February 28, 2010

Australia Launches Scramjet Consortium (Source: Space Daily)
The University of Queensland will lead a $14 million international consortium to help develop scramjet-based access-to-space systems, flying an autonomous scramjet vehicle at eight times the speed of sound - Mach 8, or 8600 km/h. In parallel, scramjet concepts will be tested at even greater speeds, up to Mach 14, in UQ's world class hypersonic ground-test facilities. (2/28)

Astrotech Chief Featured at Space Club Luncheon on Mar. 9 (Source: NSCFC)
The National Space Club's Florida Committee will host their March 9 luncheon with Gen. Lance Lord (Ret.) as the event's guest speaker. Lord is now the CEO of Astrotech Space Operations and will discuss "End-to-End Mission Assurance". The event will be held at the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral. Register online at www.nscfl.org. or email: ladonna.j.neterer@boeing.com. (2/28)

Lovell Meets Students in Naples (Source: Naples News)
The news was literally too good to be true. That’s how 10-year-old Chase Bigham described how his mother told him that for his birthday he would get to meet Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., commander of the Apollo 13 mission that was famously made into a film starring Tom Hanks. However, Chase’s dream and that of 15-year-old Ryan Ferguson came true Saturday night at the Neighborhood Health Clinic’s Block Party 2010 “A Space Odyssey,” where Lovell was the special guest. For Ryan, an avid space exploration fan, getting to meet Lovell was a last-minute surprise by his parents after he helped set up for the event Saturday morning. (2/28)

Soviet Space Secrets for Sale (Source: The Star)
Need a zero-gravity toilet? A spare key for your Soyuz? Declassified, decommissioned, the Soviet Union's space heritage is on the market. Soviet space memorabilia will be auctioned in Toronto on March 31. Some items: an autographed photograph of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in orbit; a "flown" Soyuz TM-33 Descent Module Polarized Observation Porthole (exceptionally beautiful and undoubtedly handy for viewing Earth); and a "flown" Sokol KV-2 space suit worn by cosmonaut Anatoli Pavlovich Artsebarsky. (2/28)

New Mexico Governor Signs Spaceport Bill (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Governor Bill Richardson visited Las Cruces to sign into law a bill requiring launch passengers at Spaceport America to consent to waive liability. Growth in economic development is expected to come from the spaceport liability bill, said Richardson. That means more jobs, said New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Steve Landeene. (2/28)

Space Law in Spotlight (Source: Clarion Ledger)
With China joining Russia and the U.S. as the only nations that have sent humans into space, international legal issues continue to emerge. Scholars from two of those nations are slated to address some of the issues - security, satellite communications, insurance, environmental monitoring, space debris and even space tourism - at the University of Mississippi as part of the U.S.-China Student Space Law Research Symposium. (2/28)

"Interspace" Mars-Themed Attraction Planned Near KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Want to visit Mars? You might not have to go any farther than Titusville. A New Port Richey company has submitted site plans for a 75-acre plot of land on State Road 407 to build Interspace, a space-themed entertainment and research facility that would include the world's largest simulated Mars surface environment. The company, NewSpace Center LLC, said it could break ground as early as September and open in August 2012

Titusville city officials, eager to bring space tourists and jobs to the city, are working with the company to help that happen. Tuesday, city council unanimously voted to waive $2,100 of costs associated with the project- the latest gesture to secure the company. The city and county have already approved tax breaks for the project and the Space Coast Executive Airport has agreed not to charge a leasing fee for the 75-acre site until construction officially begins.

In addition to Interspace, site plans include multiple hotels, a conference center, space-themed restaurants and a college branch campus. "Certainly the attraction can stand on it's own and be quite profitable, but there's a much broader opportunity," said Newspace manager Joseph Palaia, who envisions eventually partnering with NASA and schools for an education component. (2/28)

Faulty Valve Pushes Delta IV Rocket Launch To Wednesday (Source: Florida Today)
The planned launch next week of a Delta IV rocket and a new national weather satellite is being pushed back to Wednesday to allow technicians to replace a faulty steering valve on one of the rocket's solid-fueled boosters. The 24-story United Launch Alliance rocket now is targeted to blast off from Launch Complex 37B at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport during an hour-long window that will open at 6:18 p.m. (2/28)

Florida Space Workers Looking for New Work (Source: Florida Today)
Pat White lost her job at KSC in 1986 after the Challenger disaster, but it wasn't so bad for the then-new mother. White, now 57, was able to stay at home with her 1-month-old daughter, while her husband, Terry, continued working at KSC.

Now, with the shuttle program ending and no replacement program following it, White is applying for jobs for the first time in two decades. "We need an income, or we need (health) insurance," she said. Relocating would be difficult because the couple would have to sell the seven acres they own on north Merritt Island. "Everything we worked for, we'd lose," she said. (2/28)

'Devastating,' Not Just for Florida Space Workers (Source: Florida Today)
Salandra Benton doesn't work at Kennedy Space Center. Neither does anyone in her family. But the 45-year-old Titusville woman said she will undoubtedly be affected by the job losses there. "Churches, day cares. Every aspect of the community will be impacted by the decisions made by D.C.," she said.

Benton works for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers, a union that represents government employees. She predicts that she'll see an even larger number of people seeking welfare benefits because of layoffs. And she expects her property values to drop as her neighbors leave the community for jobs elsewhere. (2/28)

Official: Kazakhstan Hindering Russian Space Missions (Source: AFP)
Kazakhstan, home of the space base used to launch rockets to the International Space Station (ISS), is interfering with Russian space missions, the head of Russia's space agency said Saturday. "Kazakhstan's position on various matters regarding the use of the Baikonur cosmodrome is complicating the execution of tasks in Russian space exploration," Anatoly Perminov was quoted as saying.

Kazakhstan has moved in recent years to assert greater control over Baikonur and over activities at the space base, which include supply missions to the ISS and launches of commercial satellites. In 2007 Kazakhstan banned launches of rockets that would pass over provinces being visited by its President Nursultan Nazarbayev after a rocket carrying a Japanese satellite crashed into the steppe upon take-off. (2/28)

What of Chile's Telescopes? (Source: Discovery)
There are many international telescopes in Chile making use of the low humidity conditions in the Chilean mountains and high-altitude deserts. But as one of the most seismically active countries in the world, many of these observatories are built on shaky ground. In the wake of the deadly 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake that hit the South American nation on Saturday, how are these sensitive observatories protected from damage?

There's little doubt that the Chile-based observatories would have felt it. This isn't the first major earthquake that would have shaken these observatories. According to one official, observatories such as these have some novel anti-earthquake safety measures in place. Gemini South's servers are back online, but other observatories in the area have experienced power cuts, taking their servers offline. It seems unlikely these observatories will have suffered any serious damage. (2/28)

Do the Meek Inherit the Galaxy? (Source: Discovery)
At last week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, California's top SETI scientists were asked how long will it be before we receive an interstellar greeting from an extraterrestrial civilization. Their estimates range from "minus 10 years" (it should have happened by now!) to 250 years into the future.

The most balanced guess in my opinion came from Seth Shostak: 25 years. This is based on the fact that the number of stars being reached in SETI optical and radio searches is growing exponentially with improved telescopes, signal processing, and detection strategies. This means that within the next two years as many stars will have been surveyed as have been in the past 50 years since the birth of modern SETI observations. (2/28)

No Damage to Chilean Observatories (Source: ESO)
A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck central Chile on Feb. 27 February 2010. No casualties among ESO staff have been reported. At present, power cuts and network interruptions mean that communication may be limited. Disruption to staff travel plans within, to, and from Chile should be expected. We urge Visiting Astronomers with observations planned at ESO observatories to put their trips to Chile on hold until further notice.

International flights to and from Santiago International Airport are currently either canceled or diverted. Information about observing programs will be provided at a later date. Despite being the 7th strongest earthquake ever recorded worldwide, the ESO observatory sites did not suffer any damage, partly as they are engineered to withstand seismic activity and partly due to their distances from the epicenter. (2/28)

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