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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Space Adventures Circumlunar Mission Developments Teleconference May 5, 2011

Space Adventures Board Chairman Eric Anderson and Vice-Chairman Richard Garriott will outline the future of private exploration and announce new developments regarding the company’s circumlunar mission during a teleconference Thursday, May 5, 2:30 PM, according to a report by Doug Messier at Parabolic Arc.

The Virginia-based Space Adventures has already sent seven private citizens into space to visit the International Space Station and it plans on sending more. But the firm's officers and directors are also hard at work planning its first moon trip. In fact President Tom Shelley says the company is "confident that we'll be able to make an announcement about that mission later this year."

"You're going to get to within 100 kilometers [62 miles] of the moon's surface, so you're going to get a really close-up view of the moon and that incredible Earthrise as well. There are only 24 people who have seen that," Shelley told TIME this past week. The private lunar space mission will take humans on a circumlunar space flight over 7 or 8 days.

Space Adventures has been planning a lunar flyby since 2005. It offered the two seats aboard a Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft that will fly around the moon in a mission scheduled for 2015. Anderson won't say who purchased the first $150 million ticket, but hinted that you'll know the person's name when you hear it. Perhaps there will be more information Thursday afternoon in the planned Anderson-Garriott telecon.

Who could afford such a $150-million dollar space trek you ask? CLICK HERE, there are hundreds from around the Earth.

Yang Liwei Seeks Promise of Cooperation

China's most renowned taikonaut said in Beijing Friday his country and the United States should make good on their presidents' promises to cooperate in space, reports Reuters.

"I think the two countries should proactively implement the intent expressed in the joint communique to eliminate obstacles and promote exchange and cooperation in our space programs," Yang Liwei [vid], now the vice director of the country's Manned Space Engineering Office, said.

Efforts at U.S.-China cooperation in space have failed in the past decade, stymied by economic, diplomatic and security tensions, despite a 2009 attempt by President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, to launch collaboration.

Obama and Hu, in a statement in November 2009, called for "the initiation of a joint dialogue on human spaceflight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit."

Yang Liwei noted that female taikonauts will likely launch to space from China in 2012, with speculation that it may occur on the Shenzhou 10 mission.

Dramatization of first Chinese female taikonaut below.

NASA: What's Up For May 2011?

All month of May long watch 4 planets and the moon gather just before sunrise.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Popovkin Named Russian Space Agency Head by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

The 53-years old ex-Deputy Minister of Defense, Vladimir Popovkin, has been appointed the head of Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) in place of 65-years old Anatoly Perminov, which has been in charge of this department for seven years, RIA Novosti reports. Rumors of Perminov's removal have been circulating since December 2010. The action was taken by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today, according to RIA Novosti.

Soyuz Rocket Begins Dry Runs at Kourou

A Europeanized version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket on April 29 was rolled out to its new launch pad at Europe’s Guiana Space Center, Kourou, French Guiana, in the first of a series of dry runs to simulate a launch campaign. The tests were scheduled to continue through May 5 with a countdown to verify the functionality of the launch base.

Led by the French government, the European Space Agency has built a dedicated Soyuz launch pad at the equatorial launch site in French Guiana. French officials said the Soyuz rocket, equipped with a Fregat upper stage, is about ready for operations. But the inaugural payload — two European Galileo navigation satellites — will not be ready until September. A confirmation of the launch date is expected by mid-May 2011, reports SpaceNews today.

NASA Heavy-Lift May Result in Bid Protests

As NASA hashes out an acquisition strategy for building a congressionally mandated heavy-lift launch vehicle that leverages space shuttle and Ares rocket technologies, agency officials are hoping to minimize the potential for a formal protest from industry.

Douglas Cooke, head of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate here, said officials are still formulating plans for the Space Launch System that lawmakers directed NASA to start work on this year. In addition to settling on a final design, the agency is sorting through different contracting mechanisms for procuring the heavy-lift vehicle, reports SpaceNews with details.

President Visits Astronauts After Delay

President Barack Obama meets with Space Shuttle Endeavor commander Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and shuttle astronauts, after their launch was scrubbed, Friday, April 29, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The next launch attempt may come Monday, May 2, 2011 - at the earliest. It was about one year ago that Obama trekked to the space center to announce his new national space policy. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

Endeavour Launch Delayed 72-Hr Minimum

The launch of space shuttle Endeavour has been delayed at least until Monday due to a failed heater circuit in one of the orbiter's three Auxiliary Power Units. Launch director Mike Leinbach says there'll be a 72-hour "scrub turnaround" while engineers assess and try to correct the problem. The next attempt to launch STS-134 will come no earlier than Monday at 2:33 p.m. EDT.

The three APUs provide hydraulic power to steer the shuttle's aerosurfaces during ascent and entry. Heaters are required to keep the APUs' hydrazine from freezing on orbit. During today's countdown, attempts to activate the heater were not successful and engineers now believe the problem might be associated with a Load Control Assembly, which is a switchbox, located in the aft end of Endeavour, or an electrical short in the wires leading into or out of the switchbox.

Lunar Science for Children Introduced

West Virginia Mountain State Science reports on video games as an educational tool. Keri Brown has more on research at Wheeling Jesuit University's Center for Educational Technologies on video games that allow students to conduct their own science experiments.

Ten Years Ago Dennis Tito Goes to Space

Miles O'Brien reports on the first space tourist flight of Dennis Tito. Tito, an Italian American engineer and multimillionaire, is widely known as the first space tourist to fund his own trip into space. In mid-2001, he spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station. This mission was launched by the spacecraft Soyuz TM-32, and was landed by Soyuz TM-31 on a deal brokered by Virginia-based Space Adventures.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

STS-134 Final Launch Campaign Continues

After nearly two decades of achievements in space, Endeavour makes one last reach for the stars on its 25th and final mission, STS-134. This webcast examines the mission to come and explores the storied flying career for the youngest of NASA's shuttle orbiters.

Voyager on Interstellar Destination

These animations show NASA's Voyager spacecraft encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The mission continues... Destination: Interstellar space.

SpaceX Develops Commercial Crew Vehicle

Russian Progress 42 to Dock at ISS Today

The ISS Progress 42 resupply craft launched Wednesday morning to replenish the International Space Station. Launch was at 9:05 a.m. EDT (7:05 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Russian cargo craft will dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 10:29 a.m. Friday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Miles O'Brien to Host 'You Talk to Endeavour'

Space shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station astronauts will answer your questions in a LIVE interview -- scheduled for Monday, May 2, at 2:15 p.m. ET, and hosted by NewsHour correspondent Miles O'Brien, as the crew orbits the earth at 17,500 mph. You can submit your questions and vote on the best ones. You can watch the interview LIVE on and on YouTube.

Click here to add your question or video: The hashtag for Twitter is #utalk2nasa. For more information, visit:

MANAGEMENT: Endeavour Ready to Fly

With two days to go to launch, the six-member crew of STS-134 Endeavour continued its last-minute preparations for its scheduled flight to the International Space Station on Friday. That assessment came following a meeting of the shuttle's Mission Management Team.

The STS-134 Endevour Crew Profiles

Commercial Lunar Flight Closer: $150million

If you've got $150 million to spare and want to take a trip around the moon, don't wait for much longer—just one of the two seats that private space firm Virginia-based Space Adventures is selling for a proposed lunar flyby remains, reports Popular Mechanics.

The Man Who Will Bring Us To Mars

Funny -Weird ThingsTV!

AHOY: New Chinese Space Station to be Open to International Scientists

China laid out plans for its future in space yesterday, unveiling details of an ambitious new space station to be built in orbit within a decade that will be open to international space scientists, according to The Guardian and other media outlets around the globe.

Currently known as Tiangong, or “heavenly palace,” (Chinese officials are asking the public for suggestions for a permanent name) the 66-ton space station will support a crew of three and host two laboratories for astronomy, microgravity, and biological experiments. And, depending on the politics and economics surrounding the ISS, it could be the only space station in orbit in the decade following 2020 (the ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned then, though its life could be extended to 2028), reports Popular Science.

The space station, whose name will be picked by a public competition, will consist of a core module with two laboratory units, according to The People's Daily. It will be around one-fifth of the length of the International Space Station, currently the only other space station in orbit, and one-seventh of the weight, according to specifications released by China's Manned Space Engineering Office.

"The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia's Mir Space Station (137 tons) which served between 1996 and 2001," said Pang Zhihao, a researcher and deputy editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, Space International. "But it is only the world's third multi-module space station, which usually demands much more complicated technology than a single-module space lab," he said.

They’ve also extended an invite to the world’s scientists saying “[they] will adhere to the policy of opening up to the outside world, Scientists of all countries are welcome to participate in space science experimental research on China's space station," reports TheVine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Out of Gas and Stuck in Space?

"You're cruising round the moon, all engines go, having the time of your life, and then you notice your fuel needle's jittering dangerously close to “E.” Tap-tap-tap, but no, it's not stuck, and you're about to discover how far past "E" the needle goes. What do you do?'

Matt Peckham, writing for TIME, has the answer. A propellent station?

STS-134 Astronauts Arrive at Launch Site

STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly and the five members of his crew arrived at the Kennedy Space Center following their flight from Houston in their NASA T-38 aircraft. Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson, mission specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori are scheduled to liftoff at 3:47 pm EDT Friday, April 29, 2011 aboard space shuttle Endeavour on a two-week journey to the International Space Station.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ET Phone Calls on Hold: Quarters Please?

A collection of sophisticated radio telescopes in California that scan the heavens for extraterrestrial signals has suspended operations because of lack of funding, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute operates the Allen Telescope Array, the field of dish-like scopes some 300 miles north of San Francisco. The telescopes are a joint effort of SETI and University of California-Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Lab and have been funded largely by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who donated more than $25 million to the project.

A state budget crisis and reduced federal dollars have choked the project of funding, said Karen Randall, SETI's director of special projects. SETI put the Allen Telescope Array on hold a week ago -- a situation publicly revealed by Franck Marchis, a principal investigator for SETI who doesn't work on the affected project, on his blog, reports CNN.

Musk Talks Human Mars Travel in 10-20 Years

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says he hopes the commercial space launch firm will put an astronaut on Mars within 10 to 20 years, if his plans proceed.

"We'll probably put a first man in space in about three years," Elon Musk told the Wall Street Journal Saturday. "We're going all the way to Mars, I think... best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years."

"Our goal is to facilitate the transfer of people and cargo to other planets, and then it will be up to people if they want to go," said Musk who is among the foremost leaders of the NewSpace commercial space launch movement within the United States.

"A future where humanity is out there exploring stars is an incredibly exciting future, and inspiring, and that's what we're trying to help make happen," Musk added in the Wall Street Journal interview.

Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission Set to Study Turbulent Magnetic Reconnection

A new 3-D supercomputer model presents a new theory of how magnetic reconnection works in high-temperature plasmas. This Los Alamos National Laboratory research supports an August 2014 NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission to study Earth's magnetosphere in greater detail than ever. More from NASA Goddard.

This visualization uses simulated ephemerides to show the proposed orbits of the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) during the "dayside magnetosheath/magnetopause" orbit phase. The movie initially shows the general orientation of the orbit with respect to the Earth, Moon, and Sun. It then zooms in to "ride" along with the spacecraft. We then zoom in even closer to show that there are actually four spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SGAC: Move an Asteroid Competition Opens

The Space Generation Congress has announced the fourth annual Move an Asteroid Competition The prize of this competition, run by SGAC's Near Earth Object Working Group is a fully paid scholarship to present the winning paper at the Space Generation Congress and the International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. The deadline for entry is July 1, 2011, more.

Making Space Pay and Having Fun Doing It

Jeff Greason: he's a Rocket Man!

Hubble @ 21 - April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pope to Call International Space Station

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pope to communicate with the International Space Station and communicate with the Italian astronauts now in orbit 220-miles above Earth.

Happy Birthday Hubble Space Telescope!

The Hubble Space Telescope has turned 21 years old. Coming of age, the HST begins its most ambitious cosmic discoveries.

Russians Object to SpaceX Docking to ISS

Russia will not permit the first U.S. commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) unless its safety is fully tested, a high-ranking Russian space official told RIA Novosti in Moscow on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The statement comes in the wake of the spacecraft's designer, U.S. company SpaceX, request to NASA for authorization to dock with the ISS in December, 2011. NASA recently announced a multi-million dollar commercial crew development contract with the firm, a leading contender to build commercial launch capacity for human astronauts within three years.

"We will not issue docking permission unless the necessary level of reliability and safety [of the spacecraft] is proven. So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety," said Alexei Krasnov, who heads the manned spaceflight department of Russia's space agency Roscosmos.

According to the SpaceX 2011's launch schedule, two Dragon flights are to take place in 2011. During the first flight, the spacecraft will perform the flyby of the ISS, approaching to within 10 km from the station. During the second mission, it is hoped to dock with the ISS.

The reaction in the Congress will be most interesting over the next few weeks as conservatives come to realize that the Russians are saying "Neyt" to American private industry as the international space station.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ariane 5 Launch Success from Kourou

On Friday, April 22, Arianespace orbited two communications satellites: Yahsat Y1A, built by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space for Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJsc (Yahsat) of the United Arab Emirates, and Intelsat New Dawn, built by Orbital Sciences Corporation for New Dawn Satellite Company Ltd., a joint venture between Intelsat and Convergence Partners.

This latest successful Ariane 5 launch, the second in 2011 and the 201st Ariane launch in all, once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities. The launcher lofted a total payload weight of 10,064 kg, including 8,965 for the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn satellites, which were released separately into their targeted orbits. This performance sets a new payload record on this orbit for the Ariane launch vehicle.

This Week @ NASA: April 22, 2011

Space Shuttle Final Inspection Team

There are seven members of the NASA Final Inspection Team at the space shuttle launch pad prior to launch. They look for ice on the shuttle and have earned the name "Ice Team."

Astrobotic's Lunar Lander Design Preview

Astrobotic Technology Steve Huber presents the lunar lander primary structure design and test set up for the firm's planned Moon mission.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A New Era of Space Exploration

India Agrees to Aid NASA MoonRise Mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has asked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to build an orbiter that will provide the communication between the soil samples collected from the far side of the moon and the earth in 2016, according to ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

This joint venture between the ISRO and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, would be part of the MoonRise mission planned by the NASA, reports The Hindu on April 20, 2011. The NASA MoonRise mission would focus on the giant South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on the far side, which lies between the Moon's South Pole and Aitken Crater, just 16° south of the Moon's equator for a soil sample return.

“This project is in the planning phase, alongside India's lunar mission programme centred on Chandrayaan-2,” he said which will put a spacecraft in orbit around the moon by a Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in 2013 in a joint mission with Russia. The spacecraft and the rover would be built by India, the lander would be built by Russian space engineers.

Astrobotic Technology Makes Moon Vehicle

Astrobotic Technology Team member James Lee discusses the challenges of operating a robot on the moon and what it's like to be part of the effort to return to the Moon.

Mark Your Calendar: May 5-6, 2011

In 2011 the Halley's Comet meteor shower peak will occur on the night of Thursday, May 5 and into the morning of Friday, May 6. ENJOY!

India Launches PSLV - C16 to Orbit

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle -C16 rocket, carrying India's Resourcesat-2 and two nano satellites, has been successfully launched from the Sriharikota spaceport in India.

NASA Selects New Spaceship Concepts

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

India to Launch Satellites Today

ISRO is all set to place three satellites including one from Russia and one from Singapore into space with the launch of PSLV from Sriharikota spaceport. This launch, if successful will boost agricultural research and security for India.

SpaceX: 1st Astronaut Mission in 3-Years

NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) $75 million to develop a revolutionary launch escape system that will enable the company’s Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. The Congressionally mandated award is part of the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative that started in 2009 to help private companies mature concepts and technologies for human spaceflight.

"This award will accelerate our efforts to develop the next-generation rockets and spacecraft for human transportation," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. "With NASA’s support, SpaceX will be ready to fly its first manned mission in 2014."

Musk said the flight-proven Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft represent the safest and fastest path to American crew transportation capability. With their historic successful flight on December 8th, 2010, many Falcon 9 and Dragon components that are needed to transport humans to low-Earth orbit have already been demonstrated in flight. Both vehicles were designed from the outset to fly people.

The announcement comes at a time when the United States has a critical need for American commercial human spaceflight. After the Space Shuttle retires in a few months, NASA will be totally dependent on the Russian Soyuz to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) at a cost of more than $753 million a year -- about $63 million per seat.

Musk said Dragon – designed to carry seven astronauts at a time to the space station at a cost of $20 million a seat – offers a far better deal for the U.S. taxpayer. While considerable flight testing remains, the critical-path technology Dragon needs for carrying humans to orbit is the launch escape system.

Kennedy Space Center Readies for Future

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OFFICIAL: STS-134 Launch Friday, April 29

NASA space shuttle managers have officially selected April 29, 2011 as the launch date of Endeavour on STS-134. That announcement came at the conclusion of the mission's Flight Readiness Review, where program officials expressed satisfaction with the preparations for the shuttle's next-to-last flight. During the 14-day mission, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts will be delivered to the International Space Station by Endeavour and its crew of Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg Johnson, Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff, and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

AMS-2 to Launch with STS-134 to ISS

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is flying to the station on STS-134. The AMS experiment is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector being operated by an international team composed of 60 institutes from 16 countries and organized under United States Department of Energy (DOE) sponsorship. The AMS Experiment will use the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin. The AMS is a high profile space-based particle physics experiment that is led by Nobel laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Salyut 1 Space Station Launched 40 Yrs Ago

Salyut 1 was the first DOS long duration orbital station. The 'civilian' DOS station was built on basis of the military Almaz stations with the mission of beating the American Skylab in the space station race and to determine the usefulness of manned observation of the earth by 1974. DOS-1 was launched as Salyut 1 on 19 April 1971.

Science Fiction Can Inspire Dreams to Build

Bill Cloutier describes how the art-form called Science Fiction not only can entertain, it can inspire people to achieve things others only dream about. Many scientists, astronomers and astronauts were inspired by Science Fiction to build rockets and satellites that go into space, discover planets around other stars and even travel into space itself.

Russian Space Telescope to Launch in May

An ambitious telescope project called RadioAstron (or Spektr R), which will allow the universe to be observed with an extraordinarily high angular resolution, is going to be launched into the Earth's orbit in less than a month. It is the unique brainchild of Russian scientists. Experts are already anticipating a true revolution in astrophysics, as the massive space traveling telescope promises to unveil numerous mysteries of deep space. It has been over a decade in the making, but the most ambitious Russian space project for years will soon move from science fiction to science fact. RadioAsrton will launch in May 2011 aboard a Zenit-2SB carrier rocket with a Fregat-2CB upper stage.

Monday, April 18, 2011

NASA Awards $269-Million in CCDev2: New US Capability to Fly Astronauts Developing

Boeing Co. garnered the largest of four NASA Space Act Agreement awards designed to nurture the development of commercially operated astronaut transport systems, landing a deal worth $92.3 million to refine the design of its CST-100 crew capsule, the U.S. space agency announced Monday, April 18, 2011.

The other winners of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) 2 awards are: Blue Origin, $22 million; Sierra Nevada Corp., $80 million; and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), $75 million. The awards are intended to help the companies refine their concepts for transporting astronauts to and from the international space station on a commercial basis, reports SpaceNews.

Among the bidders not selected for second round awards are: Alliant Techsystems, Orbital Sciences Corp., United Launch Alliance and United Space Alliance.

Awards will take the form of milestone-based, fixed-price, pay-for-performance NASA investment using Space Act Agreements instead of traditional government contracts. The program will culminate in a Commercial Crew Program in which companies will demonstrate the capability of taking NASA crews to and from the International Space Station.

Russians Preparing Science at Mars Moon "Fear" with Launch Set for November 2011

Russian scientists plan to investigate "Fear" - the Mars moon Phobos. The mission goal is to photograph Phobos and to define the chemical compounds. This research experiment can turn our concept about an origin of Solar system. In November of this year the research mission "Fobos-ground" will launch to Mars and begin the scientific investigation at the moon Phobos.

Citizen Scientist Space Exploration Launched

The first phase of the Allen Telescope Array consisting of 42 antennas has been built at the Hat Creek Observatory near Mount Lassen, California. One of its major missions is to conduct radio SETI observations from 1 to 10 GHz.

Because SETI now has its own telescope (50 years after Frank Drake's first search) and because SETI moved the signal detection efforts from custom hardware to enterprise servers, enabling SETI to now do things differently. SETI is moving out of the cathedral into the bazaar - which is Eric Raymond's way of saying that we are trying to involve the world in our searches. setiQuest is a global community that was launched to fulfill Jill Tarter's 2009 TED-prize-winning wish "I wish that you would empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

N = R* fp ne fl fi fc L - Drake Equation @50

With little fanfare, American astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Donald Drake fifty (50)years ago organized the National Academy of Sciences-sponsored meeting convened a meeting on detecting extraterrestrial intelligence. The meeting was held at the Green Bank radio telescope facility. In preparation of the meeting in 1961, Drake postulated the so-called Drake Equation (sometimes called the Green Bank equation or the Green Bank Formula) was formulated and launched the first meeting of SETI. Drake says humanity has a long way to go to look for life among the stars, [BBC documentary].

"In 1961, I was asked by the National Academy of Science to convene a meeting of scientists interested in SETI to explore what the possibilities were," says Drake. "In preparing the agenda for the meeting, I listed all the factors one needed to know to predict the number of detectable civilisations in our galaxy. I recognised that if they were all multiplied together, one got an estimate of the number of detectable civilisations."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in Action

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provides remote sensing of the hydrated minerals north of Hellas Basin and more of Emmentaler in this recent image video.

Mining the Moon Gets Closer to Reality

Moon Express Inc or MoonEx, co-founded by Naveen Jain, is building the robotic rovers designed to search the lunar surface for precious metals and scarce metallic elements.

While there is no guarantee that the moon is "flush" with these materials, MoonEx thinks it "may be a gold mine of so-called rare earth elements." Adding, "From an entrepreneur's perspective, the moon has never truly been explored," The Los Angeles Times quoted Jain, chairman and company co-founder, as saying.

"MoonEx should be ready to land on the lunar surface by 2013,"
Jain said, more likely 2014, reports SpaceNews.

Texas Space Alliance Seeks New Frontier

The Texas Space Alliance is a group of Texans who believe our frontier heritage and pioneering spirit makes the Lone Star State the obvious future home for the opening of the next frontier: space.

The group is spearheaded by commercial space policy pioneer Rick Tumlinson, originally from Texas. The group is pushing a state Customer Informed Consent Liability Release law, a Zero-G, Zero Tax (ZGZT) state law, a Texas Space Authority, and several other action items at the Texas state capitol and in Washington with the Texas Congressional delegation.

Readers from Texas may elect to get involved with the newly established organization.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Orbital Sciences Corporation Offers Careers

Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation is one of the world's leading suppliers of rockets, satellites and other space systems. This video provides insights into what we do and what it's like to work at Orbital.

Rocket City Space Pioneers Offer Rideshare

Rocket City Space Pioneers Team Leader Tim Pickens and Jason Andrews talk about their cool rideshare program during a break at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Falcon 9 is the planned launch vehicle, and the program offers savings of over 50% over traditional dedicated missions.

India-Russia Plan Joint Human Space Mission

An Indian cosmonaut will first go on a Russian space mission in 2015, prior to the Indian manned mission in 2017, Alexey M Mzareulov, deputy consul-general of the Russian Federation, announced in India this week. He made the announcement at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the first human space flight by Yuri Gagarin, organized by the Russian Centre for Science & Culture, which saw many American diplomats.

ISRO and the Russian space agency Roskosmos will build the spacecraft for the mission in 2015. If it is successful, India will become the fourth nation after Russia, the US and China, to send a manned mission into space, reports The Times Of India.

China Seeks US Space Policy Cooperation

A top Chinese government space official on April 14 appealed to the U.S. government to lift its decade-long ban on most forms of U.S.-Chinese space cooperation, saying both nations would benefit from closer government and commercial space interaction. Lei Fanpei, vice president of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), which oversees much of China’s launch vehicle and satellite manufacturing industry, specifically called for cooperation on manned space flight, in which China has made massive investment in recent years, reports Peter B. de Sekling of Space News.

While cooperation with the United States has been shut down, he said, China has maintained relations with the 18-nation European Space Agency, Brazil, France, Russia and others.

Lei said he sees three areas in which U.S.-Chinese cooperation would be in both nations’ interests. The first, he said, is an open commercial access of each nation to the other’s capabilities in satellites and launch vehicles. The second, he said, is manned spaceflight and space science, particularly in deep space exploration. The third is in satellite applications including disaster monitoring and management.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

China´s space program gearing up in 2011

When Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, Yang Liwei hadn't even been born. Liwei was China's first man into orbit in 2003. China then followed with a number of space projects. The country's space progress has aroused the world's attention. Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut said "The courageous spirit of Gagarin has inspired people working in the space industry to further explore the universe. He is responsible for more people learning about outer space."

What Next in Space? Global Effort?

50 Years of Human Spaceflight

See the spaceships that have launched astronauts and cosmonauts into space in the first 50 years of human spaceflight.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shuttles Awarded to N.Y., Va. Fla., Ca.

NASA is giving its retiring space shuttles to museums in Cape Canaveral,Flordia, Los Angeles, California, Dulles, Virginia and New York City, N.Y. Twenty-one museums and visitor centers around the country put in bids for the spaceships.

The Space Shuttle: Endeavour STS-134

An idea born in unsettled times becomes a feat of engineering excellence. The most complex machine ever built to bring humans to and from space and eventually construct the next stop on the road to space exploration, narrated by William Shatner.

Gagarin Tribute at The Kremlin

The Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow was the scene of a concert and other activities paying tribute to Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly in space. Gagarin's historic launch took place 50 years ago on April 12, 1961. Russian and American space officials and other dignitaries were on hand for the event.

First Orbit: The Story of Yuri Gagarin

A real time recreation of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering first orbit, shot entirely in space from on board the International Space Station. The film combines this new footage with Gagarin's original mission audio and a new musical score by composer Philip Sheppard. For more information visit

STS-1 Columbia Launched 30-Years Ago!

Thirty years ago: STS-1 was the first orbital flight of the United States Space Shuttle, launched on 12 April 1981, and returning to Earth 14 April 1981.

Russian Yuri Gagarin First to Orbit in 1961

Fifty years ago Cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. He rode the Vostok 1, designed by Sergey Korolyov. Gararin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" (Russian: "Родина слышит, Родина знает"), The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky".

Today, Russia is a proud partner with the United States, Europe, China and other spacefaring nations in placing humans and space probes in orbit and into deep space.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ian Anderson + Cady Coleman flute duet in space in honor of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin

NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson Perform First Space-Earth Duet. NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman, circling Earth aboard the International Space Station, and musician Ian Anderson, founder of the rock band Jethro Tull, joined together for the first space-Earth duet.

Google Doodle Celebrates Yuri Gagarin

Google reminds everyone today that its been 50 years that Yuri Gagarin, a Russian Cosmonaut and the first human, orbited the earth on 12th April 1961 in 108-minutes.

Yuri Gagarin's Golden Anniversary

Russian and American space officials gathered at the Cosmonautics Museum in Moscow on April 11 on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first human in space Yuri Gagarin, to commemorate this historic achievement.

ISS Crew Celebrate Yuri's Night

Floating high above the Earth, the Expedition 27 crew aboard the International Space Station sends their special message to the world to wish them a Happy Yuri's Night! Expedition 27 includes Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Andrey Borisenko, Catherine 'Cady' Coleman, Alexander Samokutyaev, Paolo Nespoli and Ron Garan.

"Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty - not destroy it!" ~ Yuri Gagarin, 1st human in space

Rock-it and Roll: Students Celebrate Gagarin

Lift off: Siberian State Aerospace University students launch a self-made guitar-shaped rocket to celebrate the upcoming day of Aviation and Cosmonautics and the 50the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight. More from The Mail Online.

Shuttle Endeavour Prepares for Final Flight

When Endeavour launches on NASA's 36th mission to the International Space Station on April 29, 2011, the STS-134 crew of six astronauts will begin a mission to stock the station with spare parts and a world-class stellar research instrument. STS-134: Overview.

2011: Emerging Space Nations and Global International Cooperation Goals

The new millenium had seen new space-faring nations join the industry and further cooperation develop. Discussing these developments at the IAF's 60th Anniversary Celebration were: Jie Yuan (IAF Vice President, China; G Madhavan Nair (IAA President, India); Nunzia Maria Paradiso (Young Professional, Italy); and, Berndt Feuerbacher (IAF President, Germany).

50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin

First Orbit - a new film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the flight of Yuri Gagarin. First Orbit will premiere on this channel on the 12th April 2011. Join the global premiere at

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Alien Earths by the Dozens on the Way

Soon astronomers expect to find alien Earths by the dozens in orbit around distant suns. Before the decade is out, telltale signs that they harbor life may be found. Video presentation by Ray Jayawardhana, University of Toronto. Part 2 and Part 3 videos.

Communication Challenges with Alien Worlds

Dr. David Messerschmitt, author of five text books used in communication theory, was a recent lecture guest at the SETI Institute. In this talk, Dr. Messerschmitt will address end-to-end communication system design emphasizing noise, dispersion, and interference, deferring scattering to future work.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has sought radio beacons devoid of information content. It seems likely, however, that a civilization transmitting a radio signal intended for our detection will also be motivated to embed information within the signal, especially in view of the large speed-of-light latencies. Successful exchange of information by radio with intelligent civilizations in distant solar systems requires an understanding of the end-to-end communication system design, including resources available to transmitter and receiver and properties of radio propagation in the interstellar medium.

Although interstellar space is nearly an ideal vacuum, it contains sufficient low- density plasma to profoundly affect radio transmission over interstellar distances. The primary impairments are attenuation, thermal noise, plasma dispersion, scattering, and interference in the vicinity of the receiver. The most difficult technical challenge is initial discovery of a signal, and the primary obstacles are the infeasibility of coordination between transmitter and receiver and related "needle in a haystack" issues.

China Launches 8th Beidou Satellite

China has successfully launched the eighth orbiter for its Beidou satellite navigation and positioning network. Sunday's launch completes the establishment of the basic satellite network, with more orbiters to be launched over the coming two years. The finished network will provide precision navigation services for industries like mapping, transport and telecommunication in the Asia-Pacific region. A global service is expected to be in place by 2020 to compete with the Americans GPS, Russian GLONASS, and the European Galileo positioning systems.

Spaceport Holland with SpaceLinq in 2015?

Dutch initiative SpaceLinq announced Friday that it will be Europe's first spaceflight operator from within Holland at the Lelystad Airport. The airport is the proposed home base for the future EU Spaceport Lelystad, as long as all regulation and approval from the government and Airport partners are granted.

Space businessman Chuck Lauer, US co-founder of SpaceLinq, says, "We choose Lelystad for its location next to the sea and close proximity to the North Sea military reserve airspace. Besides, the open space and available land, plus the desire of the community to encourage new technology and industry are other reasons to choose Lelystad as SpaceLinq`s domicile. Also important to choose Holland is the fact that the European spaceflight market may be the largest in the world, and the Amsterdam region is already one of the greatest tourist destinations on the planet."

The first flights from the proposed spaceport are expected in 2015. The SpaceLinq spaceliner vehicle will seat one pilot plus five customers when flying space tourism flights. For research purposes the four rear seats are removed and replaced with experiment racks or other payloads, while leaving the front right seat in place for payload operators or researchers to fly and operate their experiments, reports

Multilingual Messages of Goodwill to be Transmitted from ISS to Honor Gagarin

An amateur radio satellite specifically designed to interest students in scientific and technological careers will be activated and begin transmissions from the ISS in in about Monday to celebrate Yuri Gagarin's first human space flight. Transmissions are scheduled to begin Monday around 14:30 UTC April 11 and ending Wednesday around 10:30 UTC on April 13, 2011.

These transmissions will commemorate 50 years since the flight of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as the first human to enter outer space. The satellite (ARISSat-1, RadioSkaf-V) will send telemetry, SSTV images, and messages of goodwill in multiple languages as it orbits earth inside the ISS. In order to operate inside the ISS, ARISSat-1 will be connected to an external amateur radio antenna already mounted on the outer surface of the space station. The craft will use its own battery for operation, therefore it will be in low power mode. As a result, listeners can expect 40-60 second "ON" periods followed by two-minute "OFF" periods to save battery power.

The ham radio satellite was to be deployed by Russian cosmonauts earlier this year into space but the effort was delayed until summer of this year. Upon deployment in July, ham operators will be able listen-in until sometime early 2012.

Congratulations on the International Day of Cosmonautics: Yuri Gargain Day 1961-2011

Asia's star burns ever brighter in space

ASIA'S extraterrestrial ambitions have rocketed from nowhere in the 50 years since the first human space flight, with China shooting for the moon while India and Japan fuel up their own programs, [along with South Korea], reports AFP video and The Straights Times.

Since China in 2003 became the world's third nation to put a man in space independently, after the United States and Russia, its manned space flight program has earned worldwide attention. In October, it launched its second lunar probe Chang'e-2 - the next step in a bold program to become the second country to put a man on the moon. Beijing also plans to build its own space station, [launch a prtotype late this year].

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar orbiter project, has said there is no timetable for a manned moon landing, but that it would not happen before 2020, according to comments carried by state media. [China plans a lunar soil sample return in the next five years.]

The initiative is run by the country's powerful People's Liberation Army, which does not welcome international cooperation - unlike its regional rival India, which is targeting a manned space mission in 2016. 'India is totally different from China in that it benefits from technology transfers. Beijing has meanwhile been isolated as it has built up its space programme,' said Isabelle Sourbes-Verger, a French expert on China's efforts.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Where, oh where to land next on Mars?

As the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is readied for a November-December 2011 launch window, Mars planetary scientists around the Earth are actively considering one of four primary landing sites and building digital terrain models (DTMs) of each site. The four potential landing sites were picked from among fifty candidate sites, reports Leonard David.

Eberswalde crater: Contains a delta with phyllosilicates — clay-like minerals that preserve a record of long-term contact with water — thus, a potentially habitable environment that is particularly favorable to the preservation of organic materials, [video-1 and video-2].

Holden crater: Contains finely layered phyllosilicates that are deposited in a standing body of water thought to be a lake, [video].

Mawrth Vallis: Exposes an ancient preserved layered stratigraphic section of terrain that provides an opportunity to characterize early wetter conditions back to roughly the first billion years of Mars history, known as the Noachian era, [video lecture and video view].

Gale crater: Offers access to diverse rock strata, including interbedded sulfates and phyllosilicates in a mound three miles (5 kilometers) high that reflects deposition during changing environmental conditions, [video-1 and video-2].

The Kepler exoplanet candidates visualized

This is a visualization of the 1236 exoplanet candidates observed by Kepler. As you can see, the vast majority of these planets orbit their stars at a distance less than Earth. This is likely due to the relatively short observation period - it is highly probable that many more planets will be found as the duration of study increases. Two candidates are highlighed: KOI 326.01 and KOI 314.02. Out of all the candidates, those two may have the best chances of satisfying some of the 'habitability' criteria astronomers tend to use.

Music Vote for Endeavour's Last Flight

Your Mission: Vote on your favorite! From THIS LIST, listen to the wakeup song and select your favorite. The two songs with the most votes will be announced and played during the STS-134 mission, which is currently scheduled to launch on April 29, 2011. Voting will be open until mission launch day. Listen-in and vote. STS-133 winner.

Yuri Gagarin and the Science of Orbit

Video from the University of Nottingham, Sixty Symobols.

BBC Interview with Yuri Gagarin

First Cosomonaut Yuri Gagarin guest of studio BBC (England).

Linné Crater Not Just Another Impact Crater

Our solar system is a rough neighborhood. Pretty much everywhere you look on rocky planets, you can find impact craters. But since craters erode and deform over time, we can't learn much about them until we find a pristine crater that can act as a reference point. Thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we have new data on just such a crater--the Linné Crater on the Moon!

Friday, April 08, 2011

This Week @NASA - April 8, 2011

NASA's Jupiter-Bound Spacecraft JUNO Arrives at Spaceport for August 2011 Launch

NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch this summer. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., today. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Juno will be carried into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch period opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:39 a.m. PDT (11:39 am EDT) and remains open through 9:39 a.m. PDT (12:39 p.m. EDT).

Yuri's Night April 12- 50th anniversary

Celebrating A Space Pioneer — On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space. Ryan Kobrick, director of the worldwide "Yuri's Night" celebration, talks about Gagarin on National Public Radio Science Friday. Plans are underway to observe the 50th anniversary of his historic 108-minute orbital flight aboard Vostok 1 with some 400-parties worldwide.

ESA Euronews: First Man in Space

50 years ago, for the first time in history, a human travelled into space. Who was Yuri Gagarin ? How did this flight change his life and the future of humankind?

ESA Notes 50 Years of Humans in Space

ESA pays tribute to five decades of human spaceflight with a video from the European Astronaut Centre remembering the historic flight of 12 April 1961. Yuri Gagarin was the first to see Earth from space and his legacy has motivated many young people to follow careers in science and engineering - and to become astronauts and cosmonauts.

Selenokhod 2.0 Prepares for Lunar X-Prize

The Google Lunar X-Prize contender, Selenokhod 2.0, has a new rover concept emerging for the first time, and yet they struggle to even call it a rover. In fact, it is a next generation, high-tech robot for lunar exploration. The robotic model is almost revolutionary due to its non-traditional system of movement, and the way in which it incorporates several new technical solutions.

Barcelona Moon Team Makes Progress

The Barcelona Moon Team has produced a second four wheeled version for a landing site relatively flat and where obstacles bigger than 15cm are bypassed. The rover is conceived as a cargo platform where all six compartments are equally opened to the exterior. In this version, the solar panels unfold in a piramidal shape and the camera is deployed thanks to a telescopic arm. In the video, the team discusses the prototype when a mock up of the minirobot, appears from its 10x10x10cm compartment. This minirobot will be selected within the contestants received at the Minirobot Call for Proposal, open until July 31st, 2010.

Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project Continues

The Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) is an instrument on NASA's ongoing Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission to map and study the Moon. LAMP is a spectrograph that images the ultraviolet region of the spectrum. Utilizing the faint glow of stars and other light reflected off the lunar surface, LAMP can see inside the darkest areas of the Moon to search for water ice and other valuable resources.

Russian Space Agency Chief Anatoly Perminov to be Retired from Leadership?

Roscosmos Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov said he believes it is up to the country's leadership to decide on his further work as the Head of the agency following reports of his soon to be forced retirement, Bloomberg reports. Parabolic Arc's Doug Messier pointed to reports yesterday leading to the conclusion that Perminov will soon be ousted as head of the Russian space effort.

Nonetheless, the Russian Space Agency is eager to expand its travel program, which sends enthusiasts to the International Space Station, according to Russian Today [RT] as one of their reporters spoke to Anatoly Perminov to find out when tickets to orbit will be available once again.

An American spaceport may benefit from Russian commercial space tourism along with Virginia-based Space Adventures, if multi-million dollar space tourism resumes in next five years under a new state tax law in Virginia.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Orbital Sciences Corp Favored in CCDev-2

NASA is expected to announce awards for the Commercial Crew Development Program–2 (CCDEV-2) this spring, a FBR Capital financial analyst indicated two weeks ago giving favorable remarks on the specific chances of Orbital Sciences Corporation to gain funding to proceed with the concepts relating its proposed Prometheus spaceplane.

There were inital reports that NASA may announce contract awards this week, however, the Congessional budget shutdown may delay any announcement while federal departments and agencies await financial direction from the White House and Congress, notes Alan Boyle.

"This phase of CCDEV-2 would be a precursor to research and development and flight demonstration contracts, so it represents an opportunity for the industry to provide NASA with its best and most up-to-date ideas on how to provide astronaut transportation to low-earth orbit on a commercial basis," the FBR Capital analyst said.

"We think the industry’s relative silence about the program indicates that it is also cautious over how the program will move forward. But, according to our contacts, Orbital Sciences, Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra-Nevada seem the best positioned to win contracts, with Alliant TechSystems (ATK), Blue Origin, Excalibur Almaz, and United Launch Alliance [rounding out] the short list."

Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation and California-based SpaceX are now under NASA contract to provide commercial space launch cargo and resupply to the International Space Station to 2015 with the first cargo ships arriving on-orbit early next year. Orbital Sciences will launch the new Taurus-II booster from Wallops Island, Va. while SpaceX will utilize the now flight-tested Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Gagarin Spacecraft Docks with Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-21 Gagarin capsule carrying three Expedition 27 crew members docked to the ISS at 7:09 p.m. on Wed., April 6, 2011. Docking is followed by a news conference from Mission Control in Korolev, Russia. The space station crew is back to a full crew of six.

Orrery of Kepler’s Exoplanets

Here’s a terrific visualization of all the multiple-planet systems discovered by the Kepler spacecraft as of February 2, 2011. The exoplanets’ orbits go through the entire 3.5 year mission. The different colors represent different sized planets — “hot” colors are the big planets, cooler colors are the smaller ones, relative to the other planets in the system. Kepler’s Orrery is a generative music system that uses gravity equations to compose and play ambient music.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Manber: US space travel must go commercial

With Russia being the only current contender in the space race, is the U.S. really down for the count in terms of out-of-this-world exploration? Space Entrepreneur Jeffrey Manber believes that the future for the U.S. in space travel relies on going commercial and that America must continue to work towards creating cutting edge technology.

Elon Musk Advances the Falcon Heavy !!!

A high-tech entrepreneur [Elon Musk] unveiled plans Tuesday [at the National Press Club] to launch the world's most powerful rocket since man went to the moon, reports the Associated Press. Space Exploration Technology has already sent the first private rocket and capsule into Earth's orbit as a commercial venture. It is now planning a rocket that could lift twice as much cargo into orbit as the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle. The first launch is slotted for 2013 from Vandenberg in California with follow-up launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Space X's new [22-story] rocket called Falcon Heavy is big enough to send cargo or even people out of Earth's orbit to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. Only the long retired Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon was bigger. The Los Angeles Times provides more details and a 38-minute video of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is posted below.

Chinese Chang'e-2 Lunar Probe Continues ...

China's second lunar orbiter Chang'e-2 has completed its 6 month-long mission with operations continuing to run as normal in this extended period. Launched on October 1st, 2010, the orbiter has gathered lunar scientific data and has performed "perfectly," says a Chinese lunar scientist.

Zhou Jianliang, Vice Chief Designer, Monitor System of Chang'e-2 Satellite,said, "We will first run some measures and control experiments. Then the satellite will adjust its orbit to take photos of the north and south poles of the moon. After that it will once again approach the Bay of Rainbows area, the proposed landing ground for Chang'e-3, and capture more images."

China launched its lunar mission in 2007 by successfully sending an unmanned probe - Chang'e-1, into the moon's orbit. The next mission will send a landing craft and rover vehicle to the moon's surface by 2013.