June 25, 2012

Space: The New Frontier For Medical Breakthroughs (Source: US News)
Deadly bacteria that have spent time in space are already on Earth-—but instead of killing humans, they might just save lives. Scientists are using bacteria cultivated on the International Space Station to help develop vaccines that experts say could revolutionize the medical field. In 1998, researchers began studying how microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast behaved in space because NASA wanted to be able to keep astronauts safe. What they found, specifically with certain types of bacteria, was surprising.

"Bacteria can either respond in microgravity by sitting there and doing nothing, or they can become more aggressive and virulent," meaning they reproduce and evolve to cause disease more readily, she says. But that property of bacteria allows scientists to study exactly why certain bacteria, such as salmonella and MRSA, make people sick.

Scientists aren't exactly sure why certain bacteria become more virulent in space, but Ruttley says they believe it might be a stress response to being put into a low-gravity environment. But whatever the reason, studying bacteria that have spent time in space can make it easier for scientists to develop defenses. (6/25)

British Space Firms Looking Set to Boldly Grow (Source: This Is Money)
Back in 1962, a NASA rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral carrying the first satellite designed and built by British scientists. The launch made Britain the third nation ever to put a satellite into space. Over the following years, four home-grown Black Arrow rockets would take British payloads into orbit. By 1971, the project lay on the scrapheap. But now, from that financial black hole has emerged a constellation of commercial opportunities.

Britain’s space industry involves around 260 firms, with a combined annual turnover of £7.5bn and a workforce of 25,000. Having defied the recession, the sector has been earmarked by government as a key growth area. The recently-established UK Space Agency has been instrumental in nurturing this growth. Unlike NASA or its European counterpart, the agency does not carry out missions of its own (90 per cent of its budget goes straight to Europe for this purpose). Instead the agency’s focus is purely commercial. Click here. (6/25)

Mikulski Visits Flight Facility on Wallops (Source: DelMarVaNow)
U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, paid a visit to NASA’s Wallops Island Goddard Flight facility on Monday to see when a test rocket could be launched to the International Space Station. As Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee, Mikulski toured the Horizontal Integration Facility and the launch pad to see where the Antares rocket would launch from. She said she believes as the nation’s only NASA-owned launch site, Wallops is making strides to send tools and supplies to the Space Station from the Lower Shore. (6/25)

Suborbital Space Ready to Take Flight, Experts Say (Source: Space.com)
Suborbital space travel is on the verge of a renaissance, experts say, with short jaunts to the edge of space becoming more popular for research and soon to be available to tourists. Though suborbital vehicles don't make a full orbit around the Earth, they do fly high enough to offer a view of the blackness of space and Earth below, as well as about five to 10 minutes of weightlessness.

Several firms are racing to send the first paying passengers aboard these suborbital spaceships. A frontrunner in the movement is Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, which is building a space plane called SpaceShipTwo and a mothership to launch it out of Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin officials have said they plan powered rocket tests of the vehicle by year's end.

Another suborbital hopeful is XCOR Aerospace, whose Lynx suborbital spaceplane is designed to carry two people to space and back. Armadillo Aerospace is developing a reusable suborbital rocket, Stig, that lifts off vertically like a conventional orbital booster. The secretive Blue Origin company, started by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, also has a suborbital vehicle in the works. The ticket price for a ride aboard one of these spaceships will range between $100,000 and $200,000 — a steep price for sure, but a bargain compared to orbital space travel. (6/25)

Secretive Air Force Space Plane's Purpose Questioned (Source: Space.com)
When the wheels of the second Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle came to a stop on the tarmac at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California a few weeks ago, the true military utility of this enigmatic, robotic spacecraft remained as hush-hush as the classified payload it carried. After circuiting Earth for 469 days and then winging its way down from space over the Pacific Ocean, the petite autopiloted craft glided back into a cocoon of secrecy.

