March 2, 2012

Some ISS Partners Ready for Chinese Participation (Source: Space News)
Leaders of the international space station (ISS) partner organizations met March 1 in Quebec City, and some expressed an interest in welcoming China to their ranks, Global Montreal reported. “I am in favor of seeing how we can work together with China,” Jean-Jacques Dordain, director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA), told reporters after the meeting. “It will take some steps, but it will come, I am sure.”

Vladimir Popovkin, the head of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, said the day will come when China and India will work together with the five current partners — the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the ESA. “We are not a closed club,” he said. “Our doors are wide open.” NASA's Charles Bolden said the partners are reaching out to other nations but the U.S. space agency is prohibited by congressional action from any bilateral activities with China. (3/2)

Officials: Stennis Buffer is Key to Jobs (Source: Sun Herald)
Protecting the buffer zone around NASA’s Stennis Space Center from encroachment will ensure thousands of jobs stay in the area, officials said Thursday when they hosted a breakfast with community leaders. Patrick Scheuermann, director of Stennis, thanked the 600 families in five towns who gave up their homes so the center could be built. He said the annual economic impact of Stennis has reached $1 billion.

He called these “exciting times.” Work is booked on every test stand at Stennis and testing is under way on engines for private companies that could fly cargo and crews to the International Space Station while NASA focuses on the next phase of space exploration to the moon and Mars. The proposed NASA budget includes money for construction of the A-3 test stand at Stennis, the ongoing testing of the J2X rocket and revitalization of the center’s high pressure industrial water system. (3/2)

U.S. Accuses Australian Man of Selling Arms Parts to Iran (Source: Wall Street Journal)
An Australian charged in the U.S. with participating in a scheme to export sensitive technology to Iran says he was unaware the equipment was destined for Tehran until he was warned by Australia's spy agency. A federal grand jury has indicted David Levick, 50 years old and general manager Sydney-based electronics company ICM Components Inc., for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and both the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA, and Arms Export Control Act as well as four counts of illegally exporting the equipment that could be used for a range of military systems. (3/2)

Tyson Reasons for Space Exploration in FOX Interview (Source: FOX News)
Neil deGrasse Tyson considers this to be "one of the better interviews" where he makes the case for continued U.S. investment in space exploration. Click here. (3/2)

Satellite Imagery Provides Real-life Mountains for Snowboarding Video Game (Source: Space News)
A new snowboarding video game features mountain courses built using detailed topographical data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite, a process described in a report on the tech website Ars Technica. The data from ASTER, a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, provided EA Sports with a free, complete, easy-to-convert map of the best snowboarding runs nature had to offer for the game SSX, the report said. (3/2)

LEGO Launches Fan-Made Asteroid Probe (Source: Collect Space)
The world's first sample return mission to an asteroid is now a LEGO toy set thanks a fan made model and its 1000 supporters. LEGO began sales in Japan Friday of the 369 brick Hayabusa spacecraft building set, which recreates JAXA's 2003-2010 robotic mission that successfully collected soil particles from asteroid Itokawa. (3/2)

Privacy Groups Petition FAA Over Drones in U.S. Airspace (Source: New American)
Privacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have submitted a petition to the Federal Aviation Administration over the use of drones in U.S. airspace. "By virtue of their design, their size, and how high they can fly, [drones] can operate undetected in urban and rural environments," the petition states. The groups have asked the FAA to hold a rule-making session to consider the privacy aspects of drones. (3/2)

Dotcom Billionaires Taking on NASA’s Big Government Contract Culture (Source: CT)
The beat up launch pad leased by California-based SpaceX looks more like a relic of the 1960s than a cutting-edge space system of the 21st century. And the company’s nearby rocket assembly building might remind some of an expanded Tuff Shed in comparison to NASA’s majestic and enormous Vehicle Assembly Building. Compared to NASA’s staid, carefully crafted, safety-first image, company spokesman Bobby Block might come across to some like he is the lead singer of a rock band called “SpaceX” rather than a VP of corporate communications for the same.

Nevertheless, NASA and the Obama administration have decided that the scrappy, dotcom-funded startup and its equally scrappy launch pad and attitude will be one of the primary paths to space for Americans and their cargo after the shuttle is retired in June. The change has the NASA community buzzing with concerns about jobs, history, and the program’s direction. But Philip McAlister, NASA’s acting director for commercial spaceflight development, confirmed where the manned space program is headed during an April 27 press conference at the Kennedy Space Center. Click here. (3/2)

Intelsat Feels Pinch of U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Intelsat on March 1 said the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq is cutting into the company’s revenue but that so far it is mainly affecting mobile satellite capacity that Intelsat leases from other operators. In a conference call with investors, Intelsat Chief Executive David McGlade said that in some cases business lost in Intelsat’s mobile satellite services contracts returns in the form of contracts for Intelsat’s own Ku-band satellite capacity. (3/2)

Canadian Space Agency Faces 14 Percent Budget Cut (Source: Space News)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is bracing for cuts with the announcement that the federal government will reduce the organization’s budget by 14 percent. The government announced Feb. 28 it would reduce the agency’s budget from the current 424 million ($429 million) Canadian dollars to 363 million Canadian dollars. (3/2)

Lofty Goal for Private Spaceflight: 1,000 Launches a Year by 2019 (Source:
American companies launched just five licensed commercial rockets into space last year, but they might be able to loft nearly that many every day by the end of the decade, a federal space official contends. George Nield, associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, thinks it's possible to double the number of permit-holding private launches every year for the rest of the decade. That exponential increase would lead to 1,280 liftoffs in 2019 — an average of 3 1/2 per day. (3/2)

UCF Research Teams Receive Grants From the Florida Space Institute (Source: Central Florida Future)
In a partnership with NASA, two research teams within UCF's College of Engineering have been awarded a grant from the Florida Space Institute to fund projects aimed at furthering space research and exploration. The projects focus on efforts to enhance wireless systems and material systems within spacecrafts, making them more durable and able to last longer.

Dr. Donald Malocha, professor in the College of Engineering, is the UCF component of the wireless systems team and has been working with NASA for seven years on this project. There have been several practical applications for sensors such as these within the realm of space exploration, however the end result is still in the works. Click here. (3/2)

Space Rock Will Draw Thousands To Jodrell Bank Observatory (Source: America Space)
The 250 ft. diameter radio telescope at England’s Jodrell Bank Observatory is expected to draw 10,000 people in June to view the kind of space rock discoveries that have helped keep the historic space facility operational in tight economic times. Rock music that is.

On June 23 and 24 the observatory will host two major concerts, one headlined by the popular British music group “Elbow” and the other by renowned British artist Paul Weller. “I am a space nut,” Weller said. “My cat is even named after the woman who discovered pulsars. As you would imagine, playing alongside the local icon of space exploration fills me with cosmic glee,” he said according to the entertainment website (3/2)

ATV Launch Delayed (Source: ESA)
A routine inspection has concluded that additional measures are required to ensure the maximum readiness of the third Automated Transfer Vehicle for launch. It has therefore been decided to postpone the launch previously scheduled for 9 March. A new launch date will be announced as soon as possible. The launch of ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) is part of the internationally coordinated servicing effort to support the International Space Station. (3/2)

SpaceX Plans Texas Engine Test (Source: KWTX)
Residents could hear the roar of a rocket as SpaceX plans to conduct a nine-engine test at its McGregor Rocket Development Facility as early as Friday. The test firing is expected to last for about 10 seconds. SpaceX could not specify a day or time for the test, but said further details would be released as they become available. (3/2)

Man Sues for Ownership of Most of Solar System (Source: IFP)
A judge has barred a Quebec man from filing lawsuits without authorization after he demanded sole ownership of the Earth, the other planets and several moons. Judge Alain Michaud declared Sylvio Langevin to be a quarrelsome litigant, meaning he can't file any more lawsuits without written permission from a judge.

Langevin has peppered the courts with 45 lawsuits since 2001. They include four motions to the Supreme Court of Canada. His latest lawsuit in January laid claim over the nine planets, four of Jupiter's moons as well as the space between the heavenly bodies. Langevin explained that he wanted to collect planets "like others collect hockey cards." (3/2)

Space Shuttle Enterprise Lands in New York City on April 23 (Source: Collect Space)
NASA's space shuttle Enterprise, which never flew in space but did pave the way for the United States' historic 30-year shuttle program, will arrive in New York on April 23, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum announced on Thursday (March 1). The prototype orbiter's arrival in the Big Apple will start its journey to a new display at the Intrepid, a converted World War II aircraft carrier-turned-museum complex. (3/2)

DigitalGlobe Projects 10% Growth Amid Uncertainty on Its Biggest Contract (Source: Space News)
Geospatial imagery and services provider DigitalGlobe on Feb. 29 said it still expects its revenue to grow by 10 percent in 2012 despite persistent rumors that its biggest customer, the U.S. government, is planning a substantial cut in spending. The company said it has received no indications from its main revenue source, the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), that a cut to DigitalGlobe’s key EnhancedView contract is imminent. (3/2)

Russia: Next Space Station May Be Based on Other Planet (Source: RIA Novosti)
A future international space station (ISS) could be built on another planet rather than in the Earth’s orbit, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday. “Is there a reason to continue the ISS program, as the station rotates around the Earth?” Rogozin asked. “Maybe it would make more sense to implement these types of international projects by placing space stations on other planets,” he said. “We should think about that.” (3/2)

Japan Eyes New Space Mission to Sample an Asteroid (Source:
Space engineers in Japan are scoping out an ambitious follow-up to the country's Hayabusa mission, which snagged samples from the asteroid Itokawa and returned them to Earth in 2010. The successor spacecraft, known as Hayabusa 2, would carry out an aggressive study of another asteroid. The probe would drop off two landers, blast the asteroid with an impactor and send more samples back to Earth for close-up inspection. (3/2)

Earth Formed From Diverse Meteorite Mix, Study Suggests (Source:
Earth's building blocks were more eclectic than once thought, according to a new study suggesting our planet formed from collisions of many different types of meteorites. Our planet is thought to have formed around 4.5 billion years ago from a disk of dust grains left over from the cloud of material that built our sun. These grains slowly clumped together, drawn by gravity into pebbles, then boulders, then planetary embryos. Eventually, enough mass coalesced to form the planet Earth. (3/2)

Report: Hackers Seized Control of NASA Computers (Source: CNN)
Hackers targeting sensitive NASA computers have gained access to employee credentials and taken control of systems at JPL, a federal report says. NASA's inspector general cited one case involving hackers with IP addresses in China. In that case, intruders gained "full system access" to change or delete sensitive files and user accounts for "mission-critical" systems at JPL... "the attackers had full functional control over these networks." In another attack, hackers stole credentials for about 150 NASA employees, the report said. (3/2)

House Panel Pummels Holdren Over Cuts to NASA's Planetary Program (Source: Science)
A proposed $300-million cut to NASA's planetary science budget threatens U.S. leadership in the field—and breaks a promise to the community, says a Democratic member of the House of Representatives spending panel that oversees the space agency. The unusually sharp exchange yesterday between presidential science adviser John Holdren and a member of his own party points to bipartisan unhappiness in Congress with the Obama Administration's decision to pull out of two martian missions being planned jointly with the European Space Agency.

"I can't tell you how distressed I am to see this change in direction," Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), told Holdren during a hearing by the commerce, justice, and science appropriations subcommittee of the House of Representatives on the Administration's 2013 budget request for research. "We are at the point where we have given up our leadership in manned space flight, and now we about to give up our leadership in planetary science."

Schiff accused the Administration of "reneging" on its commitment to the planetary science community to support a 2016 mission that would orbit Mars and a 2018 mission to collect rock and soil samples from the red planet. He said that Administration officials "knew all along" that the Mars missions would have to be canceled because of NASA's tight budget "but they didn't want to contend with Congress because they knew it wouldn't fly. … I have to conclude that was just being disingenuous," said Schiff. (3/2)

Launch of SiriusXM Satellite Delayed by Solar Array Concerns (Source: Space News)
The planned March 6 launch of the SiriusXM FM-6 digital radio satellite aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket has been scrapped following concerns of a solar-array defect aboard the Loral-built satellite, according to industry officials. FM-6 is remaining at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at least for now, and Loral officials hope to perform whatever verifications are needed without bringing it back to the California production facility. (3/2)

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