December 15, 2013

NASA and ATK Complete Avionics and Control Testing for SLS Booster (Source: America Space)
Development of NASA’s next generation heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is well underway, and earlier this week Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announced the successful completion of two key avionics tests for the solid rocket boosters (SRB’s) which will help NASA to launch astronauts again off American soil on missions beyond low-Earth orbit within the next decade.

The tests – known as hot fires – put the new, advanced avionics system through simulated SLS launch sequences (both in preflight checks and in an ascent profile) by verifying communication between ground and flight systems, starting motor ignition and moving the thrust vector control (TVC) system. (12/15)

China Opens Space Teleoperation Center (Source: Xinhua)
China's first center designed for teleoperation, or operation from a distance, of deep space missions was formally opened at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) following its successful trial use on the country's first moon rover early on Sunday.

The moon rover Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separated from the lander at 4:35 a.m. on Sunday, several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface. The successful separation and soft-landing marked the formal operation of the center, where technicians can fully control and monitor the working conditions of the rover and lander. (12/15)

Editorial: State Should Back Off County Spaceport Fund (Source: Albuquerque Jourrnal)
Many politicians are vegetable lovers of sorts because they just can’t resist the cabbage. Whenever they see the green stuff they hunger for it. So it is not surprising that some state lawmakers have begun to cast a voracious eye on the money Dona Ana County and Sierra County have been raising through a voter-approved local gross receipts tax to support Spaceport America and some local schools’ STEM programs.

Some legislators now are proposing that the state begin offsetting the local spaceport tax money that goes to schools, which essentially would mean the state would send less money to Doña Ana-and Sierra-area schools through the “equalization” formula that distributes taxes to pay for education.

When the state set up financing for the spaceport, local support through a sales tax was an important part. It is wrong now to punish those counties that stepped up to the plate in an effort to boost both their regional economies and the relevant education their children are receiving by taking away that money. In space jargon, this idea is a no-go. (12/15)

Mining in the Moon is Pie in the Sky, Say Experts (Source: Channel NewsAsia)
China's moon rover will survey for minerals on a dusty, barren crater named the Bay of Rainbows, but experts say there may be no pot of gold on the Earth's natural satellite. The potential to extract the moon's resources has been touted as a key reason behind China's space program, which made its latest breakthrough on Saturday with the landing of its first lunar rover.

Luan Enjie, a senior adviser to China's lunar program, told state media that the ultimate aim was to use the moon as a "springboard" for deep space exploration. Commentators believe doing so would require a base on the lunar surface. The Earth's natural satellite is also believed to hold uranium, titanium, and other mineral resources, as well as offering the possibility of solar power generation.

Even the seemingly far-fetched prospect of using the moon as a military facility from which missiles could be launched against "hostile military targets on earth" was raised by the Beijing Times newspaper, citing "relevant experts" at a state body. Nonetheless the cost of such exploitation would be phenomenal. China has already poured tens of billions of dollars into its space program. (12/15)

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