An 11,000-pound (5,000 kilograms) state-of-the-art vehicle, the X-37B is about a fourth the size of NASA's space shuttle orbiters. OTV-2 eclipsed the nearly 225-day mission duration of the first vehicle, as well as the vehicle's 270-day baseline design specifications. Later this year, the same craft that flew the OTV-1 mission is to roar into orbit atop an Atlas 5 booster on a refurbished, repeat voyage. Once again, its workload is classified. So what do we know about the rationale for the X-37B project? Click here. (6/25)

Extraterrestrial Mining Could Reap Riches & Spur Exploration (Source: Space.com)
Mining the plentiful resources of the moon and near-Earth asteroids could alter the course of human history, adding trillions of dollars to the world economy and spurring our species' spread out into the solar system, a new breed of space enterpreneur says. A number of private companies — such as the billionaire-backed asteroid-mining firm Planetary Resources — aim to start making all of this happen. But it won't be easy, as hitting extraterrestrial paydirt requires melding the know-how of the space and mining communities.

Establishing a "cis-lunar highway" is on the agenda of Shackleton Energy Co. By 2020, Shackleton hopes to become the world’s foremost space-based energy company, providing rocket propellant, life support, consumables and services in low Earth-orbit and on the moon to spacefarers. The firm's plan calls for using a mix of astronauts and advanced robotic systems to provide an ongoing and reliable supply of rocket fuel to customers in space.

Shackleton wants to establish off-Earth fuel depots, which would allow spaceships to refill their tanks on the go. The company hopes to stock these depots by mining the water ice in permanently shadowed lunar craters. (Water can be broken down into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen, the chief components of rocket fuel.) (6/25)

Hispasat Orders Two Satellites from Orbital (Source: Space News)
Spanish satellite fleet operator Hispasat on June 25 announced it has contracted with Orbital Sciences to build two telecommunications satellites that will be used to serve South America, with the second one employing Orbital’s new, higher-power satellite platform. Hispasat said the Orbital-built Amazonas 4A will carry 28 Ku-band transponders and will be launched in early 2014 into Hispasat’s 61 degrees west longitude orbital slot to address the company’s growing Latin American market.

Amazonas 4B, whose exact payload configuration has not been determined, will use a higher-power platform and will launch in 2015, also into the 61 degrees west position. Hispasat’s announcement said one reason for the selection of Orbital was the company’s ability to deliver satellites in less than 24 months. It is unclear when Orbital first received an Authorization to Proceed to begin ordering parts for Amazonas 4A. An early 2014 launch would suggest a delivery cycle much faster than 24 months. (6/25)

SLS Pad May be Made Reconfigurable for Other Vehicles (Source: Flight Global)
As NASA plots the future of the Space Launch System (SLS) programme and fends off accusations that it is starving the funding of the commercial crew development (CCDev) programme, the administration is keen to point out that it is concentrating on limiting both development and, most importantly, the future operating costs of the SLS. NASA is now becoming adept at using what they have rather than building all new infrastructure and hardware. Click here. (6/25)

Is Jupiter a Soggy Planet? (Source: Discovery)
Juno will focus on exploring the inner workings of Jupiter. "We're sending Juno out there to try to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, ... to explain how much water there is, what it's like inside, what the atmosphere is like," said Fran Bagenela. Probing Jupiter's interior was first attempted in 1995 when NASA's Galileo atmospheric probe was the first man-made object ever to plunge into Jupiter's roiling atmosphere. The spacecraft was presumably crushed when atmospheric pressure rose to over 23-times Earth's surface pressure and temperatures passed 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius).

Looking at the telemetry sent back by Galileo, scientists were surprised to find much less water than expected deep in Jupiter's atmosphere. Bagenela believes that the Galileo probe fell at the boundary between one of the brown atmospheric zones and white belts that form a striped pattern across the giant's face. This gap region could have been unusually dry. It's as if space aliens sent a probe to Earth and it descended over Denver during a Chinook where dry winds descend from the Rocky Mountains, says Bagenela.

