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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thinking of the Past, US Must Lead Again in 21st Century

The United States is witnessing the achievements of China, Japan and India in a renewed 21st Century Space Race on the eve of the 50th Year of Sputnik and The Space Age [NPR Audio].

American scientists fear history may be repeating itself as Asia emerges as the rising force in space exploration. Many believe it only a matter of time before Asian nations surpass the United States in space technology.

China, which sent a man into space for the first time in 2003, plans to launch its own moon probe before the end of the year, followed by India in the first half of 2008. Japan kick-started the Asian lunar race on September 14 when it successfully launched its first lunar orbiter.

While China and India have raised the possibility of a manned lunar mission within the next decade, the United States has vowed to return to the Moon in 2020 nearly half-a-century after Neil Armstrong made the first steps on the Moon in 1969.

"In America, contrary to our self-image, we are no longer leaders but simply players," said Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in a recent editorial. "We've moved backward just by standing still."

Maverick Physicist to Thrust Spacecraft to Near Speed of Light

Young K. Bae, 51, a maverick one-man rocket research institution, known as the Bea Institute in Tustin, California, believes he has hit on a radical propulsion technology known as the photonic laser thruster that could revolutionize space travel to the near speed of light, finally overcoming the limitations of chemical rockets.

Bae believes that the photonic laser thruster could propel spacecraft to unprecedented speeds -- faster than 100 km/sec. The nuclear scientist has said, however, he isn't sure how much money would be needed because it could take decades to develop a laser thruster powerful enough to propel a human-rated spacecraft.

Nonetheless, several aerospace organizations have expressed interest in collaborating with the institute to further develop and integrate PLT into civilian, military and commercial space systems, Bae said, and he has recently been invited to present his work by NASA, JPL, DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Dr. Bae appeared on The Space Show a few months ago to talk about his unique work.

Space Visionary Rick Tumlinson Speaks on Making Space Pay, Life in the Universe and More

Space visionary Rick N. Tumlinson speaks in a five part video gazing into the future and discussing how to make space pay, life in the universe, and lunar colonization. The first of five videos open with the foregoing link. Use the bottom control tool to see all five.

Friday, September 28, 2007

2nd Generation Spaceman to Make ISS Flight October 2008

NASA Astronaut Owen K. Garriott is pictured in a 1973 spacewalk and his son, Richard, will soon follow in his father's orbit.
Richard Garriott, the son of former NASA Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott who spent 60-days in space on Spacelab-3 in 1973, will launch aborad a Russian Soyuz for a one-week stay at the International Space Station [ISS] in October 2008 at a cost of $30-million to be the sixth space tourist/spaceflight participant.

The Garriott launch will mark the first time in the 50 year Space Age that a child of an American astronaut roars into space. In Russia, a son, Sergey Volkov, is to follow his father Alexander Volkov as a part of the ISS Expedition 17 crew space next spring.

Richard Garriott, now 46 and a University of Texas dropout, developed the "Ultima" series, a very successful computer game franchise, and with his brother, Robert, founded Origin Systems, a computer game developer and publisher. He also co-founded the North American arm of NCsoft, an online game developer and publisher. His newest game, "Tabula Rasa", is due out in October.

The flight will also mark the 100th flight of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft - the Soyuz TMA-13.

Missile Defense System Test Launch Is Smashing Success

UPDATE: The latest test of a ground-based U.S. missile defense system intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor was a success Friday and furthers the national missile defense system of the Missile Defense Agency. The test replicated an incoming North Korean missile in the seventh successful test of Boeing Co's long-range missile shield, the Pentagon said.

The estimated $85-million test required a target missile to take off from Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska. Twenty minutes later, the intercept missile popped out of an underground silo on north Vandenberg Air Force Base. The target and the “kill vehicle” met-up somewhere hundreds of miles west of California, and 100 to 200 miles above the Pacific Ocean, according to the mission's primary objective. [Video Simulation]

Friday's test involved the Ground-based Missile Defense segment, which has interceptors on alert at Vandenberg and Fort Greely, Alaska. The system, which also is made up of radar and a command-and-control system, is designed to guard against a limited long-range missile attacks.

In 11 full-fledged intercept tests of the Missile Defense Agency [video] dating to 1999, the target was shot down [video] seven times. The Pentagon expects to expend $10-billion per year over the next five years to advance the system.

A projected "Global Ballistic Missile Defense Planning 2017" missile defense video simulation is linked HERE and best viewed full screen.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

India Plans Human Orbital Space Mission in 2015, Says Nair

The Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] Chairman G Madhavan Nair indicated today that India plans a manned space mission by 2015, using indigenous systems and technology.

"We are trying to develop the technologies which are required for sending a man to space... If everything goes all right we will be able to have a manned mission wherein an astronaut will be orbiting the earth within eight years," he said.


The launch of the Dawn spacecraft aboard a Delta 2 Heavy 7925H [video] to the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter started perfectly today beginning the three billion mile space trek to the asteroids Vesta in 2011 and Ceres and 2015. The Dawn mission is the first attempt to travel to a celestial body and orbit it, then travel to another and circle it too. Ion-propulsion technology engines are making the voyage possible. Audio Report.

Teachers in Space to Launch Selection Process October 26

The Space Frontier Foundation's Teachers in Space Project has launched a new web page designed for pathfinder teachers to make application. The process of selecting the first pathfinders will begin this fall. The details of the selection process, which will be announced at a special event taking place at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico on October 26.

Megan Seals, a Teacher in Space Project Team Leader and Fairfax County, Virginia 5th grade teacher, recently published an article in the Virginia Journal of Science Education about the Teachers in Space project.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

International Space Station Parters Argue Over Life of Orbital Outpost Beyond 2015

The international partners of the orbiting space station are debating the life of the $100-billion platform in Hyderabad, India now only 60% complete. The United States argued Wednesday that its participation would end in 2015 -- only 5-years following the space shuttles are retired in 2010. Europe and Russia argue that the investment merits continued participation but the Europeans will not pick-up the antcipated $2-billion plus annual operational costs if NASA ceases participation.

The United States wants to cut its opeartional costs so as to focus its cash in a return to the moon by 2020 and a trek to Mars by 2037. NASA foots 70% of the 17-nation partership costs of the ISS.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dawn Countdown to Asteroid Belt Launch 7:20 AM Thursday

UPDATE: The NASA Dawn spacecraft is being readied for a Thursday, Sept. 27 launch at the opening of a window that extends from 7:20 a.m. to 7:49 a.m. EDT.) with the next stop the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. The planned 8-year mission will take the spacecraft to asteroids Vesta and Ceres following a summer launch delay. Asteroids have been of growing interest to NASA and the international space community.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Human on Mars by 2037 NASA Administrator Tells Delegates

Delegates at the International Astronautical Congress Hyderabad, India on Monday. [PHOTO: SIVAKUMAR ]

NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin told the 2,000 delegates attending the International Astronautical Congress that he is convinced that the first human being will land on Mars in 2037.

In 2057, the centenary of the space era, "we should be celebrating 20 years of man on Mars," Griffin told as he outlined NASA's future goals; [video about exploration of Mars].

Dr. Griffin said the next step in space exploration would be one step beyond the International Space Station (ISS), where 15 partners of the U.S. were engaged in building a platform for humanity above the earth’s atmosphere. “We will learn from that — how to go beyond — first back to the moon and stay there for a substantial length of time and then on to Mars [video]. In the process, we will build a civilisation for tomorrow and after that,” he declared.

Beagle on the Moon in 2012?

Head of Planetary and Space Sciences at Open University, UK Professor Colin Pillinger, may have a chance to place Beagle 2 technology on the Moon early in the next decade if talks proceed to a successful conclusion with NASA.

The Beagle to the Moon mission would search for water supplies on the surface that could support astronauts living on a future moon base. NASA has given the go-ahead for a study into adapting the British Beagle 2 for a moon landing. If it formally approves the mission next year, it could launch in 2012 resuing many of the designs for instruments that flew on the ill-fated Mars mission.

