April 7, 2012

ULA Wins Launches of Two Weather Satellites From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
NASA today awarded United Launch Alliance contracts worth $446 million for the launches of two next-generation weather forecasting satellites from Cape Canaveral in 2015 and 2017. ULA’s Atlas V rockets will lift the two Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, labeled GOES-R and GOES-S, on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GOES-R is slated to launch in October 2015, followed by GOES-S in February 2017.

Improved technology flown by the Lockheed Martin Corp.-built satellites “will result in more timely and accurate weather forecasts,” NASA said in a statement. “It will improve detection and observation of meteorological phenomena that directly affect people's lives.” (4/6)

USA Worker Shows Off shuttle Endeavour (Source: Florida Today)
By the time you’re reading this, Jay Beason will have seen a space shuttle powered down for the final time of his 24-year career. “My last power down,” the 44-year-old United Space Alliance spacecraft operator said Friday, pausing to consider that as Endeavour’s cockpit glowed before him. Alive with 2,000 switches and controls. Data still fluttering on the displays.

Beason, of Titusville, wraps up his space shuttle career next Friday. This Friday, he spent much of the day giving journalists a tour inside the orbiter’s middeck and cockpit. He spent hours listening to the “oohs” and “aahs” that he still feels when he comes to work in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay No. 2. Endeavour’s final powerdown will happen later this spring, and then in September the orbiter will be ferried into retirement. The new home awaiting it: the California Science Center in Los Angeles. (4/6)

Embry-Riddle "Strata" Focuses on Space Transportation (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle's 2012 edition of STRATA, the annual magazine about Embry-Riddle research and scholarship, is now available online. This year’s edition features several articles about Embry-Riddle faculty and students who are conducting important research in the rapidly growing commercial space transportation sector. Other articles detail faculty research in astronomy and physics, unmanned aircraft systems, hybrid aircraft and NextGen technology. Click here. (4/5)

FIT Seeks Sponsors for ISU Summer Program (Source: Florida Today)
Florida Institute of Technology, playing host to the prestigious International Space University this summer, is seeking sponsors. All sponsors will receive recognition through name and logo display on ISU materials, mailings and advertisements. They will all receive local, regional, national and international media exposure to include print and electronic distribution of press releases, event invitations, pre-event announcements and promotional materials, advertisements, and post-event reports and acknowledgments. (4/6)

Editorial: Spaceport America Brings Jobs, Gives Boost to Economy (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Spaceport America isn't a futuristic facility magically transported to the middle of the desert, plunked down and ready for business. It's actually the result of a rather intricate relationship between a lot of people and a number of companies. And while it isn't open for business yet, the target year is 2014 - not that far off, especially in terms of light years. And "business" is one of the key words attached to to the space center.

Just look at all the businesses, a number of them from this area, that have played roles or will as the spaceport grows from ideas and plans to finished product. Construction of the spaceport brought with it jobs for workers in this area. With the economy still in a fragile condition and unemployment still a concern, the jobs provided by the spaceport have given us a needed boost. Approximately 1,000 New Mexicans have worked on the project so far and it's estimated that by 2014 that number will have risen to about 1,500.

And, Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, said, "Then, longer term - and these are sustainable kind of jobs - we project about 2,000 jobs around the 2014, '15, '16 time frame.
"That's including the hospitality management, all the things associated with the visitor's experience, the Virgin (Galactic) operations and any other tenants we might have at that time." (4/5)

Space Junk Floats Above Us in Night Sky (Source: Alamogordo Daily News)
When many of us look up into the night sky, we are awe-inspired by what we see and contemplate: the unimaginably large universe, with its planets, stars, galaxies and clouds of glowing gas, stretching out in all directions farther than we can even begin to fathom. On the other hand, when we consider travel into space, such as humans have been doing for over half a century now, we might consider the fact that the space environment is quite hostile: completely airless, with extremes of hot and cold temperatures and the very harsh radiation that comes from a variety of sources.

But even all this, as harsh as it is, has some aestheticism attached to it. There is, however, another aspect of space that is far less aesthetic but that is nonetheless real, and that at some level we have to confront and deal with. Simply stated, space is full of junk. Some of this is natural: small grains of dust, all the way up to small rocks. The more insidious form of space junk, however, is human-made. Consider all the various satellites that have been launched over the half-century that humans have had this capability: most of these have operational lifetimes of only a few years at most, but they nevertheless remain in orbit for quite some time. (4/5)

Editorial: Keep Dream of Alabama Spaceport Alive (Source: Huntsville Times)
A "spaceport" in Alabama for commercial rocket launches is a dream worthy of chasing as long as the pursuit remains in the proper perspective. The Legislature should support efforts by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and GOP Reps. Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw and Jim McClendon of Springville, to create a study committee to decide whether to recommend creation of an Alabama Spaceport Authority to seek FAA licensing for a commercial launch complex.

The FAA has already licensed eight non-federal launch sites in six states - mostly in coastal areas or on military installations in sparsely populated regions. Proponents say more will be established as the private space industry grows. But Alabama mustn't repeat the mistake it made in the 1990s: spending millions of dollars for feasibility studies for a $1 billion mega-airport hub in central Alabama that was never a serious project to begin with. (4/5)

Manned Mars Surface Missions (1966) (Source: WIRED)
Piloted spaceflight planning typically emphasizes transportation; that is, methods of traveling from Earth to some destination and back again. Other than landing and liftoff, astronaut activities on the surface of a target world normally receive little attention. This is not too surprising at the present stage of spaceflight development, given the many challenges inherent in moving humans between worlds.

What is more surprising is that, as early as 1965, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center turned its attention to the scientific tasks astronaut-scientists might perform on Mars. In that year, as part of an ongoing series of Mars mission studies that began in 1962 with the EMPIRE manned Mars/Venus flyby/orbiter study, MSFC contracted with Avco/RAD to study manned Mars surface operations. With President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline for a manned
Linkmoon landing fast approaching, NASA had barely begun to pay serious attention to the scientific tasks that Apollo astronauts would perform on the moon. Click here. (4/6)

MIT Professor Explores Planets for Signs of Life (Source: PRI)
Professor Sara Seager is certain life has evolved on another planet. Seager, a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at M.I.T., is one of the leaders of the hunt for new planets that demonstrate evidence of life. Professor Sara Seager is combing the universe for signs of exoplanets — planets that orbit a star other than our sun. She believes it's only a matter of time before they find an exoplanet that can, and perhaps does, suppport life. In order to track down planets with the potential to support life, Seager said she looks for bio-signatures — evidence of life — in the atmospheres of other planets. (4/6)

Manned Moon Landings Need Big Rockets - as China Finds Out (Source: Flight Global)
While Russia's space agency Roscosmos deals with unrest over the leadership of General Vladimir Popovkin, a draft of its national space plan showing its intention to send cosmonauts to the Moon by 2030 was leaked to Russian newspaper Kommersant. If this plan still holds, Russia has effectively joined the race back to the lunar surface.

Exactly how they would build a heavy-lift launch vehicle to do this remains to be seen. The N1 rocket was retired in the 1970s, while the Energia launcher was killed off at the end of the cold war after only two flights. Nevertheless, there have been reports that a heavy-lift rocket is being considered. Its first stage may be based on a derivative of the 7,565kN Russian liquid oxygen (LOx)/kerosene RD-170 rocket engine.

For a time, China looked to be leading the field in this manned-return-to-the-moon race, even though it did not have a suitable heavy-lift rocket. In fact, the China Academy of Launch vehicle Technology has admitted such a launch vehicle would need to have a lift-off thrust of 29,730kN to perform the mission. The problem is that while the Chinese space program has the 1,157kN YF-100 rocket engine, developed for the boosters of the Long March 5, it needs something about five times as powerful. That would be a substantial technical undertaking. (4/5)

Private Spaceport Planned in Russia (Source: RIA Novosti)
The Uniparx Development company said on Thursday it was planning to build a spaceport in central Russia near the birthplace of Yury Gagarin, the first man to conquer space. The Russian spaceport will be similar to the existing Spaceport America in the United States. It will host museums, entertainment facilities, exhibitions and tours for Russian and foreign guests, especially children. The project, tentatively dubbed Spaceport Gagarin, will be developed under a slogan ‘The Earth and space for children’. It will be part of entertainment resort Vazuza and Yauza Park, being built in Smolensk region, 200 kilometers from Moscow.

