Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Kennedy is a co-founder of the Energy Technology Summit, held annually in April on the campus of the University of Virginia's College at Wise, brings experts and firms to the coal-producing region to review space-based solar power, solar power utilities, wind turbine technology, electric and hydrogen-powered automobiles, fusion, and a host of other cutting-edge energy technologies for possible investment. Hundreds of business, academic and government leaders have attended the summit the past three years for the technology council-sponsored event.
A civil, commercial, and military space enthusiast, Kennedy serves as a gubernatorial appointee on the 13-member Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority board of directors governing the state's commercial spaceport at Wallops Island, VA. From the 'Space Island' location the first commercial cargo launches will take flight to the International Space Station next year.
Kennedy's advocacy of the spaceport has manifested in many forms ranging from organizing ZeroGravity flights for Virginia school teachers; organizing enactment of Virginia laws favorable to commercial space launch opportunities; writing space-related commentaries for daily newspapers; editing a space-related blog read by hundreds from around the world; and, organizing college and university student earth science and observational astronomy programs.
A Virginia licensed attorney, Kennedy is the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Wise County and Norton and resides in Wise, Va. He holds six degrees in business, management, judicial administration, political science, space science and law.
Monday, June 28, 2010
"No longer are we racing against an adversary," President Obama said in a statement. "In fact, one of our central goals is to promote peaceful cooperation and collaboration in space, which not only will ward off conflict, but will help to expand our capacity to operate in orbit and beyond."
"Above all, this policy is about the boundless possibilities of the future,” Obama said. “That is why we seek to spur a burgeoning commercial space industry, to rapidly increase our capabilities in space while bolstering America’s competitive edge in the global economy,” building on his April 15, 2010 comments at the Kennedy Space Center.
White House officials did say they are talking with the Chinese government about including them in U.S. space efforts — such as the International Space Station — but there is nothing concrete yet, [more from The Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC, UPI and AFP].
A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] opeartional test flight is scheduled to launch from North Vandenberg Wednesday, June 30, 2010 between 3:01 a.m. to 9:01 a.m. PDT to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy.
The USAF 576th Flight Test Squadron, which will direct the missile launch, installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and meet safety requirements. Maintenance and operations task force personnel from the USAF 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, are conducting operational tasks supporting the launch.
Laurie Naismith, Director Government Relations & Public Affairs for the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority [VCSFA] notes that new liquid oxygen tank slowly made it's way on 56 wheels to the Wallops Island, Va. launch facility to support the Taurus 2 launch to the International Space Station next year. The VCSFA board governs the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and seeks commercial space launch investment by commercial space launch firms.
Whether or not InterOrbital Systems is successful in achieving orbital velocity and a sustainable Earth orbit in 2011 or thereafter remains to be seen but the dedication to a dream of expanding to a private spaceport in Tonga is interesting.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
In an unusual report from Space Daily, Russia is said to be returning to its program of building the space shuttles and super-heavy carrier rockets after 2018, citing an Interfax news agency report from Moscow on Friday. The Buran flew to space once over 20 years ago.
New carrier rockets will have a workload over 24 tons, director of Moscow's Central Machine-building Institute, Gennady Raikunov, reportedly said during the Strong Russia business conference with tests of the rocket to start in 2015 and its commercial exploitation will commence in 2018.
Russian space engineers also are working on building the rocket capable of delivering to the orbit a workload over 100 ton per launch, he said adding that in the more distant future, Raikunov's institute plans to work out a new manned spaceship and non-disposable boosters.
Among the many highlights of the forum will be a musical and visual display by Jose Francisco Salgado, PhD entitled "Communicating Science through Art." Space journalist Andrew Chaikin will lecture about how recent lunar missions have revolutionized our thinking about our closest neighbor - "The New Moon," advises Clive R. Neal, PhD from the University of Notre Dame.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
A visit to Moscow this year and next would be incomplete without touring the Cosmonaut Space Museum and giving a hat tip to the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin [narrated video inside the museum]. It will be fifty (50) years ago on April 12, 2011 that Gagarin rocketed into orbital space and into the history books.
And while in Moscow, one may also want to take a trek to Korolev to visit the Russian ISS Mission Control Center and Star City for look-see into the cosmonaut training center [video]. Following the early 2011 retirement of the American space shuttle, Star City will be the only avenue to space for the West at least for three or four years.
But if you are a brave human being but one who can not expend $30-million and six months training for a Russian orbital spaceflight sometime in 2012, you could also take flight on the MiG 29 OVT. The Russians will provide a commercial flight on this spectacular bird for just the right price. Yes, exceedingly cheaper than a commercial orbital spaceflight and pulls up to a ballistic 8Gs in flight!
With the suddenly ramped-up “mainstream” attention, a new and often far more intense phase of the battle has been joined. Hear from and meet those in the front lines of both the private and public fronts, [The Lurio Report].
According to project documentation, the following universities had payloads on this mission: Temple University, West Virginia University, University of Louisiana University of Minnesota, University of Wyoming, University of Puerto Rico, University of Colorado at Boulder, Virginia Tech, University of Northern Colorado, and Colorado State University, notes NASA Watch.
But leaders of the Russian space program and the European Space Agency have been open to Chinese participation in the international project. Over a year ago presidential science advisor John Holdren had suggested the possibility that US astronauts could fly aboard a Chinese spacecraft in the future.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
OCO-2 is NASA's first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. OCO-2 will provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources and "sinks," the places where the gas is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored. It will map the global geographic distribution of these sources and sinks and study their changes over time. The OCO-2 spacecraft will replace OCO-1, lost during a launch vehicle failure in 2009, [OCO Sci Video].
The total cost of the OCO-2 launch services is approximately $70 million, according to NASA JPL. More from The Christian Science Monitor.
Press attention likely will focus on the National Space Policy’s implications for changes at NASA and the future of the piloted spacecraft program, but experts point out that the document language also will indicate how the Obama administration will approach space security, which is more important internationally. If the administration’s public statements are any indication, the new policy likely will represent a return to a more international approach to space; a more balanced view of civil, commercial and military uses of space; and a greater openness to arms control and cooperative solutions to international space security issues.
The meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on July 13 and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT, at the University of Maryland University College, Inn and Conference Center, 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD. The first day will also feature the announcement of three new Centennial Challenges prize competitions, [UPI].
To attend, interested parties must register for the free event. Registration is limited to 300 people and closes at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 7, 2010.
Monday, June 21, 2010
"Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass."
A Mid-Summernight's Dream
It's no secret that the sun has been acting rather strange lately, and it's very difficult to predict what it will do next. Although the likelihood of a devastating solar flare is low, damage to our infrastructure by solar activity has happened in the past and it will happen again.
In 1859 a huge solar storm burned out telegraph wires across Europe and the United States. Dr Stuart Clark has written a book, The Sun Kings, about when that happened. He says that the “Carrington flare”, as it was known, “smothered two-thirds of the Earth’s skies in a blood-red aurora a night later, and crippled all of global navigation and global communication, such as it was at that time. Compasses span uselessly and the telegraph network went down as phantom electricity surged through the wire.”
The sun's 11-year peak -- or "solar maximum" -- is due in 2013. The last one in 2001 did one billion dollars [USD] infrastructure damage.
The Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 pm. All events are weather permitting. A back up date of July 5 has been scheduled. Music for the fireworks program will be carried live on KZZX Radio, 105.3 FM, through the support of Burt Broadcasting.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information on Museum related activities or on how you can become a member of the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation, call 437-2840 or 1-877-333-6589, or visit the website [video].
By improving the Hayabusa probe, JAXA is planning to visit a NEO whose orbit is similar to that of Itokawa, and aiming sample-return from an asteroid of different type from Itokawa. The target body of Hayabusa-2 is a C-type asteroid, considered to contain more organic or hydrated materials than S-type asteroids like Itokawa. What types of organic materials exist in the solar system, and is there any relation to life on Earth. No date has been set for the new mission.
It sounds like a science-fiction movie, but this surreal scene could, if President Obama has his way, become a reality. However, unlike Hollywood depictions in such movies as Armageddon, it's going to be a lot harder to pull off, writes Traci Watson in an intriguing story for USA Today.
The contract between Roskosmos and Arianespace provides for a delivery of additional Russian Soyuz carriers for the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, with the sum of the contract totalling 16.6 billion roubles or over $500USD, Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov told Itar-Tass on Sunday.
“We shall have to deliver additionally ten Soyuzes for firings from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana,” Perminov said, specifying that part of carriers are to be delivered by 2014; deliveries are to be made a year before a supposed launching. According to Perminov, the duration of the contract is not pegged to years, but depends on the number of firings.
Arianespace chief Jean-Yves Le Gall told Itar-Tass that it had been planned initially to make 14 blast-offs of Soyuz ST launch vehicles, but a decision was taken later on purchasing of additional ten carriers. “All in all, we plan to make 24 launches,” Le Gall added. He confirmed that the first launch of a Russian Soyuz ST from the Kourou spaceport would be made late this year.
The aurorae are usually between 50-to–100 miles above the Earth’s surface. This particular May 29, 2010 sight was probably caused by subatomic particles from an explosive event called a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. Previous ISS shots of the Aurora Borealis have been a delight.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The European Space Agency (ESA) comet-chaser Rosetta spacecraft is heading for a close encounter with asteroid Lutetia. Scientists dp not yet know what Lutetia looks like up-close but the two will meet on Saturday, July 10, 2010 in space, [video].
Rosetta will encounter Lutetia flying to within 3200 km of the space rock. Rosetta started taking navigational sightings of Lutetia at the end of May so that ground controllers can determine any course corrections required to achieve their intended flyby distance.
The close pass will allow around 2 hours of good imaging of asteroid Lutetia. The spacecraft will instantly begin beaming the data back to Earth and the first pictures will be released later that evening. More from the ESA.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully took images of the whole solar sail of the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" after its deployment of a separation camera on June 15 (Japan Standard Time, JST.) The IKAROS was launched on May 21, 2010 (JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.
JAXA will measure and observe the power generation status of the thin film solar cells, accelerate the satellite by photon pressure, and verify the orbit control through that acceleration. Through these activities, JAXA will ultimately aim at acquiring navigation technology through the solar sail. The solar sail project is a part of an ongoing remote sensing mission en route to the planet Venus. More from BBC.
The spaceport board met Tuesday in Truth or Consequences and voted unanimously to hire Rick Homans. He will take over as permanent director on July 1, 2010 after stepping down as head of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.
Homans served as the first chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority from 2005 to 2007 and was briefly its executive director in 2007 [video]. Gov. Bill Richardson said Homans' appointment provides the continuity needed to ensure Spaceport America's success and completion by 2011.
“Spaceport America will soon be moving from a major construction project to an operational spaceport, launching humans into sub-orbit, and Rick has the project background, knowledge of the issues, and relationships with the many government and business partners,” Governor Richardson said. “This appointment assures we have the continuity we need to ensure the success of Spaceport America.”
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
NASA is seeking private and corporate sponsors for the Centennial Challenges, a program of incentive prizes designed for the "citizen inventor" that generates creative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. NASA is looking for companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring the non-profit allied organizations that manage the prize competitions. The Request for Information (RFI) was issued June 11, 2010.
Since 2005, NASA has conducted 19 competitions in six challenge areas and awarded $4.5 million to 13 different teams. Each of the challenges is managed by non-profit organizations in partnership with NASA. New challenges will be announced in 2010 and additional new challenges are expected in the years to follow. The topics may include, but are not limited to, the following technical areas: Energy Generation and Storage; Access to Space, Rocketry and Space Transportation; Robotics and Automation; Aeronautics; Earth and Space Science; Space Exploration; Life Sciences; Life Support, Habitation and Space Suit; Cryogenic Fluid Handling and Storage; Space Resources and Construction; Instruments and Sensors; and, Communications.
The Soyuz TMA-19 performed a flawless 'nominal' launch into the cloudless predawn desert skies from the the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan enabling viewers to watch the spacecraft booster separation as it continued into low earth orbit. The spacecraft and the crew of three, one Russian and two Americans, will dock with the International Space Station late Thursday afternoon with the crew spending nearly six months on-orbit. The launch marked the 100th space launch in support of the International Space Station since 1998.
While several women have flown to the ISS, this will be the first time a long-duration station crew has included two women with four men on-board. Both women are American - space rookie Shannon Walker, who launched today, and Tracy Caldwell Dyson who arrived on-orbit April 2, 2010.
In the letter, Nelson says the Senate NASA authorization legislation will propose continuing the ISS until at least 2020; enabling space station commercial cargo delivery; and, the flight of an additional space shuttle mission, perhaps in the summer of 2011.
In addtion, "the bill would support the continuation and expansion of the current risk reduction, safety, and technology development effort known as the '"Commercial Crew Development Program."' The bill would also require NASA to complete a number of studies, assessments, and milestones as we progress from a commercial cargo capability to commercial crew services. Astronaut safety will be the core component of all of these requirements, as with any human space flight program," Nelson writes.
Senator Nelson also states that he is proposing, "NASA embark immediately on an international effort to define near-term missions in the lunar and high- Earth orbits of space. These missions would incorporate both robotic capabilities and the development of on-orbit capabilities, technology, and infrastructure. Initial missions to Lagrange points or lunar orbit would form a foundation for follow-on missions to other destinations, ultimately leading to Mars."
"The authorization bill will direct NASA to initiate development of a heavy-lift vehicle in fiscal year 2011, both to support these new human space flight activities and to serve as a contingency capability to the ISS. The authorization will propose that both the heavy-lift and crew exploration vehicles leverage the workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities of the Shuttle, Ares I, and Orion efforts."
Monday, June 14, 2010
A one hundred year maximum solar flare cycle may be awakening from an 11-year deep slumber leaving millions around the planet facing widespread power blackouts and loss of critical communication signals for long periods of time, after the Earth is hit by a once-in-a-generation “space storm”, NASA has warned, [video].
National power grids could overheat and air travel severely disrupted while electronic items, GPS navigation devices and major satellites could stop working after the Sun reaches its maximum power in a few years, [photos June 14, 2010].
Senior space agency scientists believe the Earth will be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from solar flares after the Sun wakes “from a deep slumber” sometime around 2012-2013, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday, [video].
NSPO, the civilian space agency of the Republic of China (Taiwan), is involved in the development of space exploration, satellite construction and development as well as related research, technologies and infrastructure, including the FORMOSAT series of Earth observation satellites. With Formosat-5, NSPO aims to build up capabilities for independent development of spacecraft and payload instruments.
"The launch of Formosat-5 will build on the successful launch and operation of the FORMOSAT satellites," said Dr. H.P. Chang, Formosat-5 Program Manager of NSPO. "SpaceX's approach to launch services is very well-aligned with our goals and objectives for the program--we are very pleased to partner with them on this launch."
"With over 40 flights now on manifest, SpaceX is positioned to deliver launch services across the increasingly varied needs of our commercial and government customers," said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. "We are pleased to be the launch services provider of choice for the Formosat-5 mission and look forward to supporting NSPO on this launch."
Formosat-5 is slated to launch as early as December 2013 from SpaceX's launch site on Omelek Island at the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, [Business Wire].
The Russian Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft set to carry a new crew to the international space station is transported from a hangar to the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Sunday, June 13, 2010. The Soyuz TMA-19 vehicle carrying Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, U.S. astronauts Shannon Walker and Doug Wheelock, is scheduled for orbit on June 16, 2010 and docking with the space station two days later. NASA-TV will begin live coverage of the launch preparations and launch at 4 PM Tuesday and continuing until 6 PM. More from Russia Today, AP. Pictured are the Soyuz TMA-19 prime and back-up crew in Moscow.
