October 15, 1014

Sierra Nevada Wins DOD Satellite Contract (Source: SNC)
Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems division has been competitively selected to develop a next-generation science and technology demonstration satellite. Known as STPSat-5, the satellite is for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Space Test Program (STP). The satellite will carry a total of four scientific payloads to low-Earth orbit in order to further the DOD’s understanding of the space environment. (10/14)

Futuristic: Here and Now! (Source: Washington Post)
People seem to want to save futurism for other planets. I say bring it on home. No no no, I don’t have a bias against space exploration, but people think I do. Even friendly commenters here think I ‘don’t like’ outer space, or am ‘not interested’ in it. Let me clarify, even though I’ve been very clear already.

Yes I have some opinions about the cost/benefit aspects of exploring space with people instead of robots, but my principle objection is with the following formulation: “We can/will destroy the earth, and therefore we can/should solve that by planetary colonization”. And yes, I hear variations on that all the time. That is just bad thinking, for a million practical reasons. But it’s biggest problem is that it gives us the implicit OK to wreck earth. That is a suicide pact we make with ourselves.

But I digress backwards to old arguments, when I want to get on to a new one. Why can’t we build futuristic travel here on the home planet, as well as to far ones? Apparently other countries can. When I start tirading against the impracticalities of space colonization, people counter with, well why can’t we do BOTH? Why can’t we do cool stuff here AND in outer space? Okay! Here’s my offer to you today. When someone proposes a budget for a colony on Mars AND spectacular transit all over America, I’ll support it! (10/15)

Space-Based Solar Power: the New Space Race (Source: E&T)
Today's agenda for space is no longer focused on merely getting there. The modern space race is about getting the engineering in place to exploit space-based solar power (SBSP). But how will energy be beamed back down to Earth without breaking the bank?

As the UK increasingly relies on energy imports, a sustainable and renewable energy solution needs to be found sooner rather than later. In Britain we are facing the distinct possibility of power cuts this winter, following Ofgem's announcement that the margin of spare capacity could be as low as 5 per cent if we have a particularly cold winter. One solution to our increasing power needs is to create renewable energy in space. The idea is not new. But are we anywhere near generating endless power in space? Click here. (10/13)

Hadfield’s 2013 Memoir to Become a Television Sitcom (Source: National Post)
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield may soon keep company with a whole new type of star as his 2013 memoir An Astronaut’s Guide To Life on Earth is reportedly being adapted into a sitcom by Warner Bros. The planned series, which has reportedly earned a pilot commitment from ABC and which will share a title with Mr. Hadfield’s book, will chart an astronaut’s transition from life in space to life back on Earth, which “might be the hardest mission he’s ever faced.” (10/14)

Spaceport America has 'Gold Mine' Future, Industry Leader Says (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Stuart Witt, chief executive officer and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, had a message Tuesday for all those who have started to get cold feet about Spaceport America: We're committed.

Speaking at the Community Partnership Luncheon on the opening day of the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, Witt stressed the business opportunities available at Spaceport America, even as anchor tenant Virgin Galactic continues testing on the vehicles expected to take passengers into sub-orbital space from there.

"When I read in the papers and I hear, 'do we want to continue to invest, it's going to be a while before (Virgin Galactic) is operational.' Well, let me tell you what, you're in it," Witt said. "You made a $200 million investment, and you're sitting on a facility like I've never seen. "You're sitting on a gold mine at Spaceport America." (10/14)

Virginia Air and Space Center Head Gets NASA Recognition (Source: Daily Press)
For the past three years, the officials visitors center for NASA Langley Research Center wasn't run by a federal administrator, NASA scientist or even someone with a background in running museums. Brian DeProfio is a special projects manager for the city of Hampton, and he was called upon in 2011 to oversee the ailing museum after its executive director left the position with the facility sitting under millions of dollars in debt and reoccurring revenue losses.

The Virginia Air and Space Center announced in September that it has hired Robert Griesmer of the New Children's Museum in West Hartford, Conn., to run the Hampton facility, meaning DeProfio will move back into City Hall. Griesmer is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

NASA Langley Director Stephen G. Jurczyk honored DeProfio on Oct. 8 for putting the museum back on more solid financial footing with NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal. The medal is the highest award bestowed by the agency to non-government personnel. For Star Trek fans, William Shatner received the same honor in April. (10/14)

Russia Plans to Send Manned Mission to Moon after 2030 (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia will send a manned mission to the Moon after 2030 under the country’s far space exploration program, a deputy head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Wednesday. “The manned flight (to the Moon) will start from 2030, that’s why it is not included in the federal space program. But technologies that will be developed to perform it are in the federal program,” Denis Lyskov said at the Open Innovations Forum in Moscow. (10/15)

Firefly Hires Spacecraft Design Veteran as Chief Technical Officer (Source: Firefly)
Firefly Space Systems, Inc., a ground-based, small satellite launch company, announces the hiring of spacecraft design veteran Shey Sabripour as its Chief Technical Officer. Mr. Sabripour brings over two decades of experience as Director of Spacecraft Design at Lockheed Martin and will be taking responsibility of the company’s launch vehicles as well as avionics design and development. (10/14)

Garn Unhappy with NASA Spending Cuts (Source: Standard Examiner)
Utah former Sen. Jake Garn spoke about his experiences in space and the future of space exploration, mixed in with a politics, on Saturday at the Hill Air Force Base Museum’s weekly “Plane Talks” series. Garn spent a week in space in 1985 while he was a U.S. senator and told the group that the experience was “life changing” for him.

Many asked what he thought about the future of space exploration and of the government’s decision to reduce funding to NASA. “I don’t like it at all,” Garn said. He noted that only eight tenths of one percent of the government’s spending has ever been on NASA. He also talked about the many achievements on Earth that have come about because of space exploration. (10/14)

Fusion Breakthrough? Lockheed Plans Compact Reactor in a Year (Source: NBC)
Lockheed Martin Corp said Wednesday that it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were going public to find potential partners in industry and government.

Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of a 100-megawatt reactor seven feet by 10 feet, which is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire said. The company said it would build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year and build a prototype in five years. Success would mark a breakthrough in a promising field that has not yet yielded viable power systems. (10/15)

Space Exploration: A Catholic Perspective (Source: OpEd News)
Blessed Paul VI remind us of what the manned missions to the moon were really all about. God has put within human beings a natural curiosity and desire to explore and learn about His creation here on Earth and beyond. That's the whole point of the scientific adventure--it's a search for the truth about the natural world and the universe around us. The ever-accumulating treasury of scientific knowledge, gradually refined and perfected over time, is passed on from one generation to the next as a gift and a responsibility.

In recent decades, the explosive development of modern technology has greatly quickened the pace of scientific discovery. The more we learn through scientific research about God's painstakingly designed, carefully ordered, and magnificently beautiful creation, the closer we are drawn to our Creator and the more clearly we perceive His infinite wisdom, power, and glory. And when used properly, scientific knowledge is of great benefit to the human family.

It was the medieval Catholic Church that gave the world the principles on which true science rests, laying the foundation for the modern scientific method with its endless cycle of observation, theory, and experiment. Thus it should be no surprise that, despite the claims of some of her detractors, the Catholic Church is and always has been supportive of genuine scientific investigation, including space exploration, so long as it is conducted in the proper spirit and oriented to the true good of the human person and society. (10/14)

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