November 7, 2010

'Apollo 18' Movie to Focus on Alien Link to 'Canceled' Mission (Source:
The Weinstein Company won a bidding battle to make Apollo 18, an extraterrestrial film that is being creatively spearheaded by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. The picture, which is well into production and will be released March 4, 2011, shapes up as the next in a line of films that use a tinge of reality to launch into thriller story lines. Bob Weinstein met several times with Bekmambetov before making a deal that came after Bekmambetov presented film footage purported to have been shot by the crew of Apollo 18.

That moon mission from the early 70s was officially canceled by NASA, but according to urban legend, it actually happened. Timur's footage shows signs of alien life, and the events of the mission are built into a thriller story line. The film so far has been a well kept secret but would have to be well underway to be ready for release five months from now. (11/7)

Alaska Multi-Satellite Launch Scheduled for Nov. 20 (Source: SPACErePORT)
An Air Force Minotaur 4 rocket will launch a group of satellites in a launch from Alaska's Kodiak Island spaceport on Nov. 20, sponsored by the Air Force's Space Test Program. The payloads include the Air Force's STPSat 2 satellite, NASA's FASTSAT (Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite), two FASTRAC spacecraft from the University of Texas, the Air Force Academy's FalconSat 5 satellite, and NASA's O/OREOS CubeSat mission. (11/7)

No Pact Likely on Indian Launches of US Commercial Satellites (Source: Indian Express)
With the US still in the process of finalizing export reforms on commercial satellites by restructuring the US Munitions List on spacecraft, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is not expecting to see a much anticipated Commercial Satellites Launch Agreement inked during the visit of US President Barack Obama later this week.

The agreement, seen as a progression on a Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) signed in July 2009 during the visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will allow US commercial satellites or satellites with US components to be launched on ISRO space vehicles, significantly opening up the nearly $2 billion global space launch business for India. (11/7)

Group Offers Insurance for NASA Commercial Crew Programs (Source: SPI)
Space Partnership International (SPI) is offering a suite of space insurance products to support NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative, which includes vehicles for human space transportation to and from the International Space Station ("ISS"). NASA recommends that CCDev participants obtain commercial insurance to include coverage for damage to the participant's property (such as its launcher and other flight hardware) and for third-party damages not otherwise addressed by FAA requirements.

"The SPI Team has a long and successful history in understanding the complexities of space liability and how the various concepts of domestic and international law, including the NASA Act, the Commercial Space Act and UN Outer Space Treaties, interact," said SPI Managing Director Jean Michel Eid. The SPI team has been involved with these issues for over 25 years, with placement of the first policies for: space shuttle cargos, civilian astronauts, mars mission, X-Prize, satellite de-orbit liability, and coverage for NanoRacks relating to its operations with the ISS. Click here for more. (11/8)

Pariahs No More? Indian Agencies Removed from US "Entities List" (Source: Economic Times)
“Increased commerce between the US and India can be and will be a win-win proposition for both nations,” US President Barack Obama told top business executives in Mumbai. The US has decided to take ISRO and four of its subsidiaries and DRDO and its subsidiaries off its "entities list". Indian agencies would no longer be classified along with Pakistan and North Korea, but would move into a group populated by US top allies like the UK and Japan.

In the current classification system, India cannot even access some critical kinds of technologies that it wants. The US will also support India’s membership in global nonproliferation regimes like the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group and, in future, Nuclear Suppliers Group. This means India will have to harmonize its export control regimes to these groups. But membership to these groups also helps India access critical technologies, software and equipment from all countries, who currently deal with such sensitive technologies. (11/7)

Life, the Universe and Everything (Source: San Francisco Examiner)
The California Academy of Sciences’ new planetarium show, “Life: A Cosmic Story” is an enormously ambitious undertaking. The aim is nothing less than to explain the origin, nature and interconnectedness of life in the universe — in 25 minutes. Opening with a scene in the Muir Woods redwood grove, the camera — computer simulation, actually — dives into the cells of a single leaf, showing life at the microscopic level. In a dizzying sequence, those building blocks of life are followed back to the Big Bang and the creation of life, almost 14 billion years ago. Click here to see the article. (11/7)

Architects Vie to Design the City of the Future--On the Moon (Source: Scientific American)
The moon has long loomed large as the next logical site for human expansion, a frontier land still lightly explored but visible to all throughout human history. With the recent discovery of a significant volume of water on the lunar surface, the idea of the moon as a livable habitat has become just that much more plausible. A new competition, Moon Capital, turned the question of what that habitat will look like over to the imagination of architects, engineers and artists. Let's say it is the year 2069, exactly a century after the first lunar landing. The colony has finally been built. What does it look like? What do the moon-dwellers need both to survive and to enjoy their new surroundings? Click here to see a slide show. (11/7)

Observatories on 5 Continents to Scan Skies for Extraterrestrial Life (Source: Washington Post)
The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence went global this weekend as observatories in 13 nations on five continents trained their telescopes on several promising star systems. While they don't expect their one-day joint effort will find the kind of intentionally produced signal from afar that enthusiasts have been seeking for decades, participants say the undertaking illustrates just how far the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, has come. (11/7)

Super-Earths May be Hostile to Life (Source: New Scientist)
Rocky planets a few times heavier than Earth that we thought might be life-friendly may lack one vital feature: a protective magnetic field. Planets are thought to owe their magnetic fields to an iron core that is at least partly molten. But a simulation of super-Earths between a few times and 10 times Earth's mass suggests that high pressures will keep the core solid.

Without a magnetic field, the planets would be bathed in harmful radiation, and their atmospheres would be eroded away by particles streaming from their stars. So life would have trouble getting started on super-Earths, even if they lie in the habitable zone around their stars. However, other researchers reckons it is too soon to rule out molten iron cores - and magnetic fields - for super-Earths. Their interiors might get hot enough to melt iron, he says. "Actual temperatures could be much larger than assumed - we simply do not know." (11/7)

Space Winners and Losers in Arizona Election (Source: Space Politics)
It took three days, but late Friday Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) declared victory in her fight for reelection to Arizona’s 8th district, narrowly defeating Republican Jesse Kelly. Giffords, who had been the chair of the House Science and Technology Committee’s space subcommittee, will now be, at best, ranking member of that committee in the new Congress with the Republican takeover of the House.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring 7th district, self-identified “rocket scientist” Ruth McClung lost her bid to oust Rep. Raúl Grijalva, with the Democratic congressman declaring victory Thursday night. However, McClung told the AP that she would not formally concede until remaining outstanding ballots were counted, even as Grijalva’s lead widened. (11/6)

Redistricting Promises Changes in Florida Representation in Washington (Source: SPACErePORT)
With Florida's population growth, the state will probably add two new Congressional Districts for the 2012 election. The Florida Legislature will be responsible for the redistricting in 2011. Previous redistricting allowed powerful state legislators to establish Congressional districts that were tailor-made for their own congressional campaigns. (This was considered the case when the Cape Canaveral Spaceport was split into two districts, allowing State House Speaker Tom Feeney to become a Congressman.)

Two newly approved Florida ballot initiatives are designed to prevent the kind of politically motivated redistricting that occured in previous years. Nevertheless, Florida's Congressional influence on space policy could change profoundly after 2012, with the potential addition or subtraction of a Space Coast district, and more members available to serve on relevant committees. (11/7)

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