January 30, 2012

AFCEA Luncheon Planned for Feb. 16 at Patrick AFB (Source: AFCEA)
Carol Craig of Craig Technologies will be featured at the Feb. 16 luncheon of the Canaveral Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications Electronic Association (AFCEA). The event will be held at The Tides club on the beach in front of Patrick Air Force Base. Click here for information and reservations. (1/30)

Gingrich May Have Wrecked Program He Loves (Source: BuzzFeed)
Newt made space “a laughingstock.” “I'm afraid he's poisoned the issue for at least a decade, and really set back the future of human space exploration,” says a Congressional staffer. When a Chinese astronaut is the [next] man on Mars, we may have Newt Gingrich to thank. The lunar enthusiast and presidential candidate launched his personal space program at just the wrong time: As his campaign came crashing down around him in Florida. Space became a symbol not of his vision and optimism, but of his fecklessness. The dream has become, said Adam Keiper, a conservative student of the space program, “a laughingstock.”

Mitt Romney, for one, can’t get enough of the joke. “The idea of the moon as the 51st state is not on my mind,” the former governor said Monday morning in Jacksonville, openly mocking his Republican rival. And on a rare moment that the American space program got broad attention in the popular culture, mockery was everywhere. Now the space program’s best hope for a return is to recapture the imagination of an American public and a president, and Gingrich’s stirring invocations of the Kennedy-era space race seemed its best bet in years.

Instead, a week later, space policy experts and enthusiasts are shaking their heads and tallying the damage. “To treat building a base on the moon as a grandiose joke, as the media and many conservatives are doing, is really sad,” said a senior aide to a member of the pro-space Florida Congressional delegation. “Regardless of what happens to Newt, I'm afraid he's poisoned the issue for at least a decade, and really set back the future of human space exploration.” (1/30)

To the Moon? It's Not That Loony (Source: MSNBC)
GOP hopeful Mitt Romney says that he’d fire anyone who suggested spending hundreds of billions of dollars to build a moon colony — but what about tens of billions of dollars? A former NASA adviser says he and others at the space agency drew up an approach that could put astronauts on the moon for $40 billion, as a “Plan B” for future exploration.

"We figured out at NASA how to do it in about 10 years for $40 billion," said Charles Miller, who recently left NASA and is now president of NextGen Space. "The question is, would Mitt Romney fire me for a proposal to return to the moon for $40 billion?" For a few years, NASA was following a plan to return to the moon by 2020 for $104 billion, through the Constellation program. But Constellation was canceled by President Barack Obama, and the space agency currently is gearing up for an effort to put astronauts on a near-Earth asteroid by the mid-2020s.

Miller and his colleagues on a NASA task force drew up an alternative plan, which they said would provide a less expensive and faster path to deep-space exploration. Rather than building an entirely new type of heavy-lift rocket, NASA would use a series of tried-and-true rockets — perhaps including the U.S. commercial Atlas, Delta and Falcon rockets as well as Europe's Ariane, Japan's H2 and Russia's Soyuz and Zenit rockets. Click here. (1/30)

Newt's Moon Colony: What Would it Cost? (Source: CNN Money)
Newt Gingrich wants to build a permanent colony on the moon and, if his dream is fully realized, the price tag could be huge. But Gingrich has stuck to his guns, saying the initiative will spur innovation and show the world that America is not giving up on space exploration. Of course, John Logsdon said, it's impossible to form a precise cost estimate because Gingrich has left many of the details foggy -- including how many people would make up the colony -- and because many of the products the mission would use may not be invented yet.

Since Gingrich has attributed much of the United States' failure to return to the moon to the bureaucracy of NASA, he will likely try to reduce the space agency's traditionally-high costs by encouraging more private-sector development and revamping the way NASA operates, said Edward Ellegood, a space policy analyst at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "If you take the route NASA has developed, the cost would be very high, but it seems that Gingrich is asking you to throw your current concepts of space exploration out the window ... It sounds like he would completely change the way NASA does business and hopes to reduce costs by doing this," said Ellegood.

"It's a mistake to laugh at Newt Gingrich and discount the concept of a Lunar Base. This isn't funny, this is the future," said Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace. "People I'm sure mocked Columbus and early explorers at the time and how did that work out?" Click here. (1/30)

U.S. Space Commander: Israel Employs Space Advantages (Source: DefPro.com)
Delegations from all around the world attended the Seventh International Ilan Ramon Space Conference. Both Israeli and NASA researches participated in the conference that dealt with international cooperation and recognition. Commander of the US Air Force Space Command, Gen. William Shelton said: "As one of only ten nations on the planet capable of indigenous space launch, Israel is well aware of the advantages that space provides." Israel has nine active satellites currently orbiting in space, according to Shelton. Today there are approximately 1,000 active satellites of various sizes, where the U.S. is responsible for about half of them. (1/30)

Earth's Energy Budget Out of Balance Despite Low Solar Activity (Source: Space Daily)
A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity - not changes in solar activity - are the primary force driving global warming. The study offers an updated calculation of the Earth's energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth's surface and the amount returned to space as heat. The researchers' calculations show that, despite unusually low solar activity between 2005 and 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy than it returned to space. (1/30)

Innovation Nation Versus Welfare/Warfare State (Source: The Atlantic)
Do we want government spending half its money on redistribution and military, or re-dedicating itself to science, infrastructure, and health research? We like to think of ourselves as an innovation nation, but our government is a warfare/welfare state. To build an economy for the 21st century we need to increase the rate of innovation and to do that we need to put innovation at the center of our national vision.

Innovation, however, is not a priority of our massive federal government. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. federal budget, $2.2 trillion annually, is spent on the four biggest warfare and welfare programs, Medicaid, Medicare, Defense and Social Security. In contrast, the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, spends $31 billion annually, and the National Science Foundation spends just $7 billion.

The federal government does spend some money on innovation, but mostly for innovation in warfare. The Department of Defense, for example, spends $78 billion on R&D. Good for the DoD, at least they are thinking about the future. But most defense R&D is for weapons research that is unlikely to generate significant spillovers to other areas of the economy. The basic and applied non-weapons research that has the best chance of creating beneficial spillovers is a small minority of defense R&D. (1/30)

The Need for Real Rocket Science to Solve Russian Spaceflight Setbacks (Source: Space Review)
The failure of Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft remains a mystery even as some Russian officials suggest a foreign power like America may have had a hand in the spacecraft's demise. James Oberg argues that some rational engineering analysis -- aka "rocket science" -- can shed light on the spacecraft's loss and dispel conspiracies. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2016/1 to view the article. (1/30)

Campaign Lunacy (Source: Space Review)
Space, typically an issue that gets very little attention in presidential campaigns, burst into public prominence last week thanks to a series of debate questions and speeches. Jeff Foust reports on how Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and other Republican candidates outlined their views on space, and what they also left out. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2015/1 to view the article. (1/30)

Not Evolution -- Revolution (Source: Space Review)
The press and public do not seem to be accepting Newt Gingrich's position on space policy. Sam Dinkin discusses the implication for the transition to low-cost space access. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2014/1 to view the article. (1/30)

The Geometry of Shadows (Source: Space Review)
The National Reconnaissance Office recently released a selection of images taken from the newly-declassified GAMBIT and HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite programs. Dwayne Day examines the relevance of those images to American space and defense efforts from the 1960s to the 1980s. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2013/1 to view the article. (1/30)

In NASA Country Doubts About Gingrich's Moon Base (Source: Texas Tribune)
For members of Texas' Houston-based aerospace industry, Gingrich's moon dream — one he hopes to make a reality by 2020 — is a plan unlikely to take off, especially given the country's economic concerns, and the fact that NASA ended its manned space flight program in July. “If all mankind put their effort into [colonization], then sure, but not in today's economy and with everything that we've got going on,” said Wallace Fowler, director of the Texas Space Grant Consortium, adding, “I’d be surprised if we had 13 people on the moon by 2020, visiting the moon for two days each and then coming back home."

The decision to end NASA's space flight program — while sad to generations of Americans who grew up watching men and women blast off into space, didn't necessarily spell the end of space exploration, said Paula Korn, director of communications at Boeing's Houston-based Space Exploration division. It just means there's a higher financial and political threshold to meet.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission's most recent data, there are more than 4,000 aerospace engineers in the Gulf Coast region. Both Boeing and NASA are continuing work on the $100 billion International Space Station, including prototyping and exploration beyond the station. Korn says Texas-based aerospace engineers are already working on new rockets to take flights — possibly manned — to asteroids or even Mars. (1/30)

Honeywell Reports Q4 Loss of $310 Million (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Honeywell International reported a loss of $310 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $369 million for the same quarter the previous year. The manufacturer took a pension accounting charge for the quarter. (1/30)

Space Travel, Moon Base Emerge as Wedge in Florida Primary Race (Source: FOX News)
As Mitt Romney tries to bring Newt Gingrich back to earth, the former House speaker is standing by his high-flying plans to ensure America is at the cutting edge of space exploration. And the issue, likely more important in the Florida election than any other primary-season contest, has exposed a deep divide between the two front-running Republican presidential candidates.

While Gingrich is floating space-travel plans at a staggering rate -- even for a candidate who's been teased for his frequently "grandiose" proposals -- Romney is proudly tamping down the dream. After ridiculing Gingrich on Thursday for pushing expensive and allegedly outlandish proposals, the former Massachusetts governor on Friday suggested Gingrich was pandering. And, Romney conceded, he does not really have a space plan. Not yet, anyway. Rather, Romney committed to carefully creating one once he's president. Click here. (1/30)

NASA Releases First Multi-Player Facebook Game (Source: NASA)
Who was the first American to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket? In what movie did O.J. Simpson play NASA astronaut? If you know the answers to these questions, or are just curious to find out, you're ready to play Space Race Blastoff, NASA's first online game for the social media age.

Available through its own Facebook page, Space Race Blastoff pits players in remote locations in a test of their knowledge of NASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players who correctly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASA astronauts, spacecraft and astronomical objects. Players also earn points they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets that earn premium badges. Click here. (1/30)

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Suspended for Bill Padding (Source: Daily Wildcat)
The Defense Ministry of Japan and two other government entities have suspended Mitsubishi Electric Corp. as a designated contractor because the company has been found to have inflated invoices, the ministry has announced. The ministry, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center made the announcements and suspended the company Friday for unspecified periods. The ministry added that Mitsubishi contacted it to admit the allegations the same day.

The government entities allege the company inflated the number of workers and days required for projects in contracts and inflated invoices sent to the three entities. The three said they will investigate the company’s actions further, including how many projects were padded, the amounts of overestimated payments and other details. (1/30)

Iran Delegation Pushes for Overhaul of Satellite Registry Rules (Source: Space News)
The Iranian delegation to a conference of global satellite regulators has proposed to scrap the current system of assigning orbital positions and broadcast frequencies, saying the process is fraught with abuse and has an inherent bias against less-developed nations. The proposal, which sent shockwaves through the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) being held in Geneva from Jan. 23 to Feb. 17, would put an end to a half-century of telecommunications satellite regulation, Iranian and other officials said.

In its place would be a set of procedures that a senior Iranian official conceded are still evolving. Iran’s first objective would be to revamp a system in which a single nation, sometimes acting on behalf of a single satellite operator, is able to lock up dozens of orbital positions for years, preventing others from developing them, even when the company in question has no real intention of placing satellites at the registered slots. (1/30)

New Director of Israel Space Administration Appointed (Source: Israel National News)
Menachem Kidron has been appointed head of the Israel Space Administration, replacing Zvi Kaplan, who resigned three months ago. Kidron's appointment was announced Sunday by Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz. The announcement was made Sunday at a conference sponsored by the Fisher Space and Air Institute, which is holding an annual conference on space travel. Kidron is former deputy director of the space division of Israel Military Industries. (1/30)

Virginia Spaceport Chief to Retire (Source: DailyPress.com)
The man leading Virginia's charge into space is eyeing retirement, a management change that comes as the state prepares to invest millions of dollars to create the nation's premiere spaceport. Billie M. Reed has overseen nearly all aspects of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport since Virginia lawmakers decided to build the facility 17 years ago. Last month, he notified the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority board of directors that he plans to step down as its executive director.

"It's hard to say when. But let's face it, I'm well past retirement," said Reed, who is in his late 60s. A former Navy officer and current professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Reed has not submitted a resignation letter. Nevertheless, the board formed a committee to search for his replacement. J. Jack Kennedy, a former state lawmaker who serves on the board, said in an email that he anticipates Reed will retire in late 2012. He expects the board will retain Reed as a consultant. (1/30)

Search for Aliens Is on Again, but Next Quest Is Finding Money (Source: New York Times)
E.T. might be phoning, but do we care enough to take the call? Operating on money and equipment scrounged from the public and from Silicon Valley millionaires, and on the stubborn strength of their own dreams, a band of astronomers recently restarted one of the iconic quests of modern science, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — SETI, for short — which had been interrupted last year by a lack of financing. Click here. (1/30)

Orion Test to Reach Deep Space — With Broad NASA Implications (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
There's no firm date yet, but sometime in early 2014, NASA intends to take its first major step toward rebuilding its human spaceflight program. The milestone is the maiden test flight of its Orion spacecraft, a launch that has come into sharper relief in the three months since NASA and manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced it. As planned, an unmanned Orion capsule will begin its journey at Cape Canaveral and take two loops around Earth before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. What's now clear is that the capsule will be sent into deep space, far beyond the lower Earth orbit of the International Space Station.

At its peak, Orion's orbit is expected to extend nearly 3,700 miles from Earth — the farthest a NASA spacecraft built for humans has gone since the early 1970s. That distance is "significantly higher than human spaceflight has gone since Apollo," said Larry Price, Orion deputy program manager at Lockheed Martin. "The reason for that is so we can get a high-energy entry so we can stress the heat shield." Key is whether Orion can survive the brutal re-entry into Earth's atmosphere — where temperatures are expected to reach 4,000 degrees. (1/30)

Tea Party In Space (TPIS) Officially Endorses Gingrich (Source: TPIS)
Tea Party in Space (TPIS) is excited to endorse Newt Gingrich for President of the United States. Mr. Gingrich is the only candidate who consistently articulates a bright vision for future American space exploration and settlement. Mr. Gingrich’s unique approach of utilizing the government and private sector is exactly what NASA needs. (1/30)

Japan's Next Asteroid Probe Approved for Development (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Japanese government officials last weeek gave the green light to Hayabusa 2, a robotic explorer due for launch in 2014 on a journey to retrieve and return rocks from a near-Earth asteroid. The Space Activities Commission, a board governing funding for the Japanese space program, formally approved the Hayabusa 2 mission last week. The decision came after a 2010 ruling that directed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to continue preliminary design of the probe. (1/30)

Europeanized Upper Stage Sought for Vega as Maiden Flight Nears (Source: Space News)
European Space Agency (ESA) governments will be asked to finance only minor modifications to Europe’s new Vega small-satellite launcher when they meet November, with the main goal to position Vega as a fully European vehicle, Vega officials said Jan. 24. These officials said any Vega plans assume a largely trouble-free inaugural flight, now scheduled for mid-February.

