November 3 News Items

KSC Scientists Model Launch Site Debris (Source: WIRED)
Dangerous debris near rocket launches could be tracked in real time by combining tricks from particle colliders, moon landings and vulture tracking, a new study finds. KSC Physicist Philip Metzger and colleagues describe a technique to plot the paths and determine the densities of worrisome detritus kicked up during launch. This method could help flight engineers know instantly which pieces of debris threaten the spacecraft.

The need for better tracking systems during launch was highlighted during the Space Shuttle Discovery launch in May 2008, when several thousand bricks blew out the end of the flame trench under the shuttle. Simultaneously, a mysterious piece of debris flew high into the air near the shuttle, apparently from the flame trench. Had the mystery object been a brick, it could have damaged the shuttle and put the crew at risk.

To identify the object, Metzger and colleagues took advantage of NASA’s bird watching system. In 2005, during the first launch after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, a shuttle was threatened by another flying menace: a vulture that smacked into the external tank during takeoff. The object was too light to be a brick, but it was the same density as a piece of foam from a solid rocket booster. “At no point was the orbiter in any danger” from the foam, says Bob Carilli a coauthor of the study and engineer with NASA contractor United Space Alliance. (11/3)

Chinese General Sees Inevitable Military Space Race (Source: Financial Times)
China’s air force chief has called military competition in space “inevitable”, a departure from Beijing’s past insistence that it is not pursuing space programmes for military purposes. The remarks by General Xu Qiliang, head of the People’s Liberation Army air force, published in several state media, are a reminder of another area of potential future rivalry between the US and China. In addition, they indicate increased competition within China's military.

“Competition between military forces is developing towards the sky and space, it is extending beyond the atmosphere and even into outer space. This development is a historical inevitability and cannot be undone,” said Gen Xu according to Xinhua, the official news agency. “The militarisation of the sky and space is a challenge to the peace of mankind. In the face of this challenge, you don’t have a voice unless you have power. Only if you have strong power can you protect and safeguard peace,” Gen Xu was quoted as saying. (11/3)

China's Military Eyes Future in Space, Air: Air Force Commander (Source: Xinhua)
China will develop an air force with integrated capabilities for both offensive and defensive operations in space as well as in air, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Commander Xu Qiliang said. Calling militarization in the space and in air "a threat to the mankind," Xu said China must develop a strong force in the two arenas in order to face challenges of that threat. Superiority in space and in air would mean, to a certain extent, superiority over the land and the oceans, Xu said. "As the air force of a peace-loving country, we must forge our swords and shields in order to protect peace," he said. (11/3)

China's Military Making Strides in Space: US General (Source: Space Daily)
China's military has made dramatic progress in space over the past decade and the goals of its program remain unclear, a top American general said on Tuesday. Citing Beijing's advances in space, General Kevin Chilton, head of US Strategic Command, said it was crucial to cultivate US-China military relations to better understand China's intentions.

"With regard to China's capabilities, I think anyone who's familiar with this business -- and particularly our history in this business over the years -- would have to be absolutely amazed at the advancement that China has made in such a short period of time, whether that be in their unmanned program or the manned program," Chilton told reporters in a teleconference, referring to Beijing's space program. "They have rapidly advanced over the last ten years," he said from Omaha, Nebraska. (11/3)

Harris Completes Qualification Testing Of Navy SATCOM Terminal (Source: Space Daily)
Harris has successfully completed system qualification testing of a satellite terminal that will provide U.S. Navy personnel onboard frigates, cruisers and destroyers with access to the Internet, video and other broadband services. Completion of the testing moves the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program (CBSP) Unit Level Variant (ULV) contract into the initial production phase. Under the contract, Harris will supply up to 55 advanced, 1.3-meter satellite communications terminals with X- and Ku-band capabilities. (11/3)

Russia Leads Nuclear Space Race After U.S. Drops Out (Source: WIRED)
The Russian space agency may build a nuclear-powered spacecraft with the blessing of the country’s leader, Russian and international media reported Thursday. The craft would cost $600 million and Russian scientists claim it could be ready as early as 2012. Building a nuclear-powered spacecraft is feasible, said Patrick McDaniel, a nuclear engineer and co-director of the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies, but probably not in the short time frame that the Russians have proposed. “To have a test article that they could test on the ground, that’s very reasonable,” McDaniel said. “To have a completed system, that’s highly unlikely.” (11/3)

Pentagon Eyes Crash Analysis on 1,300 Satellites (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. military is now tracking 800 maneuverable satellites on a daily basis for possible collisions and expects to add 500 more non-maneuvering satellites by year's end. The Air Force began upgrading its ability to predict possible collisions after a dead Russian military satellite and a commercial U.S. Iridium satellite collided on Feb. 10.

General Kevin Chilton called the collision the "seminal event" in the satellite industry during the past year and said it destroyed any sense that space was so vast that collisions were highly improbable. Before the collision, he said they were tracking less than 100 satellites a day. The crash, which was not predicted by the U.S. military or private tracking groups, underscored the vulnerability of U.S. satellites, which are used for a huge array of military and civilian purposes. Chilton said the Air Force was tracking more than 20,000 satellites, spent rocket stages and other objects in space, up from just 14,000 a few years ago. (11/3)

Space Junk Piles up Into Threat to Future Launches (Source: New Scientist)
A blizzard of space debris is going to have a major impact on the future economics of space flight. That was the prediction made this week by Hugh Lewis of the University of Southampton, UK, at the European Air and Space Conference in Manchester. His projections indicate that the number of close encounters between objects in orbit will rise 50 percent in the next decade, and quadruple by 2059. Countermeasures will add greatly to the cost of future missions.

The number of pieces of space debris has risen by 40 per cent in the past four years alone. The US air force Space Command now tracks 19,000 orbiting objects that are 10 centimetres or more across - including around 800 working satellites - and estimates that there are 500,000 smaller fragments in orbit. (11/3)

Editorial: Scrap Ares-1 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Wednesday's launch of the test vehicle for NASA's Ares I rocket was an impressive sight. More than 30 stories high, the thin white rocket shot off the launch pad like an arrow piercing the sky above Kennedy Space Center. If U.S. space-policy decisions were dictated based solely on spectacle, the Ares I would be a shoo-in as NASA's next manned vehicle. Unfortunately for fans of the rocket, cost, design and timing also matter. (11/2)

Trained in the U.S., Scientist Became China's 'Rocket King' (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Known in China as the "Father of Chinese Aerospace" or simply the "Rocket King," Qian Xuesen helped launch his native country's missile program. Mr. Qian, who died Oct. 31 at the age of 98, came to the U.S. in 1935 as a student and became one of the leading scientists working on the country's nascent missile program. As a researcher at the California Institute of Technology in the 1940s, Mr. Qian helped develop the first U.S. solid-fuel missiles during World War II. But his career in the U.S. came to an abrupt halt in the 1950s, when he was accused of having Communist ties and ordered deported. After battling the allegations for several years, he returned to China, where he became the leader of a coterie of Chinese-born, U.S.-trained missile scientists, and created a program for China to educate its own aerospace engineers. (11/3)

Japan Drops Space Trash on New Zealand (Source: Otago Daily Times)
Japan's first unmanned space cargo vehicle safely re-entered the atmosphere 120km above New Zealand yesterday with its load of garbage from the International Space Station. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, apparently disintegrated and burned up on its descent toward the ocean east of New Zealand. The Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Chile is commonly used as a dumping ground for human waste and other garbage from the space station. (11/3)

North Carolina University to Host NewSpace Commerce Forum (Source: Carolina Newswire)
Elizabeth City State University, supported by the North Carolina Aerospace Alliance, North Carolina’s Northeast Commission, and NASA Space Grant, will host North Carolina’s first entrepreneurial space industry (NewSpace) forum on Nov. 12. The forum has two goals: 1) Educate state and local government, business, and academic leaders about the economic development potential of the NewSpace industry; and 2) Develop a "next-steps" strategy for the development of an indigenous NewSpace industry that is integrated with the state's existing aviation- and aerospace-related industry clusters. (11/3)

No comments: