July 30, 2012

China's Space Race is America's Opportunity (Source: Reuters)
Today, despite the sometimes sharp policy disagreements at the political level, the U.S. and Russia work together closely on the International Space Station and in the commercial space sector. For example, the first stage of the Atlas-5 rockets that currently loft U.S. national-security satellites into orbit uses the powerful Russian RD-180 engine. The U.S. and Russia have succeeded over the years in collaborating on space projects because both countries have something significant to gain and, equally importantly, something significant to contribute.

At the moment, potential areas of cooperation with China appear to be limited, particularly since Chinese space science currently takes a backseat to military programs. That, however, may be changing with plans forseveral ambitious science missions reportedly now in the works. As the U.S. devotes greater attention to the Asia-Pacific region and encouraging an increasingly powerful China to support constructive approaches to resolving political and economic differences, it's certainly worth carefully considering whether aspects of the U.S.-Russian experience with space cooperation can be pursued with China in order to serve long-term American interests. (7/30)

Why SpaceX is Setting the Pace in Commercial Space Race (Source: NBC)
NASA is about to make a critical decision regarding a new chapter in American space exploration. At issue is which entrants among a field of highly qualified contestants will replace the space shuttle as America’s means of sending humans to Earth orbit. This decision is about much more than whose brand name will be on the side of a spacecraft. With serious differences between the leading contenders, it is also a referendum on the merits of a new approach to developing and conducting spaceflight operations.

The new commercial approach stands in contrast to a traditional aerospace establishment which is already firmly in control of NASA’s separate, much larger, slower and vastly more expensive program, the Space Launch System. As a consequence, it holds the potential to shape the future of American space exploration. The push for ATK's Liberty has reinvigorated a long-running debate over the relative merits of “experienced” aerospace companies such as ATK, versus newer entrants such as SpaceX.

The line of reasoning is that as a younger company, founded only a decade ago, SpaceX simply lacks the history to compete with more experienced aerospace contractors. Liberty’s backers argue that human spaceflight is something best left to the grand old names from a better, bolder era, who have seen it all before and know how to get us back. Experience however, can be a two-edged sword. Click here. (7/30)

GAO: FAA Should Update How It Assesses Federal Liability Risk for Commercial Launches (Source: SpaceRef)
The U.S. provides less commercial space launch indemnification for third party losses than China, France, and Russia. These countries put no limit on the amount of government indemnification coverage, which in the U.S. is limited by the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988 (CSLAA). Governments' commitments to pay have never been tested because there has not been a third party claim that exceeded a private launch company's insurance.

The potential cost to the federal government is currently unclear because it depends in part on the method used by the FAA to calculate the amount of insurance that launch companies must purchase, a calculation that may not be sound. FAA has used the same method since 1988 and has not updated crucial components, such as the cost of a casualty. Estimating probable losses from a rare catastrophic event is difficult, and insurance industry officials and risk modeling experts said that FAA's method is outdated.

The FAA has not had outside experts or risk modelers review the appropriateness of its method. An inaccurate calculation that understates the amount of insurance a launch provider must obtain would increase the likelihood of costs to the federal government; a calculation that overstates the amount of insurance needed would raise the cost of insurance for the launch provider. FAA officials said that their method was reasonable and conservative, but they agreed that a review could be beneficial and that involving outside experts might be helpful. (7/30)

MSL and the NASA Mars Exploration Program: Where We've Been, Where We're Going (Source: Space Review)
As Mars Science Laboratory prepares to land on Mars this coming Sunday night, the future of NASA's Mars exploration efforts beyond that rover mission remains uncertain. Adrian Brown recounts the issues with MSL and Mars exploration that could affect the schedule and budgets for future missions to the Red Planet. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2129/1 to view the article. (7/30)

Is Commercial Spaceflight's "Netscape Moment" Near? (Source: Space Review)
For years those in the commercial spaceflight industry, or supporters of it, have anticipated an explosion of activity and investment in the field. Jeff Foust reports that there are signs that such a milestone may be approaching. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2128/1 to view the article. (7/30)

Giants in Glass Houses (Source: Space Review)
Houston is one of three sites that has a Saturn V rocket on display, Dwayne Day describes how the display of that Saturn V differs from the other two locations, and may help explain why Houston lost out on a Space Shuttle orbiter last year. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2127/1 to view the article. (7/30)

NASA Urges Discontinued Use of Educational Air-Pressure Rocket Launchers After Failure (Source: SPACErePORT)
For several years, NASA's education office has supported the use of paper rockets to teach the principles rocketry to K-12 students. In their Rockets Educator Guide, the agency provided instructions for building PVC air-pressure launchers for these paper rockets. Recently, an air-pressurized launcher being used by an educator failed, prompting NASA to conduct an engineering investigation that determined that the launchers and their design equivalents should not be used. NASA has removed the launcher design from its website and education curriculum. (7/30)

Saturn Moon Could Harbor Life (Source: Raw Story)
Enceladus is little bigger than a lump of rock and has appeared, until recently, as a mere pinprick of light in astronomers’ telescopes. Yet Saturn’s tiny moon has suddenly become a major attraction for scientists. Many now believe it offers the best hope we have of discovering life on another world inside our solar system. The idea that a moon a mere 310 miles in diameter, orbiting in deep, cold space, 1bn miles from the sun, could provide a home for alien lifeforms may seem extraordinary. Nevertheless, a growing number of researchers consider this is a real prospect and argue that Enceladus should be rated a top priority for future space missions.

This point is endorsed by astrobiologist Charles Cockell. “If someone gave me several billion dollars to build whatever space probe I wanted, I would have no hesitation,” he says. “I would construct one that could fly to Saturn and collect samples from Enceladus. I would go there rather than Mars or the icy moons of Jupiter, such as Europa...Primitive, bacteria-like lifeforms may indeed exist on these worlds but they are probably buried deep below their surfaces and will be difficult to access. On Enceladus, if there are lifeforms, they will be easy to pick up. They will be pouring into space.”

The cause of this unexpected interest in Enceladus stems from a discovery made by the robot spacecraft Cassini, which has been in orbit of Saturn for the past eight years. The probe has shown that the little moon not only has an atmosphere, but that geysers of water are erupting from its surface into space. Even more astonishing has been its most recent discovery, which has shown that these geysers contain complex organic compounds, including propane, ethane, and acetylene. (7/29)

ATK Introduces Expanded Product Line of Small Satellite Spacecraft Platforms (Source: SpaceRef)
ATK announced an expanded product line of small, agile satellite buses designed for a wide range of missions in civil, national security and commercial applications. Designed to meet the growing demand for affordable small spacecraft with dependably fast delivery, ATK's family of buses are built for both near-term and long-term markets. (7/30)

Parties Look to Make $1 Trillion in Sequestration Cuts a Campaign Issue (Source: The Hill)
The $1 trillion in spending cuts under sequestration are emerging as a major issue in congressional races and the presidential campaign, as both parties think they have a winning hand heading into November. The reductions in defense spending have been used in attack ads for races in military heavy states like Virginia, and President Obama and Mitt Romney traded barbs over the cuts in back-to-back foreign policy speeches this week.

The word “sequestration” certainly doesn’t roll off the tongue to voters, but campaigns in both parties are banking that the $500 billion reduction to defense spending will still hit home over national security concerns and — perhaps more importantly — the potential loss of jobs. The cuts have been wrapped into the larger debate over taxes, where Congress remains deeply divided. Republicans have accused Democrats of holding the military hostage in order to win tax increases, while Democrats argue that it’s Republicans who are insisting on protecting tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the military. (7/28)

United Space Alliance To Layoff 148 In September (Source: Brevard Times)
NASA Space Shuttle Program contractor United Space Alliance has announced that it will layoff 148 employee on September 28, 2012, according to recent documents filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The notice, which was filed on July 26, 2012, says that employees working in Administrative and Support, Waste Management, and Remediation Services will be affected by the layoffs. (7/30)

The Declining Significance of the Frontier in Space History? (Source: Roger Launius)
It began to be perceptible in the late 1960s, and was certainly recognized in the 1970s, that the intermix of frontier imagery, popular culture expectations, and Cold War concerns was beginning to break-down. This was true across broad swaths of American culture, but it was also very apparent when it came to understanding the history of spaceflight. First, the construct of the frontier as a positive image of national character and of the progress of democracy has been challenged on all quarters and virtually rejected as a useful ideal in American postmodern, multicultural society.

Western historian Patricia Nelson Limerick, for one, has argued that the frontier myth, used as a happy metaphor by many, should be seen as a pejorative reflection. She argued that it denotes conquest of place and peoples, exploitation without environmental concern, wastefulness, political corruption, executive misbehavior, shoddy construction, brutal labor relations, and financial inefficiency.

Limerick suggested that when the old western American frontier is conjured as an image that NASA is seeking to advance into space that someone from the space agency should punch the speaker “for insulting the organization’s honor. It’s a wonder no one—no shuttle pilot, mission coordinator, mechanic, or technician—said, ‘Now cut that
Linkout–we may have our problems, but it’s nowhere near that bad’.” Click here. (7/30)

Winning Spaceport Poster May Mean Career Lift-Off for Emirati (Source: The National)
Mariam Al Hammadi is set to become the first of many Emirati students to benefit from the upcoming Virgin Galactic spaceport in the capital. Ms Al Hammadi, a third year graphic design student at Zayed University, won a competition earlier this year to design a poster telling the story of Abu Dhabi becoming the second spaceport, following on from the New Mexico base that opened last year. The poster was used to promote the Abu Dhabi spaceport project at the Farnborough Air Show. It is the first of many planned educational collaborations for the company.

The Abu Dhabi spaceport, a partnership with Aabar Investments, will include a long runway and a nearby zone of airspace for the ascent. It is hoped it could become a space and science center with activities for families on holiday as well as for regional students. There may be links to local university programs with the possibility of integrating space flight experiences with university degree programs. (7/30)

K Shivakumar Now the Director of ISRO ISAC (Source: ZeeNews)
S K Shivakumar, Distinguished Scientist and Associate Director, ISRO Satellite Center (ISAC), Bangalore, assumed the office of Director, ISAC on Monday. He took over the charge from Dr T K Alex, the outgoing Director. ISAC is ISRO's premier center for conceptualization, design, fabrication, testing, integration and in-orbit commissioning of satellite systems involving various cutting edge technologies. (7/30)

U.S. Export-Reform Plan is On Track, White House Says (Source: The Hill)
A new export-control strategy that will make it easier for U.S. defense firms to sell products oversees is nearing the finish line, a White House official says. The list will shrink the number of products that defense firms are banned from exporting overseas, says Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. (7/30)

EADS Posts Strong Q2 Earnings, Raises Full-Year Outlook (Source: Wall Street Journal)
European aerospace firm EADS says it expects full-year earnings of 2.7 billion euros for the full year, up from its previous guidance of 2.5 billion, with expectations buoyed by strong second-quarter revenue and earnings. The company saw revenue climb 12% in the quarter and posted earnings of 461 million euros, up from 121 million euro a year earlier, driven by strong commercial deliveries of its Airbus jet and by higher prices. (7/30)

Kick-Starting Nigeria's Roadmap for Space Tech (Source: Guardian Nigeria)
Nigeria's 25-year road map for space technology development has kicked off with the recent hand over of NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X Earth observation satellites to National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in Abuja. The 25 year roadmap for space technology development approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) include: satellite technology development and launch (Earth observation, communication, and radar) between 2003 to 2015, launch a satellite manufactured in Nigeria by the year 2018, and launch from Nigeria launch vehicle made in Nigeria by the year 2028. (7/30)

50-Mile Landslides on Saturn's Icy Moon (Source: Space.com)
Long landslides spotted on Saturn's moon, Iapetus, could help provide clues to similar movements of material on Earth. Scientists studying the icy satellite have determined that flash heating could cause falling ice to travel 10 to 15 times farther than previously expected on Iapetus. Extended landslides can be found on Mars and Earth, but are more likely to be composed of rock than ice. Despite the differences in materials, scientists believe there could be a link between the long-tumbling debris on all three bodies. (7/30)

Atlas 5 Set for Late-Night Launch From California (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Ready to take a classified national security payload and a batch of hitchhiking cubesats into space early Thursday from California, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is in the final days of preparations for blastoff. The middle-of-the-night launch will occur some time between 12 midnight and 1:30 a.m. local (3:00-4:30 a.m. EDT). The actual target liftoff time has not yet been revealed.

Loral to Support DARPA on Revolutionary Hosted Payload Concept (Source: Space Daily)
Space Systems/Loral has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to determine how small satellites can be carried to geostationary orbit (GEO) as hosted payloads on commercial satellites. SS/L was awarded a contract to analyze and define key aspects of DARPA's Phoenix program, which is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO. (7/30)

Space Ground Amalgam Wins 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition (Source: NewSpace Watch)
The competition judges have awarded Space Ground Amalgam, LLC first place in the 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition and presented them with the $100,000 prize. Digital Solid State Propulsion, LLC earned second place in the competition and the $10,000 prize. In a last minute addition, Honorable Mention is given to Terapio Corporation for providing an unusually commendable technology that will address one of the inherent risks of space settlement.

The hosting organization, the Space Frontier Foundation, and judges congratulate the winners and thank all the finalists for their participation. Space Ground Amalgam provides inflatable satellite reflector components to meet and increase higher industry bandwidth demands, while reducing launch costs and increasing design flexibility. Their technology can also be used for booms and solar arrays.

Digital Solid State Propulsion, LLC has created the world’s first “smart energetic materials” that are a game-changing platform technology for diverse industries and applications. DSSP’s high performance electrically controlled solid and liquid propellants replace the 50-year old technologies that are still the industry standards today. Terapio Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutics based on the membrane-associated RLIP76 protein. Initial applications include developing the RLIP76 protein as a countermeasure for radiation exposure to civilian, military and first responder populations. (7/28)

"The Universe is Timeless" --A Radical Theory of Spacetime (Source: Daily Galaxy)
Scientists have theorized that the Newtonian idea of time as an absolute quantity that flows on its own, along with the idea that time is the fourth dimension of spacetime, are incorrect. They propose to replace these concepts of time with a view that corresponds more accurately to the physical world: time as a measure of the numerical order of change.

This view doesn’t mean that time does not exist, but that time has more to do with space than with the idea of an absolute time. So while 4D spacetime is usually considered to consist of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, the researchers’ view suggests that it’s more correct to imagine spacetime as four dimensions of space. In other words, as they say, the Universe is “timeless.” Click here. (7/29)

No comments: