March 26, 2012

Let's Stop Going in Circles - And Go Somewhere (Source: SpaceRef)
The International Space Station doesn't go anywhere. Instead, it simply goes in circles - day in and day out. Much the same can be said for America's space policy - or lack thereof. NASA excels when our nation has a clear, binding, national space policy - one energized by a compelling vision. Absent such a policy, our space infrastructure fragments into dueling factions - each with their own agenda. Without a clear mission NASA now seeks to maintain its own existence with its various missions (each with their own political constituency) cobbled together as an afterthought serving as a means whereby to accomplish this end. Click here. (3/26)

Lampson: Rumors of NASA’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated (Source: Washington Times)
It is a growing concern that the public believes NASA is closing its doors. This is far from true. Although NASA’s shuttle fleet retired in 2011 after 30 years of admirable and groundbreaking service, the space agency’s vibrant mission is far from over. We need to keep the fires of the agency’s spirited agenda burning by ensuring NASA is fully funded to carry out what it has been tasked to do for our country.

The future of our nation’s space program lies in the hands of those elected to represent the people of the United States. A great responsibility is placed before these decision-makers. While we face economic obstacles that challenge every decision made in Washington, decisions made merely for political gain must stop. It’s time to restore civility in Congress. It’s time for action where action is needed - all politics aside.

As legislators consider the fiscal 2013 budget over the next few days, it is of vital interest that our leaders uphold the bipartisan tradition of support for NASA’s charter. Our nation’s space program deserves support, and such an example of congressional civility should spread throughout the Capitol and the nation. Many may wonder why space is the topic at hand. If you do wonder, I ask you to learn about all that our nation’s space program does for our country. (3/26)

Contextualizing our Thought on Space Warfare (Source: Space Review)
Why do visions of space-based weapons remain compelling to some despite their huge technical and fiscal obstacles? Nader Elhefnawy examines the influence of science fiction and its interplay with political and popular thought. Visit to view the article. (3/26)

Fighting for Mars (Source: Space Review)
NASA's 2013 budget proposal cuts planetary science funding by 20 percent and ends its participation in a series of joint Mars missions with Europe. Jeff Foust reports on the reaction to the cuts by Congress and the planetary science community, including how some are planning to fight back. Visit to view the article. (3/26)
Brazil in Space (Source: Space Review)
Brazil has had a series of on-again, off-again efforts to develop a space launch capability. Dwayne Day analyzes a recently declassified CIA report that examined the state of Brazil's efforts 30 years ago and compares it to the nation's actual efforts. Visit to view the article. (3/26)

US Physicists Fight to Save Neutrino Experiment (Source: Nature)
The future of a pioneering project to study the lightest matter particles known was thrown into jeopardy last week, when officials at the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that they were reluctant to fund the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) in its current form. The experiment's leaders will meet this week at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, to discuss ways to allay the agency's concerns. (3/26)

Sat Operators Team For Situational Awareness (Source: Aviation Week)
A half-century-plus after Sputnik, the swirling mass of operational spacecraft and space junk that has grown up around the planet is overwhelming mankind’s ability to keep track of it, much less clean it up. Some of the world’s biggest commercial satellite operators have teamed up to help each other with their space situational awareness (SSA). The U.S. Air Force, which has handled SSA for most of the spaceflight era, is struggling to keep up, hampered by “sources-and-methods” security concerns, aging equipment and outmoded software, and stingy budgets. (3/26)

South Korea Says It May Shoot Down North Korean Rocket (Source:
South Korea may shoot down parts of a North Korean rocket if they breach the state's territory, South Korean officials said Monday (March 26), according to news reports. World leaders from the United States, China, Russia and other nations met in Seoul for a two-day summit to discuss ways to secure the world from nuclear terrorism, but concerns about North Korea's planned satellite launch aboard a long-range rocket have dominated the discourse, the Associated Press reported. Click here for a graphic of the launch trajectory. (3/26)

Intelsat in the Market for (Office) Space, Again (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Intelsat S.A.’s on the hunt for space, again. The Luxembourg-based firm’s been on the fence for years about whether to sell its U.S. headquarters at 4000 Connecticut Ave. NW, but could now be coming to market at a time when investors are hungry to snatch up D.C.-area properties. Enter CBRE Group Inc. Intelsat’s hired the brokerage to help it market the 1 million-square-foot building. The building, which is located across from the University of the District of Columbia, was constructed in 1985. (3/26)

Russia’s Ambitious Space Plan Overshadowed by Controversies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Pity the poor Russian space agency, Roscosmos. After more than a year of launch accidents, harsh criticism from the nation’s rulers, a change in leadership at the top, and the appointment of a high-level czar to clean up the mess at the failure-prone space agency, word leaked out recently of a long-range plan for the nation’s space effort that would land cosmonauts on the moon and accomplish many other cool space activities.

This would normally be a positive sign that officials could point to as evidence of a space agency turning itself around. Unfortunately, the leak occurred amid a series of very public disputes and embarrassments. The problems have included a dismal response to a cosmonaut recruitment effort, an alleged brawl between two of Russia’s top space officials over a smoking hot model/business escort turned personal press secretary, a call for Roscosmos’ leader to step down, and a demand by the deputy prime minister for everyone to shut the frak up. Click here. (3/26)

U.S. Navy's Newly Launched Spacecraft is Flying High (Source:
The U.S. Navy's new satellite to provide more agile communications for forces on the move has successfully maneuvered itself into a perch 22,300 miles above Earth and unfurled its giant umbrella-like mesh antennas. Launched by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket on Feb. 24 from Cape Canaveral, the Mobile User Objective System 1 satellite has executed eight firings of its liquid apogee main engine. The rocket delivered the craft to a preliminary 2,150 by 22,237 statute mile orbit, which has now been circularized, and the inclination was reduced from 19 degrees to about 5 degrees relative to the equator.

Deployment of the craft's power-generating solar arrays has occurred, now spanning more than 90 feet, and the pair of antenna reflectors on boom assemblies took place as planned. The communications payload carries two gold mesh antennas, built by Harris Corp., to serve legacy-equipment users transmitting through a 17.7-foot-diameter reflector on the bottom of the craft and the advanced, multi-beam features of MUOS to significantly increase the transmission capacity over the Navy's previous satellites through a large 46-foot reflector atop the satellite. (3/26)

Cassini to Make Closest Pass Yet over Enceladus South Pole (Source: NASA JPL)
NASA's Cassini spacecraft is preparing to make its lowest pass yet over the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, where icy particles and water vapor spray out in glittering jets. The closest approach, at an altitude of about 46 miles (74 kilometers), will occur around 2:30 p.m. EDT on March 27. This flyby is primarily designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which will attempt to "taste" particles from the jets. Scientists using this spectrometer will utilize the data to learn more about the composition, density and variability of the plume. (3/26)

ASI, JAXA Discuss Cooperation on Re-entry Vehicle Tech (Source: Parabolic Arc)
With both Europe and Japan taking steps toward independent human access to space, officials from JAXA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) are meeting to discuss collaboration on an orbital vehicle that would be able to re-enter the atmosphere and be recovered safely.

The goal of the workshop is to gather innovative ideas for a preliminary study of a future atmospheric re-entry demonstrator to be launched aboard Europe’s Vega rocket. The work is being done under a cooperation agreement signed between ASI and JAXA that focuses on propulsion and space systems. Re-entry technology is a key focus of the joint work. (3/26)

NASA Astronaut and Retired USAF General Join Embry-Riddle Trustees (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Board of Trustees elected two new members at its March 2012 meeting, NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Arthur Lichte. The connection between Stott and Embry-Riddle is strong. She is a frequent speaker at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus and a member of the College of Engineering’s Industry Advisory Board. In 2009 she received the Alumni Eagle of Excellence Award. As the guest speaker at the May 2010 commencement ceremony at the Daytona Beach campus, she was presented with the university’s Distinguished Speaker Award.

Before his retirement in 2010, Lichte was commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC) at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Composed of active-duty military, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and civilians, AMC provides rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America’s armed forces, including airlift, aerial refueling, special air mission and aeromedical evacuation. The command also handles humanitarian support at home and around the world. (3/26)

Scaled Composites to Hold Open House, Jobs Fair in Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Scaled Composites will hold an open house and jobs fair during the Mojave Air and Space Port’s Plane Crazy Saturday event on April 21. East Kern Airport District Board member Cathy Hansen announce the Scaled open house during a meeting of the board on Tuesday. The company doesn’t open its doors very often, so this is a rare opportunity to peek inside and to meet the Scalies. So, if you need a job — or just want to see what the company is up to — drop by the airport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. PDT on April 21. Both Scaled and The Spaceship Company (a joint venture of Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic) have numerous job openings. TSC held a jobs fair in Witchita, Kansas last week. (3/26)

India to Launch Indonesian Satellite (Source: The Pioneer)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) would soon launch an Indonesian satellite into orbit on a turn-key basis, using an indigenously built launch vehicle. The ISRO has bagged this job on the basis of the competitive rate it has offered to the Indonesian space agency. This was revealed here by Indonesian diplomatic sources on the sidelines of the Indonesian Ambassador’s interaction with some business leaders who have been invited to set up industrial units there. (3/26)

Findings Cast Doubt on Moon Origins (Source: Science)
The moon, that giant lump of rock that has fascinated poets and scientists alike, may be about to get even more interesting. A new analysis of isotopes found in lunar minerals challenges the prevailing view of how Earth's nearest neighbor formed. Most scientists believe Earth collided with a hypothetical, Mars-sized planet called Theia early in its existence, and the resulting smash-up produced a disc of magma orbiting our planet that later coalesced to form the moon. This is called the giant impact hypothesis. Computer models indicate that, for the collision to remain consistent with the laws of physics, at least 40% of the magma would have had to come from Theia. (3/26)

NASA Mission Close to Finding Ice on Scorching Mercury (Source:
The solar system's innermost planet, a world known for its torrid temperatures, may conceal water ice inside permanently dark polar craters, and NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft aims to resolve the question as it begins an extended mission at Mercury. A year after it arrived in orbit around Mercury, MESSENGER started the second phase of its science mission March 18, and controllers plan to lower the craft's orbit in April through a series of thruster firings. (3/26)

MDA Supports Signing of Canada-Japan Space Cooperation Agreement (Source: CNW)
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), a provider of essential information solutions, today applauded the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to pursue cooperation in the area of space. MDA has been conducting business for two decades with Japanese partners. This business covered a wide range of products, including satellite's ground stations, geospatial information, space robotics and communication satellite subsystems. (3/26)

Private Spaceport In New Mexico Nears Completion (Source: Fronteras)
Spaceport America, the commercial space flight venture in southern New Mexico, is wrapping up plans for its final phase of construction. Included in those plans are three visitor centers that will be open to the general public. One visitor center will be in Hatch, the second in Truth or Consequences and the third will be on site at the spaceport. Visitors who cannot afford the actual space flight will be able to experience a simulated flight at the main welcome center.

The site already has a completed 10,000 foot runway and a hangar. Next will be the permanent Vertical Launch facility and the second of two roads that leads to the spaceport, which is located about two hours outside of El Paso, Texas. A spokesman for Spaceport America said they expect a quarter million visitors a year. He said the company hopes to launch the first customers into space at the end of 2013. (3/26)

EU Space Code of Conduct: The solution to Space Debris? (Source: BBC)
Hurtling through space at 27,000km/h (17,000mph), man-made space junk could potentially cripple financial markets, mobile phone networks and television signals if it crashed into satellites. What might appear from Earth when we look into the night sky to be a peaceful, unpolluted realm of the unknown is described by the US Department of Defense as "congested, contested, and competitive".

Having some rules to stop the creation of more debris would seem to be in every space-faring country's interest, but so far the European Union's attempts to draw up a space code of conduct has hit a roadblock. Experts say that's because of longstanding mistrust between nations, concerns because the agreement wouldn't be legally binding, and accusations that the code of conduct is actually just an attempt to prevent a space arms race. (3/26)

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