ESA governments, after adjusting Vega’s budget for inflation in 2007, expected to spend about 600 million euros ($800 million at current exchange rates) on Vega’s development, a figure that includes the inaugural flight. ESA governments also approved a five-flight Vega qualification program, which secured 400 million euros of financing at 2007 rates, or 450 million euros adjusted for inflation. In an unusual development, Vega prime contractor Avio SpA of Italy contributed 76 million euros, based on loans from the Italian government, to the Vega program. (1/30)

The Era of Falling Spacecraft (Source: Al Jazeera)
Who was to blame for the latest Russian launch failure on November 8? Was the spacecraft's upper stage rocket faulty? Or did something (or someone) "kill" the probe's electronics before it had the opportunity to boost its way out of orbit and on to Mars? The answer to this question highlights two things: A failing Russian space industry and a heavy dose of Russia-US distrust. Click here. (1/30)

Krauthammer: Moon Base Proposal Was Newt's 'Dukakis in the Tank Moment' (Source: Daily Caller)
Declaring NASA would have a moon base by the end of his second term, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last week made space exploration part of his campaign. But not everyone is impressed with Gingrich’s bold plans for the year 2020. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said the moon base idea could be the beginning of the end for the Gingrich campaign.

“I think the moon base was Newt jumping the shark, or to use another analogy, it could have been his Dukakis in the tank moment, because it was a caricature of him,” Krauthammer said. “And Romney used it cleverly to say that Newt was going out around every state promising x, y, and z. And of course, on the space coast in Florida, he would appeal to them.” (1/30)

A U.S. Moon Colony? Does Gingrich's Idea Have a Legal Basis? (Source: The Conversation)
Gingrich’s proposal raises interesting legal issues that go to the very heart of how humankind’s past, present and future activities in outer space are to be regulated. The law of outer space has developed as a discrete body of law within general public international law. Since the launch of Sputnik 1 by the USSR in October 1957, this process of evolution has been remarkably rapid, largely driven by the need to agree on rules to regulate activities in this new “frontier”.

The international regulation of outer space is primarily governed by a series of United Nations Treaties, the first of which, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, represents a framework instrument that sets out the basic parameters for outer space activities. The treaty confirms that outer space is regarded in law as a “global commons” – an area beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any one state (country). Instead, it is an area belonging to humanity, which has a significant interest in ensuring that the commons is not destroyed (think, for example, of another commons, the high seas, and the international laws that strictly control pollution of that area).

The legal characterisation of outer space encompasses a fundamental rule – the so-called “non-appropriation” principle. In general terms, this confirms that outer space (which includes the moon and other celestial bodies) is not to be subject to ownership rights; it prohibits, among other things, any sovereign or territorial claims to outer space. (It also applies to claims made by private entities that they somehow “own” parts of space). Click here. (1/30)

A 2008 Space Recommendation to Candidate Obama (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the 2008 presidential campaign, among the space policy recommendations offered by Florida space advocates to then-Senator Barack Obama was one focused on updating international space treaties to encourage commercial lunar development:

"A series of international treaties, based in part on maritime and Antarctic treaties, has guided international policies on the use of space. The Moon, Mars, and asteroids are treated similar to Antarctica in that no government may claim them, but non-government property rights (say, for lunar mining) are arguably allowed. The ambiguity of these policies can discourage large-scale commercial and government-backed space ventures. The Obama Administration should put the U.S. at the forefront of efforts to modernize international treaties that will incentivize foreseeable types of large-scale commercial space enterprise." (1/30)

Experts Pinpoint Fall Zone for Failed Russian Probe (Source: MSNBC)
Space junk experts have confirmed when and where the wayward Russian Mars probe Phobos-Grunt re-entered the atmosphere and crashed back to Earth. The doomed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft fell from space on Jan. 15, and crashed near the South American coastline — with any debris probably falling into ocean waters, according to a European Space Agency update released Wednesday. "Probably" can also mean that some free-falling fragments might have reached land. However, there have been no confirmed reports of debris reaching land.

"While this was an uncontrolled re-entry, the location of the potential impact area was largely over ocean, with a correspondingly low probability of any detrimental effects," Heiner Klinkrad, head of ESA’s Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, said in a statement. When asked about the delayed publishing of the Phobos-Grunt re-entry data, which came more than a week after the spacecraft actually fell, Klinkrad said, "I cannot comment." (1/30)

Did Phobos-Grunt Debris Fall on Land? (Source: Txchnologist)
Last week, the European Space Agency released its report on the crash of Russia’s ill-fated Phobos-Grunt probe on Jan. 15. In it, the ESA came to the same conclusion as the other major space players: all pieces of the probe, which was bound for one of Mars’s moons, fell safely into the Pacific Ocean. But this consensus isn’t reasonable at all.

Instead, a sound analysis of the data by space debris experts suggests that although most of the debris did plunge into the Pacific Ocean, other debris may have fallen onto regions of Chile and possibly Argentina. This debris on land likely included the heaviest pieces, possibly even the heat-shielded return capsule carrying three bio-canisters – one from the U.S. Planetary Society and two others from the Russians, that organisms that were to test the “transpermia” hypothesis. Slowed by air drag, they would have hit the ground with speeds of only a few hundred miles per hour.

Some hazardous materials, such as 11 tons of rocket propellants, probably did disperse on the way down. But some of the smaller tanks, including a few likely made of titanium, could have survived. No pieces of the satellite have turned up yet, and actually searching for space debris is rarely successful. But once in a while, somebody stumbles across a genuine “space fall.” (1/30)

Romney & Gingrich: Competing for Space (Source: American Prospect)
Space policy might be of minor importance, but it's a microcosm of Romney's larger problem; he lacks a thorough justification for his campaign. Beyond the sense that he is the inevitable Republican nominee who generally likes business, he lacks a prime motive for becoming president. He touts the knowledge he gained from working in the private sector, but does not translate that into any unique policies or proposals during his speeches or in the debates.

The pro-America pro-capitalism shtick might be enough to carry Romney through the primary, but he'll need a more robust explanation once he reaches the general election. I spoke with Fred Beteille following the event; though he does not work in the space industry himself, he was dissatisfied with the lack of detail. "I wanted to hear what he said about the space program. I think you need a little more specifics from him on what exactly he's going to do," he said. "It's nice that he's saying he's going to support the space system when he's standing here in Brevard County, but we need a few more specifics. Not a pipe dream like Newt Gingrich." (1/30)

Gingrich Right for Having Ambition to Explore Space (Source: Independent FL Alligator)
While reading last Friday's paper, the first section I read of Darts & Laurels criticized Newt Gingrich for wanting to colonize the moon. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that a colony of thousands of American citizens on the moon would be an utter waste of taxpayer dollars. However, I commend the former Speaker of the House for his good old-fashioned American ambition and desire to advance in an area that has lead to many influential innovations. Today's America lacks what made us a world power so many years ago: ambition.

Editor's Note: I believe Gingrich wasn't proposing a government-funded lunar colony. He suggested that a more robust space program could lead to one, and that if it did they might one day apply for statehood. Technically, what he proposed was a habitable moon base by the end of his second term. (1/30)

Florida Gov. to Candidates: Focus on Jobs (Not Space) (Source: National Journal)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the GOP presidential candidates should focus on creating jobs, rather than immigration or the space program. "If you have a job, you're worried about losing it. If you don't have a job, you're worried about getting one," he said on CNN’s State of the Union. "That's what they ought to talk about day in and day out." Scott, a Republican who leads a state with the seventh-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, gave cautious approval to President Obama's proposal to help homeowners refinance on their mortgages with federal help.

While he affirmed that "anything we can do to help homeowners is positive," he cautioned that he wants to see the details of the plan and is wary of how Obama plans to pay for it. "In Florida, we're paying down our debt," he said. "We're worried about the credit rating of the federal government, and the deficits." While he declined to overtly endorse Mitt Romney, he did say Romney’s private-sector experience made him well qualified to create much-needed jobs. (1/29)

No comments: