June 17, 2012

ESA Sets Investment Forum (Source: ESA)
Investors will meet with start-up companies using space tech in terrestrial systems to discuss business prospects and partnerships at the seventh ESA Investment Forum on 16 October in Toulouse, France. The Forum is an exceptional platform for exploring investment opportunities and business potential. The selected companies have all built a significant portion of their growth and competitive advantage on the utilization of technologies and expertise originating from Europe’s space programs. They will discuss their business ideas and products with the investors.

“Entrepreneurs come to us with great ideas and we help them to mature their ideas in our incubation centres and to develop them into potential business opportunities.” ESA has set up six business incubation centres to support the use of Europe’s space technology developments in non-space fields. This is often done by entrepreneurs creating new businesses by taking existing space technologies and turning them around creating innovative solutions for applications on Earth. (6/17)

GeoEye Expands Tampa Office for Military Geospatial Predictive Analytics (Source: GeoEye)
GeoEye announced the expansion of its Tampa office to support the growing demand for its services across the U.S. military. This growing presence builds on the tremendous success GeoEye customers have had using its advanced analytic assessments to discover geospatial patterns that allow our warfighters and allies to find and thwart adversaries around the globe.

Tampa is the headquarters for the United States Special Operations and Central Commands and home to other U.S. military organizations. In addition to supporting its U.S. military customers there, GeoEye considers Tampa to be an attractive area to recruit data scientists, geospatial analysts and other technical talent motivated to safeguard our most pressing national security interests.

The office in Tampa is one component of a virtual analytics center of excellence that will aggregate and analyze unclassified imagery and open source data to predict areas where threats are more likely to emerge across Africa, Asia and other parts of the world. Using these resources GeoEye Analytics recently analyzed patterns of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa identifying its operating behavior and area preferences which predicted areas of concern that matched where key LRA leadership was recently apprehended. (6/13)

Hutchison: American Taxpayers Must Invest in NASA (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Since it first became a possibility for man to reach the stars, America has been the leader in space exploration. We have done so because we are a nation that prizes knowledge and progress. We have done so because we are a nation that imagines what can be and works to realize our vision. And we have done so because it is vital to our economy and national security.

Breakthroughs in healthcare, missile defense, even everyday products we use in the home, have all come out of research related to America’s space program. Some of these innovations were planned, others were pure happenstance. But they have all made our lives better.

Science and research are engines for both our financial and intellectual economy. NASA is an investment, not an expenditure. I have worked hard throughout my years in the Senate to be sure NASA is recognized for its strategic importance and the value it brings. This is more important than ever in such uncertain times. (6/17)

Indian Space Scientists Praise Chinese Space Feat (Source: Outlook India)
India's top space scientists praised China's maiden mission of manned docking of its space lab even as New Delhi's own human space flight program seems to have lost momentum. "It's a wonderful thing that has happened," ex-Chairman of Indian Space Research Organization, U R Rao said. "Essentially, they are making sure that they are going ahead systematically with manned mission program". Another former ISRO Chairman, G Madhavan Nair said China is marching forward in manned space program with a lot of aggression. (6/16)

NASA Competition Pushes Robot Tech (Source: Huntsville Times)
It takes one push of the power button for a Roomba robot vacuum to navigate the house cleaning up after pets and kids. But as good as a modern Roomba is, it can still fall down the stairs if you haven't set up an electronic barrier in advance. What would it take to make a robot that could navigate the landscape of another world and pick up samples to analyze or return to Earth?

Even though NASA has sent probes to other planets, the space agency wants even better ones. Much of the work on past probes was directed by controllers on Earth, and the space agency wants affordable robots that can run themselves. Moving toward those robots is the goal of a $1.5 million "Sample Return Robot Challenge" being run near Boston this weekend by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (6/16)

Atlas Launch Delayed Due to Duct Failure (Source: CFnews13)
United Launch Alliance has postponed the launch of an Atlas V rocket from the Space Coast. After the rocket was rolled the launch pad, an issue with an environmental control system duct that failed near its connection to the Mobile Launch Platform was identified. The vehicle will be rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility so the duct can be replaced. The launch is now set for Wednesday, June 20 from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will carry a classified payload into orbit on behalf of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. (6/16)

China’s Space Launch: ‘Wow’ or ‘Meh’? (Source: TIME)
There are a lot of reasons to be both very impressed and very unimpressed by China’s announcement that it successfully launched a three-person crew into space today—a crew that included Liu Yang, 33, the country’s first female astronaut. Before 2003, China had never conducted any manned launch at all. That year they put one astronaut in orbit; in 2005 they lofted a two-man crew; in 2008 it was three men—plus a spacewalk. Last year they launched Tiangong-1, an unmanned space station, that the new crew will attempt to dock with this week. So just like that: the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs in four deft vaults. The Great Leap Forward was never like this.

But what about those Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Mercury programs? China’s been in the manned space game for nine years now and has managed four successful launches. The U.S. flew six Mercury missions from 1961 to 1963; ten Geminis in the 20 months from March 1965 to November 1966; and eleven Apollos from 1968 to 1972. In the nine months from Oct. 1968 to July 1969 alone, we popped off the first five Apollos—-including three visits to the moon and the first landing. The fact that China lofted a female astronaut so early in its space program is a very good thing—but that achievement comes a whopping 49 years after the U.S.S.R’s Valentina Tereshkova first made space travel a Title IX sport.

