August 31, 2013

Virgin Galactic Online Career Fair on Sep. 7 (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Virgin Galactic along with its sister space vehicle manufacturing organization, The Spaceship Company, are hosting a career fair in Sept. 7 in Mojave, Calif., and online from 8-11 a.m. Virgin plans a virtual version of it as well on Google+. (8/30)

View of the Earth From Hubble Space Telescope, Which I Nearly Broke (Source: Esquire)
While I was at MIT, I started applying to NASA to become an astronaut. I filled out my application, and I received a letter that said they weren’t quite interested. So I waited a couple years, and I sent in another application. They sent me back pretty much the same letter. So I applied a third time, and this time I got an interview, so they got to know who I was. And then they told me no.

So I applied a fourth time. And on April 22, 1996, I knew the call was coming, good or bad. I picked up the phone, and it was Dave Leestma, the head of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Well, I think you’re gonna be pretty good after this phone call," he said, "’cause we wanna make you an astronaut.” Thirteen years after that, it’s May 17, 2009, and I’m on space shuttle Atlantis, about to go out and do a spacewalk on the Hubble Space Telescope. Click here. (8/31)

Rob Begins Countdown to Cut-Price Space Trips (Source: Derbyshire News)
Rob Lowe is head of ShipInSpace UK, a company which is planning to blast up to 48 tourists into sub-orbital space at a time. Flights will last about 40 minutes, during which passengers experience seven minutes of zero-gravity, cruising more than 100km above the earth.

The company says that its innovations will allow it to develop, manufacture and launch its first spacecraft within five years and offer seats on it for £60,000 – less than a third of the price of its main competitor, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic project. Click here. (8/31)

Should India Declare a Space Policy? (Source: The Diplomat)
A low-intensity debate has been taking place in India as to whether India should have a declared space policy or not. The general consensus appears to be that there is no need. But there are several arguments to make in favor of outlining a policy in the open. In today’s world, the advantages of a declared policy far outweigh the disadvantages. A declared policy calls for a clear understanding of how it should be tailored, what it should contain and what should be left out.

First, open policy statements and declared policies have remained the best means to assuage fears, build confidence and avoid ambiguities. These are important measures for building transparency and reducing tensions in regional and global contexts. Since the Asian context is characterized by growing competition and rivalry and the potential for conflict, even relative openness and transparency will go a long way in diluting the levels of regional insecurities. (8/31)

NASA, Congress Finalize Operating Plan for 2013 (Source: Space News)
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Commercial Crew Program are almost fully shielded from the sequester budget cuts under the agency’s final operating budget for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The final operating plan, concluded in August after months of negotiations with Capitol Hill, includes about $16.9 billion for NASA in 2013, nearly 5 percent less than what U.S. President Barack Obama requested, according to NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey. But the 5 percent cut was not applied evenly across NASA’s programs as originally envisioned under the sequestration policy. (8/30)

Cancer Treatment to Ion Thruster: The Newest Little Idea for Nanosat Micro Rockets (Source: Michigan Tech)
Nanosatellites are smartphone-sized spacecraft that can perform simple, yet valuable, space missions. Dozens of these little vehicles are now tirelessly orbiting the earth performing valuable functions for NASA, the Department of Defense and even private companies. Click here. (8/27)

Zenit Lifts Off After a January Accident (Source: Russian Space Web)
Seven months after its failed launch from an ocean-based launch pad, the Zenit rocket is returning to flight from Kazakhstan. The launch of the Zenit-3SLB rocket with a DM-SLB upper stage took place as scheduled on Sep. 1, 2013, (August 31, EST/GMT) at Baikonur Cosmodrome. The vehicle was carrying the fourth satellite for the Afro-Mediterranean Orbital System, AMOS, operated by an Israeli satellite communications provider Spacecom. (8/31)

Editorial: Industry Must Embrace And Support NASA's Aeronautics Strategy (Source: Aviation Week)
When the sector you serve is doing very nicely, thank you, it is hard to sound an alarm about the future. And when lawmakers see bulging order books stretching years-out for commercial aircraft and engine manufacturers, it is hard to make the case for government funding of research that will not produce results for a decade or more.

So NASA’s unveiling of a new strategy for aeronautics research is a bold and welcome move from a bureaucratic agency that often seems to have lost its sense of direction. The aeronautics reset is based on the fundamental assumption that U.S. leadership in civil aviation will be at risk in as little as 20 years unless the nation acts to keep the pipeline of new technologies flowing. (8/30)

Russia to Consolidate Space Sector into Open Joint Stock Company (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Russian government plans to consolidate its space sector in an open joint stock company called the United Rocket and Space Corporation in a way that would preserve and enhance the Roscosmos space agency, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

In a recent Q&A with Kommersant, Russia’s space czar said President Vladimir Putin had approved the plan, which had been put forward by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, at a meeting on June 11.  Rogozin said the failure prone space sector is so troubled that it needs state supervision to overcome its problems.

Russia uses the open joint stock company structure in a number of key sectors, including airlines (Aeroflot), railroads (Russian Railways), and energy (Gazprom).  These companies are somewhat similar to limited liability partnerships and corporations in the United States. (8/30)

Is NASA's Plan to Lasso an Asteroid Really Legal? (Source:
NASA's ambitious asteroid-capture mission is seemingly being blueprinted with little dialogue about whether or not it is actually legal. This bold plan run afoul of 1967's Outer Space Treaty (OST), which provides the basic framework of international space law, or 1972's Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects? Click here. (8/30)

RD-180 Ban Could Mean Many Things, Including Nothing (Source: Space News)
It’s difficult to know what to make of a report that the Russian government is considering banning exports of the RD-180 rocket engine to the United States for use on Atlas 5 rockets. The report comes amid amped up tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s harboring of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and a brewing U.S. military strike on Syria, a longtime Russian client state.

Whether or not an RD-180 export ban is actually under serious consideration is not clear outside senior Russian defense and space policy circles. It’s certainly plausible, but it could also be one person’s bureaucratic bluster, or Moscow’s way of registering its unhappiness over the Syria situation, or perhaps an attempt to set the stage for an RD-180 price increase. For its part, ULA had this to say about the situation:

“[We are] confident that our major subcontractor RD Amross … will honor its commitment to supply RD-180 engines for our Atlas 5 launch vehicle. In the unlikely event that NPO Energomash is not allowed to export the engine, then ULA would continue to launch Atlas 5 vehicles for several years by drawing from the large inventory of RD-180 engines already stored in the U.S. ULA also produces the Delta 4 product that is built with the U.S.-produced RS-68 engine to assure uninterrupted access to space for all of our customers.” (8/30)

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