December 30, 2012

Neil Armstrong’s Family Reveal Origins of 'One Small Step' Line (Source: Telegraph)
It is the most famous and disputed quote in history. Now, three months after Neil Armstrong’s death, it has emerged that the first man on the Moon wrote the words to mark the moment he stepped onto the lunar surface months in advance and had always intended to include the notorious missing “a” in the speech.

Armstrong, who was 82 when he died in August, maintained he decided on the line after landing the spacecraft on the surface of the moon and had said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The millions of people around the world who watched entranced as he stepped off the ladder onto the dusty lunar surface, however, did not hear the crucial “a” in the phrase – sparking decades of debate over its meaning. His family revealed that Armstrong scripted his historic words several months before the launch.

Dean Armstrong, the astronaut’s brother, said that Neil Armstrong had asked him to read the famous quote shortly before the Apollo 11 crew left for Cape Canaveral, where they would spend the months before the launch preparing for their journey. He insisted that the original phrase, handed to him on a piece of paper by his brother as they played the board game Risk, contained the infamous missing “a”, although during the interview, even he dropped the letter as he told the story. (12/30)

PhoneSat: Smart, Small and Sassy (Source: Space Daily)
The fast-paced proliferation and popularity of mobile devices here on Earth, like smartphones loaded with powerful operating systems, will find a new niche marketa euros " this time in space, thanks to NASA's trailblazing PhoneSat project. To be rocketed into space early next year, PhoneSat is set to showcase use of lower cost, off-the-store-shelf, commercially available technology that enables space commerce, educational activities and citizen-exploration.

PhoneSat is an out of the box activity, one novel pathway being explored for small-sized satellites that, quite literally, "chip away" at lowering the cost of constructing future spacecraft. PhoneSat takes advantage of commercial products already imbued with speedy computing chips, lots of memory and ultra-tiny sensors like high-resolution cameras and navigation devices. (12/30)

Florida Leaders and Others Compete for SpaceX Launch Site (Source: WPLG)
Florida leaders are competing with several others to have the new launch site for SpaceX. Leaders in Puerto Rico, Georgia, and Texas also want to attract the commercial spaceport to their location. They're all trying to put together the most attractive packages, but Florida appears to have the edge because of the state's space history and general funding. (12/30)

Lawmakers Can Save New Mexico Spaceport (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Our state has the opportunity to become a global leader in commercial space flight. Over the past five years, our state has invested over $200 million in taxpayer money to build the world class Spaceport America east of Truth or Consequences. Its purpose has been achieved – New Mexico is positioned to be the nation’s leader in space travel, with the best facility and the best operator.

Think of the future: the jobs in the commercial space industry, companies coming to locate in all parts of New Mexico to support this new industry, and this new generation of astronauts coming to our state to experience space travel. However, we are now in danger of throwing it all away unless the New Mexico Legislature acts on a critical piece of legislation. If not, Spaceport America could become a ghost town, with tumbleweeds crossing the runways.

Our anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, which has demonstrated a commitment to this state, could pull out and move operations to another state. Finally, the space industry in our state would then collapse and all our hopes, dreams, and $200 million in taxpayer investment would vanish. Currently, New Mexico law grants immunity to the operators of space ships, such as Virgin Galactic. However, it does not grant similar immunity to the manufacturers and suppliers of parts for the space ships. (12/30)

SpaceX Backers Look to Texas for Help (Source: Valley Morning Star)
Texas space aficionados hope rockets will someday be launched into orbit from a beachside site near the U.S.-Mexico border, but a tight state budget and a previously frustrated attempt to land such a rocket launch site could complicate efforts. Backers of a proposal to build a launch site at Boca Chica Beach concede finding more money to lure California-based SpaceX to the state’s southernmost tip will be a challenge.

An underfunded education system and health care reform are just a sample of the issues facing lawmakers in the upcoming session. With the University of Texas Board of Regents also pushing to accelerate creation of a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley, the proposed space venture will not even be the biggest local economic development cause.

Still, some officials think the state’s ability to offer a blank canvas for a dedicated commercial rocket launch site in the same state where SpaceX already tests its rocket engines could prove attractive, even if Texas cannot match the money being waved by some competitors. “There is a point that we’re not going to be able to reach and I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to be as financially competitive as either one of those, Florida or Puerto Rico,” said state Rep. Rene Oliveira. “I’m also sensitive to the fact that these are taxpayer dollars that we should still be reasonable with how much we offer.” (12/29)

Chinese Researchers Told to Ward Off Navigation System Interference (Source: Space Daily)
A high-ranking military official on Friday urged researchers to properly maintain China's home-grown navigation system so it can provide steady and reliable services for the country's economic development and military combat preparations. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, required researchers to beef up the security measures of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and increase its capacity to ward off interference. (12/30)

Congressional Clash of Science and Scripture (Source: Vancouver Sun)
Only in America can the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives be the same congressman Paul Broun from Georgia who was caught on tape last summer during an "off-the-record" campaign appearance at a Baptist church saying, "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell."

I aasked Rep. Broun if he has encountered any adverse reaction to his presence on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. "I AM a scientist," Paul Broun, M.D. tells me. "I believe in science, and I'm looking at things from a scientific perspective." Then one of his handlers tugs him by the suitcoat and hustles the chairman away. Next week, when the 113th Congress convenes, Paul Broun, M.D. once again will be sitting as a member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He was re-elected last month with no Democratic opposition.

Meanwhile, the entire House Science Committee has been looking into the future of NASA, which sent 12 Americans to the moon about 9,000 years ago. One of the witnesses at the NASA hearing is a Professor for Space Science named Thomas Zurbuchen, Ph.D. Dr. Zurbuchen is telling me that NASA should be cultivating the next generation of young risk-takers and big-dreamers when he drops the bombshell that he grew up in a household in Switzerland that was as ardently and explicitly Christian as Dr. Paul Broun's. Click here. (12/29)

Lockheed Wins $1.9 Billion Contract for Two U.S. Satellites (Source: Reuters)
Lockheed Martin Corp has won a contract valued at $1.9 billion to build two additional advanced military communications satellites for the U.S. Air Force, the Pentagon said on Friday. The contract, which runs through January 2022, covers production of the fifth and sixth satellites in the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program.

Lockheed welcomed the contract, saying it underscored the government's confidence in the company's work on the program. "As protected and resilient satellite communications become increasingly vital to global security, the AEHF program has developed into an indispensable element of the nation's military space architecture," said Mark Calassa, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Protected Communications mission area. (12/28)

Sequestration Would Harm Future of Science (Source: Ithica Journal)
Unless Congress and the White House take action, calamitous cuts in federal support of science funding will occur on Jan. 2. As science and engineering students, we are concerned about our future and that of the nation. If sequestration occurs, funding for key scientific programs would drop 8.2 percent, or $12.5 billion, according the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

We are among about 6,200 students who signed and hand-delivered a petition to the local offices of senators in every state and House leaders. The petition urges lawmakers to halt across-the-board budget cuts and find a responsible path forward. If sequestration is not stopped, doors will close on research opportunities that allow us to become the next generation of scientists and innovators. (12/28)

2013 Prospects Look Promising to Industry Experts (Source: Florida today)
Big economic announcements came this year in the aircraft, aerospace, cruise and electronics industries. The bottom line: Job growth is expected in 2013 in Brevard County. How many jobs might depend on how Congress solves the budget and tax problem known as the “fiscal cliff.” This year, Embraer announced a big expansion on top of its recent growth in Melbourne. SpaceX successfully launched a cargo capsule to the International Space Station, paving the way for more launches from Kennedy Space Center. (12/28)

Four Space Stories to Watch Develop in 2013 (Source: Florida Today)
You can find summaries of this year's top stories in space anywhere, but what matters more is the top stories in space next year. Here is a quick look at four stories to watch in space in 2013: 1) Progress on NASA's Orion and SLS programs; 2) SpaceX and Orbital's commercial cargo capabilities; 3) Political efforts to close or consolidate NASA centers and programs; 4) Virgin Galactic's progress in New Mexico. Click here. (12/29)

Making Way for the Future at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
After assisting in the dramatic deliveries of four orbiters to museums across the country, Kennedy Space Center is close to completing a massive but otherwise unglamorous mission: shutting down the shuttle program. Over 30 years of flight, the program occupied more than 270 facilities at KSC — from small sheds to the giant Vehicle Assembly Building — and accumulated hundreds of thousands of pieces of property, all of which must find new owners or be thrown away.

On a recent morning, roughly 20 large cardboard boxes provided a sample of what’s left. In box No. 122921, an electric typewriter topped a pile of dusty television sets. Others held scrap metal, pipes, tote trays, foam mats and signs. “It’s not the glory stuff,” said George Jacobs, manager of KSC’s shuttle closeout effort. “It’s the PVC pipes, it’s the old TVs. It’s everything we needed to do our job to fly the shuttle.” Click here. (12/29)

Beidou's Unique Services Attractive to Chinese Companies (Source: Space Daily)
Although Beidou is a latecomer in the world's navigation market, Chinese companies have set their eyes on the unique services provided by the system. Beidou's hybrid orbit increases the number of visible satellites, enhancing the stability of its navigation signal, Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology, said. Beidou also uses an all-direction and short-message communicating technique that other navigation systems do not have, he said (12/30).

Japan Launching Ambitious Asteroid-Sampling Mission in 2014 (Source:
Japan's space agency is readying a new asteroid probe for launch, an ambitious mission that aims to build on the victory of the country's first round-trip asteroid mission that sent the Hayabusa spacecraft to retrieve samples of the space rock Itokowa.

The new Japanese asteroid mission, called Hayabusa2, is scheduled for launch in 2014 and aimed at the asteroid 1999 JU3, a large space rock about 3,018 feet (920 meters) in length. It is due to arrive at the asteroid in mid-2018, loiter at the space rock and carry out a slew of challenging firsts before departing the scene at the end of 2019. (12/30)

Rokot Launch Set for January 15 (Source: RIA Novosti)
The launch of a Rokot carrier rocket, postponed indefinitely in early December over technical issues, is scheduled for January 15, Russian Space Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said. “A state commission resolved at a session on Friday that the launch of the light-class Rokot rocket will be held on January 15,” the spokesman said. The blastoff had initially been scheduled for December 8, but was postponed to fix malfunctions in the Briz-KM booster. (12/29)

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