March 11, 2014

Chile Announces Policy for Space and Satellite Sector (Source: Telecompaper)
Chile's new National Space Policy 2014-2020 is to provide a set of general guidelines to promote the development of space activities in the country, with the understanding that knowledge and technologies related to the use and exploration of outer space can be applied to different areas, such as telecommunications, generating major social and economic benefits for Chile. (3/10)

Russia’s Roskosmos to Study Armenia’s Space Exploration Capacity (Source: ARKA)
A group is set up at Roskosmos, Russian Federal Space Agency, for studying Armenia’s capacity in using space for peaceful purposes. The group has been set up as part of the agreement reached between Arthur Baghdasaryan and Oleg Ostapenko, the head of Roskosmos.  

At this meeting, the secretary of the Armenian National Security Council, said that the establishment of this group is in tune with the two courtiers’ cooperation in scientific, technical and industrial areas. He said Armenia has experience in cooperation with Roskosmos and pointed out substantial modernization of Byurakan Observatory as part of the 2012 and 2013 program of cooperation between two countries’ security councils. (3/11)

All-Electric Satellites Prove a Tough Sell (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp.’s new GeoStar-3 satellite product, which offers a 60 percent increase in power and a one-third increase in payload mass compared to the GeoStar-2, will use electric power for in-orbit station keeping but not for orbit-raising, Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson said. He said satellite operators have shown little demand for an all-electric satellite mainly because it would take months, rather than a week, to reach final geostationary operating position.

The satellite industry has gone two years since Satmex of Mexico and Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) of Hong Kong joined forces to inaugurate Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems’ all-electric 702SP product with a four-satellite order. Since then, no more all-electric satellites have been contracted despite what satellite builders, operators and launch service providers describe as a wave of interest in the technology. (3/10)

Maine Company's Rocket Research Eyes Lower-Cost Space Launches (Source: Maine Biz)
Space flight is a big idea dominated by big numbers and big corporations. But Karl Hoose, president of Applied Thermal Sciences in Sanford, thinks his company can help bring down the cost of getting into orbit. "There's a slew of different technologies and businesses that would come from having cheaper access to space, and that's the whole goal for us," Hoose says.

To get into a low Earth orbit, a launch vehicle needs to reach around 17,500 mph, roughly 24 times the speed of sound. Typically, that's done with massive rockets carrying tons of fuel and liquid oxygen, which can weigh up to eight times as much as the fuel. In the ATS facility, engineers are working to refine technology that would create the launch vehicle with a 50-pound payload capacity at a cost of $4,500 per pound payload, and in the process serve a niche for smaller, more affordable space vehicles.

Hoose plans to cut that system out of the equation as much as possible by getting about one minute of propulsion from special jet technology that, at high speeds, runs off of air in the atmosphere, reducing the need for onboard fuel. Hoose projects ATS can deliver a launch vehicle 90% smaller and 85% lighter than a conventional all-rocket propelled vehicle. (3/11)

How India Got an Indigenous Cryogenic Engine (Source: Live Mint)
The GSLV program was started by ISRO in response to India’s mounting communications needs. By 1987, the government had approved the development of the second generation INSAT-2 series of satellites, weighing more than 2 tonnes. ISRO wanted to develop a 2.5-tonne class of satellites and put them into a geostationary transfer orbit at 36,000km from Earth’s surface.

ISRO also wanted to make a vehicle that would be bigger, lighter and more efficient than its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). There were three fuels options: earth storable, semi-cryogenic, and cryogenic. It was then that ISRO thought of procuring cryogenic engines from other countries. After rejecting offers from the US and France for both the sale of engines and transfer of technology, India approved an offer by Russia in 1990.

India sent eight scientists to Moscow to work with Soviet scientists. They worked there for 15 months, but did not have access to everything. Eventually, in 1993, Glavkosmos backed out of the deal and revoked the transfer of cryotechnology agreement. Under a renegotiated deal, Russia decided to provide four fully functional engines and two mock-ups. It also agreed to supply three more cryogenic engines at a cost of $9 million. Click here. (3/11)

UK Joins SKA Telescope Project (Source: BBC)
The UK government has allocated £290m for new international science projects. The Science Minister David Willetts will earmark approximately £100m to the construction of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a radio telescope array across South Africa and Australia and £25m to participate in a European Space Agency mission called Plato - a giant space telescope designed to find and understand other planets capable of supporting extraterrestrial life. (3/11)

Stennis Linked to NASA Selections for Small Business Tech (Source: MBJ)
Two proposals being administered by the Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi are among the 108 research and technology proposals from U.S. small businesses that NASA has selected to enable NASA’s future missions while benefiting America’s technology-driven economy on Earth. The selected proposals now will enter into negotiations for contract awards as part of Phase II of the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. (3/10)

Long-Term Warming Likely to Be Significant Despite Recent Slowdown (Source: NASA)
A new NASA study shows Earth's climate likely will continue to warm during this century on track with previous estimates, despite the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming. This research hinges on a new and more detailed calculation of the sensitivity of Earth's climate to the factors that cause it to change, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Drew Shindell, a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, found Earth is likely to experience roughly 20 percent more warming than estimates that were largely based on surface temperature observations during the past 150 years. Global temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.22 Fahrenheit (0.12 Celsius) per decade since 1951. But since 1998, the rate of warming has been only 0.09 F (0.05 C) per decade -- even as atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to rise at a rate similar to previous decades.

Carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas generated by humans. Some recent research, aimed at fine-tuning long-term warming projections by taking this slowdown into account, suggested Earth may be less sensitive to greenhouse gas increases than previously thought. Click here. (3/11)

How Astronauts Combat Debilitating Effects of Space (Source: CBS)
Astronaut Michael Barratt spent more than six months on the International Space Station, making him well qualified for his current job as manager of NASA's Human Research Program, studying the effects of space on the human body. "The rush of fluids that are normally kept in your lower body by gravity all of a sudden are free to move up to your chest and up to your head, and you feel like you're hanging on the monkey bars upside down," he says.

Barratt, a medical doctor, says a more serious problem is that months of zero gravity can leave bones brittle and muscles weak. Fortunately, there's a simple solution: vigorous exercise that offsets the loss of muscle and bone mass. Click here. (3/11)

Human Exploration Drives Space Launch System (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA still wants to build the heavy-lift Space Launch System, and as long as Sen. Richard Shelby is alive, it will. The U.S. space agency needs the Alabama Republican, who is the ranking member of his party on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and he needs the SLS to keep his constituents at the Marshall Space Flight Center happy. So the fairly level funding of $1.3 billion for the big rocket, plus some extra advanced-technology money, in the agency's fiscal 2015 budget request is no surprise.

SLS received $1.6 billion in fiscal 2014, with no serious challenges on Capitol Hill despite continued grumbling from other space constituencies—“New Space” and science for starters—that could use that kind of money for their own purposes. The project is bending serious metal. In an effort to broaden their own constituent base, managers at Marshall have been seeking other payloads for the SLS, so far with no apparent good news.

A U.S. Air Force/National Reconnaissance Office analysis is said to have turned up no requirement for a Saturn V-class launch vehicle except—being the military—the need to sustain the U.S. industrial base for big rockets. The Science Mission Directorate certainly would be able to use a heavy-lifter for a robotic outer-planet mission, both to avoid time- and money-consuming gravity-assist routes to distant targets and to carry more radioisotope thermoelectric generators for more power to run its instruments. But those would be multibillion-dollar flagship-class missions, and the money is not there. (3/10)

6-Year-Old Continuing His Mission to Preserve NASA Funding at KSC Visitor Complex (Source: KSCVC)
Connor Johnson, a 6-year-old boy from Denver, was on a mission back in December 2013 when he launched an online petition to save NASA’s funding from budget cuts. He didn’t get the 100,000 signatures needed for the petition, but he’s not giving up on his dream, since the age of three, to become an astronaut and discover new worlds and asteroids. Connor will get to experience his very own space adventure on March 15 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and learn more about the epic story of the U.S. Space Program – past, present and future. (3/10)

India's Mars Mission to Reach Red Planet in 200 Days (Source: Space Daily)
New Delhi (XNA) Mar 10, 2014 - India's maiden Mars mission, launched in November last year, is likely to reach the Red Planet in 200 days, the state-owned space agency has said. "If everything goes as planned, MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) will get inserted into its Martian orbit around, exactly after 200 days from today," the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said. (3/10)

NASA Langley’s FY 2015 Budget Proposed at $760 Million (Source: NASA)
Many employees had already read news coverage about Langley’s portion of the fiscal year 2015 proposed budget, but a lot more detail was provided during a March 5 town hall meeting with the center’s acting deputy director, Dave Bowles. All in all, he said it’s a good budget: $760 million with "a little decrease — $10 million — consistent with the small one-percent decrease that the agency took."

