April 6, 2011

Pressure to Further Cut Defense Spending Said to be Mounting (Source: AIA)
The Air Force is currently stuck at 2010 budget levels and can't begin any new programs until Congress passes a defense budget for fiscal 2011, according to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. Speaking at a defense writers breakfast on Monday, Donley said he had not received orders from the White House to further cut defense spending in 2013, but pressure to do so is mounting. (4/6)

Defense Industry Revenues Forecast to Remain In Line with 2010 (Source: AIA)
Despite budget restraints worldwide, U.S. defense industry revenues should be in line with those of 2010, according to a forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Despite program terminations, the sector had a strong year in 2010, and with industry backlogs, profits should be modestly higher this year, the company forecasts. (4/6)

GPS Experts Say Broadband Interference Would be Widespread, Costly (Source: AIA)
If the FCC grants final approval for a nationwide wireless broadband network, some experts say the technical fix required to protect GPS devices from interference would cost billions of dollars -- and there is no agreement on who should pay. "The potential impact of GPS interference is so vast, it's hard to get your head around," says a maker of GPS systems. "Think 40,000 GPS dead spots covering millions of square miles in cities and towns throughout the U.S." GPS devices can be updated to screen out the new broadband signals, but manufacturers say they should not be required to foot the bill. (4/6)

Report: Stable Research Funding Needed at NASA to Draw Top Scientists (Source: AIA)
NASA has the capability of achieving breakthroughs such as sending humans deeper into space than ever before, but strong leadership and stable funding is necessary, according to a new report. The report from the National Research Council says the adequate funding is needed to support a more robust research program that attracts top scientists. (4/6)

California School Rocket Club Launched to Spur Science Enthusiasm (Source: AIA)
Parents and educators at an elementary school in Richmond, Calif., have launched a new Rockets and Robotics Club to spur students' interest in subjects including science, technology, engineering and math. One parent said the program, which likely will meet every two weeks, was established to address what he feels are weaknesses in the state's science education. (4/6)

Embry-Riddle Expands High-Performance Vehicles R&D Program (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced a substantial expansion of its High-Performance Vehicles Program with a new facility that will open this year at the university’s Research and Technology Park near its Daytona Beach campus. Embry-Riddle has teamed with Larsen Motorsports, one of the nation’s premier racing teams. “The worlds of motorsports and aerospace are so closely connected that the merger is very natural,” said Elaine Larsen. The facility, named the Larsen Motorsports High-Performance Vehicles Research and Development Center, will occupy part of a 13-acre plot in the Embry-Riddle Research Park. (4/6)

Air Force Staffing of Space Acquisition Assignments (Source: Space News)
Last November, I wrote in Space News of my concerns about the Air Force’s ability to staff space acquisition assignments at Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). I asserted that the lack of concrete career specialties in the Air Force, coupled with policies that drive frequent job rotations, was depriving the nation of the experienced space acquisition corps that it sorely needs. I have continued to receive endorsement of the perspective.

Wing Unveils New Mission, Vision Statements and Priorities (Source: AFSPC)
The 50th Space Wing has a new mission. No not a new satellite this time, but a new mission statement along with a new vision statement. Col. Wayne Monteith, 50 SW commander, unveiled the new statements along with updated priorities on March 28. The wing's senior leadership worked the revision for about two months, focusing efforts on the role the wing has in the Air Force and the joint fight.

"We are clearly on the cutting edge in both space and cyberspace operations and we support the air domain through our communications, navigation and intelligence capabilities," said Colonel Monteith. The Mission Statement: "The 50th Space Wing wields space, cyberspace and expeditionary capabilities to deliver decisive global combat effects in support of national security objectives." The Vision Statement: "The world's premier space operations team dominating contested space, cyberspace and expeditionary environments." (4/6)

U.S. Air Force Weighs Wider Release of Satellite Collision Avoidance Data (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force remains undecided about how much data it will make available on the whereabouts of satellites and orbital debris beyond what it publicizes now as it weighs orbital traffic safety concerns against the national security penchant for secrecy, the service’s deputy undersecretary for space programs said April 4.

The U.S. Space Surveillance Network is about to undertake a major upgrade of the Space Fence, a group of Very High Frequency radars deployed across the United States in a line at about 33 degrees north latitude. In parallel with its review of whether to make more information available, the U.S. Defense Department is signing bilateral agreements with nations with a demonstrated interest in space situational awareness. (4/6)

Spy Satellite Disappears (Source: Guardian)
One of the brightest but most secret of the satellites in orbit has disappeared from its predicted path. Lacrosse 2, whose transits have sometimes featured in our satellite predictions column, was cloaked in secrecy when it was launched atop a Titan 4 rocket in 1991. Amateur spacewatchers soon spotted it in orbit and have been keeping track of it ever since, deriving and publishing the orbital data that its US spymasters were withholding.

It is thought that, like four other Lacrosse craft, it was able to image targets on the ground by radar even in darkness and through clouds. Its demise, though, is probably not due to hostile action. Its predecessor, Lacrosse 1, was intentionally de-orbited in 1997 and it now seems that Lacrosse 2 has suffered the same fate, most likely being forced down over the South Pacific on or about 26 March. (4/6)

Space Junk Threat Will Grow for Astronauts and Satellites (Source: Space.com)
Fast-moving chunks of space debris zipped uncomfortably close to the International Space Station twice in the past week — cosmic close calls that will likely become more common over the next several years, experts predict. For one thing, after 50 years of spaceflight there is just more junk up there than there used to be, sharing space with vehicles and their human crews. And this debris can snowball — as when satellites collide, spawning thousands of new pieces of orbiting junk. (4/6)

Rethinking the Dream of Human Spaceflight (Source: Scientific American)
Why did the dream of unlimited manned space travel and a vast new universe of possibilities for humanity dry up and fizzle? The answer is relatively simple: reality prevailed. Human space travel is expensive and dangerous, and there is almost no scientific justification for it (a sobering realization for the child-turned-scientist). All these factors stem from the same problem: most of the incredible cost of human space travel goes into keeping humans alive during the process, leaving little money for other things.

It is reported that Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Swartz, has taken on this issue. I commend him for doing so but implore him to go beyond palliatives that leave the fundamental problems and underlying cultural causes unaddressed. If the Air Force cannot fix this problem, the nation should consider a dedicated civilian work force for leadership of Air Force and NRO space programs. (4/6)

Report: NASA Needs Research Focus (Source: Florida Today)
NASA must boost its commitment to research if it wants to achieve the difficult goal of sending crewed spaceflights to Mars and elsewhere, according to a report released Tuesday. More than 500 people have traveled into space, but venturing beyond the moon has proven "far more difficult than imagined in the heady days of the Apollo missions," according to the 492-page report from the National Research Council. NASA needs to do more than just build bigger and more powerful rockets. The space agency must research what's required to allow people to spend longer periods in space, the report said. Click here. (4/6)

Using Fusion to Propel an Interstellar Probe (Source: Discovery)
Project Icarus is an ambitious five-year study into launching an unmanned spacecraft to an interstellar destination. Headed by the Tau Zero Foundation and British Interplanetary Society, a non-profit group of scientists dedicated to interstellar spaceflight, Icarus is working to develop a spacecraft that can travel to a nearby star. Richard Obousy, project leader of Project Icarus, and primary propulsion lead designer, discusses the propulsion options for an interstellar probe.

