November 15, 2013

SpaceX Achieves Milestone in Safety Review (Source: SpaceRef)
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) met in late October to review the safety of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket being developed to launch humans into low-Earth orbit later this decade. The detailed overview of safety practices the company is implementing was a major milestone for SpaceX under a funded Space Act Agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). (11/15)

Navy Resumes Work on MUOS Ground Station After Standoff with Sicily (Source: Space News)
Work on a ground station in the southern Italian territory of Sicily for the U.S. Navy’s next-generation mobile communications program has resumed in recent weeks following a six-month delay, according to a service spokesman.

Officials halted construction at the site in Niscemi, Sicily, in April following months of protests sparked by residents’ concern about harmful electromagnetic radiation that might be emitted from the site. Antenna assembly crews returned to the site Oct. 28, said Steven A. Davis, a spokesman for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. (11/15)

Buran, the Soviet Space Shuttle, Flew 25 Years Ago (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The Soviet Union's Buran space shuttle took off Nov. 15, 1988, on an unmanned twice-around-the-world test flight that marked the pinnacle of Cold War space development behind the Iron Curtain, and its legacy still powers space programs worldwide.  The sleek-looking white space plane, bearing a remarkable outward resemblance of NASA's space shuttle, only flew once and never took off with cosmonauts on-board. (11/15)

Texas Regents Hear Report on Possible UTB, SpaceX Connection (Source: Brownsville Herald)
University of Texas at Brownsville graduate student Louis Dartez spoke to the UT System Board of Regents on Thursday about how an unlikely tour of a campus lab was the spark that ignited the idea of a possible partnership between the school and SpaceX. SpaceX, a private space exploration company, is in the process of deciding whether it will choose to bring a rocket launchpad to the Brownsville area.

“This program has developed students that have attracted the attention of SpaceX,” said Fredrick Jenet, who created the Arecibo Remote Command Center on campus. At the center, students can remotely control the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, according to information from the UT System. “SpaceX has met our students, gotten excited with what’s going on down here and has discussed what could happen in the future,” Jenet said. (11/14)

Commercialization, Law and Governance in Outer Space (Source: The International)
The launch of the satellite Sputnik in 1957 ignited a race between the world’s two great rival powers. The United States and the former Soviet Union, USSR each poured vast amounts of resources into the research and development of technologies for the exploration of outer space. Sputnik and the impressive achievements that followed throughout the space race, raised complicated questions about law and governance in the final frontier.

Today, the proliferation and success of private enterprises in the space industry has led to a fresh contest for the cosmos. Questions about the law and governance in space raised during the Cold War remain largely unanswered. There are technical questions in the balance, such as who will be held responsible when space debris destroys a satellite and where does airspace end and outer space begin.

Then there are the broader questions about ownership and property, such as whether individuals, companies, or governments can claim pieces of space or celestial bodies for themselves. In short, the question asked by many over the decades is, “Who owns outer space?” Wherever billions of dollars are invested, problems of law will inevitably emerge. Whatever the current state of international law for space, the only sure bet is that legal disputes are coming. Click here. (11/15)

2013 a Space Policy: Britain Gives £2bn Sector Lift-Off (Source: The Independent)
Addressing well over 100 of Britain's most enterprising engineers, brilliant boffins and smartest start-up sensations, Science Minister David Willetts harks back to a bygone regime that ruled by the gun. "Ceausescu's Romania made it a criminal offence to keep old press cuttings," he says, barely concealing a half-smile. "Just occasionally, politicians think that would be a good thing to have today."

Still, there was Mr Willetts in Westminster Central Hall yesterday, brandishing a well-thumbed copy of a 2010 report that proposed turning the UK into a world leader in space technology rather than trying to suppress it. While dead despots feared evidence of promises that were later broken, the Space Innovation & Growth Strategy report has already helped create an industry that is worth £2bn in exports today and has grown by nearly 9 percent per year since publication.

However, president of UK Space and former Logica chief executive Andy Green has updated and sharpened that plan, challenging Mr Willetts to help Britain grab 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030, then projected to be worth £400bn. Britain's best and brightest could be exploiting the final frontier for everything from identifying the whereabouts of Somali pirate ships to monitoring carbon emissions and flying tourists into space. (11/15)

Cape Canaveral... in Wales! (Source: Daily Mail)
Plans for a multi-million pound ‘space port’ in Britain were yesterday enthusiastically backed by the science minister David Willetts. He hailed the ‘very exciting ambition’ to construct a mini UK Cape Canaveral as a launching base for space tourists and satellites into orbit within five years. Possible locations are already being considered in the West Country, Wales and Scotland, with the plan for around one mission blasting off a month. (11/15)

Minor Fire in Store Room of Satish Dhawan Space Center (Source: Outlook India)
A minor fire, which broke out in the store room at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota has been doused. The "minor fire" in a small store room, which was spotted around 5 AM yesterday was put out later, ISRO sources said. The store room was being managed by a private company Premier Explosives Limited (PEL) in the SDSC campus, they said. The blaze has not caused any damage to the ISRO property. (11/15)

Examining Buzz Aldrin’s Roadmap to Mars (Source:
Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin recently released “A Unified Space Vision,” his personal plan for humankind’s next two decades in space. Blending elements from today’s space flight reality with visions for missions yet to come, Aldrin foresees the United States leading the charge to a permanent human presence on Mars by 2040.

