September 1, 2013

Vladivostok Fireball Was Rocket, Not Meteor (Source: RIA Novosti)
A fireball that lit up the sky over Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, on Sunday, was actually created by a Russian rocket stage, not a meteor event, a scientist said. Witnesses in Vladivostok said they saw a flash of light in the sky that could be a meteor, media reports said. Some of the witnesses claimed the fireball “looked like a plane.”

The timing of the fireball reports coincided with the launch of the Zenit rocket from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Sunday, Russian astronomer Vladimir Surdin said. “The photos show that this was an artificial object. It was moving from the west to the east and was witnessed some 20 minutes after the launch.” (9/1)

New Moon Probe Raises Questions About What to Do Next in Space (Source: New York Times)
The last moon mission on NASA’s current schedule — a small, unmanned spacecraft that will study moon dust and the lunar atmosphere — is scheduled to launch on Friday from Wallops Island, Va., elating scientists who study the moon but highlighting political questions about what NASA should do next.

The results of the scientific program could be helpful in preparing for future manned missions to the moon. Although NASA currently does not have such plans, some members of Congress have called on the space agency to return to the moon rather than pursuing its current space objectives.

Although there is wide agreement that NASA should ultimately aim for a manned flight to Mars, that goal is far off. The more immediate plan, which has been criticized on Capitol Hill, is to capture an asteroid and tow it closer to home so astronauts can visit it. (9/1)

African Space Working Group Meets on Strategy (Source: BizTech Africa)
Africa’s Space Working Group has agreed on a draft African Space Policy and a framework for developing a draft Space Strategy. The African Union said in a statement that the working group had met in Addis Ababa, in line with the March 2010 Fourth African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology (AMCOST IV) recommendation on the setting up of a Space Working Group to develop a draft African Union Space Policy and Strategy. Click here. (9/1)

Netanyahu Congratulates Israeli Satellite Developers After Zenit Launch (Source: Jerusalem Post)
Israeli communications company Spacecom successfully launched a state-of-the-art satellite into space on Saturday night from the Zenit launching pad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Amos 4, which was built by Israel Aerospace Industries, was dispatched at 11:05 p.m. Saturday, and the launch concluded in the early hours on Sunday when the satellite disconnected from the final part of its launcher. (9/1)

Launch May Start Something Big on Eastern Shore (Source: Virginian Pilot)
NASA's first deep-space mission to launch from Virginia's Eastern Shore is scheduled for Friday, and while all eyes are on the sky, most of the uncertainty swirls around what will happen on the ground, on tiny Chincoteague Island, where hotels, restaurants and traffic cops must deal with thousands of spectators. On one hand, the town has experience: every summer, it deals with an estimated 15,000 tourists who come for the famous pony roundup. But Friday's spectacle is different in so many ways.

NASA's visitor center on Va. 175, a popular spot for watching rocket launches from the Wallops Flight Facility, will be closed to the public to accommodate at least 1,000 VIPs expected by the space agency. In addition, the beaches of adjacent Assateague Island - which can park 989 vehicles - will be closed because the rocket's trajectory places the shoreline in a hazard zone. The launch is planned for 11:27 p.m. Friday. Should it be delayed, LADEE could launch between Sept. 7 and 11. (9/1)

30 Years Ago: First African-American Launches into Space (Source:
Thirty years ago Friday (Aug. 30), Guion "Guy" Bluford became the first African-American in space, launching into low-Earth orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. But he never set out to be a pioneer. "My desire was to make a contribution to the program," Bluford said in a statement from NASA.

"People came from all over to watch this launch because I was flying," added Bluford. "I imagined them, all standing out there at one o'clock in the morning with their umbrellas, all asking the same question, 'Why am I standing here?'" Bluford was part of NASA's barrier-breaking 1978 class of astronauts. Of the 35 spaceflyers selected, three were African-Americans, and six were women, including Sally Ride. (8/31)

Labor Day In Space: Astronauts Take Time Off, Too (Source:
Americans across the United States will pause to celebrate the Labor Day holiday on Monday (Sept. 2), even space travelers soaring high above Earth aboard the International Space Station. There are two American astronauts — NASA's Karen Nyberg and Chris Cassidy — currently serving on the space station's six-person crew, and they are expecting a light work day Monday, NASA officials said. (8/31)

On Giant Blue Alien Planet, It Rains Molten Glass (Source:
There's a "blue marble" alien planet just 63 light-years from Earth, but the world is anything but friendly to life. Researchers say the blue color in the atmosphere likely comes from a rain of molten glass. This super-hot glass rain is just one consequence of the close proximity between the gas giant alien planet HD189733b and its sun. which causes daytime temperatures to soar as high as 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit (930 degrees Celsius), scientists said. (8/31)

Leaked Documents Offer Snapshot of NRO Activity (Source: Space News)
The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is trying to wean itself from reliance on a satellite communications system run by NASA, according to excerpts of classified budget documents published Aug. 29 by the Washington Post. According to the documents, the NRO is investing in a “special communications capability” that will reduce its reliance on NASA’S Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system.

The geostationary-orbiting TDRS system’s nominal purpose is to allow NASA to communicate at all times with its low-orbiting spacecraft, including the international space station, but officials with the civil space agency have acknowledged that the Department of Defense is the primary user of the system and provides most of the funding. (8/31)

Lunar Far Side Set For NASA Low-Frequency Radio Telescope (Source: Forbes)
After decades of discussion, the far side of the moon — the most radio quiet spot in the inner solar system — is finally being taken seriously for a kilometers-wide, low- frequency radio array. Such a NASA array would electronically-link thousands of dipole antennas spread over a range of five to ten kms and combine their long wavelength signals in a way that would mimic the imaging resolution of one large kms-wide radio telescope. (8/31)

India's Military Toehold in Space (Source: The Telegraph)
The launching of the GSAT7 satellite this morning effectively opens India’s first dedicated military programme in space. The navy is its first beneficiary. Expected to be fully operational in three weeks, the GSAT7 could be at the centre of the navy’s fleet communications system. It is designed to enable the transmission of messages from, say, an Indian Navy warship off the coast of Karachi, on the country’s western seaboard, to a submarine near Port Blair, on the eastern, instantaneously. (8/30)

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