November 11, 2011

Spaceport America Aims to be "Self-Sustained Enterprise" by 2013 (Source:
Spaceport America in New Mexico is preparing for space tourists -- and self-sufficiency. "By December 2013, we have to be totally self-sustaining," said Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. "I'm moving from a state-funded enterprise to a self-sustained enterprise." (11/10)

What to Wear Into the Hostile Realms of Space (Source: Popular Science)
Whether it’s the early French balloonists bringing capsules of breathable air with them or it’s the Mongolfier brothers trying to burn sheep dung to keep their vital airs alive in the early days of ballooning, up to the present day, space is actually defined as an environment to which we cannot be suited—that is to say, fit. Just like a business suit suits you to have a business meeting with a banker, a spacesuit suits you to enter this environment that is otherwise inhospitable to human occupation.

From that—the idea of suiting—you also get to the idea of fashion. Of course, this notion of the suited astronaut is an iconic and heroic figure, but there is actually some irony in that. For instance, the word cyborg originated in the Apollo program, in a proposal by a psycho-pharmacologist and a cybernetic mathematician who conceived of this notion that the body itself could be, in their words, reengineered for space. Click here. (11/11)

Enterprise: Abort Landing (Source: Toledo Blade)
If, as it now appears, New York's successful bid to house a retired space shuttle was made under false pretenses, NASA should award the shuttle to another city — preferably Dayton. NASA awarded the shuttle Atlantis to KSC in Florida, Endeavor to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and Discovery to the Smithsonian in Washington. Enterprise, already at the Smithsonian, would find a new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York.

Within months, it became clear that the Intrepid's winning proposal had the substance of a vapor trail. The plan the museum submitted was unworkable — something the museum and NASA should have known. Now the museum has a new plan that includes building a separate museum across a busy highway from the original waterfront site. The New York Post estimated the cost of the new museum at $85 million, including $45 million in public money, none of which the museum has.

The museum doesn't own the site in Hell's Kitchen, where Enterprise would share space with warehouses and a strip club. The New York Department of Transportation is not sure it wants to turn over the Manhattan property. If the museum can obtain the land, it would have to be rezoned. If the land is rezoned, millions would have to be raised to build the new museum. And the museum would take months to build. Enterprise would sit in storage in an airport hangar for two years — and perhaps longer. (11/11)

Will Israeli Flag be the Third on Moon? (Source: Israel National News)
An Israeli nonprofit team of young scientists is participating in the competition for the Google Lunar X Prize – a $30 million contest for landing an unmanned vehicle on the moon and transmitting still images and video back to earth.

The team wants the Israeli flag to be the third national flag to land on the moon – after the USSR and the USA (Soviet probes painted with the country's flag landed on the moon's surface before the US sent its astronauts to plant the American flag there). The SpaceIl team founded by Yariv Bash, Kfir Dimri and Yehonatan Weintraub is the only Israeli team in the competition. It faces about 20 teams from other countries. (11/11)

SwRI Scientists Advancing Commercial Space Flights (Source: San Antonio Business Journal)
Two Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) researchers have evaluated the commercial pressure suits that will be used as part of the institute’s planned suborbital space flight. Alan Stern and Dan Durda traveled to the NASTAR Center outside Philadelphia to run a series of tests on Nov. 2 that closely mimicked launches and re-entries aboard suborbital spacecraft. The tests demonstrated that the pressure suits, manufactured by the David Clark Co., could be used successfully in flight. (11/11)

Show Explores How Space Industry is Taking Off Again in Southern California (Source: KCET)
This week SoCal Connected takes a look at how Southern California has become the hub of space exploration, with the highest concentration of private space travel companies in the world located in the Mojave Desert, as well as how one lucky Los Angeles museum won the keys to the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

With NASA out of the space business, the industry has gone private. Correspondent Vince Gonzalez explores how the US government is looking to private businesses such as Richard Branson's 'Virgin Galactic' and Elon Musk's 'Space X' to take over the future of space travel. Anyone who can afford the $200,000 ticket can now experience outer space. So Cal Connected travels to Mojave Desert, where the new center for private space travel is taking flight. (11/11)

Former NASA Engineer Gets 14 Months for Selling High-Tech Components to South Korea (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
A former NASA engineer will spend slightly more than a year in prison - far below federal sentencing guidelines - for illegally selling components for night-vision scopes to a South Korean defense contractor. Kue Sang Chun, 67, could have received up to three years and five months in a federal prison. U.S. District Judge James Gwin gave him 14 months, citing the "non-threatening" nature of the technology, and South Korea's ally status with the United States government.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kern acknowledged that Chun cooperated with prosecutors, but objected to the light sentence. In a memo to the judge, Kern quoted the U.S. State Department's opinion that the night-vision technology could be applied to infantry rifles, and was "not in the interest of U.S. national security" if released to South Korea. (11/11)

Giant Planet Ejected From Solar System (Source: SwRI)
Just as an expert chess player sacrifices a piece to protect the queen, the solar system may have given up a giant planet and spared the Earth. "We have all sorts of clues about the early evolution of the solar system," says Dr. David Nesvorny. "They come from the analysis of the trans-Neptunian population of small bodies known as the Kuiper Belt, and from the lunar cratering record."

These clues suggest that the orbits of giant planets were affected by a dynamical instability when the solar system was only about 600 million years old. As a result, the giant planets and smaller bodies scattered away from each other. (11/11)

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