December 4, 2011

Indian TV Channels Face Blackout as Satellite Lifespan Ends (Source: Financial Express)
After DTH operators, now broadcasters face spectrum crunch and lack of Indian satellites. With its 12-year life having ended four days ago, there is panic among three-dozen regional and national broadcasters hosted on Indian Space Research Organisation satellite INSAT-2E.

Launched in April 1999, INSAT-2E's 12-year life span has now ended as a result these broadcasters now face a real threat of a blackout unless they manage to shift to foreign satellites. Sources said ISRO has asked all such private broadcasters to find their own satellites and shift. Normally, all broadcasters and their teleport operators have to go through ISRO when moving to a foreign satellite. (12/4)

'Arseniclife' Bug Lacks Arsenic in Genome's DNA (Source: USA Today)
Visions of aliens danced in a lot of heads last December, when NASA held a press conference, promising an "astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." What scientists disclosed was the discovery of a bacteria, pulled from California's Mono Lake, that added deadly arsenic to the list of six basic elements believed needed for life — carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus. The idea that a microbe could bring poisonous arsenic into its DNA and thrive threw the conventions of biology on its head.

NASA was interested because even skeptical scientists such as Steven Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, (who served as the token critic on the space agency panel presenting the results) pointed out that if life on Earth could thrive on something as nasty as arsenic, the opportunities for life on other worlds seemed much more expansive. (12/4)

Astrium Advances Development of Evolved Ariane 5 (Source: Astrium)
The European Space Agency (ESA) has approved the Ariane 5 ME project after successful conclusion of its Preliminary Design Review, offering an increase of 20% in performance levels and a 20% reduction in cost per kilogram of payload. The new development project is being managed by Astrium, prime contractor for Ariane since 2003. The decision to commit to the complete development of the Ariane 5 ME program will be submitted to the ESA Council for a decision during its Ministerial meeting planned for the end of 2012. (12/4)

Rocket City Space Pioneers Release Free iPad Application (Source: Dynetics)
The Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP), the Huntsville-centric team competing in the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, invite you to launch a rocket from Rocket City to the moon, land on the moon and explore the moon to meet your mission objectives. RCSP’s new iPad game is now available at the App Store. The game can be downloaded here. (12/4)

Astrobotic Wins NASA Contract for Robot Teams to Explore Martian and Lunar Caves (Source: Astrobotic)
NASA selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. for a contract to develop robotic teams to explore extensive caves on Mars, the Moon, and other planetary destinations. Astrobotic will develop robots that cooperate to overcome the challenges of underground planetary missions: no light for solar power, radio communications blocked by rock, and mobility challenged by rough terrain.

Through a subcontract to Carnegie Mellon University, the research will build on multi-robot and subterranean robot research pioneered at CMU to improve capabilities and reduce risk of failure relative to single-robot missions. Selection by NASA will be followed by a negotiation period before the $125,000 contract is formally awarded to the company. (12/4)

BOOSTER Group Plans Reusable Suborbital Spaceplane (Source: HobbySpace)
The BOOSTER consortium is developing a suborbital rocket powered aircraft for the carriage of passengers and research payloads into space. We are not inventing new technology. Our innovation has been the combination of existing hardware and technologies through the involvement of a prestigious international consortium of aerospace companies. We are ready to take you into space within a few years’ time: on Personal Journeys; for Research; for Business; for Exploration and Discovery. This video shows the air-launch vehicle concept in operation at Kennedy Space Center. Some names affiliated with BOOSTER include Pratt & Whitney, QinetiQ, and the Tauri Group. (12/4)

Indonesia: Space Still Final Frontier for Local Legislation (Source: Jakarta Globe)
A bill governing Indonesia’s space policy is set to be submitted to the House of Representatives soon, more than a decade after it was first conceived. Thomas Djamaluddin, the deputy head of science, assessment and aerospace information at the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), said the draft bill was close to completion.

He said the need for legislation on what types of objects were allowed into orbit, how to manage launches and other space issues was growing more urgent. The bill, Thomas went on, regulates matters on space development and technology. He said the legislation had two functions: To set long-term goals for the country’s space interests and to protect the people. (12/4)

Bolden: NASA Sets Sights of Space Program on Extraordinary, Distant Horizons (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a bipartisan congressional event that reaffirmed several of the most enduring and empowering characteristics of the American spirit -- our innate curiosity, courage to explore and thirst for knowledge. A former space shuttle pilot and commander, I was inspired to join NASA's astronaut corps in 1980 in part because of the trailblazing exploits of John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Click here. (12/4)

Teacher Trainees at Palm Beach Atlantic Get Moon Rock Certified (Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
South Florida science classes may soon be sprinkled with a little moon dust. Students studying to be elementary school teachers at Palm Beach Atlantic University have been trained by NASA to use lunar rocks and meteorite samples in classroom instruction. Astronauts collected the moon rocks during the Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, and NASA lends the out to certified educators.

Aerospace Education Specialist Les Gold held two training workshops this semester, telling the students the moon rocks were "irreplaceable national treasures" and they must follow strict guidelines for use and storage. Certified teachers can borrow for up to two weeks at-a-time a lunar rock disc, a meteorite disc or both through NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Each disc contains six samples, which can be viewed with the naked eye or under a microscope. The students will start their student teaching next semester. (12/4)

Redistricting Plan Could Cut Florida Space Support (Source: Florida Today)
The space program can use all the advocates it can get in the United States Congress. So, it’s troubling to learn that Brevard County might — under an early redistricting plan coming out of the Legislature — be represented by one person instead of two in the U.S. House of Representatives. In short, that could mean one less representative with a clear connection to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and thousands of space workers.

Rep. Sandy Adams, whose district is potentially shifting out of Brevard, serves on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, a potentially influential spot with oversight and budget sway over NASA’s programs. Rep. Bill Posey currently doesn’t serve on that committee, though if this map change goes through, one would hope someone representing the Cape would be assigned to the committee dealing with space policy. ...It might make sense overall on a map, but it could also be another blow to the political coalition needed to maintain our space program. (12/4)

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