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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rosetta to Flyby Lutetia Asteroid July 10

The European Space Agency (ESA) will have a close encouter with an asteroid by way of the Rosetta spacecraft coming close to asteroid Lutetia on 10 July, 18:00–23:00 with the first images being made available from ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany prior to 24:00 there.

ESA’s Rosetta comet-chaser is en route to its main target, comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, arriving in 2014. On Saturday, 10 July it will fly past the previously unvisited asteroid Lutetia.

Lutetia will be the second asteroid studied during Rosetta’s journey. The Steins flyby [video] took place on 5 September 2008, approaching to within 800 km.

Lutetia is a much bigger asteroid, so the flyby will be no closer than about 3200 km. Any nearer and Rosetta would not be able to fit the whole asteroid into the camera’s field of view.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Coming Next Month: Review of Russian Space

Later this month this Blogger will visit Korolev, Russia to spend time at the Russian International Space Station mission control room and advance to Star City, Russia to spend time at the Cosmonaut Training Facilities. Subsequent posts will become more periodic while in travel.

Beginning next year, Star City is the only gateway for American NASA and European ESA astronauts to gain access to low-earth-orbit. Roscosmos has been a pioneer in the commercialization of space over the past decade. It will continue to expand that role while being the sole source provider for multinational taxi flights to the ISS the next few years.

Last year this Blogger visited the People's Republic of China and reviewed some of their space hardware. As a result of that visit, an idea for two joint Chinese-Russian-American spaceflights was born.

Progress to Dock July 4 to ISS?

Electronic signal interference is said to have been the automated docking system failure Friday. A second attempt is to get underway Sunday at mid-day noon EDT reports CNN.

Podcast: Why go to space? And how?

Become an Astronaut? Take the poll to the right this month.

Export Control to Single Fed Agency?

The White House aims to create an independent agency responsible for licensing exports of military and dual-use technologies, U.S. National Security Adviser James L. Jones said June 30.

The “Single Licensing Agency” would take over technology export licensing functions divided between the U.S. State and Commerce departments and would be “an independent entity” governed by a Cabinet-level board of directors reporting to the president, Jones said in remarks prepared for a speech to the Senate Aerospace Caucus. “We anticipate that leadership of the [Single Licensing Agency] would be nominated by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate,” Jones told SpaceNews.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Become an Astronaut in This Decade?

The Los Angles Times today notes in an article entitled "Astronaut" that only 399 NASA astronauts have been selected since 1959. The writer provides the general requirements to be considered for selection as a US Government astronaut "but only a few are chosen."

The piece fails to reference the less stringent requirements for a commercial spaceflight participant or the new-new-thing, commercial astronaut. The possible routes to space are growing rapidly as NASA moves to embolden the nascent commercial space carriers. Space Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), Bigelow Aerospace, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and others have or are seeking the new commercial astronauts with mission possibilities around the corner. Congress will look carefully at the safety of utilizing commercial astronauts.

Virginia-based Space Adventures has lofted seven 'spaceflight participants' paying from $20 to $35 million USD for one week of 'hang time' at the International Space Station after rocketing to low earth orbit aboard a Russian cosmonaut piloted Soyuz-TMA spacecraft. No spaceflight participant has yet to conduct a spacewalk for an extra $15 million and the required seven month training regime. The firm has yet confirmed any $100-million flight contracts for the firms advertised circumlunar trajectory mission.

The most significant opportunities may come in the years 2011 through 2015 for hundreds to reach suborbital space and double-digit numbers more to achieve orbital astronaut status with the leading commercial orbital space launch firms. There is a strong possibility that a US commercial astronaut could land on the Moon prior to any other nationally-sponsored mission by the Chinese, Russians, Europeans or Indians.

Not to count out the NASA astronaut, President Obama has set a destination of a deep space human asteroid mission by 2025. The only problem here is trying to discern the will of the Congress in the appropriation of NASA funding priorities. "Flying the fastest and the furthermost" may still be with the American astronaut in the next decade whether back to the Moon, an asteroid, or the Mars moon Phobos.

Progress Cargo Ship Spinning Out-of-Control

The Russian-made Progress cargo spacecraft has never been out-of-control near the International Space Station. The vehicle anomoly is quite unusual. There will be a second attempt to dock the spacecraft with the ISS again Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 12:17 PM EDT. A similar event occured with the Mir Space Station in 1997, [animation].

Europe-Canada Eye Soyuz to ISS Deal

European and Canadian space officials are in talks with Russia to purchase dedicated Soyuz capsules to ferry their astronauts to the International Space Station for Soyuz spacecraft to fly short-duration missions beginning sometime between 2013 and 2016, reports Spaceflight Now.

The Russians have the only means to gain space station access following the new retirement schedule of the space shuttle fleet in early 2011. The Europeans have expanded the French Guiana spaceport to include the Russian-made Soyuz ST for the first of 25 launches later this year. Commercial spaceflight participant (space toruist) launches have been sidelined of late due to the level of American and European demand for the Soyuz.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Moon Still Has Human Appeal

A plurality of 37% of the 151 respondents to the on-line poll want humanity to return to the Moon and build a lunar base while 23% want a direct human mission to the planet Mars. On the other hand, 19% each want a human mission to the asteroids or nuclear propulsion driven human mission to the Jovian moon Europa and the Saturian moon Titan.

Comments are welcome from poll and non-poll participants making the case for the designation world you may prefer and, do please tell why.

It is essential that resources be dedicated appropitately now to make the essential steps to undertake human missions out-of-earth-orbit in the next decade. With American, Chinese, European, Indian, Japenese, Russian unammed space probes having been sent to lunar orbit in the last few years, a consensus must be forged for the first multinational human endeavor beyond earth orbit.

Russian Progress on Way to ISS Docking

The ISS Progress 38 cargo carrier launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 30 at 11:35 a.m. EDT and scheduled to dock with the International Space Station at 12:58 p.m. Friday, July 2, 2010.

Watch Asteroids: Deadly Impact | Watch Free Documentaries Online | SnagFilms

Watch Asteroids: Deadly Impact Watch Free Documentaries Online SnagFilms