October 10, 2011

Iran to Launch Research Satellite (Source: Xinhua)
Iran is going to launch a domestically built Navid satellite aboard its Safir satellite launcher by the end of March 2012, the semi-official Mehr news agency reporte. Navid (promise) is a research satellite and is currently undergoing pre-launch tests. In June, Iran put the Rasad (surveillance) satellite in the orbit to render images to the country. (10/10)

Air Force satellite's Epic Ascent Should Finish Soon (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
After 14 months in space and more than 450 maneuvers, the first satellite in the U.S. military's next-generation secure communications network now expects to complete its arduous journey to reach the correct orbit by late October and enter service in March. A manufacturing mishap prevented the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite's main propulsion system from firing once the craft reached space, prompting ground controllers to devise emergency plans for salvaging the mission. (10/10)

Super-Fast Internet - Across the Solar System (Source: Channel 4)
A Surrey satellite firm is helping to establish an interplanetary internet system that could speed up the movement of data through space - and allow us to explore stars 30 trillion miles away. The internet, so ubiquitous on earth, is now challenging the final frontier. But the internet in space is not just being used for social media stunts. It is also being used to control unmanned craft, like those made here in Surrey. (10/10)

Russia Reprioritizes Space Program (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Last week, Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin laid out his plan to shift the focus of Russia’s space program away from human spaceflight toward a more balanced effort that also emphasized Earth observation, communications and planetary exploration. The moves also included tightening state control over a key Russian rocket builder.

The most dramatic move is the cancellation of Russia’s large Rus-M rocket, which Energia was building to replace the venerable Soyuz booster. Rus-M was intended to carry the nation’s new six-person crew vehicle from the Vostochny spaceport. However, the effort was widely rumored to be running badly behind schedule and unlikely to meet deadlines. Rather than develop a brand new vehicle, Roscosmos has instead elected to replace the Soyuz with…well, itself. Or at least a souped version with new first engines and larger strap on boosters. (10/10)

NASA Serious About a European ATV-Based Service Module for Orion (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Orion managers are becoming more interested in the idea of the European Space Agency (ESA) taking over a role in NASA’s exploration future. Adhering to the international cooperation angle for the Agency’s future, managers have told their teams they are “serious” about ESA building the Service Module (SM) for Orion, using ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) hardware.

The ATV – three times the size of the Russian Progress resupply vehicle – was built with a human rating role in mind from the onset. However, these ranged from a mini space station – involving the mating of two or more ATVs, through to a crewed version of the Cargo Ascent and Return Vehicle (CARV) variant of the ATV. Built by EADS Astrium, two ATVs have successfully visited the ISS, with three more set to launch as part of the ISS contract. (10/10)

Space Junk Keeps Fallin' On My Head (Source: TIME)
If you knew what was going on above your head, you probably wouldn't sleep at night. It was 54 years ago this week that the first satellite — Russia's little Sputnik — went into orbit, and in the half-century since, we've made travel to near-earth space largely routine. That, by almost any measure, is a good thing, but like so many good things human beings build or do or achieve, a very bad thing comes along with it: junk.

For every spacecraft that goes into orbit, all kinds of rubbish — bolts, boosters, adapter rings, insulation, even paint chips — are also released. Five decades of that kind of littering has created a very big mess: according to tallies from NASA, NORAD, the Federal Communications Commission and other domestic and international agencies, there are currently 17,000 objects measuring 4 in. (10 cm) or greater circling the earth. There are a whopping 200,000 in the 1-in. to 3-in. (2.5 cm to 7.5 cm) range, and millions smaller than an inch. (10/10)

Did Romney Just Endorse Space-Based Weapons? (Source: National Review)
In his speech on defense and foreign policy at South Carolina’s Citadel Military Academy on October 7, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said: “I will begin reversing the Obama-era missile defense cuts and prioritize the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic-missile defense system.” If conservatives hold him to this promise, it will be a significant step towards fulfilling the goal of making nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete” that Ronald Reagan laid out in his famous March 1983 “Star Wars” speech.

The key word that Romney pronounced, which heartened missile-defense advocates and almost certainly disturbs the opponents of such defensive systems, is “multilayered.” Once launched, a long-range missile such as an ICBM creates three basic opportunities for a missile-defense system to knock it out. The first and most important is the “boost phase,” just after launch, when the missile is firing its rocket engines and giving off a large amount of easily detected heat.

The second targeting opportunity is the “mid-course phase,” when the missile has deployed its warheads and its decoys. This is the most difficult targeting problem that a defense system must solve. It is also the phase during which our currently deployed interceptors, the ones in Alaska and California, are designed to work. The third and final phase is called the “terminal phase,” when the warhead enters the atmosphere and dives toward its target. This is the second-hardest missile-defense problem to solve, because the warhead may maneuver as it approaches its destination. (10/10)

Editorial: Florida Snipes at Virginia's Launch Market Competition (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
"A proposal by NASA's Wallops Flight Facility to support commercial launches of human spaceflight missions from Virginia's Eastern Shore poses a 'direct threat' to the economy and workforce of Florida," roared late-September articles in Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel, announcing an assault on the ambition of making Virginia's commercial spaceport more capable.

During this past summer, NASA sought public input on an environmental study relating to land-use changes at the Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County. The environmental impact study seeks to address the possibility of human space flight requirements at the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.

The petulant Space Florida aerospace business interest group, funded by the Florida Legislature, used the NASA Wallops environmental impact study to engage in a business attack on Virginia's fledgling pro-commercial spaceport launch business. Using an environmental study to advance Florida civil space business is, in my personal judgment, an ethically lacking business practice or, worse, a crude attempt to place a fix against launch market competition. (10/10)

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