According to Aldrin, NASA should abandon its current immediate goal of sending humans to asteroids. Instead, in Aldrin’s view, NASA should strive toward developing manned Mars exploration capabilities by 2030. Aldrin also asserts that NASA should proactively seek out the cooperation of more international partners in both the International Space Station (ISS) and any projects beyond low-Earth Orbit (BLEO). Click here. (11/15)

Space Junk Apocalypse: Just Like Gravity? (Source: Guardian)
The Kessler effect is real, and a collision between two satellites will cause havoc (just not as quickly as Hollywood would like). A former NASA astrophysicist, it was Donald Kessler who, in 1978, first proposed that a runaway cascade of collisions was a possibility. He'd been studying meteorite collisions and, out of personal curiosity, decided to apply his algorithm to satellites, too.

"The results of those calculations surprised me – I didn't realise it could be that bad," he tells me over a crackly telephone line. (Through the wonder of satellite technology, he is speaking to me from the deck of a boat charting the waters of eastern Europe.) "But it's building up as I expected. The cascade is happening right now – the Kosmos-Iridum collision was the start of the process. It has already begun." (11/15)

Musk Hints at His Next Big Project: Electric Airplanes (Source: Linkedin)
Elon Musk, the dreamer behind Tesla’s electric cars and SpaceX’s rockets, is already tinkering with his next big idea: an electric airplane that could takeoff and land vertically. At The New York Times’ DealBook conference Tuesday, Musk said “there’s an interesting opportunity” to create a supersonic jet that could fly in such a way. But he cautioned that such a plane could be a long way off.

"It seems unlikely to come from Boeing or Airbus given that they seem to be focused on very incremental improvements to their planes as opposed to radical improvements,” he said. “But it could come from a startup. If I were to have another company in the future, which will not be anytime soon, I think that would be the thing to do: an electric aircraft.” (11/15)

Is Dark Matter Made of Tiny Black Holes? (Source:
Kim Griest, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues are investigating black holes as potential dark matter candidates. Past research has discovered supermassive black holes millions to billions of times the mass of the sun in the heart of galaxies, but these are only detectable because they are so large, conspicuously disrupting matter around them.

In theory, much smaller black holes could have formed in the early universe. These so-called primordial black holes would be far more difficult to detect, and they could potentially exist in large enough numbers to make up all dark matter. (11/14)

UK 'Needs National Space Program' (Source: BBC)
If the UK space sector is to build on the progress of recent years, it needs a defined and properly funded national space programme, a report says. It is one of the key messages to come out of a review of an industry that has been growing by an average of more than 7% a year, even through the recession. The Space Innovation & Growth Strategy (IGS) sets out a plan to boost exports from £2bn to £25bn per annum by 2030.

But to achieve this, the report says, state support needs more coherence. "I don't want this to be a criticism of government because they have done some incredible things for space of late, but we have been doing these things piece by piece," explained Andy Green, the co-chair of the UK Space Leadership Council. (11/14)

Space Exhibition Leads Huge Joint Festival of Russian and British Culture (Source: Guardian)
The largest ever festival of Russian and British culture, embracing art, music, theatre, outer space, Shakespeare and pancakes, is being launched in hundreds of events across both countries next year.

One of the highlights will be a giant exhibition at the Science Museum in London next autumn on the Soviet space program, including real spacecraft, recreating the excitement of the years between 1957 when Sputnik was launched, and 1961 when the rest of the world watched in astonishment as first a Russian dog and then a Russian man became the first earthlings to look down on the small blue planet. (11/14)

Denver Area Wins in Lockheed Martin's Search for Savings (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Lockheed Martin Corp.'s investment in its local facilities and the makeup of its local workforce combined to attract hundreds of new jobs to the Denver area as part of the defense giant’s nationwide consolidation announced Thursday.

Lockheed Martin will consolidate a lot of its space and information technology jobs as it trims down to 116,000 workers worldwide ahead of declining Pentagon spending. Some of those jobs will be moved to the Lockheed Martin IS & GS offices near Deer Creek Canyon in Jefferson County, where a lot of national security and intelligence-related technology work is done. It’s not clear yet how many jobs will be moved to the Denver area by IS & GS. (11/14)

Asteroids Could be Used as Transport to Deep Space (Source: Xinhua)
Asteroids could be used as natural spaceships for travels to the deep space, a Russian space industry scientist said Thursday. "There are about 10,000 asteroids orbiting close to the Earth and about 2 millions of them in total," said the head of the Designer and Research Bureau in the Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center.

He proposed to use asteroids' underground for setting up permanent bases there and use them as "natural spaceships" for travels to Mars and Jupiter. Some asteroids regularly approach Earth closer than the Moon, so it would be easy to land on them, Antonenko believed. (11/14)

Russian Scientist Says Mars Colony Would Change Humans (Source: Xinhua)
Sergei Antonenko, head of Khrunichev's research bureau, said if people land on Mars for permanent residency, this would lead to formation of the new biological type of a human being due to the different gravity and completely non-Earthly environment. "These creatures will never come back to Earth," he said. (11/14)

A Tale of Two Human Space Programs (Source: Parabolic Arc)
All the promise, perils and contradictions of America’s human spaceflight effort were on display earlier this week in Washington, D.C. Things were looking good for a day or so, but then the proverbial other shoe dropped to remind everyone of the deep trouble that lies ahead as NASA attempts to restore its human spaceflight capability and send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. Click here. (11/14)

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