June 6, 2011

ALPHA Stores Antimatter Atoms for Nearly 17 Minutes (Source: Space Daily)
The ALPHA Collaboration, an international team of scientists working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, has created and stored a total of 309 antihydrogen atoms, some for up to 1,000 seconds (almost 17 minutes), with an indication of much longer storage time as well.

ALPHA announced in November, 2010, that they had succeeded in storing antimatter atoms for the first time ever, having captured 38 atoms of antihydrogen and storing each for a sixth of a second. In the weeks following, ALPHA continued to collect anti-atoms and hold them for longer and longer times. (6/6)

Supernova Flares in M51 (Source: Astronomy Now)
A new supernova has exploded in the famous Whirlpool Galaxy, M51. The supernova has been designated SN 2011dh and tentatively classed as a type II-L based on the amount of hydrogen in its spectrum, meaning the collapse and destruction of a massive star. At the time of discovery the supernova was magnitude +13.5. (6/6)

Final Shuttle to Feature 'Nose Art' (Source: Collect Space)
When the space shuttle launches on its final mission next month, it will be adorned with the same markings it has always been — the United States flag and the NASA logo — with one subtle but special addition. Painted on an access door near the top of the shuttle's fuel tank will be 'nose art' paying tribute to the winged vehicles' 30 year legacy.

It'll be only the second time in 135 missions that the space shuttle has lifted off with a commemorative emblem painted on its side. The first, which launched with Endeavour's final flight last month, featured artwork celebrating that tank's repair after being damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (6/6)

Human Spaceflight for Less: the Case for Smaller Vehicles, Revisited (Source: Space Review)
As NASA, Congress, and industry debate what the new Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket should be, some argue that such a rocket isn't necessary at all. Grant Bonin makes the case for exploration architectures that use larger numbers of smaller, less expensive rockets. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1861/1 to view the article. (6/6)

New Strategies for Exploration and Settlement (Source: Space Review)
For many space advocates, space settlement has long been the ultimate goal of spaceflight, but one that has seen little progress in the last few decades. Jeff Foust reports on two recent speeches that offer similar, if slightly differing, takes on new approaches that could make settlement a reality. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1860/1 to view the article. (6/6)

Bring Home the Sample (Source: Space Review)
A Mars sample return mission remains a high priority for scientists, but one that is technically and financially difficult to carry out. Lou Friedman discusses the importance of sample return and the role that international cooperation can play to further it. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1859/1 to view the article. (6/6)

NASA's New Robot Challenge (Source: Space Review)
Draft rules for a new NASA prize competition involving sample return technology were quietly released last month. Ben Brockert reviews the rules and discusses some potential issues with the planned competition. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1858/1 to view the article. (6/6)

The Last Shuttle Crew (Source: Space Review)
Next month the final shuttle mission will lift off with a four-person crew. Anthony Young reflects on this final crew and the future of human spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1857/1 to view the article. (6/6)

TEA Party in Space Supports Feinstein, Boxer For Open Competition on Heavy-Lift (Source: TPIS)
TEA Party in Space (TPIS), a non-partisan organization, publicly praised a letter sent by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about competing NASA’s procurement of the Space Launch System (SLS). TPIS values non-partisan cooperation among all political leaders who seek a successful space program based on fiscal responsibility, limited government, and the competitive free market.

TPIS is happy to join with these two Senators who wisely recognize that NASA must compete its contracts to be fair to the tax payers in this time of budgetary crisis. The letter specifically cites the provisions of the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010, which calls for only extending existing contracts where “practicable”.

But NASA’s own assessment in January showed that the full cost of developing the “reference” Space Launch System recommended by the Act, much of it using existing contracts that were sole source cost plus awards, could not fit in NASA’s budget run-out. Congress should instruct NASA to forgo its traditional cost plus contract procurement model and bid the SLS in an open competition and only award fixed price contracts with specific milestones that must be met before payment. (6/6)

Lockheed Martin Continues to Dominate Aviation Week's Rankings (Source: Aviation Week)
For the fourth consecutive year, Lockheed Martin has led Aviation Week's annual Top-Performing Companies rankings for the largest firms. General Dynamics and Boeing rounded out the top three. Lockheed has faced a lot of scrutiny over its management of the Joint Strike Fighter program, but the study advisers noted that Lockheed has improved in a variety of metrics, such as return on invested capital, over the past several years. (6/6)

NASA Heavy-Lift Configuration Nears Decision Point – Two-Phase Approach Rejected (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
A decision on the configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS) Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV) is just weeks away. Final evaluations are leading to a “staged evolution of a single heavy launcher”, after NASA’s leadership rejected the two-phase approach, which would have resulted in an open competition for the Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) derivative of the SLS.

Although the ultimate goal for the Agency’s exploration plan is manned missions to Mars, no definitive roadmap has risen from the ashes of the Ares-based architecture, resulting in a path where a Heavy Lift vehicle is being designed before the missions it is set to cater for have been set in stone – something which often is pointed out as the wrong way around.

However, with the knowledge very large payloads will need to be lofted, NASA teams are steadfast in their opinion that an HLV is required. Top level NASA meetings last week once again emphasized their agreement with the HLV requirement in the Authorization Act – which was based on NASA input during its drafting – noting that all findings concur there are no real savings in multiple smaller launches, which they claim also increase risk. Click here. (6/6)

SpaceX: Falcon-9 Heavy is No Replacement for SLS (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
“Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the U.S. Congress,” SpaceX officially cited when revealing their Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. “That vehicle is authorized to carry between 70-130 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars.” (6/6)

Jupiter Sculpted the Inner Solar System (Source: Cosmos)
The movements of Jupiter may have been responsible for creating the Asteroid Belt and restricting the amount of materials available to Mars as it developed in the early Solar System. Planetary scientists have long wondered why Mars came to be the 'runt' of the planetary litter, being only about half the size and one-tenth the mass of its neighbour, Earth. Why isn't Mars more like Earth and Venus in size and mass?

"Our simulations not only showed that the migration of Jupiter was consistent with the existence of the asteroid belt, but also explained properties of the belt never understood before," said an SwRI researcher. Simulations of the early Solar System demonstrated how an infant Jupiter may have migrated to within 1.5 astronomical units (AU, the distance from the Sun to the Earth) of the Sun, stripping a lot of material from the region and essentially starving Mars of formation materials. (6/6)

Nigeria to Launch Two Satellites Into Orbit This Month (Source: Compass)
Barring last minute hitches, Nigeria will launch two satellites into the orbit before the end of this month. The satellites, known as NigeriaSat-1 and NigeriaSat-X, which would be launched before the end of the month, according to the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), would be a follow up to the NigeriaSat-1, which was launched some years ago. (6/6)

Georgia Tech to Host NASA Symposium on the Shuttle Program (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Georgia Tech is hosting a symposium this week to explore the agency's space shuttle program, which ends soon. The event is Monday through Wednesday at the university's Global Learning Center. It will bring together international scientists, engineers, mission designers, policymakers and others to talk about shuttle missions and the future of space exploration. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will open the symposium on Tuesday. (6/6)

Ohioans Consider Celebration for 50th Anniversary of Glenn Orbit (Source: Dayton Daily News)
Ohioans are exploring how to appropriately honor John Glenn in February 2012 on the 50th anniversary of his becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. Ohio State University, which houses archival materials documenting Glenn’s career as a military aviator, NASA astronaut, businessman and U.S. senator from Ohio, is starting to consider a campus observance of Glenn’s circling of the globe in the Friendship 7 space capsule. (6/6)

A Second Genesis? No Proof Yet, But ... (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)
It looked - for a moment - like one of science's deepest questions was cracking open last December. That's when a NASA-funded team announced that it had found a completely new kind of life in California's arsenic-rich Mono Lake.

The finding of a second origin of life, if real, would have dramatically broadened the view of how life got here and whether it might arise spontaneously elsewhere in the universe. Unfortunately, to biologists, this "new" form of life looks suspiciously like the old one. And so there remains a gap in our understanding that has prompted several readers to question how scientists can be so confident that evolution explains everything.

"Since life originating from nonlife can't be proven, if it was a one-time phenomenon, what is the scientific basis for ruling out intelligent design? Is it a matter of personal opinion or true objectivity?" asks Damien Manno. It's a good question, and the short answer is that scientists may soon begin to grasp how life could originate from nonlife. "As far as proving nonlife can give rise to life - absolutely that's going to be proven, because it's going to be done," said biochemist Gerald Joyce. (6/6)

Mitsubishi Electric to Double Satellite Production Capacity (Source: Mitsubishi)
Mitsubishi, under a plan to double annual satellite production capacity from four satellites to eight, will invest approximately 3 billion JPY to enlarge and upgrade its Kamakura Works production facility. Construction is scheduled for completion by March 2013. Responding to growing demand worldwide, the company intends to double satellite-related annual sales to 150 billion JPY by March 2021.

In 2009, the Japanese government announced its Basic Plan for Space Policy, declaring that development and production of satellites should be utilization-driven rather than R&D-driven. Going forward, satellites are expected to be utilized increasingly for high-precision positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) information services and other public-oriented infrastructure. (6/6)

Building Hharmonious Outer Space to Achieve Inclusive Development (Source: Xinhua)
China hopes all countries would continue to strengthen open and inclusive international cooperation characterized by equality and mutual benefit and further improve related laws in outer space explorations, said Huang Huikang, director of the Department of Treaty and Law in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He spoke about China's space policy as head of the Chinese delegation in Vienna attending the 54th session of United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on June 1-10. At the meeting, marking the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the COPUOS, China called for building a harmonious outer space to achieve inclusive development. (6/6)

NASA Plans to Select Mars Rover Landing Site Soon (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
NASA officials are in the final stages of deciding the destination for the agency's Curiosity rover, a complex mobile science laboratory scheduled to be shot toward Mars in November. Scientists already whittled down a list of several dozen candidate landing sites to four finalists: Eberswalde crater, Gale crater, Holden crater and Mawrth Vallis. The final decision will come from Ed Weiler by the end of July. (6/6)

Star Trek Exhibition Comes to KSC Visitor Complex (Source: Florida Today)
They've explored strange new worlds and boldly gone where no man has gone before. And now, items from the "Star Trek" television shows and movies will be coming to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. On Saturday, "Star Trek: The Exhibition," will begin a four-month run, including a massive display of sets, costumes and gadgets like phasers and communicators from more than four decades of "Star Trek." (6/6)

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