March 16, 2013

U.S. Budget Squeeze May Spark New Era of Efficiency, Innovation in Space (Source: Space News)
An already-tight budget environment combined with the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could help the U.S. Defense Department reduce redundancies and push the space community into new levels of cooperation and innovation, defense spending experts said here March 11.

Speaking during a panel discussion, these experts found a potential silver lining in the budget crunch that is all but certain to make less funding available for U.S. government space programs over the next few years. The panel, “Investing in National Space Security in an Age of Austerity,” was sponsored by the George C. Marshall Institute and the TechAmerica Space Enterprise Council. (3/15)

Audit to Probe Reports of Leaked Military Secrets From NASA Facilities (Source: FOX News)
The NASA office of the inspector general will audit NASA’s Ames in the wake of a report on ITAR violations at a storied California space-research facility. Documents revealed last month detail a four-year FBI investigation into the transfer of classified weapons technology -- including rocket engine tech for missile defense systems -- to China and other countries from NASA’s Ames Research Center. The documents also purport that an investigation into the security lapses that led to the event are being stonewalled. (3/15)

NASA Veteran to Speak on Spirituality, Spaceflight (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The New Smyrna Beach Church of Christ hosted a talk by Mike O'Neal on Spirituality & Spaceflight. Many of our nation's astronauts are viewed as men and women of great intellect and courage, but many are also men and women of great faith. The multimedia presentation looked at the role spirituality has played in human spaceflight. Stories will be shared on how astronauts have spiritually prepared themselves to go into space, how they practiced their faith in space, and how space has profoundly impacted their spirituality. (3/16)

U.S. Astronaut, Russian Cosmonauts Arrive on Earth (Source: CNN)
The Soyuz capsule returned Friday night landing in northeast Kazakhstan bringing an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts back from a journey to the International Space Station, NASA said. The vessel capsule needed less than three and a half hours to descend to Earth. The return, initially scheduled for Thursday, was postponed because of inclement weather at the landing site northeast of the Russian town of Arkalyk, NASA said. (3/16)

Earth-Directed Coronal Mass Ejection From the Sun Released (Source: SpaceRef)
On March 15, 2013, at 2:54 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space and can reach Earth one to three days later and affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground. The CME left the sun at speeds of around 900 miles per second, which is a fairly fast speed for CMEs. Historically, CMEs at this speed have caused mild to moderate effects at Earth.

The NASA research models also show that the CME may pass by the Spitzer and Messenger spacecraft. NASA has notified their mission operators. There is, however, only minor particle radiation associated with this event, which is what would normally concern operators of interplanetary spacecraft since the particles can trip on board computer electronics. Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later. (3/15)

Embry-Riddle Students Start Group for Commercial Space Exploration (Source: SPACErePORT)
Students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach have established the Society for S.P.A.C.E. (Space Privatization And Commercial Exploration) to promote emerging commercial space industry programs and provide information, hands-on experience, and internships for its members. Click here. (3/15)

Pentagon to Field Additional Ballistic Missile Interceptors in Alaska (Source: NTI)
The U.S. Defense Department intends to bring the number of ballistic missile interceptors deployed in Alaska and California up to 44, Reuters quoted Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel as saying on Friday. The 14 new interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska and a planned radar installation in Japan are intended to counter the missile danger posed by North Korea. Funds for the added interceptors and work on new kill vehicle technology would come via a "restructuring" of development of a separate future-generation missile that was to be deployed in Europe. (3/15)

Orbital Sets Target Dates for Antares Test Flight (Source: Orbital)
Orbital's Antares team is working toward carrying out the test flight (dubbed the "A-One" Mission) no earlier than April 16 with a targeted range of the 16th to the 18th. The test flight of America's newest medium-class launcher will originate from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia. Click here for mission information. (3/15)

A Living Ocean on a Jupiter's Moon? (Source: Interesting Things)
If you went by news coverage alone, you’d think there’s only one world in the solar system aside from Earth worth studying—and that, of course, is Mars. NASA’s Curiosity rover is inching its way across the Red Planet’s Gale Crater; the Opportunity rover has entered its tenth year of exploration in a region some 5,000 miles away; and a new rover, named InSight, is on the schedule for a 2016 launch. Why all that attention? In a word, water. Mars had plenty of it once, enough that life might have been able to take hold and could still, in theory, be hanging on in still-wet pockets below the surface.

But another world in our Solar System doesn’t have to look to the past for its maritime days. Jupiter’s moon Europa not only had water, it has it—likely a vast, globe-girdling ocean, 60 mi. (96 km) deep, just beneath a comparatively thin, 2-mi. (3.2 km) rind of ice. Gravitationally plucked by the tidal tugging of its sister moon Io and Jupiter itself, Europa retains a hot interior, which keeps the water comparatively warm and even pulsing. If that doesn’t sound like a place that could cook up life, nothing does. Click here. (3/16)

Tomorrow’s Astronauts May Work for Private Firms, Not Space Agencies (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Just two days after Chris Hadfield assumed command of the International Space Station this week, a young student asked him how best to become an astronaut. Hadfield told the youngster to focus on learning new things, maintaining good health, and practicing good decision-making. “With those three things … you will succeed no matter what you do in life,” Hadfield said. “Including, maybe have a chance to fly in space.”

Yet even as Hadfield inspires young Canadians to look to the stars, it’s not clear when Canada will again recruit astronauts. “We will launch another campaign when we need to increase our astronauts,” Jean-Claude Piedboeuf said. Since 1983, the space agency has hired just 12 astronauts. It currently has three qualified for space flight. Some experts feel the private sector is the only realistic future launch pad for potential Canadian space travellers seeking to slip the surly bonds of Earth’s atmosphere. (3/16)

FCC Reveals ‘Experimental Authorization’ Plan For Space Travel Communications (Source: The Inquisitr)
Do you want to launch a shuttle into space? If you have the capabilities you might also soon have access to a new FCC approval program  that offers the temporary use of space friendly communications spectrum. The FCC on Friday announced a new Experimental Authorization program for commercial space company communications. The FCC plan will allow space company’s such as SpaceX to temporarily use open spectrum space while traveling into space.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said: "Our actions today are designed to accelerate the growth of a new American industry with major growth potential, commercial space launches. Companies can't launch or operate space vehicles without spectrum, and today the U.S. is leading the way in developing rules of the road for commercial space launches. Our measures to streamline processes and increase predictability will help boost U.S. leadership in the commercial space industry.” (3/16)

Swiss Space (Source: Aviation Week)
Switzerland seems an unlikely hotbed of aerospace innovation, but after the Solar Impulse sun-powered round-the-world aircraft here comes Swiss Space Systems (S3) with its reusable suborbital smallsat launch system. S3 has assembled a team of industrial partners, technical advisers and corporate sponsors and CHF250 million ($265 million) to get to the first test flight of its mothership-and-shuttle combination in 2017, from Payerne in Switzerland.

Founded by Pascal Jaussi, whose ambition is to "democratize" access to space, S3 aims cut the cost of launching smallsats by a factor of four, to CHF10 million to carry a 250kg payload to a 700km orbital altitude. The first stage will be an Airbus A300, cheap and routine to operate and certified to operate from commercial airports and fly in civil airspace. On its back, it will carry an unmanned shuttle. This will be released at 33,000ft to ignite its rocket engines and climb to 262,500ft, where it will deploy a small expendable upper stage that will continue into orbit to dispense its payload of smallsats. Click here for another video. (3/16)

India to Launch First Navigational Satellite in June (Source: Financial Express)
India plans to launch its first navigational satellite in June, a top official of the Department of Space (DoS) said. The first Satellite of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation, IRNSS-1 will be launched by PSLV-C22, said DoS Secretary and ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan. According to ISRO officials, IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system, designed to provide position accuracy of better than 10 metres over India and the region extending about 1500 km around the country. (3/16)

Sara Brightman’s Space Trip Under Question (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and NASA may opt against sending music star Sarah Brightman to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015, Russian agency’s head Vladimir Popovkin said. Brightman’s trip to orbit depends on the duration of the 2015 visiting flight to the ISS. The British soprano was set to go on an eight-day trip to the station, but NASA and Roskosmos are considering extending the visiting flight to one month, in which case she would have to give up her seat to a professional spaceman, Popovkin said. (3/16)

Building Unbreakable Codes Beyond The Bounds Of Earth (Source: Inside Science)
Scientists are pushing to create a space-based quantum communications network that could enable impossible-to-monitor transmissions. In doing so, they might make it possible for someone named Scotty to really teleport some information into space. It would be enough "to spook" Albert Einstein, said Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, one of the top researchers in the field.

The encryption research could have immediate practical implications. The process would make use of entangled photons, what Einstein--who resisted the consequences of quantum theory until his death --called "spooky action at a distance." "If we can use correlations between entangled photons to establish a quantum key, it could be used for secure communications," said Jennewein. (3/13)

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