July 20, 2014

The Secret Centennial of Space Exploration (Source: Discover)
Noisy revolutions often emerge from quiet beginnings. So it was with the revolution of the Space Age. Forty five years ago today, a Saturn V rocket roared off from Cape Kennedy and carried the first humans to the moon; Buzz Aldrin and many others are marking the anniversary with live and virtual reminiscences. Lost in these worthy celebrations of Apollo 11′s achievement, though, is the simultaneous centennial of the much less tumultuous event that helped make it all possible.

One hundred years ago this week, Robert H. Goddard received a pioneering patent for a liquid-fueled rocket–just like the one that took Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins to the moon. It was the one small step that led to one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. The patents marked a crucial turning point in the life of Goddard, as he transformed his early musings about rocketry and space exploration into concrete schemes. (7/20)

Students Say Space Exploration Important (Source: The Monitor)
Some Brownsville TX students say space exploration should be brought back for educational purposes. From 2005 to 2009, the Constellation Program sought to bring back space exploration and even had plans to send humans to Mars. However, the program was shut down by President Barack Obama in 2010. Reflecting on today’s anniversary of mankind’s first lunar landing, some local students said that space exploration is the way to go again — and it’s time to head back to the moon.

“I think as far as being involved in moon walking, we should try to bring it back again pretty much to bring awareness on how our country was developing ideas and how we persevered to come out through going into space and how exploration really affects us and how we’re so little and our universe is expanding and we only know such a small percentage of it,” 22-year-old Michael Salinas said last week. (7/19)

While NASA Fixates on Mars, Space Rivals Shoot for the Moon (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Whether Americans go or not, others will soon expand their borders and cultures to Earth’s nearest neighbor. “Every space-faring country in the world, except for the U.S., is interested in going to the moon,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology rocket scientist Jeffrey Hoffman, a five-time astronaut. “We could have led the world on a program of international lunar exploration. Everyone else was interested. We squandered that opportunity.”

In April Russia disclosed plans to construct a lunar base by 2040 to obtain water, minerals and other resources. China landed a robotic spacecraft on the moon in December. Part of the Yutu rover’s mission was to seek out natural resources and scout for eventual human landing sites. Experts say China’s military run space program also has geostrategic intentions, such as demonstrating technological superiority to the U.S. European countries are interested in the moon as well, and have said they are ready to go with China or Russia should the U.S. focus on Mars. (7/20)

Mars and Europa: Contrasts in Mission Planning (Source: Planetary Society)
The big news for future planetary exploration this month is likely to be the announcement of the instrument selection for NASA’s 2020 Mars rover that will define how it will fulfill its scientific goals. In the meantime, there have been several announcements for proposed missions to Mars and on the planning for a NASA return to Europa that highlight the contrasts in planning missions for these two high priority destinations. Click here. (7/19)

Mohammed Chairs Space Agency Meeting (Source: Emirates 24/7)
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, chaired on Saturday the inaugural meeting of the UAE Space Agency team who set plans for sending the first probe to Mars from the region and the Arab world. Sheikh Mohammed reviewed plans for this ambitious project in terms of organisational, legislative and administrative aspects. The meeting also shed light on the framework and milestones to be achieved in the coming years for sending an unmanned probe to Mars by the year 2021. (7/20)

European Mission to Space Station Postponed (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The last flight of Europe's heavy-duty Automated Transfer Vehicle heading for the International Space Station will be delayed a few days while engineers resolve a problem with the spaceship's Ariane 5 launcher, officials said. Liftoff was scheduled for July 24 from the European-run Guiana Space Center in South America. Arianespace announced the postponement Friday, but officials have not settled on a new launch date. (7/19)

Delta-4 Set to Launch Spy Satellites from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Twin inspector spacecraft and a microsatellite testbed will share a Delta 4 rocket ride into space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral. The 205-foot-tall United Launch Alliance booster rocket is scheduled for liftoff at 7:03 p.m. EDT  from Complex 37. (7/20)

Girl Scouts Celebrate Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Cookie Form (Source: Space.com)
The 45th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing is today (July 20) and just might have space fans round the world wondering what it would be like to walk on the moon. The Girl Scouts of America, it turns out, has gone even farther. The girls' scouting organizing has recreated astroanut Neil Armstrong's iconic "one small step" on the moon using another icon: the Girl Scout cookie.

The Girl Scounts of America posted its fun (and tasty) take on Apollo 11 in a YouTube video released on Friday(July 18). The video shows what appears to be a Do-si-dos peanut butter sandwhich cookie, wrapped in a foil spacessuit, carrying a flag on the moon while its cookie-box lander is parked nearby. NASA audio of Armstrong's first words on the moon serves as a fitting backdrop. (7/20)

Space Becoming Canadian Government's Favorite Public Relations Frontier (Source: Motherboard)
Space has recently become one of the favorite pastimes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Canadian government. Earlier this week, the president of the Treasury Board of Canada and federal cabinet member Tony Clement triumphantly announced Canada’s planned partnership with NASA to 3D map the asteroid Bennu. Basically, Canadian scientists will contribute research towards the designs of a 3D laser mapping system traveling aboard NASA's unmanned OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, visiting the gargantuan asteroid to chip a sample off of it to bring back to earth. (7/19)

Florida's Space Agency Launches New Pitch for Commercial Rockets (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Space Florida is regrouping after apparently failing to lure the future commercial-launch headquarters of SpaceX. So far, SpaceX will only say that Texas is a "finalist" for its new complex. Though Florida already has the lion's share of the government space business, the question remains: How can Florida corral more commercial liftoffs, even as Georgia, Puerto Rico and other places also are targeting the space-launch business?

"Texas is motivated to go after the commercial market," said Laura Seward, a space-industry advocate. "Whatever it costs, they will do it, and unless Florida becomes more motivated, we're going to lose this market."

Space Florida says its game plan moving forward is threefold: 1) Push for construction of the Shiloh commercial launch complex; 2) Work with NASA and the Air Force to set up new launch protocols that would streamline commercial launches at the Cape; and 3) Lure near-term commercial launches to the Cape by SpaceX, which may not have the Texas site ready until 2016, and future launches by other new players such as Blue Origin. (7/19)

Why NASA Is Stagnant (Source: National Review)
While NASA was able to put men on the Moon within eight years of the Apollo program’s start, the space agency has been unable to go further in the four and a half decades since. In fact, it is no longer capable of going to the Moon and, as these lines are written, is totally adrift, with no real plan for going anywhere. If we are to remedy the space agency’s current impotence, we need to look at its history.

Over the course of its life, NASA has employed two distinct modes of operation. The first prevailed during the period from 1961 to 1973, and may therefore be called the Apollo Mode. The second, prevailing since 1974, may usefully be called the Random Mode.

In the Random Mode, technologies and hardware elements are developed in accord with the wishes of various technical communities. These projects are then justified by arguments that they might prove useful at some time in the future when grand flight projects are once again initiated. Click here. (7/20)

Space Entrepreneur Among Victims of MH17 Shoot-Down (Source: SPACErePORT)
The founder of Xoterra Space, Fatima Dyczynski, passed away in flight MH17 to Kuala Lumpur. Xoterra is a new high-tech start-up company in the space sector whose purpose is to commercialize the acquisition and implementation of Earth Observation (EO) data from space and translate it into next generation services and solutions for clients across a range of commercial sectors. We are specifically now focusing on a tracking application that can identify, locate and link intelligent space and ground based data to events. We are also developing a stock market application based on the end to end integration of this data. (7/19)

NASA: Lunar Caves Could Provide Living Spaces for Future Astronauts (Source: Engadget)
It turns out that the Moon could be habitable. Sort of. NASA writes that some of the holes in our moon's surface might actually be caves where future astronauts could guard themselves from radiation, micrometeorites and massive temperature changes when day turns to night, aiding future exploration. The aeronautics outfit says that these caves could be the result of a few different actions, including sub-surface lava draining away from an area and vibrations causing the roofs of resultant voids to collapse. (7/19)

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