February 26, 2011

$18,000 in Prizes Offered by Yuri’s Night for Advertisement Competition and Space Sweepstakes (Source: Yuri's Night)
Yuri's Night is excited to commemorate the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight by launching two contests: the “Call to Humanity” Space Exploration Ad Competition, which calls on talented graphic designers, artists, and other creative individuals to create a powerful and inspiring print campaign that will move people to think about and support humanity’s future in space, and the "International Space Sweepstakes," a free global drawing.

The Ad Competition Grand Prize is a 4-day Space Travelers “Zero-G Flight-Russia” travel package (with a $1,000 voucher for travel to and from Moscow), which consists of a microgravity flight aboard an Ilyushin-76 aircraft in Russia and an all-inclusive 4-day tour of the homeland of Yuri Gagarin – a $9,000 value in total. The submissions will be rated by a panel of celebrity judges based on their emotional impact, artistic merit, and adherence to the themes. The deadline for submissions is March 31.

Simultaneously, Yuri’s Night is launching the International Space Sweepstakes to give anyone in the world the chance to travel to Russia, witness a rocket launch at Baikonur, and experience the history of the Russian space program first hand. Entries are free (though donations to Yuri’s Night are encouraged), but are limited to one per person. All interested and eligible participants are welcome (and encouraged) to participate in both the Competition and the Sweepstakes. The winner, who will be chosen by random selection, will receive a 10-day Space Travellers "VIP Lift-Off in Baikonur" travel package and a $1,000 travel voucher for travel to and from Moscow. Click here. (2/26)

Hawaii Trying to Capitalize on Commercial Space Exploration (Source: Pacific Business News)
The Hawaii Senate is considering a bill that would authorize the state to pursue a Federal Aviation Administration spaceport license that could launch the state into the multibillion-dollar space exploration and tourism business. Senate Bill 112 would enable the state’s Office of Aerospace Development to conduct the environmental and safety assessments that are required for the license, said Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa Beach-Waipahu, author of the bill. A similar measure was passed by the Legislature in 2009, but funds were not released by then-Gov. Linda Lingle. (2/26)

Ex-UF Space Researcher and Wife Convicted of Obtaining Fraudulent NASA Contracts (Source: Gainesville Sun)
A U.S. District Court jury in Gainesville found former UF nuclear engineering professor Samim Anghaie and his wife, Sousan, both guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and more than two dozen counts of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a dozen other counts involving money laundering for both Samim and Sousan Anghaie and a charge of making false statements for Sousan Anghaie. Samim was found guilty of using false documents, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, while Sousan was found not guilty of the charge. The couple are free on bond while they await their sentencing date, which has not yet been scheduled.

They were accused of submitting false information, including research taken from UF students without their knowledge, to obtain contracts from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. They have obtained $3.4 million in contracts since 1999 and used the money they received from the contracts to buy multiple vehicles and homes, according to prosecutors. Samim Anghaie started at UF in 1980 and was director of its Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute. (2/26)

India Tests Rocket Motor, Delays Satellite Launch (Source: Hindustan Times)
After 16 successful launches of its workhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in the last 17 years, the Indian space agency is now testing a key component to re-qualify its on-flight performance parameters to avoid any unpleasant surprises. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is testing the gas motor which is fitted in the second stage/engine powered by liquid fuel for high temperature tolerance levels.

The test has forced ISRO to postpone the launch of its remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2 and two other payloads by nearly a month. Remote sensing satellites like Resourcesat send back pictures and other data for various uses. India is a major player in providing such data in the global market. The rocket was scheduled for launch this week. (2/26)

Russia Launches Navigation System Satellite (Source: Reuters)
Russia launched on Saturday one of the final satellites needed to complete a space-based navigation system, which Moscow hopes will challenge the dominant U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). The satellite, Glonass-K, which was launched shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time, reached orbit, said Aleksei Zolotukhin, spokesman for the Defense Ministry's space forces. The entry of the space craft into space "went according to plan. Steady telemetric communications have been established with the space craft," he said.