Juno's microwave instruments should detect water deep in Jupiter's interior. Water absorbs microwaves from Jupiter's heat, just as water behaves in a microwave oven. A straightforward measurement of the strength of the microwaves radiating from Jupiter will give a tally of the water supply. This will also tell how much oxygen is locked inside Jupiter. Jupiter is prototypical of gas giant planets found elsewhere in our Milky Way galaxy, but the only world where we can get details of its composition and inner workings. (6/25)

Russia Wants GLONASS Station on Israel Territory (Source: Itar-Tass)
Roscosmos plans to reach an agreement on installing a Russian GLONASS station on Israel’s territory, said Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin. He said the Israeli side would be supplied with data in return. Popovkin is on the Russian delegation in Israel headed by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. If the sides conclude the agreement, the station can be installed in 2013, Popovkin holds. (6/25)

The Last Manned Mars Plan (1971) (Source: WIRED)
As early as 1961, some within NASA proposed that a Mars expedition be made the space agency’s next goal after Apollo. NASA Administrator James Webb was loath to promote such a goal until after Apollo had achieved its politically motivated purpose of placing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. In Oct. 1968, Webb retired, leaving his inexperienced deputy Thomas Paine in charge. In Jan. 1969, as Apollo neared culmination, Richard Nixon entered the Oval Office. Nixon appointed the Space Task Group (STG), but otherwise placed a low priority on setting NASA’s future course.

In Oct. 1969, Mars supporters within NASA found comfort when the STG endorsed – with reservations – NASA’s own proposed blueprint for its future. The NASA plan was based on the Integrated Program Plan (IPP) developed by the NASA Headquarters Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF). NASA’s plan culminated in a Mars expedition in 1981, 1983, or 1986, while the STG report only called for a Mars expedition by the end of the 20th century. Click here. (6/25)

The Space Industry Grapples With Satellite Servicing (Source: Space Review)
There's growing interest in the concept of robotic refueling and repair of satellites, including several ongoing commercial and government efforts. Jeff Foust reports that while many focus on the technology of satellite servicing, the business and regulatory challenges may be the bigger concern. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2108/1 to view the article. (6/25)

Between the Darkness and the Light (Source: Space Review)
The decision by the NRO in the 1970s to use the Space Shuttle was a controversial one within the intelligence community. Dwayne Day examines the insights from a newly declassified interview with the NRO's director about that move to the shuttle. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2107/1 to view the article. (6/25)

The Value of Mars (Source: Space Review)
Critics of proposals for the human exploration of Mars argue that the money spent on that effort would be better used for terrestrial priorities. Frank Stratford claims that a human Mars mission, properly structured, may be the best, and perhaps only, way to help support those other needs. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2106/1 to view the article. (6/25)

East-West Space Race or Space Cooperation? (Source: Space Review)
China has achieved another set of milestones in its human spaceflight program with this month's launch of Shenzhou-9 and its docking with the Tiangong-1 module. Ayodele Faiyetole wonders if this achievement, and other recent space developments, foretells a new era of international cooperation or competition in space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2105/1 to view the article. (6/25)

SpaceX’s Tests Merlin 1D Engine (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX announces that its Merlin 1D engine has achieved a full mission duration firing and multiple restarts at target thrust and specific impulse (Isp). The engine firing was for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The tests took place at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

With nine Merlins on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust in a vacuum. An enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, with a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts.

Additionally, as SpaceX continues to fulfill an extensive manifest of launches, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count. The Merlin 1D engines will first see flight on Falcon 9 Flight 6, expected to launch in 2013. (6/25)

Would Finding Extraterrestrial Life Destroy Religion? (Source: Huffington Post)
The discovery of life beyond Earth would shake up our view of humanity's place in the universe, but it probably wouldn't seriously threaten organized religion, experts say. Religious faith remains strong in much of the world despite scientific advances showing that Earth is not the center of the universe, and that our planet's organisms were not created in their present form but rather evolved over billions of years. So it's likely that religion would also weather any storms caused by the detection of E.T., researchers say.

We're not the center of the universe. The Bible, Koran and other sacred texts of the world's major religions stress God's special concern for humanity and for Earth. So the discovery of aliens — microbes on Mars, say, or signals from an intelligent civilization in another solar system — might seem threatening, by implying that we and our planet aren't all that special.

