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Saturday, September 30, 2006

UP Areospace to Launch Second Rocket During X-Prize Oct. 21st

UP Aerospace will make a second launch attempt from Spaceport America in New Mexico on October 21st despite the low altitude loss of its first vehicle the past week. The now scheduled X-Prize Cup weekend launch will include the cremated remains of actor James "Scotty" Doohan of the Star Trek series and NASA Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper aboard the SpaceLoft XL 20' rocket.

The first rocket went into a spin during ascent 10-seconds after ignition at the high desrt temporary launch facility at Upham, New Mexico on September 25. The rocket climbed to 8 miles if the planned 70 before crashing. After a week-long intensive ground and air search, the Spaceloft XL-1 rocket has been located but remains unrecovered perhaps requiring a helicopter to lift it from the desert floor and brush thicket within the White Sands Missile Range.

UP Areospace hopes to launch the rocket 30-times per year upon perfecting its systems.

Is Space Coast Going Suborbital?

Kennedy Space Center space shuttle runway may be opened to private suborbital space tourism firms.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration appears to be beginning a small niche organizational culture change in its association with the the smaller niche commercial suborbital and orbital rocket firms presently. Exactly how far the nation's space agency will go in releasing its hold on space access is yet to be seen.

With several small private space firms endeavoring to start suborbital tourism over the next 24-to-36 months for the public to fly to space, the Kennedy Space Center has engaged in an environmental assessment and an informational solictitation on the use of the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle fleet runway. Use of the runway would provide an East Coast launch option for the growing number of firms seeking a breakthrough in tourism.

How serious NASA may be in opening its runway and launch facilities to the commercial firms will be measured in part by how much cost recovery costs are charged as compared to commercial spaceports and how many of its facilities will be opned to the suborbital business firms such as Kennedy, Wallops, and West Coast sites.

NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin has enabled SpaceX and Rocketplane-Kisler to pursue a commercial option to provide resupply of the International Space Station in 2010 boosting the two firms with nearly $500-million in space agency funding to puruse the private option this past summer. NASA has also formed a venture capital fund called Red Planet.

Space Race Builds Among Firms

The Dream Chaser is from the Langley Spaceplane design. Video animation.
The NewSpace Race is on! It is composed of several entrepreneurial leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia building new space vehicles to carry commercial paying space tourists to suborbital altitudes in 2008 or 2009.

This week BensonSpace Co. and Starchaser have joined the race to design, develop and, launch the first suborbital space vehicles challenging Virgin Galactic's media drive forward. Meanwhile, Space Adventures continues work with the Russians to build the Explorer but declined further comment this week.

Rocketplane is also expected to be among the pioneering firms in the race-to-market. Blue Origin is rounding out the 1st-tier and continues to make progress in secrecy. Planet Space is also entering the space tourist market in Canada.

Each of the firms are counting on there being a large market among fairly affluent people who have love of space. Thousands around the world have expressed interest to the primary space launch firms through cash reservations or direct contact.

Starchaser says that it will seek to launch from an American spaceport but would not rule out a launch from Sweden or Australia. Virgin Galactic will conduct test flights in Mojave, California with commercial flights from New Mexico. Space Adventures will test fly its vehicle in Russia with commercial flights in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The Rocketplane will launch from Burns Flat, Oklahoma. Blue Origin will launch from Texas. Planet Space will launch from Canada.

NASA seems to be warming to the idea of commercial suborbital activities by looking at how to use the Kennedy Space Center shuttle landing runway facilities after the shuttle retirement in 2010. Others are touting Wallops Island, Virginia -- once the prime launch site for the first commercial rocket.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wonder Woman Returns to Earth

Anousheh Ansari, an entrepreneurial wunderkind of the NewSpaceAge, has returned to Earth. Landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan safetly with cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and astronaut Jeff Williams from the orbiting International Space Station, the crew made a textbook landing.

Riding a firey re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere aboard the Soyuz TMA-8 capsule, Russian recovery crews awaited the chance to the space travellers as it crossed the pre-dawn skies over the Asian nation.

Celebrations are planned at 5:30 AM Friday at Kustanai, Kazakhstan followed by yet another large celebration at the Chkalovsky Airbase, Star City, Russia at 10 AM Friday.

Virgin Galactic Readies Tourist Spacecraft for 2009 Flights

Virgin Galactic entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson displayed SpaceShipTwo's (SS2) interior and other aspects of the highly touted space vehicle that will launch test flights from the Mojave Spaceport in 2008 and commercial tourist flights of America's Spaceport in Upham, New Mexico in 2009.

"It's strange to think that in 12 months we'll be unveiling the actual plane, and then test flights will commence right after that, Branson said in New York City today. The SS2 is an air-launched vehicle designed to seat eight people – six passengers and two pilots. Commercial passengers will be charged $190,000 and 7,000 people have already expressed serious interest in a suborbital flight.

Video: "Let the Journey Begin" is an animation of the SS2 Enterprise best viewed in FULL SCREEN option and a video report from the BBC.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Soyuz to Land in Kazakh Steppes

Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams, the 13th crew of the International Space Station, will undock from the station in their Soyuz spacecraft at 5:53 p.m. EDT Thursday for a landing at 9:14 p.m. in the steppes of Kazakhstan. [NASA-TV]

With them will be Spaceflight Participant Anousheh Ansari, [video], an American businesswoman who flew to the space station with the Expedition 14 crew and is spending about eight days aboard. She was on the station under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).

Over 10-million hits have been made on Anousheh !!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ansari: Watching the World Go By

Anousheh Ansari is literally "watching the world go by" from the orbiting space station as she makes daily entries into her BLOG from space. The 'space flight participant' adeptly describes the world without borders, the clouds, agricultural lands, thunder storms, and the sunsets as a living remote sensing satellite. But in Anousheh's latest entry, her favorite description is saved for the stars --- "the universe at night."

"It looks like someone has spread diamond dust over a black velvet blanket," says Ansari in a powerful description of her faith and inner strength to pursue her life through the "positive energy" she has found in space.

Send your message to Anousheh HERE. She is scheduled to return to Earth Thursday, September 28, as a rising star in the NewSpace Age.

Anousheh in Orbit: Say Hello

Anousheh Ansari with astronauts, cosmonauts on orbit.

New Space Generation Recruitment Poster

The Space Generation Avisory Council is the non-governmental organization (NGO) that brings younger people from 60 countries around the world together to act in the promotion of space policy issues at the domestic and international levels. The organization has relaesed a new recruiting poster. The Space Generation is permanent observer status in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and is a member of the International Astronautical Federation. College and university students are encouraged to sign-up and participate.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay in 1971.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rocketplane-Kistler and Orbital Dispute COTS Business Plan

Orbital Sciences Corporation, a Dulles, Va.-based rocket launch firm, has terminated its relationship with Rocketplane-Kistler in dispute over the venture's business plans, according to an Orbital spokesperson today. Last month NASA named Rocketplane-Kisler to recieve $270-million federal funds as one of two under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to help the federal space agency bridge the gap with commercial astronauts and cargo supply launches to the International Space Station. Rocketplane-Kistler President Randy Brinkley said that the firm had a new partner willing to bring $10-million or more to the table to fill the void left by the exit of Orbital from the project. The new firm went unnamed. The K-1 rocket is expected to cost $600-million with the firm pledging to raise 2 private to every 1 government dollar. The K-1 rocket is expected to be launched from the Woomera Spaceport in South Australia late 2008.

Karman Line Missed by SpaceLoft

UP Aerospace provided spectators the first launch from America's Spaceport this afternoon in the high desert of New Mexico [video] but it was not the complete success that the commercial mission planners had hoped.

According to initial reports, the sounding rocket climbed to 40,000 feet . It fell short of its planned apogee and staying in the upper atmosphere failing to achieve the Kármán line of outer space. The rocket was delayed for nearly 7-hours from its original 7:30 AM launch time due to an "anomaly." The 20-foot SpaceLoft X-L rocket took off at 2:14 p.m. for what was to be a 13-minute flight topping out at 70 miles above the earth and ending at White Sands.

A second launch of the sounding rocket is planned from Spaceport America on October 21st during the X-Prize Cup events. It will carry the cremated remains of Star Trek's "Scotty" James Doohan and Mercury astronaut "Gordo" Cooper.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Desert Countdown Underway!

Spaceport America is set to have its first sounding rocket launch by UP Aerospace Monday. The site, a gem in the rough, has no contemporary facilities or aminites of modernity save the rocket expected to blast 70-miles into the blue desert skies for 15-minutes of flight before landing in the White Sands Missile Range, [video]. It will take the sounding rocket mere seconds to reach space.

The launch is slated for 9:30 AM ET Monday, but UP Aerospace has said there could be as much as a 10-hour delay or to a later date if there are significant technical issues during the final countdown. Security around the NewSpaceAge launch site is now HIGH.

Astropreneur Ansari to Launch Explorer Space Fleet in 2008

High-tech entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, now on-orbit in the space station, has big space business plans when she returns to Earth. The Texan's technology firm is in partnership with Arlington, Virginia-based Space Adventures to build a fleet of Russian-made suborbital spacecraft to take commercial passengers to over 100 km to the edge of the space.

With over 7,000 people already expressing serious interest in paying $200,000 for suborbital flights, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes today that "space is ripe for tourism." Firms are racing to fill the market niche. Among the six or seven serious contenders to be commercial space flight vendors, Ansari's Prodea Systems has partnered with Space Adventures to have the Moscow, Russia-based Myasishchev Design Bureau build a fleet of suborbital spacecraft known as Explorer.

The Explorer spacecraft is based upon the consists of a carrier aircraft, the M-55X Geofizika plane, and a five passenger rocket module, the C-21. The C-21 will be launched off the modified fuselage of a M-55X high-altitude Geofizika acting as a first stage. Tests begin in Russia next year.

The Ansari's are planning spaceport investments in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates to begin launching the C-21 commerce suborbital spacecraft in 2008 or 2009. With Anousheh Ansari vowing to be the first to market ahead of Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and others in carrying paying passangers suborbital, the real curiousity is what American spaceport runway will loft the C21 Explorer to space.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Human Effect of Zero-G to 1-G

The human effect of being in the zero-gravity (0-G) environment of space to the one-gravity (1-G) of Earth was evident at a press conference [video] Friday in Houston when NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, 43, collapsed twice in a matter of minutes after her return from less than two-weeks in the microgravity of space.

The twice-space walking astronaut recommenced construction of the space station in space this month. Astronauts typically lose 10 percent to 14 percent of their blood volume while in space, regaining it in a day or two.
NASA is now beginning to focus medical research on the human effects of long-duration space flight in preparation for a trek to Mars in 2030. Heidemarie shows that the adjustment to Mars gravity after a 6-month trek to the Red Planet could be a challenge to humans.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Anousheh's Smell of Space: a "burned almond cookie"

Anousheh Anasri continues her BLOG from space with an adept description of the smell of "space" as a "burned almond cookie." She provides a delightful depiction of her launch aboard the Soyuz. The first female space 'tourist' bout with with 48-hour space sickness initially on-orbit is sobering as to the realities of initial zero-g space travel. But it is the entry into the docking portal and the orbital space station that gives the reader a real sense of the experience with the sensation of "smell" that adds character to her September 22 blog entry. The characterizing of the space station as "home" summarized her feelings in a word.

Human-rated Atlas 5 for Bigelow?

Lockheed Martin may be entering the human commercial space race with its Atlas 5 booster at the urging of Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow according to the firm's press release and Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log.

Bigelow Aerospace has been hard at work building private space stations with its first boosted to orbit last July. But the real key to long-term success is a human-rated booster to ferry commercial space passnegers to-and-from a larger orbital platform early in the next decade.

The Russians boosted the first private space station on a coverted ICBM and plan a second boost of the Gensis 2 this coming winter. With leadership requiring alternatives, Bigelow is looking for additional boosters beyond the Russian ICBMs, the Soyuz and the SpaceX Falcon 9.

Enter Lockheed Martin. The aerospace giant, recently named to build NASA's lunar vehicle, has agreed to work with Bigelow to gain a human-qualified flight certification . Lockheed's Atlas 5 must be certified by the FAA/AST as a human-rated booster to carry private astronauts and passengers to LEO and dock with the Bigelow space station.

Richardson's High-Tech Development Model Worthy

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is one of those rare public exceutives taking the long-view. His successful bid to bring the X-Prize Cup to the high desert of Southern New Mexico in 2004 is now in its second year next month bringing thousands of visitors and, perhaps, millions of dollars in new investment to the Land of Enchantment.

In 2005, Governor Richardson doubled-down his bet with a new commercial spaceport known now as Spaceport America investing over $100-million of the state terasury to build a $225-million plus 21st Century spaceport. The spaceport will be buoyed by a multiyear deal with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic suborbital space tourism firm. But the hard business side of the deal has many tangible and intangible benefits that go without frequent mention.

The business community of Southern New Mexico will witness sustained growth in areospace business location and expansion, sustained high-tech work force demand, increased tourism along the state's Space Trail, expanding lodging, meals, and other retail sales from the thousands of new residents and visitors coming to be a part of the NewSpace Age confererences, businesses, and museums. The tangible benefits are real economic hard currency dollars and cents.

The intangible benefits of the state's investment may be even more lasting yet more difficult to measure in the short-term.

In response to the aerospace effort by the governor and the majority of state legislators, New Mexico State University launched a new major in areospace engineering last year. Literally thousands of k-12 public school students are being exposed to new space technologies. These students are being encouraged to dream, to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for new careers. The inspiration of a new generation is priceless and the most lasting of any investment in Spaceport America and the X-Prize Cup events.

Governor Richardson's high-tech cluster model for the future is worthy of review by other state chief executives.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

X-Prize Proponent Enters Space Station

MSNBC video from NASA shows X-Prize proponent Anousheh Ansari is shown entering the International Space Station. Anousheh will be at the 2006 X-Prize Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico in October to greet her NewSpace fans following her return to Earth.

Meanwhile, the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-115 landed in the pre-dawn hours at the runway at the Kennedy spaceport marking the first successful space station construction mission in the past three years. Space Shuttle Discovery is expected to take the next step in station construction in December. The last shuttle is expected to fly in 2010 to complete the construction of the orbital outpost.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Soyuz, Shuttle, Space Station Exchange Orbital Views

The Soyuz TMA-9 crew saw the Space Shuttle Atlantis while approaching the newly-configured International Space Station at a distance of about 20-to-30 miles as the Russian spacecraft approached from under the orbital path of the shuttle. Atlantis is in a a landing delay mode while astronauts and ground engineers review the small unidentifed objects floating near the shuttle Tuesday morning. The shuttle trailed about 125 miles behind the space station as the Soyuz closed to dock with ISS.

The Soyuz spacecraft with the world's first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria onboard flew under Atlantis as the three approached the space station for docking. The docking procedure between the Soyuz and the station are expected to proceed without a hitch. The six-crew members of Atlantis are now expected to land until weather conditions improve at the Kennedy spaceport on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Four Space Launch Firms Pledge Suborbital Flights for Teachers

The Space Frontier Foundation has announced that Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California has joined Dallas-based Armadillo Aerospace, Oklahoma's Rocketplane Limited, Inc. and California's XCOR Aerospace in pledging to send classroom teachers to suborbital space as a part of the Teachers in Space project.

Meanwhile, Teachers in Space Team member Megan Seals has met privately with U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., as well as his Democratic challenger, James Webb, seeking a federal budget line item in 2008 earmarking $20 million to pay for two teachers from each state to go into suborbital space. Seals also suggested use of the Wallops Island, Va. spaceport for human suborbital flights on the East Coast.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Anousheh on Orbit to Station

The Soyuz TMA-9 in now in orbit following a picture-perfect launch of the spacecraft. For those who may have missed the launch here is an Associated Press video clip and a BBC video clip. Businesswoman and X-Prize financier Anousheh Ansari is expected to BLOG her excitement from space. The Soyuz is expected to dock with the orbiting space station early Wednesday morning prior to the landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy spaceport runway if all goes well.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Soyuz Poised for Ansari Flight

A R7 rocket with a Soyuz capsule is pulled to launch pad.
Rocket engineers at the Baikonur spaceport have mounted a Russian Soyuz rocket on top of its launch pad in the middle of the Kazakh steppe for the final hours of preperation for the late Sunday midnight EST blast-off of 3 humans into space to the orbiting space station where the space shuttle Atlantis remains docked.

Russian space engineers began moving the 30-ton rocket and Soyuz TMA-9 out of its cavernous assembly hangar at sunrise Saturday, with locomotives pulling it through construction debris into the desolate steppe taking two hours to reach the launch pad where it was put upright and locked into place with gantries. The rocket will shortly be filled with 270 tons of oxygen, kerosene and other fuels and chemicals.

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, U.S. astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and the world's first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari will be aboard the Soyuz for hours prior to the assent boost to orbit. The three space flyers will spend two-days in space prior to docking with the space station.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Anousheh Ansari to Visit 2006 X-Prize Cup Events in New Mexico

American X-Prize rocketeer Anousheh Ansari, set to launch Monday at 12:09 AM ET aborad a Russian Soyuz, will make her "victory lap" at the 2006 X-Prize Cup set in Southern New Mexico October 20-21.

Anousheh will appear with thousands of school children to participate in space educational events as well as share her excitement of orbit with those attending the X-Prize Cup events. The weekend rocket competitions are expected to draw over 25,000 people from throughout the world to the high desert country of southern New Meixco about 50-miles from the El Paso, Texas airport.

The first female 'space tourist' at 40, Anousheh is expected to draw heroine attention and cheers from the thousands who will attend the rapidly expanding rocket event of the year.

Ansari Stripped of Iran Patch?

Anousheh Ansari is being stripped of the Iranian flag from her spacesuit by NASA and Russian Space Agency officials in an unusual report from the first female 'space tourist' cosmonaut's hometown.

Hamid Ansari, Anousheh's husband, said Anousheh is disappointed that both NASA and Russian officials not only forbid her to wear the Iranian patch, but also argued they want her to cover up the Iranian colors on her personal patch that displays the American colors too. "She's from Iran no matter what," Ansari said of his wife. "Wearing a flag, or not wearing a flag, doesn't change where we were born."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Madonna Could Orbit in 2009

Pop rock singer "Madonna" has been cleared by the Russian Space Agency for a space tourist flight in 2009. The space agency announcement followed a bizzare debate and 42 to 252 vote against in the Russian Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) on granting a 2008 space flight amid her first ever concert in Moscow.

"Although a precise schedule for the flights of the so-called 'space tourists' has been approved until the end of 2008, Madonna's request will not meet any objections, and her representatives can approach us even now," according to Igor Panin, a Russian Space Agency spokesman.

While the Russian government may be unwilling to send the so-called "Material Girl" into orbit, the Russian Space Agency seemed willing to talk cash with Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, now 48. "Taking into account her good physical preparedness and financial capabilities, the dream of [Madonna for] a space flight, [it] could be realized in 2009," Panarin was quoted as saying.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spaceport Politics Comes to Fore

Gov. Richardson w/Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson may be the first politican for state office touting his own spaceport in a recently released political television spot entitled: "Western" complete with the sound track from "The Magnificent Seven."

The governor portrays a 19th Century Western sheriff dressed in full Old West regalia touting his record on crime, job creation, a new commuter rail system, and $600-million in movie production in the state. But the punch line of the ad, "Next time, let's make a space movie," is an obvious reference to Richardson's plans to build a $225-million spaceport in Southern New Mexico known as Spaceport America.

Spaceport America may well be the launching pad for not only 21st Century space tourism but a national political campaign that makes space a plank in a Democratic presidential candidate's platform from the start.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Anousheh Blogging into Space

While Atlantis spacewalking astronauts are adding a solar power array to double the electric supply and add new mass to the International Space Station, the first female space tourist-- Anousheh Ansari -- awaits her launch to space Monday. She is adding to the BLOGosphere and has conducted a uniue interview with Alan Boyle. NASA-TV will cover the launch of the Soyuz TMA-9 beginning at 11:30 PM ET Sunday, Sept. 17th.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis will undock from the space station Sunday morning after the launch of the Soyuz. The Soyuz is set to dock with the orbiting station early Wednesday morning followed by the landing of Atlantis at the Kennedy Spaceport. All of thespace traffic events are covered on NASA-TV.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Next-Up: Soyuz TMA-9 to ISS

The Soyuz TMA-9 spacrecraft that will ferry two new station crew members and the first female space tourist is now set for a 12:08 a.m. EDT Sept. 18 launch. The crew are now at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The Americans have promised that the undocking (of the shuttle) will definitely be done before Sept. 17. They will clear the ISS portal for us and we will be able to launch the Soyuz," Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov said recently.
"Mission planners at both Roscosmos and NASA have been concerned with a space traffic jam at the international space station with two Soyuz spacecraft and shuttle Atlantis coming and going this month in close time proximity. There is also concern with the space station crew work cycle adjustments. Nine new astronauts and cosmonauts will visit the 3-member space station crew this month plus extensive construction activities on the space station electric grid with new solar array attachements.

Two members of the Expedition 13 ISS crew along with Anousheh Ansari will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-8 that has been parked at the space station the past six months.


After numerous efforts to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis form the Kennedy Spaceport Launch Pad 39-B, success arrived today with the vehicle making orbit. The resumption of the long-delayed construction of the international space station is now expected to resume with three spacewalks and intensive work by the six-member shuttle crew of STS-115.

The launch was a critical moment for NASA. Putting Atlantis back into orbit for the first time since October 2002, and moving the shuttle fleet back to an operational mode while commencing missions to complete the construction of the $50-billion dollar orbital station prior to the retirement of the shuttle fleet in 2010 following 14-more construction flights is a high priority. Atlantis is now expected to dock with the space station over the weekend with the first goal to offload the two solar power arrays for attachment to the space station the coming week.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Scaled Composites Doubles Size

Scaled Composites is doubling its size at the Mojave Spaceport in California to prepare for the test flights of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise and the large launch craft WhiteKinight2, according to reports published in the Mojave Desert News. Burt Rutan, reportedly said, his firm is doubling in size and expects to continue growing building new hangars on the Mojave spaceport’s new 3,500-foot long Taxiway Bravo.

“I expect we will see at least two space flights a day in the next few years,” Rutan said, noting that the spacecraft and the launch vehicles he is designing “will be able to make two flights per day,” according to the Mojave Desert News.

Russia's Star City Documented

Russia's once secret cosmonaut training center, Star City, is an enigmatic and enduring icon of the country's achievements in space history. It is documented in a 30-minute program on the BBC Radio 4. Tune-in HERE. Jonathan Charles provides an inside look at the center of the Soviet-to-Russian space program in the audio program.

Star City has now adapted to the new capitalist age of space tourism as described by the BBC. Today seats on Soyuz spacecraft are sold to western governments and private citizens to support the Russian space program.

Female Space Walker Is Ready

Atlantis astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper [video] is the only woman on the six member crew on the space shuttle set for launch at 11:40 AM today from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On orbit at the International Space Station later this week, if all goes as planned, the 43-year old will install a new solar array power panel during two space walks. The new solar array will provide increased luminosity of the orbital outpost to Earth-sky watchers.

"I am getting very excited as we’re getting closer especially because of the fact that we’ve waited for so long for this flight, Stefanyshyn-Piper recently said. "I cannot wait for launch day." Hopefully, her wait ends today for this rookie astronaut selected by NASA in 1996. An engineer, Heidemarie is a Ukrainian-American, a MIT grad and a US Navy Commander whose appetite for food will not be diminished by her 13-day construction work onboard the shuttle and space station.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Captain Kirk Shuns Enterprise

Star Trek Enterprise actor William Shatner, 75, has declined a free ticket from Sir Richard Branson to be aboard the first 2008 commercial flight of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo "Enterprise" reports British press Wednesday. Shatner told London media "I'm interested in man's march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me." On the 40th anniversary of the debut the Star Trek saga on NBC in 1966, Captain Kirk has opted instead to "live long and prosper."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

SMART-1 in Lake of Excellence

The European Space Agency (ESA) mission to the moon is at its end with the crash landing of the SMART-1 spacecraft in the lunar 'Lake of Excellence' early this morning at 1:42:22 a.m. EDT following its final orbit. The impact speed was estimated to be 4,500 mph and was expected to have left 3-meter-by-10-meter crater. The impact sent lunar materials into orbit visable from Earth-based telescopes.

SMART-1 produced detailed maps of the moon's chemical make-up, during an 18 month mission in lunar orbit. It has also taken detailed maps of the surface, which will aid future manned missions to the moon.

"This is the first of a fleet of orbiters that will head to the moon," said Dr. Bernard Foing of ESA. "The next step will be polar landers, that could be part of an international robotic village, before preparing for a human outpost and base."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Women Set the Pace in Space

Women will leave their mark in space more and more in the 21st Century with the benchmarks having already been set to ensure those who are in many ways better prepared for long duration space flights to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Russian Cosmonaut Tereshkova Valentina Vladimirovna was the first woman to orbit in a Soviet Space spectatular in 1963. The first woman in space was followed nearly two decades later by the first American woman, Dr. Sally K. Ride, to orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.

Dr. Ride has served as a role model for thousands of women and girls throughout America to take interest in space science.

Several other American, Russian, English, French, and Canadian women astronauts followed Dr. Ride to space throughout the last twenty-plus years. But less than 10% of the less than 500 humans flying to orbit have been female. Four women were lost in the Challenger and Columbia accidents in 1986 and 2003, respectively.

In the past NASA has flirted with the notion of a complete female crew but for naught. Perhaps the space agencies should consider an all female space station crew since NASA's primary goal is now human factors of long duration flight. Some have even suggested an all female crew to Mars after the realization that consumables would be less stressed.

The first private cosmonaut is Iranian-American
Anousheh Ansari is set to spend more than a week aboard the space station with a launch set for September 18th. Anousheh's flight may well have one of the larger impacts of any woman yet to fly into orbital space by the sheer will of her personality, multinational background, business strength, and the nature of her effort to open space to people and 'be the change.'

"There is, absolutely, a lot of money to be made in space tourism and space travel,"Ansari said. "We need innovators for the future to make sure that the space exploration industries flourish."