U.S.-based Space Adventures, Ltd., which has an office in Moscow, has expressed its willingness to become a partner in the project. The company offers zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital space flights and other spaceflight-related experiences. According to the head of the project, Alexander Tarasevich, the spaceport could also host U.S.-made suborbital spaceships from Richard Branson’s fleet of commercial spacecraft. (4/5)

Surprise! Venus May Have Auroras Without a Magnetic Field (Source: Space.com)
The same magnetic phenomenon that causes auroras on Earth has now surprisingly been discovered creating giant magnetic bubbles around Venus, a planet without a magnetic field. These findings could help explain mysterious flashes of light from Venus, in addition to the way comet tails work, researchers say. The Northern and Southern Lights on Earth are caused by magnetic lines of force breaking and connecting with each other. This process, known as magnetic reconnection, can explosively convert magnetic energy to heat and kinetic energy. (4/5)

Most Precise Measurement of Scale of the Universe (Source: Discovery)
Physicists on the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) have announced the first results from their collaboration, revealing the most precise measurements ever made of the large-scale structure of the universe between five to seven billion years ago. They achieved this by observing the primordial sound waves that propagated through the cosmic medium a mere 30,000 years after the Big Bang. And so far, the data supports the theory that our universe as flat, comprised of roughly a quarter cold dark matter, and four percent ordinary matter, with the rest made up of a mysterious force dubbed "dark energy." Click here. (4/6)

Scaled Composites Sets Career Day in Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The monthly Plane Crazy Saturday event will include Scaled Composites first ever Career Day with static displays of the White Knight and WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, a briefing on flying SpaceShipTwo, a competitive student robotics competition, and the GT Race Car Club on Runway 30. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, with the Voyager restaurant open at 8 a.m. Scaled Composites, LLC is having its first ever Career Day and will be opening its hangar doors to give job seekers of all backgrounds the chance to talk to our employees and see some of our unique aircraft. (4/6)

California Spacecraft Limited Liability Law Advances in Assembly (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A limited liability bill protecting spacecraft operators from lawsuits except if they are grossly negligent or intentionally cause injury to spaceflight participants is making its way through the California Legislature. The measure would put the state on an even footing with New Mexico, Virginia and Florida, which have passed similar measures. Click here. (4/6)

Witt: California Governor’s Office to Send Advance Team to Mojave (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stu Witt is making some progress in his campaign to get Sacramento to provide more support for his facility and the aerospace industry across California. Witt told the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday that he recently got a call from the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, which will be sending an advance team from the state’s Office of Economic Development for a one-day visit to the desert spaceport. The call came after a letter of support from Larry Adams and Jay Sprague, president and vice president, respectively, of the California City Development Corporation. (4/6)

See the Elephant Face on Mars (Source: MSNBC)
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured an elephant on Mars — well, actually, it's an elephant-shaped lava flow in Elysium Planitia on Mars. This picture provides one more Martian example of the phenomenon known as "pareidolia," in which our eyes and brain can be coaxed to see familiar patterns in unfamiliar settings. (4/6)

Canadian Space Budget Cuts Put Radarsat Constellation Mission in Limbo (Source: Space News)
The future of one of the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) key programs is looking increasingly uncertain after the Canadian government announced a series of budget cuts to the organization. The Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) was to have seen the construction of a number of radar-imaging satellites to conduct maritime and Arctic surveillance, but MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), contracted to design the spacecraft, is raising doubts whether the project will proceed. (4/6)

LightSquared: Wireless Industry's Biggest Gamble is Failing (Source: CNN)
The end appears near for LightSquared, one of the wireless industry's grandest and riskiest gambles. It's odd to think of a company backed by $5 billion as a startup, but that's what LightSquared is. It wanted to become the country's fifth nationwide wireless carrier by going toe-to-toe with giants like Verizon and AT&T -- an ambitious vision it had a real shot at pulling off. Now, after a series of potentially fatal regulatory setbacks, it's mulling bankruptcy. Philip Falcone, head of LightSquared's majority owner Harbinger Capital Partners, told Reuters the company is "seriously considering" the option. (4/5)

INFINITY Center at Stennis Opens Science and Space on Mississippi Gulf Coast (Source: PRWeb)
A new $30 million science and space educational center opens April 12 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, celebrating the intertwining of science, space exploration and fun. INFINITY Science Center, affiliated with NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, is designed to challenge and educate visitors of all ages on the role of science and math in exploration across history. INFINITY also showcases Stennis Space Center’s part in the United States’ space programs – from the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo manned lunar landing program to space shuttles and beyond. (4/7)

Roscosmos, ESA Agree Joint Mars Research (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said on Friday it agreed Russia’s participation in a Mars research project with the European Space Agency (ESA), a spokeswoman for the Roscosmos chief said on Friday. Roscosmos and ESA chiefs Vladimir Popovkin and Jean-Jacques Dordain met in Moscow on Friday. (4/6)

Russian Military Satellite to Splash Down in Pacific (Source: RIA Novosti)
A 1.6 ton defunct Russian military communication satellite, Molniya-1-89, is expected to fall Saturday morning in the Pacific Ocean, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said. “Fragments of the Molniya satellite that do not burn up in the upper atmosphere may reach the earth’s surface on Saturday, April 7,” he said. The satellite is expected to fall in the Pacific at 63°S 158°E, he added. (4/6)

Teachers in Space Issues Last Call for Summer Workshop Applications (Source: SFF)
The Space Frontier Foundation's Teachers in Space (TIS) project today announced its final call for teachers' applications for free, NASA-sponsored summer workshops. "April 15th is the application closing date," said TIS project Manager Elizabeth Kennick. "There are some slots still open, but we can only accommodate 140 total teachers for these extraordinary experiences."

Teachers in Space is a project to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging teachers with authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources they bring into classrooms across America. The workshops are offered for high school teachers of math, science and technology. Click here. (4/5)

Astronomy Archive and Supernova Named in Honor Of Barbara Mikulski (Source: HubbleSite)
One of the world's largest astronomy archives, containing a treasure trove of information about myriad stars, planets, and galaxies, has been named in honor of the United States Senator from Maryland Barbara Mikulski. Called MAST, for the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, the huge database contains astronomical observations from 16 NASA space astronomy missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. The archive is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. (4/5)

A Possible Nine-Planet System (Source: Planetary)
HD 10180 made headlines in August 2010 with the publication of an article suggesting that it had six, possibly seven, planets. That work was based on analysis performed by Christophe Lovis on measurements of the radial velocity of the star using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) mounted on the ESO 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile.

A new paper, by Mikko Tuomi, is a re-analysis of the same data using different statistical methods. His work verified that of Lovis -- and suggests that there are two more, previously unsuspected planets among the crowd. Maybe, possibly. Putting the planets in to his models improves the fit of the rest of the known planets to the observations. (4/6)

ESA Expresses Interest in NASA Facility To Test Ariane 5 Upgrade (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) is considering paying a multimillion-dollar repair bill for NASA’s B-2 Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility in Sandusky, Ohio, so that the upper stage for the possible successor to Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket can be tested there.

The B-2 Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility is part of Plum Brook Station, a campus about 80 kilometers west of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. ESA wants to use the facility to test the upper stage for its Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (ME) rocket, one of two options Europe is considering for its next satellite launcher. However, the B-2 building needs to have its steam ejection system fixed so it can simulate high-altitude conditions needed for the ESA test. (4/6)

NASA Pondering Future Standalone Flagship Program Offices (Source: Space News)
NASA is considering whether future flagship science missions should be cordoned off into their own distinct program offices in the same way the budget-busting James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was pulled out of the astrophysics division and put under the agency’s third in command. “In general, with the big flagships, we’re having the discussion about how we treat them [and] should we treat them differently,” said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot. (4/6)

Scientists Learning to Predict Dust Devils on Mars (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Knowing exactly when and where to look for dust devils on Mars is still a matter of luck, but scientists are making inroads in forecasting the red planet phenomena, leading to two astonishing images of Martian twisters released in the last month. The HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter collected the imagery. NASA has released sharp color photos captured on Feb. 16 and March 14.

"This season is northern spring on Mars," said Richard Zurek, MRO's project scientist. "At this time, the ground is getting hot, and when the ground gets hot, it can produce dust devils." Both images show dust devils in a region named Amazonis Planitia, a volcanic plain covered in dust. Amazonis Planitia is located west of Olympus Mons, the solar system's largest volcano, according to Zurek. (4/6)

NASA's New Ultragreen Building Opens (Source: NASA)
NASA's newest building also is one of the nation's greenest. Sustainability Base, at the agency's Ames Research Center, will have a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony on April 20. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building can optimize its performance automatically, in real time, in response to internal and external changes. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating. (4/6)

Reentry: From NASA to Entrepreneurship (Source: Bloomberg)
During his five years as NASA’s chief technology officer for IT, Chris Kemp helped make millions of NASA’s images—such as rover tracks on Mars and lunar craters—available online. And he never hired a single employee. Because of congressional budget cuts, “I saw my vision for the future slowly slip farther from my grasp,” Kemp wrote in a blog post announcing his resignation in March 2011. “I am leaving the place I dreamed of working as a kid to find a garage in Palo Alto to do what I love.”

Soon after departing, Kemp, 34, located his metaphorical garage and founded Nebula, a cloud computing startup that makes hardware to help data center servers work in unison. His story isn’t unique. NASA launched its last Space Shuttle mission in 2011. While winding down the program, the agency has laid off 9,200 prime contractors, who in turn laid off thousands of subcontractors. Most staffers have been spared, although some have left NASA to pursue dreams no longer achievable at a diminished government agency. (4/5)

Space Foundation's 2012 Report Reveals 12.2% Global Space Industry Growth in 2011 (Source: Space Foundation)
The global space economy grew to $289.77 billion in 2011, reflecting a surprisingly robust single-year expansion of 12.2 percent and five-year growth of 41 percent* in a global economy that has been suppressed in many other sectors. The new global space economic numbers come from the Space Foundation's publication, The Space Report 2012: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity. Click here. (4/5)

Russia to Shift Space Launches to Plesetsk, Vostochny (Source: Voice of Russia)
The number of space launches from Russia-based space ports Plesetsk and Vostochny must rise from 25% to 90% by 2020. This ambitious goal was laid down in the state space development project presented at the meeting of the Skolkovo club for space technologies and telecom . Today, most of Russia’s launches are carried out from the Baikonur space base, leased by the Kazakh government to Russia for $115 million a year. An additional $50 million is further spent on the maintenance of this facility. The lease is due to expire in 2050. (4/6)

Russia Plans to Launch Lunar Rovers to Moon after 2020 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia plans to send two lunar rovers to Moon after 2020 and a landing station after 2022 as the first steps to form the future manned lunar base there, the country's Academy of Sciences said in its report on Saturday. Under the document, obtained by RIA Novosti, core aims of the Russian scientists are to study polar regions of Moon and gas-dust exosphere of the satellite, make a soil samples and find the most comfortable areas for lunar base deployment.

The first phase stipulates Moon exploration by Luna-Resurs and Luna-Glob probes from 2015, while at the second stage Lunokhod-3 and Lunokhod-4 lunar rovers will work on the satellite in 2020-2022. The landing station will be sent to Moon in 2023. (4/6)

Russia Plans to Bind Satellite to Apophis Asteroid (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia plans to send a satellite with a radio beacon to near-Earth asteroid of 99942 Apophis for finding out how big is a threat of its collision with Earth, the country's Academy of Sciences said in its report on Saturday.
The asteroid is considered by the Russian scientists as the most serious threat to Earth as for now. In 2029, Apophis will be at a distance of only about 36,000 miles to our planet, at the height of the orbits of geostationary satellites. The asteroid could change its orbit and cannon Earth in 2036. (4/7)

Viewpoint: Commercial Space Will Renew NASA (Source: Aviation Week)
Decisions by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to retire NASA’s space shuttle and cancel the Constellation program were both received with much—and varied—emotion among my fellow astronauts, the NASA family and others nationwide. Regardless of those sentiments, these choices have brushed in broad strokes the landscape on which our future as a spacefaring nation must be painted. That backdrop reveals a stark reality: As of Atlantis’s final flight last July, our nation has no means to launch humans into Earth orbit from U.S. soil. Period.

Whether considered from a geopolitical, economic or technological perspective, recovering that capability should be a national strategic priority. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) represents the fastest and most cost-effective path to that end. This capability is not only a national strategic imperative. It is crucial to protecting our $100 billion investment in the International Space Station. The commercial program meets this objective sooner than any other approach, cost-effectively while keeping safety paramount. Congress should join the administration in leaning forward to ensure the U.S. preserves its human-spaceflight leadership. (4/6)

Zenit Booster Delivered for Next Sea Launch Mission (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The Ukrainian Zenit rocket for Sea Launch's next commercial launch has arrived at the firm's California home base for final assembly. The Zenit 3SL rocket will launch the Intelsat 19 satellite in late May from the Odyssey launch platform, a modified North Sea drilling rig. Odyssey is steaming back to Sea Launch's home port from Malaysia after dry-docking for a required 15-year maintenance regimen. (4/6)

Existing Rocket Could Launch Private Space Taxis by 2015 (Source: Space.com)
An unmanned rocket that three private spaceflight companies hope will be upgraded to help launch NASA astronauts into orbit could be operational by 2015, the rocket's builders said. A crew-carrying version of United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket — which is slated to loft the space taxis built by Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin — requires about three more years of work, ULA officials said. That means the rocket's development is on track to help the companies start flying astronauts to the International Space Station by NASA's desired 2017 start date, they added. Editor's Note: Click here to see a ULA briefing. (4/5)

Near-Misses Between Space Station and Debris on the Rise (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Statistics show the International Space Station came under growing danger from space junk after 2007, with half of the orbiting lab's close calls since then due to near-collisions with debris from a Chinese anti-satellite missile test, the mysterious explosion of a Russian military spacecraft, and the cataclysmic high-speed crash of two satellites. The space station, assembled in orbit beginning in 1998, has fired its thrusters 14 times to avoid space debris, with half of the maneuvers coming since August 2008. (4/5)

How Huffing and Puffing Could Remove Space Junk (Source: Space.com)
The problem of menacing space junk has spurred all sorts of ideas to deal with it, from garbage scows and huge nets to laser blasts and debris-snagging Nerf balls. Now scientists are considering a huff-and-puff approach to remove debris from orbit by firing focused pulses of atmospheric gases into the path of targeted space trash. That's the idea behind SpaDE, a Space Debris Elimination initiative put forward by Daniel Gregory of Raytheon BBN Technologies in Virginia. Vertical bursts of air produced within Earth's atmosphere can either be directed at orbiting riffraff to change its trajectory or cause drag on the clutter to hasten its re-entry. (4/5)

Air Force Secretary Calls DMSP Satellites 'Out of Date' (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force’s top civilian admitted that the technology in the two aging Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP) military weather satellites that the service plans to launch is “out-of-date.” The service will launch the two satellites anyway because they can still provide useful capability, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said. The Defense Department will continue to rely on the DMSP system, which dates back to the 1960s, after the cancelation of the next generation Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) in 2012. (4/5)

French Space Exports Dipped in 2011 (Source: Space News)
France’s space industry in 2011 posted revenue of 4.2 billion euros ($5.5 billion), about flat from 2010 as French exports dipped along with the global satellite telecommunications market, the French aerospace industries association, GIFAS, said. France’s satellite and rocket manufacturers account for 50 percent of Europe’s total space revenue, and their financial results are heavily dependent on the commercial markets.

Typically nearly two-thirds of French space sales are for commercial orders for either satellites — Thales Alenia Space and Astrium Satellites both have major French production facilities — or rockets sold by the Arianespace launch consortium of Evry, France. The dip in commercial sales in 2011 meant that revenue was divided about equally between orders from France-based customers and those from outside of France. The French space sector employs some 13,000 people, according to GIFAS. (4/5)

Arab Satellite YahSat-1B to be Launched From Baikonur on April 24 (Source: Interfax)
A Proton-M launch vehicle with a Briz-M booster will blast off Baikonur on April 24 to position the YahSat-1B telecom satellite. The satellite and the booster are being fueled. When the fueling is done, the booster will be taken to the assembly workshop for further preparations for the launch, he said. Foreign specialists are fueling YahSat-1B in the clean-room of the 92A-50 launch site assembly workshop, he said. (4/5)

No comments: