August 30 News Items

China To Launch Indonesia's CommSat (Source: Space Daily)
China will soon send an Indonesian communications satellite into space on the back of Chinese-made Long March 3B rocket, a spokesperson for the Xichang Satellite Launch Center said. All preparatory work is well underway and both the satellite and the rocket were in good condition, the spokesperson said. The Palapa D satellite, owned by Indosat, an Indonesian satellite communications company, will provide satellite links and broadcasting services for Indonesia and other southeastern Asian nations. Indosat ordered the Palapa D satellite from the French company Thales Alenia Space in 2007. (8/30)

Indian Space Tourism Considered (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
India now has the potential to operate space tourism from its soil and it will become a reality soon, said cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma. Mr Sharma, now a retired wing commander of the Indian Air Force and the first and only cosmonaut from Indian soil, said India, with its variety of landscapes, looked beautiful from space. He said India now had the potential and technical know-how to build spacecraft to promote space tourism. Space tourism from Indian soil will become a reality soon, he asserted. (8/29)

NASA May Rely More on Business (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's Saturn V moon rockets and shuttles have long symbolized American leadership in human spaceflight. But the shuttle's impending retirement, a reduced budget and an emerging commercial space industry could combine to nudge NASA out of the business of operating its own rocket fleets and launching astronauts into low Earth orbit. Most of the options weighed by a presidential panel reviewing the agency's human spaceflight program would rely on the private sector to ferry cargo and astronauts, first to the International Space Station and later on the first legs of trips to the moon or beyond.

Relieved of that responsibility, the thinking goes, NASA could focus limited resources on tackling technologies needed for its most ambitious exploration goals. "It seems unreasonable to us that NASA should spend its time just repeatedly doing what it knows how to do," Norman Augustine, chairman of the Human Space Flight Plans Committee, said in a recent interview with PBS. "NASA ought to be exploring outer space and doing new things." The shipping of goods and people a few hundred miles above Earth, he added, "that should be a commercial endeavor, in our view."

One option would be for NASA to continue developing its shuttle successors under the Constellation program: an Ares I rocket for launching the Orion crew capsule and a larger Ares V to lift heavy cargo needed for landings or outposts on another planetary surface. But under current budget projections, Ares I and Orion wouldn't be ready to fly until the space station was at or near the end of its life in 2015 or 2020, and the Ares V years later. Advocates say commercial alternatives to Ares I could be ready faster and cheaper and would jump-start a frontier economy in low Earth orbit by guaranteeing a multibillion-dollar market for their services. (8/30)

Editorial: Challenge of Space (Source: Arab News)
The subject of outer space has changed. Even 20 years ago, the so-called “space race” was still between the Russians and the Americans. Their geopolitical rivalry rather than the pure science of space exploration was what drove their efforts. The Soviets launched the very first satellite in 1957 and four years later put the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit. That achievement prompted President Kennedy to vow the Americans would be the first to put a man on the Moon.

Now China and India, Japan and the EU are all pursuing their own space programs. Last year, to intense national pride, the Chinese put their first man in space. India’s space efforts are not that far behind. A manned mission is scheduled in four years’ time. It is unlikely Saturday’s loss of communications with its first lunar orbital satellite, Chandrayaan-1, will impede India's plans. But it ought nevertheless to give pause for thought, not just to New Delhi but to all countries that are either already established in space or contemplating the major technological and logistical effort of getting there. For all space nations, there has to be a fine line between demonstrating such technical and scientific expertise and pressing on alone with their own space programs without reference to other countries.

It has been argued that with its millions of poor, India can ill afford the $79 million spent on this lunar mission. But this is to suggest that this sum of money was actually shot into space in the Chandrayaan satellite. In fact, of course, it was spent productively, largely in India and as with every other national space effort, has boosted the local technology base. That is arguably of more value than the intense pride most Indians have taken in the lunar mission. (8/30)

Why Stevenage is the Final Frontier in Space Technology (Source: Daily Mail)
EADS Astrium is the third biggest space company in the world (after Boeing and Lockheed Martin), and space technology is not something Britain is merely good at; there are some areas where we're the best. We're at the forefront of robotics, which is why our autonomous rover, due to take off for Mars in 2016, is going to enable us to explore the planet more thoroughly than any mission so far. And in the field of satellite manufacture, we are peerless. Not only are the models we build more sophisticated than anyone else's - three are being constructed to measure for the first time the 'gravitational waves' predicted by Einstein and we're even planning to send one to the Sun - but they're also more reliable, which is why they're so in demand by the telecommunications industry. This reliability is something in which Astrium's highly committed, multinational work force takes enormous pride. (8/30)

NASA Looking to Solve Medium-Lift Conundrum (Source:
Facing a lack of rocket options for medium-class robotic missions, NASA's launch czar said the agency will not need another medium-lift rocket until at least 2014, enough time for new boosters to prove themselves. William Wrobel, NASA's assistant associate administrator for launch services, said future medium-class missions will most likely fly on Falcon 9 or Taurus 2 rockets now being developed for resupply missions to the International Space Station. NASA is discontinuing its use of the venerable Delta 2 rocket line, a family of boosters that has been the backbone of the country's launch infrastructure for more than 20 years. After the last NASA Delta 2 mission in late 2011, there are no medium-class spacecraft due for launch until around 2014, according to Wrobel. (8/30)

Proposed Reprieve for Shuttle Could Help Relaunch US Space Program (Source: Guardian)
The US space shuttle, scheduled to be scrapped next year, could be thrown a last-minute lifeline this week. A reprieve is to be included as an option for rejuvenating America's beleaguered space program in a report commissioned by President Barack Obama. Only seven more flights have been earmarked for the shuttle, the most complicated machine ever flown. In the wake of the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and soaring launch costs, the spacecraft was deemed to be too dangerous and too expensive to fly. But a review of US manned space projects – by a committee led by aerospace executive Norm Augustine – will include a proposal that the shuttle's life be extended for a further five years, with two flights being made annually. (8/30)

Editorial: NASA Needs Stability and Resources (Source: Houston Chronicle)
As space shuttle astronauts, each of us has sat high atop a magnificent U.S.-built space ship loaded with 1.6 million pounds of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, waiting for the shuttle's solid rocket motors and engines to ignite and propel us from zero to 17,500 miles per hour into orbit around the Earth. We understand the importance and significance of having a safe and well-funded space program, as we personally accepted the risk worth taking with every mission. With each flight, we entrusted our lives to experienced, innovative men and women on the ground, dedicated to our safety and passionately committed to our nation's space program.

As America prepares to embark upon a new era of human space exploration, President Obama has commissioned a review of the nation's human space flight plans. Known as the Augustine Committee, this panel has the important charter of evaluating the current NASA plan and offering options for the future. Its report is expected this week. We urge this panel, along with the president, Congress and the American people to consider that: Exploration must be recognized as a national imperative that sustains U.S. leadership in space; a significant increase in human space-flight safety should be accomplished under government leadership; we must leave low Earth orbit and explore destinations beyond; and sustaining robust funding and staying the course are imperative to implementing a safe, reliable and meaningful space exploration program worthy of our nation. Click here to view this editorial, written collaboratively by 16 astronauts. (8/30)

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