Best known within the space community for the effort to place a spacecraft to hunt for life on Mars on December 25, 2003 just prior to the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, the Beagle 2 spacecraft crashed never to be heard at during the landing cycle on Mars.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

India-Russia Plan New Lunar Exploration with Powered Rover

Russia and India are in talks to forge an agreement to conduct joint lunar exploration using an Indian booster rocket and a lunar orbital module while Russia would a contribute the lunar mobile laboratory similar to the early 1970's Soviet lunar rover Lunokhod as reported by the India's national newspaper, The Hindu.

Russian Space Agency Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov and ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair will discuss the unmanned lunar exploration prospects at the 58th International Astronautical Congress in Hyderabad, India on September 24-28. Early next year India will launch its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, which will circle the moon, but not land any module on its surface [video-1 and video-2] in 2008.

Russian Moon exploration program “Luna-Glob” has two parts, one of which starts in 2012 and includes studies of Lunar inner structure, search for mineral deposits and other remote sensing. A second Russian mission includes landing of Moon rover of the new generation, which weighs 400 kg including the cooperation with India.

Japan recently launched a lunar orbiter spacecraft Kaguya [video] September 13, 2007.

China is planning its own lunar rover in 2012 [video] as a follow-on to its lunar orbiter Chang'e 1 [video] anticipated in late 2007.

The United States will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on October 31, 2008 with other subsequent missions planned in its exploration strategy [video].

China to Build New Spaceport

China plans to build a new spaceport dedicated to the launch of its next-generation rocket in Wenchang, China's southernmost Hainan Province, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The new spaceport will be dedicated to the launch synchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space stations, and deep space probe satellites, according to the plan which has been approved by the Chinese State Council and the Central Military Commission.

Friday, September 21, 2007

NEW EVIDENCE: Mars 'Seven Sister' Cave Skylights?

Seven very dark holes on the north slope of a Martian volcano (known as the 'Seven Sister Caves') have been proposed as possible cave skylights, based on day-night temperature patterns suggesting they are openings to subsurface spaces. These six excerpts of images taken in visible-wavelength light by the Thermal Emission Imaging System camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter show the seven openings. [Video 1]

The candidate cave skylights are (A) "Dena," (B) "Chloe," (C) "Wendy," (D) "Annie," (E) "Abby" (left) and "Nikki," and (F) "Jeanne." Arrows signify north and the direction of illumination.

Evidence that the holes may be openings to cavernous spaces comes from the temperature differences detected from infrared images taken in the afternoon and in the pre-dawn morning. From day to night, temperatures of the holes change only about one-third as much as the change in temperature of surrounding ground surface. [Video 2]

"They are cooler than the surrounding surface in the day and warmer at night," said Glen Cushing of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Team and of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz. "Their thermal behavior is not as steady as large caves on Earth that often maintain a fairly constant temperature, but it is consistent with these being deep holes in the ground." [Video 3]

RV-like Approach to Lunar Travel Sought by 2020

New lunar rover vehicle design for the human return to the moon by 2020 has been called a "mobile home" as compared to the 20th Century "moon buggy" used in 1971 and 1972. The new RV-like approach would enable astronauts to ride the vehicle across the lunar surface in shirtsleeves and depart the vehicle in an attached spacesuit to explore on foot.

The vehicle would be insulated with an ice-shield to protect the astronauts inside from solar storm radiation. On the moon, NASA is looking at 2,000 spacewalks during a decade-long period beginning before 2020. The entire Apollo program featured only 20 spacewalks between 1969 and 1972.

India Seeks ISS Partnership

The India Space Research Organization (ISRO) is seeking entry as a new partner in the International Space Station. India is seeking full partnership into the ISS partnership with Russian assistance over the objection of some of the existing 17-partner nations.

India "is a serious space power and would like to join ISS project. However, objection by some other project partners has put a question mark on this issue," Russia's Federal Space Agency (RKA) Chief Anatoly Perminov said about the expansion of the ISS project participants. Besides Russian RKA, the ambitious ISS project includes NASA , Canada, Japan and European Space Agency (ESA).

Perminov described India as "an example of a country that has already reached the level of manned space exploration and whose contribution to world space exploration, albeit unmanned, is very large. I am confident that sooner or later, in any case after 2010 this issue (India's accession) will again be raised."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peruvian Meteor Strike Provoked Unusual Psychosomatic Ailments?

Scientists are perplexed by an apparent meteorite strike in Peru near Lake Titicaca that has left a 20-metre-wide crater and is reported to have provoked psychosomatic ailments that made 200 to 500 people sick [video].

Peruvian Nuclear Energy Institute engineer Renan Ramirez said a team of scientists found no radiation at the crash site and confirmed that a fallen satellite did not create the crater. Ramirez speculated that sulphur, arsenic or other toxins that melted in the extreme heat produced by the meteorite strike might have caused the illnesses that struck the local population. Others are now suggesting that fear of the sight and sound may have resulted in provoked psychosomatic ailments.

On the other hand, Dr. Michael J. Gaffey, a Professor of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota and expert in meteorites, says that "it's highly unlikely to be an actual meteorite" impact. [Video]

"It sounds much more like the crash of a large satellite, probably with residual hydrazine in it's tanks. Some of the larger communication and military satellites would make a crater of this size. But since nobody saw the crater form - they reported a bright meteor then later found a crater -we'll have to await the reports of the geologists who are investigating the site," Gaffey suggests.

Jose Mechare, a scientist with Peru's Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute, said late today that a geologist had confirmed that it was a "rocky meteorite," based on the fragments analyzed. News Video 1, 2, and 3.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sir Arthur C. Clark Endorses the $30-Million Google Lunar X-Prize

Friday the X-PRIZE Foundation posted the two-part video entitled "Earth's Offshore Island" Part 1 and Part 2. Sir Arthur C. Clark has endorsed the Google Lunar X-PRIZE by video. "Let the new moon race begin," Clark says. So, let the Google Moon begin!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Google Moon 2.0 and $30-Million

Google is sponsoring $30-million in prizes for private companies to land a robot camera to roam on the moon and send back high-resolution photo data. The X-PRIZE Foundation [video] and Google have partnered to offer a $20 million top prize for a vehicle that can move around automatically and transmit data back to Earth and a second prize of $5 million for a stationary device that sends data. [NPR Audio Report]

A $5 million dollar bonus is offered for a robot vehicle that discovers ice or water, that can travel further than five kilometers or captures images of space vehicles abandoned there from old missions. The Grand Prize must be won by December 31, 2012. [Video highlights of announcement].

The X-PRIZE CUP is sponsoring Moon 2.0 [video] in New Mexico later next month. Armadillo Aerospace at the 2006 Lunar Lander Challenge got the competition GOING [video] and the space firm is ready for 2007 [video]. This is the road back to the Moon.

Selene Enroute to the Moon

JAXA successfully launched The Selenological and Engineering Explorer — or SELENE to the moon this evening from the its remote but scenic launch-pad on Tanegashima Island, Japan at 9:31 PM EST in what has been called the largest mission to the moon since the Apollo flights of 1969-1972. The $279-million spacecraft will map the moon's surface in detail after making lunar orbit. The main SELENE satellite will orbit at an altitude of about 100 kilometers (60 miles) and deploy two smaller satellites in polar orbits. Researchers will use data gathered by the probes to study the moon's origin and evolution.
  • +2h deployment of solar paddle
  • +2h 5min establishment of theee-axis control
  • +5h 38min deployment of high-gain antenna
  • +6h 55min establishment of communication link
  • +18h40min, 4d23h15min, 16d17h25min orbit control manuver
  • +19d 19h 30min Lunar orbit entry
  • +24d 23h 15min Separation of relay satellite
  • +30d 4h 6min Sepatation of VRAD satellite
  • +37d 8h 56min Orbit insersion to the lunar observation orbit

Lunar Liftoff Set for 9:30 PM EST from Japan's Tanegashima Island

The Tanegashima Island Spaceport in Japan is in the final stages of preperation for a (Thursday) 9:30 PM EST launch of the of the Selenological and Engineering Explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE)/H-IIA F13 in what will be the first of an international flotila of spacecraft to be launched to the Moon by Japan, China, India, Russia and the United States in the months ahead as prepeartion for humans from multiple nations to return to the moon. The launch will be carried LIVE HERE. For launch coverage details, click here. Weather is a 'GO !' A static WEBCAM view, the ESA take, and a little more from the Planetary Society.

Saturn's Moon Iapetus Close-Up

The Himalayas of Iapetus
The spacraft Cassini orbiting Jupiter zooms in for stunning close-up of the moon Iapetus showing mountainous terrain reaching about 10 km in height along the unique equatorial ridge of Iapetus. The view was acquired during Cassini's only close flyby of the two-toned Saturn moon. Above the middle of the image can be seen a place where an impact has exposed the bright ice beneath the dark overlying material.

The image was taken on 10 September 2007 with the Cassini's narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 3870 km from Iapetus. Image scale is 23 m per pixel. Credits: NASA/ JPL/ Space Science Institute.

British Astronauts by 2010?

The British National Space Center is announcing today the possible future training of a small astronaut corp beginning in 2010 for missions in the near term, as part of the recommendations of its UK Space Exploration Working Group's report, according to Flight International.

A favorable decision by the British government to train an astronaut corps would be the would be the biggest change in UK space policy since the beginning of the space age 50 years ago. The UK is the only G-8 country that is not involved in human spaceflight, according to the report.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Singapore Spaceport Seeks Cash

Space Adventures Ltd., a Virginia-based space firm said Tuesday that it was looking for financial partners for its for a Singapore-based spaceport to launch suborbital tourism flights, according to the International Hearld Tribune.

Last year Space Adventures indicated that it was seeking partnerships to build the $115-million spaceport. But Eric Anderson, president and chief executive of Space Adventures Ltd., told the media that the company was also looking at a number of other Asian locations for its spaceport, including China, Japan and Korea, but remained confident of the Singapore project's success.

"There is not enough local support... we are still looking for local partners to help finance the Singapore project but it certainly remains a possibility and we are still working through it right now," Anderson said at the Forbes Global CEO Conference.

Anderson did disclose that a Malaysian businessman has booked a Soyuz flight to the orbiting International Space Station but did not disclose the name or when. “We are booked for the next three years. The earliest booking available is at end-2009,” the space firm executive said.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Rocketplane-Kistler, Inc. [RpK] has failed to achieve the financial milestones required by its NASA COTS Space Act Agemment leading to a default letter from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) effectively cutting off future federal assistance for the proposed $1 billion reusable rocket project based in Oklahoma.

RpK has struggled that past few months to raise $500-million in private capital it needs to complete development of the K-1 reusable rocket and conduct a series of confidence-building flight demonstrations. The NASA termination notice may free monies for other private firms to advance forward. The space firms include PlanetSpace and t/Space as well as Constellation Services International, SpaceDev and Spacehab.

SpaceX has achieved its required target milestones thus far and it is advancing forward to the goal of re-supply of the International Space Station in 2010.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

50 Years in Space: October 4

October 4 will be the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik. Readers are urged to mark the date and increase awarness of the importance of space exploration and space satellites to humanity. Dr. David Livingston's Space Show will hold a Special Sputnik Anniversary show with Dr. Roald Sagdeev [2004 audio sample].

Meanwhile, the Voyagers 1 and 2 spacecraft thirty years-on and now into their new Interstellar Mission continue to send data back to Earth. NPR provides a audio report. The Voyagers are expected to operate and communicate until 2020, perhaps beyond.


The X-PRIZE Foundation will announce a new contest this week with "tens of millions of dollars" of prize money and backed by a large Fortune 500 company to be revealed Thursday, September 13th [video]. Foundation officials have said the new purse and contest will be "the largest international prize in history," and promised more details after the NextFest opening ceremony next week.

Dawn May Launch September 26

The NASA Dawn spacecraft is now set to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 7:25 AM on a $450 million mission to the asteroid belt after being plauged by delay-after-delay. Destined to become the first spacecraft to orbit two planetary bodies, the Dawn spacecraft will fly on a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket with the liftoff from Complex 17 [video].

NASA and other space agencies have been taking a much more active interest in asteroid missions. Dawn will be one of the more complex missions to the asteroids as it is set to orbit Vesta and Ceres [videos 1, 2 and 3] in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Japan's Lunar Launch Countdown

The Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) continues the planned countdown for launch of the Japanese Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) spacecraft to orbit the Moon next week on September 14. The event will be webcast LIVE. Japanese space agency spokesman Tatsuo Oshima confirmed, “We have every confidence that the mission is now on track.”

The JAXA Tanegashima spaceport [video] is a very scenic launch facility. The nearly 20-minute SPECIAL KAGUYA promotional movie is recommended even if you do not understand Japanese.

Opportunity Ready for Crater

The Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" will desend into the Martian Victoria Crater [5.50°W 2.05°S in Meridiani Planum] later this month [video] for what is deemed a "high value tagret" for science. The drive into the half-mile-diameter crater may start as soon as September 11, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Opportunity was slated to enter the crater following a rim survey drive earlier this year but a planetary dust storm in late June blotted out much of the sunlight on the planet's surface and causing energy woes for the solar powered Mars Rovers Opportunity and its twin Spirit.

Victoria Crater [video] contains an exposed layer of bright rocks that may preserve evidence of interaction between the Martian atmosphere and surface from millions of years ago, when the atmosphere might have been different from today's. Victoria is the biggest crater Opportunity has visited.

NASA's Spirit and Opportunity have operated on the surface of Mars for three years providing planetary scientists a continued treasure trove of scientific data.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mars Rock Return in Works?

National Public Radio [NPR audio] reports on a possible robotic mission out to grab a rock from the surface of Mars and send it back to Earth in the next decade. There is discussion of a 'tackle box' for the next mission to Mars in 2009.

Nevada Search Continues for World -Renowned Steve Fossett

The air search continues, but the whereabouts of world-renowned pilot, adventurist and entrepreneur Steve Fossett was unknown this evening following the continued 2-day search by 6 fixed wing Cessna aircraft, 3 helicopters, and a C-130 in a 60,000-square-mile search in the mountainous area of Nevada focusing on the Walker River Basin and eastern slope of the Sierra. He took off from a small airport Monday and was reported missing at noon that day.

Fossett, 63, holds 115 aviation world records in balloons, gliders, airships and powered aircraft. In 2006, he set both the absolute non-stop distance record and absolute closed circuit distance record for any aircraft. He established a new glider world altitude record and was added to the list of aviation legends in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Fossett was making plans to make the absolute 800 MPH+ land speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The current record of 763 mph was set in 1997 by Britain's Andy Green at Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

South Korean to Fly on Soyuz

Ko San, a 30-year-old robotics expert will be South Korea's first person in space when he flies on a Russian Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station early next year.

Ko, who formerly did research on robots and artificial intelligence at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, beat out Yi Soo-yeon, a 29-year-old woman, following performance and other tests during their training in Russia. AP/CNN offer more.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Spaceport America 2010

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority showed off the design Tuesday for the state's commercial spaceport venture Spaceport America where construction is to begin next year and is expected to be finished in late 2009 or early 2010.

Spaceport officials said the low-lying 100,000-square-foot hangar and terminal facility will have a minimal impact on the environment. The design team consists of the engineering and design firm URS Corp. and the architectural firm Foster + Partners of Great Britain. More from KOB-TV and the FlightStory Aviation Blog.

What is a Spaceport?

VIDEO: Whether you’re talking about privately owned and operated rockets to ferry cargo to low earth orbit, or the customers already in line for the opportunity to weightlessly gaze upon Earth from outer space, the “personal space flight revolution” will bring a new element of infrastructure to our communities: Spaceports. Building and operating these new launch facilities will require science, technology, engineering, math, imagination and problem solving skills, according to the newly released documentary by the The Futures Channel.

Will Spaceports be to students today what airports were to their great grandparents? Show your students this "101" on spaceports and find out what they think. Running time 11:45 minutes. Check it out now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Billionaire Russian Vladimir Gruzdev Named Space Tourist

(REUTERS Photo) - Arctic explorers (L-R) Vladimir Gruzdev, Artur Chilingarov and Anatoly Sagalevich shake hands after their arrival in Moscow August 7, 2007. Gruzdev, a grocery tycoon and politician, planted a flag on the North Pole's seabed last month will now go into orbit as the first Russian space tourist.

Vladimir Gruzdev, 40, a grocery billionaire tycoon [85th] and State Duma politician who planted a flag on the North Pole's seabed last month will now go into orbit as the first Russian and the world's sixth space tourist on the 100th Soyuz spacecraft in September 2008, if all goes as planned.

Gruzdev, underwent all the necessary medical tests in June and has been formally approved for a flight on board the Russian-made Soyuz-TMA-13 spacecraft in September 2008 after enetring into a $20-million dollar flight contract, confirmed Energia. He is a deputy in the State Duma for the United Russia party holding the majority of seats in the lower chamber and it said to be very close to the Kremlin.

The ower of one of the largest grocery chains in Russia, 7th Continent (Sed'moi Kontinent), Gruzdev, was one of three submariners who planted a rust-proof titanium Russian flag at the North Pole on August 2nd, 14,000 feet under water, so that Russia could bolster their claim for a larger chunk of resources in the Arctic seabed.

Russian businessman, parliamentarian, and now seabed and space explorer, Gruzdev's growing international media notoriety will serve only to heighten political and economic stakes of Russia's legal claims to the Artic oil fields valued at more than a TRILLION dollars.

"Vienna Vision on Humans in Outer Space" Set for Oct. 11-12

The European Science Foundation, the European Space Agency, and European Space Policy Institute are sponsoring a conference on "Humans in OuterSpace - Interdisciplinary Odysseys," to be held in the Vienna Konzerthaus, Austria, on 11-12 October 2007.

The conference will aim at being the first comprehensive trans-disciplinary dialogue in Europe on humans in outer space. It will go further than regarding humans as mere tools for exploration, or better robots, and will investigate the human quest for odysseys beyond the atmosphere and reflect on the possibilities to find extraterrestrial life.

Belgian Radio Station to Give Away Suborbital Space Ride

The popular Belgian Q-Music radio station has started a contest where it will give away a suborbital spaceflight with Space Adventures (they claim to be the first on Earth to give a suborbital space ride away). Belgian nationals may apply with Q-Music between September 7 through the end of September 12 for the contest for the suborbital ride in 2010.

Twenty initial candidates will be selected by the Q-Music station to be followed a large heat, where the participants are subject to all kinds of tasks. Their audacity, knowledge and perseverance are put on the test. The Q-Music winner will be named September 20th. Linked here are the Contest Rules.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

India Launches Commercial Satellite to Orbit

The countdown [video] for the launch [video] of INSAT-4CR was successful after a two-hour delay from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sri Harikota. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists and engineers cheered as the launch of the INSAT 4CR (a satellite identical to the one that was to-be-launched last year) on GSLV-F04 roared to life and gained orbit today marking a commercial success for the ISRO.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Brits and Russians Plan Spacecraft Response to Apophis

The Russian Federal Space Agency plans a system of protection of the Earth from asteroid Apophis. The UK-based space firm EADS Astrium too is planning a bid to develop a spacecraft, known as Apex or Apophis Explorer, which would reach the asteroid in January 2014.

According to the Planetary Society, more than 100 teams worldwide are developing plans for Apophis missions.

Prompted by computations by specialists, who say that asteroid Apophis is bound to fly at a 40,000-kilometer distance from the Earth in 2029, and there is a risk of it colliding with the Earth in 2036, space agencies around the world are beginning to take the threat seriously.

Apophis is a 300-metre-wide asteroid and is still millions of kilometres away. But, in 2029, its orbit will take it worryingly close to Earth – closer than many satellites. When it does, its orbit around the Sun will be affected and just a tiny shift of just a few hundred kilometres could mean Apophis returns in 2036 to slam into Earth, creating unimaginable death and destruction.