July 16, 2011

Long, Cramped Trips Ahead for US Astronauts (Source: Space Daily)
If you think of the shuttle as a kind of big space bus, the future for US astronauts will be a lot like squeezing into a three-seat compact car, made by Russia, for a very long road trip. In the future, opportunities for Americans to travel to the ISS will be limited to about three to four per year -- a far cry from the not so distant past when NASA sent an average of 22 astronauts to space per year.

US astronauts need to devote more than two years of special training in Russian language courses and space engineering in order to be considered for a trip to the ISS. And each mission aboard the orbiting outpost lasts up to six months, compared to the summer-vacation-length jaunts of two weeks at a time during the shuttle era. (7/16)

Delta IV Launches GPS Satellite from Florida Spaceport (Source: CFNews13)
After days of delays, a Delta IV rocket has rumbled into the early morning sky from Cape Canaveral, carrying a new GPS satellite into orbit. The rocket blasted off from the Space Coast at 2:41 a.m. Saturday, following two consecutive scrubs for technical and weather issues.

The United Launch Alliance's rocket will send the navigation satellite into the Global Positioning System constellation for the Air Force. The GPS 2F satellites provide enhanced military signals that have greater accuracy, and are more resistant to signal jamming. (7/16)

Russian Proton Rocket Launches Commercial Satellites (Source: SES)
An ILS Proton Breeze M was launched from Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 15. After an 8-hour mission, the Breeze M successfully released the SES-3 satellite directly into geostationary transfer orbit. Another satellite was deployed for Kazakhstan. (7/16)

US Lawmaker Wields Budget Axe Over China Space Ties (Source: AP)
A Republican lawmaker is looking to make the Obama administration pay a price for what he sees as its defiance of Congress in pursuing cooperation with China in science and space technology. A proposal by Rep. Frank Wolf, a fierce critic of Beijing, would slash by 55 percent the $6.6 million budget of the White House's science policy office. The measure was endorsed by a congressional committee this week, but faces more legislative hurdles, and its prospects are unclear.

Last year NASA's administrator visited China, and during a high-profile state visit to Washington by China's President Hu Jintao in January, the U.S. and China resolved to "deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space." Rep. Wolf, R-VA, argues that cooperation in space would give technological assistance to a country that steals U.S. industrial secrets and launches cyberattacks against the United States.

He says Obama's chief science adviser, John Holdren, violated a clause tucked into budget legislation passed this year that bars the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA from technological cooperation with China. He says Holdren did so by meeting twice with China's science minister in Washington during May. (7/16)

NASA Rolls Out Red Carpet for Final Shuttle Crew (Source: Florida Today)
Waking up among the stars on the final space shuttle flight calls for some, well, star power. NASA enlisted the help of music icons Paul McCartney, Elton John, Beyonce, and lead singer of R.E.M., Michael Stipe, to serenade the crew during the traditional wake-up calls. In addition to singing space-appropriate songs, the artists also recorded special messages for the astronauts. (7/16)

Polar Rocket Goes Equatorial in Indian Launch (Source: The Telegraph)
If the GSLV can’t do it, the PSLV will. A revamped polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) today placed in near-perfect orbit a communications satellite that two previous missions of the relatively modern geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) had failed to last year. This was the first time the PSLV was used to send a communications satellite, which are heavier than the remote-sensing ones put into space for applications such as weather forecasting. (7/16)

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