January 27, 2014

Commercial Crew's Critical Year (Source: Space Review)
NASA's commercial crew program is facing an important year in 2014, as it selects one or more companies for the next phase of development. Jeff Foust reports on the budgetary pressures the program is facing and one company's redoubled efforts to remain a part of the program. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2443/1 to view the article. (1/27)

Achieving Cheap Access to Space: the Foundation of Commercialization (Source: Space Review)
In the concluding section of his book excerpt, Charles Miller discusses how competition and public private partnerships, key to early aviation a century ago, can help the US achieve cheap access to space. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2442/1 to view the article. (1/27)

A Look at the Legal/Political Implications of Japan's Space Debris Removal Plans (Source: Space Review)
Japan is planning to demonstrate in orbit in the coming weeks an electromagnetic tether that could be used to help remove space debris. Michael Listner examines some of the legal and political issues associated with that effort that could pose challenges as great as any technical ones. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2441/1 to view the article. (1/27)

Celebrating Space (Source: Space Review)
This week is a somber one for many in the space community, given the confluence of the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia anniversaries. Ken Murphy describes how the rest the the year offers more upbeat opportunities to commemorate and celebrate spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2440/1 to view the article. (1/27)

China Reports Problem With Its Lunar Rover (Source: New York Times)
China’s lunar rover has developed a problem that may prevent it from further exploration of the surface of the moon, Xinhua, the state-run news service, said. The rover, known as Jade Rabbit, was part of the unmanned Chang’e-3 mission launched Dec. 1. The spacecraft successfully landed after a journey of nearly two weeks, and the Jade Rabbit emerged a day later and rolled onto the moon’s surface. It displayed a Chinese flag and took a photo of the Chang’e lander.

In its 42 days on the moon, the Jade Rabbit, which is named for a character from Chinese mythology who accompanies the moon goddess Chang’e, traveled more than 100 meters, or 330 feet, on the moon’s surface, Xinhua said. The problem with the rover appeared as it and the lander were preparing for the arriving lunar night, a period of about two weeks during which the probes go dormant because of a lack of sunlight to power their solar generators.

Before the mechanical control problem, the rover had been able to use its radar, panoramic camera, particle X-ray device and infrared imaging equipment to gather data, Xinhua reported. The rover had an anticipated life span of three months, but the harshness of the lunar environment means that malfunctions are frequent, said Sun Kwok, an astronomer at the University of Hong Kong who is not involved in the Chang’e mission. (1/27)

Japan to Monitor Space Debris (Source: Japan News)
The government will build a new system to monitor space debris by combining high-performance radar designed for defense and the space observation technology of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) starting this spring.

JAXA will work with the Cabinet Office, Defense Ministry and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry on a project to prevent space debris, which includes satellites no longer in use, from damaging satellites in operation or wreaking havoc on the ground. It will be the first time for Defense Ministry facilities and operations to be used for JAXA’s space observation. (1/26)

Aging ISS a Space Lab of 'Unlimited' Opportunity (Source: AFP)
It may be 350 kilometers (215 miles) above Earth and a place that only a privileged few will ever visit, but the International Space Station is crucial to advances in science, health and technology, experts say. Earlier this month, NASA said the life of the $100 billion ISS would be extended by four years, or until at least 2024, allowing for more global research and scientific collaboration.

John Holdren, a senior White House adviser on science and technology, hailed the space station -- mainly built with US money -- as "a unique facility that offers enormous scientific and societal benefits. "The Obama administration's decision to extend its life until at least 2024 will allow us to maximize its potential, deliver critical benefits to our nation and the world and maintain American leadership in space," he said. (1/27)

Atlas and Delta Have Packed Slate of Launches in 2014 (Source: Spaceflight Now)
It's one completed, 14 flights to go this year for United Launch Alliance and its fleet of Atlas and Delta rocket families. "This year we have a very busy manifest in 2014," said Vern Thorp, ULA's manager of NASA missions. Next up is the Delta 4 rocket and its Global Positioning System 2F-5 navigation satellite for the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 20 from the Cape. That booster is on the pad awaiting attachment of the spacecraft for the evening time liftoff.

The year's first space launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California comes on April 3 with the flight of an Atlas 5 carrying the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program weather observatory for the Air Force. The return of the Delta 2 rocket, the medium-class workhorse for a quarter-century, comes after a two-year hiatus. The Vandenberg launch will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory for NASA on July 1. (1/27)

Extreme Power of Black Hole Revealed (Source: Space Daily)
Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and a suite of other telescopes to reveal one of the most powerful black holes known. The black hole has created enormous structures in the hot gas surrounding it and prevented trillions of stars from forming. Click here. (1/27)

Baikonur Cosmodrome Still Most Operational in the World (Source: Space Daily)
The Baikonur Cosmodrome has again confirmed its title of the most operational space launch center in the world. Last year 23 rocket carriers were launched from the launch pads of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is the first and the largest space center in the world. The U.S. Cape Canaveral Spaceport comes second.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome was built in Kazakhstan in the Soviet era times its headquarters was set up there in 1955. It is exactly the place, where the "space era" started. The first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth and the first cosmonaut - Yuri Gagarin - were launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

It is the largest cosmodrome in the world whose territory stretches for more than 6,700 square meters. Over the past years it has repeatedly confirmed its status of a cosmodrome that is being used most often and most actively, Academician Alexander Zheleznyakov from the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.E. Tsiolkovsky says. (1/27)

NASA Suborbital Rocket to Catch Aurora in the Act (Source: Space Daily)
On Jan. 24, 2014, Marilia Samara will be waiting for the perfect aurora. Samara and her science team will be at the Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska, looking for classic curls in the aurora in the night sky - curls that look like cream swirling in a cup of coffee. When they spot the appropriate conditions, the team will launch a sounding rocket for a 10-minute flight right into the heart of the aurora.

Samara is the principal investigator for the NASA-funded Ground-to-Rocket Electron-Electrodynamics Correlative Experiment, or GREECE, mission, which seeks to understand what combination of events sets up these auroral curls as they're called, in the charged, heated gas - or plasma - where aurora form. This is a piece of information, which in turn, helps paint a picture of the sun-Earth connection and how energy and particles from the sun interact with Earth's own magnetic system, the magnetosphere. (1/27)

Ecuadoran Satellite Starts Transmitting (Source: Space Daily)
A nanosatellite Ecuador launched began transmitting Saturday, and picked up a signal from another that had been lost, the Ecuadoran Civilian Space Agency said. Krysaor "has started operating on schedule," the agency said, referring to the tiny traveler measuring just 10 by 10 centimeters (3.9 inches). It measures 75 centimeters when unfolded.

Weighing in at just 1.2 kilograms (2.65 pounds), the $160,000 orbiter was launched from Russia last year and is due to broadcast in near-real time for local educational uses. Ecuador launched a similar satellite, Pegaso, in April. It ceased to be heard from in September after hitting remains of a Russian launcher. But authorities said they also had recovered the signal from Pegaso after Krysaor began transmitting. (1/26)

Cosmonauts to Re-Install Canadian Cameras on ISS Exterior (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky are to re-install photographic and video cameras made by the Canadian UrtheCast Company on the service module Zvezda (star) of the Internatonal Space Station (ISS) on Monday. The high-resolution cameras, which are to take pictures of the Eart from the outer surface of the ISS and the manufacture of which had taken three years, were brought to orbit by the Russian resupply spacecraft in Nov. 2013.

During the spacewalk on December 27, last year, Kotov and Ryazansky secured them on a special platform on the hull of the module Zvezda and attached the wires. However, the FCC was not able to receive telemetric data from the cameras. The cosmonauts had to dismantle them and bring them back to the Station. Specialists managed to establish that the lack of signal was caused by malfunction in one of the ISS cables. (1/27)

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