One could be forgiven for just assuming that if we continue to build bigger and bigger chemical rockets, that eventually we'll build one big enough that it could reach 5 percent the speed of light. Interestingly, the laws of physics tell us that this is, in fact, impossible. The pioneering rocket scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, developed an equation that predicts how much rocket fuel one would need to reach a given top speed. For chemical rockets, the type that are used today, this equation predicts that to reach 5 percent the speed of light, one would need more chemical rocket fuel than there is matter in the known universe! Click here. (4/6)

Pioneer Anomaly Solved (Source: Cosmos)
It’s not dark matter, multiple universes or weird gravity: the strange deceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft is just waste heat – the trouble is nobody’s looked at it the right way, Portuguese researchers report. Known as the ‘Pioneer anomaly’, the unexplained deceleration of NASA’s two Pioneer spacecraft, Pioneer 10 and 11 (launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively) has provoked some exotic theories, including errors in Einstein’s theory of gravity or the presence of multiple universes.

More mundane theories including reflection of light from the Sun, or thermal emissions from the spacecraft itself couldn’t explain the small discrepancy in the spacecrafts’ speed, a tiny drop of less than 0.000000001 meters per second. The team used a 1970’s software program called Phong Shading, originally developed to create a 3D rendering effect on graphics, to model the reflection of waste heat from the spacecraft on their varied surfaces – the 2.7-meter diameter antenna, and rest of the spacecraft behind it. Then they did the maths.

Scientists had previously calculated the effects of heat loss from the spacecraft accounted for just one to two thirds of the deceleration. The anomaly was first noticed in 1998 when scientists studied radio signals from the then distant spacecraft and found that they were slowing down faster that theories predicted. The team's new calculations – which take into account how the spacecraft themselves reflect back their internal heat - can account for the deceleration – a tiny 8.74×10−10 ms−2. (4/6)

Editorial: Space Must Take Back Seat to Domestic Obligations (Source: The Volante)
Despite the tough economy, some people don't believe the U.S. government should be bound by Earthly obstacles. The great irony is many of the people accusing President Barack Obama, and the federal government in general, of reckless spending, are the same people pushing for expanded space exploration. As odd as it might sound, we have some more pressing issues back home. (4/6)

Dish Network Wins Blockbuster Auction (Source: Space News)
Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network Corp. outbid investor Carl Icahn and at least two others in a bankruptcy auction to purchase Blockbuster Inc. for about $320 million. Dish Network, the second-largest U.S. satellite television company after DirecTV, said the Blockbuster acquisition will give it new ways to market its services. Analysts said it could use the one-time video rental giant’s online business as a base for delivering movies. (4/6)

Message from the NASA Administrator Re: Government Shutdown (Source: SpaceRef)
Throughout the discussions about funding for the rest of the fiscal year, the President has made it clear that he does not want a government shutdown, and the Administration is willing and ready to work day and night to find a solution with which all sides can agree. Given the realities of the calendar, however, prudent management requires that we plan for an orderly shutdown should Congress be unable to pass a funding bill... For now, I want to provide you with information on how the potential shutdown - should it occur -- will impact federal employees.

As soon as funding lapses, federal departments and agencies will not be permitted to incur further financial obligations performing activities funded by annual appropriations, except those related to the orderly suspension of operations or performance of excepted activities. This means that some employees will be furloughed and unable to work. Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes determining which agency functions are excepted from a furlough. Should it become necessary to implement our contingency plans, you will receive formal notice from your manager no later than Friday, April 8th regarding the designation of your position and furlough status. (4/6)

UK: Space for Improvement (Source: The Engineer)
The UK's modest government support of the new UKSA space agency pales into pathetic insignificance next to the munificent French government’s €500million (£440million) handout for space research, which will secure France’s place in the lead of the project to develop a successor to the Ariane 5 rocket. The developers of Britain’s own proposed spaceplane, Reaction Engine’s Skylon, must surely be envying their colleagues across the Channel right now. (4/6)

ATK Lays Off Another 134 Aerospace Employees (Source: Salt Lake Tribune)
The hammer fell on northern Utah’s aerospace industry again Tuesday, when Alliant Techsystems Inc. informed 134 employees that they were out of work immediately. ATK spokeswoman Trina Patterson said the end of the space shuttle program and a decision to change the focus of the next-generation ARES space exploration program led to the reduction in force, the fifth for the company’s aerospace division in the past two years.

The layoffs, which include 51 voluntary retirements, impact employees at ATK facilities in Promontory, Clearfield and West Valley City. The eliminated positions are across the board, from engineers and technicians to office workers. All will receive severance packages based on their years or service to the company, Patterson said. ATK’s aerospace systems division now has about 2,100 employees, 45 percent of its total in early 2009. (4/6)

Editorial: Continuing to Build Alaska's Aerospace Industry is Appropriate (Source: Anchorage Daily News)
As an Alaska state senator in the '80s and early '90s, I recall the excitement I felt when then-Rep. Tom Moyer of Fairbanks brought us stories of the Florida's spaceport project. Tom introduced legislation to establish a space authority in Alaska. I became a Senate co-sponsor of the legislation. Oh, how big our dreams and hopes were for Alaska's entry into the space program.

When I am asked if the state should continue investing in the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, I respond with a strong YES. We should diversify when it makes sense. Going from being an oil-revenue-dependent society to a state with diverse opportunities for more high-paying technical skill jobs for Alaskans shows financial wisdom. When I first supported our entry into the aerospace sector, little did I foresee how the opportunities for Alaskans could expand to a statewide benefit.

We need to continue to make the necessary investment in aerospace. With oil prices currently far exceeding state projections, Alaska has the money to wisely invest in our future. Providing state funds to our state-owned corporation so it can continue to build a statewide aerospace industry is an appropriate investment. I am proud to see our corporation pursuing opportunities in both small and medium lift rocket launches, operations and maintenance in missile defense, collaborative relationships with the University of Alaska to provide internships and jobs for Alaska graduates, and expanding our employment skills potential into space-related businesses. (4/6)

Editorial: Launch Complex Gobbles Money but Gives Alaskans Little in Return (Source: Anchorage Daily News)
Imagine a school district asking the state for money to build a new high school when they cannot prove any students will attend. "Build it and they will come!" the district claims. The state says no, but a powerful U.S. senator funnels construction funds to the project through a federal government agency. The school is built and fully staffed from administrators to teachers to custodians. Unfortunately, only a few students ever show up, and then only occasionally.

So the district, using state and federal handouts, decides to add a gym and a pool and more lockers to attract students. They still show up infrequently; sometimes the school is empty for over a year. The feds pay the cost for a few years but finally pull out. The district appeals to the state for money to keep the school open just in case some students decide to show up. Who would support funding for such a school?

The state of Alaska would not lend money to build the Kodiak Launch Complex in the mid-1990s because the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) could not produce confirmed launch business. Since launch revenues have never covered the cost of keeping the KLC open, Alaska Aerospace has continually asked for state and federal bailouts from its inception in 1998. Despite no launches in 2009 and only one in 2010, AAC expects Alaska to fork out a $10 million handout this year. Corporate welfare is counter to the fiscal responsibility we, the voters, demand from our elected representatives. (4/6)

Russian Space Chief to Retire Soon (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed on Wednesday rumors that the head of Russia's federal space agency, Anatoly Perminov, will soon retire. "Anatoly Nikolevich Perminov is 66; under Russian law, state officials are not allowed to serve after this age," Ivanov said. Ivanov did not name the exact date of Perminov's resignation, but hinted that it would probably be late April, after Russia's celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight on April 12. (4/6)

Florida Legislature Moves to Support Defense Industry (Source: FLDC)
Amendments to two measures working their way through the ongoing Florida Legislative Session in Tallahassee will direct $5 million within the Jobs Florida Military Base Protection economic development program to the Florida Council on Military Base and Mission Support and provide for $200,000 of those funds to be used for staffing and administrative expenses of the Council. An amendment to another bill would increase the size of Council from nine to thirteen, establish the Governor or designee as chairman of the Council, and strengthen the Council's mission relating to protecting bases and supporting defense commerce. (4/6)

Martin Rees Wins Controversial £1m Templeton Prize (Source:
A British space scientist whose work has touched on some of the greatest questions in physics, from the nature of the big bang to the size of physical reality, has won the largest monetary prize on the planet. Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society, was named as the recipient of the £1m annual Templeton prize.

The award has drawn criticism from some scientists who claim that the Templeton Foundation – which funds the prize – blurs the boundary between science and religion and makes a virtue of belief without evidence. Set up in 1973 by the late John Templeton, a Wall Street billionaire who described himself as "an enthusiastic Christian", the prize honours a living person who has made "exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension". Templeton stipulated that the cash value of the award must always be higher than the Nobel prizes.

Lord Rees, a churchgoer who neither believes in God nor subscribes to any religious dogma, said he attends chapel on a regular basis as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, as part of a "traditional ritual". He also cites the choir – rated fifth in the world by Gramophone magazine – as a reason for his attendance. In 2003, Rees put humanity's odds of surviving the next 100 years at 50-50, citing threats from high-tech catastrophes to environmental impact. (4/6)

List of Florida Yuri's Night Events Expands (Source: Yuri's Night)
At least 10 events are now scheduled across the Sunshine State to observe the 50th Anniversary of human spaceflight. The Yuri's Night website currently lists 336 events in 61 countries worldwide. Click here for an interactive map that includes the Florida-based events. (4/6)

Critics' Review Unexpectedly Supports Consensus on Global Warming (Source: LA Times)
A team of UC Berkeley physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched by physics professor Richard Muller, a longtime critic of government-led climate studies, to address what he called "the legitimate concerns" of skeptics who believe that global warming is exaggerated.

But Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is "excellent.... We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups." The hearing was called by GOP leaders of the House Science & Technology committee, who have expressed doubts about the integrity of climate science.

It was one of several inquiries in recent weeks as the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles have come under strenuous attack in Congress. Muller said his group was surprised by its findings, but he cautioned that the initial assessment is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements that will eventually be examined. The Berkeley project's biggest private backer, at $150,000, is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. (4/5)

Spaceship on Display at SFO (Source: NBC Bay Area)
It seems like yesterday we were celebrating the opening of a new terminal at the San Jose airport. Now it's SFO's turn to show off its massive $383 million renovation of Terminal 2. This weekend, T2 will open to the public. The 640,000 square foot terminal is calling itself the country's "most modern and sustainable." The terminal will be home to American Airlines and Virgin America. One of the airplanes Virgin is parking at the gate this week isn't quite ready for normal passengers. Virgin is bringing in its Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. (4/6)

NASA Announces Spaced Out Sports Challenge Winners (Source: SpaceRef.com)
NASA has announced three winners in the Spaced Out Sports competition, which challenged U.S. students in fifth through eighth grades to create games for astronauts to play aboard the International Space Station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities.

Students at K.W. Barrett Elementary School in Arlington, Va., got the top prize for creating a game entitled "Save the World." Second-place honors went to students at Kinser Elementary School, a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) School in Okinawa, Japan, for their "Alligator Clip Capture" game. Third-place was awarded to students at Manhattan Beach Middle School in Manhattan Beach, Calif., for their "Independence Day" game. (4/5)

Editorial: U.S. Mustn't Give Up on Space (Source: USA Today)
The U.S. space shuttle program will end this year, though two launches remain — Endeavour in April and Atlantis in June. The impact of this reality is nearly unnoticed in today's fast-paced news cycle. NASA will effectively be out of the low-Earth orbit transportation business. No shuttle means no direct U.S. transportation to the International Space Station (ISS). Our prowess, status, knowledge and ability to propel ourselves into space to learn, navigate and explore are at stake here.

we have an encouraging near-term solution for human spaceflight in this country. We have a promising commercial spaceflight industry, ripe with possibility. To turn that possibility into reality, it's time for Congress to stop arguing over the detailed allocation of the next NASA budget and approve the agency's $850 million request for the support of commercial spaceflight.

Going forward, commercial space companies and NASA must be considered partners, not competitors, in the U.S. human spaceflight enterprise. NASA's plan to support commercial spaceflight would significantly strengthen the agency's chances to have humans explore beyond Earth orbit once again. Click here to read the article. (4/5)

ILS Will Launch Turksat 4A and Turksat 4B Satellites on Proton (Source: SpaceRef.com)
International Launch Services (ILS) and Mitsubishi announced a new contract for the launch of Turksat 4A and Turksat 4B on ILS Proton. Turksat 4A is scheduled to launch in late 2013 and Turksat 4B in early 2014. Each satellite will weigh approximately 3800 kg. The design life of 15-year on orbit service of the satellites will provide telecommunication and direct TV broadcasting services throughout Turkey, as well as in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. (4/5)

Scientists Find New Type Of Mineral In Historic Meteorite (Source: NASA)
NASA and co-researchers from the U.S., South Korea and Japan have found a new mineral named "Wassonite" in a meteorite recovered in Antarctica in 1969. The meteorite likely may have originated from an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Wassonite is among the tiniest, yet most important, minerals identified in the 4.5-billion-year-old sample. The mineral was added to the list of 4,500 officially approved by the International Mineralogical Association. Wassonite includes only two elements, sulfur and titanium, yet it possesses a unique crystal structure that has not been previously observed in nature, said one of the researchers. (4/5)

Massive Rocket Could Mean Space Coast Jobs (Source: WFTV)
It's a glimmer of hope for thousands of space workers facing layoffs. SpaceX has announced plans to launch bigger satellites for cheaper; that means more jobs and more launches. "We'll be upgrading the launch pad at Cape Canaveral so we can actually process a Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy simultaneously," he said. "We're also investigating the possibility of using one of the old shuttle pads for Falcon Heavy." (4/5)

SpaceX Says New Rocket Will Challenge Boeing, Lockheed in Space (Source: Bloomberg)
SpaceX plans to challenge Lockheed Martin and Boeing with a new rocket called the Falcon Heavy, second in size only to the Apollo-era Saturn V, the chief operating officer said. The company expects to eventually launch about 20 rockets a year, half Falcon Heavy rockets and half smaller Falcon 9 rockets which are undergoing testing, he said.

Each launch of the Falcon Heavy is expected to cost between $80 million and $125 million, a fraction of the cost of the Delta IV, Elon Musk said. The new rocket’s cost per pound to orbit is estimated at about $1,000, a record low, he said. SpaceX has spent about $800 million of its own money developing rockets and spacecraft at facilities in California and Texas, and at launch sites in California, Florida and the Marshall Island. SpaceX is a privately held company. It may consider an initial public offering of shares toward the end of next year, Musk said. (4/5)

With the Launch of Falcon Heavy, Space Is Exciting Again (Source: The Atlantic)
With the iconic Space Shuttle program set to retire later this year after more than 130 flights and lots of talk about NASA budget cuts and moving space exploration to the private sector, it's been a bad time to be an astronaut. Today, things took a turn: Space just got a lot more exciting. (4/5)

Boeing Targets Key Space Systems (Source: Aviation Week)
As Boeing leads the close-out of NASA’s space shuttle operations, it is bidding for work under the second phase of the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev 2) program as well as helping craft the future of U.S. heavy-lift rocket capability. Boeing is seeking CCDev 2 money to accelerate development of its CST-100 crew capsule. “We’d like to bring the capsule to operational utility,” says Boeing Network and Space Systems President Roger Krone.

The low-cost capsule design incorporates commercial off-the-shelf equipment and is “really only designed to go to low Earth orbit [LEO]. It’s not a capsule you’d ever take past Earth orbit, and is focused specifically on [transport to] the International Space Station [ISS],” Krone says. “It would fit on whatever stack is appropriate. Whether it’s a Falcon 9 or an Atlas, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to design it with its own escape system and we would man-rate the stack with the idea that most of the man-rating is contained in the capsule,” Krone explains.

“Assuming we get CCDev 2 funding, we’re still on track for critical design review later this year.” Pad abort tests are scheduled for 2013, with a more demanding ascent abort test in late 2014. An un-crewed orbital test flight of the vehicle, which is being developed jointly with Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, also is scheduled for the same year, while the first flight test with crew is currently set for early 2015. (4/5)

Identical Jet Lags Behind Twin (Source: Astronomy Now)
Two seemingly symmetrical jets shooting out knots of gas and dust from opposite sides of a growing star have now been found by the Spitzer Space Telescope to lag behind each other by four and a half years. Stars form at the centre of a spinning, collapsing cloud of gas and dust. As material folds into the stellar core, a disc of material forms around its equator, with twin jets of gas and dust blasting from above and below the disc that slows down the spinning cloud. Once the star ignites, the jets die out and the disc thins, with planet formation occurring in any clumps that remain. (4/5)

Questions Surround European Cooperative Military Space Programs (Source: Space News)
The French military is hesitant to commit itself to pan-European programs in space surveillance, navigation and Earth observation because of concerns over these programs’ security and the difficulty of coordinating the desires of individual governments, the head of France’s new space command said April 5. Brig. Gen. Yves Arnaud said France nonetheless remains hopeful that what appear to be obstacles to fully realizing these programs among European governments will be removed over time. (4/5)

New Account of a Russian Cosmonaut's Death Rife with Errors (Source: Space.com)
In the new edition of a book called "Starman" (Bloomsbury 2011) Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony tell the story of the first space fatality — the tragic death of Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov in 1967. The book includes an inaccurate rewriting of history. The 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution was approaching. The Soviet Union was eager to pull off a two-spacecraft rendezvous in low-Earth orbit just in time for the big event. The plan was for Komarov to park the Soyuz 1 space capsule next to another vehicle and then spacewalk between them.

That much is true, but historians say the rest of the story printed in "Starman" and recounted on Krulwich's blog is grossly inaccurate. Not unexpectedly, the blog post got a huge amount of attention. According to Krulwich, three prominent space historians, including Asif Siddiqi at Fordham University, immediately contacted him questioning the validity of what he had written. He wrote a follow-up post asking everyone not to shoot the messenger, and shifting the blame for any errors to the authors of "Starman." But that reasoning isn't good enough coming from a trusted journalist like Krulwich, some historians now say. Click here. (4/5)

Shuttle Storm Damage Review Amid More Storms (Source: Florida Today)
A NASA engineering review board is set to evaluate the impact of last week's storms on shuttle Endeavour as another band of severe weather approaches the Kennedy Space Center. Severe thunderstorms are sweeping through the Titusville area, heading east over the Indian River toward NASA's shuttle homeport. The thunderstorms, lightning and hail will stall work at launch pad 39A, where Endeavour is being prepped for a planned April 29 launch. (4/5)

The Outer Limits (Source: Financial Post)
Mining the moon? The arctic? Underwater? These one-time crazy ideas are fast becoming reality as companies challenge geographical boundaries to find precious commodities. David Heydon remembers exactly when he was struck by the idea of mining underwater. He was on a flight from New York to his native Australia in 2002. His plans for a dot-com airline venture in the United States had collapsed after the September 11 terror attacks the previous year, and he wasn't sure what would come next.

Trying to get his mind off his failed business, Heydon looked out the window and saw nothing but water. A geologist and mining engineer by training, he couldn't help but think to himself, "There must be huge mineral potential down there." Fast forward nine years and Heydon, 55, looks like a visionary. Demand for many commodities has reached uncharted levels, prices are at or near record highs almost across the board, and the industry admits that grades are declining at the world's largest mines.

Penguin ASI, has spent more than a decade working on complex optical communications systems and remote-controlled robotics for mining. The technology eventually caught NASA's attention, and the U.S. space agency is dead serious about using some of it to drill holes in the moon. Click here to read the article. (4/5)

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