After the embarrassing loss of three satellites last year, two more are expected to be launched in 2011 to complete the $2 billion project that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said will give Russia "satellite navigation sovereignty." Moscow is hoping the navigation technology Glonass will create a revolution in domestic consumer technology, with applications expected to be used in mobile telephones and automobiles. (2/26)

How Serious is Space Solar Power? (Source: MSNBC)
The idea of beaming down power from outer space has surfaced in science-fiction stories and government studies for decades now. Commercial deals have been struck, prototype satellites have been proposed, international initiatives have been announced. But has any real progress been made toward developing space-based solar power systems?

A few ventures have been working on the technological challenge of beaming power from Point A to Point B, in the form of laser beams or microwaves. In 2009, a company called LaserMotive won $900,000 in a NASA-backed competition for beam-powered robots. The same company proved last year that they could keep a quadrocopter up in the air all night, just by focusing a laser beam on its power-generating arrays. And in 2008, Managed Energy Technology demonstrated a wireless RF transmission system that could send a small-scale power beam over a distance of up to 90 miles.

But all these experiments are firmly grounded on planet Earth. Has anyone gotten to the point of building the hardware for beaming experiments in outer space? "None of them that I know of is at the point of turning steel," said Air Force Col. M.V. "Coyote" Smith. Smith spearheaded a 2007 study for the Defense Department that laid out a scenario for the military use of space-based solar power, and made a follow-up proposal for a power-beaming satellite project called "One Lightbulb." Click here to see the article. (2/26)

Space Coast State Senator Disagrees with Governor on High Speed Rail (Source: SPACErePORT)
State Senator Thad Altman, chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security, opposes Gov. Rick Scott's decision to block a $2.4 billion federal investment to develop a high speed rail system in Central Florida.

“The action of the Governor to not allow the private sector to make public proposals on high speed rail is not only unfriendly to business but also shows a lack of vision toward new and emerging technologies. I ask Governor Scott to at least give Floridians a chance to compete before he sends $2.4 billion dollars of our hard earned tax dollars to the Federal Government and eventually to another state."

"Floridians have put a man on the moon and we live in the number one travel destination on the planet. I believe, if there are people in the world who can make this exciting technology work, it is us. I say to Governor Scott, please get out of our way, let the people of Florida ‘get to work’ on this project. Have faith in us; we can do it.” (2/26)

Pentagon Considering Commercial Launches for Space Experiments (Source: Space News)
On the heels of its successful November launch, the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program has begun planning a mission that could involve hosting military experiments on commercial satellites or hitching a ride to space on a commercial launch vehicle.

The Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., organizes space launches for experiments developed by many government agencies. The most recent STP-S26 mission crammed seven small satellites atop a Minotaur 4 rocket and demonstrated numerous technologies that the military may incorporate into future operational missions. (2/25)

Eumetsat Secures Full Approval for New Weather Satellite System (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Eumetsat meteorological organization on Feb. 25 said it has secured the backing of all 26 of its member governments for the six-satellite Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) system, an investment of more than 2.37 billion euros ($3.2 billion) whose approval ends one of the most stressful periods in the organization’s history. (2/25)

Injured Astronaut Aboard Space Shuttle 'In Spirit' (Source: AP)
An astronaut who was bumped from space shuttle Discovery's final flight following a bicycle crash told his orbiting friends Friday that he's with them "in spirit." Injured just last month, Timothy Kopra hobbled on crutches into Mission Control and called Discovery's six astronauts, congratulating them on "an awesome launch" and wishing them well. Astronaut Michael Barratt teasingly confided that Kopra was aboard the shuttle "in a little bit more than spirit, but we'll have to explain that when we get back." (2/25)

Two High-priority Climate Missions Dropped from NASA’s Budget Plans (Source: Space News)
Even though NASA’s Earth science budget is slated to rise next year, thespace agency has been ordered by the White House to shelve a pair of big-ticket climate change missions that just last year were planned for launch by 2017. Under pressure to rein in federal spending, the White House eliminated funding for the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) missions. (2/25)

Detector Array Deterioration Poses New Problem for JWST (Source: Space News)
NASA is investigating a detector problem common to three primary instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that could get worse with time as a planned 2014 launch date for the overbudget flagship-class astronomy mission slips further into the future. NASA chartered a Failure Review Board Feb. 7 to assess the problem, which affects detector arrays made by Teledyne Imaging Sensors of Camarillo, Calif., for JWST’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam), Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) and Fine Guidance Sensor-Tunable Filter Imager. (2/25)

Gov't Shutdown Wouldn't Leave Shuttle Discovery Stuck in Space (Source: Space.com)
If Congress is unable to agree on a federal budget for 2011 before the current stopgap measure expires on March 4, the potential government shutdown that would follow should not leave NASA's space shuttle Discovery in the lurch. The Discovery mission will extend through the March 4 deadline for congressional budget talks, but a top NASA official said that shouldn't be a problem. "we'll be able to just press on and continue kind of the way we're heading and see what happens and what goes forward," NASA's space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier said. (2/25)

Thales’ 2010 Revenue Showed Slight Increase (Source: Space News)
French defense and aerospace contractor Thales Group on Feb. 24 said revenue from its space business, mainly its 67 percent ownership of hardware builder Thales Alenia Space and 33 percent share of satellite services provider Telespazio, rose “very slightly” in 2010 but booked multiple large orders. Thales Alenia Space reported revenue in 2009 of 2.05 billion euros ($2.94 billion). (2/25)

Thuraya Accuses Libya of Jamming Satellite Signals (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services operator Thuraya Telecommunications on Feb. 25 said it has “conclusive evidence” that Libya, one of its shareholders, is the source of “unlawful and intentional jamming” of Thuraya signals in Libya and surrounding areas over the past week. The Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based company has dealt with Libya-based jamming in the past.

The Thuraya-2 satellite’s network is operational, it said, but is still contending with jamming attempts at its beams serving Libya. The Thuraya statement follows similar complaints from Arab television broadcaster Al Jazeera, which said its signals into Libya had been jammed, and that the broadcaster had traced the jamming’s source to a Libyan intelligence service facility south of Tripoli. (2/25)

More Evidence Against Dark Matter? (Source: Science)
Thousands of physicists, astrophysicists, and astronomers are searching for dark matter, mysterious stuff whose gravity seems to hold the galaxies together. However, an old and highly controversial theory that simply changes the law of gravity can explain a key property of galaxies better than the standard dark-matter theory, one astronomer reports. That claim isn't likely to win over many skeptics, but even some theorists who favor the standard theory say the analysis hands them a homework problem they should solve. (2/25)

Russia, Israel Eye Joint Development of Communication Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
Russia and Israel have set up a joint group that would focus on the development of communications satellite. "We will consider the options of making several communication satellites and the joint development of a remote sensing satellite," said Anatoly Perminov, head of Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). (2/25)

NASA Langley Names News Chief (Source: NASA)
NASA Langley Office of Communications has selected Robert D. Wyman as news chief. Wyman, a 42-year-old native of Greensboro, N.C., who currently resides in Virginia Beach, Va., began work at the center Feb. 14. As news chief, he will be responsible for all interactions with print, broadcast and social media, as well as overseeing the creation and distribution of information about the center's key activities. (2/25)

Where Old Spacesuits End Up (Source: Voice of America)
No one appreciates the technology and design of the spacesuit more than Dr. Joseph Kerwin, who in 1973, was one of the first astronauts to conduct in-space repairs. He and fellow astronaut Pete Conrad fixed a jammed solar panel on the Skylab space station. That would not have been possible without the spacesuit, which Kerwin describes as "a little spacecraft." The suit provided protection from meteorites and vacuum. It circulated oxygen, removed carbon dioxide, kept the astronauts cool, provided communication and enough mobility to do the job.

All suits which have returned from space, more than 200 of them, belong to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum. In addition to flown suits, the museum has gloves, helmets and other ancillary equipment. Most are stored at a facility 10 kilometers from Washington, in a room where humidity and temperature are carefully controlled. Kerwin’s suit is here. So is that of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. There are suits from the earlier Mercury missions, and several experimental suits which were never used. Stored on shelves, they are shrouded under protective covering. (2/25)

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