December 1, 2013

Moon Express Enables Private U.S. Collaboration on China Moon Mission (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Moon Express, a U.S. commercial lunar enterprise, is enabling scientific collaboration between the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and China’s Chang’e-3 Moon mission successfully launched today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, southwest China.

The U.S. private sector collaboration on Chang’e-3 is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between ILOA and the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) on September 4, 2012 in Hawaii, and a MOU signed between ILOA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on August 13, 2013, in Beijing. (12/1)

UK Resident Thinks Meteorite May Have Hit House (Source: BBC)
Lawrence Parkin from Jacksdale, Nottinghamshire said he was woken in the night by a tile falling from his roof. In the morning he found large chunks of rock scattered around his front garden. Experts at Nottingham University said he had possibly been hit by the remains of an iron rich meteorite. The pieces are now being sent to a London museum for further verification. (12/1)

Long March Rocket Blasts Off with Chinese Lunar Rover (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A six-wheeled robotic rover named Yutu rode a Long March rocket into space Sunday on China's first lunar landing mission, marking a successful start to a four-day journey to the moon. The Yutu rover, mounted on a stationary rocket-powered landing platform, will touch down on the moon Dec. 14. If it makes it, the Chinese mission will be the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the moon since 1976. (12/1)

Europe Helps China to the Moon (Source: Space Daily)
Shortly after China's Chang'e-3 spacecraft departed Earth to land on the Moon, ESA's network of tracking stations swung into action, providing crucial support for the vessel's five-day lunar cruise. Immediately after liftoff, ESA's station in Kourou, French Guiana, started receiving signals from the mission and uploading commands on behalf of the Chinese control center. The tracking will run daily throughout the voyage to the Moon. Then, during descent and after landing, ESA's deep-space stations will pinpoint the craft's path and touchdown. (12/1)

Brazil Confirms Satellite Deal After US Spying Outcry (Source: Space Daily)
Brazil's state-owned telecom provider Telebras signed a $560 million contract to deliver a satellite for secure communications on Thursday, following months of outrage over revelations of US cyber-spying. A statement said a joint venture between Telebras and Embraer would deliver the geostationary satellite for strategic communications by late 2016. Embraer said the satellite would ensure Brazil's "sovereignty over strategic communications in both the civilian and military areas." (11/28)

High Throughput Satellites Expanding into New Markets (Source: Space Daily)
According to Euroconsult's new research report on High Throughput Satellites, 33 High Throughput Satellite (HTS) systems will be launched between 2014 and 2016, a record high compared to the total 31 HTS systems that were launched over the last decade. The growing popularity of HTS systems will bring the total cumulative investment to over $12 billion. (11/29)

3D Printing in Space: the Next Big Business? (Source: Al Jazeera)
Aaron Kemmer holds in his hand a block of 3D printed moon dirt that he hopes will one day be the building blocks of mega structures and human habitats in space. He’s the CEO of Made in Space, a company that has developed a 3D printer that will launch to the International Space Station in 2014. “One day there will be moon bases. There will be habitats on Mars. There will be large spacecraft.”  

Kemmer and his partners at Made in Space are a new breed in Silicon Valley: space entrepreneurs. They've partnered with NASA to launch their microgravity 3D printer – and hope that it will soon begin 3D printing parts for the International Space Station. “They've got over a billion dollars’ worth of spare parts being ordered right now to go on the ISS,” says Kemmer. “And 90 percent of those parts won’t even be used. They just have to be there, in case… so a 3D printer on the ISS – it’s going to be game changing.” (11/28)

SpaceX's TEA-TEB Glitch (Source: Waco Tribune)
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has tweeted that the problem that halted Thursday's launch attempt was with the system that lights the Falcon 9's nine Merlin 1D first-stage engines using a chemical mixture called TEA-TEB. "[I]t was like they expected 180 proof TEA-TEB but only got 100 proof. The fire in the engines was monitored and was less than the launch computer expected, so it shut the engines down rather than proceeding to full thrust," according to Ben Brockert. (11/30)

ESA Celebrates 30 Years of Manned Spaceflight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
While the early space shuttle era is looked back upon with wistful nostalgia, many tend to overlook the significant contributions the European Space Agency (ESA) made during this era (1981 to 1986). This week, the ESA celebrates its legendary first collaboration with NASA: The launch of Spacelab-1 and first ESA astronaut, Germany’s Ulf Merbold, 30 years ago on Nov. 28, 1983. (12/1)

Dream of a Winged Spacecraft Won't Die (Source: National Geographic)
Space planes—winged aircraft that can leave the clouds behind and ascend into orbit—darted through the dreams of the Space Age's visionaries. A piloted trip to the heavens, and a comfy airport runway landing on return, seemed inevitable and desirable in the Age of Moon Landings and the "Right Stuff." And while the 2011 retirement of NASA's space shuttle, which glided to runway landings, seemed to dim prospects for space planes, the vehicles have recently reappeared in U.S. government plans and in proposals from private space firms. Click here. (11/30)

Copycat Russian Android Prepares For Spacewalk (Source: New Scientist)
This robot is looking pretty pleased with itself – and wouldn't you be, if you were off to the International Space Station? Prototype cosmobot SAR-401, with its human-like torso, is designed to service the outside of the ISS by mimicking the arm and finger movements of a human puppet-master indoors.

SAR-1 joins a growing zoo of robots in space. NASA already has its own Robonaut on board the ISS to carry out routine maintenance tasks. It was recently joined by a small, cute Japanese robot, Kirobo, but neither of the station's droids are designed for outside use. Until SAR-401 launches, the station's external Dextre and Canadarm2 rule the orbital roost. They were commemorated on Canadian banknotes this year – and they don't even have faces. (11/29)

Indian Probe Exits Earth Orbit, Begins Journey to Mars (Source: BBC)
India's mission to Mars has embarked on its 300-day journey to the Red Planet. Early on Sunday the spacecraft fired its main engine for more than 20 minutes, giving it the correct velocity to leave Earth's orbit. It will now cruise for 680m km (422m miles), setting up an encounter with its target on 24 September 2014. (11/30)

Countdown to the Galactic Census (Source: UK Space Agency)
On 19 December 2013, Europe’s billion-star surveyor is due to be launched into space where it will embark on its mission to create a highly accurate 3D map of our galaxy. By repeatedly observing a billion stars, with its billion-pixel video camera, the Gaia mission will allow astronomers to determine the origin and evolution of our galaxy whilst also testing gravity, mapping our inner solar system, and uncovering tens of thousands of previously unseen objects, including asteroids in our solar system, planets around nearby stars, and supernovae in other galaxies. (11/26)

SpaceX Targets Monday Evening for Falcon-9 Launch (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX is targeting Monday for a third attempt to launch the SES-8 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the company said. "Rocket engines are healthy, but cleaning turbopump gas generators will take another day," CEO Elon Musk tweeted. "Aiming for Mon eve launch." The launch window Monday would open at 5:41 p.m. EST, and there's a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions. (11/30)

NASA, CASIS Work to Resolve Space Station IP Rights Issue (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA and CASIS officials are working to resolve an intellectual property rights issue that threatens to limit the amount of commercial research conducted aboard the International Space Station. Officials are working on legislation to provide intellectual property protections for both small and large businesses conducting research aboard ISS. (11/30)

Search for Habitable Planets Should Be More Conservative (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists should take the conservative approach when searching for habitable zones where life-sustaining planets might exist, according to James Kasting, including when building Terrestrial Planet Finders. That conservative approach means looking for planets that have liquid water and solid or liquid surfaces, as opposed to gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. The habitable zone in a solar system is the area where liquid water, and by extension life, could exist.

Defining the habitable zone is key to the search for life sustaining planets in part because the idea of a habitable zone is used in designing the space-based telescopes that scientists would use to find planets where metabolism -- and potentially life -- life might exist. (11/27)

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