December 28, 2015

How $231 Million Was Wasted on a Missile Defense Program (Source: LA Times)
Proponents of the Precision Tracking Space System were not shy about touting its supposed benefits. The head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said PTSS represented an “unprecedented capability” to protect America and its allies against a nuclear attack by the likes of North Korea and Iran. A key congressional supporter described it as “a necessity for our country.”

Based on those promises, the Obama administration and Congress poured more than $230 million into design and engineering work on PTSS starting in 2009. Four years later, the government quietly killed the program before a single satellite was launched.

The Missile Defense Agency said PTSS fell victim to budget constraints. In fact, the program was spiked after outside experts determined that the entire concept was hopelessly flawed and the claims made by its advocates were erroneous. It was the latest in a string of expensive failures for the missile agency. Click here. (12/26)

What Will Happen to the First Recovered Falcon-9 Booster? (Source: CollectSpace)
What do you do with a 15-story-tall space artifact? That's a question that SpaceX now faces given the historic landing of its Falcon 9 rocket's first stage on Dec. 21 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. SpaceX intends to refurbish and re-fly its stages. But according to Elon Musk, that's not the plan for this, its first-ever recovered stage. "I think we will probably keep this one on the ground, just because it is kind of unique. It is the first one we brought back."

The recovered stage became the first tenant of SpaceX's new horizontal integration facility, a long hangar erected at the entrance to Pad 39A. "[We will] do a static fire at the launch pad there, to confirm that all systems are good and that we are able to do a full thrust hold-down firing of the rocket," Musk said after the stage landed. The static fire will also test the modifications SpaceX has made to Pad 39A to support its rockets.

SpaceX has yet to hint at, let alone perhaps decide, where the rocket stage may land for display. So in the absence of anything official, here are five suggestions where the Falcon 9 artifact might fit in, including outside their launch control facility in Florida, and the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (12/28) 

Pauahi, the Search for Knowledge and TMT (Source: West Hawaii Today)
Kamehameha Schools taught me the value of ʻimi naʻauao (the search for knowledge). It has shaped and defined my character. In celebrating our founder’s birthday, I am reminded of the value of education. It is ʻimi naʻauao that established my foundational reasons to support the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). As I nānā i ke kumu (look to the source), my sense of self and who I am tells me that building TMT is the pono (righteous) thing to do.

First and foremost, TMT is a non-profit organization. It does not seek to profit investors or shareholders. TMT seeks to reinvest its profits into supporting its mission through the value of furthering education via research. Greed and wealth are not the foundations of TMT. TMT should be considered a part of the hui of other non-profit organizations (i.e. schools, foundations and charities).

TMT’s research will help to revolutionize our understanding of the universe and ensure that Hawaii remains the global leader in astronomy. Astronomy should be seen in Hawaii as a source of pride as it has enhanced discoveries and formulated international collaborations perpetuating ʻimi naʻauao to advance astronavigation (navigating by the stars). (12/27)

UAE and China Agree to Cooperate in Space (Source: Zawya)
The UAE has signed a memorandum of understanding with the People's Republic of China concerning defining a framework for collaboration in studies and development in space science, as well as the peaceful exploration of outer space. The signing came during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to China. The visit aimed at exploring collaboration opportunities in various sectors, including energy, space, financial services, commerce, transportation and education. (12/28)

ISRO to Have One Launch Mission Per Month on Average (Source: ANI)
An Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Liquid Propulsion Systems Center scientist has said that the organization will be having one launch mission every month on an average. He said that the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System when fully operationalized, will revolutionize the GPS services apart from giving accurate information for navigation purposes. (12/28)

Putin Signs Decree on Dissolving Federal Space Agency (Source: Sputnik)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on dissolving the country's Federal Space Agency in line with the creation of Roscosmos state corporation, the Kremlin press service said Monday. The agency will be dissolved in accordance with a federal law of July 13, 2015, according to the presidential decree, published on Kremlin's official website. The decree comes into force on January 1, 2016. (12/28)

Aliens, Bunny-Killing Rovers, and a Moon Base: What is NASA “Hiding”? (Source: Ars Technica)
Spend any time around NASA public affairs specialists, as I do, and you'll eventually get the eye roll. It comes when someone inquires about aliens or faked moon landings or all manner of other nonsense. One of the more recent eye-rollers originated in Russia, where officials said sea plankton was growing on the exterior of the International Space Station. (It wasn't.) Click here. (12/27)

Japan's Space Security Worries are Not Just China and North Korea, But Also the U.S. (Source: Forbes)
Our understanding of what space technologies can do and where they are headed is heavily conditioned by political realities around us. These realities are worth gauging in East Asia, where the dominant powers are hostage to simple-minded views especially in the United States. China is viewed as a strategic competitor and Japan as a docile ally. The simplicity is misleading.

Take Japan, for instance. Had you listened carefully at a recent public space symposium on Capitol Hill, you would understand why Japan is the space power to watch. The prominent featured speaker was The Honorable Takeo Kawamura. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the man who almost single-handedly turned around the tenor and directions of Japan’s space policy. What he helped set in motion for Japan is widely known as the Kawamura Initiative.

On Capitol Hill, he made history again. This time he put forth what is best thought of as the Kawamura Declaration of Coexistence. His speech, intended for an American audience but also meant for Chinese ears, was momentous. He had come this time to America, he said, to deepen the U.S.-Japan alliance. It would not be too much to say, he went on, that to do just that the time had come for Japan to rid itself of dependence on the United States and to stand alongside as an equal with its security ally. (12/28)

No comments: