November 24, 2014

Boldly Inspiring No More (Source: Space Review)
Fifty years ago this week, filming started on the original pilot for the television series "Star Trek", which became an inspiration for countless people who pursued careers in science and spaceflight. Dwayne Day wonders if there will be another series with the same cultural impact. Visit to view the article. (11/24)

Redux: It's Time to Rethink International Space Law (Source: Space Review)
The international space law landscape had been gradually changing over the last decade. Michael Listner reconsiders his first essay for this publication and argues that the era of the top-down approach to developing international space has passed. Visit to view the article. (11/24)

Crowdfunding a Billion-Dollar Moon Mission (Source: Space Review)
Last week, a British company announced plans for a commercial lunar mission, which it plans to raise funding for primarily from the public. Jeff Foust reports on both the science of Lunar Mission One and its unusual crowdfunding approach. Visit to view the article. (11/24)

Space Historiography at the Handover (Source: Space Review)
In the second part of his three-part essay, David Clow uses one famous Apollo mission as a example of the challenges facing both historians and the general public between what is true and what is believed to be true in space history. Visit to view the article. (11/24)

Orbital’s Cygnus – on a SpaceX Falcon 9? (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
SpaceFlight Insider has received word that the potential prime "contender" to ferry Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus spacecraft to orbit, and thus allow Orbital to complete its requirements under the $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS ) contract - is none other than fellow CRS participant - SpaceX. If this turns out to be true, it would mean that both current CRS firms - would be flying on the same rocket. (11/24)

Uwingu to Beam Almost 90,000 Messages to Mars on Friday (Source: Uwingu)
Uwingu will launch a radio transmission to Mars on Nov. 28, sending almost 90,000 names, messages, and pictures from people on Earth. This is the first time messages from people on Earth have been transmitted to Mars by radio. The transmission, part of Uwingu’s “Beam Me to Mars” project, celebrates the 50th anniversary of 1964 launch of NASA’s Mariner 4 mission. (11/24)

Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report. (11/24)

Twin Astronauts as Human Guinea Pigs... for Science! (Source: BoingBoing)
NASA is studying twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly to understand the affects of long space missions on the body and brain. Scott will spend a year on the International Space Station while Mark stays on Earth as the control in the experiment. Click here. (11/24)

Asteroid Mining to Make Aerospace Profitable as NASA Outsources Contracts (Source: Sputnik)
NASA has concluded contracts with two private-sector enterprises, intending to develop practical approaches to asteroid mining, encouraged by the successful comet landing earlier this month, as such model of space exploration may prove commercially viable, possibly attracting investment capital and other market instruments into the traditionally government dominated aerospace industry. Click here. (11/24)

Russia Considers Early Exit from Space Station (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Reports from Russia last week indicate that at least some factions of the country’s space sector are considering ending the partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) in favor of a new Russian station. This comes less than a month after all of the heads of ISS space agencies reaffirmed their commitments to the station through 2020. This latest announcement reinforces statements made by the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and suggest a growing divide among the 16 nations that participate on the ISS.

On Monday Nov. 17, the Russian paper Kommersant reported that a senior official of the Central Research Institute of Machine Building (a research center for the Russian Federal Space Agency) asserted that the country could begin constructing a new station as early as 2017. The basis for this new station, according to Kommersant, would be the three modules Roscosmos is currently planning on attaching to the ISS between 2017 and 2018. (11/24)

Russia Delivers Crew to Space Station (Source: NBC)
A Russian spaceship delivered three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy to the International Space Station on Sunday after an orbital ride lasting less than six hours. The Soyuz capsule roared into the darkness just after 4 p.m. ET Sunday from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Inside the capsule were Russia's Anton Shkaplerov, NASA's Terry Virts and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Four orbits later, the craft docked with the space station at 9:48 p.m. ET. The freshly arrived trio is joining three other spacefliers who have been living aboard the station for weeks: NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova. (11/24)

Where the Shadows Lie (Source: The Economist)
As mixed successes go, it was a spectacular one. On Nov. 12 the European Space Agency (ESA) announced, with a mixture of relief and triumph, that Philae, a robotic probe, had landed on its target, a 4km-wide comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But, as the minutes and hours passed, it became clear that things had not gone entirely to plan. Philae was indeed down, but it was down in the wrong place, and suffering from a serious shortage of sunshine to boot.

Landing on a comet is tricky, even by the standards of rocket science. Because comet 67P is so small, its gravity is feeble. Anything lifting off from its surface at a speed greater than about one metre a second will zoom away into space. It was vital, then, that Philae make a gentle landing, and have some means of staying put once it was down. That did not happen, thanks to what could only be called hard luck. (11/24)

Beating Branson with Balloons (Source: Arabian Business)
The recent fatal crash of Abu Dhabi-backed Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo that many hoped would soon take tourists into space has reinvigorated questions about the viability of the mission and whether it will take off any time soon. About 800 people — many celebrities and all wealthy — have paid a reported $250,000 to be among the first to travel to space with Virgin Galactic, founded by serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

But for all of Branson’s hoo-ha and grandiose promises of imminent launch dates since 2008, he may indeed be blasted out of the record books by any one of a number of competitors who have been working towards the same goal but with far less marketing. Several of those competitors won’t be taking visitors to what is called near space — generally defined as between 20-100km above the Earth’s surface — in a rocket, but will be doing so in a helium balloon.

One such entrepreneur is Jose Mariano Lopez Urdiales, the founder of zero2infinity, which is planning to make its first test flight with humans next year. Urdiales is confident — actually, he is certain — that a balloon, whether his or another, will take tourists to space before even Branson makes it there on Virgin Galactic’s inaugural flight. (11/24)

Viet Nam Aims to Advance Space Technology (Source: VietNamNet)
Will the Viet Nam Satellite Centre (VNSC) function like USA's NASA or Japan's JAXA when its construction is completed? The Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) thought of establishing the VNSC in 2007 after the Prime Minister approved a national research and development for space technology.

Work on the center is underway at the Lang Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park, some 40km from Ha Noi. Funds for the center's construction comes from two main sources: Japanese ODA (over $600 million) and government's counterpart contribution. We expect the center to open in 2020 as scheduled.

Viet Nam's strategy for space technology development has two main objectives: the first is that by 2020, Viet Nam will be able to design, integrate and test small satellites orbiting the earth; the second is to collect and process data sent back from the satellites in order to provide timely information about natural disasters like floods and storms, and assist with climate change adaptation. (11/24)

How Can We Search for Life on Icy Moons? (Source: Astrobiology)
Our solar system is host to a wealth of icy worlds that may have water beneath the surface. The Cassini spacecraft recently uncovered evidence of a possible ocean under the surface of Saturn' moon, Mimas. How likely is habitability on such icy worlds, and how would we search for it? Click here. (11/24)

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