October 23, 2011

ROSAT Reenters Over Southeast Asia (Source: Discovery)
The German Aerospace Center and NASA have confirmed the defunct Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, has met its doom, most likely somewhere over SE Asia. German officials have said that the reentry occurred some time between 9:45 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. EDT on Saturday night. Fortunately, there are no reports of falling debris or damage, which means the surviving satellite bits -- around 30 pieces -- most likely crashed safely into the Bay of Bengal, somewhere between the the east coast of India and Indonesia. (10/23)

Florida Cabinet Gets Update on State's Space Industry (Source: AP)
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says Florida needs to show its commitment to the Kennedy Space Center or other states with spaceports will try to steal business away in a post-shuttle era of private space enterprises. At a Florida Cabinet meeting in Cape Canaveral last week, he said there is no guarantee that the state will remain the nation's leader in space launches, given competition from other states such as Texas, New Mexico and the mid-Atlantic states to lure private launch businesses.

"If we're serious about keeping this in Florida, and we are, I just think we need to make it clear … that we're committed to doing whatever it takes," Putnam said. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll told Cabinet members that Florida has an aggressive plan to fill the gap between the end of the shuttle program and the launch of next-generation rockets. She said hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money has been allocated for improving infrastructure at the space center. "The glass isn't half-empty, it's half-full," Carroll told Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Putnam. (10/23)

Europe's Overpriced Navi System Heads for Space (Source: Spiegel)
It is years behind schedule. But on Friday, two satellites belonging to the European navigation system Galileo are heading into orbit. The system promises to be more precise than anything currently available. But Europe has paid dearly for its autonomy. Each of the two satellites contains two atomic clocks from Spectra time, a Swiss company famous for the precision -- and prices -- of its time pieces. These clocks only lose or gain one second about every 3 million years.

Galileo goes into initial operation in 2014 -- and will offer three navigation services that are more exact than the American GPS system: a) a free "open service" that can accurately track automobiles down to the meter in addition to assisting in measuring plots of land; b) an encrypted "commercial service," available for a fee, that promises even more precision; and c) a service for "safety-of-life" applications, such as air- and rail-traffic control.

Once Galileo is fully operational -- forecast for 2020 -- two additional services will be available: a) a "public regulated service" for governmental operations (and military as well), that is protected against interference, among other threats; and b) a "search-and-rescue" service able to track distress signals from ships or aircraft. Anyone transmitting SOS signals could then be contacted directly over satellite frequencies. (10/23)

India to Set up Launch Pad in Nagayalanka (Source: Deccan Herald)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has turned its attention to the coastal area of Krishna district as part of its search for a suitable location where it can set up a rocket-launch pad. ISRO scientists have conducted feasibility studies for the site near Nagayalanka mandal in the coast. Indications are that the state government is keen to get the facility established in the hinterland of Krishna and Guntur districts. The ISRO wants to have more launch pads to increase frequency of the satellite launches in the future. (10/23)

Fifth-Graders Take a Tour of Houston’s Space Center (Source: Killeen Daily Herald)
Fifth-graders, dressed in student-designed purple shirts, stepped together into the space-themed museum, propelled by the power of possibility. West Ward Elementary School's 50 fifth-graders visited the Space Center in Houston Wednesday; a school tradition planned a week before the school's annual Space Week celebration. (10/23)

Editorial: Stennis Keeps Us in the Race (Source: Sun Herald)
The goal was the moon but we have gone much farther. Fifty years ago this week, when NASA announced it would build a massive rocket-testing center in Hancock County, it landed South Mississipians in the middle of the space race. It has been a ride. To try to list all the benefits of having Stennis Space Center here would be futile. There isn’t enough, well, space.

The center has added billions of dollars to the economy, brought thousands of high-paying jobs and attracted untold numbers of tourists. Because of Stennis, we are better prepared for hurricanes, are more secure, and are better able to compete in the high-tech world. Besides NASA, the departments of Energy, Defense, Commerice and Interior, the EPA and the states of Mississippi and Louisiana have significant programs there. Mississippi State, University of Mississippi, Southern Miss, University of New Orleans and Pearl River Community College have sites there. (10/23)

Vandenberg Welcomes New Command Chief (Source: AFSPC)
Team Vandenberg welcomed the 30th Space Wing's new command chief master sergeant here in mid-September. "This is my first experience with Space Command," said Chief Master Sgt. Suzanne Talbert. "I can't wait to meet the Airmen on base and get to know every one of their jobs; I would rather be out there learning that than sitting in my office." (10/23)

ESA Planning Next Soyuz Launch from Kourou in December (Source: Interfax)
The next launch of the Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana has been scheduled for December 20, the head of the ESA's Moscow office, Rene Pischel, said. "We hope to launch a Soyuz on December 20 if the third stage, earlier returned to Russia for additional checks, arrives," Pischel said after the Soyuz carrier rocket's successful debut launch from Kourou. (10/23)

Medical Crisis is Space Station's Top Fear (Source: Florida Today)
A debilitating stroke. Dangerous heart arrthymia. Painful kidney stones or dental abscesses. An infection that threatens the life of an astronaut or cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station. New NASA analyses show the chance of a medical evacuation now ranks with the top risk for abandoning ship: a hull-penetrating micrometeorite or debris strike. And as NASA learns more about the physiological effects of lengthy stays in space on astronauts, the space agency has more health concerns to worry about. For the first time ever, a new medical condition that affects eyesight made the list of top risks.

Any decision to send a sick or injured astronaut home would be a difficult one. The gravitational forces and other stresses encountered during re-entry might endanger the patient even more than staying put. Two crewmates also would also have to return; otherwise, they would be left without their three-person Soyuz lifeboat. Click here. (10/23)

Air Force Rocket Deal Puts Taxpayers on the Hook (Source: Florida Today)
The list of things that the Defense Department doesn’t know about its upcoming multibillion-dollar purchase of rockets should astound taxpayers. The military, which helped bankroll development of Atlas V and Delta IV rockets for two of the United States’ biggest companies and propped up the two launch vehicles with billions of dollars in subsidies over the last decade, wants to buy another 40 of the rockets through 2018. The price: $15 billion over about five years or nearly the cost of what NASA was spending over a similar time period operating its space shuttle fleet.

The military is not considering alternatives, including competitors who could help drive down per-launch cost to taxpayers, based on reasons that can’t be backed up by the reliable data. In short, the military is spending $15 billion without knowing enough about what it’s doing. Click here. (10/23)

Space Waste Transporter: Going Where No Garbage Man has Gone Before (Source: Space Daily)
John D. Arwood, a Native American and owner of Arwood Waste in Jacksonville, Florida, proposes a possible solution to our space waste problem. Arwood Waste has proposed a Space Waste Contract for the collection and disposal of space junk. This innovative concept outlines an orbital junk removal program that Arwood is calling, the Space Waste Transporter. The Space Waste Transporter is essentially a rocket-propelled garbage truck designed to launch into orbit and immediately go to work cleaning up the ever-growing cloud of decommissioned satellites, shuttle debris, garbage and fragments.

NASA's recently decommissioned Space Shuttles, with their large cargo bays and proven track record, would be ideal vehicles to accomplish this pressing task. Reusing the space shuttles, and dubbing them "Space Waste Transporters," is a real and creative option to solving this problem. The technology is already built, already tested and already available. He has opened the discussion for a Space Waste Transporter program to collect decommissioned satellites and bring them safely back to earth where they can be reused, recycled, or preserved. Click here. (10/23)

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