November 11 News Items

Radiation: The Moon's Greatest Menace (Source: Space Daily)
The Moon is a harsh place, as decades of direct exploration have demonstrated. It carries all of the risks of conventional spaceflight, then adds to them. The tyranny of distance from Earth makes emergency returns difficult. The dust on the surface could be dangerous to inhale. Meteorites pepper the surface. These are serious problems, but the greatest threat to future human explorers will probably be radiation.

Astronauts in low Earth orbit receive protection from the Earth's magnetic field, which shields out some of the heavier subatomic particles that stream in from space. It's just as well. These cosmic rays are energetic and dangerous to life. Go beyond this region of space, and this natural protection disappears. The Moon itself has essentially no magnetic field, and no atmosphere. There's little to stop the barrage of particles and rays that stream in from the Sun and beyond. (11/11)

Bankrupt Sea Launch Gets New Financing (Source: Space News)
Unidentified investors operating under the name Space Launch Services LLC have agreed to provide initial financing to Sea Launch Co., the commercial launch provider that is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The backers ultimately want to manage Sea Launch through bankruptcy and a return to commercial activity, companies with a long-term interest in the space industry, according to Sea Launch President Kjell Karlsen.

Karlsen said Space Launch Services has agreed to provide $5 million immediately and another $7.5 million in early December at a hearing scheduled by the Delaware Bankruptcy Court overseeing Long Beach, Calif.-based Sea Launch’s reorganization. Karlsen said the $12.5 million should be enough to carry Sea Launch through February. He said he still expects Sea Launch to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the spring. (11/11)

Space Rock Buzzes Past Earth (Source: MSNBC)
Asteroid-watchers say a space rock about as big as a garage came within 9,000 miles (14,000 kilometers) of Earth last Friday, just 15 hours after it was detected. Experts quickly determined that the asteroid 2009 VA would miss us - and even if it came directly at us, it wouldn't have caused a catastrophe. Nevertheless, the close encounter serves as a reminder that someday a much bigger rock may well hit us and that it's best to be prepared. (11/11)

Vatican-Sponsored Meeting Discusses Extraterrestrial Life (Source: Catholic Review)
Dozens of scientists gathered at a Vatican-sponsored meeting to fit together emerging pieces of a puzzle still waiting to be solved: whether there is life on other planets. If finding extraterrestrial life is like “a detective chase, a crime to be solved, we're getting very close to the answer,” said Chris Impey, head of the Steward Observatory and the University of Arizona's department of astronomy in Tucson, Ariz.

Impey was one of 30 high-level scientists attending a Nov. 6-10 study week on astrobiology sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He and others spoke at a Vatican press conference Nov. 10. The astronomer said it is widely believed that life needs three basic ingredients: carbon-based material, energy provided by stars, and water, “which is one of the most common molecules in the universe.” (11/11)

Better Ion Engines May Keep Satellites Alive Longer (Source:
Spacecraft have used ion drives to explore the moon and deep space, but a new study aims to boost the electric propulsion idea to keep satellites around Earth alive longer. Researchers are working to develop new ion thrusters that can harvest vital electrons from electrified carbon nanotubes, rather than from precious xenon gas propellant. Less wasted propellant means that satellites can launch on smaller rockets, carry bigger payloads or stay in orbit for longer. More efficient ion thrusters could also benefit space missions beyond Earth orbit. (11/11)

The Turbulent Heart of the Milky Way (Source: Astronomy Now)
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, NASA is releasing a never-before-seen vista of the turbulent heart of our Milky Way Galaxy to planetaria, museums, libraries, nature centers and schools across America. These sites will unveil a giant six foot by three foot print that combines near infrared views from the Hubble Space Telescope, an infrared view from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and an X-ray view from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The mosaic provides one of the most detailed views ever of the Galaxy's chaotic core. Click here to view the article. (11/11)

Titusville Wants Shuttle for KSC Display (Source: Florida Today)
The Titusville City Council on Tuesday joined the appeal to keep one of the space shuttle orbiters at Kennedy Space Center after the fleet is retired. "This state has cried and cheered for the shuttle for more than 20 years," said state Rep. Ritch Workman, who sponsored a bill in the Legislature to lobby for an orbiter. "We can not let that history and legacy go away because of a more enthused bidder."

After the fleet retires, expected to be sometime in 2011, Discovery will go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which has first right of refusal on all space artifacts. About 20 other organizations are vying for Atlantis and Endeavour, but NASA would not release the list of candidates. (11/11)

Adventurers Train for Space in Fighter Jet at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: PRWeb)
Incredible Adventures is teaming up with Starfighters Aerospace to offer suborbital flight training featuring the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, the same jet used to prepare an entire generation of astronauts for space travel. Training takes place at Kennedy Space Center. Flight Training is open to anyone who meets basic age, health and security clearance requirements.

Two days of intense academic instruction and safety briefings prepare and qualify participants for a high-speed training flight in the Starfighter on day three. The flight profile simulates a journey to astronaut altitude and includes a vertical climb and maneuvers replicating the g-forces and weightlessness of space travel. The program concludes with a VIP tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (11/11)

China to Launch Research Satellite Soon (Source: Xinhua)
China will launch a scientific research satellite into space in the near future from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gansu Province. The satellite, "Shijian XI-01," would be carried by a China-developed Long March 2C rocket. Both the satellite and the rocket were in good condition and preparations were proceeding well, the spokesman said without giving further details. (11/11)

Abu Dhabi Takes Center Stage as Spotlight Falls on Regional Space Race (Source: AME Info)
Abu Dhabi's position as an emerging hub of the developing Arab space industry will be highlighted when a distinguished international line-up of experts and key decision makers gather in the UAE capital for next month's Global Space Technology Forum. The second edition of the event is being staged at a time when Abu Dhabi has moved to the forefront of increased regional space industry activity with major investment in an Earth Observation Space Center, a Virgin Galactic Space Port and the Yahsat telecommunications satellite program.

Saudi Arabia's HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the first Arab, the first Muslim and the first Royal to visit space, will deliver the opening keynote address on the role of space technology in regional economic development at the Global Space Technology Forum, taking place from December 7-9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. (11/11)

Loral Reports Quarterly Earnings (Source: Loral)
Combined segment revenues, for both Satellite Manufacturing and Satellite Services, for the quarter ending September 30, 2009, were $424 million compared to $386 million for the third quarter in 2008. Combined segment Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $145 million, compared to $114 million for the third quarter of 2008. Combined segment revenues for the first nine months of the year were $1.3 billion compared to $1.2 billion for the first nine months of 2008. Combined segment Adjusted EBITDA for the nine months ending September 30, 2009 was $391 million compared to $334 million for the first nine months of 2008. (11/11)

Star Factory Found in Faraway Galaxy (Source: Astronomy Now)
A young galaxy that existed just over a billion years after the big bang has been found to be making stars at the furious rate of about fifty per year, showing that star formation and galaxy growth was a much quicker process in the distant past than it is today. The galaxy, with its large star-forming regions, was made visible to astronomers at Durham University thanks to a gravitational lens seen by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and the Gemini North Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. A gravitational lens is created when the gravity of a massive object – in this case a large cluster of galaxies called MS 1358+62 – bends and magnifies the light of even more distant galaxies behind it. This allowed the smeared and warped image of a galaxy that existed 12.5 billion years ago to be seen. (11/11)

GeoEye Reports Record 2009 Third Quarter Results (Source: GeoEye)
GeoEye, Inc., a premier provider of satellite and aerial-based geospatial information and services, announced third quarter revenues of $79.9 million, a 123% increase from $35.8 million for the third quarter of 2008. Net income for the third quarter of 2009 was $12.5 million, compared to net income of $31.6 million for the third quarter of 2008. Revenues related to contracts with the U.S. Government, the Company's largest customer, were $53.6 million for the third quarter. Operating profit for the third quarter $19.3 million from the third quarter of 2008 to $27.7 million. (11/11)

Obama in Asia: Space is Suddenly on the Agenda (Source: Asia Times)
President Barack Obama is preparing to make his first official trip to Asia this week, and a growing list of important economic and defense-related issues are on his agenda. Obama's visit to China is going through some last-minute changes due to recent remarks about China's plans for space by Chinese General Xu Qiliang. "Only power could protect peace. Superiority in space and in air would mean, to a certain extent, superiority over the land and the oceans," he said. "As the air force of a peace-loving country, we must forge our swords and shields in order to protect peace." Xu also said that, "military competition has shifted towards space. Such a shift is a major trend now, and such expansion is a historical inevitability."

"Clearly - and all of Washington is aware of this - the PLA has been thinking, even planning, to respond to what they perceive as US plans to dominate space for some time, though they have kept their public statements focused on peaceful uses, largely to contrast with statements and policies of the US," said Dr Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the National Security Decision Making Department at the US Naval War College. "So, this does not indicate a major policy shift that should surprise Washington."

Conservative critics of Obama, particularly those who harbor a deep distrust of China, have jumped on Xu's comments. They view these comments by Xu as further proof that China poses a strategic threat to the US and is not to be trusted either in space or on the ground. They contend that Obama is deliberately disarming the US on two fronts, putting the US increasingly at risk. (11/11)

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