January 12, 2014

No One Owns the Moon Says Scientist (Source: The Telegraph)
No one legally owns the moon but there is a case for developing the law as space exploration continues, a planetary science professor says. Under current UN law, member states are "prohibited from appropriating the moon." But Ian Crawford, professor of planetary science at Birkbeck College, said there was now a case for developing the treaty to include private companies that may want to exploit it for its minerals. Click here. (1/10)

China, US Move Toward Cooperation in Space (Source: South China Morning Post)
China -- which until now has worked alone as it pursues an ambitious space program -- seems more open to international co-operation, especially with the United States, European and American experts say. “There is a change in the Chinese attitude, with a call for cooperation in space. And Americans aren’t reticent -- on the contrary,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, head of the French space agency CNES.

Le Gall spoke Thursday as he left a meeting in Washington of high-level envoys from 30 space-faring nations discussing ways to pool efforts to explore the stars. The conference continued Friday with space agency chiefs. The space race started as an intense Cold War competition between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
But with budgets shrinking, the U.S. is relying more on private companies and looking to keep costs down with multinational collaborations -- and other countries that are emerging as future major players in space. The participants at the conference, which included Brazil, China, India, Japan and Russia, “showed a strong desire for coming together” in space exploration activities, Le Gall said, noting that the Chinese showed up in force, with a large delegation. “The big question for the next three years is whether China will join the International Space Station,” he said. (1/12)

Cygnus Arrives at International Space Station (Source: FOX News)
Christmas has finally arrived for the six space station astronauts. A privately launched supply ship reached the International Space Station on Sunday morning, three days after blasting off from Virginia. The space station crew used a hefty robot arm to capture the Cygnus capsule as the two craft zoomed side by side at 17,500 mph. (1/12)

NASA Warns of 'Potentially Hazardous' Asteroid (Source: Russia Today)
A new, “potentially hazardous” asteroid has been discovered by one of NASA’s recently reactivated spacecraft – and it’s headed in Earth’s direction. The new asteroid, called 2013 YP139, was spotted by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), and marks the spacecraft’s first discovery since being resurrected last year. NASA estimates any asteroid with a diameter greater than 0.5 miles could create worldwide consequences upon impact. (1/11)

Iran to Launch 3 New Satellites into Space (Source: FARS)
Tehran is preparing to orbit three new home-made satellites in the future, Iranian Vice-President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari announced on Saturday. “God willing, Tadbir, Sharif Sat and Fajr satellites are all in the final stages (of preparation) and ready to be launched,” Shariatmadari said. He declined to specify a date for the satellites launch, saying that they will be launched in due time after passing the technical tests.

Also in December, a senior Iran's Space Agency (ISA) official said that Tehran would orbit two new home-made satellites by the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2014). Early in September, Presidential Advisor and the ISA Chief Akbar Torkan said that the first satellite to be launched in the new government is called Tadbir." Earlier this year, Fazeli announced that the country would send 6 new home-made satellites, mostly made by Iranian universities, to the space in the current Iranian year. (1/12)

Will Commercial Space Travel Blast Off in 2014? (Source: Space.com)
Bags packed. Ticket in hand. Reserved seating and your rocket ship waits. The longed-for dawn of private manned space travel appears near at hand. Virgin Galactic's suborbital SpaceShipTwo, for example, aced its third supersonic test flight on Friday (Jan. 10), and company officials say they remain on track to begin commercial service later this year.

But as Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in physics, once said: "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." SPACE.com surveyed a number of commercial space travel experts, asking them what developments we should expect in the field this year — including whether or not large numbers of paying customers will indeed make it to the final frontier in 2014. Click here. (1/12)

Delving Into SpaceX Files: Cameron County Acquisitions Detailed (Source: Valley Morning Star)
The proposed site of a facility for SpaceX, where the world’s first privately-owned commercial rocket-launching complex would be located, consists of 87 acres in four tracts along state Highway 4 at Boca Chica Boulevard. The California-based firm has leased slightly more than half the land, according to the FAA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, and additionally owns about a quarter of the tracts on the site, as shown in public deed records providing information about property ownership in the area.

Cameron County owns a minor portion of the land on the proposed site. Texas’ U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Friday told the Valley Morning Star, “SpaceX and other aerospace entrepreneurs play an important role in our nation’s space exploration efforts. “This facility will spur instruction and training in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields and encourage younger Texans to become involved in developing the next generation of space technologies.” Click here. (1/12)

Embry-Riddle Plans Astronomy/Astrophysics Degree (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach Campus plans to introduce a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics this August, following the lead of the university’s other residential campus, in Prescott, Ariz., which launched an undergraduate astronomy degree in 2013.
Dr. Richard Heist, chief academic officer at the Daytona Beach Campus, says the astronomy and astrophysics degree represents a fresh new direction. “The astronomy minor has been popular for years and we’ve seen strong student desire for an astronomy and astrophysics major, so this is the right time to begin expanding our science offerings while maintaining our long-time dominance in engineering and technology.” (1/10)
ESA Skinsuit Developed for Spaceflight Health (Source: ESA)
The Space Medicine Office of ESA’s European Astronaut Center is managing a project that could help astronauts overcome back problems in space, simply by wearing a high-tech tight-fitting ‘skinsuit’. Astronauts have been known to grow by up to 7 cm as their spines lengthen in weightlessness. Many astronauts suffer from backache during their missions as a result. Back on Earth they need to take care as they exercise their bodies into shape, because after the mission an astronaut has four times more chance of suffering a slipped disc than usual.

The Skinsuit is a tailor-made overall with a bi-directional weave specially designed to counteract the lack of gravity by squeezing the body from the shoulders to the feet with a similar force to that felt on Earth. Current prototypes are made of spandex although new materials are being examined. (1/10)

Black Hole's 'Big Meal' Could Spark Fireworks (Source: BBC)
Astronomers are getting ready for their best ever glimpse of the mysterious black hole at the heart of our galaxy. "Fireworks" will flare if it gobbles up a giant gas cloud which is drifting perilously close. A collision is now likely in spring, according to scientists. Stargazers will be able to see the climax on a new public monitoring website. "This could be our black hole's biggest meal in hundreds of years," said Leo Meyer, of the University of California. "It might bring spectacular fireworks - and we want everybody to watch." (1/10)

Wallops Island: A Hub for Spaceflight in Virginia (Source: WTKR)
More and more people are coming to Wallops Island these days to experience space travel up close and personal.
“They played an important part in getting the space program going, and since, they have launched thousands of sounding rockets,” said Zig Leszczynski, deputy executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA). The organization owns and operates launch pads at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island.

Since the 1940s, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has played a big role in space research. “There’s a culture of innovation, a culture of experimentation and it really gels well with what we’re trying to do,” said Leszczysnski. He says that while the shuttle program is no longer around, interest in space hasn’t gone anywhere.  In fact, launches, like the Antares rocket Thursday, is making this area a hub for space flight. The Eastern Shore’s location also gives it an edge over places like Florida. (1/10)

SpaceX May Pick Texas Over Controversial Merritt Island Launch Site (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In the long-running battle between spaceships and scrub-jays, the birds appear to be gaining the upper wing. For more than a year, the state has led a controversial effort to build a launchpad inside the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where the Florida scrub-jay lives with at least 15 other species that federal authorities consider threatened or endangered.

Environmentalists have fought the proposal for months, and now there are signs that the company the state was trying to lure — SpaceX of California — may go to Texas instead. A federal review of the competing Texas site is near completion, and local media outlets have reported that SpaceX already has bought land in the area, though company officials did not confirm those transactions or respond to repeated requests seeking comment.

Though Florida officials admit that the state is an underdog in the fight, they contend that Spaceport Shiloh, named for an abandoned citrus town in the Cape Canaveral area, is worth fighting for — and not just for SpaceX. "We are going ahead with Shiloh with or without SpaceX," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, a booster group for the aerospace industry. As an alternate, Space Florida has looked at Washington-based Blue Origin, which has expressed an interest in launching its vehicles from Florida. (1/10)

Help SpaceX Keep Rocketing Florida's Economy (Source: Sun-Sentinel)
You might have overlooked it amid the holiday distractions and other recent events, but a twilight rocket launch at Cape Canaveral last month — and a second pre-dawn launch on Monday — were a beacon of hope for a U.S. industry and Florida's economy. In December, California-based SpaceX successfully blasted a commercial communications satellite into orbit more than 22,000 miles above the equator. It was the first launch of its kind for SpaceX, and the first from the Cape in four years.

The United States used to own the multibillion-dollar global market for commercial space launches, but it has lost the business to Europe, Russia and China. Brazil and India are now emerging as new competitors. Florida's chances of prevailing on private launches could depend on whether it builds a new, commercial pad that won't be under the thumb of NASA or the Air Force. State officials have set their sights on a 150-acre parcel north of Kennedy Space Center in the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

SpaceX and at least two other companies have expressed interest. The FAA has begun an environmental impact study on the site, a process that will take months to complete. Both federal and state officials will need to work hand-in-hand with citizens' groups to make sure that any environmental damage can be eliminated or at least mitigated. The stakes for Florida's economy are sky high. (1/10)

India to Launch Second Mission to Moon by 2017 (Source: Xinhua)
India plans to launch its second mission to moon by 2017 in the wake of the success of its maiden lunar mission. "Chandrayaan-II is a mission where we essentially need to move on (lunar) surface to conduct experiments. We will launch Chandrayaan-II with an indigenous rover and lander using GSLV by 2016 or 2017," Indian Space Secretary K. Radhakrishnan said. (1/11)

Official: China's Space Policy Open to World (Source: China Daily)
Xu Dazhe, the new chief of China's space industry, is seeking more international cooperation in Washington less than a month after his country's first successful soft landing on the moon. Xu said China's space policy has always been very open. "We are willing to cooperate with all the countries in the world, including the United States and developing countries," he said on Thursday on the sidelines of the International Space Exploration Forum held at the US State Department.

A space scientist by training, Xu was promoted less than three weeks ago to head the China National Space Administration. Previously, he led China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. Xu said that his attending the meeting shortly after taking the new job was meant to send a signal to all his counterparts worldwide that China is willing to strengthen its cooperation with other nations. (1/11)

Chile Plans National Space Program (Source: Telecom Paper)
The president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, is planning to announce the country's first space programme before his term ends on 11 March, reports La Segunda. The Department of Telecommunications (Subtel) has already conducted a public consultation, focusing on sectors already using satellite telecommunications, such as mining, agriculture, forestry, urban planning and management of water resources.

In addition, the regulator formed a working group to design a draft 2013-2020 National Space Policy, including the development of the country's own satellite. Moreover, alternatives will be discussed to cover telecommunications needs in order to gradually reduce the digital divide in isolated areas. (1/9)

Check Out SpaceShipTwo's In-Flight Entertainment (Source: NBC)
These scenes may look like computer-generated spaceship shots for a summer sci-fi movie — but they're totally real photos taken during Friday's test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. And yes, to get some way-cool video, too. Check out the photos taken while SpaceShipTwo zoomed over California's Mojave Desert — then watch the clip from NBC Nightly News. Click here. (1/10)

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