May 27, 2012

Editorial: Business Partners in Space (Source: Huntsville Times)
The debate continues on how much commercial space the government can afford. But NASA has embraced ceding low-Earth voyages to private companies while it focuses on the big and riskier stuff. It has to. The private sector may bring efficiency and new ideas that may be applied to the new heavy-lift rocket being developed by Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center. Commercial space firms might also provide rides into low-Earth orbit for tourists. Or send probes to celestial bodies to mine valuable minerals. That can inspire Americans to support a vigorous space policy that keeps NASA at the forefront. It's a marriage made in the heavens. (5/27)

Chinese Communications Satellite Delivered to Space (Source:
A Long March 3B rocket lifted off Saturday and successfully deployed a Chinese military communications satellite bound for an orbit over the equator, state media reported. The 185-foot-tall launch vehicle, weighing about one million pounds, blasted off Saturday from the Xichang spaceport in southwest China's Sichuan province. The Long March 3B/E rocket flew with an enhanced first stage and liquid-fueled boosters. The three-stage rocket released the Chinasat 2A payload in an oval-shaped transfer orbit ranging in altitude from 129 miles to about 22,240 miles. (5/27)

Students Study Orbital Debris Solutions (Source: MA News Telegram)
Students in Grades 6-8 are doing their best this week to let elected officials — and anybody else who is interested — know that space debris is becoming more common and worrisome. About 450 students in those grades are participating in “Space Week — Protecting our Place in Space,” and while debris floating above our planet that sometimes comes crashing to earth is a focus of the students, they are also looking at ways to increase their knowledge of space, satellite-based technology, space exploration and space-related careers through an integrated curriculum unit. (5/27)

Company Becomes First Official Producer of Replica SpaceX Spacecraft (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Less than an hour after Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) made spaceflight history by becoming the first commercial company ever to dock a spacecraft at the International Space Station, an independent Canadian aerospace model-making company hade history of its own. SpaceX formally concluded signing a license agreement with Proach Models of Sechelt, BC that allows them to produce and sell scale-model replicas of the Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon spacecraft to the public. (5/27)

Final Frontier for Investors? (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Now that a privately built capsule has completed its historic hook-up with the International Space Station, investors may want to tread lightly before boldly going where few have gone before. That’s the advice from both analysts and industry executives, who sound a cautionary tale when it comes to looking toward the heavens for future investment possibilities. For one, the prospects for investing now are next to nothing. The Dragon capsule that made the rendezvous with the station was designed by SpaceX, a privately held company, and there aren’t many space companies that are actively traded.

More importantly, for those companies that do go public, the profits from such an operation may never be that promising, given the heavy up-front costs incurred before even getting close to going airborne. Not to overstate the obvious, but the risks are formidable for any company venturing into space. Launch mishaps, environmental extremes, complex engineering — any one of them could not only trip up a space mission, but they could send an entire company reeling. (5/27)

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