November 3, 2012

Alien Life May Require Asteroid Belt Like Ours (Source: Huffington Post)
Asteroid belts similar to the one between Mars and Jupiter appear to be rare beyond our solar system, implying that complex alien life may be rare as well, a new study reports. Fewer than 4 percent of known alien solar systems are likely to have an asteroid belt like the one in our own neck of the woods, researchers found. Belts that look like ours may help spur the evolution of life, seeding rocky planets with water and complex chemicals but not pummeling the worlds with a constant barrage of violent impacts.

"Our study shows that only a tiny fraction of planetary systems observed to date seem to have giant planets in the right location to produce an asteroid belt of the appropriate size, offering the potential for life on a nearby rocky planet," study lead author Rebecca Martin, of the University of Colorado in Boulder, said in a statement. "Our study suggests that our solar system may be rather special." (11/2)

29 Years Later: Weathersat Decision Comes Home to Roost (Source: Citizens in Space)
Our current problems with potential gaps in weather satellite capabilities be traced directly to actions by the United States Congress in the 1980′s. In 1983, the Reagan Administration proposed to privatize weather satellites and the LANDSAT earth-resources satellite. The Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) submitted a proposal to take over both systems. Other companies were also interested. Congress, however, believed that satellite operations were an intrinsically governmental function and strongly opposed the move, which was later dropped.

The assumption that government agencies are more capable of operating space systems than private companies is similar to what we see today in Congressional opposition to privatizing NASA’s human spaceflight requirements. Unfortunately, government agencies are not always the good managers Congress believes. With no competition, there is little incentive for efficiency or cost control. In fact, there are perverse incentives that reward delays and cost overruns. Today, the consequences of the weather-satellite decision, 29 years ago, are coming home to roost. (11/3)

NRC Fills Out Committee Slate for Human Spaceflight Study (Source: Space Policy Online)
Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and space scientist Jonathan Lunine will co-chair the National Research Council's new study on the future of the human spaceflight program. Perry currently is a professor at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. Lunine is a professor at Cornell University and Director of its Center for Radiophysics and Space Research.

The study was requested by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which directed NASA to contract with the NRC in FY2012 (which ended last month). The study officially got under way in August, but the co-chairs were named just today; other committee members have not been announced yet. NRC officials have previously indicated that the study would take about 22 months to complete.

According to its Statement of Task, the committee will "provide findings, rationale, prioritized recommendations, and decision rules that could enable and guide future planning for U.S. human space exploration" for the FY2014-FY2023 time period "while considering the program's likely evolution in 2015-2030." Click here for a full list of the committee's members. (11/2)

In Virginia, Antares Core Stage Rides Out Hurricane on Pad (Source: Space News)
The core stage of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket rode out the harsh winds and rains of Hurricane Sandy from its launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia with no apparent damage, company and spaceport officials said. For Antares, the only ill effect of the storm is a delay to a wet dress rehearsal and subsequent hot-fire tests that had been scheduled for late October into late November, Orbital spokesman Barron Beneski wrote. (11/2)

Rare 300 kg Meteorite Unearthed in Poland (Source: Cosmos)
The largest meteorite ever found in Eastern Europe has been discovered by Polish geologists who hope the rare find will provide fresh clues about the composition of the Earth's inner core, they said. "We know the Earth's core is composed of iron, but we can't study it. Here we have a guest from outer space which is similar in structure and we can easily examine it," Andrzej Muszynski told reporters in Poznan, western Poland, where the find was made public. (11/2)

Launch of Third Air Force Secret Space Plane Delayed Again (Source:
The launch of the third Air Force X-37B spaceship, a secret space plane used for classified missions in Earth orbit, has been postponed, officials said. The liftoff of an Atlas 5 rocket set to carry the robotic X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-3), which looks like a mini space shuttle, has now been slipped to Nov. 27, pending confirmation that the rocket range can support the launch.

According to a statement today from spokesperson Jessica Rye of United Launch Alliance (ULA), which builds the Atlas 5, the leadership at ULA and the Air Force agreed to postpone the launch of the X-37B for two weeks. Holding off on the liftoff of the Atlas 5 will allow for additional flight data anomaly investigation activities of the Delta 4 engine glitch and a thorough "crossover assessment" for the X-37B OTV launch vehicle, officials said. (11/2)

Where Are All the Space Shuttles Now? (Source: AP)
The last of NASA's space shuttles to fly, Atlantis, is the last to move to its new retirement home, just 10 miles away at Kennedy Space Center's main tourist site. A look at each of the shuttles in the order they flew, including the test model. Click here. (11/3)

Russia Launches Two Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Russian Proton-M launch vehicle carrying Yamal-300K telecoms satellite and Luch 5B relay satellite lifted off on Saturday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. Both satellites have successfully reached orbit, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos confirmed. “The separation of the Yamal-300K from the Briz-M booster went smoothly, and to schedule,” a Roscosmos spokesman told RIA Novosti on Saturday, adding that the same was true of the Luch 5B relay satellite, and confirming that both had entered orbit. (11/3)

No comments: