October 8, 2011

Europe's Astrium Picked to Build Eutelsat Satellite (Source: Astrium)
Astrium has been selected by Eutelsat Communications to build EUTELSAT 9B, a high-power broadcast satellite addressing high-growth video markets in Europe, to be launched at the end of 2014 and located at Eutelsat’s 9°E video neighbourhood. (10/8)

EUCLID Space Mission Selected by ESA (Source: MPE)
EUCLID is an ESA survey space mission designed to understand the origin of the accelerating expansion of the Universe, a quantity that physicists and astronomers refer to as "Dark Energy". Current observations show that dark energy composes more than 70% of the matter-energy density of the present-day universe and is therefore driving its evolution.

EUCLID will observe several hundreds of millions of galaxies over a large fraction of the sky to track the observational signatures of dark energy, dark matter and gravity. By measuring the apparent shapes and the distribution of galaxies in the Universe, astronomers will constrain the nature of dark energy and will examine whether the general theory of relativity is still a valid description
Linkof gravitation on scales of billions of light years. (10/8)

GPS, Satellites Top the List of "Can't Do Without" Space Technologies (Source: Space Foundation)
Participants in a Space Foundation survey have said loud and clear that they cannot live without satellites and the benefits they provide for navigation, communications, weather forecasting and logistics. The survey, which concluded at the beginning of World Space Week, Oct. 4, asked two questions about the impact of space: Which space-based invention has the biggest impact on society?; and What space invention could you not live without? Click here. (10/8)

If NASA Gets to Fly Again, Utah’s ATK Poised to Be By its Side (Source: Salt Lake Tribune)
If everything goes as planned, NASA’s new “Space Launch System” will blast off on its first test flight in 2017. And as it did with the space shuttle program, Alliant Techsystems, through its Utah-based operations appears poised to play a key supporting role. NASA gave ATK an important nod. “They told us they are planning on using our motors for their Space Launch System, at least for the initial development flights,” ATK spokesman George Torres said. (10/8)

Private Space Companies Gather Momentum (Source: WIRED)
This week marks the seventh anniversary of the X-Prize winning flight of SpaceShipOne. Brian Binnie’s 24-minute flight to more than 367,000 feet captured the world’s imagination and put a spotlight on the opportunity of private space flight. In the years since there have been some delays, but training for flights has already started, even though a specific flight schedule has not been announced. Click here. (10/8)

Kronmiller To Head Orbital’s Washington Operations (Source: Space News)
Kate Kronmiller, the former vice president of Washington operations for space shuttle prime contractor United Space Alliance (USA), is taking over as Orbital Sciences Corp.’s top lobbyist, industry sources said. Kronmiller joined Houston-based USA in 1997 and was put in charge of the company’s Washington operations in 2001. She left USA on Aug. 25. Kronmiller will fill a vacancy at Orbital left by Mark Bitterman, who in September joined United Launch Alliance after a brief detour as head of Washington operations for SpaceX. (10/7)

Scientists: Moon Contains Treasure Trove of Valuable Ores (Source: Daily Mail)
A modern day treasure map has been created showing a trove of precious metals found on the moon. Scientists have revealed NASA's robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the moon has made a chart showing areas on the surface that are rich in valuable titanium ores.

It is believed the map could be the key to unlocking more of the moon's secrets and working out what lies beneath its surface. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took the images using a wide angle camera scanning the surface in seven different wavelengths at a resolution of between 100 and 400 meters per pixel. According to scientists, the minerals were identified because they either reflect or absorb parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. (10/7)

UAE Prepares to Become Gateway to the Galaxy (Source: The National)
The Emirates is set to become a leading player in the next era of space exploration. UAE citizens are among the first passengers to sign up for private space travel and Middle Eastern institutions are providing much of the industry's financial backing. Abu Dhabi has also been earmarked as the preferred site for a new global space center.

