December 2, 2012

Nelson, Hutchison Differ on INKSNA Solution for NASA (Source: Space Policy Online)
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), long-standing partners on most issues concerning NASA programs, have amendments pending to the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254) with different solutions to NASA's need for a waiver from the Iran-North Korea-Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA). The Senate plans to resume debate on the bill tomorrow.

The purpose of INKSNA is to incentivize Russia to stop providing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons technologies to Iran, North Korea and Syria. It is major issue, but many wonder how NASA got in the middle of it. When the law was first passed in 2000 as the Iran Nonproliferation Act (INA) there were allegations that Russia's space agency, then headed by Yuri Koptev, was violating the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Getting Russia to adhere to it was one of the reasons the U.S. invited Russia to join the ISS program in the first place.

When the INA was being marked up by the House Science Committee in July 1999, then-chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said: "Earlier this year, there were publications of the fact that entities of the Russian Space Agency were violating the MTCR. That's why there is Section 6 in this bill." Click here. (12/2)

US Says North Korea Rocket Launch a 'Provocative Act' (Source:
North Korea says it is forging ahead with a planned rocket launch this month, perhaps as soon as Dec. 10, drawing strong condemnation from U.S. officials who view the act as a thinly veiled ballistic missile test. "A North Korean 'satellite' launch would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region," officials with the U.S. State Department in a statement.

North Korea's state-run Korea Central News Agency said Saturday (Dec. 1) that the country will launch a long-range rocket between Dec. 10 and 22 from its Sohae Satellite Launch Station near the northwest village of Tongchang-ri. A photo of the launch site from space released last week by the commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe showed striking similarities to North Korea's work ahead of its failed Unha-3 rocket launch in April. (12/2)

Arianespace Lofts Pleiades 1B With Soyuz Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
The maturity of Arianespace's Soyuz launch system at French Guiana - and its confirmed role as a full-fledged member of the company's launcher family - were demonstrated once again by tonight's successful orbiting of the Pleiades 1B satellite from the Spaceport. The Soyuz vehicle deployed its 970-kg. passenger into a targeted circular orbit of 695 km., inclined 98.2 deg., marking the medium-lift vehicle's fourth mission from French Guiana since its introduction at this near-equatorial launch site in October 2011. (12/2)

First Catapult Launch of X-47B Unmanned Aircraft Launched (Source: Space Daily)
U.S. Navy have conducted the Navy's first catapult launch of an unmanned system using the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator. The test was conducted at a shore-based catapult facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. It marks the first of several shore-based catapult-to-flight tests that will be performed before the Navy's UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program catapult launches the X-47B from a ship. (12/2)

J-2X - Back in the Saddle Again (Source: Space Daily)
A J-2X power pack assembly for the upper stage of NASA's heavy-lift SLS burned brightly during a hot fire test Nov. 27 at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Engineers pulled the assembly from the test stand in September to install additional instrumentation in the fuel turbopump. The test, which ran for 278 seconds, verified the newly installed strain gauges designed to measure the turbine structural strain when the turbopump is spinning at high speeds that vary between 25,000 and 30,000 rotations-per-minute. (12/2)

Prototype Crew Access Arm Seal Tested for Orion (Source: Space Daily)
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. (12/2)

Astronomers Report Startling Find on Planet Formation (Source: Space Daily)
Astronomers are reporting a find that challenges traditional theories as to how rocky planets -- such as Earth -- are formed. Besides Earth, our solar system has three other rocky planets: Mercury, Venus and Mars. They have a solid surface and core of heavy metals, and differ from planets that are large spinning bodies of gas, like Jupiter or Saturn.

The new findings suggest rocky planets may be even more common in the universe than previously thought. The astronomers used a cutting-edge telescope called ALMA, on a mountaintop 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) high in the remote desert of northern Chile. Traditional theory holds that rocky planets form through the random collision of microscopic particles in the disc of material that surrounds a star. The particles, like fine soot, stick together and grow.

Scientists thought the outer reaches of brown dwarves were different. They believed the grains there could not cling together because the discs were too sparse. Also, particles would be moving too fast to stick together after colliding. But lo and behold, in the disc around ISO-Oph 102, the astronomers found things that, for them at least, were big -- millimeter-sized grains. (12/2)

New Radio Telescope Could Save World Billions (Source: ICRAR)
A small pocket of Western Australia’s remote outback is set to become the eye on the sky and could potentially save the world billions of dollars. The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, unveiled today, Friday 30 November, will give the world a dramatically improved view of the Sun and provide early warning to prevent damage to communication satellites, electric power grids and GPS navigation systems.

The $51 million low-frequency radio telescope will be able to detect and monitor massive solar storms, such as the one that cut power to six million people in Canada in 1989 during the last peak in solar activity. The MWA will aim to identify the trajectory of solar storms, quadrupling the warning period currently provided by near-Earth satellites.  This is timely as the Sun is due to re-enter peak activity in 2013, with a dramatic increase in the number and severity of solar storms expected, with the potential to disrupt global communications and ground commercial airlines. (12/1)

A 50-Year Survey of Gravity-Assist Space Travel (Source: WIRED)
The last Mariner spacecraft to bear the series name was Mariner 10, which left Earth on 3 November 1973, on an Atlas-Centaur rocket. Mariner 10 was a flyby spacecraft, as were all but one of the Mariners before it, but with a difference: it would become the first spacecraft to use a planetary gravity-assist flyby to explore more than one planet.

Michael Minovitch described the gravity-assist concept first in a 1961 JPL internal document. He demonstrated mathematically that a spacecraft could decelerate or accelerate without using propellants as it flew past a planet. The planet would accelerate by a tiny amount if the spacecraft were decelerated or decelerate by a tiny amount if the spacecraft were accelerated. Click here. (12/1)

Mars Trip Risks Can't be Simulated (Source: Florida Today)
Sending two men on a one-year voyage aboard the International Space Station is a positive development, and a small step toward the kind of missions that would make the outpost a test of some elements of deeper space flights. However, it's not incredibly unique and it's not a high-fidelity simulation of the real challenges and dangers of a flight to distant destination like Mars.

A half-dozen men, all Russians, have stayed aboard a space station for more than 300 days before. One of them stayed more than 400 days. We know the duration is possible. Someday, long from now, we will begin to understand more about the long-term health sacrifices those men may have made for the cause of exploration.

A trip to Mars, for instance, would require more time and countless risks that can't be matched aboard the space station in low-Earth orbit. In short, it's a good test and there’s value in every space flight. However, it is a baby step in the quest to understand how to overcome the hurdles of sending people deeper into the solar system. (12/2)

NASA Looking to Fly Educator's Experiments (Source: America Space)
NASA is planning on inspiring the next generation of explorers in a way that only the space agency is capable of. NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), located in Houston, Texas, is seeking out applications from school teachers who wish to fly scientific experiments aboard the agency’s reduced-gravity aircraft in 2013.

The space agency’s Teaching From Space (TFS) project, based in NASA’s Education office, has created the MicroGravity eXperience (Micro GX) flight program to generate interest in fields relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—more commonly known as “STEM.” (12/2)

Canada Reviews Aerospace Strategy with Ambitious Plan (Source: Xinhua)
Canada needs to keep pace with rapidly changing global conditions if it wants to build on its past achievements in the aerospace and space sectors, according to a new review of the industries. The country's aerospace industry is the fifth largest in the world, generating more than 22 billion Canadian dollars ($22.12 billion U.S.) in annual revenues and employing about 66,000 people, according to a report recently released by an aerospace review advisory council for the Canadian government.

However, citing increasing competition on the international arena, the report recommends that Canada seek bilateral aerospace cooperation both with traditional partners like the United States and with emerging powers like China and India. Meanwhile, Canada's 3.4-billion-Canadian-dollar (3.42-billion-U.S.-dollar) space industry, which derives 80 percent of its revenue from satellite communications and generates half of its revenue from sales abroad, is at a crossroads. (12/2)

ISS Partners Look Into Causes of Energy Problems (Source: Interfax)
A solar panel of the International Space Station (ISS) has been apparently damaged by a micro meteorite, General Director of the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building (TsNIIMash) Gennady Raikunov said. "The cooling pipeline of a solar panel was apparently punctured. But nobody saw what punctured it or how. Therefore the particles were apparently small. Now all this situation is being studied. A set of measures to remove the problem is being developed," Raikunov said. (12/2)

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