Exploration News - 28 July 2011

28 July 2011
What should spaceships look like?
As the next generation of spaceships is being conceived, should shuttle designers take their inspiration from sci-fi illustrators?
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28 July 2011
Jupiter-Bound Juno Spacecraft Mated to its Rocket
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27 July 2011
ISS to be sunk after 2020: Russian space agency
"After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, it can leave behind lots of rubbish," said deputy head of Roskosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov. Davydov said it remains unclear what will come after the ISS and whether mankind will see the need for a replacement orbiting close to Earth.
Russia is currently developing a new space ship to replace the Soyuz capsule which is single-use, except for the section in which spacemen return to Earth, said Davydov. Tests of the ship will begin after 2015 and it will have "elements of multi-use whose level will be much higher than they are today," he said, adding that Russia will compete with the United States in building the new-generation ship.
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27 July 2011
Certification for Japanese ISS onboard astronauts
The three JAXA astronaut candidates have completed all their basic training requirements, thus they were certified as ISS astronauts on July 25, 2011.
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26 July 2011
Europe seeks greater role in NASA's exploration missions
The European Space Agency wants to take on a major task in NASA's future space exploration plans, proposing to combine parts of Europe's existing space station freighter with the U.S. Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for human voyages into deep space.
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26 July 2011
Spotlight Time for Tiangong
The upcoming launch of China's Tiangong 1 space laboratory will come at a critical time. The US space program has just retired its fleet of Space Shuttles, and currently lacks any means of launching astronauts from US soil. America's space pundits are entering a period of reflection and concerns about the future.
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25 July 2011
MAVEN Mission Completes Major Milestone
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission reached a major milestone last week when it successfully completed its Mission Critical Design Review (CDR).
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25 July 2011
New Russian carrier rockets to the Moon
Russia is working on two large-scale space projects simultaneously, including the next generation of the "Soyuz" spaceships and a principally new space system with the Rus-M carrier rocket. The launching pad for it will be built in the Far East. In the future it will be possible to carry out manned flights to the Moon from there.
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25 July 2011
Moon Express Announces Dr. Alan Stern as Chief Scientist
Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, has revealed that internationally recognized planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern will be the Chief Scientist and Mission Architect for the company.
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25 July 2011
Neptec's TriDAR technology to take off on Orbital's Cygnus Spacecraft
Fresh off three successful test missions with the Space Shuttle, including the historic final flight STS-135, this partnership will see Neptec supply Orbital with 13 TriDAR systems to support Orbital's initial round of resupply flights for the ISS with the Cygnus space craft.
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22 July 2011
NASA Shifts Procurement Plan For Upcoming Round of CCDev
Breaking from the strategy it used in the first two rounds of its commercial crew development (CCDev) program, NASA said it intends to use a traditional procurement process governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations to fund its contribution to the next phases of work on privately owned human spaceflight systems.
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22 July 2011
NASA Tentatively Approves Combining SpaceX Flights
NASA and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) “technically have agreed” to combine the two remaining flights designed to prove the Hawthorne, Calif., company can deliver cargo to the international space station, but formal approval for the mission is still pending, a senior NASA official said.
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22 July 2011
Russian satellite will honor Gagarin
The mini-satellite Kedr, named after Gagarin's call sign, will transmit greeting messages in 15 languages and relay images of Earth and telemetry data to amateur radio operators as it orbits, RIA Novosti reported Friday. The satellite, to be launched Aug. 3, is part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station project. Kedr will by launched by Cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov during a scheduled 6-hour spacewalk.
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22 July 2011
Space Shuttle Era Ends with Atlantis Landing
Space shuttle Atlantis touched down on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at 5:57 a.m. EDT on July 21. After 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles, the landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida brought to a close 30 years of space shuttle flights.
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21 July 2011
Russia declares 'era of Soyuz' after shuttle
"From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability," the Russian space agency Roskosmos said in a statement. Roskosmos expressed its admiration for the shuttle programme, which it said had delivered payloads to space indispensable for construction of the ISS. "Mankind acknowledges the role of American space ships in exploring the cosmos," it added.
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21 July 2011
Shuttle retirement ushers in new era
The cheers and the tears. The Atlantis shuttle returned from space on Thursday, book-ending the 135-flight sequence of Nasa's re-usable spaceplanes. People will debate long and hard on the value of the shuttle.
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21 July 2011
Cigars and flowers as NASA savors shuttle's end
Cigars were passed around, flowers brightened desktops and pictures snapped from all angles as NASA employees hugged, laughed and cried after the shuttle Atlantis landed one final time. Mission specialist Rex Walheim said he and crewmates Sandy Magnus and Doug Hurley "each got choked up at different times in the mission."For Walheim, it was the moment when Atlantis pulled away from the ISS for the last time. "It was a magnificent sight, it was dark... and when the station crew said 'Atlantis is departing,' it just, that was one that really choked me up."
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20 July 2011
NASA fends off tears with shuttle end in sight
"I will have tears of joy and tears of sadness at that time, but the tears of joy will be because we are already working with commercial companies to put cargo on the International Space Station as early as next year," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said. "We are working with other commercial companies to put American astronauts and our partner astronauts on the International Space Station in four or five years." Bolden has repeatedly brushed off critics who say the US space agency is in disarray, facing thousands of layoffs, an astronauts corps half the size it had 10 years ago and no human spaceflight program to replace the shuttle. "We have just not done a good job of telling our story. NASA is very busy," Bolden said. "The president said to us, 2025 for an asteroid and 2030 to Mars. We have a lot of work to do ahead."
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20 July 2011
Opportunity Tops 20 Miles of Mars Driving
More than seven years into what was planned as a three-month mission on Mars, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven more than 20 miles, which is more than 50 times the mission's original distance goal.
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20July 2011
Two NASA Probes Tackle New Mission: Studying The Moon
Two small NASA probes that had been used to study space weather now are orbiting the moon to study its interior and surface composition. The spacecraft, called Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun (ARTEMIS), began their journey away from Earth's orbit in July 2009. The first spacecraft entered lunar orbit on June 27, and the second on July 17
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19 July 2011
Griffin Now Favors Saving Space Shuttle
As NASA administrator under President George W. Bush, Mike Griffin wanted to wind down the space shuttle program as quickly as possible so that money could be spent on building a new system to send astronauts into orbit. But with no replacement in sight, he now believes the shuttle should continue flying, reports the Houston Chronicle’s SciGuy blog. In an email circulating among NASA employees, Griffin writes, “In a world of limited budgets, I was willing to retire the shuttle as the price of getting a follow-on system that could allow us to establish a manned lunar base. Not that my opinion matters, but I see no sense in retiring the shuttle in favor of nothing. That is beyond foolish.”
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19 July 2011
The shuttle's successors
After three decades, the shuttle era is all but over and the United States no longer has the means to send astronauts into space. Nasa is looking to the private sector to provide a new generation of space vehicles to take on the work of delivering crew and cargo to the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. We detail five of the possible successors to the shuttle.
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18 July 2011
NASA’s Shrinking Astronaut Corps
NASA’s fabled astronaut corps, which numbered an all-time high of 149 a decade ago, has dwindled to just 60, and is likely to shrink further after Atlantis returns this week from the last shuttle voyage, according to an Associated Press report July 17 in the Houston Chronicle. Chief astronaut Peggy Whitson figures she needs 55 to 60 active astronauts “at a bare minimum” to help staff the international space station over the next decade.
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18 July 2011
NASA inks agreement with maker of Atlas V rocket
NASA said Monday that it had reached an agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to try to adopt the Atlas V commercial rocket to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
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15 July 2011
Obama dials for pizza, gets space station
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station got a very long-distance call Friday from US President Barack Obama, who joked that he thought he was dialing out for pizza. "I was just dialing out for pizza, and I didn't expect to end up in space," Obama quipped, raising a laugh from the gathered crew. But turning serious, he told the astronauts how proud he was of them and said their work "ushers in an exciting new era to push the frontiers of space exploration and human spaceflight.""The space program has always embodied our sense of adventure and exploration and courage," the president said.
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15 July 2011
NASA in Australia for Mars research
NASA says it is using a remote region of Australia's outback as a training ground for planetary scientists preparing to send a new rover to Mars.
The Pilbara region in northwest Australia was chosen as one of Earth's closest matches to the landscape researchers expect the rover to encounter on Mars.
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FOR FURTHER READING
25 Juli 2011
Wheels stop
When the shuttle Atlantis landed Thursday morning, it was more than just the end of the Space Shuttle program. Jeff Foust discusses how it represents an end of a much longer era in human spaceflight, as the momentum built up from the original race to the Moon is finally exhausted.
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25 Juli 2011
The best of spacecraft, the worst of spacecraft
The Space Shuttle’s legacy has been widely debated as the program reaches its end: despite all its accomplishments, it failed to achieve its original goals of cost reduction. Andre Bormanis argues that the shuttle should best be remembered for taking a step on the path towards better and less expensive space access.
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25 Juli 2011
The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
The end of the Space Shuttle program marks a profound change for NASA, in more ways than one. Roger Handberg warns that in the post-shuttle era the political environment for NASA may become more difficult and partisan.
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25 Juli 2011
Lost space
A magazine planning to chronicle the emerging NewSpace industry has run into financial problems. Dwayne Day examines the intersection between the uncertainties of the space and publishing industries.
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25 Juli 2011
Review: Burt Rutan’s Race to Space
This week the EAA AirVenture convention in Oshkosh will honor Burt Rutan for his lifetime of achievement in aerospace design. Jeff Foust reviews a book that explores that history of design, from Rutan’s earliest homebuilt airplanes to SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo.
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18 July 2011
The decision to retire the Space Shuttle
When the shuttle Atlantis lands later this week, it will mark the end of the Space Shuttle program, an ending tinged with regret and controversy. Dwayne Day looks back at how the decision to retire the shuttle was reached in the aftermath of the Columbia accident.
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18 July 2011
Heavy-lift limbo
Congress has mandated that NASA develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle, but in the eyes of some the agency has made little progress on the Space Launch System (SLS). Jeff Foust reports on when a design for the SLS might finally be ready, and possible funding and schedule issues for the program.
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18 July 2011
Did space exploration sow the seeds of its own demise?
Space exploration has ushered in a number of major technological advancements, including microelectronics that led to today’s information-saturated age. Bob Mahoney worries that this space-enabled advance, ironically, may undermine the future of humans in space.
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18 July 2011
On survival, goals, and human space flight
The uncertainty many people feel about the future of human spaceflight with the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle leave many wondering how to sustain a long-term human future in space. Donald C. Barker says that future ventures much be sold and sustained on the survival of humanity.
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18 July 2011
Review: Sex on the Moon
In 2002 several co-op students at NASA’s Johnson Space Center stole a vault containing rocks returned from the Moon by the Apollo missions, only to be quickly apprehended. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a dramatic, if not sensationalized, recounting of that theft.
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