Space tourism, a new sector being built around offering private individuals the opportunity to pay to go on space flights, is also paving the way for transcontinental flights on earth via space that will fly several times faster than the defunct Concorde. Virgin Galactic already has plans to develop a major space facility in Abu Dhabi. "It's possible that our first non-US base could be in Abu Dhabi, home to Aabar Investments, who last year took a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic," says Stephen Attenborough, a director at Virgin Galactic. (10/7)

Russia Puts Off Building of AK-T Space Laboratory (Source: Xinhua)
Russia has postponed the building of the AK-T space laboratory due to lack of scientific projects the station has been designed for, a Russian space agency official said Friday. The project would be put off for two or three years, said Vitaly Davydov, deputy chief of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. The AK-T space lab has been designed as an autonomous space vehicle capable of docking with the International Space Station (ISS) when necessary. (10/7)

Russia to Double Communications Satellite Constellation by 2015 (Source: Interfax-AVN)
The deployment of the Russian GLONASS satellite grouping is over, Vladimir Popovkin, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, told the State Duma. "We will concentrate our attention on the creation of new means of space monitoring of the Earth, the prevention of emergency situations, meteorology and communications systems. This position has been negotiated with all ministries," Popovkin said.

By 2015 the constellation of communications, broadcasting and re-broadcasting and rescue satellites will be enlarged from the current 26 to 48, that of earth-monitoring satellites from five to 20, and GLONASS satellites from 24 to 30, he said. (10/7)

Update on Russian Rockets and Spaceports (Source: Itar-Tass)
The new manned spaceship being developed by Energia Corp. will be launched with modernized Soyuz-2 rockets. Soyuz-2 will be the first launch vehicle to take off from the new Vostochny spaceport, which will be put into service in 2015. Soyuz-2 launch trajectories will go above water, which will require new techniques for saving astronauts in the case of emergencies, he said.

The Federal Space Agency hopes for the future modernization of Soyuz-2 to enlarge the size of payloads put to low orbits to ten tons or more. As for the Agency’s refusal to use Rus-M rockets in Vostochny, Davydov said, “the rough design will be done but the Vostochny spaceport will not use this rockets.” He also said that the decision on possible launches of Angara rockets from Vostochny would be made when the tests were over. An Angara launch site is under construction in Plesetsk. The first light Angara launch from Plesetsk is planned for the second half of 2013. (10/7)

Johns Hopkins Seeks NASA Funds To Host Sensors on Iridium Sats (Source: Space News)
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is seeking NASA funding for a plan to send 66 sensors into orbit on the Iridium Next constellation of mobile communications satellites to shed light on the imbalance between incoming solar energy and the Earth’s thermal energy reflected back into space. APL proposed the project, known as Earth’s Radiation Imbalance System (ERIS), as a candidate in the space agency’s Earth Venture program of science-driven missions that can be launched within five years and completed for $150 million or less. (10/7)

Orbital, SpaceX Face Further Delays in Space Station Resupply Programs (Source: Space News)
Critical test launches of rockets and capsules NASA is counting on to deliver supplies to the international space station in the coming years are falling further behind schedule for both technical and logistical reasons. Launches of Taurus-2 and Falcon-9 rockets, which until recently were scheduled for this year, are now expected to push into January and February, respectively, according to an internal NASA manifest.

Both systems already are well behind schedule. SpaceX originally expected to complete three COTS flight demos by September 2009. A second Taurus 2 flight, this one carrying Orbital’s Cygnus cargo module for the first time, is still officially scheduled for February, but the NASA manifest indicates a May launch date. Orbital, which received its COTS award two years after SpaceX, expected to complete what at the time was to be a single demonstration flight in December 2010. (10/7)

Move Space Station Parts Toward The Moon? (Source: Aviation Week)
“Could we take a module, pull it off the station instead of deorbiting it into the ocean?” asks William Gerstenmaier, associate NASA administrator for human exploration and operations. “Could we take some module that has some value to us in exploration architecture and move it to [Lagrangian point] L1 or move it to a lunar orbit and actually use it in another location?”

Stressing that it is very early in the process, Gerstenmaier says talks are under way with ISS partners. An international industrial panel of ISS contractors is also beginning to consider what happens after station funding ends in 2020. Russia is also studying solo station operations if there is no agreement on a larger plan. (10/7)

Could Blasts from Cosmic Collisions Destroy Life on Earth? (Source: Space.com)
The persistence of life on Earth may depend on massive explosions on the other side of the galaxy, according to a new theory that suggests powerful bursts of space radiation could have played a part in some of our planet's major extinction events. The explosions — gamma-ray bursts thought to occur when two stars collide — can release tons of high-energy gamma-ray radiation into space.

The researchers found that such blasts could be contributing to the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Disruption of the ozone layer lets ultraviolet light filter down to the surface of the Earth, where it can change organisms by mutating their genes. Now, researchers are beginning to connect the timing of these gamma-ray bursts to extinctions on Earth that can be dated through the fossil record. (10/7)

NASA Envisions Interchangeable Boosters for SLS (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA plans to open a competition in December for multiple, 30-month contracts to study strap-on booster upgrades for the planned heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), including an upgrade for the five-segment, solid-fuel strap-ons baselined as the initial boosters for the big new rocket. One challenge for NASA engineers will be to design an interface that can link different booster types to the SLS core stage, according to William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

“Our vision is we’ll have an interface that’s generic, and we’ll be able to carry potentially different boosters and change them out as needed,” Gerstenmaier. “So we could go compete in the future, maybe downsize if something’s easier for a mission that requires less thrust. We have some variability there, so if we do our job right, we’ll have the ability to change the boosters that sit on the side. That’s our ultimate goal. We’re not going to pick one.” (10/7)

NASA Buys Suborbital Launches from UP Aerospace in New Mexico (Source: UP Aerospace)
NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist Launch Opportunities Program has awarded UP Aerospace a contract to integrate technology payloads and launch them into space on up to 8 flights using the company's SpaceLoft rocket. The launch contract is part of the 2 year IDIQ contract awarded to the firm on August 9. The contract reserves 2 SpaceLoft launches with options to purchase 6 additional flights in 2012 and 2013.

The first flight for NASA is in the planning phase and is expected to be launched from Spaceport America in the 1st quarter of 2012. UP Aerospace has teamed with Schafer Corporation to provide NASA with comprehensive launch and payload integration services. (10/7)

Long-Serving Earth Observation Sensor Conks Out (Source: Nature)
The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS (AMSR-E), a Japanese sensor on board NASA’s Aqua satellite, stopped transmitting data on 4 October following problems with antenna rotation. Scientists with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA are currently investigating the problem, but fear that the device might be permanently broken.

Originally designed for a lifetime of just three years, AMSR-E has since 2002 continuously provided Earth scientists with valuable observational data on precipitation, oceanic water vapour, sea ice extent, sea surface temperatures, and soil moisture. Its loss would leave a gap in many fields of global change research and monitoring. (10/7)

LightSquared Faces More Congressional Scrutiny (Source: Space Policy Online)
The controversy over LightSquared is far from over. Another congressional hearing is scheduled for next week about that company's plans to implement a mobile broadband system that critics assert will interfere with reception of GPS signals. At the same time, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee continues to demand reports from certain federal agencies about the impact of LightSquared on their operations. Next week's hearing is by the House Small Business Committee.

LightSquared is facing opponents from many quarters because it is using spectrum that is next to that used for signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) of navigation satellites. The GPS system is owned and operated by the Department of Defense (DOD), but GPS receivers are ubiquitous throughout American (and global) society. Not only is GPS embedded in many smartphones and installed in automobiles and aircraft, but it is the foundation of precision agriculture and myriad other applications. (10/7)

Neutrinos Spark Wild Scientific Leaps (Source: MSNBC)
Commentators have been surprisingly fast to point to faster-than-light neutrinos as evidence that scientists could be wrong about lots of things, including the causes of climate change. But the most likely scenario is that special relativity — a theory that contends nothing can be accelerated beyond the speed of light in a vacuum — will turn out to be right. Or at least relatively right.

