January 27, 2013

Tragedy's Lessons Continue to Teach (Source: Florida Today)
Ten years later, the lessons of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts resonate. NASA will focus its efforts on honoring the fallen explorers, and that’s appropriate. Commander Rick Husband and his crew are heroes for the cause of space exploration, and their sacrifice is worthy of remembering. Also worth remembering a decade after the accident and another decade from now are these lessons, since those charged with making space flight as safe as possible for humans must be diligent in dealing with known safety issues. Click here. (1/27)

Weird High-Energy Flare Made by Spitting Black Hole (Source: New Scientist)
Gamma-ray bursts are high-energy flares that mostly originate billions of light years away, making it hard to see how they are created. In November 2011, NASA's Fermi satellite saw a gamma-ray burst coming from the galaxy 4C +71.07, which sits about 10.5 billion light years away. The galaxy was also being watched by the Very Long Baseline Array, a radio telescope network that can see small features at a distance.

The supermassive black hole at the galaxy's centre is feeding on surrounding matter, causing it to fire high-speed jets of particles. The radio array showed that, around the same time as the flare, the black hole spat out a knot of plasma that travelled up the jet at near the speed of light. Electrons in the knot probably collided with and energised light from a slower-moving part of the jet, producing the gamma rays. (1/27)

2013 in the Polish Space Sector (Source: Kosmonauta)
This year is going to be a very interesting one for the Polish space sector. This article presents our forecast for the year 2013. Without doubt the Polish space sector is expected to grow. Only in 2013 there will be many interesting events and opportunities for its dynamic development. Kosmonauta.net has selected the most important ones in order to in order to access the future of this sector in Poland. Click here. (1/22)

The Crazy Economics of Mining Asteroids for Gold and Platinum (Source: Quartz)
Not one but two companies have now decided that they’re going to mine asteroids to collect gold and platinum. The aptly named Deep Space Industries joins Planetary Resources in the competition for meteor material—and we wish them the best of luck. But we’re a little concerned here; a NASA mission to an asteroid to bring back 2 kg of material in 2021 is expected to cost the space agency $1 billion. Before we turn over billions of dollars as angel investors, we’d like to run some math on this venture.

These mining ventures aim to bring back resources like platinum, water, and gold. At market close Jan. 24, 50 troy ounces of platinum sold for $1681.30 (32.15 troy ounces equal 1 kg). Even if NASA could bring back 2 kg of pure platinum, it would only net $108,107.59. Clearly that’s not going to bring in the big bucks. But we’re going to consider that private companies might be able to mine galactic material more cheaply—US government spending is hardly known for its efficiency—so bear with us. Click here. (1/25)

Canadian Astronaut is a Rock Star on Twitter (Source: MacLeans)
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, currently floating is spae, may soon surpass Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Twittersphere. The 53-year-old astronaut has been tweeting daily from the International Space Station and now has more than a quarter of a million followers. Hadfield has received international attention and praise for the colorful, detailed photos of the world he’s been sending since he arrived on the orbiting space lab on Dec. 21, 2012. (1/26)

Japan Launches Reconnaissance Satellites (Source: Space Today)
An H-2A rocket placed two Japanese reconnaissance satellites into orbit on Sunday during a period of heightened tensions in the region. The H-2A lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center and placed the two Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) payloads into orbit. One satellite, IGS Radar 4, is a radar imaging satellite, while the other, IGS Demo, is believed to be an experimental optical imaging satellite.

The launches, planned long in advance, coincide with an increase in tensions in the region, after North Korea launched a satellite last month that many observers believe was also a demonstration of a long-range missile, and more recently threatened to conduct another underground nuclear weapons test. (1/27)

Space Tourism: The Next Big Thing? (Source: Florida Today)
Andrew Nelson envisions a time in the not-too-distant future when thrill-seekers stream to the Space Coast to experience a few minutes of weightlessness on one of his vehicles — and pay $95,000 for the opportunity. And local tourism officials hope that space-bound visitors will be a boon for hotels, restaurants and shops firmly attached to Planet Earth.

Nelson is chief operating office of XCOR Aerospace, and his recent presentation at a meeting of the Brevard County Tourist Development Council excited local hospitality industry officials. XCOR is one of a handful of companies making serious inroads into the space tourism industry, which many see as having potential to be the Next Big Thing. Click here. (1/26)

USAF Launches Missile Interceptor Test From California Spaceport (Source: Launch Alert)
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully completed a flight test of a three-stage ground-based interceptor (GBI), launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Saturday. Data from this flight test will be used to evaluate the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle system performance in a flight environment. If a target missile were present, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle would collide directly with the threat warhead to perform a hit-to-kill intercept. Engineering data from this test will be used to improve confidence for future intercept missions.

A target missile launch was not planned for this flight test. After performing fly out maneuvers, the three-stage booster deployed the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle to a designated point in space. After separating from the booster, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle executed a variety of pre-planned maneuvers to collect performance data in space. Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test. (1/26)

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