Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
On this Thanksgiving Holiday, Laurie Naismith, Director Government Relations & Public Affairs Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority & Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, notes in an e-mail message that the Virginia spaceport "may, in just two years, be delivering Thanksgiving Dinner and other supplies to the International Space Station!," in sharing this AP report.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tom Wheeler is spearheading the Obama-Biden Transition Project Agency Review Working Group for science, space, technology and arts agencies. This working group includes former Virginia Lt. Governor Donald Beyer, Jr.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Space infrastructure creates high-tech jobs, enhances innovation, advances modern science, and increases human knowledge investment. Should civil and commercial space infrastructure be a part of the Obama economic stimulus plan?
Comments? Please offer-up your rational civil and/or commercial space infrastructure wish list! Secondly, call, e-mail, snail-mail and see your Congressman with it.
The Juno spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in August 2011, reaching Jupiter in 2016 [video]. The spacecraft will orbit Jupiter 32 times, skimming about 3,000 miles over the planet's cloud tops for approximately one year. The mission will be the first solar powered spacecraft designed to operate despite the great distance from the sun.
The contractor for Juno is Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Juno is the second spacecraft designed under NASA’s New Frontiers Program. The first was the Pluto New Horizons mission, launched in January 2006 is now past Juipter. It is scheduled to reach Pluto’s moon Charon in 2015.
Astronaut Don Pettit created an astounding video using a sequence of still images he shot of the Aurora Borealis from the International Space Station. The Aurora Borealis was referenced in The New York Times, Science, Dot Earth this month. Pettit, an STS-126 crew member, is currently aboard ISS in orbit. MORE video from this BLOG.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Soviet Space Shuttle Buran or "Snowstorm" was first launched twenty years ago this month in 1988 [vid] but after a very promising start, the Soviet Space Shuttle program was halted and exiled to museums [vid]. The Soyuz has remained the work horse of the Russian space program to this day.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Schmitt noted on the LunarListserv: "Having been deeply involved in this issue for many years, and having led several objective studies related to it, it is clear to me, and many other knowledgeable people, that returning to the Moon is the fastest and most cost effective path to Mars for the following reasons:"
1. We need generations of engineers to relearn how to operate in deep space at and for long durations on a location that is more accessible than a trajectory to Mars or on Mars itself.
2. We have no clear technology approach for landing large payloads (40MT+) on Mars. Developing entry, descent and landing (EDL) concepts and testing those concepts in the Earth's upper atmosphere will be a major program in and of itself with uncertain cost and duration.
3. Knowing whether 1/6th g triggers human re-adaptation from the adverse consequences of 0g is critical to the design and mass of both Mars transportation systems and Mars surface operations.
4. Many concepts that will be required for operations on Mars need testing in a real-world deep space environment before committing to using those concepts in Mars exploration, including autonomous crew operations during entry, decent, landing and real-time exploration without communications support from Earth.
5. We need a heavy lift launch infrastructure that can support the assembly of large interplanetary spacecraft in Earth orbit, and the requirements to return to the Moon support the development of that infrastructure.
6. We need to develop an interplanetary propulsion system that allows continuous acceleration and deceleration so the travel time to Mars can be cut significantly. That also constitutes a program of uncertain duration and cost.
7. Depending on future understanding of several unknowns already mentioned above, access to lunar-derived consumables after leaving Earth-orbit may be necessary to reduce the launch mass of an interplanetary spacecraft to a feasible amount.
8. We need to certify sample collection and protection protocols on the Moon with exposure to lunar dust and polar volatiles as surrogates for micro-organisms or the planetary protection lobby will make sample return from Mars impossible.
9. We need to use robotic drilling and definitive testing on Mars to penetrate what is probably the only potential biogenesis and evolutionary environment on Mars that has been stable for >3.8 billion years, namely, the cryosphere-hydrosphere interface below the surface.
10. Extremely strong scientific reasons for further lunar exploration exist as have been documented by a large fraction of the lunar and planetary research community at the NASA Advisory Council's 2007 Tempe Workshop and by the National Research Council's recent study.
11. Returning to the Moon has a far better chance of sustained political support than does a far, far more costly, start from scratch Mars program.
Absent sustained and increased budgetary support for the Vision for Space Exploration by the incoming Administration and Congress, any deep space initiative will be in doubt.
12. Finally, becoming a deep space-faring nation again constitutes a mult-generational endeavor, particularly if Mars is in the mix. Unfortunately, the government-run, politicized K-12 school system will not currently support such an endeavor. It has totally failed several generations of young people, not just in STEM subjects but in history, language and economics. This problem has to be solve first. The people requirements for a return to the Moon should help jump start that process, although it will take a much more grassroots effort to be successful.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The linked video above [best viewed full screen] was shot from the Kennedy Space Center Friday night beginning a few minutes prior to the STS-126 Endeavour launch to the International Space Station. The YouTube video captures an extremely unique visualization of the shuttle roaring through the night sky parting an above launch pad cloud leaving the hot rocket booster backlighting the vapor mositure as if it were a significant series of smoke rings emanating from the shuttle [3-minutes into the above vid]. The cloud waves were similar to those caused by a rock hitting a pond of water.
The entire launch sequence was perfect to see under a warm Florida full moon. Fellow NASA guests Dr. David Livingston, host of The Space Show, and would-be space tourist Reda Anderson were among those witnessing the unique launch visual from the NASA VIP seating section.
Dr. Livingston has a special on The Space Show with a description of what its like to see a Space Shuttle launch including how one can get VIP tickets to see the launch plus other viewing options beginning Monday, November 17, 2008, 5 PM ET. See SpaceflightNow for current mission coverage.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The space agency notes that offshore oil and natural gas development would interfere with rockets' flight patterns. NASA fears that giant platforms would interfere with low-altitude suborbital rockets or make missile launchings from its Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. much more difficult, Keith Koehler, a NASA spokesman. DoD may also have an interest since the Navy uses the area for military training.
"Costs associated with commercial space launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport could soar if there are a number of oil rigs in the commercial launch vehicle flight path requiring the production to be temporarily shutdown and oil workers removed from the ocean platforms for a countdown," notes Jack Kennedy, a member of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. Map of proposed drilling.
On Wednesday, the U.S Minerals Management Service kicked off a 45-day comment-seeking period, an early step toward a proposed lease sale of waters 50 miles off the coast of Virginia. The area could hold 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, MMS Director Randall Luthi said during a conference call Wednesday morning. The sale could take place as early as 2011, according to the Dow Jones Newswire.
President-elect Barack Obama has said he could support drilling as part of a more comprehensive energy plan. Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, has expressed support for natural-gas exploration off the shores of the state, a view shared by Democratic Sen. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, a Democrat who last week won the state's other Senate seat.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"It is too early for international safety standards on human space flight. Too early for an 'International Civil Aviation Organisation for space.' We recommend bringing the international issues into the United Nations process," says the FAA's John Sloan.
The FAA views this international approach as a basis for suborbital point-to-point transport, while the ICAO for space proposal it rejects would see a new commercial spaceflight department for the aviation regulatory body, according to Flight International.
Suborbital point-to-point spaceflight has a growing constituency (including the Virginia Legislature) within the United States and around the world.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Mission engineers last received a signal from the lander on Nov. 2. Phoenix, in addition to shorter daylight, has encountered a dustier sky, more clouds and colder temperatures as the northern Mars summer approaches autumn. The mission exceeded its planned operational life of three months to conduct and return science data. NPR Audio report.
Launched Aug. 4, 2007, Phoenix landed May 25, 2008, farther north than any previous spacecraft to land on the Martian surface. The lander dug, scooped, baked, sniffed and tasted the Red Planet's soil. Among early results, it verified the presence of water-ice in the Martian subsurface, which NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter first detected remotely in 2002. Phoenix's cameras also returned more than 25,000 pictures from sweeping vistas to near the atomic level using the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth.
The National Geographic Channel will air "Direct From The Moon" [vid preview] as a part of the first annual Expedition Week airing on Monday, November 17, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The program will feature high-definition video of the moon's surface is being beamed directly back from just above the moon from Kaguya, according to an e-Mail from Minjae Ormes. Click the YouTube preview featuring Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and a preview of of the stunning HD video. "Direct From The Moon" is a feature not to be missed.
India would be the fourth nation behind Russia, the United States and China to place humans in low earth orbit (LEO). The Indian leadership is advancing space technologies rapidly to keep pace with the three human orbital missions conducted by the neighboring Chinese in Asia. More from WebIndia.
Indian astronauts may fly sooner to orbit however.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
NewSpace bloggers have expressed concern with the mention of Rep. James Oberstar because of the potential of more commercial space flight regulation. However the Minnesota Congressman has told reporters that it would be "unlikely" that he would accept appointment as Secretary of Transportation.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
NASA doesn't have enough money to do all it has planned and is facing key decisions about its embryonic return-to-the-moon program, new rocketship and about-to-retire space shuttle program. The current NASA plan would have the space shuttle end in 2010 and astronauts not ready to fly in a new moon rocket until 2015. In the five years in between, America would have to rely on the Russians to take astronauts to the mostly U.S.-funded international space station. The General Accounting Office (GAO) has identified this as one of 13 critical issues awaiting presidential decision.
But the more significant issues will be who President Obama names as NASA Administrator; the re-establishment of the National Space Council; the funding requests to the Congress to boost the civil space program; and, the measures sought to boost the commercial space sector. More from the GAO Report.
The Obama campaign said it supports a "robust" program of robotic probes and space-based telescopes and satellites. It also emphasized education and NASA's role in climate change research.
MSNBC notes the loss of NASA Congressional supports on the House Science Committee in last Tuesday's election. More from the Space Politics Blog.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
The new features include:
- Three-Dimensional Solar System. View the entire solar system in 3Dwith light and shadows created from the sun. You can also watchplanets orbit around the sun and moons orbit around planets.
- 1,000 New Images. More than 1,000 new panoramas and surveys from the Hubble, Spitzer, Mars and other earth and space-based telescopeshave been added.
- WorldWide Telescope Wallpaper. Easily create your own Windows desktop wallpaper from views of any object in WorldWide Telescope.
- Localized Content. WorldWide Telescope now offers a fully functioning simplified Chinese version. (Other languages will be added, but that plan in still in development).
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Astronomers and solar eclipse enthusiasts are now looking to the coastal villages of China near Shanghai and Hangzhou for the best viewing locations [map] on Earth as the Wednesday 22 July 2009 6-minute Total Solar Eclipse known as Great Saros 136 comes.
Six minutes is an eternity to an eclipse junkie! The Saros 136 solar eclipse is the longest total solar eclipse that will occur in the twenty-first century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132! Many are planning travel to China now reports USA Today. Video of University of North Dakota group at the 2008 Total Solar Eclipse in China.