December 17, 2011

China to Launch Nigerian Satellite on Dec. 19 (Source:
A Chinese Long March 3B rocket will launch the Nigcomsat 1R satellite for Nigeria. Nigcomsat 1R will replace Nigcomsat 1, which failed due to an anomaly in a solar array in 2008. The rocket will fly in the Long March 3B/E configuration with an enlarged first stage and liquid-fueled strap-on boosters. (12/17)

Deep Impact Sets Path for Asteroid Encounter in 2020 (Source:
Flying on its last bit of fuel, NASA's Deep Impact probe is carefully reshaping its course toward a potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid in hopes the spacecraft can survey the body in January 2020. Engineer's don't know if Deep Impact has enough fuel to reach the asteroid, and NASA officials in Washington have not committed to funding the extended mssion. "There is a lot of uncertainty whether we'll be able to pull this off," Tim Larson said. (12/17)

France Launches Spy Satellites Aboard Russian Rocket (Source: Reuters)
The second Russian-built Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana blasted off late on Friday carrying six military spy satellites, space officials said. The rocket blasted off from a launch pad at the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch center near Kourou, French Guiana. About one hour after launch, five of the satellites separated from the rocket.

The first was Pleiades, a one-ton observation satellite to be used extensively by the French defense ministry. Several minutes later, the rocket released four ELISA (Electronic Intelligence by Satellite) demonstrator satellites to test space-based mapping of radar transmitters globally for France's Defense Procurement Agency (DGA). A sixth satellite, for Chile's armed forces, is scheduled for separation at 0639 GMT. The satellites will also have civilian applications. (12/17)

Former Indian President Calls for Formation of World Space Council (Source: New Indian Express)
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Friday called for the formation of a World Space Council of spacefaring nations to oversee space exploration and societal applications of space technology. Kalam said that pooling of resources by spacefaring nations will see a quantum jump in space exploration and will transform space exploration into a low-cost affair.

He elaborated on his World Space Vision 2050, an aim of which is to ensure that Earth, Moon and Mars develop into economic centres of humanity. Kalam said that spacefaring nations should join hands to find solutions to major problems facing mankind such as energy independence, water scarcity, healthcare and education issues and accurate prediction of the weather. (12/17)

Art and Science Collide at Pasadena Gallery (Source: LA Times)
The 'Worlds' exhibit at the Art Center College of Design examines how scientific knowledge shapes our understanding of the world. Meteor rocks, moon portraits and other works are on display. The fist-sized rocks looked completely pedestrian, like something one might find in the backyard. The only hint that they might be exceptional was their location in a gallery at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design, resting on pedestals inside individual display cases.

In fact, the rocks are anything but ordinary — they're borrowed from the UCLA Meteorite Collection. The university had wanted to loan fancier-looking specimens, but curator Stephen Nowlin deliberately chose the least impressive space debris he could find. "I wanted to show that the stuff that comes from space looks just like the stuff you kick around on a hike," he said. (12/17)

Sun Rips Tail From Comet During Solar Close Encounter (Source:
A newfound comet that plunged through the sun's atmosphere Thursday (Dec. 15) — and amazingly survived — was visibly maimed by the encounter, which left the icy wanderer without its long, bright tail, a scientist says. The death-defying comet Lovejoy slipped through the sun's outer atmosphere (called the corona) with a bright tail in tow, only to reappear tailless on the other side. The comet zoomed within 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) of the sun's surface. Instruments called coronographs aboard several sun-watching space observatories caught the unexpected solar sight. (12/17)

Space: The Next Business Frontier (Source: Wall Street Journal)
'I wanted to create a spaceship where myself and my children could go into space, and our friends could go into space," exclaims billionaire CEO Richard Branson with his trademark toothy grin. Coming from someone else, this kind of talk might be considered mildly delusional. But in Mr. Branson's telling it's hard not to believe in the creativity of capitalism to better the world in ways you might not expect. Mr. Branson is in the Steve Jobs category of entrepreneurs—he believes that if he builds it, they will come. Click here. (12/17)

Shuttle Readied for Retirement (Source: Florida Today)
Shuttle Discovery’s payload bay doors were closed and the orbiter powered down for the final time Friday, as preparations continue to ready it for retirement. The shuttle fleet leader, which embarked on its 39th and final mission in February, has been promised to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

KSC workers and journalists gathered inside Kennedy Space Center’s Orbiter Processing Facility-1 Friday to mark the latest retirement milestone. As the nation’s “vehicle of record,” Discovery has undergone far less invasive work than the other orbiters, and will be displayed as intact as possible for historical accuracy.

It is slated to be the first orbiter to leave the Space Coast permanently, with a ferry flight tentatively scheduled for mid-April. That will trigger the transfer of Enterprise, a prototype used in landing drop tests, from the Smithsonian to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York about a week later. (12/17)

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