October 19, 2014

ULA Targeting Oct. 29 Launch from Florida (Source: Florida Today)
United Launch Alliance is preparing for an Oct. 29 launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport of a new Global Positioning System satellite, the eighth in the newest series of 12 built by Boeing. An Atlas V rocket's 18-minute launch window opens at 1:21 p.m. EDT. More than 30 GPS satellites orbiting about 11,000 miles up provide highly accurate positioning, navigation and timing data to military and civilian users. (10/19)

Science Sample Return Vehicle for ISS National Laboratory (Source: Intuitive Machines)
Intuitive Machines in cooperation with NASA has been selected by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to develop a Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) that will enable on demand, rapid return of experiments from the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. Through this commercial service, Intuitive Machines will enable researchers to regularly and quickly return small samples and components from the ISS to Earth. (10/17)

New Mexico Senator Supports RD-180 Replacement (Source: Space News)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said Oct. 17 he continued to support efforts in Congress to fund development of a replacement for the RD-180 rocket engine despite a joint venture by Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance to develop such an engine on their own. “I’m pleased that, in Congress, we’ve taken the steps to provide the initial funding needed in 2015 to begin risk reduction and develop that next-generation rocket engine, and I will continue to support those efforts,” said Heinrich.

Heinrich said he was not swayed by criticism of a planned RD-180 replacement, such as estimates of as many as seven years to develop a replacement. “I think these arguments only serve to prolong the inaction and delay a course of action that will eventually make us much more self-reliant,” He did not suggest that the Blue Origin/ULA effort, which the companies are funding on their own, eliminated the need for the RD-180 replacement. (10/17)

Editorial: Indian Space: Hype Versus Priorities (Source: The News (Pakistan))
India's Mars orbiter may have served as a steroid shot for ISRO. But it will do little to advance India’s S&T. For decades, India was the Third World’s unquestioned ‘science superpower’. In 1980, it globally held the eight position in the number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, while China was a distant No 15. By 2010, China had moved up to No 2, and India down to No 9.

India lags behind the developed countries in number of R&D (research and development) personnel, and in scientific output and its impact (measured in the number of citations of papers). Other emerging economies are also catching up. Not just China, but even Russia and South Korea, have more people engaged in R&D than India. Brazil isn’t far behind.

Although India accounts for 3.5 percent of all scientific papers published worldwide, the share of Indian publications in the top one percent impact-making journals is a low 0.54 percent. As many as 45 percent of Indian publications remained uncited in 2006-2010. India’s S&T establishment is in crisis. Its priorities are warped. (10/18)

We Must Explore Space (Source: Humanity Plus)
Space exploration is a challenge to human ingenuity, and celebrations this week, under the banner of World Space Week, are an ode to it. Extreme challenges are found across our solar system. In July 2015, New Horizons will be the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto. Pluto is so far from Earth that data will come back from the spacecraft about 5,000 times slower than your home broadband, mimicking the early days of spaceflight where images of Mars from Mariner 4 took hours to trickle back to Earth.

But it will provide a new window into a largely unknown alien world. What will we discover? What will we learn about the origins of the solar system? What will we learn about ourselves? Continued space exploration is the only way we can answer any of those questions. (10/16)

The Biggest Problem Facing Elon Musk's Dream Of Building A City On Mars (Source: Business Insider)
One particular obstacle towers over the rest when building a Mars colony: "no one knows how to manufacture an entire atmosphere." We barely know enough about how our own atmosphere works to keep from destroying it. "On Mars, the best we can expect is a crude habitat, erected by robots," Anderson writes.

Those first pioneers will face a unique set of problems, including carrying out medical and equipment repair procedures they know nothing about. What works for them definitely won't scale to house 1 million people comfortably enough for them to want to spend the rest of their lives there. For one thing, atmosphere of Mars is 100 times lighter than that of Earth, making the air too thin to breathe.

The low atmospheric pressure is also partially responsible for Mars' frigid average surface temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit (compared to 57 degrees on Earth). (10/15)

SPACErePORT LinkedIn Group Follows Spaceport Issues (Source: SPACErePORT)
Interested in spaceports? I have created a LinkedIn Group that focuses on spaceport news, including LinkedIn's ability to host discussions. Join the group here. (10/19)

Branson Responds To Musk's Criticism; 'We're About To Prove Him Wrong' (Source: Business Insider)
Q: "Your friend Elon Musk had an interesting thing to say recently. 'I like Richard but,' I think his exact quote was, 'technology is not your whack.' He makes technology; you use technology to create better experiences. What do you think about that?"

A: "Well, I hope we're about to prove him wrong in that. I mean, I would not be able to change a sparking plug and I would not be able to fly a spaceship or build a rocket or whatever. But what I am good at doing is finding brilliant people and surrounding myself with brilliant people. And you know, before Christmas, we'll start to go into space. Earylish next year, I'll be going to space with my kid Sam. I would love to have my daughter, Holly, with me, but she's pregnant. And then we're going to start a whole new era of sending people to space."

"We're building our own spaceships shaped as airplanes. That means that one day we'll be able to transport people across the earth in spaceships. We're going to be able to put thousands of small satellites into space. So at the moment Elon and I are in different areas, but there will come a time, I'm sure, where we'll overlap. He's done something extraordinary — I think our team has done something extraordinary, as well." (10/18)

Sending Pakistan to Mars (Source: Asian Age)
When spacecraft Mangalyaan successfully entered the Martian orbit in late September after a 10-month journey, India erupted in joy. Costing more than an F-16 but less than a Rafale, Mangalyaan’s meticulous planning and execution established India as a space-faring country. Although Indians had falsely celebrated their five nuclear tests of 1998 which were based upon well-known physics of the 1940s the Mars mission is a true accomplishment.

Pakistanis may well ask: can we do it too? What will it take? Seen in the proper spirit, India’s foray into the solar system could be Pakistan’s sputnik moment — an opportunity to reflect upon what’s important. Let’s see how India did it: First, space travel is all about science and India’s young ones are a huge reservoir of enthusiasm for science. Surveys show that 12-16 year olds practically worship Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking...and most want a career in science.

But how can we cash-strapped Pakistanis get to our bit of the solar system? Or establish a presence which we so far lack in the world of science? The process will be slow, but here is how to do it. First, create enthusiasm in our young people for science. Space exploration is only a part of the larger whole. Instead of TV channels saturated with dharna news and random political “experts”, have good educational programmes. Standards of English in Pakistan must improve. Sadly, the world of science is closed to those who can only read or understand Urdu. (10/18)

Leave Space Alone! (Source: Khaleej Times)
We are looking at conquering other planets even as we destroy our own! When Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon in 1969, it was a “giant leap for mankind”. There could have been no disputing that. Today, however, that ‘small step’ can definitely be disputed! In fact, not regretting may be a blunder!

While humans are unable to control the destiny of the planet they occupy, they are bidding to shape the destiny of planets beyond their own. Surely, there could have been better ways to spend the $250,000 (approximately today’s price) a minute that it cost for Armstrong to walk on the moon.

In the intervening years, as threats to our planet have multiplied, that question has become even more important. No doubt, there have been spinoffs, from satellites to several other luxuries that we have got used to in our daily lives, but surely safeguarding the survival of earth should rate above exploring Mars and beyond. (10/19)

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