January 20, 2014

Achieving Cheap Access to Space: the Foundation of Commercialization (Source: Space Review)
Many people agree that low-cost space access is important to the future of spaceflight, but there's no consensus about how to achieve it. In the first of a two-part excerpt from a new book, Charles Miller looks back to the early history of aviation for lessons that can be applied to spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2438/1 to view the article. (1/20)

A Blurred Vision, But a Persistent Goal (Source: Space Review)
As many in the space community celebrated the final 2014 NASA budget last week, they overlooked a very different milestone: the tenth anniversary of the presidential speech announcing the Vision for Space Exploration. Jeff Foust looks back on than anniversary and how some are carrying on a goal that survived the Vision's demise: sending humans to Mars. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2437/1 to view the article. (1/20)

Launch Failures: Normal, Healthy Paranoia (Source: Space Review)
To outsiders, those involved with launch campaigns can appeared obsessed with details to the point of paranoia. Wayne Eleazer discusses how this is a normal and even healthy attitude to take, given the hard lessons companies have learned over the years. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2436/1 to view the article. (1/20)

Robot Spaceship Wakes Up to Harpoon Comet (Source: Russia Today)
A 10-year space hunt is set to reach its climax as the spaceship Rosetta has been woken up Monday from a two and a half year slumber to harpoon a passing comet. The European Space Agency has caught the signal coming from 807,000,000 km from Earth. The encounter, between ESA’s robot craft and the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, could yield vital clues about the beginning of our solar system and the origin of life on Earth through analysis of the comet’s composition.

At 17:30 GMT Monday, the Rosetta spacecraft was reactivated from hibernation mode. Some 45 minutes later, a signal was registered by the Canberra control center in Australia and NASA's Goldstone center in California. The spacecraft had been “sleeping” because its course had taken it too far away from the Sun to use its solar panels. Now the Rosetta will track the comet in the Sun’s orbit. After monitoring the comet’s surface, it will hook the comet with harpoons and travel with it for a year – to learn its secrets and send them back to Earth. (1/20)

Mars Or Bust: Putting Humans On The Red Planet (Source: NPR)
Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. It would certainly involve massive resources and a lot of danger, but some believe the rewards would be massive. Click here. (1/19)

Officials Hope 2014 is a Comeback Year for Proton (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
With a backlog of 14 missions worth more than $1 billion, International Launch Services has up to a half-dozen commercial Proton rocket missions planned this year as the U.S.-based firm fills its manifest for 2015. Counting commercial and government flights, the Russian Proton launcher has up to 12 missions scheduled for 2014, according to Karen Monaghan, an ILS spokesperson. (1/19)

Giant Laser Could Arrange Particles Into Enormous Space Telescope (Source: Ars Technica)
Sometimes scientists present stuff that just seems to hit a trifecta of awesomeness. In these cases, after I have finished giggling uncontrollably and making the guy next to me nervous, I start thinking about how I might describe it to others. Without further ado, let me present the trifecta of awesomeness: a seemingly ridiculous idea, one that works in a bizarre manner that has little to do with the justification given by the scientists, and—to really make matters special—it involves lasers in space.

I think you will agree that the idea of making a giant telescope mirror by using a giant laser to control tiny beads in space has a degree of ridiculousness exceeding all safety limits. Even if the experimental results turned out to be highly subjective and slightly dodgy, there was no way that I could let this pass. Click here. (1/19)

Mining the Moon May Be 'Pie in the Sky' (Source: ABC Science)
China's Moon rover will survey for minerals on a dusty, barren crater named the Bay of Rainbows, but experts say any 'pot of gold' may prove too costly to recover. The potential to extract the Moon's resources has been touted as a key reason behind China's space program. The Earth's natural satellite is believed to hold uranium, titanium, and other mineral resources, as well as offering the possibility of solar power generation.

The Yutu Rover is analysing minerals while crawling across an ancient 400 kilometre-wide plain known in Latin as Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows. It is equipped with belly-mounted ground-penetrating radar, which observers say will be used to detect the minable quality of the Moon's crust. Nonetheless the cost of such exploitation would be phenomenal. China has already poured tens of billions of dollars into its space program. Click here. (1/16)

Working Together to Build Tomorrow's STEM Workforce (Source: Space Daily)
On January 13, NASA and the U.S. Department of Education marked the successful completion of a pilot program designed to engage more students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Attendees at the half-day event, held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, included senior officials from both agencies as well as invited guests.

The group reviewed the pilot activity and associated evaluation approach, identified best practices, and discussed potential follow-on efforts. The highlight of the event was the presentation of successful student entries from the design competition. In July 2013, the two agencies signed a Space Act Agreement to launch the collaborative pilot education initiative, which began in the fall. It infused NASA content into the Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Click here. (1/20)

Google Lunar X Prize Team Launches Crowdfunding Push (Source: Space News)
Pennsylvania State University is launching a crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub Jan. 20 to raise $400,000 for its effort to send a robotic spacecraft to the Moon. The Penn State Lunar Lion Team, the only university-led team competing for the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize, was inspired to adopt the crowdfunding approach by the success of recent space-related initiatives on RocketHub, Kickstarter and similar websites.

The crowdfunding approach also is designed to encourage public participation. “We want this to be a mission done by the university but one that allows people around the world to participate and to be a part of this project,” said Michael Paul, Penn State’s director of space system initiatives.

The Lunar Lion Team has raised approximately $2.5 million of the $60 million the team estimates it will take to meet the requirements of the Google Lunar X Prize, which promises $20 million to the first team that succeeds by the end of 2015 in landing a robotic vehicle on the Moon, traveling 500 meters over the lunar surface and transmitting high-definition video to Earth. (1/20)

Space Law: Legal Principles, International Relations and Political Priorities (Source: Space Trade)
With mankind on the cusp of commercialising space, Space Trade took a look at what this means from a legal perspective by talking to Professor Sa’id Mosteshar from the London Institute of Space Policy and Law. Under current international law, companies are prohibited from taking materials from space and using them for profit, but Professor Mosteshar still believes that it is possible to make commercial gains from space activity.

Much of what is restrictive is enshrined in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which aimed to ensure that no one country was excluded from access to outer space. However, this Treaty is now causing problems for private companies as it could make commercial activity extremely difficult or even impossible. Click here. (1/19)

Launch Indemnification Extension in Omnibus Spending Bill (Source: Space Politics)
While most of the space-related discussion about the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014 passed by Congress this week focused on the relatively favorable spending levels for NASA in the bill, the legislation also included another benefit for the commercial launch industry.

The legislative vehicle used for the omnibus spending package was HR 3547, a bill originally introduced in the House in November to extend the third-party liability indemnification regime for commercial launches by one year. The Senate amended that bill last month to instead provide a three-year extension, which was left in the final bill (with the appropriations package added) passed by both houses this week.

Industry organizations embraced the three-year extension in the bill. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation praised the extension as a measure that helps the US commercial launch industry remain competitive against foreign providers. CSF chairman Stu Witt noted the commercial launch earlier this month of a communication satellite for a Thai company, Thaicom, by SpaceX. “The foreign satellite launch was won in a competitive market that includes overseas launch companies, many of which enjoy more robust third-party liability.” (1/19)

The Next Sixteen Months in Space for Canada (Source: Commercial Space Blog)
According to the January 3rd, 2014 CBC news post by Quirks and Quarks host Bob McDonald titled "Space will be a hive of activity in 2014," the next year will see many advances as "new robots reach Mars, another robot touches a comet, a new capsule to transport humans makes its first flight and private enterprise continues to lead the way in leaving the planet." Click here. (1/18)

U.S. and Chinese Academies Create Forum for Interchanges (Source: Space Policy Online)
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will hold two meetings in 2014 as part of the first CAS-NAS Forum for New Leaders in Space Science. The first will be in Beijing from May 8-9 and the second from November 3-4 in the Los Angeles area. The forum "is designed to provide opportunities for a highly select group of young space scientists from China and the United States to discuss their research activities in an intimate and collegial environment."

The SSB is part of the National Research Council, which along with the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine comprise The National Academies. SSB's counterpart for the forum is the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the CAS. Participants in the two meetings will be selected from applicants who had to meet a number of criteria, including being no more than 40 years old on December 31, 2014.  The application period is closed. Selections will be made by the end of February. (1/19)

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