Two weeks after the neutrino experiments first came to light, the prevailing view among physicists is that the observations will somehow be shown to be wrong. The time measurements had to be made to an accuracy of billionths of a second. Synchronizing the time signatures over a distance of more than 450 miles of neutrino flight, from the CERN particle-physics center on the French-Swiss border to Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory, is extremely challenging.

One paper questions whether the clock synchronizations accounted for the varying gravitational force as the neutrinos sped through the planet. General relativity's gravitational time-dilation effect might have reduced the precision of the measurements, one scientist suggests. This wouldn't be the first time that special relativity and general relativity got tangled up with each other: The satellite-based GPS system has to account not only for special relativity (which would make the satellites' clocks look as if they're moving slower from the perspective of earthly clocks) but also for general relativity (which would make them seem to move faster). (10/7)

Ex-Astronaut Oefelein in Alaska Plane Crash (Source: KFSN)
Former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein was the pilot of a small plane that stalled and crashed on Sep. 15 in rural Alaska. In the Sept. 15 crash, Oefelein managed to skillfully steer the stalled small plane into some alder bushes and land without any injuries near Judd Lake, about 50 miles northwest of Anchorage. An engine check was conducted on the crashed Cessna 206 floatplane on Friday and no problem was found.

Oefelein piloted the shuttle Discovery in December 2006. A few months later, his former girlfriend, astronaut Lisa Nowak, was famously charged with assaulting his new girlfriend, Colleen Shipman, in a bizarre airport attack in Florida after driving from Houston. Oefelein and Shipman are now married and living in Anchorage, according to Florida attorney Kepler Funk, who has represented Shipman in the past. (10/7)

Lockheed Martin, PLTW Partnership Produces Cutting-Edge STEM Curriculum (Source: SpaceRef.com)
An enhanced, cutting-edge middle school and high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum is being rolled out in Project Lead The Way (PLTW) classrooms this fall as a result of a collaboration between PLTW and one of the world's premier technology companies - Lockheed Martin Corporation.

PLTW is a national, nonprofit organization and is the leading provider of STEM education curriculum programs used in more than 4,200 middle and high schools nationwide. Editor's Note: Lockheed Martin supports the daVinci Academy, an aerospace-themed PLTW program at Merritt Island High School on Florida's Space Coast. (10/7)

Replacement for Soyuz Rocket Canned by Russia (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Russia is halting development of a next-generation rocket to launch humans into space, the head of Roscosmos told Russian lawmakers. The Rus-M rocket, a liquid-fueled rocket designed to launch from Russian territory, was supposed to begin flying as soon as 2015, according to earlier statements by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin.

"We have come to the conclusion that we do not need a new rocket, we can continue using those we already have," said Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia's space agency. News reports didn't indicate whether the suspension was permanent or temporary. The two-stage Rus-M vehicle was supposed to ultimately launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a planned space center in Russia's Far East just north of the border with China.

Located in Russia's Amur region, Vostochny is envisioned as a replacement for the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia's primary launch site that was left on Kazakhstan territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vostochny's development has been delayed for several years, and construction is now not expected to begin until 2012. (10/7)

Man Hopes to Run Mile on the Moon (Source: CNN)
Jonathon Prince's dream? Run a mile on the moon. He says, "You can't help but stargaze at night and I just wondered about the possibility of running the first mile on the moon." The question is how to get there? NASA retired its space shuttle program this year. So, Prince will go the private route flying onboard a rocket being developed by space exploration technologies, Space X for short.

Over the next few years, he'll learn about space travel at a private facility called NASTAR, the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Pennsylvania. He says, "We are currently training the generation of folks that are not astronauts. Jonathon is at the forefront of leading this new industry." Prince has received funding he needs from donors and sponsors and hopes to blast off by 2016. (10/7)

No comments: