February 16, 2013

Russia Calls for International Anti-Asteroid System after Meteor Terror (Source: IBT)
Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin has called for leading powers to work together to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space, after a meteor that exploded over Russia's Ural mountains injured about 1,000 on the ground below. "Neither we nor the Americans have such technologies," Rogozin told Interfax news agency.

His remarks echoed concerns raised by his boss Dmitry Medvedev, who said the meteor that exploded in the skies over sparesly populated parts of Russia showed how "the whole planet is vulnerable". The interior ministry raised its initial injury count from 250 to 985 people, including 204 children. They were hurt by falling space debris and sonic blasts shattering windows and damaging buildings. (2/15)

Fireball Streaks Across California Sky (Source: NBC Bay Area)
Did you see it? On a day that had a lot of people talking about meteorites and asteroids, a fireball of some sort was seen streaking across the Bay Area skies. The fireball was seen around 7:45 p.m. It was bluish in color and appeared to be heading straight to the ground, according to one viewer in Santa Clara. (2/16)

South Texas Spaceport Agency Formed, For SpaceX and Other Users (Source: Brownsville Herald)
In a unanimous vote, Cameron County Commissioners Court appointed seven directors to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. “This is a step in the right direction,” he said. “We want to be ready, and we’ve been approached by other companies beside SpaceX looking for launch sites. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of many future ventures with space in our area.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner David Garza concurred, saying these were the right candidates and a unanimous vote demonstrates that. “It was the next step of what needed to be done as far as the county was concerned to continue moving forward with the project,” Garza said. The Spaceport Development Corp. will work like any economic development corporation. It is charged with courting and attracting people and companies to invest in the space industry to Cameron County. (2/16)

Isle of Man Represented at Space Tourism Event (Source: IsleofMan.com)
The International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC), in conjunction with AON and the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development, held a Space tourism workshop in London recently, with a special focus on insurance. The workshop began with an opening address by Alex Downie OBE MLC, who has political responsibility for the Space sector in the Department of Economic Development and a Director of the International Institute of Space Commerce. In his speech, Mr Downie highlighted the importance of Space tourism as an overall catalyst for Space commerce. (2/15)

NASA Approves $5 Million for Hawaii Asteroid Detection Project (Source: KHON)
Dr. John Tonry's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) will be able to identify and track smaller space objects. "It's gonna involve small telescopes about the size of a good garbage can, but very wide fields of view and the intent is to basically scan the whole sky a couple times a night and that makes it possible for things to sneak through," Dr. Tonry said. The $5 million ATLAS project recently received funding from NASA and will be able to detect exactly when and where a meteor would hit. (2/16)

USAF Splits Space, Missile Career Field for Officers (Source: AFSPC)
The Air Force has split the space and missile career field in an effort to ensure more focused development for officers performing these critical missions in increasingly complex operational environments, Air Force officials announced today. Under the old construct, more than 50 percent of space-coded company grade officers' development time was spent as a missileer, said Col. Joseph Prue, career field manager for space operations officers.

"Space and Missile Operations have become more and more technical in application and execution--each in their own unique ways," said Prue. "This split will enable each career field to continue cultivating technical expertise via separate, yet equally important, avenues in order to be more effective and efficient in meeting current and future AF needs." This change will allow the Air Force to further strengthen the nuclear enterprise, said Col. Zannis Pappas, the new career field manager for "Nuclear and Missile Operations," or AFSC 13N.  (2/15)

If Cuts Kick In, Commercial Space Crew Delays Expected (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's development of a commercial rocket to bring astronauts to the International Space Station would be significantly delayed if automatic federal spending cuts take effect next month. The agency said that's one of several drastic measures it will have to take if Congress does nothing to prevent the cuts, known as sequestration, from kicking in March 1.

Under the sequestration deal lawmakers agreed to in 2011, federal agencies would have to cut $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending over the next decade, with half coming from the Pentagon, unless Congress agrees to a deal that cuts the federal debt by the same amount. NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. said sequestration would force the agency to pare its budget to just less than $17 billion by the end of the 2013 fiscal year on Sept. 30.

That's a reduction of about $900 million — or about 9 percent — from the amount NASA expects to receive over the next seven months under the current fiscal-year spending plan. NASA would consider delaying work on the Commercial Crew program that is helping the private sector develop a vehicle that would ferry crew to and from the space station. (2/16)

Meteor Strikes on Lobbyists' Minds (Source: Center for Public Integrity)
Might lobbyists one day save the world from killer space rocks? Don't count on it. But a few cosmos-minded special interests have spent tens of thousands of dollars in recent years prodding the federal government to better track potentially deadly near-earth asteroids, U.S. Senate records indicate. Such activity — easily dismissed as the stuff of space nerds and doomsayers — could now accelerate, as the debate reopens about government's role in predicting or averting calamity.

In 2008, the California Space Authority sent a lobbyist to Washington, D.C., in part to promote passage of HR 4917, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., that would "establish an Office of Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Object Preparedness" and "prepare the United States for readiness to avoid and to mitigate collisions with potentially hazardous near-Earth objects in collaboration with other agencies through the identification of situation-and-decision-analysis factors and the selection of procedures and systems." The bill died in committee.

Colorado-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. also in 2008 lobbied on a section of HR 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, that directed NASA to continue efforts to "detect, track, catalogue, and characterize near-Earth asteroids and comets in order to provide warning and mitigation of the potential hazard of such near-Earth objects to the Earth," Senate records show. (2/15)

Orbital Impatient with Progress on New US Satellite Plan (Source: Reuters)
Orbital Sciences Corp worries that budget pressures and "old habits" may limit funding for the U.S. government's move toward smaller, less complex satellites aimed at avoiding cost overruns and delays that have often plagued space programs. Orbital on Thursday reported record revenues and operating income for 2012, but said revenues in its advanced space segment dropped by 19 percent due to "decreased activity on national security satellite contracts.

Michael Hamel, a retired general who heads business development for the company, said he worries that tight budgets will limit even modest investments in a shift towards less complex satellites. Orbital thinks a move to a so-called "disaggregated" approach could ultimately save the government money and make its space hardware less vulnerable. (2/15)

Ancient Asteroid Strike in Australia "Changed Face of Earth" (Source: Reuters)
A strike from a big asteroid more than 300 million years ago left a huge impact zone buried in Australia and changed the face of the earth, researchers said on Friday. "The dust and greenhouse gases released from the crater, the seismic shock and the initial fireball would have incinerated large parts of the earth," said Andrew Glikson, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University.

The asteroid was bigger than 10 km (6 miles) in diameter, while the impact zone itself was larger than 200 km (120 miles) - the third largest impact zone in the world. "The greenhouse gases would stay in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years," Glikson told Reuters. The discovery was made after another researcher alerted Glikson to some unusual mineral deposits in the East Warburton Basin in South Australia. (2/15)

No comments: