May 15, 2011

Eutelsat Leases Chinese Satellite at 11th Hour To Protect Orbital Slot (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat leased an in-orbit Chinese satellite and moved it from Asia to an orbital slot over Europe just before Eutelsat’s rights to the intended orbital slot were set to expire. The satellite, Sinosat 3, was launched in 2007 for Sinosat before being taken over by China Satcom in 2010 and renamed Chinasat 5C. (5/15)

Space Florida Board Composition Explained (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Legislature enacted some potentially profound changes for Space Florida during major shake-up aimed at consolidating the state's economic development programs. Space Florida's previous board structure was eliminated, in favor of using a portion of the Enterprise Florida board to serve as Space Florida's board. Those will include six members appointed by the Governor and six appointed by the Legislature. Not included will be the at-large members of Enterprise Florida's board, whose appointment will involve some financial contribution.

The 12 appointed members will meet separately as Space Florida's board, instead of mixing the business of both agencies in common meetings. Although this construct will likely mean Space Florida's board will have less space industry expertise, the agency will have a 15 member advisory council made up of space industry members which will provide guidance to the full board. (5/15)

Copenhagen Suborbitals Plans Next Suborbital Launch Attempt in June (Source: Hobby Space)
"In june we have our second launch attempt with the HEAT1X-TychoBrahe-1 at test site ESD139. Before the launch window we will have the launch platform Sputnik (with rocket) sailed to SpacePort-Nexoe. The launch operation at ESD139 includes: National Guard Vessel MVH903, MS Dynamit, Sputnik, 2xRib. (5/15)

Shuttle Fever Mounts -- Again (Source: Florida Today)
Monday's rescheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavour gives North Brevard County another chance for the prelaunch excitement to build and for the tourist-related revenue to multiply. Endeavour's last launch attempt, on April 29, was scrubbed just 31/2 hours before scheduled liftoff, and many spectators already were in town. This weekend, some of them will be returning, along with a new contingent, hoping to see Endeavour lift off Monday morning on its final mission to the International Space Station before the orbiter is retired. (5/15)

Giffords, 500,000 Others Expected for Shuttle Launch (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
For space shuttle Endeavour, Monday morning will be déjà vu all over again — with one major difference. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the wounded Arizona congresswoman, will be back at Kennedy Space Center . Only President Obama and his family, who came to KSC to watch the last launch attempt, will be missing.

About 500,000 people are expected to gather along the Brevard County coast to watch what would be the penultimate launch in the space shuttle's 30-year, 134-mission history. An estimated 750,000 had gathered for the previous launch attempt. But three hours before launch time, NASA scrubbed because of heater failures traced to the faulty switch box. (5/15)

Luck, Creativity Key for Station (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's got a plan for keeping the International Space Station flying through 2020, even without the space shuttles. However, it's just that: A plan. Success is going to depend on more than just perfectly executing that plan. The agency is going to need luck, ingenuity, and resourcefulness, in short, the kind of on-the-fly, we-can-do-anything culture immortalized in the retelling of the saving of the lives of the crew of Apollo 13.

The biggest threat to the space station is that the space shuttles are being retired. Engineers designed the space station on the idea that shuttle orbiters would visit every so often, bringing up huge loads of supplies and the outsized spare parts that can't fit inside other spacecraft that can reach the outpost. So, NASA's been taking up extra spare parts and supplies in advance.

Indeed, the last space shuttle mission is dedicated almost entirely to delivering the big stuff that NASA and its international partners think will be needed over the course of this decade -- the stuff that can only fit in the shuttle cargo bay. (5/15)

Shuttle a Go for Monday (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
The countdown continues toward Monday's launch with no issues appearing to delay the launch. On Saturday, technicians completed loading cryogenic reactants into the shuttle's fuel cell storage tanks and practiced touch-and-go landings in a shuttle training aircraft. Endeavour and its six-member crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the international space station, as well as spare parts, including two S-band communications antennas and a high-pressure gas tank. (5/15)

New Space Station Crews Pass Preflight Tests (Source: Xinhua)
The main and backup crews that will fly to the International Space Station in June have passed preflight tests and are ready for space travel. The main crew includes Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and American astronaut Michael Fossuma. A Russian spaceship Soyuz TMA-02M will send the crew to the space station on June 8. The backup crew includes members from Russia, the Netherlands and the U.S. (5/15)

Iran, North Korea Sharing Missile Technology (Source: Daily Beast)
North Korea and Iran have been violating sanctions and sharing ballistic missile technology, according to a leaked U.N. report. The U.N. imposed sanctions on Pyongyang after it conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The sanctions ban all trade in nuclear and missile technology with North Korea. While that country is believed to have enough plutonium to make six bombs, it is not thought to have developed a ballistic missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

The U.N. report suggests that Iran and North Korea have been exchanging ballistic missile-related items, smuggling them on airplanes. Additionally, the report says that these transfers traveled through a third country, which is suspected to be China. (5/15)

Buzz Aldrin Will Make Space an Issue in 2012 (Source: FOX News)
As the Republican contenders roll out their platforms and announce their candidacies for President, one of the world's most celebrated astronauts plans to launch his own campaign. Buzz Aldrin said he's got a plan to make space an issue in the 2012 Presidential race. "We have a wonderful opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks," he said.

"On May 25, it is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's [lunar program] speech before Congress... I feel this can be an opportunity for this President to make a proclamation about our space future. Unfortunately, I just don't think that is going to happen... We have too many other things distracting ourselves from a space program proclamation," said Aldrin. He believes the U.S. should lead efforts to create a permanent presence on Mars by 2035.

Regarding President Obama's plan for commercial space development, Aldrin said: "The private industry will take over where the government paved the way." He feels the government should take the lead on the "big stuff" like the Mars mission. Aldrin feels after that, many people around the world will realize this can be a campaign issue. (5/15)

'Deal Terms Stymied Checks on Russian Engine Health' (Source: Deccan Herald)
ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said weakness in a particular component of the Russia-supplied cryogenic engine, which had led to the GSLV-F06 blowing up shortly after launch last December, was an inherent problem and that the Russians have also admitted to it now.

On a specific query on whether ISRO conducts independent examinations on the condition of the engines supplied by Russia, he said: “The contractual norms prevents us from doing that. We get the engines that are certified by Russian agencies, and integrate them in the presence of Russian representatives and launch the vehicle.”

This episode, besides problems with Russian hardware, has also thrown up an issue that the ISRO will have to address –– a probable revisit of the kind of agreements it has with other agencies. So far, ISRO has been accepting the hardware, particularly the cryogenic engines, in a sealed condition and the question is whether another round of examination from the Indian organisation can help detect such problems. (5/15)

ISRO Puts Hold Moon Mission Chandrayaan 2 (Source: India Today)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has decided to review the entire Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) program that involved two crashes last year and one in 2006. As a result, all major launches, including the second moon mission - Chandrayaan 2 - are being rescheduled. The space agency had earlier announced that it would be using the last of the seven cryogenic engines it had sourced from Russia, but is now uncertain about it. (5/15)

India Lines Up Three PSLV Launches This Year (Source: Outlook India)
The Indian Space Research Organization is lining up three PSLV launches from Sriharikota spaceport by October this year, its Chairman K Radhakrishnan said. He said PSLV-C17 would launch GSAT-12, equipped with 12 extended C-band transponders, in July. PSLV-C18 and PSLV-C19 would launch Megha-tropiques, an Indo-French joint mission, and microwave remote-sensing satellite, RISAT-1, with synthetic aperture radar during September-October this year.

ISRO officials said India's GSAT-8 satellite is scheduled to be launched by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane-5 rocket at 0207 hours (IST) on May 20 from French Guiana. Radhakrishnan said GSAT-8, one of the heaviest satellites built by ISRO, weighs 3100 kg at lift-off and is equipped with 24 Ku-band transponders which would augment direct-to-home services. (5/15)

ISRO to Set Up Several New Critical Space Facilities (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is enhancing its capabilities by setting up more than half a dozen critical facilities across its installations, even as it is targeting to nearly double its transponder capacity over the next one-and-a-half years. However, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan, who announced setting up of the facilities at a press conference here on Saturday, declined to provide details of the investments.

They include a hypersonic wind tunnel to study re-entry and a plasma wind tunnel to study the behaviour of materials at high speed, which would be set up at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Trivandrum. A thrust chamber testing facility for high-thrust cryogenic engines will be set up at Mahendragiri, and a new mission control centre to look at multiple mission preparations simultaneously will come up at Sriharikota. (5/15)

New Mexico Town on Verge of Big Changes (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
When I asked Truth or Consequences City Commissioner Steve Green how a quirky little desert town is going to handle all those rich people [coming to launch with Virgin Galactic], he gently corrected me. "They are very, very, very rich people," he said.

If the pie-in-the-sky predictions of the Spaceport's success come true, TorC and Las Cruces will become gateways to a deluxe space-themed DisneyWorld, attracting those wealthy civilian astronauts and their posses, as well as throngs of less-moneyed tourists who want a glimpse of the next space frontier. TorC's mission, Green said, will be to benefit from the new economy without losing its soul. "We're not Santa Fe, and we don't want to be Santa Fe," Green said. (5/15)

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