February 24, 2014

Rocket Science on a Shoestring (Source: Space Review)
NewSpace is often aligned in the minds of many with major companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Yet, as James Careless describes, there is plenty of action among much smaller ventures, where people have to learn to creative with small teams and smaller budgets. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2460/1 to view the article. (2/24)

Shining Light on Dark Matter (Source: Space Review)
Roughly a quarter of the universe is made of matter whose gravitational effects can be felt, but which can't easily be seen. Jeff Foust reports on efforts in space and underground to try and detect the hypothesized particles believed to comprise dark matter. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2459/1 to view the article. (2/24)

Elon's Elan (Source: Space Review)
Like Robert Heinlein's Delos Harriman, the man in "The Man Who Sold the Moon", watching humanity's progress into space can seem like a narrative primarily about one man. Sam Dinkin tracks Elon Musk's progress this year toward settling Mars. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2458/1 to view the article. (2/24)

Orbital Debris: Resource Ladder to the Stars (Source: Space Review)
The growing population of orbital debris poses hazards to the satellites that modern society relies upon. However, Al Anzaldua argues that efforts to clean up orbital debris can also develop technologies needed for expanding our economy and our presence into the solar system. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2457/1 to view the article. (2/24)

Moon Shots Stuck on Earth (Source: Nature)
The Google Lunar X Prize is dangling new carrots in front of the 18 private teams that are trying to put a lander on the Moon by the end of 2015. On Feb. 19, the prize organization announced that five teams — two US groups, one Indian, one German and one Japanese — will compete for $6 million in ‘milestone prizes’. To win the cash, prototype landers will have to demonstrate by Sep. 2014 that they can soft-land on the Moon, move more than 500 meters once there and beam back video from the surface.

The tests will be taking place on Earth. And that is where many think that the landers will remain two years from now. Although the milestone prizes offer further financial encouragement — and catnip for the media — the goal of reaching the Moon still seems very far away. Some team members and outside observers have doubts that the $20-million main prize, which aims to stimulate the private market for getting to the Moon, will be won at all. Click here. (2/24)

Japanese Company Proposes Lunar Solar Power Cells to Send Energy to Earth (Source: Spac Industry News)
Harnessing the sun’s power is nothing new on Earth, but if a Japanese company has it’s way it will build a solar strip across the 11,000 mile Lunar equator that could supply our world with clean and unlimited solar energy for generations. The Shimizu Corporation has set it’s sights high, 238,900 miles to be exact. Their plan is to build a sustainable source of renewable energy on the Moon’s surface. Click here. (2/23)

Can Quiet, Efficient 'Space Elevators' Really Work? (Source: Space.com)
Is it time to push the "up" button on the space elevator? A space elevator consisting of an Earth-anchored tether that extends 62,000 miles into space could eventually provide routine, safe, inexpensive and quiet access to orbit, some researchers say. A new assessment of the concept has been pulled together titled "Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward." Click here. (2/19)

Satellites Help Spot Whales (Source: Space Newsfeed)
Using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, alongside image processing software, they were able to automatically detect and count whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes in Argentina. The new method, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, could revolutionise how whale population size is estimated. Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient. Click here. (2/12)

Lunar Ownership Laws: a Future Necessity? (Source: Space Daily)
Private settlements and raw materials extraction enterprises could appear on the Moon in the future, thus leading to territorial disputes between their owners. In order to avoid that one must now register the property rights to the land plots on the Moon and other space objects and set up special preservation zones, US entrepreneur Robert Bigelow believes. Click here. (2/20)

Mars Flyby Mission Urged for Orion and SLS (Source: NASA Watch)
Mike Griffin's self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" is being reunited. In addition to having Scott Pace and Doug Cooke testify, another Band of Brothers alumnus Chris Shank (House Science Committee staff) is organizing this whole event including the questions to be asked. Although Cooke is representing himself, he has been a consultant to Dennis TIto's Inspiration Mars. Inspiration Mars has been looking at a 2021 trip to Mars now that the chances of mounting a 2017 trip have proved to be unfeasible.

The central concept is that NASA will pay for the mission using an SLS flight and the more powerful upper stage for SLS. Where the money for such a mission would come from remains elusive. Given that SLS has no funding for payloads, will not launch at the once-a-year rate that NASA says is critical, and has a per-launch cost that is simply imaginary, the task of trying to figure out what this will cost is compounded. Nothing short of a significant boost of the agency's overall budget - for a long period of time - would make such a Mars flyby possible.

As such there is an air of deja vu and unreality to this topic - as cool and inspirational as it might well be. NASA has no clear cut ling-term plan. And when they try to implement one, Congress just turns it on its head and funds what they want - at that particular moment in time. So here we are: yet another unrealistic plan for NASA. But when has reality ever been a factor in discussions about big NASA projects? Editor's Note: Unrelated graphic here. (2/24)

Virgin Galatic's Branson Says He Can't Afford Deaths (Source: Daily Mail)
NASA's death rate for astronauts is 3%, says Virgin Galactic owner Sir Richard Branson, but that won't work for his private space tourism business. "For a private company you can't really lose anybody," says Branson, who hopes to launch is first flight this fall. (2/22)

Death on Mars: Would You Take a One-Way Trip Into Space? (Source: New Statesman)
“I want to die on Mars,” said Elon Musk last year. “Just not on impact.” The 42-year-old was not being flippant; he plans to use the $9bn he acquired through business ventures such as PayPal to leave earth’s orbit for ever. He believes it is the only way for the human race to guard against the fragility of life on a single planet, at the mercy of a supervolcano, asteroid strike or nuclear war.

Around the world, an unlikely alliance of tech billionaires, state agencies and private contractors is increasingly confident that, within 20 to 30 years, human beings will once again be striking out further than anyone has gone before. The next big prize in the space race is the second-smallest planet in the solar system, a barren desert buffeted by 100mph winds, covered in the fine iron oxide dust that gives it its distinctive colour – Mars, the Red Planet. Click here. (2/24)

Impact: Moon! (Source: Slate)
The flash was pretty big, getting about as bright as Polaris, the North Star. If you had been looking at the Moon at the time, you would have seen it yourself! It occurred on the Moon’s unlit area, near the dark area called Mare Nubium. A similar impact happened in March 2013 and was also captured on video, but wasn’t nearly as energetic as this one. Click here. (2/24)

Sea Launch AG Announces Departure of President (Source: Sea Launch)
Sea Launch AG today announced the resignation of its President, Kjell Karlsen effective February 28, 2014, to pursue other opportunities outside space industry.  After his departure, the Company’s senior executive team will carry out Mr. Karlsen’s former duties and responsibilities.  Mr. Karlsen has been with Sea Launch since 1999, serving as the President since 2008 and member of its Board of Directors since 2010.

Editor's Note: Russia's getting aggressive with its space planning. They seem ready to nationalize Sea Launch after forcing Ukraine's Zenit rocket builder Yuzhnoye into a subservient role. They have forced out the head of Baikonur, punished criminally those responsible for recent launch failures, and want to accelerate the development of Vostochny.(2/24)

Olympics Over, Russia Focuses on Vostochny Spaceport Development (Source: Voice of Russia)
The construction of the Vostochny space center becomes the top priority for the country after the Olympic construction has been completed and emphasis should be placed on this site now, Russia's Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin said after visiting the facility in the Amur Region.

Rogozin considers it necessary to increase several-fold the number of workers engaged in the construction of the cosmodrome Vostochny (Eastern). He said this herer on Monday during an inspection of the spaceport which is under construction in Amur Region. "Independent experts maintain that the number of workers at the cosmodrome Vostochny must be multiplied up to 15,000, at least," he pointed out. (2/24)

Russia Wants Tsiolkovsky Town to Accommodate Space Industry Intellectuals (Source: Voice of Russia)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has ordered builders to strictly comply with the schedule in the construction of the Vostochny spaceport in the Amur region. "You should think about the construction of not only the launch sites but also of the new town, Tsiolkovsky," he told contractors at a conference dedicated to the Vostochny project.

"Vostochny is a point of growth for the entire Russian Far East, a breath of fresh air for the Far Eastern region. Vostochny will not just provide for the space independence of Russia; the new town will accommodate space industry intellectuals," Rogozin said. He ordered the builders "to display iron discipline in their compliance with the schedule." (2/24)

First Space Launch From Vostochny Due in Dec 2015 (Source: Voice of Russia)
Manned space missions will begin from the Vostochny spaceport in 2018, and Angara will be the launch vehicle, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. "The maiden launch of the Soyuz-2 LV from the Vostochny spaceport will be done in December 2015, and the manned Angara mission from the second launch site in 2018," Rogozin wrote. (2/24)

China's Crippled Lunar Rover Starts Two-Week-Long Snooze (Source: NBC News)
China's crippled lunar rover has started its third sleep cycle on the moon, stuck in place due to an mechanical problem. A photo from the solar-powered Yutu rover, showing a portion of the Chang'e 3 lunar lander, was passed along on social-media accounts on Saturday just as it was being shut down for the two-week-long lunar night. Xinhua's Twitter account reported that Yutu's mechanical problems remained unresolved. The caption accompanying the posting on the rover's unofficial Weibo account was simpler: "zZZ."

Experimental Launch of India's GLSV Mark III in May or June (Source: DNA)
The Indian Space Research Organization would carry out an experimental launch of GSLV Mark III in May end or June beginning, its Chairman K Radhakrishnan said. The national space agency is also set to send its next satellite IRNSS-1B on board rocket PSLV C24 from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in the last week of March or in the first week of April, he told reporters. (2/24)

Remote Satellite Repair Service Tested at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Wearing life-support suits to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals, a Kennedy Space Center team this month helped NASA advance technologies that could be used to service satellites in space. Crews stood ready to respond to any leaks while a robot arm at KSC — steered by a controller 800 miles away in Maryland — attached a tool to a valve and pumped toxic oxidizer into a simulated spacecraft’s tank. (2/24)

NASA Preparing Follow-on Commercial Cargo Delivery Contract (Source: Space News)
NASA is preparing to take bids on a second round of cargo deliveries to the international space station in a follow-up to the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX are now flying for the agency. NASA announced the plan in a request for information released late Feb. 22. Responses from industry are due March 21. The document, which NASA posted online did not say when the agency would solicit bids, or when it would make an award for the CRS 2 contract. (2/24)

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