February 13, 2012

Forever Mars (Source: Space Review)
Over the decades writers have offered predictions of when humans would go to Mars. Dwayne Day explores that history of predictions, and why one of the first may still be the most accurate. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2025/1 to view the article. (2/13)

Campaign Lunacy, Revisited (Source: Space Review)
Even though the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has moved on from Florida, the candidates are still mentioning space in their speeches and campaign materials. Jeff Foust describes how this is less a debate about space policy than simply another way for the candidates to criticize one another. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2024/1 to view the article. (2/13)

Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251 Three Years Later (Source: Space Review)
Three years ago this month two satellites collided over Siberia, creating additional orbital debris. Michael Listner examines what has come of that collision in the fields of space situational awareness and space operations. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2023/1 to view the article. (2/13)

Following Newt to the Moon (Source: Space Review)
Newt Gingrich has been widely ridiculed for proposing a goal of a lunar base by 2020. Joseph Mascaro argues that's unfortunate, since contrary to much of the criticism, there's a place for human spaceflight in our nation's future. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2022/1 to view the article. (2/13)

ESA To Press Ahead with ExoMars (Source: Space News)
European government officials on Feb. 13 said they would attempt to push ahead with their ExoMars missions to Mars in NASA’s absence by reinforcing their cooperation with Russia. With NASA’s fiscal-year 2013 budget now saying formally what had been whispered for weeks — the U.S. agency is pulling out entirely of a planned 2016 mission and cannot commit to the follow-on 2018 mission — the European Space Agency finds itself between a rock and a hard place. (2/13)

Still No Moon Base in Obama Budget (Source: National Journal)
NASA's overall spending is spared large cuts. Congress wants to cut; President Obama wants to spend, right? Not when it comes to NASA. Although Obama’s budget almost exactly matches last year’s congressional appropriations, don’t expect NASA supporters in Congress to be pleased. “While making difficult choices, the budget builds on our existing space infrastructure, continues efforts to streamline agency operations, and preserves innovation capabilities and technologies to sustain American leadership in space,” the budget document said.

In 2012, Obama aimed to match NASA’s 2010 budget. But fiscal realities have brought some of the agency’s most ambitious plans back to earth. In 2010 Obama scuttled a Bush-era plan to return to the moon and called for more privatization, as well as missions to an asteroid and Mars. Funding for those plans, however, was dropped from last year’s budget, and this year’s proposals include further cuts. (2/13)

Science Pushed to the Brink: Proposed Budget Would Devastate Planetary Science (Source: Planetary Society)
"The U.S. Administration is proposing a budget for Fiscal Year 2013 that would force NASA to walk away from planned missions to Mars, delay for decades any flagship missions to the outer planets, and radically slow the pace of scientific discovery, including the search for life on other worlds... The steep reductions will continue for at least the next five years -- if the Administration's proposal is not changed. This would strike at the heart of one of NASA's most productive and successful programs over the past decade." (2/13)

Academic Tiff Over Who Found Gliese 667Cc (Source: Knight SJ Tracker)
Several days ago a major news story had put some members of two teams of scientists at odds over proper scientific protocol and recognition of primacy. At issue is the split in credit for discovery of a delectably located planet, a good deal larger than Earth but still probably rocky and perhaps wet. It is smack in the habitability zone of its red dwarf star. Those of us interested in an illustrative episode in the way academics are dealing with the meaning of “publication” and formal ways to establish credit for discovery or invention will find it fascinating. Click here. (2/13)

EADS Chief Plans Streamlining Effort to Save $462 Million (Source: Reuters)
By unifying procurement, personnel and other functions, EADS CEO Louis Gallois expects to save $462 million this year, he said in a recent interview. Gallois, who plans to step down in May and hand the reins to Airbus chief Tom Enders, also said the company should consider launching an aircraft plant in the U.S. (2/13)

Embraer Forecasts up to $6.2 Billion in Revenue for 2012 (Source: Reuters)
Brazil's Embraer predicted net revenue of $5.8 billion to $6.2 billion this year, an increase over 2011. "Considering more accelerated growth in the area of defense and security and stable markets for executive aviation and commercial aviation, the company expects revenue may grow slightly in 2012," Embraer said. (2/13)

A Garbage Truck for Space: How Can We Remove Space Junk? (Source: Txchnologist)
On January 4th, two stage-3 rocket bodies and one amateur satellite dropped out of the sky, sizzling through the atmosphere toward the Earth in a fiery death. Decades ago, when they went into space, these machines were cutting edge technology. Today, they’re just trash. And there’s plenty more where they came from. Every time a piece of space junk falls out of orbit, the heavens get a little bit cleaner, but it’s still a mess up there.

Eugene Levin, a senior scientist at STAR Technology and Research Inc, is working on designs for an electrodynamic tether that would pull a spacecraft between orbits by manipulating the electromagnetic field of the Earth. “This electrodynamic propulsion is a way of moving between those objects without spending any fuel,” he says. “It can be light because it doesn’t carry any liquids.” In one presentation, Levin described the technology as “like sailing in the ionosphere.” Click here. (2/13)

Florida Spaceport Upgrades Remain a Priority in FY-13 Budget Request (Source: NASA)
Among the NASA priorities highlighted in President Obama's FY-2013 is the ongoing effort to modernize the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. According to page 183 of the budget summary, the 2013 budget: "Continues the effort to turn NASA's former Space Shuttle launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida into a 21st Century launch complex so that they can efficiently support programs like the Space Launch System and commercial operators." Click here. (2/13)

How a NASA Discovery Could Launch a Coup in the Pharmaceutical Industry (Source: Wall Street Daily)
If you haven’t heard of the term “carbon nanotubes” (CNTs) before, believe me – you will soon. CNTs are essentially tiny, super-light, ultra-strong and highly conductive cylinders made up of sheets of graphite (or graphene). And considering the applications scientists have been developing using the material, it seems like CNTs offer unlimited potential.

Dr. David Loftus, Medical Director of the Space Biosciences Division at NASA Ames, has created a device using CNTs that’s capable of delivering on-demand medical treatment to astronauts. This is huge, since astronauts face constant danger of radiation while rocketing through space. But thanks to this new device, dubbed the NASA Biocapsule, astronauts may never have to worry about the negative effects of radiation again. The Biocapsule is basically a container made of CNTs that’s filled with cells capable of producing therapeutic agents.

In this case, NASA used a hormone called G-CSF, which is currently administered during radiation treatment for cancer patients. The capsule is implanted under the skin. And when the body is exposed to radiation, the cells detect the problem. Then they release molecules through the CNT walls to help treat the threat. Click here. (2/13)

John Glenn Stands Behind Continued Exploration (Source: Zanesville Times Recorder)
Legendary U.S. astronaut John Glenn says maximizing scientific research on the International Space Station is just as important as charging off on missions to the moon, Mars, asteroids or other interplanetary destinations. Fifty years after he became the first American to orbit Earth, the retired, four-term U.S. Senator from Ohio thinks space exploration is not just about boldly going where no man has gone before.

"I think there is a dual emphasis here. I think it's not only seeing how far we go into space, and eventually being on Mars, and maybe sometime having a base on the moon," Glenn, now 90, said in advance of the golden anniversary -- Feb. 20 -- of his pivotal Friendship 7 flight. "But to me, of equal importance is to maximize the research return. That shows the people ... how valuable space travel is." (2/13)

Bigelow's Lofty Florida Plans Hinge on Space Taxis (Source: Florida Today)
During a high-profile visit to the Space Coast last year, Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow inked a partnership with Space Florida that seemed a first step toward bringing dozens of launches and potentially 2,000 manufacturing jobs to the Space Coast. In a memorandum of understanding, the state aerospace agency promised to help Nevada-based Bigelow market its inflatable space stations to potential customers, including basing a service center with scale models of the habitats in Florida.

A year later, the partners say there’s still potential for that new business to materialize, but it will take longer than hoped. “Our targets haven’t changed, but they have clearly been slowed a bit as a function of the ability of the Congress and the (Obama) administration to fund the evolution of the commercial crew capability,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello said. “It’s directly tied to that, because you can’t make the market work until you get those commercial cargo and crew capabilities flying on a regular basis.”

Mike Gold, Bigelow’s director of Washington, D.C., operations and business growth, said he hoped for more political support from Florida, given the program’s importance to resuming human launches from Cape Canaveral and potentially luring Bigelow’s business. “I’m afraid to say that the Florida congressional delegation has not been particularly helpful in the past,” he said. Click here. (2/13)

Air Force Pares Range Support Contracts in Cost-Reduction Move (Source: Washington Post)
Exelis, Computer Sciences Corp. and Raytheon risk losing $3 billion in rocket-launch revenue during the next decade as the U.S. Air Force consolidates contracts to reduce costs. The Air Force plans to save at least 5 percent by eliminating redundancies in three maintenance and engineering contracts. They will combine three contracts for Eastern and Western Range services into a $3 billion deal. The consolidation follows a Sep. 29 order from Dan Gordon, then the Obama administration’s top procurement official, to avoid overlapping and duplicate contracts.

Companies are partnering up to compete for the business. Exelis may have the most at stake. The company has received $1.4 billion under its contract since 2001, according to government data. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel plan to challenge Exelis and the other incumbents for the work, according to a notice the Air Force posted online Jan. 20. Click here for a graph.

Exelis has a partnership with BAE Systems and L-3 Communications to bid on the new contract. Exelis was spun off from ITT in October. CSC, based in Falls Church, will end its "CSR" joint venture with Raytheon and has formed one with Honeywell International to pursue the consolidated contract. CSR has provided launch services at Patrick Air Force Base since 1988. The joint venture received $356 million in orders since 2008. InDyne received $287 million since 2008 for launch work at Vandenberg AFB. The company is pursuing the contract with partners Lockheed Martin and URS Corp. (2/13)

ESA’s New Vega Launcher Scores Success on Maiden Flight (Source: ESA)
Vega, ESA’s new launch vehicle, is ready to operate alongside the Ariane 5 and Soyuz launchers after a successful qualification flight this morning from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. With Vega extending the family of launchers available at the spaceport, Europe now covers the full range of launch needs, from small science and Earth observation satellites to the largest missions like ESA’s supply freighters to the International Space Station. (2/13)

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