November 30, 2013

The Real-Life Space Cadets: Abbie, Marc and Maria (Source: EuroNews)
Meet the space cadets, three young engineers with enviable jobs that are quite literally out of this world. This edition of Space focuses on three professionals who’ve turned their dreams of working in space into real down-to- Earth careers. Click here. (11/21)

Iranian Woman's Dreams About Space Travel in Danish Documentary (Source: Tehran Times)
Danish filmmaker Berit Madsen has directed a documentary about Sepideh Hushyar, a young Iranian woman who dares to plan for her future as an astronaut. The documentary entitled Sepideh (Break of Dawn) was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) on Monday. It was filmed by Iranian cameraman Mohammadreza Jahanpanah. Click here. (11/29)

Cassini or Curiosity: Budget Cuts Could Force NASA to Make A Tough Choice (Source: KQED)
If you had to make a choice to shut down either the Mars rover Curiosity or that explorer of the Saturn system Cassini, how would you choose? Would you deliver a pink slip to the young, eager, energetic newbie, Curiosity, who’s been doing a great job and has only begun its work investigating Mars? Or would you force an early retirement on a veteran explorer who has delivered volumes of knowledge of Saturn and its moons in its nine year career?

A hard choice to say the least, especially for two such exciting and high-profile exploration missions, but a decision that could be necessary due to budget cuts at NASA. It’s nothing new. Choosing to end a mission earlier than planned has been part of the space exploration budget calculus for a long time. Even the greatest space adventure epic of all time, the Apollo missions to the moon, were curtailed earlier than planned when public interest dipped below a critical cost-benefit analysis threshold.

Not every robotic employee of NASA faces layoff or early retirement, however. In mid 1990s when I worked at Ames Research Center, I was walking down a hall looking for someone’s office when I passed by an open door and decided to poke my head in. In what appeared to be a rather large computer lab was a single occupant: a man probably in his mid-to-late seventies sitting before a computer quietly doing his work. “What do you do in here?” I asked. “I,” the man said with a mixture of pride and wistfulness, “am the last employee on the Pioneer mission.” Click here. (11/29)

Last Phase of Progress M-21M Docking with ISS Controlled Manually (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia’s cargo spacecraft Progress M-21M has docked with the international space station ISS with the use of the new automatic approach control system Kurs-NA. However, when Progress was just meters away from the station, the crew had to take over and complete the maneuver manually, according to Mission Control.

“The approach was run automatically all the way, but when the cargo spacecraft and the ISS were just tens of meters away from each other, practically before the moment of contact, ISS commander Oleg Kotov took over,” a Mission Control spokesman said without explaining why the docking had to be completed manually. A reliable source has said “an error in the Kurs-NA system must have been the reason.” (11/30)

Comet ISON May Have Survived Encounter with Sun (Source: Washington Post)
Comet ISON is down, but may not be out. As the comet nose-dived through sun’s atmosphere Thanksgiving Day, it disappeared for a time, leaving some to assume ISON was history. But later, imagery revealed at least parts of the comet made it through the searing voyage. (11/30)

Brazil Orders Civil-Military Telecommunications Satellite (Source: Space News)
Brazil’s national telecommunications provider, Telebras, on Nov. 28 finalized a contract with Visiona Space Technology to provide a civil-military satellite communications system and lay the groundwork to assure Brazil’s future satellite autonomy.

The Geostationary and Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite (SGDC) will also signal Brazil’s entry into the high-throughput satellite market as it will carry 50 Ka-band transponders with an aggregate 80 gigabits per second of throughput capacity. Brazil’s Ministry of Communications will use this payload to extend Internet access throughput the country. (11/29)

Russia Plans to Launch 11 Military Satellites By 2015 (Source: RIA Novosti)
President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia will launch a total of 11 military satellites by 2015. Speaking at a meeting on the development of the Russian satellite fleet, Putin said five military satellites have already joined Russia’s orbital group in 2013 and that five more will be added to it before the year is out. Next year, Russia will launch another six satellites in line with the state arms procurement program, he said. Putin did not specify the type of satellites or whether they would include dual-purpose Glonass navigation satellites. (11/29)

In the Footsteps of the US: Why Next Man on Moon Will be Chinese (Source: Independent)
A Chinese Long March rocket is scheduled to blast off to the Moon on Sunday evening carrying a small robotic rover that will touch down on to the lunar surface in about two weeks’ time – the first soft landing on the Earth’s only natural satellite since 1976. This marks the latest stage in China’s grand ambitions not just to put a man on Moon by the end of the next decade, but to build a permanent lunar base from which it can plan missions to Mars and beyond.

When China announced its lunar exploration programme in 2004 it made no secret of the fact that it wanted to follow in America’s footsteps, quite literally, but putting a man on the Moon. But even more ambitious than this, China said that the third and final phase of the program will include the establishment of a moon base. (11/29)

No comments: