January 21, 2016

A Flaw in Stephen Hawking's Fear of Finding Intelligent Aliens (Source: Business Insider)
While Hawking fears that giving aliens our cosmic address could potentially bring death and ruin — much like what happened to many groups of Native Americans when Europeans invaded North America — Tarter thinks that aliens advanced enough to skip across star systems and reach Earth will be friendly, not aggressive.

"The idea of a civilization which has managed to survive far longer than we have ... and the fact that that technology remains an aggressive one, to me, doesn't make sense," Tarter told Business Insider. "The pressure of long-term survival — of limiting population ... I think requires that the evolutionary trends that ratcheted up our intelligence ... continues to evolve into something that's cooperative and take on global scale problems."

As humans continue to evolve, our society and the way we handle controversies changes along with us. "We're kinder and gentler than we've ever been in the past," Tarter said. According to one cross-cultural study of 31 hunter-gatherer tribes, researchers discovered evidence that more than half — 64% — engaged in warfare within a two-year period. Yet that taste for warfare has dwindled over the years, says Tarter, with the aid of emerging technologies and innovation. (1/20)

Budget Cuts Mean Russia's New Spaceport Will Have Only One Angara Launch Pad (Source: Tass)
Only one launch pad for Angara carrier rockets will be built at the Vostochny spaceport, deputy head of the Center for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure Andrey Okhlopkov said on Wednesday. "There will be one universal [launch pad]," Okhlopkov said adding that it will be capable of servicing all types of Angara rocket, including Angara-A5V. The decision was made after federal target programs for developing cosmodromes were cut. (1/20)

Nudge ’Em or Nuke ’Em: Asteroid Defense Plans Take Shape in U.S. and Russia (Source: GeekWire)
What should the world do about the potential threat of a catastrophic asteroid collision? This month NASA established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to manage the issue. Meanwhile, the Russians and the Europeans are talking about diverting nasty space rocks with nuclear weapons. Click here. (1/20)

Russian Space Agency Acales Back plans as Crisis Shrinks Budget (Source: Reuters)
Russia will spend 30 percent less on its space program in the next decade and scale back a slew of projects to save money in the face of tanking oil prices and a falling rouble, a plan presented by the country's space agency showed on Wednesday,

According to the blueprint, presented to Russian media by Igor Komarov, head of space agency Roscosmos, the space program budget for 2016-2025 will be cut to 1.4 trillion roubles ($17.36 billion), down from 2 trillion roubles. That means plans to launch a manned flight to the moon will be pushed back five years - to 2035 from 2030 - and that development of a reusable space rocket meant to be built by 2025 will, for now, be abandoned. (1/20)

Ancient Quasars in Distant Galaxies Caught Switching on Suddenly (Source: New Scientist)
Most cosmic events happen on huge timescales. Not so for quasars – the bright centres of galaxies that are powered by supermassive black holes gobbling down gas and dust. We have just seen them ignite in a matter of years. Astronomers expect quasars to use up their fuel and settle down into quiet galaxies – a process that should take hundreds of thousands of years. So last year, when a dozen quasars were spotted shutting down in just hundreds of days, it was a shock. (1/20)

2016 Goals Vital to Commercial Crew Success (Source: NASA)
NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners Boeing and SpaceX are on the eve of America's return to human spaceflight launches. By the time the year closes, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will be poised for the flight tests that allow our astronauts to travel to the International Space Station lifting off from Florida's Space Coast.

It won't be easy. Successful missions will require a comprehensive testing regimen of numerous systems on the ground and in space. That is why the outline of tasks for 2016 is so important. The result of each evaluation will be vital in the design of the systems. From parachute tests, to launch pad certifications, to the completion of spacecraft that will fly into orbit, this year offers both companies opportunities to build on the momentum of 2015 and carry it through to landmark space achievements in 2017. Click here. (1/20)

Russia to Spend Over $300 Million on Developing Super Heavy Rocket (Source: Tass)
The development of key components and technology for the creation of a super heavy space rocket system will cost Russia’s federal budget 24.3 billion rubles ($305.64 million), according to a new draft Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 prepared for the government’s consideration.

According to the document, the conceptual design of the complex with the launch vehicle and the upper stage is planned to be presented in 2018. The new super heavy rocket is expected to take 80 tonnes of payload to low Earth orbit and at least 20 tonnes of payload - to the lunar polar orbits. (1/20)

Russia's Space Budget Funds New Phoenix Medium-Lift Rocket (Source: Tass)
Expenditures on developing the Phoenix carrier rocket have been actually kept unchanged in Russia’s new federal space program for 2016-2025, according to the document released by the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) on Wednesday. Under the new document, the Phoenix project’s financing is expected at 29.3 billion rubles ($367 million) whereas the previous project stipulated the sum of over 30 billion rubles ($375 million).

Under the new federal space program, the work to develop a medium-class new-generation space and rocket system (the Phoenix project) will begin from 2018. The Phoenix rocket is designed to deliver a payload of up to 17 tonnes to a low orbit (including as part of a manned flight program) and up to 2.5 tonnes to a geostationary orbit with the help of a booster. (1/20)

Two Antares Launches to Headline 2016 for NASA Wallops (Source: DeMarVa Now)
Wallops Flight Facility rockets are expected to return to the International Space Station this year after spending a full calendar year on the sidelines of one of NASA's most prominent programs. If the NASA space center's lineup of launches planned for 2016 were a playbill, the two Antares launches, tentatively scheduled for this summer and fall, would surely get top billing.

But there is a strong supporting cast of seven sounding rocket flights, beginning Feb. 1 with the planned launch of a Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket. Plans also call for 10 sounding rockets to blast skyward at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, missions managed by Wallops staff despite the 2,000-mile separation.

And then there are the balloon launches — a dozen in all, including a round-the-world trek originating in New Zealand. Furthermore, aeronautics fans can expect a full slate of aircraft flights all over the globe, pushing the scientific envelope. (1/20)

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