August 3, 2013

Japan Sends Cargo Rocket to International Space Station (Source: ANN)
Japan launched a cargo-carrying rocket Sunday loaded with supplies for the crew of the International Space Station, along with a small robot meant as a companion for one of the country's astronauts. The H-2B rocket blasted off from the southern island of Tanegashima at 04:48 am local time. According to JAXA the launch had gone to plan. The unmanned rocket carried a cargo transporter filled with drinking water, food, clothing and work supplies for the six permanent ISS crew. (8/3)

Roscosmos to Monitor Baikonur Environmental Safety (Source: Interfax-AVN)
The Russian government has compelled the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) to take care of the environmental conditions at the Baikonur Space Center leased from Kazakhstan. "[Roscosmos] is obliged to comply with Russia's international commitments of environmental safety, management and conservation of the Baikonur Space Center leased by the Russian Federation in dealing with facilities and land plots," says a government resolution published riday.

Roscosmos is also obliged to control the observation of environmental management and protection norms and to determine the procedure for setting maximal permissible limits on discharges of pollutants and disposal of industrial and consumer waste. (8/3)

Posey & McCarthy Introduce Suborbital Space Regulatory Bill (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Congressmen Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Bill Posey (R-FL) have introduced the Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act. The bill will streamline the regulatory process for commercial spacecraft, ensuring that the commercial spaceflight industry can continue to innovate quickly and safely, creating high-quality American jobs in the process.

The bill would fix a technical issue with current law to allow vehicle manufacturers to use individual vehicles as test platforms while other individual vehicles are being used in commercial service. Current law requires all vehicles of the same design either to be used for one purpose or the other. It also would create a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of using experimental aircraft to support launch and reentry activities.

“The time has come for leadership which allows for the adult conversation on technical legislation matters which frame innovative job creation in America. Shying away from this subject only delays what is required," said Stu Witt of the Mojave Air and Space Port. "I applaud Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Posey for taking a stand and enabling the FAA, Congress, space flight innovators, spaceports and interested affiliates to engage in crafting a regulatory regime which promotes the long term interest of the new space industry while ensuring an appropriate level of operational safety.” (8/3)

Intergalactic Travel Bureau (Source: The Verge)
It’s not hard to send your friends a vacation postcard from Saturn — even if you never actually visit. All it takes is a visit to the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, a combination of science classroom and performance art project that briefly popped up in New York. For two weeks in July, you could step inside an unassuming office near Times Square and plot a vacation as near as Mars or as far as a distant galaxy, all with the glamour of a ‘60s Pan-Am magazine spread.

The Intergalactic Travel Bureau debuted at the British Royal Observatory in 2011, but it’s now made two stops in New York, the first at Government Island’s Figment art festival in 2012. Outside the repurposed storefront, producer Olivia Koski and documentary artist Kaitlin Prest, two "travel agents to the stars" clad in minidresses and multicolored scarves, take turns drawing in customers. In the back of the room, astrophysicist Hanno Rein sits at a desk behind both a typewriter and a MacBook Pro. Stacks of postcards litter the office for visitors to fill out and send to friends and family. (8/2)

Ellington Airport Could Become a Commercial Spaceport (Source: Houston Press)
Houston has some great airports, but now the City of Houston and the Houston Airport System are working to see about getting one airport a little something extra as a licensed spaceport. Last month, Houston City Council members "voiced their support" for the HAS effort to obtain a license for Ellington Airport -- the small, runty cousin of George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby -- to build a spaceport. The council also approved a contract with Reynolds, Smith and Reynolds Inc. for $718,900 to conduct a study on how to obtain a commercial spaceport license. The first year of the three-year contract will be used for getting the license, and then the company will conduct environmental-impact studies. (8/2)

Spaceport Closer to Visitors’ Center Loan, FAA License Renewal (Source: Albuquerque Business First)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is making progress toward getting a $20 million loan. In its latest newsletter, the Authority said it has received both Spaceport Board approval and New Mexico State Board of Finance approval for the loan, which would help build new visitors’ centers. The goal is to have the loan in place by September, executive director Christine Anderson said.

The authority also is submitting its next Launch Site Operator license proposal. The FAA-issued license needs to be updated every five years. The Spaceport has seen several technical triumphs — including the launch of an UP Aerospace rocket last month. The completion of a 2,000-foot runway extension has been a priority. (8/2)

NASA Is Still Dreaming About Tomorrow: The Fantastic Mars Ascent Vehicle (Source: Forbes)
The idea of returning samples from the surface of Mars has been studied a lot over the past several decades. And what it really boils down to is that, as we’ve learned more and more about the planet from the missions we’ve sent there, the remaining questions are becoming more and more challenging to answer with the kind of science instruments and the kind of spacecraft that can conduct their investigations in-space on Mars.