India is expected to go forward with a human spaceflight program to place a two-man crew in low earth orbit sometime between 2015 and 2017. Aviation Week recently noted a setback in India's human spaceflight hardware engine development but counsels that it may not slow it significantly.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN), slated for launch in 2013, will look for clues of a huge, potentially life-giving sea likely covered more than a third of Mars some 3.5 billion years ago and straddled the Martian north pole and contained the equivalent of a tenth of the water on Earth [NASA video].
Gaetano Di Achille and Brian Hynek of the University of Colorado in Boulder have been the first planetary scientists to link up all remote sensing data available on Mars' terrain into a single computer-driven model to complete an extensive study published in Nature Geoscience.
The computer models found 52 river-delta deposits scattered across the planet with than half occurring at about the same elevation, and thus probably marked the boundary of the once-massive sea, according to the study. The river deltas would have been connected either directly to the ocean, or to its groundwater table along with several large, adjacent lakes.
In a parallel study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), Hynek and colleagues catalogued some 40,000 river valleys on Mars, four times the number previously suspected.
The new studies provide critical leads on where to look for signs of early Martian life with the study calculations revealing that the ancient sea covered 36 percent of the planet's surface and contained about 30 million cubic miles of water. Others studies also support the conclusions.
The MAVEN orbiter spacecraft may begin to provide essential evidence in mid-to-late 2014 to add to the body of ongoing research on Mars water and atmospheric participation in the past.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
NASA is sending a DC-8 aircraft to record the re-entry event flying over Australia at the time Hayabusa capsule enters the atmosphere. The aircraft plans to provide LIVE re-entry feed between 9:45-9:55 a.m. EDT June 13, 2010. The landing has been revised to 10:11 a.m. EDT (JapanTV).
As Hayabusa and its return capsule streak through the upper atmosphere, they will appear as twin, incandescent fireballs visible for about a minute to anyone within roughly 100 to 200 miles of the re-entry point. Hayabusa's refrigerator-size main body will most likely be incinerated during reentry. But the 16-inch return capsule is equipped with a high-tech heat shield, a parachute to help it land safely and a GPS signal to assist the international recovery team.
Under Musk’s proposal, SpaceX’s second COTS flight — a five-day mission during which Dragon would approach within 10 kilometers of the space station and exercise its radio cross-link to demonstrate the ability of the station’s crew to receive telemetry from the capsule and send commands — would be combined with the third and final COTS demo, in which Dragon is supposed to berth to the station for the first time.
Musk's goal is to accelerate the operational status of the Falcon 9 / Dragon capsule to carry cargo to the International Space Station as the space hardware proves worthy. If Musk gains the waiver, the first docking of the SpaceX Dragon capsule could come in the spring-summer of 2011.
Friday, June 11, 2010
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began to deploy the solar sail of the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" on June 3, 2010 (Japan Standard Time). On June 10, 2010 (JST) we have confirmed that it was successfully expanded and was generating power through its thin film solar cells at about 770 km from the Earth, [BBC video].
JAXA will measure and observe the power generation status of the thin film solar cells, accelerate the satellite by photon pressure, and verify the orbit control through that acceleration. Through these activities, the Japanese space agency will ultimately aim at acquiring navigation technology through the solar sail. More from SpaceflightNow.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
"An inboard camera detected a bright flash of light at 137 seconds into the flight, which coincides exactly with the loss of communication with the two-stage rocket," said Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ahn Byong earlier today. The Associated Press, CNN and BBC provide video reports as to the set back for South Korean efforts to launch satellites to orbit. Nonetheless, South Korean officials have indicated that a third launch attempt may yet be ahead.
"Talks are underway for a third launch of the rocket," Ahn said, citing a clause in the original Russsian-Korean booster rocket-building agreement that calls for provisions for a third launch if the first two rockets fail to place a satellite into orbit.
The Korean Times poses the question of what future the nation may have in space hardware development to launch spacecraft to the International Space Station and to remotely sense the Moon in by 2020 and to the surface by 2025. Meanwhile, the finger pointing for the faultly launch commenced including the formation of a Russian-Korean review board.