July 8, 2012

Eastern Space Politics Meets Western Space Business (Source: Al Jazeera)
With two space "firsts" coinciding only a month apart (the SpaceX Dragon mission and China's Shenzhou mission) - by two nations that are being increasingly seen as economic and military competitors on the world stage - some commentators are hinting that we may be seeing the emergence of a new "space race", akin to that between the US and Soviet Russia in the 1960s and 1970s. In these peculiar economic times, will we see a "Space Race 2.0" between a communist China and private US corporations?

Although this may sound like a tempting parallel, we are actually watching two quasi-independent space races take shape. Forget the Cold War, there is little comparison. This is a crossroads in a space era that the world has never seen and its ultimate impact on our push to the stars is far from certain. Click here. (7/8)

Astronaut Candidate Will Carry Olympic Torch (Source: KBOI)
An astronaut and congressional candidate will carry the Olympic torch on its way to London. Jose Hernandez is running as a Democrat to represent California’s newly formed 10th Congressional District in the next Congress. He’ll oppose freshman GOP Rep. Jeff Denham in the fall. Hernandez will carry the Olympic torch through the town of Bletchley, northwest of London, on July 9, according to an announcement on the official London Olympics website. (7/8)

JPL to Build $18M Parking Structure (Source: Pasadena Sun)
The agency famed for building rockets and gear for exploring the moon and Mars is launching a more earthbound project, building a five-story parking structure near Hahamongna Watershed Park. With the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's East Arroyo Parking Lot set to be turned back into parkland, a quarter of the parking area used by JPL workers will disappear. As a result, the NASA agency tentatively plans to build an $18 million, 1,200-space parking structure on the other side of the arroyo, closer to JPL buildings. (7/8)

Promoter Hoping to Delay Shuttle Departure Until his Cocoa Beach Air Show (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
As air-show flyovers go, this one would be huge: a NASA space shuttle riding piggyback atop a massive 747 airliner. That sight already has wowed crowds this year in New York and Washington, and local promoter Bryan Lilley figured that Florida residents — specifically, those at his air show — should get one last shot at seeing the shuttle before NASA completes its delivery of the retired orbiters to museums nationwide.

So Lilley gambled. Rather than schedule the Cocoa Beach Air Show during its usual time slot in late October, he moved the event to mid-September in hopes the timing would coincide with the transfer of shuttle Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center to a Los Angeles museum. But it didn't — he missed by at least two days — and now Lilley is pulling every string he can to convince NASA to delay Endeavour's departure so that the orbiter and its 747 can take a star turn at his two-day air show, which starts Sept. 22. (7/8)

Bit by Bit, a New Space Program Emerges (Source: Florida Today)
The pictures of the Orion spacecraft that arrived at the Kennedy Space Center this week told the most important part of the story of our changing role in the space program. For almost five decades, our friends and neighbors here on the Space Coast have prepared and launched rockets and spacecraft. Now, we are building them.

The core of the Orion spacecraft slated for a 2014 test flight arrived here to be assembled. It's the base piece of the spaceship, but it's not a spaceship yet. Kennedy teams will take the core and other pieces, such as a heat shield, and build a spaceship. The distinction is not trivial. Almost a decade back, NASA leaders and local officials began talking about the need to diversify the space work done here, to expand beyond launch services and payload preparation.

If the space sector here was going to thrive in an era after the shuttles retired, and there was no longer a need for the standing army to support the fleet, diversity was a necessity. The seeds were sown throughout the second half of the last decade for NASA to assign assembly of the next government craft here, creating hundreds of jobs that could become safe harbor for those shuttle workers losing their jobs. Click here. (7/8)

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