December 29, 2010

Outlook: More Efficient Aerospace Production Means Fewer Workers (Source: AIA)
Manufacturing companies in Washington state, including Boeing, plan to ramp up production next year, but they may not need as many new workers, thanks to automation and lean production techniques designed to make production more efficient. The outsourcing of less complicated work has also reduced the need for local manpower. (12/29)

Students Compete in Honeywell Aerospace Challenge Finals (Source: AIA)
The Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge finals, held Dec. 30, will see presentations from six teams of fifth through eighth graders. The students will present their plans for an international lunar base, including a physical scale model. A panel of senior-level Honeywell engineers and NASA astronauts will judge the presentations. (12/29)

New Funding Gives NASA Earth Science Missions a Big Lift (Source: AIA)
The current five-year government spending plan should allow NASA to substantially ramp up its Earth science program. The program faced constraints and uncertainty just a year ago, but the new spending plan provides an additional $2.4 billion over the previous blueprint. This could allow NASA to fly a few missions each year instead of one every couple of years, one official said. (12/29)

Arianespace 6 for 6 in 2010 (Source: Arianespace)
On Wednesday, December 29, Arianespace orbited two communications satellites: Hispasat 1E for the Spanish operator Hispasat, and Koreasat 6 for the KT Corporation. This was the 55th Ariane 5 launch and the 41st success in a row. This latest successful Ariane 5 launch, the sixth in 2010, once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities. Ariane 5 is the only commercial satellite launcher now on the market capable of simultaneously launching two payloads and handling a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to scientific satellites boosted into special orbits. (12/29)

Russia Sacks Space Officials Over Rocket Crash (Source: Financial Times)
The Kremlin sacked two top space officials held accountable for a rocket crash that set back Russia’s plans to complete a constellation of orbital navigation satellites to rival the US global positioning system. A Russian rocket carrying three Glonass satellites into orbit veered off course shortly after blastoff from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan this month and plunged into the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 miles north-west of Hawaii. (12/29)

After Indian Launch Fiasco, Allegations Galore (Source: Business Standard)
What caused the failure of the Indian Space Research Organization's latest mission to launch an advanced communication satellite, GSAT-5P, a consecutive failure of a launch? Allegations and accusations are said to be flying between the three divisions of ISRO, according to sources. An official said that cables carrying control signals from the on-board computer to the first stage snapped. The mission control could not send commands to the vehicle, as a result. The uncontrolled vehicle started deviating from its flight path and had to be detonated. (12/29)

Now You Don't... The Search for Life on Mars Continues (Source: The Economist)
Toward the end of 2011 a large and hugely expensive robotic rover called Curiosity is due to blast off for Mars from Cape Canaveral. If it makes it safely to the planet’s surface in August 2012 (getting down from orbit in one piece has not always proved easy for space probes) one of the first things it will do is sniff the air. Its creators, back on Earth, will be straining to see if that air carries a whiff of methane.

In 2004 three different groups said they had seen signs of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. Since, on Earth, almost all atmospheric methane comes from living things, this provided the biggest news from the planet since ALH 84001, a meteorite purportedly bearing Martian fossils, created headlines in 1996. Click here to read the article. (12/29)

NASA Seeks Space Technology Graduate Fellowship Applicants (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking applications from graduate students for the agency's new Space Technology Research Fellowships. Applications are being accepted from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of graduate students interested in performing space technology research beginning in the fall of 2011. The deadline for submitting fellowship proposals is Feb. 23. Information on the fellowships, including how to submit applications, is available here. (12/29)

ILS To Launch Satmex 8 in 2012 on Proton Rocket (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Satmex of Mexico will launch its Satmex 8 telecommunications satellite aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket between July and September 2012, Satmex and ILS announced. Satmex 8 will replace Satmex 5 at 116.8 degrees west. Satmex 5, whose ion-electric propulsion system failed, is operating on backup chemical propulsion that Satmex has said will run out by late 2012. (12/29)

Ohio Supreme Court OKs State's Satellite TV Tax (Source: Washington Post)
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a state sales tax for satellite TV providers that cable competitors don't have to pay, rejecting arguments from the satellite industry that the tax is unfair while maintaining a source of tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the financially struggling state. (12/29)

Editorial: NASA Helping Keep Us Safe Down on Earth (Source:
The traditional rap on America’s space program was that the billions of tax dollars devoted to NASA’s moon shots, interplanetary probes and orbiting telescopes could be far better spent on down-to-Earth needs. In fact, that complaint’s as thin as the air up in the stratosphere. Anyone who’s found their way around a strange city with a geographic positioning system — or surfed the hundreds of channels on satellite television, or enjoyed a precise, up-to-the moment weather forecast — has lived an easier terrestrial life thanks to the spin-off benefits of the space program. Click here to read the article. (12/29)

Private Spaceflight Ready to Take Off in 2011 (Source:
The private space industry has long been viewed as fledgling. But this once-pejorative term has taken on new meaning this year, as a roster of successes and fast-paced growth throughout 2010 suggests private spaceflight is ready to take off in 2011. Multiple private-sector space firms are moving into full power, going well beyond powerpoints and hand-waving. Still, the coming year is likely to feature battles between "same old space" and the ascension of "new space." Click here to view the article. (12/29)

First Human-Like Robot to Fly in Space (Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News)
To watch NASA's Robonaut 2 tip its head and gaze down at its open palms as it flexes its fingers and opposable thumbs is to believe there must be a human behind the opaque gold visor on the robot's face. In fact, there are only cameras. Robonaut 2, which NASA hopes to launch Feb. 3 aboard the space shuttle Discovery on a flight to its permanent home on the International Space Station, will be the first humanoidlike robot to fly in space.

Based on technology nurtured in part at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View and built jointly by the space agency and General Motors, the robot has a head, two arms and a humanlike chest and shoulders. It has fingers, thumbs and wrists with enough dexterity to grip a pen and write "hello." It can even dial an iPhone. NASA intends to use Robonaut to do tasks that are too dangerous for humans, such as risky spacewalks, as well as for jobs that are too mundane, like swabbing the internal surfaces of the space station to prevent bacterial buildup -- an onerous task that now falls to astronauts. (12/29)

Suspected Debris of Exploded Rocket Washes Ashore (Source: IANS)
An oval metal object, suspected to be debris of the rocket that was blown up mid-air by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists Saturday following a failed launch, washed ashore near Pazhaverkadu in Thiruvallur district, officials said. A huge oval shaped metal object washed ashore Monday. (12/29)

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