November 30, 2014

Orion Gives NASA and Houston a Means to Fly, a Cause for Hope (Source: Houston Chronicle)
On Thursday, NASA plans to blast Orion 3,600 miles into space. It will then make a fiery fall back to Earth at 20,000 mph before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. It’s just a test flight. No astronauts will be on board, and none will climb into Orion any time soon. But this mission offers NASA and engineers an achievement they desperately need.

The last dozen years have been especially cruel for Johnson Space Center. The loss of the shuttle Columbia in 2003 shook the nation’s faith in human spaceflight. Seven years later, President Obama canceled Constellation, NASA’s troubled exploration program. Finally, in 2011, the shuttles stopped flying entirely. Orion could ignite NASA’s effort to reach for Mars, with humans on board. Click here. (11/30)

Rocky Man with Spaceport Plan Could Fly North with Proposal (Source: CQ News)
The man with the spaceport plan for Rockhampton is threatening to take his proposals to Townsville if he doesn't get much local interest. Former Rockhampton man John Moody earlier this month proposed to build a $45 million spaceport, which could horizontally launch spacecrafts like the XCOR Lynx from Rockhampton Airport.

Mr Moody, who now lives in Brisbane, said space experts had flagged the city as one of the most ideal locations in Australia for a spacecraft terminal. He also proposed a 457m-extension of the existing runway, which accounted for a large portion of the cost. However after a recent trip to the United States Mr Moody discovered he could cut the cost of the proposed spaceport to almost a quarter of the original at $12.5 million.

He said after he spoke with USA spacecraft industry leaders, including XCOR president Andrew Nelson, he realised he didn't need to extend the existing runway as he first thought. When he returned from the USA, Mr. Moody met with state government chief economist Steve Kanowski and State Development, Infrastructure and Planning advisor Greg Fahey. He claimed they said to him "run with it, it's a fantastic idea... now is the time to build the spaceport". (11/30)

After Wrangle, Europe Set to Approve Ariane 6 Launcher (Source: Rappler)
After a two-year debate sparked by the emergence of low-cost competition, European space nations on Tuesday, December 2, are likely to back plans to build a new rocket, the Ariane 6, say sources. Intended to be ready for 2020, the rocket will replace the Ariane 5, taking its place alongside the lightweight Vega and Russia's veteran Soyuz at the European Space Agency (ESA) base in Kourou, French Guiana.

A medium to heavy launcher that traces its roots to 1985, the Ariane 5 has 62 successful operations to its name and accounts for more than half of the world's commercial launch market. According to ESA, it has generated "direct economic benefits" in Europe of 50 billion euros ($125 billion). But the workhorse of space also carries hefty costs – and now finds itself flanked by nimble US commercial competitors such as SpaceX. (11/30)

ISRO to Test-Drop Crew Module in December (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
Aiming to start a manned space mission, the ISRO will launch the GSLV Mk-III in the second week of December to study its performance and carry out a crew module recovery experiment through it. The 630-tonne launch vehicle, designated as LVM3-X, will carry CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment) weighing about 3.65 tonnes. ISRO intends to study the impact of heat on the crew module when it enters the earth atmosphere. (11/30)

India to Test-Launch Advanced Rocket in December (Source: Hindustan Times)
ISRO will test launch India's souped-up rocket - GSLV Mark III - from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh between December 15 and 20 to test the atmospheric stability of the launch vehicle. Once ISRO masters heavier launch vehicles capable of putting four tonne satellites into orbit, India will not have to depend on France to put its bigger satellites into orbit and save precious foreign exchange, besides getting more business. (11/30)

Editorial: NASA Needs to Add Some "Weight" to Spaceflight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
It has long been known that microgravity takes a toll on the human body. Muscles atrophy, the eyes are subjected to increased intracranial pressure, bones lose mass. A prolonged period in weightlessness may result in permanent bone loss and make it difficult to survive in Earth’s gravity. Yet although a number of plans have been proposed for artificial gravity in deep space missions, NASA, at present, does not appear to have plans to use artificial gravity on a mission to Mars. Click here. (11/30)

Service Module of China's Returned Lunar Orbiter Reaches L2 Point (Source: Xinhua)
The service module belonging to China's unmanned lunar orbiter has reached the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2), the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said Saturday. As of Friday, the service module had been flying for 28 days, and was 421,000 kilometers away from Earth and 63,000 km from the moon. All experiments are going well. (11/29)

Philae's On a Comet, Hayabusa2 To an Asteroid -- What's the Difference? (Source: Space Policy Online)
Robotic space science missions to comets and asteroids are in the news right now because of Europe's Rosetta/Philae mission to Comet 67P and Japan's imminent launch of Hayabusa2 to an asteroid.   Many may wonder what the difference is between comets and asteroids and what other spacecraft have investigated them. Click here. (11/29)

First Rocket Landing in Space Coast History Could Happen in Weeks (Source: WESH)
Never mind rocket launches -- the first rocket landing in Space Coast history is a couple of weeks away, if things work out. SpaceX is expected to announce this week that the company is bringing in a revolutionary ocean-going landing pad for its next launch. In a Cape Canaveral hangar is a powerful Falcon 9 rocket, set for launch on Dec. 16. In the Gulf, ready to head for the Cape, is the ocean-going landing pad for the rocket, a converted oil-drilling barge. (11/28)

S3 to Offer Zero-Gravity Flights (Source: Nugget)
Sports tourism has been eclipsed by something a little more interstellar. That's right – a space tourism attraction is coming to the city in 2015, offing the public the chance to float in zero gravity. Swiss Space Systems (S3) announced Friday it will be offering zero-gravity flights out of North Bay next year aboard a modified Airbus 340 that will allow passengers to experience weightlessness.

Although passengers won't actually be going into space, Feierbach said the plane will perform a series of parabolas at 30,000 feet to achieve about 25 seconds of zero gravity each time. “They will get to experience what an astronaut would feel,” said Robert Feierback, noting such flights are used for space travel training. He said the flight packages, which will range in price from $2,800 to $7,000, are the first of their kind in Canada and the most inexpensive in the world.

Editor's Note: S3 recently opened an office in Florida at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, in anticipation of future parabolic flight and orbital space launches. Their office is at the state-owned Space Life Sciences Lab outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center. (11/28)

Why We Should Mine the Moon (Source: The Conversation)
To date, all human economic activity has depended on the material and energy resources of a single planet; understandably, perhaps. It is conceivable though that future advances in space exploration could change this by opening our closed planetary economy to essentially unlimited external resources of energy and raw materials.

Look up at the Moon this evening, and you might be gazing at a solution. The Earth’s closest celestial neighbour seems likely to play a major role and already a number of private companies have been created to explore the possibilities. as a result of work over the past four decades, we do now know enough to make a first-order assessment of lunar resource potential. In doing so it is useful to distinguish between three possible future applications of such resources. Click here. (11/28)

Russian Space System of Ten Satellites to be Organized by 2018 (Source: Itar-Tass)
By 2018, Russia will have a unified space system of ten satellites, where the first satellite will be launched in 2015, Deputy Commander of the Aerospace Defence Major General Anatoly Nestechuk said in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio station on Saturday.

Earlier, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said with the new unified space system Russia will be aware of launches of present and promising ballistic missiles across the world. He said the new system would replace the missile attack warning means, which were designed back in the Soviet times. (11/29)

Astronaut Abby Invited to Orion Launch (Source: KARE)
As NASA's next spaceship is about to make an historic debut, a Minneapolis teenager will have a front row seat. An unmanned Orion spacecraft will launch from Florida's coast on Dec. 4. Abigail Harrison, 17, will be watching closely. The South High student, better known to the masses as "Astronaut Abby," was invited to report live from the Orion launch. The aspiring astronaut has become well known for her mission to be the first person to walk on Mars in 2030. (11/29)

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