October 17, 2010

Final Shuttle Launches Promise to be a Blast (Source: Miami Herald)
If you're heading to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of the next-to-last space shuttle Nov. 1, good luck. Reservations for the prime viewing spot at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex have been sold out for weeks. You won't even be allowed to visit the center any time that day unless you have a ticket for shuttle launch viewing. That said, take heart. There are many other places from which to watch the launch of Discovery. Click here to read the article. (10/17)

Space Expert Tom Marsh to Nurture Colorado's Aerospace Economy (Source: Denver Post)
Tom Marsh, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, is co-chairman of the Colorado Space Coalition. The coalition's leadership includes one co-chair from the civil sector (Marsh), one from a military perspective (Maj. Gen. Andy Love) and one from state government (Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien). The Colorado Space Coalition has four dozen leaders from commercial, military, academic, research and economic-development organizations. Members include companies such as Ball Aerospace and Sierra Nevada, area chambers of commerce and major higher-education institutions.

"We need to be working through this difficult economy and planning for what's next," Marsh said. "We just need to see some things settle out a bit." Colorado space-related companies that annually generate an estimated $7 billion in revenues. An estimated 166,000 Coloradans are directly or indirectly employed by aerospace, which is one of seven "industry clusters" that are the focus of economic-development officials. That doesn't include the economic impact of academic institutions and federal facilities landing contracts and performing space-related work, or the strong military presence. (10/17)

Goldilocks Planets Waiting for Just-Right Rockets (Source: USA Today)
Goldilocks planets, not too hot and not too cold for life, look more likely, and less like a fairy tale for astronomers. But will the cupboard be bare, when we talk about actually visiting one of these soon-to-be discovered places? "Interstellar space is a very unfriendly environment," says rocket scientist Dana Andrews of Andrews Space in Seattle. "Getting anywhere is a very hard problem...When we do find something and once evidence shows liquid water on another world, one would think there would be some interest in sending something there," Andrews says.

People might be disappointed then, because of a few slight hurdles involving interstellar space travel: Distance — our fastest spacecraft, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, flew past Jupiter at 36,000 miles per hour, or .00005 of the speed of light. At that rate, it would take 40,000 years to reach Gliese 581g. Click here to read about the other barriers to such long-distance space missions. (10/17)

Japan Plans H-2A Rocket Improvements by Mid-2010s (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Continuing efforts to snare an elusive share of commercial launches, the Japanese government and industry are planning upgrades to the country's H-2A rocket to make it more competitive in the global marketplace. The improvements were the subject of a detailed presentation at the 61st International Astronautical Congress in Prague. The first phase of the H-2A upgrades should be operational by the mid-2010s, enabling the launcher to more effectively carry dual payloads to polar trajectories and deploy communications satellites closer to their targeted geosynchronous orbits. (10/17)

U.S. May Outsource Lightweight Satellite Launches to India (Source: India Strategic)
The United States could outsource lightweight satellite launches to India. Lockheed Martin, the biggest US defense, aerospace and military technology corporation, broached the subject recently with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and its export arm, Antrix. Lockheed executive Roger Rose said that as the U.S. was moving toward longer distance and more sophisticated probes, it made commercial sense to outsource launching of some satellites.

There was a dearth of low-cost launching facilities in the world but ISRO and Antrix had a commendable track record in this regard. Lockheed Martin was also interested in cooperating with ISRO on India’s manned space flights. The corporation had substantial technological inputs on many or most of the US space missions, and some of these could be shared with India. He said that senior executives from Lockheed Martin had visited Bangalore in August and held discussions with ISRO and Antrix. Some of the US satellites assigned to Lockheed Martin could be outsourced to India and they could “ride piggyback on Indian rockets.” (10/17)

NASA Deals Give Dynetics Team a Boost in Race to the Moon (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA signaled its confidence Friday in six teams competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, including the team led by Huntsville's Dynetics Inc. In a move that also showed how NASA will likely develop its own future landers, the space agency said it would buy data from the Dynetics team and five others competing to be first to land on the moon and send back data. (10/17)

NASA's Bolden Walks Tight Rope on China Trip (Source: Christian Science Monitor)
NASA administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden Jr. traveled to China this weekend on what he has described as an "introductory" visit that includes discussions of potential opportunities for future cooperation in human spaceflight. The trip, at the invitation of Chinese space officials, comes at a time of upheaval in the US human spaceflight program, and amid growing ripples of doubt among observers in Washington about Bolden's future at the space agency's helm. "He's sort of viewing the trip as a victory lap," says Keith Cowing, editor of the website NASA Watch, as momentum appears to be building to replace him. (10/17)

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