October 22, 2012

2-Million-Light-Year-Long Galactic Emission Looks Like Jet Afterburner (Source: WIRED)
An extended jet of cosmic material traveling near the speed of light emerges from a distant galaxy, looking quite similar to the afterburner pattern of a jet engine on Earth. This galactic jet flow is more than 2 million light-years long, at least 20 times larger than our Milky Way galaxy. This outflow is coming from a distant quasar that formed roughly 6 billion years ago. Shining with the power of 10 trillion suns, the object is called PKS 0637-752 and is thought to be an early galaxy with a supermassive black hole in its center.

As gas and dust fall into the black hole, they are spun around like water going down the drain of a bathtub. The spiraling motion accelerates charged particles like a cosmic version of the Large Hadron Collider, causing them to spew off tons of radiation. The parts that intrigue astronomers are the dot-like structures seen within the jet. These formations, known as “knots,” are not very well understood but seem to represent sections of the jet separated by 160,000 to 360,000 light-years each. Click here. (10/22)

ESA Selects Planet finder as First in Series of Small Missions (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA), on the eve of a decision on near-term science funding that could decrease the program’s buying power in the coming years, has selected the first of what it hopes will be a series of small science missions designed for relatively quick, low-cost development cycles. The 20-nation ESA’s Science Program Committee tentatively agreed to spend 50 million euros in ESA funds, coupled with up to 100 million euros coming from Switzerland and other ESA member states, to launch the Cheops planet-hunting satellite in 2017. (10/22)

NASA to Celebrate Shuttle's End Four Days Before Elections (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA will celebrate the end of the space shuttle program on Nov. 2 by moving the Atlantis orbiter to its permanent exhibition site. The event, just four days before the elections, could give Republicans an opening to sharpen their recent attacks on the Obama Administration for making the U.S. dependent on Russia to transport astronauts to the Space Station. While they failed to mention that it was President George W. Bush who decided that a multi-year "gap" in U.S. human space access was acceptable, it is accurate that President Obama chose to retain that part of the Bush space policy and the program ended on his watch.

Florida is a key state in determining who wins the Presidency. Recent polls show Republican candidate Mitt Romney with a lead over President Obama. It seems odd that NASA would choose to remind everyone so close to the election about the current state of the human spaceflight program. The event could provide an opportunity for NASA to highlight President Obama's goals for the human spaceflight program -- utilizing the International Space Station through 2020 using commercial crew and commercial cargo systems followed by sending astronauts to visit an asteroid by 2025 and, separately, to orbit Mars in the 2030s.

It could also, however, give Republican politicians a bully pulpit to criticize those plans as Ryan and Mack did in recent days. Some space advocates rue the fact that space policy is not a significant issue in this election. Many had expected that space would figure more prominently at least in Florida. With NASA providing such a prime opportunity to focus on the space program four days before the election, they may get their wish. (10/20)

NASA Looks to Reusable Spacecraft to Bring Down Costs (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The space shuttle was the world’s first reusable spacecraft, but it will not be the last. All three of NASA’s CCiCap partners are designing their commercial crew transportation vehicles to be reused after ferrying NASA astronauts and other customers to and from low Earth orbit. Click here. (10/22)

Honeywell Q3 Net Income Beats Expectations (Source: Fox Business)
Honeywell has reported net income of $950 million, or $1.20 a share, for the third quarter, up about 10% from a year earlier. The earnings, which surpassed analysts' expectations, were due in part to growth in new products, which helped counter gloomier conditions in Europe. (10/19)

Shrinking Space Spending May Spur Innovation, Experts Say (Source: Space News)
Tight budgets may foster creativity in the space industry, said experts who participated in a symposium at the University of Alabama last week. Spending cuts are "forcing everybody to step back, look at how we're going to go forward, strengthen ourselves ... find business models and ways of going forward that allow us to sustain during what's probably going to be a more difficult fiscal time," said Julie Van Kleeck, an executive at Aerojet. (10/19)

Romney's Military-Spending Goal May Prove Elusive (Source: Bloomberg)
It would be extremely difficult for Mitt Romney if he is elected president to achieve his goal of spending 4% of the nation's GDP on military defense anytime in the near future, some experts say. Romney's campaign says the target might not be met in a possible first term. "Hell would have to freeze over and deficits would have to disappear" for such a goal to be achieved, said Michael O'Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution. (10/22)

Help Stop Sequestration, Virginia Democrats Tell GOP Governor (Source: Reuters)
Democratic lawmakers from Virginia are urging GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell to support a "balanced" deficit reduction deal. Recently, McDonnell wrote a letter to President Barack Obama emphasizing the need to prevent defense spending cuts, but saying little about nondefense discretionary spending. Both sides say sequestration would cause widespread layoffs in Virginia. (10/19)

Another Day, Another Earthrise Space Partnership (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions announces its partnership with Earthrise Space, Inc. (ESI) in sponsorship of Omega Envoy, a non-profit space technology developer competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP). The team will compete by safely landing a robot on the surface of the moon and responding back with images and data. (10/22)

Khrunichev Gets New General Director (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Competition Commission found it appropriate to appoint Alexander Ivanovich Selivyorstov as the new CEO of Khrunichev. The head of the Federal Space Agency will sign the appropriate documents soon. Seliverstov replaces Vladimir Nesterov, who resigned earlier this year after the failure of a Proton rocket. The Russian space industry has suffered a series of embarrassing launch failures over the last two years. (10/22)

Great Day in West Texas for Blue Origin (Source: Blue Origin)
The Blue Origin team worked hard and smart to pull off the first test of their suborbital Crew Capsule escape system. The pusher escape system rocketed the Crew Capsule away from the launch pad, demonstrating a key safety system for both suborbital and orbital flights. The New Shepard Crew Capsule escaped to an altitude of 2,307 feet before deploying parachutes for a safe return. With touchdown 1,630 feet from the launch pad, Blue Origin completed a successful test of its Crew Capsule escape system. Click here. (10/22)

Kohlenberger: Mitt Romney - Lost in Space (Source: Space News)
We are fortunate to be entering a new and exciting chapter of American space exploration, one that will see more discoveries, more scientific breakthroughs, more Americans in space and ultimately more American astronauts pioneering farther into the solar system than humans have ever gone before. This upward trajectory is being fueled by an ambitious plan laid out by President Barack Obama that enables NASA to blaze a new trail of innovation and discovery.

The president is focused on ensuring not only that we maintain our leadership in space, but also that we advance it by cranking up the American innovation engine once again with a bigger vision, and bolder action, for a brighter space future. These efforts are essential for both our economic and national security.

Extraordinary progress is being made despite the fact that the president inherited a space program in disarray. In 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office had identified poor planning around the looming space shuttle retirement and its follow-on program as one of 13 “urgent issues” that any new president would have to confront when they came into office in 2009. Because of years of mismatch between vision and resources, the independent Augustine commission found that the Constellation program was not viable under any feasible budget scenario. Click here. (10/22)

Pace & Anderson: Romney Ready To Restore Lost U.S. Leadership in Space (Source: Space News)
America’s space program is a strategic national asset. It bolsters national security with irreplaceable military and intelligence functions. It supports the global economic infrastructure with communication and navigation satellite networks. And it inspires technological innovation by a scientifically trained and highly proficient work force. Across 50 years, the program has served as a hallmark of American leadership and ingenuity that reflects and demonstrates the strength of our fundamental values.

Unfortunately, American leadership is in jeopardy. Today we have a space program befitting a president who rejects American exceptionalism, apologizes for America and believes we should be just another nation with a flag. President Obama has put us on a path that cedes our global position as the unequivocal leader in space. For the first time since the dawn of the Space Age, America has chosen to forgo its own capabilities for putting astronauts into space and instead relies on the Russians.

The space shuttle’s planned retirement was known on the day President Obama took office, yet the earliest that Americans will again ride American rockets into space is 2016 — a stretch longer than the one between President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech and the first steps on the Moon. Because of the president’s policies, engineers are moving on. Companies are turning their attention elsewhere. Graduates are aiming for different careers. Click here. (10/22)

Pace & Anderson are Memory-Challenged Hypocrites (Source: NASA Watch)
Scott Pace and Eric Anderson were for the things that the Obama Administration has been doing in space - before they were against them. Its odd that Space Adventures CEO Anderson would be party to such comments. in April 2010, when he was Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Anderson is quoted as saying the following about the Obama Administration's space policy: "This visionary plan is a master stroke. It's exactly what NASA needs in order to continue to lead the world in space exploration in the 21st century."

Its also rather curious that Anderson would be against flying American astronauts on Russian spacecraft and also a plan whereby U.S. commercial providers would fly cargo and eventually astronauts to the ISS. Each sale his company facilitates results in a large check being written to Russian companies. How is that helping the U.S. commercial launch sector? - especially when Gov. Romney has already identified Russia as being "without question our number one geopolitical foe."

Scott Pace's comments evidence total amnesia on his part. Regardless of whether you think it was a good or bad idea, the plan to retire the Space Shuttle and rely upon Russia to transport Americans to the ISS for a number of years was put in place by the Bush Administration - not the Obama Administration. After working in the Bush White House to develop that policy, Scott Pace spent 4 years with Mike Griffin at NASA during the Bush Administration implementing this policy. (10/22)

Elon Musk’s Mission to Mars (Source: WIRED)
When a man tells you about the time he planned to put a vegetable garden on Mars, you worry about his mental state. But if that same man has since launched multiple rockets that are actually capable of reaching Mars—sending them into orbit, Bond-style, from a tiny island in the Pacific—you need to find another diagnosis. That’s the thing about extreme entrepreneurialism: There’s a fine line between madness and genius, and you need a little bit of both to really change the world.

All entrepreneurs have an aptitude for risk, but more important than that is their capacity for self-delusion. Indeed, psychological investigations have found that entrepreneurs aren’t more risk-tolerant than non-entrepreneurs. They just have an extraordinary ability to believe in their own visions, so much so that they think what they’re embarking on isn’t really that risky. They’re wrong, of course, but without the ability to be so wrong—to willfully ignore all those naysayers and all that evidence to the contrary—no one would possess the necessary audacity to start something radically new. Click here. (10/21)

Alternatives to SLS Heavy-Lift for Deep Space Exploration
(Source: Astro Maven)
There are practical deep space exploration options that make more budgetary and implementational sense than options that would involve NASA's SLS launcher. An industry study from United Launch Alliance that predates SLS which was titled A Commercially Based Lunar Architecture. Next I would suggest NASA’s own groundbreaking study known as Propellant Depot Requirements Status Report.  This study was released before SLS was formally named and the designs of both models of SLS were yet to be finalized.

A group of scientists and engineers at Georgia Tech produced the latest paper, which does a direct comparison of using existing commercial launchers for deep space exploration versus using either model or both models of SLS (Block I and Block II) for that purpose. This paper, called Evolved Human Space Exploration Architecture Using Commercial Launch/Propellant Depots starkly reveals both the economic and functional disadvantages of SLS. (10/21)

State Commission in Baikonur Approves Crew for ISS (Source: Itar-Tass)
The state commission in Baikonur on Monday took the final decision on the international expedition crewmembers who will start out for the International Space Station on October 23. Russians Oleg Novistky and Yevgeny Tarelkin and American Kevin Ford will start out aboard the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft for the ISS on Tuesday. Orbital Expedition 33/34 will last four months.

In September, the interdepartmental commission gave the highest “fifth” mark to the crew for the qualification exam results. Backup crewmembers Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and Christopher Cassidy also showed excellent skills on the models of the Russian ISS segment and a Soyuz TMA-M. After space shuttles stopped to fly last year, Russian Soyuzes are the only vehicles to carry crews to the ISS and back. (10/22)

Meteorite From Wednesday’s Fireball Found (Source: CBS)
Lisa Webber’s house in Novato was unusually quiet Wednesday night because the Giants game was in a rain delay.Then the quiet was broken. “I hear this bump, bump, bump, like something hit the roof. And I thought that’s odd, I have no overhanging trees,” Lisa said. Two days later Lisa read an article about the meteor that was seen across the Bay Area sky that night. She remembered the thump on her roof and decided to look around to see if a fragment of the meteor (technically a meteorite) had made the noise.

“I saw one thing and I thought, ‘alright, if that’s it, great. If not, I’m done.’ And sure enough, that’s what it was,” she said. Sure enough, Lisa found a small rock that Dr. Peter Jenniskens, with NASA’s SETI institute, says is indeed a piece from the flaming fireball. He helped track the path of the meteor, capturing the image on an array of video cameras. He says this is only the twentieth meteorite with a known trajectory ever found. (10/21)

US Astronaut Sees Science Breakthrough in Space (Source: AP)
A U.S. astronaut departing this week for the International Space Station said Monday that the bulk of the scientific benefits from the orbiting laboratory will be seen over the coming decade, amid questions on whether the estimated $100 billion spent in last 12 years is worth the effort. "The first ten years were really intensive in the construction side of it, bringing all the pieces together and really getting the science enabled," said NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, who will blast off on Tuesday.

Portland, Indiana-born Ford said the station would now enter its "utilization phase." "We're going to learn the bulk of everything we know about the science that we're doing up there in the next decade," he said at a press conference on the eve of the launch. He spoke from behind a glass screen designed to ensure the astronauts do not contract illnesses before their mission. (10/22)

South Korea Plans Third Rocket Launch Bid Friday (Source: AFP)
South Korea plans to make its third attempt to join the exclusive club of countries capable of placing a satellite in space on Friday with a rocket launch from the Naro Space Center on the south coast. Science Minister Lee Ju-Ho told reporters Monday that the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV-I) would blast off as scheduled, barring any last-minute hitches or problems with weather conditions.

"In consideration of preparations and weather conditions, we have confirmed that the launch is possible on October 26," Lee said. A 3,000-ton coastguard ship has left for international waters near the Philippines to track the launch, the ministry said, adding the rocket would be transferred to the launch pad on Wednesday. (10/22)

Exoplanet-Hunting Satellite To Be Launched By ESA In 2017 (Source: Space.com)
The European Space Agency will launch a new satellite in 2017 to study super-Earths and other large alien planets orbiting nearby stars, agency officials announced Friday (Oct. 19). The small CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite, called Cheops for short, will orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles (800 kilometers) and search for new exoplanets around nearby bright stars already known to harbor alien planets, ESA officials said.

The small CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite, called Cheops for short, will orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles (800 kilometers) and search for new exoplanets around nearby bright stars already known to harbor alien planets, ESA officials said. "By concentrating on specific known exoplanet host stars, Cheops will enable scientists to conduct comparative studies of planets down to the mass of Earth with a precision that simply cannot be achieved from the ground." (10/19)

No comments: