September 10, 2014

"Enterprise in Space" Initiative Sponsored by Space Society (Source: NSS)
The multi-pronged mission of the Enterprise In Space project is to design, build, fly, and eventually return to earth an orbiter containing student experiments. This project will be a tribute to the many great visionaries of science and science fiction. It will demonstrate and pioneer new technologies while inspiring and encouraging space enterprise.

It will promote the development of educational curricula and activities contributing to related future endeavors in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). In general, this project is intended to engage and inspire the next generation – all ages and walks of life – by igniting a renewed interest in space exploration and development. Click here. (9/10)

Utah Celebrates its Aerospace Heritage (Source: Standard-Examiner)
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will address executives in the state's aerospace and defense industries in upcoming ceremonies intended to celebrate the state's long heritage in the world of aerospace. "We benefit from a collaborative relationship between our aerospace and composite companies, local communities, defense contractors, academia and state government leaders," says Herbert, who will be on hand in Layton, Utah on Monday to address an Air Force Association Industrial Associates luncheon as part of National Aerospace Week, held Sept. 14-20. (9/9)

Atomic Space Propulsion and Power (Source: Space Safety)
After the Manhattan Project birthed the first atomic reactor, the first uranium bomb, and the first plutonium bomb, the same engineers went on to design a variety of undersea and outer space nuclear propulsion systems during the 1950s. Among these were the first solid core nuclear thermal rocket engines under Project Rover. The engines were mounted upside down on their test stands at the Nevada test site with the rocket plume firing upward into the atmosphere.

Aerojet General and Westinghouse Electric developed and ground tested the final engine design at the Nevada test site in 1969 under the NERVA (Nuclear Energy for Rocket Vehicle Applications) contract through NASA’s Space Nuclear Propulsion Office. This NERVA-1 engine was designed to power the first NASA manned Mars mission that was then projected to launch in 1981. Click here. (9/10)

Branson Says First Flight From New Mexico in February or March (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In an interview on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson says he will be on the first flight of SpaceShipTwo from New Mexico in February or March 2015. (9/10)

Eutelsat, SES To Add Plasma-Fueled Spacecraft To Fleets (Source: Aviation Week)
In March 2012, when Boeing announced the sale of the world’s first all-electric satellites, the company sparked a trend in the commercial telecom industry, lighting a fire under competitors in Europe and Asia as they scrambled to catch up. But two years on, Boeing has yet to announce a follow-up deal for its xenon-ion fueled 702SP satellite bus, while European competitors once thought to be years behind the curve are gaining ground. Within months of the Boeing announcement, the European Space Agency (ESA) unveiled plans to fund codevelopment of the new Electra all-electric satellite bus with European industry. (9/9)

First Evidence for Water Ice Clouds Found Outside Solar System (Source: Space Daily)
A team of scientists led by Carnegie's Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now. At the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, Faherty, along with a team including Carnegie's Andrew Monson, used the FourStar near infrared camera to detect the coldest brown dwarf ever characterized. (9/10)

No Easy Parking Spot for First-Ever Comet Landing (Source: New Scientist)
Landing on a comet will be even harder than we thought. The strange shape of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko does not present as many safe landing sites for the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft as mission planners had hoped. "Its shape is exciting scientifically but it [creates] a lot of challenges," says project scientist Matt Taylor. He calls the comet "the duck" because from some angles it resembles a rubber one.

The probe arrived at 67P on 6 August after a 10-year journey. The plan is to release a probe called Philae to land on the comet's surface on 11 November. ESA announced five candidate touchdown sites on 25 August, but on 8 September the team admitted that none of the sites looked very safe. "All landing sites are worse than expected because of the shape of the body," said the lander's lead scientist, Hermann Böhnhardt of the Max Planck Institute.

Worse means smaller. Philae is designed to land within an ellipse 1 kilometer in length. Of the five shortlisted sites, only site B (pictured below), at the "head" of the duck, meets that requirement. There are some larger, smoother sites on the base of the duck's "body" but they are too poorly lit to let the lander recharge its batteries during its four-month mission. (9/9)

The DIY Spaceship Simulator That's More Immersive Than Virtual Reality (Source: Motherboard)
As our spaceship swung somewhere past Mars, I frantically flicked switches and slammed buttons to keep control of the onboard nuclear reactor, to prevent a power blackout in the cabin, and to keep alien intruders out. The screen in front of me flashed and beeped, asking for the code that would bring me and my team back to safety as the whole ship shook around us. I flipped through the vehicle’s manual and typed in what I thought was the relevant sequence. The door behind me opened and a red tentacle shot out. “You Are Dead,” the screen read.

While virtual reality games are often called “immersive,” this experience showed that the most captivating experiences don't have to involve wearing goggles. I was inside the LHS Bikeshed spaceship simulator, a DIY, sci-fi styled caravan that takes immersive gaming to the next level.

Unlike VR, the game delivers its real kicks through off-screen elements. When the ship shakes, the whole caravan actually physically shakes. When you have to plug in an emergency cable to save the ship, you have to actually, physically get up and plug the right cable into the right port. It's not virtual reality, it's real-life reality—and that's what made it the best space simulator I've ever set foot in. Click here. (9/10)

Why ViaSat Settled Its Patent Case against Loral for $100 Million (Source: Space News)
ViaSat Inc. Chief Executive Mark D. Dankberg on Sept. 10 defended his company’s decision to settle a two-year patent-infringement lawsuit against Loral Space and Communications, saying the $100 million settlement sends a clear enough message to the industry. “We think that’s enough to make the point,” Dankberg said here during the World Satellite Business Week conference organized by Euroconsult.

“The technology [subject to the lawsuit] is old. We would rather focus on new technology than on fighting over old technology.” New York-based Loral and Space Systems/Loral, which is now owned by MDA Corp. of Canada, have agreed to pay $40 million immediately and then $60 million, plus interest, over two and one-half years as part of the settlement. (9/10)

Angara-5 Might Need New Place to Crash its Boosters (Source: Russian Space Web)
A recent trip of a surveillance team to the locations where URM-1 boosters were to be dropped during the first launch of the Angara-5 rocket, deemed them unacceptable for the mission. The group discovered that an extremely dense forest at those sites would make it impossible to recover the remnants of the boosters. The return of the hardware for post-launch analysis was a likely requirement during the flight testing. If confirmed, the issue could require mission planners to find more suitable sites and re-program the launch sequence in order to drop boosters at the new locations.

According to a typical flight profile, four strap-on boosters of the Angara-5 rocket separate at an altitude of around 82 kilometers around three and a half minutes in flight. They would fall around 850 kilometers to the east from the rocket's launch site in Plesetsk. The central (core) module would separate less than two minutes later at an altitude of 148 kilometers and then would crash 2,320 kilometers downrange. (9/10)

Volusia Historic Board to Weigh In on Spaceport Impacts (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
The voice of Volusia County’s Historic Preservation Board will be among those weighing in on the potential impacts of a commercial spaceport at Shiloh in Southern Volusia. The board, one of several groups invited by the FAA to take part in a formal review of how a spaceport could affect natural, historic and cultural resources, voted unanimously last Thursday to participate.

“We feel we need to be involved because of the historical and social impacts of what is there now,” board chairman Jim Yates said. “It’s our job to help preserve these important places.” Space Florida would like to obtain 200 acres from NASA — outside the formal boundaries of Kennedy Space Center — to develop a spaceport at Shiloh, straddling the Volusia/ Brevard County line south of Oak Hill. Click here. (9/9)

Golden Age of Unmanned Space Travel (Source: Huffington Post)
It has been over 45 years since the first Moon landing. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins made a journey for the ages as the Apollo 11 mission rocketed humans to another world. But, what have we done lately? Click here. (9/9)

Where to Grab Space Debris (Source: MIT News)
Objects in space tend to spin — and spin in a way that’s totally different from the way they spin on earth. Understanding how objects are spinning, where their centers of mass are, and how their mass is distributed is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.

In a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Field Robotics, MIT researchers will describe a new algorithm for gauging the rotation of objects in zero gravity using only visual information. And at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems this month, they will report the results of a set of experiments in which they tested the algorithm aboard the International Space Station.

On all but one measure, their algorithm was very accurate, even when it ran in real time on the microprocessor of a single, volleyball-size experimental satellite. On the remaining measure, which indicates the distribution of the object’s mass, the algorithm didn’t fare quite as well when running in real time — although its estimate may still be adequate for many purposes. But it was much more accurate when it had slightly longer to run on a more powerful computer. (9/10)

Is Space Law the New Frontier? (Source: Legal BisNow)
Even with its 2,600 lawyers in 79 offices, there was one practice area mega-firm Dentons was missing. Now, Dentons has launched a space law practice. US managing partner Mike McNamara tells us the firm wanted to be part of shaping the new industry. Commercial space is a growing industry, as private sector companies pick up lucrative contracts from NASA for rocket parts or to launch cargo up to the International Space Station.

The new practice has "two hearts," Del tells us: space business (applying M&A, litigation, and IP to issues around space and satellites) and space law and public policy (tying together new rules and regulations, international treaties, memoranda of understanding, and diplomacy). Another big issue is the future of the American presence in space. (9/10)

Space Services Acquires Odyssey Moon (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Space Services Holdings, Inc. (SSHI) of Houston, Texas, is acquiring Odyssey Moon Ltd. and adding key industry veterans to its Board of Directors, signaling an ambitious expansion in the global commercial space market. Space Services, already an established space industry leader with its iconic Celestis memorial spaceflights, makes these announcements on the heels of exclusive commercial partnerships with NASA and NOAA for the Sunjammer solar sail mission.

The acquisition of Odyssey Moon, an Isle of Man headquartered company, situates Space Services as an emerging global pioneer in commercial lunar missions as well. Joining the Space Services Board of Directors from Odyssey Moon is incoming SSHI chairperson Christopher Stott, founder and chairperson of Isle of Man satellite company ManSat Ltd.  Mr. Stott also serves on the Board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and as president of the Society of Satellite Professionals and the International Institute of Space Commerce. (9/9)

Planetary Scientist Joins Asteroid Mining Company Planetary Resources (Source: IT Wire)
Dante Lauretta, a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona, is joining Planetary Resources, Inc., an asteroid mining company, as its science advisor. Dr. Dante Lauretta is the principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx, the first asteroid sample return mission for NASA. OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer.
The OSIRIS-Rex mission is scheduled to launch in 2016 and rendezvous with the asteroid 101955 Bennu (commonly called Bennu). Bennu is an asteroid classified as a potential Earth impactor, and is listed as one of most likely asteroids to potentially impact the Earth from 2169 and 2199. (9/10)

Airbus Supports South Korean Weather Satellite Program (Source: SpaceRef)
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has awarded Airbus Defence and Space a €45 million contract to deliver important subsystems and equipment for the two GEO-KOMPSAT-2 (GK2, Geostationary Earth Orbit Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite) platforms. GK2 is a South Korean government program to develop and operate two geostationary civilian satellites, GK2A and GK2B, for numerous missions, among them meteorological, environmental and ocean monitoring.

Airbus will deliver the complete propulsion subsystem and the structure of the medium-sized/small geostationary satellite platforms, which have a launch mass of three to four tons. The Electronics Business Line of Airbus Defence and Space will supply the GK2 satellites with power and avionics units, while the Space Systems Business Line will provide them with a fully integrated propulsion subsystem consisting of the central cylinder structure, the chemical propulsion and the associated thermal control system. (9/10)

Orbital Selected by Yahsat to Build Satellite (Source: SpaceRef)
Orbital Sciences Corp. has been selected by Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, a UAE-based satellite operator,  to build the Al Yah 3 Ka-band communications satellite. Based on Orbital’s GEOStar-3 satellite platform, the Al Yah 3 satellite will be designed, manufactured and tested at Orbital’s satellite manufacturing facility in Virginia. The satellite will extend Yahsat’s commercial Ka-band coverage to an additional 600 million users across Africa and Brazil. This will be the 28th Orbital-built satellite launched into orbit aboard an Ariane rocket. (9/10)

Orbital Sets Launch of Third Cargo Mission (Source: DelMarVa Now)
Orbital Sciences Corp.’s third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station will launch in mid-October from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The mission will launch no earlier than 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, according to NASA. This is the third of eight planned cargo missions to the space station under a contract Orbital has with NASA. (9/9)

China in Cooperation with Other Countries in Manned Space Program (Source Xinhua)
China cooperates with Russia and Europe in its manned space program, with future plans for possible coordinated space module dockings, the country's first astronaut said Wednesday. Yang Liwei, deputy chief of China's Manned Space Agency, said at a press conference at the annual meeting of the Association of Space Exploration (ASE) that China has hosted many astronaut exchanges with the United States, Russia and Europe.

In the past few years, a training exchange was conducted between the China Astronaut Center and European Astronaut Center. Yang also said China is willing to cooperate with other countries in space mission, as it has designed interfaces that would allow Chinese space modules to dock with those from other countries. China looks forward to cooperating with other countries in space station technology, astronaut training, program design, equipment research and development, and even holding joint missions, he said. (9/10)

China's Space Station to be Established Around 2022 (Source: Xinhua)
The deputy chief of China's Manned Space Agency has announced an ambitious space program timetable building up to the country establishing its first space station around 2022. Yang Liwei, also China's first astronaut, said at a press conference of the annual meeting of the Association of Space Explorers that after the launch of the Tiangong-2 space lab around 2016, the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft will be launched to dock with it.

Around 2018, a core experimental space module will be launched ahead of the space station being completed in around eight years' time, according to Yang, who became China's first astronaut in 2003, in the Shenzhou-5 manned space mission. A new launch center in the southernmost province of Hainan is almost completed and can already launch space vehicles, he added. (9/10)

China to Launch Second Space Lab in 2016, Official Says (Source: AFP)
China will launch its second orbiting space laboratory in two years' time, a top official said Wednesday, the latest step in an ambitious space program Beijing says will one day land a Chinese man on the moon. Astronaut Yang Liwei, who in 2003 became China's first man in space and is now deputy director of the country's manned space program, made the announcement at the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) congress in Beijing.

"We are going to launch the spacelab Tiangong-2 in 2016, and then we will launch Shenzhou-11 and then Tianzhou-1 cargo spaceship to dock on the spacelab," he said. It is the first time China has hosted the annual meeting, which has drawn nearly 100 astronauts from 18 countries to Beijing, in a marker of the country's scientific progress.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space program as a symbol of its rise and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation. Yang added that Beijing plans to launch an experimental core space station module in 2018 and finish construction of a Chinese space station around 2022. Around the same time the rival International Space Station, operated by the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe, is due to be retired. (9/10)

Can We Jump-Start A New Space Age? (Source: NPR)
Jon Morse, former astrophysics division director at NASA, can remember the exact moment he knew things had to change. It was the late spring of 2011. After one particularly long planning meeting, Morse headed to the elevators with some high-ranking budget officials. As they waited for the next car, Morse asked the officials about a draft plan he and his staff had been working on for months; its goal was implementation of recent National Research Council recommendations for a menu of exciting new space science missions. The plan, however, was going to require extra resources.

Morse says he can still remember the sting of their response. "[They] laughed, got on the elevator and said, 'Don't even bother. Then the elevator doors closed." That was when Morse decided he'd seen enough doors closing on the "high frontier." Fast-forward to today, when he and a group of other space science experts, including a former astronaut, are taking off in a new direction. Together, they created the BoldlyGo Institute whose mission is to chart a new path for getting space science into space. Click here. (9/9)

Moonlets Created and Destroyed in a Ring of Saturn (Source: SETI Institute)
There is an ongoing drama in the Saturnian ring system that causes small moons to be born and then destroyed on time scales that are but an eyeblink in the history of the solar system. SETI Institute scientists Robert French and Mark Showalter have examined photos made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and compared them to 30 year-old pictures made by the Voyager mission. They find that there is a marked difference in the appearance of one of the rings, even over this cosmologically short interval, a difference that can be explained by the brief strut and fret of small moons. (9/9)

Arianespace Claims 60% Of The Commercial Launch Market (Source: Forbes)
Today, European commercial launch provider Arianespace has announced that it has signed four new commercial launch contracts. This marks an impressive 11 launch contracts signed so far this year for the company, with two current contracts under negotiation to be completed by the year’s end.

According to the company, these four contracts bring Arianespace’s total launch backlog to 38 satellite launches for 29 different customers. The value of these combined orders exceeds $5.82 billion. The company claims to now hold 60% of commercial launch market. (9/9)

Funds Shortage Has NASA Simulator Collecting Dust (Source: The Battalion)
It was supposed to open summer 2013, but Texas A&M has yet to unpack components of NASA’s retired shuttle simulator, let alone assemble it. NASA and Texas A&M signed an agreement in 2011 to transfer ownership of the Shuttle Motion Simulator, SMS, to the University’s hands, but three years later the shuttle’s components still lay in storage. Building space and funding problems continue to stall the simulator’s assembly, and students who remember the original transfer announcements are left with questions of when, if ever, Texas A&M will open the simulator to the public. (9/9)

Astronaut Helps Launch Watches Designed for Private Space Explorers (Source: CollectSpace)
A new wristwatch designed to be worn by the future crew members of a commercial space station has received the signature of approval of a former NASA astronaut. "I especially like the signature on the back!" wrote retired astronaut Clay Anderson, describing a photo of his autograph etched onto the stainless steel caseback of Giorgio Fedon 1919's new "Space Explorer" watches. "I am proud to be [their] Global Ambassador."

Anderson, who in 2007 spent five months living aboard the International Space Station, was at the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair on Sept. 4 to help launch the timepieces, which feature day and date dials, stopwatch functions and eight hours of luminescence. (9/9)

Bulsatcom to Launch Own Satellite, With SpaceX Launch (Source: Broadband TV News)
Bulgaria Sat, an affiliate of Bulsatcom, has commissioned Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to build the craft that will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 2016. The satellite, known as BulgariaSat-1,will be equipped with two Ku-band FSS transponders and 30 Ku-band BBS transponders for fixed satellite and advanced TV services, such as HDTV. It’s based on the SSL 1300 satellite platform that has been used by operators including Intelsat and DirecTV. (9/9)

Google May Lead Tech Firms Into Aerospace World (Source: Aviation Week)
With its experiments in drone delivery, Google may be poised to join the aerospace industry, and other firms -- retailer Amazon and social media giant Facebook -- are venturing into unmanned aviation as well. Google's "Project Wing" research is moving out of the exploration phase and into development, the firm says. "As we figure out exactly what our service will deliver, and where and why, we will look at a variety of vehicle options, both homemade and off-the-shelf," says Google. (9/8)

NASA to Narrow List of Mars Landing Sites (Source:
Scientists have proposed a list of more than 50 possible sites for the next Martian rover, and now NASA must study the contenders to narrow down the possibilities for the 2020 mission. The rover will drill into rocks in search of signs of ancient life that may once have existed on Mars. (9/8)

God Particle Could Destroy Universe, According to Hawking (Source: Space Daily)
In the preface of an upcoming book, Starmus, Stephen Hawking claims the Higgs Boson particle, a.k.a. the "God particle," could destroy the universe. As first discovered by the Sunday Times of the United Kingdom, Hawking claims if enough energy is directed at the particle, it could cause space and time to completely collapse. He also claims that we "wouldn't see it coming."

The Higgs Boson particle is said to be the particle that gives matter its mass. "The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV)," Hawking writes. He claims that under such conditions, it is theoretically possible the particle would cause an unstoppable vacuum to form that would expand at the speed of light. (9/8)

University of Tennessee Space Institute Celebrates 50 Years (Source: Daily Journal)
The University of Tennessee Space Institute is celebrating its 50-year anniversary in Tullahoma this week. The Space Institute was founded as a support arm of the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in 1964, offering study and research in engineering, physics, mathematics and aviation systems. Since its founding, the institute has awarded more than 2,000 graduate degrees, including more than 250 doctorates. Among the institute's alumni are nine current or former NASA astronauts, including NASA's Barry Wilmore, the next commander of the International Space Station. (9/9)

Canada's Open Space Orbital Crowdfunded Campaign Falls Short (Source: SpaceRef)
For Open Space Orbital (OSO) the mission continues to raise funds to build Canada's first orbital space launch company. Unfortunately their Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign did not resonate with the public and since Kickstarter has an all or nothing policy when it comes to meeting fundraising goals, OSO comes away without any funds.

While Kickstarter is the highest profile and most popular of the crowdfunding companies its policy of all or nothing is somewhat controversial. So for Open Space Orbital they won't even get any of the $5,568 they raised. Other crowdfunding companies like Indiegogo and RocketHub don't have that policy. OSO founder and CEO Tyler Reyno said "moving forward with the same action steps on the agenda, we're adjusting our focus to entrepreneurial funding (Futurpreneur, CEED, etc.) and federal grant money." (9/9)

Graphene as the Next Great Miracle Material for Space (Source: Commercial Space Blog)
On August 20th, Ottawa-based Grafoid Inc., a company involved in the research, development and production of graphene, opened a 225,000 square foot production facility in Kingston, Ontario. The move has Canada positioned to become a world leader in the production of the much-hyped super-material, with effects on many industries, not the least of which is aerospace. (8/31)

Canada's Future in Space: To the Moon and Beyond (Source: CBC)
Canada has a future in space exploration, including sending people to the moon and to Mars, Industry Minister James Moore agreed Friday in an interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield.He was concurring with Hadfield's assessment that "moving humans off Earth to the solar system" is what lies ahead in U.S. and Canadian space programs.

"This is what's next," Moore said. "We're technologically capable of doing it." He added:"The global aspiration to get into space and to move beyond what is contemporarily known is the great curiosity of man." (9/9)

Modeling Supports ExoLance Concept of Search for Life on Mars (Source: Explore Mars)
ExoLance, a project of Explore Mars, Inc., is developing and testing a system that will search for microbial life on Mars by utilizing penetrator technology. Using sophisticated computer modeling software, Aerojet Rocketdyne has shown that the ExoLance penetrator design should achieve a depth of more than one meter below the Martian surface. This is a significant breakthrough in the search for life on Mars as well as advancing other scientific goals on Mars and elsewhere.

One meter is the minimum depth at which many scientists believe life could be discovered on Mars. In a recent statement, planetary scientist Chris McKay said, "Once we have a capability to reach 1 meter and it has been tried and tested, we can use it at many places on Mars and begin the systematic search of the Mars underground for signs of life."

The computer simulations have conducted sensitivity analysis on the penetrator impact velocity to determine the depth of penetration over a range of impact velocities.  The results give us encouragement that the ExoLance design will be able to reach the targeted 1 meter depth. (9/9)

Can Terraforming Venus Be The Solution To Population Growth? (Source: Singularity)
It seems to me that Aubrey de Grey is not a big fan of one of the possible solutions to the spiraling population expansion of the human race. That solution is to move at least some of us to other planets. Admittedly, such ideas may look like total science fiction  and up to now have usually been focused on Mars. Thus today there are considerable numbers of serious people interested in terraforming the red planet.

University professors, intellectuals and adventurers support the colonization idea because a one-way trip to Mars would be probably half as expensive as a full round-trip mission. Thus, it is reasoned that Martian colonies should be set up there from the beginning. (Before colonizing Mars, however, we ought to fully utilize remote places such as Antarctica, Northern Canada, and Siberia, since those are much easier to begin with.)

Aubrey de Grey may be right in thinking that sending substantial number of humans into space is not a realistic idea for this century. Nevertheless it might not be as hard to start extraterrestrial colonies as some people think, especially if up to now we have been looking in the wrong direction. I propose that instead of Mars, we ought to consider the Earth’s Twin – Venus. Click here. (9/9)

Boeing's New Spaceship Makes Strides Ahead of NASA Space Taxi Decision (Source:
If chosen for the contract, Boeing representatives already have a specific plan for how they are will get astronauts flying from American soil aboard a CST-100 spacecraft. Company representatives are planning to launch a pad abort test in 2016, with an uncrewed flight scheduled for early in 2017. The first crewed flight to the station should take place in mid-2017.

The CST-100 program recently completed a major milestone. The spacecraft made it through its critical design review of integrated systems, paving the way for the final design that could fly to space. The company met all of its CCtCap goals on time and on budget ahead of the announcement, Mulholland said. (9/9)

Crimea Catch-22: Russia Space Training May Put NASA in a Bind (Source: NBC)
As the International Space Station gets ready for a routine change of crew using Russia’s Soyuz spaceships, the Russian government seems to be initiating a subtle gambit to force the US into a diplomatic trap over the status of Russian-occupied Crimea. Here’s how it works: Either the US acknowledges the legitimacy of the recent Russian annexation of that Ukrainian province, or it will be forced by existing agreements to disqualify NASA astronauts from flying aboard Russia’s spaceships.

The challenge appeared this week in an innocent-looking Russian press report, saying that crew survival training for Soyuz spacecraft could be transferred back to the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. Until about 10 years ago, this was the traditional site of splashdown survival training for all cosmonauts. But as space budgets dwindled, that training was transferred to a small lake near Moscow that was deemed adequate for the basics.

Here's the kicker: Shifting the survival training to Russian-occupied Crimea will require foreign cosmonauts to accept travel there without Ukrainian visas, an explicit acquiescence to the new diplomatic status of the province. Refusal to attend survival training is equivalent to failing the training, which by existing training regulations is an automatic disqualification for flight certification. No Crimea trip, no space trip. (9/9)

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