January 20, 2013

Space Foundation Elects New Directors (Source: Space Foundation)
The board of directors of the Space Foundation welcomes two new board members and recognizes one board member retirement. The board of directors elected two new members to three-year terms: Wanda Austin of the Aerospace Corp. and Ron Sega of Colorado State University. Retiring is Gary Ervin of Northrop Grumman. (1/18)

Globalstar's Plan for Extra Wi-Fi Band Draws Fire (Source: Network World) A satellite operator's proposal to offer an extra channel of Wi-Fi might actually give average Wi-Fi and Bluetooth users less bandwidth, according to some industry groups that have commented on the plan in filings to the FCC. The plan by Globalstar, proposed to the FCC in November, calls for opening up a restricted part of the Wi-Fi band for a fourth usable channel, called Channel 14.

But Globalstar would control who could use that channel. It might offer access in a variety of ways, including its own Wi-Fi networks, carrier partnerships and device firmware downloads. Monday was the deadline for filing comments to the FCC on Globalstar's plan, and the Wi-Fi Alliance, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and other industry entities have voiced concerns about the proposal. They fear it effectively would let the company license spectrum that is defined as unlicensed. (1/15)

NASA Satellite Lifted Atop Atlas V Rocket for Jan. 29 Launch (Source: Florida Today)
A NASA communications satellite this morning was hoisted atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in preparation for a launch planned a week from Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch is targeted fro 8:52 p.m. Jan. 29, the opening of a 40-minute window. The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, called TDRS-K, moved to Launch Complex 41 from Astrotech's payload processing in Titusville. (1/20)

NASA Rebuffs Florida's Request for Property Takeover at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
NASA has rebuffed the Florida's request to take over property at the north end of KSC for development of a commercial launch complex, a potential setback in Space Florida’s effort to keep SpaceX from moving some launches to another state. But the space agency may be open to alternatives that don’t involve transferring ownership of land NASA says it still needs to support future missions. “We believe that there may be solutions to this need other than full conveyance of these properties to the state,” NASA wrote to Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Space Florida President Frank DiBello expressed disappointment in an e-mail last week to Carroll’s chief of staff, John Konkus, that was released publicly on the governor’s Project Sunburst site. “The response is disappointing in that it does not reflect either the sense of urgency or commitment for commercial market thinking and opportunities ahead of us,” DiBello said. “This is only one step in what is likely to be a long process, however we will do everything we can to shorten it.” Click here.

Editor's Note: Alternatives for the property transfer could include an "Enhanced-Use Lease" or a "Public Benefit Conveyance" (requiring Congressional action). Unless NASA is replaced as the owner, the state's concerns about falling under Eastern Range jurisdiction would not be addressed. The article suggests that any federal ownership would result in Eastern Range oversight, but I think transfer to FAA or another agency would work. Another--perhaps more feasible--option would be to change the 1963 Webb-McNamara agreement through agency or Congressional action. (1/20)

US Doesn't Know If China Helped North Korean Space Launch (Source: AOL Defense)
North Korea's recent successful launch of a satellite into orbit raises "lots of concerns for lots of reasons," and means that the secretive state now possesses the capability of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, the head of Air Force Space Command, Gen. William Shelton said. The ability to sling a warhead across continents is especially worrying in this case since North Korea appears to have successfully tested nuclear weapons. A new nuclear test may be in the works by Sunday, according to South Korean news reports.

North Korea not only launched a rocket successfully but placed a satellite atop it into orbit, something only a handful of countries possess the technology to do. China said after the launch that it was "concerned" but reminded the world that North Korea "is entitled to peaceful use of the outer space, which is subject to relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions." So there.

There have long been suspicions that China, North Korea's main friend in the world, must be helping them with space technology. I asked Shelton and his response should send chills down the spines of most national security observers. "I don't know that. I really don't," he said. He said North Korea has been working to launch a rocket for some time, but he admitted that, because it is "one of the most opaque" states the U.S. just doesn't have detailed knowledge of what is happening there. He also said he didn't know if Iran had helped them. (1/20)

Resource Utilization From Asteroids (Source: Spacehabs)
There are more precious metals on Asteroids than have been mined from the Earth over the entire course of humankind. Once we have established the infrastructure to utilize these resources, we will have an endless supply of what we need in space. Click here. (1/20) http://www.spacehabs.com/356784/asteroid-mining-info/

Martian Crater May Once Have Held Groundwater-Fed Lake (Source: NASA)
A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet's early evolution. The new information comes from researchers analyzing spectrometer data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which looked down on the floor of McLaughlin Crater. The Martian crater is 57 miles in diameter and 1.4 miles deep. McLaughlin's depth apparently once allowed underground water, which otherwise would have stayed hidden, to flow into the crater's interior. (1/20)

Death Star Dismissed Too Easily (Source: Florida Today)
The White House's reasons for dismissing the Death Star petition are valid, but there were as many reasons not to try building the Saturn moon rockets, Apollo spacecraft, the space shuttle and the International Space Station. Yet, NASA tried; its can-doers delivered. The White House is giving up too early. Solutions could be simple: Ask Warren Buffet and Paul Allen to chip in money. And, nothing says you have to point the giant lasers at whole planets.

And even newspaper editors were able to figure out you need to weld a metal cover over that open portal to stave off a surprise attack from a rebel fleet. Maybe we should ask the Robert Bigelows, Burt Rutans and Elon Musks of the space industry to make it happen. Remember, the space establishment also murmured that Bigelow’s inflatable space station modules, Rutan’s SpaceShipOne and Musk’s Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft would never work for the time and money they were investing. (1/19)

50 Years of Presidential Visions for Space Exploration (Source: Space.com)
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced a bold new plan for NASA and the nation: To send an American to the moon, and to return him safely, by the close of the decade. Kennedy's speech, which came just six weeks after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to reach outer space, had a huge impact on NASA and space exploration. It jump-started the agency's Apollo program, a full-bore race to the moon that succeeded on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong's boot crunched down into the gray lunar dirt. Click here for a summary of his and subsequent presidential visions for space. (1/20)

How Titan’s Weather has Changed its Surface (Source: EarthSky)
Astronomers typically estimate the ages of the surfaces of planets and moons in our solar system by counting the number of craters there. More craters means an older surface. But if the planet or moon has hydrological processes like stream erosion – or wind and weather that cause sand dunes, for example, to fill in the craters – then it’s possible for a world’s surface to appear younger than it actually is. That is the case with Saturn’s largest moon Titan. While most of Saturn’s moons display their ancient faces pockmarked by “thousands and thousands” of craters, scientists say, Titan looks younger than it really is because its craters are being erased. (1/20)

Kepler Glitch Suspends NASA's Search for New Planets (Source: SEN)
NASA's phenomenally successful planet hunter, the Kepler space telescope, has temporarily shut down operations after problems with part of the system that orientates it to keep it pointed at its stellar targets. The spacecraft, currently more than 72 million km (45 million miles) away in its orbit around the Sun, has been put into a safe mode for ten days to allow one of its manoeuvring wheels to recover.

Kepler's discoveries have boosted the number of confirmed exoplanets discovered transiting other stars to more than 850. But there are many more candidates awaiting confirmation. Another 461 were announced on January 7, at a gathering of the American Astronomical Society in California, bringing the total of those to 2,740. Kepler has made all its finds in one relatively small area of the sky. Following launch in March 2009, it has been staring constantly at around 160,000 stars in one small region of the Milky Way. (1/20)

Your Help Needed to Hurt an Asteroid (Source: Discovery)
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Refine an asteroid deflection plan that will attempt to bring a little piece of Armageddon to a space rock in 2022. This is the message from the European Space Agency (ESA) when details of a joint US/Europe plan were announced last week. The idea is simple. In 2022, a binary asteroid called Didymos will be minding its own business, gliding past Earth at a safe distance of 6.5 million miles.

But the two-spacecraft Asteroid Impact and Deflection (AIDA) mission will be on an intercept course to give one of the asteroids a very bad day. The reason? To understand how we might deal with a hypothetical asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth in the future. Click here. (1/19)

$400 Million Deal to Develop and Launch 6th Generation Arabsat (Source: Arab News)
Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) signed $ 400 million contracts to make and launch the sixth generation satellite (Badr7) in Riyadh. Arabsat signed the deals with the consortium of two companies Astrium and Thales Alenia Space and Arianespace. (1/20)

Lockheed Martin Awarded Contract to Sustain GPS Ground Station (Source: Space Daily)
Continuing a legacy of more than 30 years supporting the Global Positioning System, Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to sustain the ground control segment for the GPS satellite constellation. The U.S. Air Force Space Command Space and Missile Center awarded Lockheed Martin a $104 million contract to support the GPS ground control segment. The contract's period of performance is from January 2013 through June 2019. (1/20)

An Astronaut's Guide (Source: Space Daily)
Humans make rather poor beasts of burden. Fortunately, nowadays heavy loads are pretty much relegated to machines, saving our spines for recreational activities like donning backpacks and heading into the wilderness. Speaking of which, the suspension system for backpacks-the part that connects the load to our bodies through a series of straps-is relevant to our attempts to keep our muscles and bones from degenerating in space.

To maintain our muscles, bones, and cardiovascular systems, we exercise about two and a half hours each day. These exercises are divided between resistance ("weightlifting" in weightlessness), cycling, and treadmill routines. To run on the treadmill in zero-g requires that your feet stay in contact with the belt, so we wear a backpack harness with adjustable spring-loaded straps. Click here. (1/20)

Earth May Be Crashing Through Dark Matter Walls (Source: New Scientist)
Earth is constantly crashing through huge walls of dark matter, and we already have the tools to detect them. That's the conclusion of physicists who say the universe may be filled with a patchwork quilt of force fields created shortly after the big bang. Observations of how mass clumps in space suggest that about 86 percent of all matter is invisible dark matter, which interacts with ordinary matter mainly through gravity. The most popular theory is that dark matter is made of weakly interacting massive particles.

WIMPs should also interact with ordinary matter via the weak nuclear force, and their presence should have slight but measurable effects. However, years of searches for WIMPs have been coming up empty. "So far nothing is found, and I feel like it's time to broaden the scope of our search," says Maxim Pospelov. "What we propose is to look for some other signatures." Pospelov and colleagues have been examining a theory that at least some of the universe's dark matter is tied up in structures called domain walls, akin to the boundaries between tightly packed bubbles. (1/19)

Astronomers Discover Remnants of 1,500 km Long River on Mars (Source: The Hindu)
New astonishing pictures by the European Space Agency have revealed a 1500 km long and 7 km wide river that once ran across Mars. The agency’s Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the remnants of Reull Vallis river on Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera, ESA said in a statement. New analogies are giving planetary geologists tantalising glimpses of a past on the Red Planet not too dissimilar to events on our own world today.

Reull Vallis, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin. This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side. Click here. (1/18)

'Florida Celebrates Space' at the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona (Source: MOAS) The Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS) in Daytona Beach will host an exhibit and events focused on "Florida Celebrates Space" from January 19 through April 28. The MOAS "Saturdays in Space" will include a space film series every other weekend. The events will also include lectures, art, and artifacts. Click here for a schedule of events. (1/19)

California Museum Presents: Free Enterprise--The Art of Citizen Space (Source: UCR)
Exploration is the first contemporary art exhibition in the U.S. to present an international array of artists and organizations who are exploring the potential democratization of space exploration and the intersection between artistic production and civilian space travel. The possibility of fulfilling the human dream to fly into space has been encouraged by a major political and cultural shift away from statesponsored space activities. Click here. (1/19)

Space Saturdays at Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum (Source: CSPM)
The exhibition "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA" examines the history of Apollo 10 and the Peanuts characters’ role in that flight and in the NASA Manned Flight Awareness safety program. Until April 20, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum will feature this exciting traveling exhibit from the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Explore the exhibit. Play in Snoopy’s Dog House. Learn about Space Technology and its impact on our everyday lives. Also included is a schedule of lectures and space-themed family fun. Click here. (1/19)

Joint UK/US Statement on GPS Intellectual Property (Source: GPS.gov)
The UK and US Governments announced that they had reached a common understanding of intellectual property rights related to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and will work together to address broader global navigation satellite systems' intellectual property issues. This is part of a broader shared effort to advance compatibility and interoperability among civil satellite navigation systems and transparency in civil service provision.

The two governments affirmed their joint commitment to ensuring that GPS civil signals will remain perpetually free and openly available for users worldwide. As part of this effort, the UK is dedicating all government held patents and patent applications relating to U.S. GPS civil signal designs and their broadcast from GPS and other global navigation satellite systems to the public domain. The UK has committed to not pursue or assert intellectual property rights over any aspect of these signals, now or in the future. (1/17)

Adopting a Better Relationship with the Russians (Source: Orbital Inclinations)
To paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a Russian that I didn’t like. Like others in my general age bracket, I grew up at a time when the Cold War was just a term I heard on TV. I wasn’t old enough to comprehend the potential horror of nuclear war, or understand that it was a real threat at all. I have come to respect our Russian counterparts in the space program, and I trust that the Russians know what they are doing in space.

No, I don’t like that we don’t have our own way to get into and of orbit right now and have to rely on the Russians, but that’s a problem our nation’s leaders created for ourselves. It’s not the Russian’s fault. All we can do now is work to get our own capability up and running as fast as possible. And perhaps we better move a little bit faster, because things could change in a heartbeat on the international stage, and relations between our two countries could sour even more than they have during the past few months.

One issue that has come up recently has me so ticked off that I can barely contain my sincere outrage and bitterness towards the Russian government and President Putin. It has nothing to do with the space program, at least not directly. But it does have to do with how our international relations evolve in the future, which very much could affect our partnership in space. The Russian government has banned any Americans from adopting orphaned Russian children. Click here. (1/19)

NewSpace Fans Need to Stop Hating (Source: America Space)
Where did NewSpace come from? The philosophy, the people … where did they originate? Essentially, they came from NASA, but not in a good way. Many, many people who believe in the dream of space exploration have been shunned, insulted, and mocked by the space agency’s representatives throughout the years, to the point where they got fed up and decided to go it alone.

Some had their concepts derided and were shut out. Others were not impacted by the agency at all, but understood that any program stemming from the federal government would never bring the costs of access to orbit down enough to make space flight a more common event. By and large these experiences created NewSpace and provided it with the bitter fuel the followers of the movement appear to run off of today. Anyone that expresses support for NASA can expect to get an earful—even if they do not side exclusively with the space agency.

Those that do not use the exact wording or paint the companies that fall under the NewSpace banner in glowing terms are attacked and demonized. Some elements of the media have caved, pandering to NewSpace whims. When I last checked, the role of the media was to report the facts, no matter how ugly or inconvenient they might be. It is journalism 101; you are supposed to be unbiased. Sadly, space-related media is just as biased as larger outlets. Click here. (1/20)

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