December 5 News Items

New Chart of International Space Launch Vehicles Online (Source: SPACErePORT)
SPACErePORT has made a new chart available online, identifying operational and proposed orbital space launch vehicles, arranged by size. The chart lists their host countries and their launch sites. Performance specifications are not included, but will be added later. Click here to view the chart. (12/5)

Air Force Awards $16 Million Contract to Transfer Delta-2 Assets to NASA Contract (Source: DOD)
United Launch Services, LLC, Centennial, Colo., was awarded a $16,024,713 contract which provides the final close out of the Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) III Delta II contract and transfer of required MLV III assets to a NASA contract. At this time, $16,024,713 has been obligated. LRS/PK, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity. Editor's Note: From what I can find, "United Launch Services" is affiliated with United Launch Alliance, registered as a separate small business with 25 employees. This contract is a sign that the Air Force is stepping back from the Delta-2 program, allowing NASA to complete its Delta-2 missions while minimizing Air Force financial support for launch infrastructure operations and maintenance. (12/5)

First Commercial Spaceship Debuts Monday Afternoon (Source: Discovery)
While NASA frets over a looming hiatus in its ability to launch people into space, a commercial company is poised to unveil the first spaceship for private passenger travel. The formal presentation of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is scheduled for Monday afternoon in California's Mojave Desert, the home base of legendary designer Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites. "Suborbital flights is the area where commercial human spaceflight will start," said Bretton Alexander, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation trade association. The microgravity environment will last for about six minutes, during which time passengers will be able to unbuckle their seat belts and float around the cabin. The entire flight, from takeoff to landing, is expected to last about 2.5 hours. The price? A cool $200,000. (12/5)

PolitiFact Labels Two Obama Space Promises as "Stalled" (Source: PolitiFact)
PolitiFact, a group sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times, has been tracking the status of President Obama's campaign promises. They have a web page devoted to his space-related promises and on Friday they updated it for two promises, one for re-establishing the National Space Council and another for seeking a code-of-conduct for space-faring nations. Both of these promises have been labeled as "Stalled" by PolitiFact. (12/5)

Mini Nuclear Reactors Could Power Space Colonies (Source: Universe Today)
Growing up on Star Trek, I was always told that space was the final frontier. What they never told me was that space is about as friendly to the human body as being microwaved alive in a frozen tundra. Shelter is a necessity. Like any Earthen home or building, an off world shelter on the Moon or Mars will need energy to keep its residents comfortable (not to mention alive), and power outages of any sort will not be tolerated–unless a person desires to be radiated and frozen (which is probably not a great way to "kick the bucket"). While some may look towards solar power to help keep the lights on and the heat flowing, it may be wiser instead to look at an upcoming "fission battery" from Hyperion Power Generation to power future colonies on the Moon, Mars, and perhaps an plasma rocket powered starship as well.

Originally created by Dr. Otis Peterson while on staff at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Hyperion Power Generation (which I'll call HPG for short) has licensed Dr. Peterson's miniature nuclear reactor which are actually small enough to fit inside a decent sized hot tub. Despite their small stature (being 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters), one of these mini-reactors could provide enough energy to power 20,000 average sized American homes (or 70 MW's of thermal energy in geek speak) and can last up to ten years. (12/4)

Angara Rocket Test Launches Postponed Due to Financing (Source: Itar-Tass)
The beginning of flight tests of the Angara rocket is postponed for a year because of the underfinancing of the launch complex construction at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, Anatoly Perminov said. The beginning of flight tests is postponed tentatively for a year, Perminov said. The financing for the ground complex construction is removed this year. Out of 2,000 people, about 100 remain at the construction site, he said. According to Perminov, the rocket is ready on the whole. The delay is connected with the launch complex construction. The Angara launch was originally planned for 2011. Aside from the construction financial problem, additional financing is also needed for the test design work. (12/5)

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