December 15, 2012

"Rescue" of Misplaced Uamal-402 Satellite Successful (Source: Voice of Russia)
Experts of the Thales Alenia Space company have completed a unique operation to "rescue" the Yamal-402 satellite. On Dec. 9 the Breeze-M upper stage of Russia’s Proton heavy-lift rocket failed, placing Yamal 402 telecommunications satellite into a too-low orbit. The satellite reached geostationary orbit after the fourth ignition of its own engine. Yamal-402 was built by Thales Alenia Space for Gazprom Space Systems. (12/15)

China Space Probe Snaps Close-Up Photo of Asteroid 4.5 Million Miles Away (Source: Daily Mail)
A Chinese spacecraft has carried out a deep space fly-by on an asteroid four and a half million miles away from the Earth. The Chang'e-2 probe successfully conducted the mission to scan the surface of the asteroid Toutatis. It happened on December 13 at 16.30om Beijing Time, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense announced

At 2.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, astronomers say it is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid because it makes repeated passes by the Earth, about every four years. The flyby was the first time an unmanned spacecraft launched from Earth has taken such a close viewing of the asteroid, named after a Celtic god. China followed in the footsteps of the U.S., the European Union and Japan by using an spacecraft to examine an asteroid. Click here. (12/15)

Apollo 13 Astronauts Make Light of Ill-Fated Flight (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
They can laugh about it now. Saturday at the Pensacola-based National Aviation Museum astronauts and control room officials of the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970 made light of the life-threatening glitch that has become part of space exploration lore and the subject of a 1995 hit movie directed by Ron Howard. Click here. (12/15)

Indian Mars Mission Could Promote Nation as Major Power in Science/Tech (Source: Economic Times)
India's Mars Mission could see the country emerge as a 'major power' in science and technology if it turned out to be a success, a former ISRO scientist said. "After successful launch of Chandrayan 1, scientists are working on the Mars Mission satellite, which will study the surface. If successful, India can become a major power in science and technology," N Sivasubramanian said. (12/15)

ESA's Powerful New Tracking Station Ready for Service in Argentina (Source: ESA)
A new satellite tracking station at Malarg├╝e, Argentina, will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday, completing the trio of deep-space stations and confirming ESA as one of the world’s most technologically advanced space organisations. The massive radio reflector dish of ESA’s new station is the most visible indication of the impressive technology that will soon track missions voyaging hundreds of millions of kilometres deep in our Solar System. (12/14)

Space Station to Get New Insomnia-Fighting Light Bulbs (Source: Space.com)
NASA plans a new weapon in the fight against space insomnia: high-tech light-emitting diodes to replace the fluorescent bulbs in the U.S. section of the International Space Station. About half of everyone who flies to space relies on sleep medication, at some point, to get some rest. For $11.2 million, NASA hopes to use the science of light to reduce astronauts' dependency on drugs.

According to NASA flight surgeon Smith Johnston, studies in Anchorage, Alaska showed that hospital staff made more medical errors during the darkest times of the year. The finding demonstrates that people have a day-night cycle that must be respected, even when they're doing the demanding work of space exploration.

In an effort to address the problem, NASA plans to replace the orbiting laboratory's fluorescent bulbs with an array of LEDs switching between blueish, whitish and reddish light, according to the time of day. The changes can be programmed in by the ground, or the astronauts. The new light bulbs are due to be swapped in by 2016. (12/14)

Clipper Ship for Europa Mission Listed as Scientists’ Top Choice (Source: Space News)
More than a year after a proposed flagship mission to Europa was scrapped due to its budget-busting $4.5 billion price tag, a clipper ship that would make 32 passes by the icy Jupiter moon to assess its suitability for life has emerged as scientists’ top choice for a pared-down expedition. An in-depth study of Europa, which is believed to harbor an underground ocean, ranked just behind returning samples from Mars in the National Academy of Sciences’ priority list for major planetary science initiatives between 2013 and 2022.

A study team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been working since the so-called decadal survey’s release in March 2011 to design a Europa mission for $2 billion. For now, NASA has no money and no authorization for starting new planetary science programs, though it has announced plans for a second Mars Science Laboratory-class rover, slated for launch in 2020, as part of its ongoing Mars exploration initiative. (12/14)

ESA on Tight Schedule To Deliver Propulsion Module for Orion (Source: Space News)
The recent agreement by the European Space Agency (ESA) to furnish the propulsion module for NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) to pay ESA’s share of the station’s common operating costs will force European contractors to accept an unusually tight delivery schedule, ESA officials said. They also said the arrangement leaves several elements yet to be decided relative to intellectual property rights to hardware used for the propulsion module. (12/14)

Editorial: New Mexico Doesn’t Need A $209 Million ‘Spacino’ (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
If the New Mexico Legislature again refuses to grant a limited liability exemption to Spaceport America suppliers and Sir Richard Branson really picks up his spacecraft and takes off for clearer skies, New Mexico taxpayers still have options for their $209 million investment in the desert: They could partner with a tribe or scare up a track license and open up a “spacino;” join forces with the lone new business in the Upham area — a Holiday Inn Express — and offer the most expensive continental breakfast in the solar system.

They could bank on Medicaid expansion under Obamacare becoming a leading economic driver and use the hangar as an intergalactic claims-processing station; or they could take a headache away from local and state corrections officials and convert the elegant and futuristic facility into a new-age methadone clinic — accessible to junkies via an expanded Rail Runner commuter train, of course.

