February 21, 2011

Virginia Spaceport: Utilities Project Will Clear Way for Rockets (Source: Salisbury Daily Times)
A $3.4 million project is about to get underway that will create a clear passage for large rocket payloads to travel along Atlantic Road from NASA Wallops Flight Facility to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. The Wallops Space Transit Corridor Clearance Project will result in all above-ground utility lines owned by ANEC, Verizon and Charter Cable along the route being buried, Wallops Research Park Project Manager Amy Bull said. Nearly 300 cables in all are to be moved underground. The Virginia Department of Transportation already has made the necessary modifications to traffic signals along the route. The target date for the project’s completion is May 31 in order to accommodate Orbital Sciences Corp.’s timetable for missions to the International Space Station. (2/21)

Can Tax Credits Entice Space-Related Businesses to Florida? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
When the space shuttle is retired later this year, Kennedy Space Center will turn into a virtual ghost town, without a government rocket to launch for the first time in 50 years. The only launch activity will be at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where United Launch Alliance sends up satellites and SpaceX is set to continue testing the Flacon 9 rocket it plans to send to the International Space Station.

State Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, is trying to spur launch activity with HB 873, which would provide tax incentives to new space-related ventures in hopes of providing jobs to the 7,000 or so shuttle workers looking at imminent layoffs. The bill creates a fully transferable net operating loss tax credit, which would allow space-related businesses to sell their net operating losses to other Florida companies for cash. The bill also credits a non-transferable corporate income tax credit of up to 50 percent for a commercial space-related business.

To qualify for either incentive, a space business must create or maintain at least 35 jobs and invest a minimum of $15 million in infrastructure development within three years of the bill’s effective date. “Florida is no longer the national leader in space-related incentives. Other states are passing us by, so the Legislature must take action to attract more space businesses,” Crisafulli said in a statement. “97% of the space-related market opportunity is located outside of Florida – it is ours to capture, and this bill will help us do just that.” Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, has sponsored the Senate companion bill. (2/21)

Bringing Shuttle to Ohio: 'We'll Be Able To Do That,' Congressman Says (Source: Dayton Daily News)
The space shuttle Atlantis is closer than ever to an eventual home at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, but getting it there will take money and cooperation, U.S. Rep. Steve Austria, R-OH, said. Austria said it will take $28 million to move and house the shuttle — known for having more military payloads than other shuttles — to the Riverside museum.

“As a community, we’ll be able to do that,” Austria said of coming up with $28 million. “I have no doubt.” Transporting Atlantis to the museum will cost about $8 million, he said. Upgrading the museum for a shuttle home will take about $20 million. Boeing said last week it will give $5 million toward construction of a new 200,000-square-foot wing at the museum to house Atlantis. (2/21)

50 Years After Gagarin, Russian Space Research Cries Out for Funding (Source: Moscow NewS)
Russian science is aiming high – but 50 years after Yury Gagarin’s legendary space flight, the funding for space technology is lagging behind. The modernization pushed by President Dmitry Medvedev has prompted a flurry of investment into the Skolkovo Innovation Center, and cutting-edge industries such as nanotechnology are benefiting from high level backing.

But efforts to recreate the commercial successes of Silicon Valley in Russia risk leaving many space programs earthbound due to lack of funding. It’s a seemingly strange conflict of priorities since, as Professor Vadim Gushin of Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems points out, space technology is by definition innovative. But his involvement in multi-national efforts to improve the physical and emotional well-being of cosmonauts has shown that space research does not feature prominently on Medvedev’s much-touted innovation agenda. (2/21)

Biggest Ever Solar Storm Could Cause Power Cuts Which Last for MONTHS (Source: Daily Mail)
The world is overdue a ferocious 'space storm' that could knock out communications satellites, ground aircraft and trigger blackouts - causing hundreds of billions of pounds of damage, scientists say. Astronomers today warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to a major solar storm than at any time in history - and that the planet should prepare for a global Katrina-style disaster.

A massive eruption of the sun would save waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging the satellite systems used for synchronizing computers, airline navigation and phone networks. If the storm is powerful enough it could even crash stock markets and cause power cuts that last weeks or months, experts told the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The chances of a disruption from space are getting stronger because the sun is entering the most active period of its 11 to 12-year natural cycle. (2/21)

What Would You Ask ET? (Source: MSNBC)
What would happen if we found out that we are not alone in the universe? Or, on the flip side, what would happen if we decided that we really were alone? Experts provided updated answers to those age-old questions, from a scientific as well as a religious angle, during a Sunday session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting. But one of the most intriguing questions had more of a personal spin: What would you ask E.T. if you had the chance? Click here to read the article. (2/21)

Bermuda: ‘Unsung Heroes’ of Space Race (Source: BerNews)
Bermuda’s NASA tracking station, at the end of Mercury Road on Cooper’s Island, adjacent to Clearwater Park, lies abandoned now, most of the facilities dismantled. But Cooper’s Island still retains signs from its heyday which began with the US/Soviet “space race” and ended after a 1997 space shuttle innovation rendered the station unnecessary. Located on a 77-acre rock-coral shelf just off of Saint David’s Island on the northern shores, the main station was an eastward extension of Kindley Air Force Base, managed by the US Air Force. Its use dated back to a World War II agreement between US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. (2/21)

Future of Space Tourism, Research Will Be Focus of UCF Conference (Source: UCF)
The CEO and president of Richard Branson’s space company, Virgin Galactic, will discuss the promise of space tourism at the University of Central Florida on Monday, Feb. 28. George Whitesides also will describe how space vehicles in development will open new avenues for science and technology during a free public talk at 8 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union. The talk is part of the second-annual Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers conference that runs through March 2. (2/21)

ULA's Mike Rein Moving West for Lockheed Martin Post (Source: SPACErePORT)
Following last week's announcements of new communications-focused personnel assignments at SpaceX and International Launch Services (ILS), United Launch Alliance's Mike Rein has announced his departure for a new position in Texas with Lockheed Martin, where he'll lead the company's communications effort for the F-35 program. (2/21)

Russian Mission Cannot Be Salvaged (Source: Space News)
A senior Russian defense official is quoted by Itar-Tass as saying the Geo-IK-2 satellite placed into the wrong orbit by a Rockot rocket will not be able to carry out its mission. First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said the investigation into the early February launch mishap is ongoing but made no mention of possible foul play by a foreign power, as did an unnamed Russian official last week. (2/21)

Send Your Stuff to Space by Rocket! (Source: New Mexico Space Grant Consortium)
Let us send your research, commercial merchandise, business, or personal paraphernalia to space. On Apr. 1, the NM Space Grant Consortium will fly the launch sounding rocket to space, approximately 70 miles above the Earth's surface. During the rocket's 15-minute flight, it will reach speeds of 4,000 miles per hour, taking 90 seconds to lift its payload capsule (for four minutes) into space. Then the rocket body and payload will separately re-enter the atmosphere and parachute to a landing about 50 miles away from the launch site.

Once retrieved, "your stuff" will be mailed back, or hand delivered (if you attend the Launch). The nearly 20-foot tall rocket will give a ride to nearly anything you can shove into a one-inch square box ($996). Larger items are also OK, with some restrictions. We must receive your package by Mar. 1. Email us to inquire about multiple purchases for larger space at jmcshann@nmsu.edu. Click here for information. (2/21)

Rokot Launches Suspended Following Failed Satellite Launch (Source: Interfax)
"Rokot launches have been suspended to fulfill recommended measures to ensure the necessary level of quality and reliability of Rokot conversion delivery vehicles, which will involve evaluations conducted by the federal state unitary enterprise TsNIImash and four Defense Ministry central research institutes, which will issue appropriate decisions," a Roskosmos source said.

In the meantime, a source in the space industry told Interfax-AVN that the launch of military and dual-purpose spacecraft using Rokot conversion delivery vehicles, which was scheduled for late March, has been postponed until the embargo on the launch of rockets of this type is lifted. "A decision to postpone the launch, which is scheduled for march 2011, will be made in the nearest future to increase the reliability of Rokot launches," the source said. (2/21)

Desperate US Wants to be Part of India’s First Manned Space Mission (Source: DNA)
NASA is trying hard prevent India’s first manned space mission, tagged at Rs10,000 crore, from being indigenous. And India does not seem to have a problem. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and NASA are amid discussions to collaborate on India’s first space mission in low-earth orbit — a mission which will be launched after 2017 as it awaits the Center’s approval.

As per ISRO sources, NASA and US space officials are pushing for the collaboration through Deviprasad Karnik, India’s space attache at its embassy in Washington. DNA has learnt that US’ desperation emanates from pressure from within their country to restart its manned space mission, which it suspended in 1972 citing huge costs. (2/21)

Greetings, Astropreneurs (Source: The Lawyer)
Since 2001, the Isle of Man has built a portfolio of space-related businesses and initiatives, benefiting from the zero corporate tax rate alongside specific tax exemptions for the industry, plus efficient access to orbital slots and the island’s insurance, ­banking, legal and accountancy expertise. The island’s government has stated that it “is pro-space and committed to helping the space industry flourish”. It works in collaboration with local space services company ManSat, which, among other things, specializes in orbital filings.

Current industry presence in the Isle of Man include SES Satellite Leasing, a company incorporated in the island as a procurement vehicle for SES, the world’s leading satellite operator, and a number of other major satellite companies engaged in broadcasting, global positioning and remote sensing. The International Space University’s (ISU) International Institute of Space Commerce is also on the island.

Other Manx businesses include space manufacturing companies such as CVI Technical Optics, which specialises in laser optics. CVI’s laser-induced detection and ranging system was used on the Phoenix Mars Lander and played a part in the historic detection of high-altitude snow over Mars. Click here to read the article. (2/21)

China Mars Probe to be Launched in November (Source: People's Daily)
China's first Mars probe will be launched from a Russian rocket in November, said local media on Monday. The Mars explorer, Yinghuo-1, marks the country's first attempt at deep space exploration after its sending a probe to the moon. The 110-kilogram micro-satellite was originally planned to be launched in October 2009 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but the launch was postponed.

The orbiter is due to probe the Martian space environment with a special focus on what happened to the water that are supposed to have existed on the planet. China is aiming to build a space exploration program on par with those of the United States and Russia. China currently has a probe -- the Chang'e 2 -- orbiting the moon and carrying out various tests in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang'e-3, which it hopes will be its first unmanned lunar landing. (2/21)

NASA Enters Budget Fight with an Alliance, but Cracks are Showing (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA's budget is like the rest of the federal government these days, under pressure to drop, but this year supporters say there is at least broad agreement on what NASA should be doing. "That gives us a mission, a reason to move forward," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said of President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2012.

It wasn't that way last year when the White House sent a budget to Capitol Hill that proposed killing Constellation, NASA's rocket program of record at the time. It was being developed here, and Huntsville has a key role in NASA's new mission, too. The president wanted to replace Constellation with long-term research by NASA on a new deep-space rocket and a government-stimulated commercial fleet to carry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

With the space shuttle winding down, Congress rebelled at the idea of no NASA manned rocket coming behind it. In one of its few bipartisan acts last year, Congress passed and President Obama agreed to sign the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. It ordered NASA to build - not just design - a new heavy-lift rocket for deep-space missions by 2016, but it also supported the president's push for commercial rockets. (2/21)

Taking the Initiative: SLI and the Next Generation (Source: Space Review)
While there's been a recent surge in interest in reusable spacecraft, including both capsules and winged vehicles, work on reusable launch vehicles has languished. Stewart Money argues that it's time to revisit making launch vehicles at least partially reusable. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1784/1 to view the article. (2/21)

The Case for International Cooperation in Space Exploration (Source: Space Review)
ESA is currently weighing which major space science mission it should pursue in the coming decade, a decision that will rest in part on the role of international cooperation on this missions. Lou Friedman suggests that this could be a model for broader cooperation in space exploration. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1782/1 to view the article. (2/21)

Starless Planets May be Habitable After All (Source: New Scientist)
Liquid water may survive on free-floating planets that have no star to warm them. If they also support life, they could act as stepping stones to spread life around the galaxy. Gravitational tussles with other planets or passing stars can eject planets from their solar systems. But even in the cold of space, these wayward worlds could stay warm, thanks to the decay of radioactive elements in their rocky cores. (2/21)

Life on Other Planets: Latest Discovery Follows Recent Signs of Extraterrestrials (Source: The Telegraph)
Experts examining results from the Kepler telescope have identified more than 1,200 planets in orbit around distant stars, 54 of which are a similar size to Earth and in habitable zones from their suns. The research follows several recent discoveries which point to the possibility of life on other planets.

Last year, NASA scientists claimed they had found vital clues which appeared to indicate that primitive aliens could be living on Titan, one of Saturn’s biggest moons. Experts suggested that life forms may have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel. (2/21)

Next Military Spaceplane Prepared for Launch at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The second Orbital Test Vehicle, the U.S. military's secretive mini space shuttle, arrived at the Atlas 5 rocket's assembly hangar Monday morning for mounting atop the launcher. Liftoff is scheduled for March 4 from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41. Already shrouded within in the aerodynamic nose cone for launch, the OTV 2 spaceplane was hauled across the Cape overnight from its processing area to the Atlas' Vertical Integration Facility. (2/21)

Satellite Launched to Wrong Orbit in February Will Not Operate (Source: Interfax)
Early reports suggest that the failed launch of the Geo-IK-2 geodetic spacecraft was caused by malfunction of the upper stage and control system, the Russian Defense Ministry said. "The preliminary cause of the failure is in the upper stage and apparently in the control system," Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said. "The spacecraft will not operate according to its designated purpose as it is on the orbit that does not allow it to do so," he said. (2/21)

Astronauts 4 Hire Plan Events During Suborbital Conference in Orlando (Source: Astronauts4Hire)
Astronauts4Hire will conduct a number of activities during next week’s Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC), providing important opportunities for the organization to connect with the suborbital research community. Most of the events will be held in the Student Union building on the University of Central Florida campus. Click here for details. (2/21)

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