October 21, 2011

1960s Essay Warned of Conflict Between Government and Commercial Space (Source: SpaceKSC)
In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower warned that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." That same year, General Electric Chairman and CEO Ralph J. Cordiner published an essay that to commercial space advocates could be considered as foreboding as Ike's warning.

Titled "Competitive Private Enterprise in Space," the essay appeared in a book titled Peacetime Uses of Outer Space. "Looking to the future," he wrote, "when the space frontier has been explored and is ready for economic development, we might well find the area pre-empted by the government, which would then have most of the personnel and facilities available. This would leave the nation almost no choice except to settle for nationalized industry in space." Click here. (10/21)

Lots of Water Spotted in Still-Forming Solar System 175 Light Years Away (Source: Ars Technica)
When talking about other planetary systems, or even our own, the word that tends to get us most excited is "water." And for good reason-—it’s necessary for life on our own planet, and its presence in liquid form likely increases the odds of life on other worlds. Using the Herschel space telescope, astronomers have spotted evidence of water vapor at the edges of a planet-forming disk surrounding a nearby star. The presence of the vapor hints at enormous volumes of ice present in the disk.

A group of astronomers decided to use the Herschel Space Observatory to go looking for signs of water. They decided to point the telescope at the nearest planetary disk, which surrounds a star named TW Hydrae. This 10 million-year-old star is about 60 percent the mass of our Sun and is "only" 175 light years away. When the data came in, the amount of water observed was calculated to be about 0.005 times the mass of Earth’s global ocean. Click here. (10/21)

Extension of FAA Spaceflight Regulation Moratorium Could Burden NASA, Industry (Source: SPACErePORT)
A Congressional moratorium on new regulations for the commercial spaceflight industry could burden the industry (and NASA) by forcing them to deal with NASA requirements as they develop their space vehicles. The moratorium is currently set to expire in December 2012, but some industry advocates are pushing for an extension to allow more time for the industry to mature without over-burdensome regulatory oversight.

NASA had been hoping that the FAA would take-on the regulatory responsibility for ensuring the safety of commercial human spaceflight systems. In the absense of FAA regulations for human spaceflight, most of the companies seeking to enter this emerging industry (at least those hoping to serve NASA as a customer) will have to comply with NASA's safety requirements, which some suggest would be more stringent and costly to meet.

Of course, the argument for lifting the FAA moratorium would be dampened if NASA didn't end up relaxing its own requirements after new FAA rules are in place. No company would want to be required to comply with two sets of rules for the same service. The FAA is a regulatory agency but NASA is not. (10/21)

Commercial Flight Development Creates American Jobs (Source: NASA)
To reach for new heights and explore farther into our solar system than we have ever before, we are handing off transportation to the International Space Station to the private sector. This will allow NASA to concentrate on developing the deep space capabilities necessary to send humans to an asteroid and Mars. It also will support the creation of American jobs and bring the launches of our astronauts back to U.S. soil.

At NASA, we’re committed to having American companies send our astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments. According to a recent study by the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial space transportation and enabling industries generated $208 billion in economic activity and employed more than 1 million people in 2009, with earnings exceeding $53 billion.

That economic impact is only expected to grow. At NASA, we’re doing our part to help develop this industry, one that until recently largely had been seen as science fiction, but now stands poised to open up this new frontier and transform the space exploration business. That’s good for space exploration – and good for the American economy. (10/21)

New England Sees Drop in Military Contracts (Source: Boston Globe)
Contracts from defense companies are shrinking in Massachusetts and the New England region, shows a study by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. In Massachusetts, the value of military contracts fell 7.7%, to $14.3 billion, in 2010. In the region, spending for military contracts dropped 9%, to $29.1 billion, for 2010. A study by the Aerospace Industries Association found that $1 trillion in defense cuts could lead to the loss of 8,200 jobs in Massachusetts. (10/21)

Raytheon, Boeing Should Weather Pentagon Cuts (Source: Aviation Week)
Raytheon and Boeing are the two companies that will be least affected by defense cuts, analysts say. One-quarter of Raytheon's sales come from outside the U.S., which should help the company weather Pentagon cuts. Meanwhile, Boeing Defense, Space and Security also has many contracts with "very steep" termination costs. (10/21)

From Red Planet to Deep Blue Sea: Astronomer Becomes NASA Aquanaut (Source: SpaceRef)
Cornell professor of astronomy Steven Squyres, the lead scientist for NASA's Rover missions to Mars, has just taken the plunge as a NASA aquanaut. Cornell's Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy is one of six aquanauts who splashed down Oct. 20 for a 13-day undersea training mission off Key Largo in Florida as part of the 15th mission of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program. They will perform "spacewalks" and other exercises to simulate an asteroid mission. (10/21)

The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Over the last two years, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has looked deeply at many of the issues raised by global-warming skeptics. I chaired our group, which just submitted four detailed papers on our results to peer-reviewed journals. We have now posted these papers online at www.BerkeleyEarth.org to solicit even more scrutiny. When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find.

Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that. Click here. (10/21)

Editor's Note: The author of this op-ed, Richard Muller, was formerly a high-profile skeptic who was criticized for accepting a research grant for this long-term warming study from the Koch Bros., who hoped he'd disprove the global-warming phenomenon. (10/21).

Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Program Featured at MSRP Event (Source: MSRP)
The Missile, Space and Range Pioneers will sponsor their annual Fall Banquet on Nov. 18 at Florida Tech in Melbourne. This year's event will feature a presentation by Sierra Nevada Corp's Kevin Clinton, the company's Launch Vehicle Integration Lead for the Dream Chaser program. Clinton will be responsible for integrating the Dream Chaser atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas-5 rockets. Click here. (10/21)

Innovators Sought for DARPA Satellite Servicing Technology Program (Source: DARPA)
More than $300 billion worth of satellites are estimated to be in the geosynchronous orbit (GEO—22,000 miles above the earth). Many of these satellites have been retired due to normal end-of-useful-life, obsolescence or failure; yet many still have valuable components, such as antennas, that could last much longer than the life of the satellite. When satellites in GEO “retire,” they are put into a GEO disposal or “graveyard” orbit.

That graveyard potentially holds tens to more than a hundred retired satellites that have components that could be repurposed – with the willing knowledge and sanction of the satellite’s owner. Today, DoD deploys new, replacement satellites at high cost—one of the primary drivers of the high cost is the launch costs, which is dependent on the weight and volume of antennas. The repurposing of existing, retired antennas from the graveyard represents a potential for significant cost savings. Click here. (10/21)

Huntsville Space Professionals Sets Sunday Meeting on New Space Business (Source: Huntsville Times)
Huntsville Space Professionals, a coalition of aerospace workers begun during 2010's NASA layoffs and expanded to include numerous space industry partners, is hosting a town hall meeting Sunday to promote the city as a prime location for commercial space development. The meeting is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Among commercial companies scheduled to attend is Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic has already been given a NASA contract for one demonstration flight and is expected to discuss job opportunities at its manufacturing division, meeting organizers said. The event is free and open to the public. (10/21)

Thousands of Dreams to Fly (Source: Xinhua)
The dreams of more than 40,000 people will be stored as text and video on a chip and sent into space along with Shenzhou VIII spacecraft next month. The Shenzhou VIII is slated to take off in the first half of next month from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to complete China's first spacecraft rendezvous and docking mission with the Tiangong-1 space module, which was launched on Sep. 29.

The 42,891 dreams were selected from a pool of 12 million in line with the criteria of "positive and passionate", said Feng Chunping, president of China Space News, the activity sponsor, at a ceremony on Thursday. Proposed by netizens, university students and children from orphanages, most dreams expressed longing for space, hopes for a stronger nation, and a greener and better society, she said. (10/21)

Space Weather Forecasters Get Serious (Source: Science)
It took a while, but space physicists who predict immense balls of solar debris smashing into Earth have finally caught up with their brethren who forecast terrestrial weather. Rather than simply relying on rules of thumb, space weather forecasters have begun running a computer model that actually simulates the development of conditions between the sun and Earth. They're following the lead of atmospheric weather forecasters, who have been using computer models since the 1960s. Warnings of when solar storms will strike Earth are already much improved.

The better the warning of major solar storms, the better earthlings can prepare for the consequences, which can include electrically fried satellites, degraded GPS navigation, and widespread blackouts. The culprit is a magnetic bubble of tens of millions of tons of protons and the like blown off the sun at several million kilometers per hour. It might seem easy enough to keep track of something that big, but observation platforms between the sun and Earth are few and far between. And the choppy sea of magnetic fields and charged particles that the ejected bubbles plow through can slow and deflect the bubbles. Click here. (10/21)

Women in Aerospace (WIA) Accepting Scholarship Applications (Source: WIA)
At least one award of $1000 will be given to a rising senior in college, to be applied to the 2013-2014 academic year. Candidates must be females interested in pursuing a career in aerospace. Click here. (10/21)

First Soyuz Launches From French Guiana Spaceport (Source: Reuters)
A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully blasted off from French Guiana on Friday bearing the first two satellites in Europe's Galileo global positioning system, a much-heralded mission that will redraw commercial competition in space. The launch from Europe's spaceport in South America was the first time that Soyuz, which first flew in 1966 and traces its roots back to the earliest Cold War intercontinental ballistic missiles, has taken off from outside its old Soviet Union bases. (10/21)

Senators Recognize Contributions of Stennis Space Center to Gulf Coast (Source: Sen. Wicker)
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and David Vitter (R-LA) on Wednesday introduced a resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of the John C. Stennis Space Center. The resolution recognizes Stennis Space Center’s economic impact to the Gulf Coast region. On October 25, 1961, NASA formerly announced plans to establish a testing facility in Hancock County. Today, Stennis employs more than 5,000 and is home to approximately 30 federal, state, academic, and private organizations. (10/21)

Could Space Exploration Prove Atheists Wrong? (Source: CBN)
Now that NASA has ended its space shuttle program, many wonder what's next for space exploration. Dr. Hugh Ross, founder and president of Reasons To Believe, says returning to the moon offers the most intriguing potential for scientific discovery. He discusses the link between the Bible and some of today's scientific questions and talks about the future of space exploration and also why Christians shouldn't be offended by or disinterested in science. Click here. (10/21)

2011: A Space Odyssey Fit for Two (Source: China Daily)
Most Chinese middle school students are familiar with the story of Wan Hu, who tried to become the world's first "astronaut". He was a smart and fantastic carpenter, and some scholars believe he was a minor Chinese official of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). He invented the first rocket chair, a device designed to take him into the sky.

China's pride in four great inventions - paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass - extends to the country's having the first recorded "astronaut". However, after those students are enrolled in colleges, or even earlier, they are likely to be made aware that the origin of modern rocket science and technology is rooted in Europe.
This two-pronged knowledge helps to improve mutual understanding of Chinese and Europeans.

When Chinese reflect on the space achievements of their compatriots, they feel pride in ancient Chinese scientific glory. At the same time they have subtle respect for Europe, the cradle of modern space technology. By and large, Europeans would be unaware of the multiplicity of thought and feelings by Chinese on this matter. Click here. (10/21)

At Spaceflight Symposium, a Plan for Flying Saucers (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Flying saucers were once the stuff of fantasy. But now they're on the verge of becoming reality. And they may be on their way to Spaceport America, said one visiting company Thursday, the final day of this week's international spaceflight symposium in Las Cruces. Ten-foot-diameter, two-passenger flying saucers are being developed by the California-based Moller International.

They lift straight off the ground, like a helicopter, and can reach heights of 5,000 feet and speeds of up to 100 mph, said Lindsay O'Brien Quarrie, chairman of Space Sciences Corp., distributor for the aircraft. "We're hoping to fly this at the spaceport in 2012," said Quarrie, whose company is based just north of Socorro. The company has submitted a proposal to become part of Spaceport America's visitor experience. The saucers would give tourists who aren't traveling to suborbital space something to do at the site, Quarrie said. (10/21)

Wernicke: To the Moon -- and Way Beyond (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
In their hearts, the kind of people who drove man's early steps into space believed that space exploration is not just important, but necessary, for one overriding reason: Mankind must go in space because it is there, and because our curiosity about existence — to explore the universe — is the animating drive of our being. These people, however, are not actually in charge of our space program.

Trace it all the way back, and the people in charge are those with their hands on the dollars, which, compared to our other endeavors — those related to politicians' re-election — have been doled out in parsimoniously small amounts for space exploration. Still, great things have been accomplished — we have walked on the moon, built and operated the Shuttle, sent probes to the far reaches of the solar system and peered deep into the universe through the Hubble telescope, perhaps the greatest machine ever built.

But the Shuttle program is ended, and Hubble's orbit slowly decays toward its final, fiery re-entry into the atmosphere. Where is NASA taking us now? That is the question people like Charles F. Kennel are trying to answer, and he will discuss the problem Tuesday night in the ongoing public lecture series at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. His talk: "NASA at mid-life: The future of human space exploration." (10/21)

NASA's Wallops Facility is Possible Site for Navy Landings (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
The Navy has decided to study NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore as a potential site for practice landings by pilots based at Norfolk Naval Station. The service said the decision is not the result of a whistle-blower complaint that Wallops was previously ignored as an option. Instead, the move comes after officials at Wallops sent a letter to the Navy in August requesting that it consider the NASA runway, according to a Navy news release. (10/21)

India, France Look to Another Satellite Launch (Source: Economic Times)
Fresh from the successful launch of the joint space mission for weather observation, India and France today eyed another milestone of a new satellite dedicated to environment monitoring. At the bilateral talks here, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his French counterpart Alain Juppe welcomed the successful launch of Megha-Tropiques satellite for research on climate and weather systems.

"The forthcoming launch of SARAL, a joint satellite to study sea surface altitude would be another milestone in space cooperation," a joint statement issued after the discussions said here. Saral would help ocean scientists gather accurate data on the rise in the sea level which could threaten the low lying and coastal areas of the country. (10/21)

House to Hold Commercial Crew Hearing Next Week (Source: Space Politics)
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is holding a hearing next Wednesday titled “NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program: Accomplishments and Challenges”. Witnesses will include Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, ATK, ULA, and NASA. (10/21)

New Mexico Firms Rocket Unto Commercial Airspace (Source: New Mexico Business Weekly)
The Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo mothership is parked in front of Virgin’s newly inaugurated terminal hanger building at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. Albuquerque-based Satwest, which distributes satellite phones and airtime, will provide payload integration services for experiment-bearing rockets launched from the spaceport in southern New Mexico, and from the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. (10/21)

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