards to our national security; whoever dominates space will control what security we have here on Earth.

I have urged the [Augustine Panel] to highlight in their report ways to minimize the U.S. gap with the Shuttle’s successor program to maintain our high-skilled space work force. Furthermore, I asked the committee to think outside the arbitrary budget numbers placed on NASA — $18.8 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion budget, less than half a percent of the federal budget.

If we are serious about maintaining our leadership in space and wish to continue as a beneficiary of space exploration, policy makers need to know what the best options are overall. Budgets are a reality, but proper leadership can and should match the budget to a worthy mission — not the mission to the budget. Finally, I reminded the committee of the importance of vision in inspiring the leaders of tomorrow. (8/16)

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