You can imagine blasting off the surface of Mars with a rocket, with a launch vehicle that was powerful enough to throw those samples all the way back to Earth. That’s a big rocket, a big launch vehicle if you’re going to do that in one step. But if you break it into two phases where there’s a smaller rocket that lifts the samples just off the surface of Mars and parks them in Mars orbit, leaves them in a stable orbit, where they can just be kind of like an artificial satellite around Mars. Click here. (8/2)

Watch Curiosity’s First Year on Mars in Two Minutes (Source: VentureBeat)
About a year ago, NASA’s Curiosity Rover touched down successfully on Mars, and people were celebrating Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s big mission in memes. But NASA is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Curiosity’s landing a few days early with the release of a video that shows one year of the rover’s travels arounond Mars from August 2012 through July. While the video itself may not be amazing, it is all captured from freaking Mars, so give it a break. Click here. (8/1)

No Crowdfunding in NASA's Immediate Future (Source: PC Magazine)
NASA would welcome crowdfunding for certain studies and projects, but the U.S. Congress isn't ready to open up the space agency's mission in that way, NASA chief engineer Brian Muirhead said. "God, I'd love it. The problem with my new study ... is funding. Unfortunately, these missions are pretty expensive. We'd love to have the public involved, the public support. The problem is we still have to work through Congress," Muirhead said.

Muirhead listed some unfunded projects that could possibly benefit from a campaign on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, such as a study NASA engineers would like to undertake to develop ways to land heavy objects on Mars. With the Curiosity Rover mission, the space agency succeeded in landing the biggest object on Mars to date, but any future missions sending human visitors and their equipment to the planet would require different mechanics. (8/2)

Muirhead: You Can’t Privately Fund Mars Mission. Mars One: Watch Us (Source: VentureBeat)
NASA chief Brian Muirhead told Black Hat attendees that while he loves the idea of crowdfunded space flight, he doesn’t have much confidence in commercial missions to Mars and their ability to finance the expedition.
It was a direct blow at Mars One, the mission by Netherlands-based Mars One Foundation that aims to put non-scientist, non-engineer astronauts on Mars permanently to establish a colony. “That is way beyond our capability to do today,” Muirhead said about Mars One.

Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp and his team fired back today with a movie trailer for a 54-minute film, One Way Astronaut. The film tells the story of the Mars One vision and several laypeople who long desperately to make their lives on the red planet. A movie doesn’t seem like such a great leap for mankind. However, media is one of the main ways Landsdorp & Co. plan to cover the high costs of space exploration.

“Funding it will be one of the bigger challenges,” Lansdorp admitted in a recent interview. “But with the overall business case of financing a mission with revenues from broadcasting, we have no doubt this is a profitable business case,” he continued. Pointing to the Olympics, a massive and hugely expensive undertaking with no obvious revenue generation built in, Lansdorp indicated that live-streaming video and other media from the Mars colony would make for riveting (and highly sponsor-able) material. (8/2)

Applicants for One-Way Mars Trip to Descend on Washington (Source:
A coterie of aspiring Martians will descend on Washington, D.C. on Aug. 3 for the first Million Martian Meeting. The group consists of applicants for the Mars One mission, a one-way trip to establish a colony on Mars. The meeting will feature talks by Mars Society president and founder Robert Zubrin, Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp, and five Mars One applicants. As of May 7, about 78,000 people had applied for the one-way trip. (8/2)

Check Out the Mars Rover These Two Girls Built in Their Garage (Source: VentureBeat)
Two sisters, 11 and 13, have built a Mars rover in a workshop in their family’s garage. Camille and Genevieve Beatty have also been invited to the New York Hall of Science to show off their rover as part of a special exhibit on astronomy. The rover will roam around a mini-Martian landscape and analyze rocks with hidden heat lamps embedded inside. Click here. (8/1)

First Launch From Vostochny Pad Due in 2015 (Source: Itar-Tass)
The first launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome is due in 2015 despite the lower rate of the construction, Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said. “Lately, unfortunately, the construction rates of the Amur cosmodrome have lowered, and there have been certain failures in the work,” he said. The reasons for those are the lack of workers, delays with supplies of materials and low professionalism of the constructors, he explained. However, he continued, the first launch from the cosmodrome will be made as planned - in 2015.

On Saturday, Roskosmos’ working group is meeting in Uglegorsk with representatives of political parties and public organisations in the region to discuss the ecology aspect of the cosmodrome’s construction. Public hearings in the city on this issue are scheduled for September. (8/3)

Japan Launching Talking Robot & Cargo Into Space (Source:
Japan will launch a new cargo ship with tons of supplies — and one small, talking robot — toward the International Space Station on Saturday (Aug. 3), and you can watch the liftoff live online. The Kirobo robot, a small humanoid automaton billed by its creators as a "robot astronaut" is designed to talk with astronauts in space, as well as people on the ground. It stands about 13.4 inches tall (34 centimeters) and speaks Japanese. (8/3)

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