July 23, 2013

China: Space Program And Strategy – Analysis (Source: Eurasia Review)
At the end of June 2013, China launched its fifth manned space mission from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Atop a Long March 2F rocket, the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft transported three astronauts to the Tiangong 1, a Chinese space station. What does the event say about how far China’s space program has come over the years? What place does space exploration have in China’s geostrategic ambitions?

The launch highlights China’s growing space ambitions and appears to be one of the culminating steps to a three-phase program of slow but incremental advancement laid out in the 1990s. Between 1992 and 2012, China carried out the first two phases of this program, launching a total of eight astronauts into space. June’s launch of the Shenzhou-10 marks the beginning of the third phase of China’s space program. As part of this phase, the Tiangong-2 space laboratory will be launched in 2015, with an experimental core space station module around 2018. Click here. (7/22)

Proton Rocket Program Resumed at Baikonur (Source: Tengri News)
Assembly of Proton-M carrier rocket has started in the integration and test block of platform 92A of Baikonur cosmodrome rented from Kazakhstan by Russia. Proton-M rocket carrier together with Briz-M booster will take American Sirius FM-6 satellite radio into the orbit, Interfax-Kazakhstan reports.

Earlier all works on Proton-M rockets were suspended because of the rocket crush at Baikonur on July 2. “Resuming the works with Proton-M carrier rockets at Baikonur testifies that the investigation has identified the systems that caused the accident and checking or replacement of these systems is possible without sending the rockets back to Khrunicev Center’s plant in Moscow,” a source at Baikonur said. (7/22)

Astronomer Uses Kepler Data in Hunt for Alien Spacecraft (Soure: Washington Post)
In the field of planet hunting, Geoff Marcy is a star. After all, the astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley found nearly three-quarters of the first 100 planets discovered outside our solar system. But with the hobbled planet-hunting Kepler telescope having just about reached the end of its useful life and reams of data from the mission still left uninvestigated, Marcy began looking in June for more than just new planets. He’s sifting through the data to find alien spacecraft passing in front of distant stars. Click here. (7/22)

Titan Conditions Cry 'Surf's up!' So Why Can't Scientists Catch a Wave? (Source: Christian Science Monitor)
When it comes to building waves, Saturn's moon Titan has it all – liquid hydrocarbon seas and lakes, plus a dense atmosphere capable of generating winds that can raise 300-foot-tall dunes near the equator. Waves on seas and lakes, however, are another story. In the nine years since the joint NASA-European Space Agency Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons arrived, nary a ripple has been spotted.

Now, an international team of scientists has offered an explanation for Titan's unexpectedly calm "waters," offering a theory that describes what the small waves should look like for a certain wind speed and a certain range of recipes for the liquid hydrocarbon. If these small features show up, they could yield important clues about the composition of the liquid hydrocarbons filling the seas and lakes, the researchers say. Click here. (7/22)

Four Things the Space Foundation Wants the U.S. to do Differently with Weather Sats (Source: Space News)
With the U.S. weather satellite system facing a potential 18-36 month gap in some forecasting capabilities beginning as soon as next year, the Space Foundation released a paper outlining the steps the U.S. should take to “ensure the long-term success” of the system. The paper,  “Weather Satellites: Critical Technology in Uncertain Environments,” stresses the importance of weather satellites. Click here. (7/23) http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/36432four-things-the-space-foundation-wants-to-see-the-us-do-differently-with#.Ue7039LVDh4

Rep. Edwards Pins Hopes for More NASA Funding on Senate (Source: Space News)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who pushed hard against a Republican-authored NASA authorization bill currently awaiting a floor vote, said July 23 that it will probably be up to the Senate to undo provisions in that bill which call for NASA to scale back science and technology activities and focus on human spaceflight.

“The Senate has a totally different approach for this, and I’m grateful for that,” Edwards said here July 23 after her speech at this month’s Maryland Space Business Roundtable lunch. The monthly gathering, held just down the road from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, regularly draws a roomful of NASA contractors and agency personnel. (7/23)

New Groups Form to Promote Spaceport at Florida’s Shiloh Site (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A new group of business and community leaders called Space Volusia has been formed to promote the development of a spaceport on the Shiloh site located the north end of the Kennedy Space Center. There is also another group called Launch FLs Future that is also promoting development of the spaceport. They are on Twitter: @LaunchFLsFuture. (7/23)

Dangerous: The Space Frontier Metaphor (Source: Doctor Linda)
The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) is holding its annual conference later this week in California. The event has a tagline: “Space settlement is no longer a dream, it is an industry.” Really? As far as I can tell, “space settlement” is only an industry in this sense: advocating for colonizing and exploiting outer space is a vocation for a small group of people, most of whom appear to know each other. Some of these people have been making a living at advocating for this idea – or “dream,” as they tend to call it – for decades. Click here. (7/22)

[Whew!] Reno Airport has No Plans to Pursue Commercial Spaceport (Source: Reno Rebirth)
"No, we do not have plans to pursue a spaceport. Sir Richard Branson is will ahead on that one in New Mexico where he has invested $209 million on a spaceport. We are looking over the ocean, rather than over the moon, for future development opportunities with cargo from Asia... Closely related to a spaceport, we are considering some Department of Defense type of industries at Reno-Stead Airport. Hope that helps answer the question." (7/22)

Is NASA Lost in Space? (Source: Fox 13 Tampa Bay)
This month, NASA marks its 55th anniversary. As our agency celebrates its achievements, it is also drawing strong criticism. A panel of scientists, including astronaut Bob Crippen, previously criticized NASA for lacking a clear mission and goals. Meanwhile, Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has accused several NASA projects of wasting our money. He specifically cited a $947,000 food-testing project in Hawaii. It used a six-member team to cook and test recipes we could one day use on Mars.

A government audit showed NASA is spending more than $700,000 a year on an outdated database managers rarely use. And Coburn cited a video game project that NASA is committing $1.5-million to developing. We asked a NASA spokesman for an interview since February. He cancelled our first scheduled interview, and after repeated attempts to schedule another, we never heard back. But scientists at MOSI in Tampa strongly defended NASA.

"To criticize them after all they've done just seems a little unfair," said MOSI's planetarium manager, Timothy Hill. He defended the video game and food projects. "NASA should definitely capitalize on that to get young people interested in traveling in space...We do know one day people, will travel to Mars." ... "You kind of have to look at it in the big picture of things," offered Anthony Pelaez, MOSI's director of education. (7/23)

New Flame Trench Will Support New Era at KSC's Launch Pad 39B (Source: Science Daily)
 For the first time since NASA's Apollo-era rockets and space shuttles lifted off on missions from Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one of the launch pads is undergoing extensive upgrades to support the agency's 21st century space launch complex. At launch pad B, construction workers are removing the legacy flame deflector, along with Apollo-era bricks from both walls of the flame trench. A contract to perform the work was awarded earlier this year to Vanguard Contractors in Paducah, Ky. (7/27)

Armagno: Thanks for a Job Well Done. Again! (Source: USAF 45th Space Wing)
Wow! What a great job by "Team Patrick-Cape" last Friday morning as we all worked together to perform yet another successful launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Our entire team worked in perfect rhythm to launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-2) satellite for the United States Navy. (7/22)

Local Woman is Chosen for Space Tourism Study (Source: WYMT)
A space vacation sounds awesome, and if you're rich there are options out there. The problem is that most of us aren't rich. But that may change sooner than you may think. “I think within the next five years we will start seeing more space tourists. I think within the next few years we're going to see the price get down,” said Tom Cravens, Director of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky.

But as the price tag drops, concerns about how the average person - particularly ones with health problems - can handle such a trip. Hazard resident A.J. Hall, along with 119 individuals across the country have been chosen to participate in study to research that question “They want someone with heart problems, someone with breathing problems, and someone with back or neck injury because they want to see how this stress of pressure is going to affect people with that kind of medical problem,” Hall said. (7/23)

FSDC Plans Member Tour of Space Life Sciences Lab at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) is organizing an Aug. 23 tour of the Space Life Sciences Lab for interested members. The SLS Lab was developed by the State of Florida to support an expanded space research capability at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and is the anchor facility for Exploration Park. The facility is also home of Space Florida's headquarters. The tour will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is open to the first 20 people who RSVP. Click here. (7/23)

Bezos' Blue Origin Joins Billionaire Battle for NASA Shuttle Launch Pad (Source: NBC)
Thanks to Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos' backing, Blue Origin is one of the country's most financially stable rocket ventures, but it has also had one of the lowest profiles — until now. The company, based in an industrial area south of Seattle, is waiting to hear whether it can take over one of NASA's crown jewels: Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. And Bezos is competing with another billionaire, SpaceX's Elon Musk, to get it.

SpaceX is one of the biggest success stories in space nowadays: The company that Musk founded in 2002 with his dot-com fortune has flown three successful unmanned missions to the International Space Station, has dozens of launches on its manifest, and is said to be turning a profit. Click here.

Jockeying For Position and Playing Chess at LC-39A (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Space KSC blog hints that Congressional criticism of NASA's potential single-user (read: SpaceX) lease of LC-39A may be colored by ULA's concerns that SpaceX might expand its operations (and competitiveness) at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. ULA is backing Blue Origin's multi-user concept for LC-39A.

Meanwhile, Space Florida reportedly did not respond to NASA's LC-39A solicitation, despite their emerging "spaceport authority" role at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. They might normally be the prime candidate for making the facility available to new users. I'm guessing the high price for maintaining LC-39A kept them away.

For its part, SpaceX may or may not be serious about LC-39A. The company has never liked the idea of operating in a multi-user environment, or under NASA or USAF oversight, which is why they're looking at alternatives like Shiloh, Texas, Georgia, (and possibly Hawaii and Puerto Rico) for commercial operations. And what about the Air Force's potential handover of CCAFS? Someone somewhere at SpaceX is having an interesting time doing cost/benefit trade analyses for these sites. (7/23)

Ghanaian Theologian Confirms NASA’s Message from Mars (Source: GBC)
The announcement by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, of the US last week, of the discovery of a message from God written on tablets of stone on the planet Mars has been corroborated by a Ghanaian theologian. Disciple Phinemas Owusu Bempah said God revealed the message to him in his sleep years ago just as Joseph's dream was recorded in the Bible centuries ago. Speaking to Radio Ghana, Mr Owusu Bempah said the revelation is an indication that God is real. Click here. (7/22)

Intelsat Enlists Loral To Build IS-34 Satellite (Source: Space News)
Loral will build the IS-34 C- and Ku-band telecommunications satellite for Intelsat under a contract both companies announced July 23. The IS-34 satellite will operate at 304.5 degrees east, replacing the Intelsat 805 and Galaxy 11 spacecraft at that slot. To be launched in 2015, IS-34 will fill the capacity gap left following the Feb. 1 failure of a Sea Launch rocket carrying the IS-27 spacecraft. The satellite will serve Latin American broadcast customers and will have beams covering the North Atlantic air and sea routes. (7/23)

Another Maryland Democrat Making Her Voice Heard on NASA (Source: Space News)
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), a former Lockheed Martin contractor who worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center long before she represented some of its employees in Congress, has emerged in recent weeks as a prominent voice on NASA policy matters. The NASA contractor-turned-lawyer won her House seat in a 2008 special election. She immediately joined the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and this past January became the space subcommittee’s ranking Democrat. Click here. (7/23)

Brownsville Texas Official Discusses SpaceX’s Proposed Launch Facility (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Can this coastal launch site drive commercial development of the Solar System’s frontiers? Gilberto Salinas, Executive VP, Brownsville Economic Development Corporation, discusses a pending SpaceX private spaceport. Click here. (7/23)

Posey Featured at Aug. 13 Space Club Luncheon (Source: NSCFL)
The August 13 monthly luncheon of the National Space Club's Florida Committee will feature Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL). Rep. Posey will discuss "Supporting the next generation of explorers and maintaining America's leadership in space." The luncheon will be held at the Radisson Resort at Port Canaveral. RSVP by COB on Aug. 7. Click here. (7/23)

DOD to "Realign and Reshape" Military, Hagel Says (Source: Defense News)
The military must deal with spending cuts by refocusing its efforts around defense, readiness, replenishing combat strength and dealing honorably with those who have served, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Aiming at those four goals are part of what it will take "to realign and reshape our military" in an era of reduced funding, Hagel says. (7/22)

India Plans Mars Liftoff, Satellite Launches (Source: Space.com)
The Indian Space Research Organization later this year will launch a robot to study Mars, part of a year-long push that will greatly expand India's role in space exploration. With missions planned for launching weather satellites and testing rockets, India may have a dozen liftoffs before year's end. (7/22)

No comments: