September 7, 2010

Astrium Chief: Europe Not Doing Enough to Support Space Sector (Source: AFP)
The EU executive commission is not providing sufficient support to the European space industry, currently locked in close competition with its US counterpart, the head of French space group Astrium said in an interview published on Monday. "Every country is backing its industry, except Europe," argued Astrium chairman Francois Augue in the French financial paper Les Echos.

"If Brussels implements the policy that is being developed, it will ultimately mean the end of Europe's space industry presence on the world scene." The European Commission wants to boost competition in the EU aerospace sector notably by supporting small and medium-sized companies. It has awarded a contract to German firm OHB to build 14 satellites for the European geo-positioning system Galileo.

"It's extremely worrying," Auque told Les Echos. "The real question is the following: 'who is going to take on the American exporters?' And the response is 'the big companies.'" Astrium, a subsidiary of the European aerospace group EADS, last year sold seven telecommunications satellites but is less optimistic about its performance in 2010. (9/7)

Globalstar Satellites Are Readied For Soyuz Launch (Source: Space Daily)
The launch campaign for Arianespace's upcoming Soyuz mission for Globalstar has entered a new phase as all six spacecraft are now at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission's three remaining satellites were delivered last week - joining the initial three that have been at the Cosmodrome since August 11 for their final checkout, and fueling. (9/7)

Space-Based Solar Power: An Opportunity for U.S.-India Cooperation? (Source: IDSA)
A new paper by the Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses (IDSA) evaluates the potential for an Indo-U.S. strategic partnership to develop a Space-Based Solar Power. After providing an overview of the concept and its significance to the compelling problems of sustainable growth, economic development, energy security and climate change, the paper evaluates the utility of the concept in the context of respective Indian and US political and energy-climate trajectories. The paper concludes that a bilateral initiative to develop Space-Based Solar Power is highly consistent with the objectives of the Indo-US strategic partnership, and ultimately recommends an actionable tree-tiered program to realize its potential. Click here to download the paper. (9/7)

"Feed-In Tariff" Suggested to Enable Space-Based Solar Power (Source: GreenTech)
Game theory helped revolutionize telecom. This article offers some suggestions for altering the human/kilowatt equation. "High Feed-In Tariffs" for potential game-changing renewable energy sources like tidal and wave power, and Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) have potential. The problem is that few want to invest in these sources because of long development times and an uncertain payoff.

If utilities offered extraordinary feed-in tariffs, the economics could suddenly become intriguing, theorizes Dan Adler, president of CalCef. At the same time, the output from some of these devices would likely remain low for years, limiting the potential burden on state budgets. Under a feed-in tariff, an obligation is imposed on electric grid utilities to buy renewable electricity (like SBSP), from all eligible participants. (9/7)

FAU's Wins National Marine Renewable Energy Center (Source: FAU)
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has designated the Center for Ocean Energy Technology (COET) at Florida Atlantic University as a national center for ocean energy research and development. The new Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) at FAU joins centers in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii that also work to advance the operational readiness of ocean energy technologies. (9/7)

NASA Official to Talk About Crossroad (Source: Florida Today)
Russell Romanella, associate director for engineering and technical operations at Kennedy Space Center, will be the guest speaker at the Sept. 14 luncheon meeting of the National Space Club. "Exploration at a Crossroad" will be the title of his 11:30 a.m. presentation at the Radisson at the Port in Cape Canaveral. For reservations contact LaDonna at (9/7)

Russian Rockot Launch Vehicle Set to Deliver Gonets-M Satellite to Orbit (Source:
A Russian Rockot launch vehicle is set to lift-off from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, carrying the Gonets-M (No. 2) satellite – part of the Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system. Launch is set to take place at the start of a one hour launch window which opens at 03:05 UTC on Wednesday.

The Russian launch system is tailored to payloads requiring a performance of at least 1,950 kg for launches into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The three-stage liquid fuelled rocket has dedicated launch facilities at Plesetsk Cosmodrome under the control of Eurockot. Rockot is a fully operational, three stage, liquid propellant Russian launch vehicle which is being offered commercially by Eurockot Launch Services for launches into low earth orbit. The German-Russian joint venture company was formed specifically to offer this vehicle commercially. (9/7)

Atlas 5 To Launch GeoEye-2 Imaging Satellite (Source: Space News)
Satellite operator GeoEye has contracted with Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services of Denver to launch its GeoEye-2 imaging satellite aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, Lockheed Martin announced Sep. 7. Financial terms of the launch contract were not disclosed. Virginia-based GeoEye in March contracted with another division of Lockheed Martin to build GeoEye-2, which is expected to be ready for launch in late 2012 and expected to cost between $750 million and $800 million, including launch and insurance. (9/7)

Huntsville Team Enters Google Lunar X Prize (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Rocket City Space Pioneers – a group of Huntsville businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations – announced their official entry into the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the Moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, Team Rocket City Space Pioneers is comprised of seven organizations and is among twenty-three teams from a dozen countries that are registered in the competition. (9/7)

Thales Alenia Begins Work on Turkish Imaging Satellite (Source: Space News)
Satellite builder Thales Alenia Space has begun work on Turkey’s Gokturk high-resolution optical Earth imaging satellite system, which company Chief Executive Reynald Seznec said is the first time a satellite with such high resolution had been sold for export. Gokturk, scheduled for launch in 2013, will carry an optical imager that Thales Alenia Space officials said would be similar to the one on board France’s two Pleiades imaging satellites, scheduled for launch in 2011. The Pleiades spacecraft are capable of distinguishing objects 70 centimeters in diameter in black-and-white mode, and 2.8 meters in diameter in color. (9/7)

Did Hairdryer Styme Launch of Human Cannonball? (Source: New Scientist)
By anyone's standards, the Danish space mission was daring. Consisting of a cylindrical capsule that snugly fits around a person, with a clear plexiglass dome so that the astronaut can see out, the Tycho Brahe 1 rocket resembles a human canonball. The BBC reports that the "valve controlling the flow of very cold, liquid oxygen to the motor had frozen up" and the Copenhagen Post sheds some light on why: the power to the valve's heater - a hairdryer, purchased at a Danish supermarket for under £12 - was cut off.

Ridiculous or ingenious, the inventors at Copenhagen Suborbitals have created their rocket on a budget of about £42,000 - less than many Mercedes-Benz drivers spend on a car. Ultimately, the rocket is designed to fly a single person, half-sitting/half-standing, high enough to brush the edge of space before falling back to the sea under parachutes. (9/7)

First Flight of European Soyuz Delayed Again (Source: Space News)
The European version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket will not make its inaugural flight until the spring of 2011 and may be further delayed depending on which of two government customers is selected for the flight, the head of Europe’s Arianespace launch services consortium said Sept. 7. Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall said the Hylas consumer broadband satellite owned by Avanti Communications of London, which had been set for the inaugural Soyuz flight from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport, will now be launched in late November as a co-passenger on Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket. (9/7)

Japanese Firms See Future Business in Space (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
Expectations of growth in space-related businesses are rising after the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry decided to develop Hayabusa 2, the successor to the Hayabusa space probe that explored an asteroid. The ministry decided to include funds to develop Hayabusa 2 in its initial budget request for fiscal 2011 to strengthen support for the project. However, it is still uncertain whether space-related business will be able to grow into a flourishing new industry for Japan.

The total cost to develop Hayabusa 2 by both the public and private sectors is estimated at 14.8 billion yen. As part of that, the ministry asked for 3 billion yen in its initial budget request. The move is in sharp contrast to its decision to cancel the development of small GX rockets. The government led by the Democratic Party of Japan scrapped the GX project, in which the public and private sectors had invested 70 billion yen to 80 billion yen, in its screening of wasteful spending last year. (9/7)

To Boldly Go – But on a Tight Budget (Source: Public Service)
Despite the refusal of successive British governments to get involved in the expensive arena of manned space flight, the UK is hoping a renewed strategic focus in the sector can help to create an extra 100,000 jobs over the next decade. Charged with leading the push for growth is the first chief executive of the revamped UK Space Agency, an organization previously known as the British National Space Center. Describing the transformation in process, Dr David Williams insists it is more than a rebranding exercise.

