November 12, 2012

Spaceport Modernization the Focus of NSS Space Locals in December (Source: NSSFL)
December's Space Locals will feature Scott Colloredo, the Chief Architect for Kennedy Space Center's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and the acting deputy director for the 21st Century Space Launch Complex initiative. The event will be on Dec. 1 at 2:00 PM at the Courtyard Marriott Cocoa Beach.

Space Locals features space professionals who work locally for the benefit of space science or the space industry in our area. Unlike a traditional lecture series, these talks are part lecture and part group discussion. All attendees are welcome and encouraged to participate regardless of one's training or background. The event is free and open to all. (11/10)

Spacefarers Fewer, But Recruits Wait in Wings (Source: Florida Today)
Sixteen months after NASA’s last shuttle flight, the final four astronauts to fly on one of America’s winged orbiters have moved on. Two now are working in the private sector, still involved in the American aerospace industry. Two remain at NASA, working on the future of U.S. human spaceflight, preparing for missions beyond Earth orbit.

Together, they are representative of a NASA Astronaut Office in the midst of dramatic change — a corps that is just a third of the size it was in the year 2000. And each of them look forward to a day when U.S. astronauts no longer are hitching rides on Russian spacecraft. But it likely will be 2017 or later before U.S. astronauts are flying on commercial space taxis or the Apollo-style Orion deep space explorer. Consequently, the size of the Astronaut Office is dwindling. The corps now numbers 52 — about 66 percent less than the 149 astronauts employed by the office in 2000. (11/9)

Global Warming Cause Felt by Satellites and Space Junk (Source:
Rising carbon dioxide levels at the edge of space are apparently reducing the pull that Earth's atmosphere has on satellites and space junk, researchers say. The findings suggest that manmade increases in carbon dioxide might be having effects on the Earth that are larger than expected, scientists added. In the layers of atmosphere closest to Earth, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, trapping heat from the sun. Rising levels of carbon dioxide due to human activity are leading to global warming of Earth's surface. (11/11)

Chinese Space Plans Gain Focus in Communist Conclave (Source:
China's next human space mission will launch in June and dock with the orbiting Tiangong 1 space lab, and construction of the first Chinese lunar rover is on pace for launch in the second half of 2013, according to state media reports. The next crewed spaceflight will include three astronauts and last for about 15 days, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, which on Saturday quoted the deputy commander of China's manned space program on the sidelines of this week's Communist Party congress in Beijing.

The ruling party assembly will shepherd the country through a once-in-a-decade power transfer. Chinese vice president Xi Jinping is expected take over China's top leadership post from Hu Jintao, who has been at the helm since 2003. China plans to launch a multi-module complex the size of Russia's Mir space station by 2020. China's next-generation of Long March rockets, which are required to launch the space station modules into orbit, will begin flying in 2014 from the new Wenchang space center on Hainan Island, officials said. (11/11)

Next Few Weeks Critical to Defining DoD in Second Obama Term (Source: Federal News Radio)
In some ways, a second Obama term is likely to mean some degree of continuity in the Defense Department. But the shape and size of the government's largest and most complex department over the next few years will depend to a large degree on what happens over the next few weeks. The presidential election, whatever its outcome, was bound to have some impact on the resources DoD would have available over the next several years.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had promised to increase Defense spending to 4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. President Obama had sketched out his plan for the next 10 years of Pentagon spending several months earlier, including $487 billion in reductions to previously-planned defense spending in compliance with the debt ceiling agreement the White House and GOP lawmakers struck in the summer of 2011. (11/9)

Hopes Rise in U.S. for Sequestration Deal (Source: Defense News)
The adage that elections have consequences is playing out in Washington. Senior Republicans suddenly are in a deal-making mood and a newly re-elected president is reaching out to a legislative branch with which he has repeatedly clashed. Though it might prove temporary, the mood in the nation’s capital was noticeably different just hours after President Barack Obama won by a larger-than-anticipated electoral margin and Democrats shocked the pundits by gaining seats in the House and Senate.

Gone was Obama’s often tough talk about congressional Republicans, who vigorously fought his every first-term initiative. Gone, too, for a few days at least, were chesty proclamations by senior Republicans about ensuring Obama’s failure. And Washington insiders shed talk of Obama’s lack of political capital, replacing it with a declaration that his triple-digit Electoral College win earned him a mandate.

All of the above from lawmakers, pundits and analysts injected a new ingredient into the prospects of Congress and the White House agreeing to a massive deficit-reduction package that would avoid $500 billion in Pentagon cuts: Hope. “In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together,” Obama said.  (11/10)

Vostochny, Angara Mark Two Major Milestones for Russian Space Sector (Source: Space Daily)
Launch and technical complexes of the new Vostochny cosmodrome in Amur region will be put into balancing and commissioning in 2014. According to the plans of the Federal Space Agency, Vostochny will be used as the launch pad for the Angara complex, which now remains under development. However, in this context, the future of Baikonur is up in the air, and representatives of Kazakhstan have repeatedly expressed their concern about it.

The Vostochny cosmodrome, which just underwent active construction last year, should be ready for the first launch in 2015. As the head of the Dalspetsstroy, Pavel Buyanovsky has informed Vladimir Popovkin that construction and assembling of the main buildings, facilities, networks and communications will be completed in 2013, and launch and technical areas should be in commission in 2014. Click here. (11/12)

Ditch the Asteroid Mission, Mr President (Source: BBC)
When Barack Obama strode on to stage to accept his second term of office, he did just enough to inspire hope that the country’s space programme could regain some of its former glory. Amidst a speech about the country’s progress and future, he presented a vision of a country “that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation”.

Could that mean that NASA is once again going to launch a program of exploration as inspiring and bold as the Apollo missions? Perhaps that would be reading too much into it. However, there are already rumors circulating that NASA is about to unveil a new manned mission to the Moon, although not everyone buys into the exact details. 

Whatever the truth, I hope that NASA is aiming big, because its current ambitions are – by its own scientists admissions – somewhat lacking. Although we now have the capability to return humans to the Moon, and travel beyond with manned missions to Mars, the world’s leading space-faring nation has another destination in its sights: an asteroid. A small lump of rock. (11/12)

New Technique to Protect Astronauts from Space Radiation (Source: Space Daily)
The complexities of traveling to and working in space present challenges to astronauts that NASA scientists and engineers have been working on for a half-century. One of the challenges facing humans when they go outside Earth's protective atmosphere and magnetic field is space radiation. Sending astronauts farther into our solar system than ever before will require advanced instruments designed for monitoring and detecting radiation in space vehicles and habitats.

NASA is tackling this problem with a renewed focus on understanding radiation in space environments. The Advanced Neutron Spectrometer, or ANS is an instrument designed to do just this. By monitoring neutrons, the team aims to build a new tool to protect astronauts as they explore new destinations. "The ANS can be used to detect the levels of radiation in the spacecraft or habitat so that astronauts can employ techniques to minimize their exposure." (11/12)

Aspiring UAE's Female Space Explorers to Join Space Center Training (Source: Bernama)
After two successful editions, the region's only space exploration program is turning its attention to girls between the ages of 12-18 who aspire to be engineers, scientists, or even astronauts in the near future. Twenty-five female students will be selected to join Space Center Houston's Space Camp training. (11/12)

Israel a Leader in Some Areas of Space Exploration (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Israel is among the global leaders in many areas of space exploration, such as the possession of an extensive satellite system for research purposes. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz briefed other ministers on the nation’s activity in space and satellites, stressing the areas in which the country is a leader as well as its cooperative activities with other nations.

In addition to being among the top five leaders in developing a satellite research system, Israel is among the most successful in growth of sales for the space industry, improvement and broadening of space knowledge and infrastructure, and strengthening the link between its space research and society in general, Hershkowitz said. Israel has launched 13 satellites that have collectively accumulated 66 orbiting years and achieved 100% orbit mission successes. (11/12)

Mr Xi in Space (Source:
The recent change of leadership in China has made foreign policy analysts very busy. Nobody is completely sure of how Xi Jinping will steer China, or how the somewhat opaque machinery of China's political system will respond to him. While it's not the most pressing issue for China watchers, it's still worthwhile asking one focused question: How will the ascendancy of Mr Xi affect China's ambitious plans in space?

In the short term, we can probably expect no changes at all. The new leader of China has more immediate concerns than spaceflight. Mr Xi and his government will be largely focused on critical matters such as economics, social problems and (hopefully) tackling corruption. Ignoring the program will not be a problem for the next few years. The near-term future of China's human spaceflight program has been mapped out, and we can see China following a clearly defined path for the next decade. (11/12)

Almost Being There: Why the Future of Space Exploration is Not What You Think (Source: WIRED)
Mocup is a tiny, adorable remote-controlled robot built from a Lego Mindstorms set with an off-the-shelf Beagleboard computer for a brain and a webcam for an eye. The machine is not fundamentally different from many other RC robots — except for the fact that its controller operates it from space. The cat-sized robot can do little more than move around, avoid obstacles, and transmit video.

It’s mostly a testbed for communications to help humans in orbit and robots on the surface of a planet work seamlessly together. On Oct. 23, astronaut Sunita Williams sent commands from the International Space Station to Mocup – which stands for the Meteron Operations and Communications Prototype – telling it to travel around an obstacle course in Germany. The test may seem mundane but Mocup represents the first step in dramatically redefining how we discover and investigate the universe.

Nowadays some scientists and engineers at NASA and other space agencies are taking a second look at historical exploration scenarios. In the past, robotic and human exploration have been seen as rivals, we either do one or the other. Some in the spaceflight community have said we can do everything with machines while others argued that exploration is a man’s job. Click here. (11/12)

County Commits $4 Million For Wallops Research Park (Source:
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors in an 8-1 vote authorized actions that should result in the development of the first phase of Wallops Research Park with the goal of opening for business in July 2014. The actions also likely will result in creation of a new recreational park in the central part of the county to satisfy a federal requirement to remove deed restrictions from part of the Wallops property.

“The Wallops complex is an extraordinary economic and prestige engine for Accomack County, for the Eastern Shore and for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Wallops Research Park Leadership Council Chairman Tom Young said. Young said building a taxiway to connect the research park to NASA runways is “the thing that really enables the capability this park has.” (11/9)

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