November 26, 2012

Russia’s Space Industry to Merge Into Holdings (Source: RIA Novosti)
A structural reform of Russia’s space industry will see its numerous enterprises united into five or six large holdings, Federal Space Agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said. The reform should make the troubled industry more manageable, Popovkin said. The draft list of industries to get separate holdings includes orbital spacecraft development, in-orbit operation, guidance systems, scientific research, testing and strategic rocketry, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, also on Monday.

The centralization may be taken a step further, with the Federal Space Agency, Russia’s analogue of NASA, transformed into a state corporation that would replace the prospective holdings, Popovkin said. The government considered creating a single “space corporation” for three years before deeming the idea ineffective, said Rogozin, who oversees defense and space industries. (11/26)

Why the Government Must Spend More Money On NASA (Source: Gizmodo)
Let's speak about this one more time because, now that the new Federal budget is coming up, we need to. The government should, must, dedicate a lot more money to NASA. And there's no way around it. It must support NASA because the science and engineering being developed at Goddard, JPL, Dryden, Ames, JSC, Langley, Glenn, KSC, Marshall, Stennis, Wallops and the hundreds of associated research centers and universities that operate under its umbrella pushes humanity forward in a dramatic way. And at every possible level, on a daily basis. (11/26)

Kelly & Kornienko to Spend Full Year on Space Station as Prelude to Mars (Source: Washington Post)
A former space shuttle commander whose twin brother is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attempt the longest spaceflight ever by an American. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend an entire year aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2015. The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars. (11/26)

Pluto Atmosphere Larger Than Thought, Study Shows (Source:
A new simulation of Pluto's upper atmosphere shows that it extends so far from the planet that stray molecules may be deposited on its largest moon, Charon. The new model predicts that Pluto's atmosphere can extend as far as 6,456 miles into space, or about 4.5 times the diameter of Pluto. That's more than halfway to Charon. Researchers combined two previously known models of Pluto's atmosphere to better estimate the escape rate of molecules into space. Their refinement made a big difference. (11/26)

Apply by Dec. 14 to Become a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison (Source: Space Foundation)
The Space Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2013 flight of Teacher Liaisons. This will be the 10th year of this prestigious, nationally recognized program that provides an honored few educators numerous benefits and privileges, helps strengthen their teaching skills, builds resumes and influences education at a national level. Applications will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Click here. (11/26)

The Paradox of NASA Budget Cuts (Source: IVN)
The estimated $1 trillion cost of the DOD Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program dwarfs that of NASA’s $25 billion Apollo program. Yet, despite NASA’s historical successes and technological breakthroughs, its budget will face another round of crippling cuts next year that is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

These cuts are now becoming a trend for the White House. To put this into context, consider the White House’s 2010 NASA budget proposal of $18.69 billion versus 2013’s proposal of $17.7 billion. This is in spite of the US government’s plan to spend tens of billions of dollars next year on more JSF aircraft, which have been riddled with safety issues and costly production delays for over a decade.

However, the bad news for NASA may not end with the cuts from the White House. It will have an even more miniscule budget if we fall off the fiscal cliff come January. This is according to the sequestration bill that is set to trigger $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts if congress and the president do not reach an agreement by January 2. If the sequester goes into effect, NASA will immediately lose another $1.3 billion in funding. (11/26)

Asteroid Miners Hunt for Platinum, Leave All Common Sense in Glovebox (Source: The Register)
Analysis Isn't it exciting that Planetary Resources is going to jet off and mine the asteroids? This is every teenage sci-fi geek's dream, that everything we imbibed from Verne through Heinlein to Pournelle is going to come true! But there's always someone, isn't there, someone like me, ready to spoil the party. The bit that I cannot get my head around is the economics of it: specifically, the economics of the mining itself. I'm not sure that the numbers quite stack up here.

I'm sure that the engineering is possible, I'm certain that it's all worth doing and most certainly believe that we want to get up there and start playing around with other parts of the cosmos. But, but… Start from the size of the platinum market. This is some 6.2 million ounces a year. 6.5 million ounces of virgin material, that is: given the value of the metal some to all of past usage is recycled as well. At our $2,000 an ounce price guide, that gives us a market value of some $13bn a year. That certainly seems large enough to keep a space program running. 

Except that's not quite how markets work. There are demand curves as well as supply ones: sure, a nice high price will encourage new entrants like Planetary into the market. But in order to shift all this new material, prices will have to decline. The important question therefore is how elastic is the market? How far, if at all, will the price fall if a new supplier enters? Click here. (11/26)

NASA Working on Deep Space Atomic Clock (Source: NASA)
Over the decades, NASA has been a milestone-making agency, known worldwide for precision “get there” navigation of spacecraft to distant worlds. But the pursuit of even more accuracy to carry out on-the-spot landings on Mars, or to dispatch a probe to an ultra-precise touchdown on an asteroid, is on the agenda for NASA’s Space Technology Program. NASA is preparing to fly a small, low-mass Deep Space Atomic Clock, or DSAC–a next-generation technology that can greatly improve deep space navigation and radio science.

While cesium and rubidium atomic clocks are in use on satellites in Earth orbit–specifically in the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation–there are no atomic clocks onboard interplanetary spacecraft. The DSAC is being readied for launch into Earth’s orbit in 2015. This demonstration mission would validate the very heart of the hardware: a miniaturized mercury-ion atomic clock. (11/26)

USAF’s Hypersonics Road Map Sets Long-Term View (Source: Aviation Week)
Fifty years after the U.S. Air Force first began to recognize the true challenges of air-breathing hypersonic flight for weapons and aircraft, a cohesive plan is emerging that finally may enable those long-held goals to be achieved. Unlike many earlier road maps, however, the new plan is measured in decadal, rather than annual, targets and appears to accommodate both the technological difficulties of the tasks and the realities of defense science and technology (S&T) spending in a time of austerity.

Despite the painfully slow progress from the days of the ramjet-powered Martin Marietta Advanced Strategic Air Launched Missile (Asalm) of the late 1970s to the most recent flights of the Boeing X-51A scramjet demonstrator, the plan recognizes that speed remains an Air Force priority for its warfighting capabilities. Click here. (11/26)

Harris, Embraer Projects Will Have Long-Term Ramifications on Space Coast (Source: Florida Today)
Two major groundbreakings are scheduled on the Space Coast, and there is more involved than shiny shovels and group photos. Both groundbreakings — one by Harris Corp. in Palm Bay and the other by Embraer at Melbourne International Airport — have long-term ramifications for Brevard County’s quest to become world leader in cutting-edge research.
Nothing will exemplify that better than the Wednesday groundbreaking of Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA.

Harris is building a $100 million engineering center that’s expected to open in 2014 and hopefully attract the best and brightest in computer and electrical engineering. Embraer is building its $24 million Engineering and Technology Center next to its already sizable jet-assembly operation at Melbourne International.

“This is an example of Florida moving up the value chain in one of the state’s targeted industries for economic development,” said Edward Ellegood, director of aerospace development at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ellegood said the average annual salary for aerospace engineers in Florida is $83,000. “And like similar space industry programs, this kind of activity tends to attract university partnerships and high-level executive visits that would expose the area to other opportunities,” Ellegood said. (11/24)

Direction of Time Fuzzy for Subatomic Particles (Source:
Subatomic particles don't care if time moves forward or backward — it's all the same to them. But now physicists have found proof of one theorized exception to this rule. Usually, time is symmetrical for particles, meaning events happen the same way if time progresses forward or backward. For example, a video of two particles colliding and scattering off each other can be played forward or backward, and makes sense either way. (That's not the case for macroscopic objects in the real world. You can spill a glass of milk on the floor, but if time were to move backward, the milk can't pick itself up and fall back into the glass.) (11/26)

Preparations for North Korea's Thursday Lift-off in Full Swing (Source Arirang)
Preparations are in full swing as Korea makes another attempt to launch its Naro space rocket on Thursday.
The preparation committee said the Naro rocket is undergoing the final inspections before it is transferred onto the launch pad Tuesday morning. There will be a final pre-launch rehearsal on Wednesday. If the inspections go smoothly and there are no additional technical problems, the launch will take place sometime between 4 and 6-fifty-five PM local time, depending on the weather conditions that day. (11/26)

Private Company to Launch Sri Lanka's First Satellite (Source: Xichang)
Sri Lanka's maiden satellite launch done by SupremeSAT, a private company with collaboration from China's state owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation, is expected to take place on Tuesday, an official said. The launch was initially expected to take place on 22 November but was postponed due to bad weather, Space Systems Engineer Rohitha Rajapaksa told media. The new date has been set for 27 November with the launch center being from Xi Chang. (11/26)

Military Communications Satellites Go Into Service (Source:
Two sophisticated U.S. military communications satellites launched earlier this year for distinctly different missions have entered initial service lives in geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. The Navy's Mobile User Objective System 1 spacecraft was carried aloft by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 24 and the Air Force's Advanced Extremely High Frequency 2 satellite followed from the same pad atop a similar Atlas on May 4.

MUOS is the first in a new space-based constellation for global mobile communications to replace the military's aging Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spacecraft fleet with substantial new capabilities for smartphone-like flow of information around the battlespace. (11/25)

Russia Replaces Proton-M Rocket for Dec. 28 Launch (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Proton-M rocket has been damaged during transportation to the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan and will be replaced to keep the launch schedule unchanged, the Khrunichev space rocket maker said on Monday. The official added that the replacement would not affect the Proton-M launch schedule. Russia is planning to launch Proton-M rockets to orbit the Yamal-402 satellite for Gazprom Space Systems on December 8 and the Satmex-8 satellite for Satélites Mexicanos, S.A. on December 28. (11/26)

National Space Club Invites Nominations for Debus Award (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club – Florida Committee - presents its premier award, the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award, for significant contributions to the advancement, awareness, and improvement of aerospace in Florida. This award will be presented at our annual Debus Dinner, scheduled for Saturday, 27 April 2013 at the Debus Conference Center in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. 

Whether as a Space Club member or friend of the aerospace program, we encourage you to submit nominations for the 2012 Debus Award.  Nominations must be made in writing and should be mailed to the address shown at the top of this letter to the attention of the Debus Award Selection Committee. The deadline for submitting nominations is Monday, 21 January 2013. Click here. (11/26)

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