"Government has recognized that space is an essential part of the infrastructure of the UK. The primary role of the new agency is bringing together the budgets on the civil side that allow us to maintain the technical competence in space technologies," he says. (9/7)

Building a Foundation for Commercial Crew (Source: Space Review)
As the debate over commercial crew development continues in Washington, NASA and industry are taking initial steps on such efforts. Jeff Foust discusses some of the ongoing efforts and planning that continue despite political uncertainty. Visit to view the article. (9/7)

Halfway to the Stars (Atop Piles of Paper) (Source: Space Review)
For every mission that actually flies, many more never make it beyond the proposal stage. Dwayne Day looks at the efforts companies and organizations put into such proposals, including one novel radar satellite system. Visit to view the article. (9/7)

VASIMR: Hope or Hype for Mars Exploration? (Source: Space Review)
An advanced electric propulsion concept known as VASIMR has won support from some, including NASA leadership, for its potential to greatly reduce the travel times for human Mars missions. Jeff Foust reports that some Mars advocates are skeptical, at best, of the ability of this system to match expectations. Visit to view the article. (9/7)

Obama Stimulus Plan Calls for More ATC Spending (Source: AIA)
Airports and air traffic control could see billions in new federal investment under a plan unveiled by President Barack Obama on Monday. While Washington already has poured billions of dollars into airport infrastructure, the aging air traffic control system has seen little help from previous stimulus plans. (9/7)

Sen. Schumer: New York Closer Than Ever to Landing NASA Shuttle (Source: NY Daily News)
New York is poised to win its campaign to bring a retired space shuttle to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday. The senior lawmaker said a number of sources have told him the floating museum on Manhattan's West Side has the inside track in the fight to land one of NASA's iconic rockets. "I believe we are in good shape," Schumer said. "It's not a done deal, but the arguments we have made about why the shuttle belongs in New York are resonating." (9/7)

Two Asteroids Approach Earth (Source: Astronomy Now)
Two small asteroids will pass the Earth this week, within the distance of the Moon. The two objects were discovered on 5 September by Andrea Boattini working with the 1.5 meter reflector at Mount Lemmon in Arizona as part of the Mount Lemmon Survey. Asteroids and Remote Planets section director for the British Astronomical Association Richard Miles said the probable sizes of the two bodies are eight and 12 meters across, with possible ranges of 5-15 and 7-25 meters respectively. (9/7)

Can We Spot Volcanoes on Alien Worlds? Astronomers Say Yes. (CfA)
Volcanoes display the awesome power of Nature like few other events. Earlier this year, ash from an Icelandic volcano disrupted air travel throughout much of northern Europe. Yet this recent eruption pales next to the fury of Jupiter's moon Io, the most volcanic body in our solar system. Now that astronomers are finding rocky worlds orbiting distant stars, they're asking the next logical questions: Do any of those worlds have volcanoes? And if so, could we detect them? Work by theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that the answer to the latter is a qualified "Yes."

"You would need something truly earthshaking, an eruption that dumped a lot of gases into the atmosphere," said Smithsonian astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger. "Using the James Webb Space Telescope, we could spot an eruption 10 to 100 times the size of Pinatubo for the closest stars," she added. (9/7)

Better Mars Atmosphere Maps to Come From New Mission (Source:
An instrument on one of the next missions to Mars is expected to beam back daily maps of the Martian atmosphere from orbit and seek out gaseous clues in the ongoing search for any evidence of life on the Red Planet. The ExoMars Climate Sounder will measure pole-to-pole, vertical distributions of temperature, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere. The instrument is one of five that have been selected for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission – a joint European-American operation, scheduled for 2016, that will seek faint gaseous signatures of potential life on Mars. (9/7)

Space Shuttle Booster Assembly Underway at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Ten stories above the floor of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building, rocket-booster segments for NASA's final shuttle flight came together as Jeff Cook recalled his entry into aerospace. His first job assignment: sabotage. Cook, now age 50, was asked to do deliberate damage to a post-Challenger booster redesign in an attempt to induce failure during tests.

Fresh out of University of Utah with a degree in mechanical engineering, Cook and colleagues cut channels into insulation that separates solid propellant and the booster's metal casing. They nicked, gouged and cut grooves in the O-ring seals between segments to see if hot gasses that burned at 6,100 degrees Fahrenheit -- two-thirds the temperature on the sun's surface -- would blow by the rubber seals and escape casing. None of the intentional flaws worked.

Almost a quarter-century later, 214 of NASA's Redesigned Solid Rocket Motors have been launched without incident on 107 post-Challenger shuttle flights. Two more missions to complete the International Space Station are scheduled to launch Nov. 1 and Feb. 26 before the nation's shuttle fleet is retired. (9/7)

Space Sciences Laboratory to Probe Sun's Atmosphere (Source:
Of the few unexplored frontiers that remain for humankind, fewer still present the same allure as the infinite void of space hanging around our world, and the mysteries it, perhaps eternally, will keep. As part of NASA's Solar Probe Plus mission, the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley aims to unlock some of those stellar secrets. UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory will send a probe within 4 million miles of the sun's surface to measure magnetic fields as part of NASA's Solar Probe Plus mission. (9/7)

European Gravity Probe Back in Action After Hitch (Source: AFP)
A European satellite designed to map Earth's gravitational field is now operational after ground technicians fixed a glitch preventing it from sending its science data back home, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. The malfunction hit GOCE -- for Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer -- on July 8. The problem was attributed to a dud communications link between the processor and telemetry modules on the satellite's main computer. (9/7)

Medal Snub for Russian Cosmonaut Sparks 'Cosmic Scandal' (Source: AFP)
Russia's space agency voiced outrage Tuesday after the defence ministry refused one of its cosmonauts a celebrated state honour, in the first such snub in half a century of Soyuz flights. Cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, who returned to Earth in March after six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS), has twice been denied the Hero of Russia medal, in what the media has called a "scandal of cosmic proportions." (9/7)

Coming Attractions: Satellite Debris Strike Strands Astronaut on Space Station (Source: Space News)
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Portman — Princess Amidala of “Star Wars” fame — has been offered the lead role in “Gravity,” a thriller about the lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. She would play an astronaut “stranded on a space station after satellite debris slams into and wipes out the rest of the crew,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Robert Downey Jr. already has committed to a supporting role, but much of the picture is devoted to the female character, who must survive a solitary ordeal much in the way Tom Hanks did in ‘Cast Away,’” the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Given Elon Musk's connection to Robert Downey Jr. — Musk and SpaceX headquarters both had cameos in “Iron Man 2” — perhaps Portman will return to Earth in a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The $80 million Warner Bros. movie, to be shot in 3-D, is slated to start shooting in January for a 2012 release. (9/7)

NASA Knows More Than Space (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's expertise reaches beyond the exploration of space, and this summer we're seeing regular examples of how space agency people, research and technology is applicable to problems right here on Earth. When oil gushed from a blown well deep below the Gulf of Mexico, NASA teams got involved in everything from space-based and aerial reconnaissance to assisting with the study of how the pollutants might interact with the water and travel with currents. And Kennedy Space Center became heavily involved in a cross-country rescue of baby sea turtles, relocated from the oil-slicked Gulf to the spaceport and ultimately back into the Atlantic Ocean.

As hurricane season really heats up this month -- with three monster storms rolling through the Atlantic one after another like baseballs from a pitching machine -- NASA's satellite imagery and its weather experts are assisting in forecasting and research. And, the agency's new unmanned drones are protecting lives flying through storms to help gather data long only available via risky manned aircraft flights. Spacecraft circling the globe spotted a gigantic ice shelf cracking and a monstrous and potentially dangerous iceberg floating away in what could have become a danger to one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Now, in Chile, NASA medical and emergency-response experts are on the scene helping that government work to rescue trapped miners. NASA's team on the scene includes people with medical, engineering and psychological expertise, a group very much focused on some of the impacts -- and solutions -- to extreme emergencies in very unforgiving environments. (9/7)

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