November 25, 2011

Soyuz Rocket with Glonass-M Satellite Positioned for Launch in Plesetsk (Source: Itar-Tass)
A Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle was positioned for launch at the Plesetsk spaceport on Friday. A full series of tests is being run, Russian Space Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin told Itar-Tass on Friday. “A state commission authorized the rocket’s pre-launch positioning yesterday,” he said. “The Soyuz-2.1b with a Glonass-M navigation satellite will take off on November 28, 2011,” he said. (11/25)

The New Cosmodome: An Exclusive Virtual Concept in Canada (Source: CNW)
Members of the media are cordially invited to a news conference and to view a demonstration of the new virtual space adventure concept at the Cosmodome on Nov. 28. After 17 years of existence, the Cosmodome has undergone an extensive makeover so that it can more effectively stimulate interest in astronautics and space exploration among visitors of all ages.

The Cosmodome has been renovated to accommodate a genuine boarding platform leading to 17 futuristic galleries where visitors can experience three virtual space missions of 60 minutes each. Sylvain Bélair will introduce the new Cosmodome, which promises to become a world-class destination for recreotourism and scientific culture. He will be accompanied by Michelle Courchesne, Minister responsible for Government Administration and for the Laval region, and Gilles Vaillancourt, Mayor of Laval. (11/25)

Time and Outer Space (Source: Gulf News)
You might be forgiven if the term "outer space" conjures up images of spaceships, wobbly astronauts attired in bulging space suits and helmets looking like fish bowls, and also, inevitably, the eerie creatures we tend to call "aliens". This, you might surmise, could be the world of an incumbent responsible for our planet's "outer space affairs". But wait until you meet Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist who works as the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA).

She has the additional title of deputy director-general of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. "Of course I have not been appointed an ambassador or a UN envoy for extraterrestrial contact. I am not looking after our planet's relations with outer space and the aliens, as we know from sci-fi films," she says in an interview with Weekend Review. "This is not true. It was a rumour started by a journalist in one of the newspapers, and I denied that." (11/25)

Costa Rica: Chang Arranges Opportunities for Students (Source: Tico Times)
Two Costa Rican high school students with the right stuff will be awarded scholarships to attend space school for two weeks at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in the United States, in August 2012. There, students will work in multicultural teams to plan a mission to Mars while attending physics, biology and chemistry classes and meeting with mentors and advisers. Zero gravity, propulsion systems and space law are just some of the subjects they will study.

This is the second consecutive year that Strategy XXI Century, BAC San José, United Airlines and the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center have sponsored the scholarships. Currently, Costa Rica is the only Central American country that offers this program. Chang believes the scholarship program will benefit Costa Rica by producing more prepared professionals by the year 2050. (11/25)

Aerojet Completes Design Testing for Orion Thruster Engine (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Aerojet, with Lockheed Martin and NASA, has successfully completed vibration, shock and hot fire design verification testing on its first MR-104G monopropellant rocket engine planned for use on NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Twelve 160-lbf thrust MR-104G engines, arranged in four single-engine pods and four dual-engine pods, provide the full complement of primary and redundant control required for critical maneuvers upon a high-speed re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. (11/25)

ESA Station Unable to Establish New Link with Phobos-Grunt (Source: ESA)
After establishing contact with Russia's Phobos-Grunt Mars mission earlier this week, ESA's tracking station in Australia received no signal from the spacecraft last night. ESA engineers are investigating the cause in close collaboration with Russian mission controllers. Despite listening intently during four scheduled communication passes during the night of 24–25 November, ESA's 15 m-diameter dish antenna in Australia, did not receive any signals. (11/25)

Thales Alenia To Build, China To Launch Turkmenistan’s First Satellite (Source: Space News)
Turkmenistan’s first telecommunications satellite will be launched aboard a Chinese Long March rocket and built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Germany under separate agreements concluded by Turkmen authorities on Nov. 23 and Nov. 20, respectively. The satellite will be placed into an orbital slot controlled by the government of Monaco. (11/25)

O’Keefe Named Chairman of National Defense Industry Association (Source: Parabolic Arc)
EADS North America Chief Executive Officer and former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe is the new Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). Prior to becoming CEO of EADS North America in November 2009, O’Keefe served as a company officer and Vice President of the General Electric Company in the Technology Infrastructure sector, leading the Washington operations of the GE Aviation business. From 2005 to 2008, he served as Chancellor of the Louisiana State University. (11/25)

Toy Stores Missing NASA Mars Rover (Source: Collect Space)
In the days leading to the launch of NASA's new Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), space agency officials have used a scale model of the car-size rover to show how the six-wheeled spacecraft works. And near the launch site at the visitor center where the public will gather on Saturday (Nov. 26) to watch the liftoff, a toy model of the rover is on display.

But those hoping to go home with their own miniature MSL rover as a memento or as a means to engage their kids in the mission are out of luck. If there ever was a NASA rover that has lent itself more to being a toy — but is not one — it is NASA's MSL, named "Curiosity." (11/25)

Space Industry Unites in Criticism of ITAR Restrictions (Source: Flight Global)
Spaceport Sweden's chief executive Karin Nilsdotter set out the challenges of running the spaceport. Sweden would gladly welcome more space business. "However," says Nilsdotter "we have one major, big challenge in doing so. And it spells..." On the projection screen, a slide came up displaying the word ITAR, drawing laughs. "It's also a limiting factor for the US," she continued. "You are limiting [your own] market. There's a hungry world out there, guys." The crowd applauded.

ITAR stands for International Trafficking in Arms Regulations, and nominally refers to provisions in the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA), which imposed restrictions on certain weapons, technical and duel-use systems. AECA authorises the administration to enforce two lists: first, the commerce controlled list (CCL), which denotes that a product is commercially sensitive; second, the United States munition list (USML), which regulates items that could be used as weapons.

USML is the most restrictive list, requiring strict licenses not just to sell a controlled item, but to even talk about it. Even relatively simple clearances can take months to wind their way through the US Departments of State, Commerce and Defense. Click here. (11/25)

Indy Winner Rathmann, Friend of Astronauts, Dies (Source: Florida Today)
Jim Rathmann made his mark in the world of sports cars, manned spaceflight and business. Rathmann, who won the 1960 Indianapolis 500, died Wednesday at a Brevard County hospice. After moving to the Space Coast, Rathmann quickly became friends with many of the early astronauts who were training at Cape Canaveral. Through Cole, he arranged a deal where where the astronauts could lease Chevys for very little money.

And so was born the legend of the astronauts holding midnight races of Corvettes at the Cape, something famously documented in Tom Wolfe’s book, “The Right Stuff.” Often, Rathmann was among those doing the racing. Rumor has it that a Rathmann dealership decal was affixed to one of the Lunar Rovers. (11/25)

Boynton Beach Man To Help Lead NASA Tweetup (Source: WPBF)
A Boynton Beach man is about to make history and become part of a tweetup team chosen to send messages from Cape Canaveral this week. Anthony Bosio is a Web developer at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Bosio is one of 150 people selected to send Twitter messages when NASA launches the next Mars Rover spacecraft this weekend. Tweeters from as far away as Russia and Australia will participate in the event. (11/25)

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