February 8, 2012

Aviation, GPS Representatives Warn of LightSquared's 'Catastrophic' Plans (Source: National Journal)
LightSquared cried foul on Wednesday after one of its staunchest congressional critics held a hearing that aired fears over the company’s proposed wireless networks. The House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tom Petri, R-WI, held a hearing on “a review of issues associated with protecting and improving our nation's aviation satellite-based global positioning system infrastructure.”

That, LightSquared charged, was nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on its network, which has been shown to interfere with GPS devices. And indeed, while the hearing touched on a range of potential threats to GPS, LightSquared and the FCC were front and center. The witnesses, who included government officials from the Transportation Department and the United Nations as well as representatives of the airline and GPS industry, took the FCC to task for allowing LightSquared’s plans to advance as far as they have. (2/8)

Scientist Tracks Changes to Earth’s Forests From Space (Source: EarthSky)
Satellite researcher Alan Belward works for the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy. Dr. Belward heads the Land Resource Management Unit, which looks at changes to land cover and land use on a global scale. In 2011, Dr. Belward was part of the most comprehensive forest survey ever, which involved 190 countries. An essential tool for his research is data from the Landsat satellite program, which has taken detailed pictures of forest canopies for over 40 years. Click here. (2/8)

Proposed Type of Solar Neutrino Spotted (Source: Science News)
In a technical tour de force, physicists have spotted long-sought low-energy neutrinos zipping from the sun. The discovery confirms one of the first possible steps in the fusion cycle that helps power the star, says Cristiano Galbiati, a physicist at Princeton University. The newfound particles are produced when two protons and an electron interact to make deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen that helps feed the sun’s fusion. About 1 in 400 deuterium atoms in the sun are made in this proton-electron-proton, or pep, reaction. (2/8)

Romanian Accused of Hacking NASA-JPL Computers (Source: AP)
The Los Angeles U.S. attorney's office says a federal grand jury has indicted a Romanian citizen on charges he hacked into 25 climate-research computers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Prosecutors say Tuesday's indictment charges 25-year-old Robert Butyka with one count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. The hacking in 2010 made computers in the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Program unusable for two months while malicious code was removed and data restored. (2/8)

Astrogenetix and NASA to Continue Biomedical Research on Station (Source: Astrogenetix)
Astrogenetix, a subsidiary of Astrotech, has entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA to provide the critical resources needed to continue utilizing the International Space Station (ISS) and to further the development of important on-orbit microgravity vaccines and therapeutic drug experiments.

Astrogenetix entered into a similar SAA in 2009 resulting in 12 successful missions on the Space Shuttle that led to the discovery of potential vaccine targets for both salmonella and MRSA. This experience clearly identified that the most important part of the discovery process is the repeated frequency of access to microgravity. The new SAA reflects this important priority and NASA has committed to provide a minimum of 28 missions between 2013 and 2016. (2/8)

Michigan Group Hosting Cape Canaveral Job Fair Aimed at Former NASA Workers (Source: WKMG)
A group from Michigan was courting former NASA workers at a job fair Wednesday. The job fair, hosted by MichAGAIN Orlando and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Talent Team highlighted displaced NASA workers specifically in the IT, engineering and defense industry recently laid off because of the Space Shuttle program's end. (2/8)

Australian Opposition Leader Slams Satellite Option (Source: Sky News)
The opposition says the federal government has opted for an unnecessary "Rolls-Royce" communications system by paying $620 million for two new satellites to provide high-speed broadband to remote parts of Australia. NBN Co, the government-owned enterprise rolling out the national broadband network (NBN), has signed a deal with US firm Loral to make the satellites.

About 200,000 homes and businesses in the nation's most remote regions will have access to internet speeds similar to those available in urban centers when the satellites are launched in 2015. "Don't buy yourself a Camry, a Falcon - buy yourself a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley," opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday. "Nothing but the best will do, nothing but the most expensive will do." (2/8)

ILS Moves SES-4 Launch To Mid-February (Source: Aviation Week)
International Launch Services (ILS) plans to loft the SES-4 telecommunications satellite to orbit Feb. 14 after resolving an electrical problem affecting the U.S.-based company’s Proton rocket that was discovered during preflight processing last month. The delay marks the second time that launch of the SES-4 satellite, built by Space Systems/Loral for Luxembourg-based fleet operator SES, has been postponed in recent weeks. It previously was slated to launch Jan. 28 from Kazakhstan. ILS attributes the latest delay to a technical issue with the electrical wiring. (2/8)

From Mars to London, With a Few Stops Along the Way (Source: New York Times)
A piece of Mars fell on Morocco in July. But that was just the start of its travels on Earth. The 2.4-pound meteorite purchased by the Natural History Museum in London is a shergottite, a young rock that formed on Mars just a few hundred million years ago. The biggest chunk of the meteorite flew from Morocco to Paris to New York, where the collector who bought it bicycled around town with it in his backpack. Finally, this week, it flew to London.

The Natural History Museum there announced Wednesday that it had purchased the meteorite for its collection. “I would say, arguably, it is the most significant fall in a hundred years,” said Caroline Smith , the museum’s meteorite curator. Of the tens of thousands of meteorites that have been found on Earth, only 61 came from Mars. And this new one is only the fifth Martian meteorite whose fiery passage through the atmosphere was seen by people on the ground. (2/8)

NASA Mission Takes Stock of Earth's Melting Land Ice (Source: NASA)
In the first comprehensive satellite study of its kind, a University of Colorado-led team used NASA data to calculate how much Earth's melting land ice is adding to global sea level rise. The researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth's land ice between 2003 and 2010, with particular emphasis on glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica.

The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth's glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. About a quarter of the average annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles). Ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year. (2/8)

Black Hole Eats Asteroids, Burps Out X-Rays (Source: WIRED)
The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy may be constantly snacking on asteroids. A new study finds that asteroids at least 12 miles wide falling into the black hole would account for the regular bright x-ray flares seen through telescopes. Though nothing, including light, can escape a black hole, most are ringed by a disk of gas and dust. As it falls in, this material heats up to incredible temperatures, generating energy.

For several years, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has spotted daily fluctuations in the emissions coming from the Milky Way’s central black hole. Known as Sagittarius A*, this 2-million- to 4-million-solar-mass black hole is approximately 26,000 light-years from Earth near the border of the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius. Sagittarius A*’s daily flares generally last a few hours and increase the black hole’s brightness by a hundred times.

Researchers now suggest that tens of trillions of asteroids and comets, stolen from their parent stars, might float around the black hole. The central supermassive black hole could sustain these regular flares for billions of years. Even at a rate of one asteroid per day, it would have only consumed a few trillion asteroids over the lifetime of the galaxy, leaving plenty of fodder. (2/8)

How Huntsville Breeds Rocket Scientists (Source: The Atlantic)
Tim Pickens is the kind of guy that gives Huntsville its nickname: Rocket City. The name was there before he was, derived from the city’s high concentration of NASA and military space projects. But Pickens’ decades of involvement in the city’s space industry and engineering community embodies the relationship between the city and the rockets that helped put people on the moon.

He’s a rocket scientist son of a rocket scientists who’s a commercial space advisor and chief propulsion engineer at Dynetics Inc., and team leader of the Rocket City Space Pioneers, a team competing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition to land a robot on the moon. He’s also a garage tinkerer who’s famously attached rockets to bicycles. Click here. (2/8)

Celebrating Black History Month: NASA’s African-American Astronauts (Source: America Space)
February is Black History Month, or National African-American History Month, and here at AmericaSpace we are celebrating the achievements of African-American astronauts in the United States Space Program. From Guion “Guy” Bluford to Ronald McNair, these courageous Americans made significant contributions to human space exploration. Read on for a short piece on each of these heroes. Click here. (2/8)

Calling All Space Entrepreneurs (Source: Aviation Week)
As many as 10 finalists are expected to present their plans to judges at the Space Frontier Foundation’s annual NewSpace Business Plan Competition during the NewSpace 2012 Conference at NASA Ames Research Center on July 26-28. There’s a big pot of gold at the end of this rainbow: a $100,000 first prize and $10,000 second prize. The prizes are funded by a grant from Ames. Finalists will speak before a panel of judges that includes venture capitalists, angel investors and business development leaders. Finalists will be announced June 8. (2/8)

AIA Commends Attempts to Modify Sequestration (Source: SpaceRef.com)
We are pleased members of both the House and Senate recognize the dangers that draconian cuts pose to our nation's security and America's skilled workforce, threatening more than one million middle class jobs. It is imperative that Congress and President Obama quickly agree to a path forward that avoids sequestration and automatic reductions in defense and domestic spending. The effects on DOD, FAA and NASA are potentially devastating. (2/8)

Aerospace, Defense Business Doubles to $44B in 2011 (Source: UPI)
Defense and aerospace deals hit a new high for 2011 of $44 billion, double the amount in deals for 2010. "We saw a wide-ranging mix of deals in 2011 as global aerospace and defense M&A activity reached record levels," said Scott Thompson, U.S. aerospace and defense leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2/8)

Florida Lawmaker Supports Relaxing Export Controls (Source: Defense News)
Congressional support for relaxing export controls is on the upswing. A recent report by the Aerospace Industries Association estimates that the U.S. satellite industry lost $21 billion in sales from 1999 to 2009 due to export controls. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, said she supports "common-sense improvements in our export control system that will enhance U.S. national security." (2/8)

SpaceX to Launch AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 in 2014 (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX, the world’s fastest growing space launch company, and Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat), the leading regional satellite operator in Asia, today announced an agreement to launch two AsiaSat communications satellites using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in 2014. AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2014 from SpaceX’s launch complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (2/8)

A Backlash Against the Backlash (Source: Space Politics)
While Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri held Republican primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, Newt Gingrich was on the campaign trail in Ohio, looking ahead to that state’s primary on Super Tuesday next month. In Dayton, he stuck to the space plans he laid out in Florida two weeks ago. “Immediately two of my opponents rushed into to say that’s really stupid,” he said. He defended his support for space, citing the potential for jobs and technological spinoffs. “When we talk about job creation, just remember the [computers and phones] you’re using, all those have components that were developed from the space program,” he said.

“I am deeply concerned that Senator Santorum so easily relinquishes space development to the Chinese and Russians,” Gingrich national security advisor Stephen Yates said on Saturday, apparently referring to a radio ad released by the Santorum campaign Friday which dismissed Gingrich’s lunar base plans as “fiscal insanity”. “American success in space is not only about being the first to develop a station on the moon,” Yates said, citing an “explosion of math, science, engineering and national security technology” that would benefit the nation. (2/8)

Editorial: Moon Base is Not a Loony Idea (Source: Denver Post)
Is [Gingrich's moon base idea] a visionary, back-to-the-future kind of idea, or, as Mitt Romney said, "a big idea but a bad idea"? NASA continues to pursue a human return to the moon as a stepping stone toward exploration of the solar system. The moon, asteroids, and eventually Mars are all goals of the U.S. human space program. Click here. (2/8)

Europe’s ATV Space Ferry Set for Launch to Space Station (Source: ESA)
Fuel, water, oxygen, air and most of the dry cargo have been loaded into ESA's third Automated Transfer Vehicle, Edoardo Amaldi, as the 9 March liftoff approaches. Since arrival at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, last August, the space ferry has been undergoing intensive preparations to fly to the International Space Station next month. (2/8)

Russia May Spend Almost $12 bln on Glonass in 2012-2020 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia may spend 346.5 billion rubles (almost $12 bln) on its Glonass satellite navigation system in 2012-2020. Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Roscosmos and economics ministry had agreed on a draft development program for the Glonass project, and it had already been submitted for government’s approval in late January.

The expenditures include 146.9 billion rubles ($5 billion) to support the system and 138.3 billion rubles ($4.6 billion) to develop it. A group of 31 Glonass satellites is currently in orbit, with 24 operating to provide global coverage, four in reserve and one undergoing trials. (2/8)

United Launch Alliance Enjoys Growth Spurt (Source: WHNT)
United Launch Alliance's Decatur site has been quietly enjoying prosperity and growth against all odds. Officials say despite scale backs to the Space Program and the lagging economy, ULA has added more than 150 jobs over the last 10 months. And things are only getting better for the company and the opportunities it's offering locals.

"A lot of people don't realize how much we've been actually increasing our staffing here and our employment at this site and the opportunities that we're able to offer the local community," said Dan Caughran, site leader for the company's Decatur site. He says the future is looking bright for ULA and people looking for jobs. (2/8)

Elon Musk on SpaceX’s Reusable Rocket Plans (Source: Popular Mechanics)
SpaceX is hard at work trying to design rocket parts that can fly themselves back to the launchpad for reuse. We talked to founder Elon Musk about how far the company’s designs have come. Musk has always said that he wants his rockets and spacecraft to be fully reusable. That’s why it stoked our interest to see Musk tweet this recently: "Design completed for bringing rocket back to launchpad using only thrusters. Yay. Wings r just dead weight in space." Click here. (2/8)

New Mexico Senate Committee Grounds Spaceport Liability Exemption (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
The Senate Judiciary Committee today put the brakes on an effort to exempt spacecraft manufacturers from liability in case of passenger injury during spaceflight. The legal exemption in Senate Bill 3 was pushed by Spaceport officials as a way to attract new aerospace manufacturers to establish their operations near Las Cruces at Spaceport America. Without the special space travel liability exemption, those companies may choose to open shop in Texas, Florida or Virgina, states where manufacturers and suppliers are not held liable for death or injury in commercial space travel, critics said.

Several votes to take action on the bill failed in committee, and the bill is not expected to move out of the Judiciary Committee for consideration elsewhere in the Senate. Bill sponsor Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said she is hopeful the effort could get another chance if the House passes their version of the bill and sends it back to the Senate. Several Judiciary Committee members, however, said the lack of legal liability could cause companies building spacecraft parts and materials to act recklessly and potentially create unnecessary hazards for space travelers now being billed about $200,000 for a trip reaching just beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. (2/8)

UK Seeks Funds for Space (Source: Telegraph)
After six attempts, we have at last produced an astronaut capable of going on a manned mission into orbit - but Tim Peake is riding in the slipstream of Europe’s space efforts, not ours. And all too often, the UK space program conjures up images of the failed Beagle project, which in 2003 prematurely vanished on its debut mission to Mars. Despite our hardly galactic start, the Coalition is proving much more ambitious. It wants Britain to capture 10pc of the £400bn global space industry by 2030 – heroic stuff given the UK's £300m of Government funding is dwarfed by France’s $2bn (£1.25bn) and is postively microscopic compared to America’s $35.6bn. (2/8)

New Planet May Support Liquid Water (Source: Cosmos)
A new extrasolar planet has been identified and researchers are calling it the most likely candidate yet to be able to host liquid water. Publishing in the current issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team of researchers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the U.S describes a planet called GJ 667Cc, which is located at the relatively close distance of 22 light-years from Earth. (2/8)

Moon Draws Growing Interest as Source of Rare Minerals (Source: Washington Post)
Interest in materials known as rare earth elements surged when China temporarily blocked exports in 2010. Manufacturers started looking everywhere for new supplies of gadolinium and terbium and other elements used in televisions, hybrid car batteries and many other products. The search took them to such places as California, the Pacific ocean floor and the moon. The moon’s stock is up even among politicians, as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney recently sparred over whether it makes sense to invest in lunar mining.

Rare earth elements aren’t the only potentially valuable resources on the moon. Helium-3, an isotope that in the future may support cold fusion when earthlings finally figure out how to make it happen, is another potential treasure. Ready to grab your moon pick, pull on your moon boots and heigh-ho your way into a moon mine? Not so fast. There’s a vast amount of research that needs to be done first. (2/8)

No comments: