August 9, 2010

Loral Reports Second Quarter 2010 Financial Results (Source: Loral)
Loral financial results for the three and six months ended June 30 included revenues of $481 million, representing an increase of $33 million over segment revenues for the second quarter of 2009. Segment revenues for the first six months of the year were $903 million, representing an increase of $73 million compared to the first six months of 2009. (8/9)

GeoEye Reports Record Revenues for Second Quarter 2010 (Source: GeoEye)
Total revenues were $81.0 million for the second quarter of 2010, an 11.4 percent increase from $72.7 million for the second quarter of 2009. Net income for the second quarter of 2010 was $12.1 million, compared to net income of $9.6 million for the second quarter of 2009. (8/9)

San Diego-Built Camera to be Flown to Mars (Source: Sign On San Diego)
Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego , which has been involved in deep space exploration for two decades, has been tapped by NASA and the European Space Agency to develop a high-resolution camera that will monitor the weather on Mars. The Mars Atmospheric Global Imaging Experiment (MAGIE) camera will fly aboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a robot that will be sent to the Red Planet in 2016.

NASA says ExoMars will "study the chemical makeup of the Martian atmosphere with a 1,000-fold increase in sensitivity over previous Mars orbiters. The mission will focus on trace gases, including methane, which could be potentially geochemical or biological in origin and be indicators for the existence of life on Mars." (8/9)

UCF Professor Elected Chair of Prestigious National Organization (Source: UCF)
Dan Britt, a professor in the Planetary Sciences Group at the University of Central Florida, was just elected Chairperson for the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Association. The DPS is the leading and largest professional association of planetary scientists in the world. Carl Sagan, who popularized astronomy, served as a chair of the organization from 1975-76. (8/9)

Lockheed Martin-Built GPS Satellite Surpasses 10 Years On-Orbit (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The fifth Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR-5) satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin has reached 10 years of successful on-orbit operations. The satellite was launched on July 16, 2000, and is one of 30 GPS spacecraft currently on-orbit delivering vital situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military, and supporting a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions. (8/9)

ISS Orbit to be Raised by Two Kilometers (Source: Interfax)
The Russian space freighter Progress M-07M will raise the International Space Station (ISS) to a higher altitude in a week's time. The idea of the adjustment is to guarantee the landing of the manned Soyuz TMA-18 on September 24 and the docking of the supply ship Progress M-07M on September 10 and of the Soyuz TMA-01M on October 10, he said. (8/9)

NASA Selects Contractor For Wallops Island Protection Project (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) in Norfolk, Va., for the Launch Facilities Protection Project at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The total contract value is not to exceed $49.5 million. The period of performance is five years. The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2010. The USACE will extend a seawall approximately 1,300 feet to the south of an existing seawall located on Wallops Island, and place approximately 3.2 million cubic yards of dredged sand along the Wallops Island shoreline. (8/9)

Experts Will Weigh In On How to Put Humans On an Asteroid (Source:
A visit by humans to an asteroid may take a step closer to reality at a NASA workshop this week. A spirit of excitement is bubbling over NASA's new aim, not unlike when the agency first aimed to land a man on the moon, NASA's Laurie Leshin said ahead of the two-day session, set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Planetary defense against killer space rocks also has a place on the agenda.

The human exploration of a near-Earth object would rely upon the experiences of robotic expeditions like Japan's Hayabusa mission, which recently returned to Earth with particles that may be asteroid samples. Experts and leaders from government, academia, industry and the international community are expected to weigh in on what would be required to stage a mission to a near-Earth object. (8/9)

Thales Alenia Space To Continue Mars Design Work (Source: Space News)
The 18-nation European Space Agency (ESA) has given Thales Alenia Space an additional contract tranche valued at 98 million euros ($130 million) for work on U.S.-European Mars exploration missions planned for 2016 and 2018. Under the contract, Thales Alenia Space will continue work on Europe’s ExoMars portion of the missions through March 2011, after which another ESA contract is expected to carry the work to the construction phase. (8/9)

NASA Changes Spacewalk Strategy for Station Repair (Source:
Flight controllers are revising plans for a second spacewalk Wednesday to replace a coolant pump aboard the International Space Station, adding work to isolate an ammonia leak that should clear the way for installation of a new pump during a third spacewalk Sunday. A formal decision on whether to proceed with the Wednesday spacewalk is expected after NASA's space station Mission Management Team reviews preparations during a meeting Tuesday at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. (8/9)

Canada Sees Opportunity in NASA's Commercialization Drive (Source: AIA)
Canadian firms could reap an economic windfall if U.S. President Barack Obama succeeds in his efforts to commercialize near-earth spaceflight, according to some experts. "I think you're going to see stepped-up activity from Canadian industry to contribute in a more significant way," says Paul Delaney, a professor of physics and astrology at Toronto's York University. One industry expert says Canada's expertise in robotics is particularly well suited to greater commercialization of space -- if the Canadian Space Agency aligns its own strategic goals with those being espoused in Washington. (8/9)

Public Interest in Space, By the Numbers (Source: Space Review)
Measuring spending on space by various national governments could be a proxy for measuring the popularity of space. There are two reasons to adopt this measure. First, at least for the world’s democracies, politicians have to take the popularity of various government efforts into account when spending money, or risk being voted out of office. Authoritarian governments face a different calculus, of course. If a government can get away with criminalizing unrelated men and women holding hands in public, or so restrict access to food that the average citizen’s height is affected, well, it’s probably best to leave places like Iran and North Korea out of this analysis. Click here to read the article. (8/9)

A Milestone for Solar Sailing (Source: Space Review)
The Second International Symposium on Solar Sailing was hosted by the Physics Department of the City University of the New York. The meeting had an historic aspect to it, as the attendees were treated to the first public presentation of details of the flight of the first-ever solar sail deployed in space, by some of the JAXA engineers and managers who recently accomplished that feat. Click here to read the article. (8/9)

Griffin’s Critique of NASA’s New Direction (Source: Space Review)
Former NASA administrators are not generally known for being outspoken about space policy after their tenures running the agency. They tend to go on to other pursuits, often outside of space entirely, rarely holding forth on NASA in any public capacity. Mike Griffin, however, is not content to remain quiet during this period of upheaval in space policy. The administrator who oversaw the formation and initial development of the Constellation architecture—most notably the Ares 1 rocket and Orion capsule—is clearly not happy to see the White House and even Congress willing to dismantle part or all it in favor of a new approach to human space exploration. Click here to read the article. (8/9)

AU to Establish African Space Agency (Source: This Day)
The African Union, has commenced a process that would lead to the setting up of a regional space agency. The agency, to be known as the African Space Agency, would focus on the development of common space policy for the continent. In a communique issued at the end of the third African Union conference of Ministers in charge of Communications and Information Technologies, member countries agreed to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of the African Space Agency. (8/9)

European Space Programs Come Back to Earth (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Shrinking budgets and national rivalries increasingly are undermining European space programs, even as the U.S. seeks expanded partnerships for future manned exploration efforts. Debates over financial commitments for space projects by individual countries—and the number of jobs they expect in return—-have intensified as a result of the region's economic woes. Some governments are considering slashing next year's contributions to the European Space Agency by 20% or more, while Italy's top space official last month stressed that economics and return on investment are now primary factors in determining national funding levels. (8/9)

The Next Space Challenge: Sending Astronauts to Asteroids (Source: St. Pete Times)
In a speech outlining his plans for the U.S. space program, President Barack Obama said, "We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. Four months after that statement, the details are still sketchy, as Congress continues to debate the financing and overall direction of U.S. space policy. But experts say a human mission to an asteroid could become NASA's next great challenge – a deep space journey that compares to the moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s, It could even be seen as a steppingstone to Mars. (8/9)

The Impact that Shattered Santa Fe (Source: Astrobiology)
A large meteorite impact can have a profound effect on life. The explosive force is often compared to a nuclear detonation, and the debris tossed high into the atmosphere can alter our planet’s climate. In the mountains of New Mexico, scientists have found evidence for an ancient meteorite strike -- even though the impact crater is long gone. Evidence suggests that a large meteorite smashed into this area long ago. The force of the impact shattered the ground and tossed broken and pulverized rocks far and wide. (8/9)

Rethinking Einstein: The End of Space-Time (Source: New Scientist)
It was a speech that changed the way we think of space and time. The year was 1908, and the German mathematician Hermann Minkowski had been trying to make sense of Albert Einstein's hot new idea - what we now know as special relativity - describing how things shrink as they move faster and time becomes distorted. "Henceforth space by itself and time by itself are doomed to fade into the mere shadows," Minkowski proclaimed, "and only a union of the two will preserve an independent reality."

And so space-time - the malleable fabric whose geometry can be changed by the gravity of stars, planets and matter - was born. It is a concept that has served us well, but if physicist Petr Horava is right, it may be no more than a mirage. Horava, who is at the University of California, Berkeley, wants to rip this fabric apart and set time and space free from one another in order to come up with a unified theory that reconciles the disparate worlds of quantum mechanics and gravity - one the most pressing challenges to modern physics. (8/9)

ISS Robotics Work Stalled by Spacewalks, Stuck Spring (Source:
The first maintenance task for a Canadian space robot is on hold until astronauts finish up urgent repairs to the International Space Station's external cooling system. The Canadian-built Dextre robot, outfitted with two 11-foot-long arms and a toolkit, was supposed to pull out a Remote Power Control Module, or RPCM, from one section of the space station's backbone structure and swap it with an identical unit from another part of the truss.

But the robotic work was stalled when one of the power switchboards remained stuck inside its housing on the port side of the space station's truss. Engineers encountered the glitch July 20 as Dextre attempted to pull the unit out of the truss, then reinsert it during a rehearsal for the changeout, which was scheduled for the next day. (8/9)

Science Put on the Back Burner (Source: Florida Today)
Fundamental science research often takes a backseat to ship-building and mission operations at NASA. NASA, since Apollo, seems stuck in a cycle of investing billions in development of its next rockets and spaceships. Rising costs and schedule delays on the ship-building projects often force the agency to shift funds from research and science to keep the big development programs alive.

In the past couple of decades, a larger and larger share of the agency's finite budget has gone to operating the space shuttles and International Space Station. President George W. Bush's refocusing of NASA's mission in 2004 -- at the behest of Columbia disaster investigators -- further aggravated the issue because not only did the agency need to make safely flying the shuttles and finishing the space station high priorities, it also had to launch development of yet another new space transportation system. (8/9)

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