December 9, 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Urges to Speed Up Vostochny Spaceport Construction (Source: Itar-Tass)
The construction of the Vostochny (Eastern) cosmodrome should be accelerated, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. “The time limits that we have been failing to comply with, they should be returned to the new schedules of work... These schedules should be rearranged in such a way as to give the rocket and space industry the time and spatial resource to prepare the first successful launch of the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket,” Rogozin said.

Head of Russia’s Federal Special Construction Agency (Spetsstoy) Alexander Volos said previously that the construction work lag of three months had been mostly made up for, and now the gad is only 10 days. On November 27, it was announce at a conference in Uglegorsk that the launching site of the Vostochny cosmodrome would be ready for the installation of special equipment in September 2014.

The main buildings and facilities to be used for spacecraft launches will be ready to receive the special equipment in February. The railways will be commissioned in August 2015. The construction workers’ quarters of the Vostochny cosmodrome by late 2015 will have 17 houses with 1,482 apartments, children’s and adult polyclinics and a first aid station. (12/9)

MIT’s Lincoln Lab Helps Speed Space Communication (Source: Boston Globe)
Building a broadband connection to outer space requires something entirely sci-fi: a laser beam that can hit the moon. Researchers from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington recently tested just such a contraption. They fired a laser from a NASA base station in White Sands, N.M., at a lunar satellite about the size of a small car some 240,000 miles from Earth and nailed it with a stream of data.

Beyond demonstrating impressive marksmanship, the test did something even more extraordinary: It sent data back to Earth at the fastest transfer speed ever recorded for deep-space communication, six times the rate of the best technology and quicker than the fastest Internet connection that most people on the planet can buy. (12/9)

NASA Finds Lake on Mars (Source: Washington Post)
NASA’s Curiosity rover has made another major discovery on Mars, this time evidence of a “fresh water” lake with such little salinity and neutral-enough acidity that it theoretically could have supported life. The lake existed 3.6 billion years ago, and lasted for a few thousand years. While scientists have long held that Mars was once a wetter planet, prior breakthroughs found evidence of water that was far too acidic.  

“If we put microbes from Earth and put them in this lake on Mars, would they survive? Would they survive and thrive? And the answer is yes,” said John Grotzinger, the chief scientist of the Curiosity rover mission. (12/9)

International Space Station Set to Turn 15 (Source: Florida Today)
Everyone wanted to know: Who would be the first person to enter the new International Space Station? Bob Cabana, commander of the shuttle mission responsible for linking the station’s first pieces together, wouldn’t tell the press or even his own crew. The answer came on Dec. 10, 1998 — 15 years ago Tuesday — when hatches to the U.S. Unity node and Russian-built Zarya module swung open for the first time in space.

Side by side, Cabana and cosmonaut crewmate Sergei Krikalev floated through. NASA and its 15 international partners are celebrating the station’s birth 15 years ago this month, and its growth into a research complex weighing over a million pounds and stretching longer than an American football field. (12/9)

SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell Wins Florida's 2013 Bumper Award (Source: FSDC)
Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, has been named the 2013 winner of the Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) Bumper Award. Named after the first rocket launched from Florida (on July 24, 1950), the Bumper Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have had the greatest positive impact on Florida's space industry, or Floridians who have had the greatest impact nationally.

"Under Gwynne Shotwell's leadership, SpaceX has become a force for positive change at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, disrupting the status quo for NASA, Air Force, and the commercial launch industry," said FSDC President Laura Seward. "SpaceX's growing manifest and its push for new launch sites has also challenged Florida's state and local governments to more aggressively support the space industry."

"SpaceX's successful commercial satellite launch last week positions the company to significantly improve Florida's position in the global launch industry," said Space Coast Senator Thad Altman, chairman of the Senate's Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security. "This would not have been possible without the team of engineers and technicians assembled and led by Ms. Shotwell." (12/9)

The New Space Race: It's Not Just the U.S. and Russia Anymore (Source: LA Times)
Some 10 years ago, during testimony before Congress, I was asked by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), "Do you think we are in a space race with China?" I quickly answered "no" and proceeded to explain that, in my view, the concept of a space race represented old thinking. The modern way forward in space would be through international cooperation and coordination.

Today, I think my insistence that the space race was over was naive. There are now many space races. One is taking place between China and India, dramatized by India's launch of a Mars orbiter last month and China's launch this month of a lunar lander and rover. China also attempted a Mars orbiter last year, and India has already conducted a successful moon orbiter mission.

Japan is moving forward with lunar and asteroid missions, including one that will attempt to bring a second asteroid sample back to Earth next year. Europe, meanwhile, is planning a mission to rendezvous with a comet next year and two Mars missions this decade. Russia is tripling its space budget and has lunar and Mars missions lined up for this decade. (12/9)

Rogozin: City Around Vostochny Cosmodrome Should be Big Educational Center (Source: Itar-Tass)
The city, which is being constructed around the Vostochny cosmodrome, should become a major educational center, said Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “We should open here a branch of a Russian leading university to train specialists for the national space sector, for example, a branch of the Moscow Aviation Institute,” he said.

“Here we are facing all the future of the rocket-space industry, here is the Pacific Ocean. Here Russia should demonstrate its ambitions, and we should do everything to motivate young specialists come here.” By 2015, there will be 17 houses for 1,482 flats, hospitals for children and adults, an ambulance station. The city will occupy the area of 1.050 hectares and will be named after Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. (12/9)

Orbital Sciences Explores Outer Space for Dollars (Source: Washington Post)
Space travel isn’t limited to the dreams of entrepreneurs looking to explore new worlds after making their billions of dollars on terra firma. David W. Thompson, 58, has made space travel his life’s work. He runs Orbital Sciences, a profitable space exploration company in Dulles. It employs 3,600 people, half of whom are rocket scientists. About 2,000 of Orbital’s employees work in the Washington area. Most of the others are at Orbital’s rocket factory in Arizona.

Orbital has designed and built nearly 1,000 rockets and satellites in the past three decades, sending aloft commercial and science gear and military spy gizmos. The company launches its rockets from all major U.S. spaceports, including Wallops Island, a remote stretch off Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The company touches Americans more than they know.

Editor's Note: This isn't a jab at Orbital, but it's about time the media (and NASA) stopped referring to any suborbital, LEO and GEO space operations as 'space exploration.' (12/9)

Rocket Crafters Seeks to Correct Recent Articles (Source: SPACErePORT)
An article printed last week in the Miami Herald, and a subsequent piece in NewSpace Journal, painted an inaccurate picture of Rocket Crafters according to company officials. The articles suggested that Rocket Crafters has abandoned plans for developing a new reusable spaceplane, possibly to focus instead on rocket engine development. A retraction/clarification is being sought to set the record straight.

Rocket Crafters says they continue to design their Sidereus spaceplane to carry an upper-stage and small payload to low Earth orbit. And they have not abandoned plans for a suborbital passenger and cargo craft. The company also plans to pursue DARPA's competition to develop a new XS-1 spaceplane. And while the company currently has only two Florida-based employees, it is interviewing for several engineering positions and anticipates substantial job growth with its current seven-year projection. (12/9)

Brazil’s CBERS-3 Spacecraft Lost Following Chinese Failure (Source:
A Chinese Long March 4B launched the CBERS-3 satellite at 03:26 UTC on Monday from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.  However, despite initial news of a launch success, the Chinese media are now claiming the launch vehicle suffered a problem during ascent, failed to insert the satellite into its required orbit, leading to the satellite being classed as lost and potentially re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. (12/9)

It's Not Bragging If You Do It (Source: Space Review)
China's successful launch of its Chang'e-3 lunar lander mission do more for the country than the science alone the spacecraft will perform. Dwayne Day examines the potential "soft power" benefits of the mission, and its limitations as well. Visit to view the article. (12/9)

Blue Origin Takes Another Small Step Towards Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
Blue Origin, the commercial space company funded by Jeff Bezos, has developed a reputation as a secretive company, but even it sometimes wants to share its progress. Jeff Foust reports on the company's announcement of a engine development milestone and what it means for its suborbital and orbital vehicle plans. Visit to view the article. (12/9)

How to Form the Lunar Development Corporation to Implement the Moon Treaty (Source: Space Review)
The issue of property rights in space remains a major obstacle to commercial development on the Moon and beyond. Vid Beldavs proposes a solution that could promote commercial lunar activities while working within the framework of an existing, and controversial, treaty. Visit to view the article. (12/9)

23 Axe Apollo Fans with the Right Stuff Win Free Space Trips (Source:
Twenty-three people are now the proud recipients of free trips to space and back again. For the past week, more than 100 participants from over 60 countries around the world have taken part in mental aptitude tests, combat training in a fighter jet and zero-gravity flights to distinguish themselves as the most worthy of one for one of the coveted tickets to space with Space Expedition Corporation under a project by the makers of Axe Apollo body spray.

SXC manages trips aboard the reusable XCOR Aerospace Lynx spacecraft, a commercial space plane that is expected to begin flying customers in 2014 or 2015. After a yearlong competition, and one week of astronaut training, the lucky winners of the 23 tickets were announced here at the AXE Apollo Space Academy Thursday (Dec. 5) in the rocket garden at the Kennedy Space Center. A ticket on the Lynx usually costs $95,000.

Two women and 20 more men from 21 different countries — including Canada, South Africa, Thailand and China — also won tickets to fly aboard Lynx. Four women competed in the space academy alongside 105 men.The complete list of winners will be released soon, Axe Apollo Space Academy officials said. (12/8)

Is China About to Scoop the Google Lunar XPRIZE? (Source: Discovery)
A $30 million Google-backed competition to land a spacecraft on the moon may be about to be scooped. China’s Chang’e 3 probe successfully put itself into lunar orbit on Friday in preparation for an attempted touchdown around Dec. 14. China won’t be winning the prize money, which is reserved for privately funded, previously enrolled teams, not government agencies.

The contest, which was unveiled in 2007, was open to teams worldwide and at one time did include a group from China, but they dropped out, said Alexandra Hall, program director with the X Prize Foundation, which is running the competition. wenty million dollars is in the offing for the first X Prize team that successfully lands a robotic spacecraft on the moon, travels at least 500 meters above, below or on the lunar surface and transits two broadcasts back to Earth before Dec. 31, 2015. (12/9)

Bolivia Unveils Ground Control Station for Chinese-Made Satellite (Source: Space Daily
La Paz, Bolivia Beijing (XNA) Dec 08, 2013 - Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated on Monday the first ground control station built to operate and receive data from Chinese-built Tupac Katari satellite. "I am very pleased with the progress" made in this area, Morales said at the opening of the facility in El Alto, Amachuma, some 35 km west of the capital. (12/8)

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