December 29, 2013

Launches, Test Flights Mmake for Busy 2014 Along Space Coast (Source: News13)
Next year is going to be a busy one in space. More than a dozen launches are planned from Cape Canaveral, including flight tests, as NASA and commercial companies work to return people to space from American soil. Click here. (12/28)

6 Biggest Space Science Discoveries of 2013 (Source:
The year 2013 saw a wealth of discoveries, insights, and milestones that advanced the fields of astronomy and other space sciences. From extrasolar planets to extraterrestrial neutrinos, these finds have made sure that 2013 has been an unforgettable year. Click here. (12/28)

It's Decision Time for NASA Space Science (Source: Seguin Gazette)
2014 will be a major decision year for NASA’s role in the US space program. Because this topic will be addressed in this and the next column, it’s necessary that I disclose my past work for and with NASA. After my homemade ozone instruments found an error in NASA’s ozone satellite in 1992, the Goddard Space Flight Center asked me to give a talk on “Doing Earth Science on a Shoestring Budget.”

When the satellite failed in 1995, they sent me on a three-week campaign to monitor the ozone layer during the burning season in Brazil. In 1996 NASA sent me to seven forest fires in western States to repeat the Brazil measurements. In 1997 NASA sent my instruments and me to an especially smoky site in a remote corner of Brazil. Click here. (12/29) 

2014 Promises Tourism, Up-Close Look at a Comet (Source: Alamogordo News)
The first space tourists blast off from Spaceport America, Mars gets two new satellites while the moon welcomes a new rover. And mankind makes its first soft -- very soft -- landing on a comet during 2014. This Week in Space History normally highlights an anniversary in our exploration of space. Today, we look at events in 2014 that will become future anniversaries, starting with a current anniversary. Click here. (12/29)

Why an Asteroid Mission Can Wait and the Moon Can't (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
It’s like something out of a science fiction novel.  A spaceship approaches an asteroid, unfurls a gigantic umbrella, snares the giant tumbling rock, and hauls it away. No, this isn’t the opening of Arthur C. Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey, in which “comet cowboys” snare Kuiper Belt Objects to tow to Venus to help with the Terraforming project.  It’s NASA’s real-life plan to capture a near-Earth asteroid and haul it to Earth.

January 8, 2010 is a date that lives in infamy for many space aficionados—it was the day President Obama canceled the Constellation Program, the ambitious “Apollo on Steroids” mission to return humans to the Moon by 2020 and establish a base.  Seven years along, $9 billion out of the taxpayers’ wallets, and poof!, the program evaporated in a single, unannounced political move that raised the ire of scientists, engineers, astronauts, and ordinary citizens across the country. Click here. (12/29)

Top Exoplanet Finds of 2013 (Source: Science News)
With the addition this year of 180 new worlds to the Paris Observatory’s list of confirmed exoplanets, there are now more than 1,000 known planets orbiting stars other than the sun. Here are some of the year’s most notable finds. Click here. (12/28)

Space 2013: Another Great Year of Cosmic Adventure (Source: KQED)
Let’s take a moment to tally a few of 2013′s highlights of astronomy and space exploration. In brief, it was a very good year on a number of fronts. Curious about Mars? Then it’s been a good year for you, 2013 being yet another year in a long unbroken succession where Mars still stands out as one of the most intriguing places to explore. Click here. (12/27)

Space Trips Open to Chinese Travelers (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese travelers will be able to take space trips by the end of 2014 thanks to an agreement signed on Friday in Beijing between a Chinese travel agency and Netherlands-based space tourism firm Space Expedition Corporation (SXC).

Travelers will pay a minimum of 580,000 yuan (about 95,000 U.S.dollars) to board the Lynx Mark I spacecraft produced by the U.S. private aerospace company XCOR, said Zhang Yong, chief executive officer of Dexo Travel, a Chinese travel agency focusing on high-end travelers. Participants will receive one week of physical training at Royal Dutch Airlines or Air France before their space trip, said Zhang. (12/28)

After Series of Delays, Russia Launches New Soyuz Rocket (Source: RIA Novosti)
A new Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on Saturday after numerous delays earlier this week, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ministry said the launch took place at 16:30 Moscow time (12:30 GMT). The rocket put into designated orbit a small research satellite built by students and young scientists.

The new rocket, dubbed the Soyuz-2.1v, is to feature a completely reworked first stage powered by a NK-33 (14D15) rocket engine built by the NK Engines Company in the Russian city of Samara. The rocket lacks the characteristic four boosters that Soyuz and its ancestors have had since the R-7 missile that launched Sputnik in 1957. (12/28)

Beidou to Cover World by 2020 with 30 Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
China is planning to expand its homegrown Beidou navigation system by 2020 and make it accurate to within centimeters. Currently the system can reach an error margin as low as 5 meters in trials and can be further improved to within centimeters to compete with the dominant US Global Positioning System, officials said yesterday.

The navigation system has been providing accurate and stable services to Asia-Pacific users since China launched it a year ago and other countries in Asia are welcome to use it, Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, told a press conference in Beijing. The Chinese system has 16 satellites serving the Asia-Pacific so far and the number is expected to grow to 30 by 2020. (12/28)

U.S. Can Still Beat China Back to Moon (Source: USA Today)
In one scenario, NASA could provide the manned Orion deep space craft which would be launched with the heavy-lift rocket, Space Launch System, while the private sector could provide lunar landing vehicles and the habitats that would comprise a lunar base. The lunar base would be established and owned by a commercial enterprise and NASA would be a core customer leasing space.

The Bigelow plan also calls for establishing a regime respecting private property rights on the moon, necessary if any commercial entity plans to start mining operations and other money making enterprises. This would likely require some kind of international agreement on the scale of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that prohibited claims of sovereignty on other worlds.

Editor's Note: That's fine if the 'race' is won with plans for a sustained presence. But if the goal is simply to 'beat' another nation to the moon, it seems like a huge waste of money...especially if all we get is dusty boots, bragging rights, and a depleted budget. (12/29)

India Plans GSLV Launch on January 5 (Source: Live Mint)
Decks were cleared for the 5 January launch of India’s rejuvenated indigenous cryogenic engine- fitted GSLV-D5 carrying communication satellite GSAT-14 from the spaceport of Sriharikota with Isro’s Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) giving its nod for the key mission on Friday. A 29-hour countdown for the launch is set to commence on 4 January next, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sources said. (12/29)

50 Stunning Photos That Made Us Appreciate Space in 2013 (Source: The Roosevelts)
Click here to see a stunning collection of space photos from 2013. (12/28)

Curious Results from Mars (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's Curiosity rover touched down on Mars with dramatic style in August, 2012. Now that the rover has spent more than a year exploring the martian surface, scientific data from the mission is starting to make its way into journals and popular news here on Earth. Astrobiology Magazine recently spoke with some of the researchers behind a series of recent Science articles in order to better understand how these findings relate to the study of life's potential on ancient Mars. Click here. (12/27)

The Asteroid That Could Be The First We Keep For A Pet (source: Forbes)
NASA’s 2014 budget includes $100 million to get going on a long-term project to capture a smallish asteroid using a kind of robotic space lasso and bring it into orbit around earth where it can be probed and visited by astronauts and researchers. A rocky guy known as NEO 2009BD, which might look like a much smaller version of Asteroid Tempel 1, could be an ideal candidate for humanity’s first pet space rock.

The current plan for NASA’s “Asteroid Robotic Retrieval Mission” calls for a candidate asteroid of seven to ten meters in diameter, and it looks like 2009BD could fit the bill, according to information provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

However, researchers still need to gather more information on the rock, as its exact size, density and composition are still uncertain. 2009BD is the smallest object ever reported on using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is typically used for spotting much larger objects. (12/27)

Bolivia's Telecom Satellite Fixes Position in Orbit (Source: Xinhua)
Bolivia's China-made communications satellite has fixed its position in geostationary orbit at 87.2 degrees west longitude, according to the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) on Friday. The right to observe and control the satellite was transferred to Bolivia at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, according to the CGWIC. China sent the satellite into orbit with its Long March-3B carrier rocket from the southwest Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 21. (12/27)

UKSA to Move Ahead with Plan to Cap Third-Party Liability Limit (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In an effort to make the United Kingdom more competitive in space, the UK government is moving forward with a plan to cap third-party liability for spacecraft operators at €60 million ($99 million) for the majority of space missions. Under the Outer Space Act of 1986, operators must purchase at least €60 million ($99 million) of third-party liability insurance for a satellite’s launch and orbital operational phases in most cases.

However, they must indemnify the UK government for an unlimited amount of damages above the insurance limit. Commercial operators have long argued that the requirement has put the UK space industry at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world. In the United States, for example, the government picks up a significant amount of third-party liability above a company’s limit. (12/27)

Stretch Or Splat? How A Black Hole Kills You Matters ... A Lot (Source: NPR)
It could rightly be called the most massive debate of the year: Physicists are locked in an argument over what happens if you fall into a black hole. On one side are those who support the traditional view from Albert Einstein. On the other, backers of a radical new theory that preserves the very core of modern physics by destroying space itself.

Regardless of who's right, the new take on black holes could lead to a better understanding of the universe, says Leonard Susskind, a physicist at Stanford University. "This is the kind of thing where progress comes from." "Our hypothesis is that the inside of a black hole — it may not be there," says physicist Joe Polchinski. This "no inside" idea may sound outrageous, but it's actually a stab at solving an even bigger problem with black holes. Click here. (12/27)

No comments: