October 4, 2012

Space Coast House Candidates Share Space Views (Source: Space Politics)
Thanks to redistricting, Florida’s Space Coast region will be within a single House district in the next Congress, currently represented by Republican Rep. Bill Posey (for the last decade it had been split into two districts, with Posey representing the southern half and, most recently, Sandy Adams (R-FL) representing the northern part.) So it’s not surprising that Florida Today asked Posey and his Democratic challenger, Shannon Roberts, as well as independent candidate Richard Gillmor, what specifically they would do to “help the stability and strength of the U.S. Space program.”

Posey notes he would continue the work he has already done at NASA, citing legislation he co-sponsored with Democratic members. However, one example, a bill he and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) introduced to allow for a “seamless” transition from the Space Shuttle to Orion, (the “American Space Access Act”), did not advance out of committee after its April 2009 introduction. Similarly, a bill co-sponsored with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to direct NASA to return humans to the Moon by 2022 went nowhere. His “RACE for Space” act was incorporated into the defense authorization bill earlier this year.

Roberts, beyond correcting a claim by Posey that the administration cancelled the Orion spacecraft, doesn’t offer much of a contrast. “We’ve got a major role here: the lead for deep-space exploration, commercialization of space and also research, development and testing,” she said. “I would be a strong advocate on behalf of that.” Gillmor said KSC should have a leading role in alternative energy. “With implementation of my national energy policy, part of Kennedy Space Center would become home to the National Energy Resources Development Center,” he said, something that would reemploy “thousands” of engineers in the area. (10/4)

Launching the Next Era in Space Travel and Exploration (Source: Forbes)
The First Era of spaceflight involved the decades of initial experimentation and unmanned rockets starting with Robert Goddard and then the German V2, continuing with the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and ending with the Soviets’ 1961 launch of Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. The Second Era, which saw cosmonauts and almost routinely venturing into space, was punctuated in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon. That era continued through several successive moon landings, ending with Apollo 17 in 1972.

The Third Era began in earnest in 1981, with the launch of the first Space Shuttle, Columbia, a mostly reusable workhorse designed to ferry astronauts, research experiments, satellites and equipment into Earth orbit. Today we’re already well into a Fourth Era of Spaceflight, marked by the first space tourists, the first private space companies and even, earlier this year, the first privately developed and operated capsule to travel to the International Space Station.

In fact, this new era will be known for democratizing space travel, moving it into the private sector, and making it available to the general public, rather than just a few highly trained and government-employed specialists. Sometimes, these private initiatives will work in cooperation with the government organizations that funded and conducted space travel in the first three eras, and sometimes they will operate independently of government involvement and support. Click here. (10/4)

USAF Could Make Mini-Shuttle Operations Exclusive To Florida (Source: Red Orbit)
The mysterious space plane that ended a top secret 15 month mission over the summer could have its base of operations consolidated to the state of Florida. The unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle could have its third flight both begin and end in the Sunshine State, an Air Force spokesperson said. USAF Rapid Capabilities Offices representative Major Tracy Bunko said that officials were “looking at space shuttle infrastructure for possible cost-saving measures, including the potential for consolidating landing, refurbishment and launch operations at Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.”

“Those investigations are in an early state, and any specifics will not be known for some time… But we are evaluating the feasibility of landing the X-37B OTV at Kennedy Space Center possibly as early as for the landing of OTV-3,” Bunko added. “Such a move would almost certainly add dozens, if not hundreds, of civil service and contractor jobs that would help fuel a next-generation economic engine on Florida’s Space Coast,” according to Florida Today. (10/4)

Dogged Seekers of Dark Matter Win Physics Prize (Source: Space.com)
Major discoveries in science are often lauded, but sometimes it's the long-running searches that have yet to find anything that deserve the accolades. Now, two dark matter-chasing scientists are being honored for their enduring attempts to track down the elusive stuff, despite not finding any dark matter yet. Physicists Blas Cabrera of Stanford University and Bernard Sadoulet of the University of California, Berkeley have been awarded the 2013 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics for their work on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS), an experiment spanning decades that aims to directly detect the particles responsible for dark matter. (10/4)

'World Space Week' Launches Today on Sputnik Anniversary (Source: Space.com)
A weeklong international celebration of spaceflight and exploration kicks off today (Oct. 4), with hundreds of events planned in dozens of countries around the world. The 13th annual World Space Week runs from Oct. 4 through Oct. 10 — both key dates in the history of space exploration. On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union lofted Sputnik 1, humanity's first-ever artificial satellite. And the Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basis for international space law, came into effect on Oct. 10, 1967. (10/4)

Aerospace Roundtable Discussion Planned with Rep. Bill Posey (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast will host an October 17 roundtable discussion in Rockledge with Congressman Bill Posey, 2012 Congressional Candidate – District 8, on opportunities and challenges within the aerospace and defense industries. This policy forum will center on the substantive transition in the aerospace industry, as well as the looming threat of sequestration for the defense industry, both of which have the potential for extreme effects on our economy. Posey is a Republican hoping to represent a newly drawn district that includes the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (10/4)

What Would We Do if a 1859 Sized Solar Storm Hit Again? (Source: Space Safety)
Turning all the railway signals red, disrupting power grids and telephone lines, disabling the GPS services and radio transmissions and damaging the satellite solar arrays. There are many tricks the geomagnetic storms caused by powerful solar Coronal Mass Ejections can pull. The seminar held at The Institution of Engineering and Technology in London on Sep. 28 aimed at bringing together interested parties from the industry and academia in order to exchange knowledge and enhance understanding of these effects.

There is no doubt the gathering was a timely one as the next solar maximum is approaching in 2013. As Professor Mike Hapgood, the chair of the meeting, noted in his opening remarks, society has never been as vulnerable to the impacts of space weather as it is today. “Whereas the turbojet Concord, retired in 2003, was quite resistant, the aircraft manufactured today are even more packed with electronic systems and therefore extremely sensitive,” Hapgood said. “The same applies to the current electric power lines that are extremely long and extensive,” he added. Click here. (9/30)

Russian Export Rules Force Changes to 2016 ExoMars Mission (Source: Space News)
Russian export control procedures made it impossible for Europe’s ExoMars mission in 2016 to employ a Russian nuclear heater that would have permitted the ExoMars lander to operate for two years on the martian surface. Instead of functioning as a ground-based weather monitor for a full martian year, the European-built lander will be limited to providing data as it parachutes to the Mars surface and then for around four martian days —- eight Earth days -— until its batteries deplete. (10/4)

'India Can No Longer Afford to Live in a Space Time Warp' (Source: Rediff)
What hinders India's exploration program is a lackadaisical approach to space research and development by the policymakers, says Chaitanya Giri. India stands at the crossroads of its space exploration endeavor. With a mission to Mars not far away, India now intends to join an elite group of nations that have explored planets. The Chinese mission to Mars failed last year, the Japanese have not attempted a Martian mission since many years. That leaves us with a question -- is India ready to break the ice in Asia? (10/4)

2012: A Space Oddity (source: European Voice)
The European Commission's department for enterprise claims a recent poll shows that a majority of Europeans (77%) wants the EU “to play a role in a space monitoring system to manage disasters and crisis as well as mitigate the effects of climate change”. This was hardly an involuntary thought. Those questioned were first reminded that the US, Russia and China were developing space programs. Then they were asked to say, for each of three activities (disaster/crisis management, detection of satellites and space debris, and space exploration) by whom the activity should be developed.

Options were the EU alone, the member states that wanted to do so, the EU and the member states together, or none of them. On this basis, even space exploration “with humans or robots”, received 64% support for an EU role. Aside from Malta's healthy disinterest in satellite navigation, what caught our skeptical eye was that this was a “flash” poll, conducted over four days (9-12 July) by telephone. Flash polls are usually used to get quick, short-term responses.

Given that space policy is not the fastest-moving of policy areas (the satellites that the European space agency is launching this month have been a while in the making), the use of a “flash” poll is intriguing. Could it be that someone fears budget cutbacks? (10/4)

Does the Earth Need a Space Fence? (Source: New Statesman)
Last week, NASA confirmed that the International Space Station may have to be moved or risk being hit by a sizable lump of Russian space junk. With hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris littering the atmosphere, has our desire for space exploration inadvertently created a volatile and hazardous junkyard?

The danger was posed by defunct Russian military satellite Kosmos 2251, infamous for colliding with US satellite Iridium-33 in February 2009. The incident sent hundreds of pieces of debris spiraling out of control in Earth’s atmospheric orbit, adding to the debris currently tracked by the US Air Force. Of course, this is an issue entirely of our own doing. Years of launching satellites without an afterthought for the abandoned rocket components have left Earth’s geostationary orbit more congested than the M25 on a Friday evening. (10/4)

Delta 4 Rocket Lifts Off with New GPS Satellite (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The third new-generation satellite for the Global Positioning System has lifted off from Cape Canaveral atop a Delta 4 rocket booster to join the navigation network this morning from Cape Canaveral. Liftoff occurred on time at 8:10 a.m. EDT. (10/4)

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