August 11, 2013

Small Satellite Conference Could Pump nearly $650K Into Utah Economy (Source: HJ News)
As more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world book hotel rooms, dine out and take in summertime activities during the annual Small Satellite Conference at USU, organizers have come to expect it to be one of the area’s biggest revenue generators. The conference, which begins today with some workshops, brings officials from private sector contracting companies, the military and academics, all devoted to the advancement of small satellites.

Julie Hollist, director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, said of the more than 1,066 hotel rooms in Cache Valley, about 1,000 of them are filled. Overflow will be sent to Tremonton, Brigham City or Ogden. All together, this will likely generate $580,000. Hollist said attendees also spend some time eating out on their own — likely to generate $70,000 — but most of the meals are provided by catering. (8/10)

Microsatellites: What Big Eyes They Have (Source: New York Times)
People already worried about the candid cameras on Google Glass and low-flying drones can add a new potential snooper to the list: cameras on inexpensive, low-orbiting microsatellites that will soon be sending back frequent, low-cost snapshots of most of Earth’s populated regions from space.

They won’t be the first cameras out there, of course. Earth-imaging satellites the size of vans have long circled the globe, but those cost millions of dollars each to build and launch, in part because of their weight and specialized hardware. The new satellites, with some of the same off-the-shelf miniaturized technology that has made smartphones and laptops so powerful, will be far less expensive. (8/10)

South Jersey Skies: Space is Big Business (Source: South Jersey Times)
So who do you think should lead the way in space exploration: Big Government or Big Business? Before the dawning of the Space Age in the late 1950s, many science-fiction authors envisioned a future in which human expansion into outer space was dominated by commercial interests. Robert Heinlein, dean of the craft, wrote about space-obsessed businessman D. D. Harriman in his famous short-story collection, The Man Who Sold the Moon. Harriman's megacorporation finagled and bulled its way onto the Moon, earning sizable profits on the way.

But we all know the real Space Race was powered by Cold War political competition between the USSR and the USA, not between rival companies. Only large governments could afford such giant projects at the time. Early in the Space Race our country even passed laws limiting space exploration to a government agency, NASA.

Things started changing after we won the race. In 1984, the Commercial Space Launch Act was passed, allowing private companies to get into the act. Six years later, the Launch Services Purchase Act actually required NASA to seek commercial providers to launch spacecraft. This was a complete reversal of the earlier policy. Click here. (8/11)

The top 10 Reasons for the US to Return to Space Exploration (Source: EDN)
NASA Ames' main goal now is to transfer technology for commercialization and the betterment of mankind… However, over the years, government and popular support for further space exploration has dwindled, despite its many benefits. So, I’ve made a list of the top 10 reasons we should continue to explore the outer depths, "to go where no man has gone before". Click here. (8/9)

Lessons from 'Elysium': Go Back to Huge Space Colonies' Idealistic Roots (Source:
In Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey," the ancestor of humanity throws a bone into the air, which cinematically becomes a spacecraft sharing the sky with a rotating space station. That's the bone I have to pick with "Elysium" writer-director Neill Blomkamp.

There's not much about "Elysium" I don't love. It's an important, fun, gutsy film. But to this longtime space enthusiast, Blomkamp’s appropriation of a ring-world as an icon of evil feels, well, inappropriate. Turning a spin-stabilized, gravity-simulating space settlement into a supercilious, off-Earth Beverly Hills is a gross perversion of a great idea. (8/10)

Space Systems More Than Modern Amenity for Military (Source: Florida Today)
No matter where in the world U.S. troops are fighting, Cape Canaveral has a part on the battlefield. The sign above the entrance to the Morrell Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station tells the tale: “Control of the Battlefield Begins HERE.”

Satellite technology has become such an entrenched part of the modern world, that most people don’t even notice it, even though satellites are critical to things such as long-distance communication, electronic navigation systems and much of the entertainment we get both at home and on our mobile devices.

But while satellite technology might be unnoticed by a lot of people, it is not taken for granted by American men and women on the battlefield. The war-fighting and intelligence capabilities that come from satellites that are launched from here continue to be of an ever-increasing importance to the military. (8/10)

NASA Needs its Swagger Back (Source: Florida Today)
NASA needs some of what Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson bring to the table: gutsy, all-in leadership. Don’t get me wrong. I like Charlie Bolden, the former Marine turned astronaut who heads the agency. He’s a good man who served his country with honor. He can tell you what’s special about NASA and sell the virtues of exploration. But Bolden, and some of his senior leaders, seem stuck telling yesterday’s version of the NASA story rather than tomorrow’s. They’re not breaking out of a mold constructed in the Cold War, slightly modified through the shuttle and space station eras, and now terribly outdated.

NASA got big. The innovative, beat-the-odds space agency got bogged down by two forces: the politically charged bureaucracy of Washington and its commitments to big legacy contractors of the military-industrial complex. Perhaps NASA could cut loose those anchors, but that’s not going to happen with the kind of appointees typically put in charge. Sean O’Keefe and Mike Griffin, the two men to hold the job before Bolden, were strong personalities. They couldn’t break the cycle, either. (8/10)

"Gravity" Movie Highlights Risks of Space Exploration (Source: Florida Today)
"Gravity," a movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, depicts Hollywood's version of some potential risks of astronauts living and working in space. It is scheduled for release Oct. 4. Check out the trailer here. (8/8)

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