Don’t lose sight either of the fact that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were inventing the systems and the flight techniques pretty much on the fly. It’s a familiar joke that before Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space in 1961, people didn’t know whether or not a human being’s eyeballs would explode in zero-g. But the fact is, people didn’t kno
Linkw whether or not a human being’s eyeballs would explode in zero-g. The spacecraft, the spacesuits, the ability to rendezvous, dock, walk in space, reenter safely—every bit of it was new. Click here. (6/16)

Happy Homecoming for X-37B ‘Mini Shuttle’ with Vandenberg Landing (Source: Lompoc Record)
After a record-shattering 469 days circling the Earth, the Air Force’s X-37B mini space shuttle returned home early Saturday with “a picture-perfect landing” at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, an unmanned, autonomous, reusable space plane with a 15-foot wingspan and a length of 29 feet, made its much-anticipated landing on Vandenberg’s runway at 5:48 a.m. Saturday, according to Air Force officials. (6/16)

Texas Ramps Up Attempt to Lure SpaceX to Brownsville (Source: Brownsville Herald)
Days after a meeting between Gov. Rick Perry and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, the governor’s office is doing all it can to persuade the multimillionaire to build a launch pad near Brownsville. “We are looking at pretty much anything that we can do,” said Lucy Nashed, deputy press secretary for the governor. “Pretty much everything is on the table at this point because we are really interested in the project.”

Musk last week said the south coast of Texas had become the leading candidate for the SpaceX company’s third launch site. Florida and Puerto Rico also are in the running. Musk’s comment has people elated, not only in Brownsville but throughout the state. Texas is working on an incentives package to help lure the company to Cameron County. Because negotiations are still under way, no details are being released, Nashed said. In a letter dated May 9 to the FAA, Perry expressed his support for the SpaceX launch site coming to the Brownsville area.

Although Musk has said that Florida and Puerto Rico have made stronger cases than Texas for the new launch site, he also said that things were changing. Florida, meanwhile, is trying to sweeten the deal they offered the company. "We are no stranger to competition,” Nashed, Perry’s spokeswoman said. “If Florida wants to step up their game, then of course we are certainly open to that. We really want this project to be here and we are committed to doing what we can to get it here.” (6/16)

Chinese Space Station to Benefit World (Source: Xinhua)
The successful launch of China's fourth manned spaceship paves the way for a future space station, which might subsequently benefits the world in space exploration. Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, carrying two males and one female, will break new grounds for the country's space missions. All the tests and experiments to be done in this mission will well prepare the country for building a space station in near future.

Chinese have contributed several most important inventions to human civilizations, and are now working in aspects of space exploration. Key scientists of the Chinese manned space mission commented that China presented a more efficient and economic way compared with Russian and U.S. space explorations, while learning a lot from foreign experience. China is willing to share its experience with the rest of the world. (6/16)

Chinese Rocket Designer Expects More International Cooperation (Source: Xinhua)
A senior Chinese designer involved in preparations for Saturday's successful launch of Shenzhou-9, the country's fourth manned spaceship, has told Xinhua he expects more international input in future space missions. International cooperation will be a trend for future space exploration," said Lu Xinguang, a leading designer of the control system of the upgraded Long March-2F rocket that carried Shenzhou-9.

"The trend will be inevitable. International space standards will be set up for future dockings at international space stations," he added. Various countries have distinct strengths in different fields of space technology, a fact which would make integrating resources through cooperation beneficial, according to Lu. (6/16)

Space Tourism: to Infinity and Beyond? (Source: Guardian)
The first tourist flight into space is scheduled for next year, and it's cheaper than you'd think. But is this the final frontier for luxury travel, or a highly dangerous sport? At the west end of Pall Mall, among London's most venerable and old-fashioned gentlemen's clubs, a smart new office opened its doors to the public earlier this year. Its front window proclaims, in large letters, the simple motto: "Space is Virgin Territory". Here, amid the trappings of the past, is travel's future.

Inside the office, young men and women are busy working at computers and telephones while decorators put finishing touches to plush, glass-partitioned rooms. It has cost Branson more than £162m to design and build a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo motherships and smaller SpaceShipTwo planes. Virgin Galactic – which Branson describes as "by far and away my boldest venture" – has so far received more than £64m in deposits from 520 customers.

But Branson is not without competition, as will be apparent this week in London when delegates gather for the third European conference on space tourism. The event will reveal the startling progress that has been made in an industry that only existed in science-fiction writers' minds a couple of decades ago. Click here. (6/16)

Ben Bova: Marking a New Era in Space (Source: Naples News)
The changeover from a governmental program to private entrepreneurship follows a pattern that has proved quite successful in the past. In the 19th century, the U.S. government paved the way for the fledgling railroad industry by offering railroad companies extensive federal lands for their right of ways. Federal troops guarded the railroad construction crews as the iron horse progressed across the continent.

In the early 20th century, Washington again provided impetus for the infant aviation industry. The Army and Navy funded development of better planes and engines. The U.S. Postal Service inaugurated air mail, providing a market for aircraft operators that eventually led to today's trillion-dollar commercial aviation industry. Now we are seeing the beginning of a transition in space from government to private enterprise.

Our tax dollars have paved the way. They have been an investment in developing the technologies and trained personnel that have built and operated the launching rockets and spacecraft. Now the technologies are mature enough for private companies to operate them. And improve on them. Government-run programs concentrate on performance. Programs of private companies will make profitability a major goal. (6/16)

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