February 4, 2014

Georgia Spaceport Update (Source: Georgia Space Society)
Camden County Administrator Steve Howard told the board that, after much dialogue, the property owners of the proposed spaceport site off Interstate 95 Exit 7 finalized a confidentiality agreement this week. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which costs $745,000, was approved by the board of commissioners and includes many steps with private companies, the FAA and a private EIS consultant assigned to Camden’s officials.

Howard said the next step will be face-to-face meetings with the property owners and state officials. He also said that after the EIS is close to completion, starting a website on the project would help put the 4,000-acre site on the radar of space officials. Howard reminded the board and the audience that the spaceport project is nowhere near to being a done deal, seeing as how the EIS component of teh project can take about 24 months and other negotiations and legalities could stretch progress out even further. (2/3)

Committee Votes To Bar Spending Of Spaceport America Tax On Operations (Source: KRWG)
A Senate panel has endorsed a bill that would prohibit the fledging Spaceport America from using hundreds of thousands of dollars in local taxes to fund its operations. The Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee on Monday backed the bill by Sen. Lee Cotter that would bar spaceport from using excess money from a gross receipts tax collected in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to help pay off bond debt. (2/4)

A Space Race in the Developing World (Source: The International)
If India’s vessel, called Mangalyaan, successfully reaches Mars, it will be the fourth space program to achieve this feat, behind the Soviet Space Program, the U.S. Space Program (NASA), and the European Space Agency. Despite the relatively low cost of the Mars Orbiter Mission, the project has received some criticism from factions in India that believe the mission is a waste of government funds. These critics also contend that India should instead allocate to providing more resources for its common citizens.

Politicians from across parties have voiced support of the mission, claiming that this advancement in science innovation will strengthen India’s position in the world. The Mars mission also seems to be the next step in India’s ongoing space race with China, although politicians are careful not to explicitly state as such. China launched a mission to Mars in 2011, which failed after the loss of an interplanetary probe.

With countries like Nigeria also launching their own space programs, India has competition from all sides of the developing world if it wants to be a leader in science and technology innovation. However, Dr.Radhakrishnan denies China’s failed mission as being any motivation for India to decide to go to Mars, saying, “Each country has their own priorities, their own vision for the space program. India has its vision, China has its vision, we are pursuing our vision." (2/4)

Space Tourism Travel for 6 Chinese a Reality Before 2015 (Source: Want China Times)
Two of the six seats being designated by Netherlands-based Space Expedition Corporation for Chinese space tourists have been purchased by businessmen. They will join approximately 100 people in an orbit scheduled before the end of they year, according to Hong Kong newspaper Wenweipo and state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The flight aboard the Lynx Mark I will enter the atmosphere at around 103km above the Earth within three minutes and undergo 20 minutes of weightless travel during the one-hour space journey. The six seats were allocated to China after the the space travel firm signed an agreement with Chinese high-end travel agency Dexo Travel in Dec. 2013. The minimum cost of the journey is US$95,000. (2/4)

Space Station will Soon Contain the Coldest Spot in the Known Universe (Source: Geek.com)
Space has a reputation for being cold — frigid even, but the tremendous chill of deep space is nothing compared to what NASA is preparing to create very near to Earth. Researchers are planning to generate a super-cold spot on the International Space Station (ISS) to study the intricacies of quantum mechanics. How cold? It’s going to be the coldest spot in the known universe. Click here. (2/3)

Embry-Riddle Reaches for the Stars with $1M Telescope (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Monday installed a $1 million telescope at its Daytona Beach campus, which gives the school bragging rights as home to Florida's largest university research telescope. Officials hope the 16-foot-tall, 2-ton device will draw more students to the campus and to an astronomy major it plans to start offering later this year.

Embry-Riddle is among the colleges across the state and nation that have expanded astronomy programs as interest has grown in recent years. Embry-Riddle student Tyler Parsotan, who was among those watching a crane lift the parts of the telescope into a new observatory Monday, said he can't wait to get his hands on the new equipment. "I am absolutely ecstatic — I have never had any type of opportunity like this before," said Parsotan, a junior majoring in space physics.

Terry Oswalt, chairman of Embry-Riddle's department of physical sciences, said students and the public will be able to see the surface of Mars, dozens of moons around Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. They can look into the Milky Way as well as the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, which is 25,000 light years away, and the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away. (2/3)

Musk: Being at Putin's Mercy "Not a Good Thing" (Source: CBS)
SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk says that the U.S. must regain its ability to launch humans into space in order to effectively further its space exploration prospects. Currently, the U.S. must buy rides to space from the Russians on the Soyuz, to which Musk says, "Being at the mercy of Putin is not a good thing." Click here. (2/3)

An Argument for Increased NASA Funding (Source: Friendswood Journal)
It is estimated that for every dollar invested into NASA, the public reaped at least 8 dollars back in technological advances, medical breakthroughs and other fields that have created jobs, improved lives and increased the standard of living not just for Texans but the entire nation The science and economy of the 21st century is built on 55 years of NASA research and development. But what of the next 50 years? What of the next century?

If you crunch the numbers, you will find that 2012 is the 2nd lowest year of NASA funding by percentage of the US budget since 1958 and 1959, their founding years. When looked at in a constant 2007 dollar value, the 2012 funding comes in at about 23rd place out of the almost 55 year history of the agency. Coincidentally, 23rd place is also the United States’ world position in Science test scores! Click here. (2/3)

Editorial: Putting Ariane 6 on a Path to Success (Source: Space News)
European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain is taking the right approach to developing and manufacturing Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 launcher, specifically with plans to let price rather than policy dictate the geographic distribution of work on the multibillion-dollar project.

If ESA is to hit its 70 million euro ($95 million) per-launch price target for the Ariane 6 — it appears the price will have to be in that neighborhood to be commercially competitive — it cannot do things the old way. The manufacturing scheme for Europe’s current Ariane 5 workhorse, for example, is based largely on the agency’s longstanding geographic return policy, whereby work is divvied up among member nations in proportion to their individual contributions to the project.

While fair from a political standpoint, geographic return does not necessarily yield the most logical or economically efficient manufacturing arrangements. On Ariane 5, this is evidenced by the fact that the rocket’s operator, Arianespace, requires annual support payments from ESA to stay out of the red. (2/3)

Editorial: A NASA for the Future (Source: Space News)
America and its space agency are at a crucial juncture in the competition for world leadership in human spaceflight. In a critical aspect of this contest — the ability to launch humans into orbit — we are currently tied with the rest of the world for third place, behind Russia and China. Indeed, we pay the former dearly for the privilege of launching our own astronauts into space to visit the international space station, whose construction we led and whose operations we lead.

Much has changed since the heady days of NASA five decades ago, when geopolitical circumstances gave us the will, and 4.5 percent of federal discretionary spending gave us the means, to accomplish the still unparalleled feats of the Apollo program. With a small slice of less than one-tenth of those means available, NASA is hard at work, in collaboration with American companies, to close the gap and return our astronauts to space on American vehicles.

NASA’s innovative approach is the Commercial Crew Program, an initiative based on the highly successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program for ISS cargo resupply. COTS utilized a fixed-price approach instead of traditional contracts to develop, demonstrate and procure safe, cost-effective ISS cargo resupply services from two companies, providing both competition-driven cost containment and operational redundancy. (2/3)

The International Space Station: a Case for Peace (Source: Space News)
Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, announced that the White House intends to extend international space station operations from 2020 to 2024 as part of the 2015 budget request to Congress. He also said that NASA has talked to its international partners about this. The issue for everyone is coming up with the necessary funds to support the proposed extension.

In Europe, many of the participating countries face financial difficulties and may rather be tempted to consider reducing expenditures for space activities. I am, however, confident that the European Space Agency member states will find a consensus and that the international space station will remain there at least until 2024. Click here. (2/3) 

Panel Told of Growing Threat To U.S. Satellites from China (Source: Space News)
Seven years after it tested an anti-satellite weapon on one of its satellites, China’s military poses an increasing threat to U.S. space assets as it develops new counterspace technologies, witnesses warned members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

“The current and evolving counterspace threat posed by China to U.S. military operations in the Asia-Pacific theater and outside is extremely serious, and the threat ranks on par with the dangers posed by Chinese offensive cyber operations,” said Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in testimony at a joint hearing of two House Armed Services Committee subcommittees. Click here. (2/3)

Alien Planets May Not Need Big Moons to Support Life (Source: Space.com)
Alien planets without big, climate-stabilizing moons like the one that orbits Earth may still be capable of supporting life, a new study reports. Previous modeling work had suggested that Earth's axial tilt, or obliquity, would vary wildly over long time spans without the moon's steadying gravitational influence, creating huge climate swings that would make it tough for life to get a foothold on our planet.

But that's not necessarily the case, said Jack Lissauer of NASA's Ames Research Center. "If the Earth did not have a moon, its obliquity — and, therefore, its climate — would vary, indeed, substantially more than it does at present," he said. "But it's nowhere near as bad as was predicted based on previous models." (2/3)

Russian Premier Inks Asset Merger for New Space Corporation (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a government directive Monday consolidating space industry assets under a single state-controlled corporation.The new United Rocket and Space Corporation will take over manufacturing facilities from the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), whose prestige has been severely dented in recent years by a string of failed rocket launches.

The new corporation will be 100 percent controlled by the government, he said. Now, the country is set to radically centralize its space industry in a bid to streamline production and operation of spacecraft and cut down on the misuse of funds. (2/3)

Russian Space Freighter Undocks From Orbital Station (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Russian cargo spacecraft undocked on Monday from the International Space Station to depart on a weeklong scientific mission before being buried in the Pacific. After the departure from the orbital outpost, the spacecraft will conduct a series of experiments under the Izgib project, which studies how vibrations aboard a spacecraft affect its installed hardware. (2/3)

Canadian Space Revenue Down, Jobs Up in 2012 (Source: Space News)
A new report from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has found that revenue from the country’s space sector declined in 2012 but that the workforce gained nearly 500 jobs. The report,  “State of the Canadian Space Sector 2012,” put domestic revenue from space business at 1.7 billion Canadian dollars ($1.6 billion), with 80 percent of that coming from nongovernment sources. That represented a 4 percent decrease from 2011. Exports also fell for the second year in a row, totaling 1.58 billion Canadian dollars. That decrease was 81 million Canadian dollars. (2/3)

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