June 27, 2011

Volunteer Star Gazers Needed for NASA Mission (Source: UCF)
Calling all amateur star gazers: Scientists need your help. A team from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville has developed the website IceHunters, which challenges the public to discover potential destinations for a NASA mission at the very edge of the solar system set to happen around 2015.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Yanga Fernandez, a University of Central Florida physics assistant professor and comet expert. “Actually that's kind of how I started. When I was 10, I used to search the sky for interesting objects with my dad. And in high school I worked hard to find Halley's Comet, which wasn't easy in suburban Florida. I learned a lot of astronomy along the way." (6/27)

Next GPS Satellite Moves to Cape Canaveral Launch Pad (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
A Global Positioning System satellite has been loaded aboard its ride to space, arriving Monday at Cape Canaveral's Complex 37 for mounting atop the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket. Liftoff of the GPS 2F-2 spacecraft is scheduled for July 14 during a 19-minute window extending from 2:49 to 3:08 a.m. EDT. (6/27)

The National Space Policy, One Year Later (Source: Space Politics)
One year ago this week the White House released its new national space policy. Jeff Foust reports on the progress government agencies have made in implementing the policy and the policy's long-term relevance. Visit
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1873/1 to view the article. (6/27)

Gazing Back Through the Crystal Ball (Source: Space Politics)
More than 30 years ago one writer penned a major critique of the shuttle program before even the first shuttle launch. Dwayne Day examines what Gregg Easterbrook got right and wrong in his assessment. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1872/1 to view the article. (6/27)

Commercial Space, What's Good for Florida, and 2012 (Source: Space Politics)
The end of the shuttle program has caused plenty of angst in Florida, where people fear the loss of jobs that will result after the shuttle is retired. Alan Stern notes that commercial space efforts can help the local economy rebound, provided there's sufficient political support for them. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1871/1 to view the article. (6/27)

Iran’s Space Program Plans to Send Monkey in Capsule (Source: Washington Post)
Iran says it plans to send a monkey into space next month as the next step in a space program that Western leaders worry could also bring major advances in Iran’s missile arsenal. The state-run news agency IRNA quotes the head of Iran’s space agency as saying Monday that five monkeys are undergoing tests and one will be selected for the flight on a Kavoshgar-5 — or Explorer-5 — rocket. (6/27)

Medvedev Tells Ivanov to Look Into Environmental Satellite Program (Source: Itar-Tass)
President Dmitry Medvedev instructed First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to look into how environmental satellite programs are implemented in Russia. Ivanov said, “The federal space programme does not include spacecraft for Arctic exploration.” Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev had complained about the absence of such satellites.

He criticized the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) for the fact that of eight weather satellites that were supposed to be already operating only one has been launched. “I will look into it, but I fully support the proposal that the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, not Roscosmos, be the customer of these works,” Ivanov said. (6/27)

Russian Astronomers Hope to Find Aliens Within Two Decades (Source: Interfax)
Russian astronomers hope to find extraterrestrial civilizations in 20 years, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Applied Astronomy Institute Andrei Finkelstein said. "The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms. There are fundamental laws, which apply to the entire universe. There is life on other planets and we will find it in 20 years," he said.

Finkelstein believes that aliens will look like earthlings: they will have two legs, two arms and a head. "Possibly, they will have a different color skin, but the same happens here. While we have been searching for extraterrestrial civilians, we have been waiting for messages from space, not the other way," he said. About 1,000 exoplanets, i.e. planets circling around stars like the Sun, have been found, and 10% of them resemble the Earth, researchers said. There will be life on such planets if there is water. (6/27)

Soyuz Rocket Orbits Military Satellite (Source: Itar-Tass)
A Soyuz-U carrier rocket that blasted off from the Plesetsk spaceport on Monday, June 27, has orbited a military satellite. "The launch was carried out under the general supervision of Space Troops Commander, Lieutenant-General Oleg Ostapenko who arrived at the spaceport the day before to oversee the work,” an official said. (6/27)

Medvedev Supports Using GLONASS for Fighting Illegal Waste Dumping (Source: Itar-Tass)
President Dmitry Medvedev supported the idea of installing GLONASS receivers on all garbage trucks in order to prevent illegal waste dumping. He instructed the government “to think” how to encourage the owners of garbage trucks and regions to install space tracking devices.

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who proposed the idea, quoted materials prepared for the commission meeting as saying that “an extremely big income of the waste business and a high level of corruption in it hamper the resolution of the waste problem”. “Absolutely so. I confirm this,” Ivanov said. (6/27)

Taming the Heavens: The New Space Diplomacy (Source: ISN)
The US and EU recently released documents regarding space security. Should they come to an accord or should the US take the lead? In February, the government of the United States issued its first-ever National Security Space Strategy (NSSS), a document jointly produced by the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The timing of the release was interesting, coming three months after the Council of the European Union released a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Skeptics in Washington suspected that the NSSS was a negotiating document released in response to the EU effort, and designed to lead to an accord between the US and the EU on space security. But Republicans in Congress have expressed concerns about some aspects of the EU Code, and appear to have derailed any efforts to reach an agreement. As recently as 4 April, Frank Rose, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, told a UN conference that the US government "hopes to make a decision in the near term as to whether the United States can sign on to this Code, including what, if any, modifications would be necessary." Click here. (6/27)

The Manifest Price of Destiny (Source: Financial Times)
Next week the US space shuttle is scheduled to take off for the 135th and last time. Atlantis will carry a crew of four to the International Space Station and lower the curtain on a 30-year era of manned space flight. For the next few years NASA will rely on Russian rockets to take astronauts into space – an uneasy dependency for many Americans steeped in the old rivalries of the cold war space race.

Logically, this pause would be an opportunity for the US to rethink the whole purpose of sending people into space – an environment so profoundly hostile to the human body that immense sums have to be spent making travel beyond Earth acceptably safe. But too many Americans still feel a compulsion to spend billions of their tax dollars on manned space flight for a complete re-evaluation to be politically feasible. (6/27)

Hotels Filling Up Fast for Atlantis Launch (Source: CFNews13)
People waiting to book a hotel for the final shuttle launch July 8 may soon find that there is no more room at the inn, so to speak. The Executive Director of the Space Coast office of Tourism, Rob Varley, said they are anticipating the arrival of one million people in town for the final launch.

The phones been ringing off the hook at the Ramada Inn in Titusville. Jason Russell is the Operations Manager at the hotel. He said they receive, “anywhere from 50 to 150 calls a day just at our location." Many of the hotels in Titusville and Cocoa Beach said they have been booked for several weeks. Prices are also higher than ever, some rooms costing over $300 for the days before and after the launch. Normally they would cost about $60 to $100. (6/27)

US Space Entrepreneur Accused of Aiding Iran (Source: AP)
Nader Modanlo moved from Iran to the U.S. during his teenage years, where he earned degrees in aerospace engineering, became a U.S. citizen and co-founded a pioneering satellite telecommunications company, Final Analysis Inc., that at one point was worth up to $500 million. He seemed on the verge of the kind of success that immigrants dream of achieving.

Today, those dreams are burning up like a spacecraft in steep re-entry. Modanlo's company is bankrupt, his U.S. and Iranian passports have been confiscated and a federal judge has ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet while he sleeps. A federal grand jury indicted him last year on charges he secretly brokered the launch from Russia of the first Iranian-owned satellite in 2005, in violation of the U.S. sanctions against Iran.

If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to 65 years in prison and ordered to pay $10 million. Five Iranian nationals were also indicted, but none are in custody. Click here to read the article. (6/27)

Rocket Launch Preparations to be Automated at Vostochny Spaceport (Source: Itar-Tass)
Operations preparing a rocket for takeoff will be automated at Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport. “The testing of every system, [except payload and fueling] will be fully automated,” an official said. "[Starting with delivery to the launch pad; the rocket will undergo comprehensive tests and a spare day will be given for preparations if necessary. So, the entire process will take no more than two or three days.”

As for the development of a medium rocket for Vostochny, he did not rule out certain changes in technical specifications. “Initial specifications said that the rocket must carry a payload of no less than 23 tons. Yet a lesser weight was suggested at the latest meeting of the Federal Space Agency,” he said. (6/27)

NASA Set to Launch DOD Rocket from Virginia Spaceport (Source: AP)
NASA is preparing to launch a Department of Defense satellite from the Wallops Flight Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. The Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket is scheduled for launch Tuesday. The Minotaur 1 rocket is about 70 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It's set for launch between 8:28 p.m. and 11:28 p.m. The backup launch days are Wednesday through July 10. This will be the fourth Minotaur 1 rocket launched from Wallops Flight Facility and the spaceport since 2006. (6/27)

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