All proposals are as ridiculous as allowing this public-private venture to fail because the trial lawyer lobby is more concerned about the suing rights of wealthy space tourists (who have been thoroughly briefed and signed waivers) than the economic needs of New Mexico, the hefty investment of state taxpayers and the promise of an emerging industry. But hey, who needs jobs when maybe we can salvage some additional federal benefits from the wreckage at the bottom of the fiscal cliff? (12/15)

UAE All-Girl Space Exploration Team Ready to Blast Off (Source: Khaleej Times)
Space Ed-Ventures, a UAE based educational platform and the region’s only space exploration program, opened applications for an all-girl cohort of aspiring engineers, researchers and astronauts between the ages of 12 and 18 in November. After a rigorous screening process, and weeding through an extensive list of applicants, 24 students have made the cut and are on their way to this once-in-a-lifetime experience at Space Center Houston.

“We have had a lot of interest from the students and the parents for this educational trip. I am proud to say that the selected students are all perfect student ambassadors for the UAE, and will positively represent our country and all its endeavors in educating and supporting women.” said Hussain Al Ansari, CEO of Space Ed-Ventures. (12/15)

Suborbital Rocket Launch Postponed from Wallops (Source: NASA)
The planned launch of a Terrier-Lynx suborbital rocket for the Department of Defense on Dec. 14 from NASA’s launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia has been postponed. The new launch date is 8 to 8:30 p.m. EST, December 18. (12/14)

Commercial Crew Companies Pursue Innovative Abort Technologies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Many human spacecraft -— Mercury, Apollo, Russia’s Soyuz, and China’s Shenzhou — include tower abort systems that “pull” the crewed capsule away from a failing rocket. Although its design has proven to be reliable, it comes with inefficiencies. Rather than depending on this heritage design, NASA’s commercial crew partners are developing innovative alternative approaches that not only will allow crews to reliably escape from a launch vehicle accident, but also should prove less costly for missions to low-Earth orbit. Click here. (12/14)

NASA Tests Orion Access Arm (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Preparations for the launch of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft recently took an important step forward. A prototype seal for the launch tower’s crew access arm, or CAA, was successfully tested at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Equipment Test Facility in Florida. The simulation evaluated the new technology used in the design and function of the inflatable seal. The assessment team used mockups of Orion’s outer mold line and the access arm White Room to evaluate the performance of the seal while simulating vehicle to CAA work. (12/14)

Earthrise Space Obtains Technical Assistance Agreement with Team Angelicvm (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Earthrise Space has obtained approval from the US State Department for a Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA) with Team Angelicvm. This agreement is a critical step, permitting the teams to work together prior to both teams simultaneously descending to the lunar surface in the Google Lunar X PRIZE race to the moon.

The TAA clears ESI to transmit data to Angelicvm in order for them to properly interface their rover with ESI’s lander, thus making it possible for the two team’s rovers to communicate with each other and with ESI’s Lunar Descent Vehicle (LDV) during their historic mission. (12/14)

Earth’s New Neighbor Looks Familiar (Source: Science News)
For exoplanets, size does matter. That’s why an Earth-sized planet just 4.4 light-years away proved to be one of the most exciting astronomical discoveries of 2012. The planet circles a sunlike star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest stellar system to Earth and a favored target for future interstellar expeditions. Finding a rocky planet in the Alpha Centauri system settled a decades-long debate about whether the system’s three stars hosted planets. The region appeared deserted until the most powerful planet-finding instrument on Earth — the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher — took a four-year-long look.

Now scientists are eager to confirm the finding with further observations. Just a bit more massive than Earth, the planet, unofficially named Alpha Centauri Bb, is so close to its parent star that it completes its orbit in just over three days. That superclose orbit probably means that one side always faces the star, and that side is burnt to a 1,200° Celsius crisp. The other side of the planet could be prime real estate for landing an interstellar space probe. (12/14)

Orbital Trots Out Finished LDCM Spacecraft Ahead of Shipment to Launch Site (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. has finished building and testing the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite, which after nearly 15 years of planning and replanning must clear only one more review before being shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where it is scheduled to launch Feb. 11. (12/14)

MigFlug Adds XCOR Lynx to Adventure Flight Offerings (Source: NewSpace Watch)
Soon you'll have the possibility to fly to 103km (338,000ft) and become an officially acknowledged astronaut. The Nasa criteria for astronauts is crossing the Karman Line at 100km. The smallest "space-ship" XCOR Lynx will take you there at an incredible speed. Click here. (12/15)

Visiting America's Spaceport (Source: Space KSC)
On January 3, 1965, the first day drive-through tours were permitted, 1,936 people in 575 cars (that's 3.4 per vehicle) passed through Gate 3 on the west side of the Indian River Causeway to visit Kennedy Space Center. The tours were permitted only on Sundays, so the second tour day was a week later on January 10. 2,107 people drove through, an increase of 171 from the first day. The Center was open for only three hours, from 1 PM to 4 PM.

The April 15, 1965 issue of Spaceport News reported that Sunday tours had averaged about 2,100 per day. “More than a third of the visitors have been from out of the state,” the paper reported. “Representatives of 29 states as well as several foreign countries, including Belgium and Germany, have made the tour.” The brochure handed these guests included a welcome from Center Director Kurt Debus. It stated that a more permanent guest facility was planned. Click here. (12/14)

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