November 26, 2013

Teal Identifies Over 3,000 Payloads For Launch By 2032 (Source: Space Daily)
Coinciding with the SATCON Satellite Communications Conference and Expo held here November 13-14 at the Javits Convention Center, Teal Group space analysts have identified 3,164 space payloads proposed to be built and launched to earth or deep space orbits between 2013 and 2032. They estimate the value of these satellites and other space payloads at more than $235 billion.

Near term, Teal analysts identify and quantify 276 proposed launches in 2013 (minus the 150 launched through November 20, 2013), 481 in 2014, 481 in 2015, 329 in 2016, 173 in 2017, 102 in 2019, 111 in 2020, 98 in 2021 and 103 in 2022. "Most spacecraft that have been announced are proposed to be built and launched within the next 3-4 years," said Teal Group senior space analyst Marco Caceres. (11/26)

What Might Recyclable Satellites Look Like? (Source: Space Daily)
No matter how painstakingly we choose the materials to build satellites, once a mission is over they are just so much junk. But what if one day they could be recycled in space for future missions - perhaps as construction material, fuel or even food? As part of its Clean Space initiative, ESA is looking for new ideas on materials that could be recycled or converted into different, useful resources for other processes.

The idea is inspired by the sustainable 'cradle to cradle' approach explored by terrestrial industry in recent years, where all the raw materials in a product can be later reused for another product, or consumed as food, with no waste residue and no loss in quality. Adapting this approach to space, future planetary probes or satellites might become sources of fuel, water or other raw materials considered scarce for the exploration missions that come after them. (11/26)

China's Lunar Probe to Land on Moon Next Month (Source: Xinhua)
China is scheduled to launch Chang'e-3 lunar probe to the moon in early December, the first time a Chinese spacecraft will soft-land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body. Chang'e-3 comprises a lander and a moon rover called "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit). The lunar probe will land on the moon in mid-December if everything goes according to plan, said Wu Zhijian. (11/26)

ULA, RD Amross Fire Back in Antitrust Lawsuit (Source: Denver Business Journal)
United Launch Alliance and one of its key engine suppliers have fired back against a $1.5 billion lawsuit, saying the antitrust complaint from Orbital Sciences should be dismissed for a lack of legal standing. ULA faces a civil antitrust lawsuit and a related complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that was filed in June by Orbital Sciences Corp.

Orbital’s lawsuit and FTC complaint claim that ULA and RD Amross, ULA’s engine supplier for its Atlas V rockets, have prevented Orbital from buying the RD-180 liquid propulsion engines for Orbital’s Antares medium-lift rockets, citing an exclusivity arrangement ULA and RD Amross have over the RD-180 engines through 2018. It claims ULA pressured RD Amross into extending their exclusivity arrangement over the RD-180s after Orbital expressed interest in buying 20 of them for use after 2016.

RD Amross and ULA responded this month, in requests for the lawsuit’s dismissal, that Orbital Sciences doesn’t have standing to claim antitrust violations because RD Amross doesn’t have the ability to actually sell the RD-180 rocket motors to Orbital. Nor can Orbital claim lost business on which to base damages, the RD Amross response said. (11/26)

Angara Finally Moves to Launch Pad (Source: Russian Space Web)
In 2008, the first launch of the Angara rocket was promised at the end of 2010-beginning of 2011. During 2009, preparations for the first test mission cleared a major hurdle with three successful test firings of the first stage booster, which also performed well during the first ill-fated launch of the South-Korean KSLV rocket. However around the same time, various unofficial reports said that a delay of the first Angara launch to 2012 would be necessary. In the middle of 2010, the first launch was delayed from 2012 to 2013.

A prototype vehicle was rolled out and installed on the launch pad in Plesetsk on Nov. 25, 2013. The vehicle was expected to spend around a day on the pad and then give room for a mass simulator of the rocket. By the end of May 2013, the first launch of the Angara-5 rocket was promised in November 2014. (11/26)

New Zealand Takes Lead in Designing Parts of World's Most Advanced Telescope (Source: Xinhua)
Two New Zealand research groups are to lead work on designing crucial aspects of the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Auckland's AUT University and Wellington's Victoria University would lead work on the central signal processor and the science data processor work packages, working alongside other New Zealand experts over the three-year design phase. (11/26)

China Launches Experimental Payload to Orbit (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
China launched an experimental satellite Monday for technological demonstrations and environmental surveys, according to official state media reports. The Shiyan 5 satellite launched on a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan launching facility near the border of northern China's Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. (11/25)

Curiosity Resumes Science After Analysis of Voltage Issue (Source: NASA JPL)
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed full science operations on Saturday, Nov. 23. Activities over the weekend included use of Curiosity's robotic arm to deliver portions of powdered rock to a laboratory inside the rover. The powder has been stored in the arm since the rover collected it by drilling into the target rock "Cumberland" six months ago. Several portions of the powder have already been analyzed. The laboratory has flexibility for examining duplicate samples in different ways.

The decision to resume science activities resulted from the success of work to diagnose the likely root cause of a Nov. 17 change in voltage on the vehicle. The voltage change itself did not affect the rover safety or health. The vehicle's electrical system has a "floating bus" design feature to tolerate a range of voltage differences. (11/26)

NASA Under Fire for Bonus Payments to Contractors (Source: Washington Times)
The internal watchdog for NASA says the nation’s space agency has doled out tens of millions of dollars in bonus money to its contractors — without even first making sure whether they had done the work well or not. NASA officials are sharply disputing the findings of the agency’s own inspector general’s office about a standoff over how the agency handled nearly $70 million in awards to contractors.

The dispute centers on so-called “award-fee contracts,” which are meant to be provide an incentive for businesses that complete jobs by meeting specific objectives or doing them under budget and ahead of schedule.
The agency has been criticized for similar wasteful spending before, but investigators found that even supposed fixes are still wasting money. (11/26)

NASA Successfully Tests Mighty Eagle Moon Lander Software (Source: WHNT)
Mighty Eagle – small lander – drew the attention of engineers today, though really, NASA wants to test the software inside. NASA Project Manager Greg Chavers explains, “This test does determine if the software can control the vehicle.” It starts to fire on all cylinders, the first sign that we’re close, but the whole test illustrates a big part of NASA’s new direction.

Chavers adds, “We’re in a partnership now with Moon Express, a US industry company, and we’ve loaded their software into our vehicle. And they will be controlling the vehicle today.” All parties involved lean toward the edges of their seats. NASA wants their partnerships to work; Moon Express wants their software to work. Eventually, the vehicle hoists itself of the ground – a show of scientific force itself. (11/26)

Legislative Committee OKs Bill to Return Spaceport Tax Revenue to State (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
State legislators endorsed a bill Monday that would stop two southern New Mexico counties from using sales tax revenues to help pay for teachers' salaries or other school operating expenses. The bill is aimed at Dona Ana and Sierra counties, both of which approved a special tax to help finance Spaceport America, the $209 million enterprise that is supposed to create a commercial space industry in New Mexico.

Voters in Dona Ana County authorized a quarter-cent tax by just 204 votes of 17,000 cast, said state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces. This razor-thin margin of victory was achieved with a promise that a share of the tax money would go to public schools, Cervantes said. Now Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, is challenging the legality of this arrangement. (11/25)

Second Indian Launch Site Depends on Satellite Size, Cost-Benefit (Source: NDTV)
The Indian space agency will decide on the need for a second rocket launch site after doing a detailed study on the cost-benefit and other aspects like the trend in remote sensing satellites, said its chief. "A study is being undertaken on the need for a second launch site and the report is expected in couple of months," Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman K Radhakrishnan said. (11/26)

New Zealand Dad Gets a Shot at Space Travel (Source: Auckland Now)
Andy Pierce has won a chance to be the first New Zealand astronaut. And all he did was buy some shower gel. The Redvale resident is one of two Kiwis heading to AXE Global Space Camp in Florida to undergo astronaut testing with a chance to fly into space on the new XCOR Lynx commercial reusable launch vehicle. Andy says he bought a bottle of Lynx shower gel, saw a competition on the wrapper and entered online.

The astronaut training program includes fighter jet flights, a session in a G-force centrifuge and a flight on a zero gravity-inducing aircraft. His 11-year-old triplet daughters and wife Donna will watch from home while Andy travels with brother-in-law and aviation enthusiast Brendon Julian as his companion. The second Kiwi in the competition is Hamish Fagg from Upper Hutt. (11/26)

Axe Narrows Field of Would-Be Astronauts (Source: Unilever)
Axe Apollo’s global competition to blast 24 adventurous fans into outer space is heating up as countries around the world choose their best would-be astronauts to go through to the final selection stage. From more than 650,000 fans from 65 countries who signed up to Axe’s global Space Academy, only 114 will secure a spot in the week-long Space Camp in Florida in the US in December.

Here, participants will experience zero gravity, find out what G force feels like as they train in a centrifuge and try their hand at co-piloting a jet plane, among other things. The successful 24 will then be blasted more than 100km above the surface of the earth on a Lynx sub-orbital shuttle – run by international space agency SXC – in 2014. (11/26)

SpaceX Satellite Launch Delayed Until At Least Thursday (Source: The Verge)
SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to take off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport this evening, attempting to place a communications satellite into orbit, 22,000 miles above the equator. SpaceX missed its launch window for the day, calling a hold as the countdown timer reached just under 4 minutes. SpaceX says that its team will prepare for another launch attempt as soon as this Thursday at 5:38PM ET. (11/25)

Lunar Lion Pays Launch Reservation Fee (Source: Penn State)
The Lunar Lion, a moon lander designed and built by the Penn State Lunar Lion team, the only university-led team in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, will be sent into space as part of a multiple spacecraft effort coordinated by a new player in the space industry, Team Phoenicia LLC, of Menlo Park, Calif. The Lunar Lion team's fully refundable launch reservation fee has been paid to Phoenicia. (11/25)

Russia's Progress M-21M Cargo Ship Launches To Space Station (Source: America Space)
Russia has successfully launched its 53rd Progress resupply craft toward the International Space Station (ISS), carrying 5,285 pounds (2,398 kg) of payload and consumables to the Expedition 38 crew. Liftoff of Progress M-21M—also known as “Progress 53P” in ISS Program-speak—from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan took place on time at 2:53 a.m. local time Tuesday, 26 November (3:53 p.m. EST Monday).

At the time of writing, the spacecraft had successfully separated from the third stage of the rocket and was beginning a two-day flight profile to rendezvous with the ISS. It will evaluate the new Kurs-NA (“Course”) navigation system before retreating to a distance of about 250 miles (400 km), then re-rendezvousing with the space station, and finally docking at the aft longitudinal port of the Zvezda module late Friday evening. (11/25)

To Explore Is to Live, Is to Remain Human (Source: America Space)
I wanted to write about new astrophysics and planetary science discoveries. But with recent news about the possible cancellation of some of the missions that provide those discoveries in the first place, it may well be that there won’t be many future discoveries to report about.

It’s no secret that we’re currently going through the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Greece in particular, where I live, has been hit harder than almost any other country, due to chronic problems of mismanagement and decades of dead-end policies that magnified the recession’s effects out of proportion. Click here. (11/25) 

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