August 10, 2010

Crashed Plane in Alaska Carried Former Sen. Stevens and former NASA Administrator (Sources: Wall Street Journal, NASA Watch)
Friends of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) are concerned for his safety after a plane registered to the company whose lodge he was scheduled to visit crashed Monday night in a remote area about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage. NASA Watch is reporting that former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe may also have been aboard the plane. (8/10)

Will a Giant Asteroid Kill Us All in 2182? (Source: TIME)
A massive asteroid, named the 1999 RQ36 has a width of over 1,800 feet and could be heading our way. Scientists have said that this asteroid's impact could have a similar effect to that which allegedly wiped out the dinosaurs. However there are potential theories on how to prevent the collision. Scientists have a number of different ways of deflecting or destroying an approaching object intent on causing the world's destruction. The highlights involve using mirrors to attempt to vaporize the asteroid's surface using the sun's rays, crashing spaceships into it to alter the path, and a nuclear blast.

The scientists have said that an attempt to divert the asteroid would need over 100 years preparation to have any realistic chance of success. The good news is that there is only a 1-in-1,000 chance of the asteroid hitting the earth before 2200, and even if it does, it's our grandchildren's problem now. (8/10)

Iridium sees increase in revenue, subscribers (Source: Phoenix Business Journal)
Iridium Communications reported income of $3.2 million for the second quarter on revenue of nearly $84 million. That compares with net income of $28.6 million in the second quarter of 2009 on revenue of $82.7 million. Iridium, which has 66 satellites in orbit around the earth supplying the potential for communications anywhere on the globe, saw its customer base increase from 328,000 this time last year to 383,000. (8/10)

China Orbits New Remote-Sensing Spy Satellite (Source: RIA Novosti)
China put into orbit on Tuesday another remote sensing satellite. The Yaogan X was launched aboard a Long March 4C carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province. According to Xinhua, the satellite will be used primarily for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring. Western experts believe, though, that this class of satellites could be used for reconnaissance and other military purposes. (8/10)

Europe’s Space Funding Woes (Source: Space Politics)
A major space power is grappling with a number of problems: constrained space budgets, debates about future programs, and concerns that, in the bigger scheme of things, space just isn’t a major priority. A description of the US? In fact, it’s a description of Europe’s current situation. The European Space Agency is grappling with the possibility that its member countries could decrease their contributions to ESA next year by 20 percent or more. There’s also debate about supporting developing of a new launch vehicle to succeed the Ariane 5, with EADS complaining that major ESA countries don’t have “the impetus or the stamina” to carry out this or other major projects, or complete development of a long-term strategy. (8/10)

Indian Spectrum Deal Makes Waves for Wrong Reasons (Source: The Economist)
India's law ministry has told the department of space, or DoS, that it could annul a contract under which 60 MHz of airwaves was leased to a private company five years ago. The DoS had asked the government’s legal arm for its views on an obscure deal between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Devas Multimedia, in which the firm paid Rs 600 crore for the airwaves. The company, owned by former ISRO official MG Chandrasekhar, sold a stake to a group of foreign investors, including Deutsche Telekom and private equity firm Columbia Capital, after the frequency spectrum was allotted. (8/10)

NASA Seeks Secrets of Commercial Moon Landers (Source: New Scientist)
Swallowing its pride, NASA says it wants to learn from future commercial missions to the moon – and it is willing to pay up to $30 million for the privilege. The space agency wants to take advantage of the flurry of activity sparked by the Google-funded Lunar X Prize, says Michael Braukus, a spokesperson at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

That competition, announced in 2007, offers $20 million for the first non-government entity to land a robotic rover on the moon, provided it occurs before the end of 2012. Twenty-one teams are vying for the prize. NASA believes it can learn from these missions, Braukus says. The agency is prepared to spend a total of $30 million – up to $10 million per mission – for data returned to Earth that would be useful for future human or robotic missions of its own, it has announced. (8/10)

Stephen Hawking: Mankind Must Colonize Space or Die Out (Source: Guardian)
The human race must colonize space within the next two centuries or it will become extinct, Stephen Hawking has warned. The renowned astrophysicist said he fears mankind is in great danger and its future "must be in space" if it is to survive.

He said threats to the existence of the human race such as the 1963 Cuban missile crisis are likely to increase in the future and plans to handle them must be put in place now. "We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully," he told Big Think. "But I'm an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space." (8/10)

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