October 12, 2015

Russian Rocket Engine Delivery to China May Be Agreed by December (Source: Sputnik)
"We are talking about an agreement to deliver Russian rocket engines to China, as well as counter deliveries of Chinese microelectronics we need in spacecraft development," Rogozin said after meeting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. Rogozin opened the second China-Russia Exposition in Harbin, the capital of the northeast Chinese province of Heilongjian bordering Russia, alongside Wang Yang, on Monday. (10/12)

Tennessee Group Plans Lunar Colony (Source: Times Free Press)
The Lamp Post Group has helped fund some intriguing businesses, from the moving and lifting company Bellhops to video production startups Mama Bear Studios and Fancy Rhino. Now the downtown Chattanooga business incubator hopes to take things to a much higher level — really shooting for the stars. They want to put a human colony on the moon.

"We're launching The Lunar Project, a serious effort to establish a settlement on the moon within the next two decades," says the website for WayPaver Labs, a nonprofit organization at the Lamp Post Group's hip, loft-style offices in the historic Loveman's Building, Chattanooga's former flagship department store at Market and Eighth streets.

WayPaver Labs' people say they are serious about their mission. They plan to bring together experts and act as a clearinghouse for information about lunar living, which they say technology has made more feasible than ever. And innovations required to make the moon livable, such as providing breathable air and drinkable water, could have big payoffs, they say, for an increasingly crowded Earth. (10/12)

Editorial: Humans Orbiting Mars (Source: Space News)
As NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden is fond of saying, “We are closer today to sending people to Mars than even before.” With the current development of the Space Launch System and Orion, NASA will have key pieces of the hardware needed to send humans into deep space. A new world of commercial space services has demonstrated the potential to lower the cost of accessing low Earth orbit (and perhaps beyond), freeing up NASA to focus its energies on grander goals.

NASA’s Evolvable Mars campaign, while lacking needed definition, represents an important first step in aligning the efforts of its various field centers, personnel and contractor base to the Mars goal. In addition, a recent presentation by the NASA chief medical officer indicates that a major previous unknown — the effect of space radiation — has now become more of an issue of informed consent rather than a roadblock to exploration.

NASA’s constrained budget remains a limiting factor. The 2014 National Academies’ Pathways to Exploration report was clear on this: No existing NASA plan for human spaceflight would be possible under a flat budget scenario. Even a budget that grew with inflation would not succeed in getting humans to Mars before the mid-2040s, given the Mars exploration scenario on which NASA was basing its planning. Click here. (10/12)

Our Generation Needs to Value Space Exploration (Source: The Maneater)
As technology on Earth flourishes, people tend to care less about the space program. We are stuck in our own little worlds, literally. Mars is believed to have had at one point an ocean approximately 4.3 billion years ago, but as for the presence of liquid water, the discovery was confirmed just recently Sept. 28 when NASA held a press briefing to announce the news. It has been well-known for a long time that Mars already held water trapped in ice caps, but having knowledge of the presence of liquid water could potentially lead to a bigger phenomenon: extraterrestrial life. (10/12)

Mauna Kea Rules Nullified (Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald)
Emergency rules regarding nighttime usage of Mauna Kea were invalidated after a Third Circuit Court ruling Friday in Hilo. A partial motion for summary judgment was granted in a lawsuit filed by the Honolulu-based Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation on behalf of E. Kalani Flores. Parties typically seek summary judgments when they wish to resolve a case without it going to trial.

In a statement posted on the legal corporation’s Facebook page, attorney David Kauila Kopper said “the Court recognized that the State did not follow the rule of law in creating these emergency rules. The State can no longer arrest innocent people who are on Mauna Kea at night for cultural or spiritual reasons.”

The regulations, written by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, were set to last 120 days after being signed into effect by Gov. David Ige on July 14, shortly after construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty-Meter Telescope halted for the second time this year when a group of protesters who oppose the telescope project blocked Mauna Kea Access Road. (10/11)

Stage Set for Ex-Im Reauthorization Bill Vote (Source: Space News)
A bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank will go to the House floor later this month after a rarely-used parliamentary maneuver. A majority of members of the House signed a discharge petition by Friday, setting the stage for a vote as soon as Oct. 26 on the legislation. The bill had been held up in the House Financial Services Committee by its chairman, an opponent of the bank. Ex-Im had been used extensively in recent years to finance commercial satellites and launches provided by U.S. companies. (10/12)

Congress Wants Details on Mars Plan (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The release of a NASA report about its human Mars exploration plans didn't go over well with some members of Congress. At a hearing Friday morning by the House's space subcommittee, members criticized the "Journey to Mars" report released last week by the agency as lacking details on budgets and schedules for sending humans to Mars. Members also used the hearing, where two former NASA officials testified, to criticize cuts proposed by the administration in the Space Launch System and Orion. (10/11)

Cosmonaut: Mars One Volunteers Have "Unstable Minds" (Source: Tass)
A veteran Russian cosmonaut says that people who want to take one-way trips to Mars have "unstable minds." Gennady Padalka, who set a record for cumulative time spent in space at 848 days when he returned from the ISS last month, described those volunteering for efforts like Mars One as "people with unstable minds" and unfit for spaceflight. Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, who returned with Padalka after a short stay on the station, said he might consider a one-way trip, but "any cosmonaut would be happy to participate in a there-and-back flight." (10/12)

SpaceShipTwo Goes Back To Improved Rubber Fuel (Source: Aviation Week)
Virgin Galactic confirms that following a series of successful hot-fire rocket tests, it has reverted to an improved form of the original rubber-based fuel for powering the company’s suborbital SpaceShipTwo (SS2), the second version of which is nearing completion in Mojave. (10/12)

China Enters Search for Aliens with Construction of World's Biggest Radio Telescope (Source: Independent)
Chinese scientists are constructing the world's biggest radio telescope, which will be more effective than any other at picking up weak messages from outer space that could be linked to intelligent life. Assembly of the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, began in July and is expected to be completed in 2016.

Once finished, the reflector dish of the telescope will be 500 metres in diameter, replacing Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, only 300 metres in diameter, as the world's largest. The wider the dish, the more effective the telescope becomes at picking up weak messages from outer space. Click here for a photo. (10/12)

ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Search to Narrow (Source: ESA)
Later this month, scientists and engineers will meet to choose which two, of four possible landing sites for the ExoMars 2018 mission, should be retained as candidates. ExoMars is a joint two-mission endeavour between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency. The Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli, will be launched in March 2016, arriving at Mars seven months later. The rover and surface platform will depart in 2018, with touchdown on Mars in 2019. (10/9)

Meet the Martians (Source: New Yorker)
In an ideal universe, the crewless spacecraft that we send to Mars would be sterile. (Humans are, by definition, contaminants.) In reality, for both technical and economic reasons, they are not. Rather, they are cleaned up enough to satisfy the Committee on Space Research, the international body that sets the ground rules for extraterrestrial exploration. The relevant COSPAR standard was conceived back in the nineteen-fifties, and it relies on an estimate of how likely Earth organisms are to survive on Mars.

But, given how little scientists knew about conditions on the red planet at the time, Conley said, it “was pretty much a case of sticking their fingers in the air and saying ‘Hmmm.’ ” Still, the discussions were contentious, and they dragged on for more than a decade. Eventually, the committee settled on what it considered an acceptable level of contamination risk: one in a thousand. In other words, humanity must limit itself to one chance in a thousand of seeding another planet with terrestrial life in the course of exploring it. Click here. (10/12)

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