But our species has had plenty of time to get used to this idea. Nicolaus Copernicus made perhaps the first powerful case for it in 1543, when his seminal work "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" showed that Earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around. Click here. (6/25)

Florida Leaders Warn Against Cuts to Aerospace and Defense (Source: SpaceRef)
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), AAR Chairman and CEO David P. Storch, leaders from the Space Coast business community and more than 250 local workers rallied at the AAR Airlift facility in Melbourne to warn about the threat to U.S. economic and military strength posed by $500 billion in sequestration budget cuts scheduled for January 2013. A study commissioned by AIA last year found that Florida could lose more than 39,000 jobs if Congress does not act to stop these cuts.

In addition to Rep. Posey and David P. Storch, Dan Pearson, COO of Harris Corporation, Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO of EDC of Florida's Space Coast and Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey addressed the community and raised concerns over the impending budget cuts. The speakers warned that, with only 190 days until the cuts go into effect, Congress needs to act this summer to stop the clock on sequestration and enact alternative means of deficit reduction.

Aerospace and defense supports more than 167,000 jobs in Florida, bringing $14 billion in revenue and fueling $5 billion in exports -- an economic powerhouse that has needlessly been placed at risk. Rallies like today's event are being scheduled across the nation to bring home the risk to innovative companies like AAR and their communities. (6/25)

NASA Satellite Sees Birth of Tropical Storm Debby (Source: NASA)
Tropical Storm Debby formed from the low pressure area called System 96L, that NASA satellites were studying last week. NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the storm right after it strengthened into a tropical storm on June 23. Debby was born Saturday, June 23 around 4 a.m. EDT as her maximum sustained winds whipped up to 50 mph very quickly. She was born about 220 miles (355 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, near 26.2 North and 87.6 West.

In an infrared image taken on June 23 from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, the bulk of showers and thunderstorms (heaviest rainfall and strongest t-storms) were seen north, east and south of the center of circulation. That triggered heavy rainfall, flash flooding and isolated tornadoes in Florida this weekend. (6/25)

Space Tourism Inches Closer to Reality in New Mexico (Source: WFAA)
Virgin Galactic is encouraging passengers to "book their place in space." The company is moving ahead with plans to offer the first commercial flights from Spaceport America in in southern New Mexico. These first space tourists will fly in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two. A sleek office in Las Cruces is the new home of Virgin Galactic, and its meeting rooms are named after science fiction films. But the facility supports the company's very real effort to offer commercial flights into space.

The staff here and at Spaceport America is expected to grow as the company moves closer to launch date. For now, Virgin Galactic's spaceships are still on the ground. But if everything goes as planned, the company hopes the first one will lift off by the end of next year. (6/25)

Florida Wants Piece of Drone-Testing Market (Source: Florida Today)
From Cape Canaveral, a 66-foot wingspan, remotely piloted U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft takes off in search of drug traffickers, illegal immigrants or terrorists from heights up to 50,000 feet. On Lake Okeechobee, researchers hurl a custom-built, nine-foot wingspan plane from an airboat to launch an automated, low-altitude flight monitoring invasive plants. From large to small, the number of such unmanned aircraft systems — popularly called “drones” — is expected to surge as the federal government works to open civilian airspace to them by 2015.

Florida officials hope to position the state as a hub for this fast-growing industry by becoming a test site. “The skies over Florida will look dramatically different in the years to come,” Space Florida President Frank DiBello told a local audience of aerospace professionals this month. The agency’s board recently approved spending up to $1.4 million to try to win designation as one of six test ranges across the country that Congress has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to name by the end of the year.

The FAA forecasts roughly 10,000 commercially operated unmanned aircraft could be active within five years. Military users now dominate the more than $6 billion industry best known for the large drones that pursue and strike terrorist targets overseas. Those include Customs and Border Protection, NASA and, in Florida, the Miami-Dade Police Department, sheriff’s offices in Orange and Polk counties and universities. (6/25)

Weather May Bump Thursday's Delta-4 Launch (Source: Florida Today)
The forecast doesn’t look great for Thursday morning’s planned launch of a classified satellite atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket. There’s only a 30 percent chance of conditions good enough for a planned 6:16 a.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, according to the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. Heavy clouds and strong ground winds could pose problems during a launch planning period that extends to 10:30 a.m. (6/25)

Are Astronauts' Lives Too Valuable for Space Exploration? (Source: PJ Media)
In war, we risk soldiers’, sailors’ and airmens’ lives every day. In the Navy, sailors are expected to risk, and even sacrifice, their lives if necessary to save a ship. But preserving the ISS, in which the nation has invested more than the cost of dozens of carrier battle groups, isn’t worth the risk of people, a key part of whose job description is exactly to take such risks? Are NASA astronauts national heroes, or national treasures, too valuable to hazard on actual spaceflight? (6/24)

New Space Station Crew Confirmed (Source: RIA Novosti)
Space officials confirmed on Friday the line-up of a new mission to the International Space Station (ISS) ahead of their launch next month. Three Expedition 32 crew members - NASA astronaut Suni Williams, cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide - are scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-05M from Kazakhstan on July 15. They will join Expedition 31's NASA astrounaut Joe Acaba and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin on board the orbiting outpost.

Meanwhile, fellow Expedition 31 members cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and NASA's Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers are preparing for their July 1 return to Earth. A back-up ISS crew was also confirmed on Friday. It includes Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. (6/25)

Water Rights on the Moon? (Source: Indian Country)
No sooner does NASA discover a crater filled with what is quite possibly tons of ice in the bottom of a crater on the moon’s version of Antarctica, than people start talking about how to mine it. The crater is more than 12 miles wide and two miles deep, which is about the depth of Mother Earth’s oceans. Because of its proximity to the moon’s south pole, it has been named the Shackleton Crater after the European explorer who first trekked the corresponding point on Earth.

But would-be moon miners are being cautioned not to whip out their equipment just yet. The ice is far from a sure thing. “The discoveries … show us that the temperatures are right, and the surfaces are bright as if covered by frost,” Ashwin Vasavada told the Times. “But we can’t say for sure that abundant ice is present.” (6/25)

India Trailing China in the Long March (Source: Russia & India Report)
If there is a space race between India and China, it isn’t a close one. India’s first manned space flight is unlikely to happen by the 2016 deadline. The gap of more than a decade between the two Asian giants isn’t as worrisome as it seems. After all, the Chinese aren’t unduly concerned about America’s 40-year head start. Rapid advances in technology can compress development time frames, making it easy for large nations to catch up.

What should worry us is New Delhi’s cavalier attitude toward such a vital sector. Paucity of funds has been a key factor holding back India’s manned space flight program. The $1.6 billion allocation to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in this year’s budget was the highest ever, and is only a meager increase over last year’s $1.45 billion. That amounts to just 3 percent of the funding earmarked by the US space program.

One probable reason for such shockingly low funding is that India’s highly indigenized space sector doesn’t offer scope for king-sized kickbacks, as is common in defense deals. Space, therefore, is a low priority area for the political leadership. The scientists and engineers behind Chandrayaan, India’s first deep space mission, which discovered water on the moon, were conspicuously missing from the national awards. And adding insult to injury, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s doctor, with no known contribution to the nation, got an award. (6/25)

The Cape's First Roar of Rocket Engines (Source: America Space)
The Cape in the first few years after the end of the Second World War was quite different from the bustling spaceport that we know today. The place upon which America’s next generation of missiles were to be tested showed few outward signs of being a place of human destiny: it was a deserted wilderness, with only a dirt track tracing a route from Patrick Air Force Base to the 19th-century brick-built lighthouse at the Cape itself. When the first four concrete launch pads were assembled, it seemed that they were the only artificial objects in this remote corner of the world. Click here. (6/25)

What NASA’s Next Mars Rover Will Discover (Source: WIRED)
Like a newborn flexing its fingers, MSL will need to test out its various instruments after reaching the surface. The rover’s first six days are already planned out in exacting detail. The scripted regiment will make sure everything is in working order and returning early sample data to scientists on Earth. Previous rovers were ready to roll after only a day or two of logistics but MSL will need nearly a week to complete this testing phase.

During the robot’s first day on Mars, it will calibrate instruments and return its first color image, said John Grotzinger. On the second day the rover will use its various gadgets to look at the surrounding soil composition and take a full 360-degree camera shot of the area. During this initial check, MSL will scope out nearby areas of interest. The science team may decide to move to a new area, do some scooping and drilling, take samples, and analyze them.

There is a good chance that the rover will land next to layered sedimentary bedrock, a potentially exciting circumstance. On Earth, these rocks are often a storehouse for ancient biological materials and organic carbon. If anything equivalent exists on Mars, it might turn up. After the first few weeks, the rover will complete its early test phase. “We’ll have used every instrument and device on the rover,” said Grotzinger. “Then we get the keys and begin the science in earnest.” (6/25)

Experts Respond to Rumors About Shenzhou-9 (Source: People's Daily Online)
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft has aroused many people's interests on the space flight. Of the various ideas on the Shenzhou-9, some are expectations and good wishes but some are rumors and misunderstandings, about such things as alien convoys, tooth decay, body odor. Regarding the incorrect "legends," relevant experts made explanations. Click here. (6/25)

IAI To Build Amos-6 Telecom Satellite (Source: Space News)
Israeli satellite fleet operator Spacecom has selected Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) to build the Amos-6 telecommunications satellite under a $200 million contract announced June 24. Amos-6 is to be launched in early 2015 aboard a rocket that is yet to be selected. The company said it expected the launch to cost $85 million. Amos-6 will replace the aging Amos-2 satellite at 4 degrees west longitude, Spacecom's core orbital slot. Amos-2 is scheduled to be retired in 2017. (6/24)

Mixed Feelings on South Texas Spaceport Plans (Source: My San Antonio)
Schemes, dreams and sheer folly are buried beneath the shifting sands of Boca Chica Beach. For more than 100 years, people have tried to coax a fortune from this desolate, wildly beautiful stretch of South Texas coast that begins at the Brownsville Ship Channel and ends at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Some saw golf courses and resorts, marinas and cabins on the beach; some saw mineral wealth, ports and military power.

None who were lured into Boca Chica's seductive web, however, has succeeded. The beach swallowed their roads and parking lots, their plans and their dreams. Hurricanes blew away their buildings. All that remains are a few hardy settlers warily eying the next one to try his luck. That would be Elon Musk, a pioneer of online commerce, a builder of super-expensive electric sports cars, an audacious dot.com billionaire and the verifiable leader in the race to commercialize space travel who thinks the splendid isolation of Boca Chica is a good place to build a spaceport. Click here. (6/25)

The Big Bang Didn't Need God to Start Universe (Source: Space.com)
Our universe could have popped into existence 13.7 billion years ago without any divine help whatsoever, researchers say. That may run counter to our instincts, which recoil at the thought of something coming from nothing. But we shouldn't necessarily trust our instincts, for they were honed to help us survive on the African savannah 150,000 years ago, not understand the inner workings of the universe.

Instead, scientists say, we should trust the laws of physics. "The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there," said astrophysicist Alex Filippenko. "With the laws of physics, you can get universes." In the very weird world of quantum mechanics, which describes action on a subatomic scale, random fluctuations can produce matter and energy out of nothingness. And this can lead to very big things indeed, researchers say. (6/24)

Georgia Seizes Satellite Dishes Tied To Opposition (Source: Space News)
Authorities in Georgia seized a number of satellite dishes in a raid on companies connected to opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, claiming they were being handed out to bribe voters. Ivanishvili, a billionaire investor, is backing a movement to challenge President Mikheil Saakashvili. The dishes were being distributed to provide access to an opposition station. Georgian prosecutors said the Tbilisi City Court approved the raids as part of an investigation of satellite television provider Global Contact Consulting Ltd., in which Ivanishvili’s brother, Alexander, holds a majority stake. (6/25)

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