Bowles said he was pleased with the number and characterized NASA Langley's value to the agency as making "…contributions across pretty much everything NASA does." Bowles called special attention to NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission, noting that the budget proposed by President Barack Obama includes a total of about $130 million devoted to moving that project forward, and pointing out that Langley has been heavily involved in the planning stages. He believes NASA Langley will continue to play a critical role. (3/10)

Arianespace: Cheaper by the Dozen (Source: Aviation Week)
Arianespace says it delivers cargo to the Space Station for less than NASA is currently paying SpaceX and Orbital Sciences under a pair of Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts worth a combined $3.5 billion. Clay Mowry of Arianespace says the Ariane 5 rocket and Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) have launched more than 24,000 kg of food, supplies, fuel and water to the ISS with four ATV missions at a cost of roughly $460 million each, or $76,500 per kilogram.

“That’s more cargo than SpaceX’s entire 12-flight resupply contract with NASA,” Mowry said. “We would be happy to take over their contract and lower the price per kilogram for delivering cargo to the ISS.” Mowry was responding to a Feb. 20 comment by Elon Musk, who said Arianespace would go bankrupt if it had the SpaceX CRS contract. Musk's comment was aimed at criticism from Arianespace and other European space-industry officials that SpaceX charges considerably more to its government customers than the $56.6 million it advertises for commercial missions.

SpaceX services cost NASA about $80,000 per kilogram. Orbital's cost to NASA is about $95,000 per kilogram. However, unlike ATV and Cygnus, the recoverable Dragon cargo vessel has the unique ability to return cargo and experiments to Earth. The company's first two CRS missions, launched in October 2012 and March 2013, returned a combined 1,969 kg of cargo mass from the orbiting outpost, a service ATV and Cygnus cargo vehicles cannot provide. (3/10)

Pentagon Baby Steps Toward Expanded Use of Commercial Satcom (Source:
In an effort to improve how it buys commercial satellite bandwidth, the U.S. Defense Department is expected to propose a series of test procurements that could eventually open the door for commercial satellite operators to expand their Pentagon business.

The efforts, known as pathfinders, are part of a broader plan, almost a year in the making, that details how to “better leverage, integrate, and acquire COMSATCOM [commercial satellite communications] through a phased implementation approach involving short, mid and long term actions,” said a Defense Department spokesman. (3/10)

Editorial: Protect Radar Satellite Spectrum (Source: Space News)
The terrestrial wireless industry’s insatiable demand for radio spectrum is no longer just a challenge for satellite telecommunications companies: The heat is also on for operators of civilian radar imaging satellites, some of which operate in frequency bands coveted by Wi-Fi services that are becoming increasingly indispensable to modern-day life.

Advocates for opening up C-band frequencies currently reserved for civilian radar satellites like Canada’s Radarsat and Europe’s planned Sentinel-series craft have argued that the introduction of terrestrial wireless services would not impinge on the incumbent users. But that position, based on studies funded by the terrestrial broadband providers, assumes that the new services would be used almost exclusively indoors — which is a stretch. (3/10)

How Fleets of 'Flat Landers' Could Explore Other Planets (Source:
Future space missions may send dozens of rug-like robots fluttering down to the surface of alien worlds, taking much of the risk out of planetary exploration. Researchers are developing flat, blanket-size landers that could be delivered en masse to worlds such as Mars or the Jupiter moon Europa.

The approach represents a radical departure from the surface-exploration status quo, which generally launches single-shot, big-ticket landers or rovers that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to design and build. The two-dimensional lander idea "gives you the capability to stack them up and distribute them over a wide range of areas rather than just be able to land in only one place, and have one shot at landing," Hamid Hemmati, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (3/10)

Russia to Take Practical Advantage of Space Industry Potential (Source: Space Daily)
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin recommends seeking off-budget funds and developing public-private partnership in space exploration projects. "Another dimension is the search for an off-budget financing source. It is directly related to the role we play on the global space market," he said. "It is a shame that Russia holds 3% of the space market, the market of space services," he said.

According to the deputy prime minister, this falls drastically short of Russia's capacities and ambitions. Rogozin believes the industry has a vast potential, primarily in the field of work coordination. "The Federal Space Agency in its new form, after the establishment of the United Rocket and Space Corporation, is supposed to set the tone, the speed and the tempo of development of the space services market," the vice-premier assured. (3/10)

MIT Team Proposes Fuel Stations for Future Missions (Source:
Future lunar missions may be fueled by gas stations in space, according to MIT engineers: A spacecraft might dock at a propellant depot, somewhere between the Earth and the moon, and pick up extra rocket fuel before making its way to the lunar surface. Orbiting way stations could reduce the fuel a spacecraft needs to carry from Earth - and with less fuel onboard, a rocket could launch heavier payloads, such as large scientific experiments.

Over the last few decades, scientists have proposed various designs, such as building a fuel-manufacturing station on the moon and sending tankers to refill floating depots. But most ideas have come with hefty price tags, requiring long-term investment. The MIT team has come up with two cost-efficient depot designs that do not require such long-term commitment. Both designs take advantage of the fact that each lunar mission carries a supply of "contingency propellant" - fuel that's meant to be used only in emergencies.

In most cases, this backup fuel goes unused, and is either left on the moon or burned up as the crew re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. Instead, the MIT team proposes using contingency propellant from past missions to fuel future spacecraft. For instance, as a mission heads back to Earth, it may drop a tank of contingency propellant at a depot before heading home. (3/10)

NASA Van Allen Probes Helping To Improve Space Weather Models (Source: Space Daily)
When events in the two giant doughnuts of radiation around Earth - called the Van Allen radiation belts -- cause the belts to swell and electrons to accelerate to 99 percent the speed of light, nearby satellites can feel the effects. Scientists ultimately want to be able to predict these changes, which requires understanding of what causes them.

Now, two sets of related research published in the Geophysical Research Letters improve on these goals. By combining new data from the Van Allen Probes with a high-powered computer model, the new research provides a robust way to simulate events in the Van Allen belts. (3/10)

Plasma Plumes Help Shield Earth From Damaging Solar Storms (Source: Space Daily)
The Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, stretches from the planet's core out into space, where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emitted by the sun. For the most part, the magnetosphere acts as a shield to protect the Earth from this high-energy solar activity.

But when this field comes into contact with the sun's magnetic field - a process called "magnetic reconnection" - powerful electrical currents from the sun can stream into Earth's atmosphere, whipping up geomagnetic storms and space weather phenomena that can affect high-altitude aircraft, as well as astronauts on the International Space Station.

Now scientists at MIT and NASA have identified a process in the Earth's magnetosphere that reinforces its shielding effect, keeping incoming solar energy at bay. By combining observations from the ground and in space, the team observed a plume of low-energy plasma particles that essentially hitches a ride along magnetic field lines - streaming from Earth's lower atmosphere up to the point, tens of thousands of kilometers above the surface, where the planet's magnetic field connects with that of the sun. (3/10)

China' s Aspiration in Future Space Exploration (Source: Xinhua)
In near future, in outer space, Chinese scientists and their international colleagues, perhaps in the company of robots, will seek knowledge in labs on China's future space station. Aboard the space station, deep in space, researchers will probe the profound mysteries of the universe, while explorers penetrate the darkness beyond both Moon and Mars.

This is no sci-fi movie, but a vision of the future presented to the people' s congress and members of the CPPCC during the two sessions. The vision is of a "space odyssey" for China' s future and for space exploration. Click here. (3/10)

ILS Evaluating Dual Launch Capability for Proton-M (Source:
International Launch Services (ILS) and ISS Reshetnev have announced they are evaluating the technical feasibility into launching two large satellites at the same time on a Proton-M launch vehicle. The announcement comes just days after United Launch Alliance (ULA) President Michael Gass noted his company is also looking into dual satellite launches. (3/10)

ILS and ISS Reshetnev Announce Proton Dual Launch Agreement (Source: ILS)
International Launch Services (ILS) and JSC Academician M.F. Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems (ISS Reshetnev) signed an agreement today to collaborate on opportunities to launch two spacecraft utilizing a dedicated ILS Proton launch vehicle.

The agreement, signed by ILS President, Phil Slack and ISS Reshetnev General Director, Nikolay Testoyedov, states that both companies will mutually cooperate on identifying spacecraft that can be dual launched in a stacked configuration—with the lower spacecraft supporting the upper spacecraft--on the Proton launch vehicle. With this agreement, ILS would identify non-Russian spacecraft that could be paired with ISS Reshetnev-built spacecraft and together, the companies would assess the technical feasibility. (3/10)

How The Oculus Rift Is Helping NASA Find Life On Other Planets (Source: ReadWrite)
Even by NASA standards, the newest mission in search of life on other planets is really, really complicated. Loaded with literal moving parts, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope—“JWST” for short—is as ambitious as it is technically challenging. As anyone who watched the Mars Rover landing (or the movie Gravity) with bated breath can attest, a lot can go wrong in outer space.

That’s why virtual reality hardware—with the Oculus Rift VR headset leading the charge—provides a perfect testing ground for feats of engineering like the Webb spacecraft. And, believe it or not, the Webb team is already putting the Rift to the test. Here in Austin, NASA’s booth is stationed about 15 feet into SXSW 2014’s gaming expo—a cacophony of cosplay and virtual assault rifles—and that’s no coincidence.

Given the increasing grandeur, intricacy and expense of the agency’s deep space missions, NASA's big dreams now intersect with the gaming industry’s expansive imagination at myriad points. (Beyond VR, NASA has partnered with the makers of the Kerbal Space Program, a space simulation game, to fire up interest in its [real] Asteroid Redirect Mission.) Click here. (3/10)

NASA to Look for Signs of Life on Europa — But You Can’t Get There for $15M (Source: Washington Post)
Europa has geysers spewing material from what appears to be a subsurface ocean. It’s not inconceivable that there are fish down there in that cold, dark sea. Scientists have long dreamed of sending a robotic probe to Europa, and they have put such a mission at the top of their wish list. But Europa is a hard target: It’s very close to Jupiter, and a spacecraft and its instruments would need extra shielding to keep them from being fried in Jupiter’s harsh radiation environment.

The initial estimate of the cost of putting a spacecraft into orbit around Europa was a wince-
inducing $4.7 billion. Engineers then came up with a cheaper alternative, in which the spacecraft would go into an orbit around Jupiter that would send it past Europa dozens of times. During these flybys it could sample the material ejected by the geysers, looking for signatures of life in the ocean below the moon’s icy crust. That might cost on the order of $2 billion. (3/10)

DigitalGlobe Crowdsources Effort to Find Missing Jetliner in Satellite Images (Source: Digital Globe)
DigitalGlobe today activated its crowdsourcing platform in an effort to locate the Boeing 777 jetliner that mysteriously disappeared on Saturday while in flight from Malaysia to Beijing. If you would like to volunteer your time to support the rescue mission, please visit DigitalGlobe’s Tomnod platform to begin combing through satellite imagery for clues that may help locate the missing aircraft.

DigitalGlobe owns and operates the world’s most advanced constellation of commercial imaging satellites. In response to the aircraft’s disappearance, DigitalGlobe activated FirstLook, a subscription service for emergency management that provides fast, web-based access to pre- and post-event imagery of time-critical world events. (3/10)

NASA Engineer's Video Captures Hearts of British (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
For stellar answers to questions about outer space, just ask a NASA engineer. Ted Garbeff responded to questions from 4-year-old British boy Lucas Whiteley last week with a 10-minute YouTube video. The video has been viewed more than 70,000 times and has captured the attention of British media. Teachers at Whiteley's school, Sunny Hill Primary, played the video at a school assembly. Click here. (3/10)

Film on Young Astronaut Hopeful Beamed to Space Station (Source: USA Today)
here will be no red carpet, no paparazzi, no screaming fans. But the upcoming showing of a new film will have a certain cachet all the same: It will take place in space, in what may be the most expensive movie theater of all time.

The high-altitude screening will take place aboard the International Space Station, the $100 billion-plus orbiting laboratory where astronauts from around the world live and conduct scientific research. The film, a documentary about the space program and one determined young man's dream of becoming an astronaut, was sent to the station last week. (3/10)

ALMA Finds a Surprise Gas Clump Around a Young Star (Source: SEN)
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile have discovered an unexpected clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disc around the star Beta Pictoris. Such gas is expected to be rapidly destroyed by starlight, so scientists believe frequent collisions between small, icy objects such as comets must be causing the gas to be continuously replenished. (3/10)

'The Food Is Not Bad!' Q&A With Former NASA Astronaut Sandy Magnus (Source: Parade)
Only a select group of people know what it’s really like to be in space. On March 14, some of our curiosity about the final frontier will be satisfied when the National Geographic Channel airs its Live From Space special from the International Space Station (at 8 p.m. ET). During the broadcast, orbiting astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata will give viewers a tour of what happens on the ISS.

But before they do, we asked former NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus, who’s visited the cosmos multiple times, including a four-and-a-half month stay on the International Space Station in 2008, to answer a few Parade reader questions about space travel. Click here. (3/10)

No comments: