Exploration News - 22 August 2011

22 August 2011
Launch Date for Tiangong 1 docking target very likely on 30 August
Following observation of media reports, space analyst Chen Lan said on its relaunched website "Go-Taikonauts!" that the launch for the Tiangong mini laboratory might be scheduled for 30 August.
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22 August 2011
"Go Taikonauts!" is back with in-dept coverage of Chinese space flight activities.
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19 August 2011
Chinese orbiter launch failure will not affect unmanned space module launch

The launch of a Chinese unmanned space module, the Tiangong-1, will not be affected by the failed launch of an experimental orbiter on Thursday, an expert said Friday.
Qi Faren, a chief designer of China's "Shenzhou" spacecraft family, said that the carrier rocket for the Tiangong-1 is different from that used for the experimental orbiter SJ-11-04, which failed to enter Earth's orbit due to a malfunction of the rocket.
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19 August 2011
Russia teams up with European Space Agency in bid to launch first manned mission to Mars
Russia is teaming up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch the first manned mission to Mars.
Speaking at an air show at Zhukovsky, near Moscow, ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain said his agency and Roskosmos will 'carry out the first flight to Mars together'.
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19 August 2011
Senators Urge Action on NASA Heavy Lift

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) called Aug. 19 for the immediate public release of an independent cost assessment of the Space Launch System, the heavy-lift rocket Congress directed NASA to build for manned missions beyond low Earth orbit.
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19 August 2011
At Florida Spaceports, Commercial Operators Prepare To Move In

Privately owned U.S. space companies are preparing to move into high-value launch support facilities in Florida, partially filling a vacuum left by the end of the space shuttle program and the retiring of the Delta 2 expendable rocket.
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18 August 2011
NASA Selects XCOR to Participate in Suborbital Flight Contract

NASA has selected XCOR Aerospace to provide suborbital flight and payload integration services for research and scientific missions in a program that will offer up to $10 million dollars in contracts to match payload customers with flight vehicle services. The awards were announced by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, a part of NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC that is managed at Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
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18 August 2011
Chinese scientists come up with plan to save Earth from asteroid hit
A group of Chinese scientists have proposed using a solar sail to prevent the possible collision of Apophis, a 46 million ton asteroid, with the Earth in 2036.
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17 August 2011
The results of the public consultations on the European Space Policy

The European Commission released figures on the public consultations on the European Space Policy, which were finished on March 15th. 608 entities answered the questions from the Commission.
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16 August 2011
Tourist Trip to Moon on Energia's Agenda

"We are holding initial negotiations on the commercial flight around the Moon," Energia President Vitaly Lopota said in an Aug. 15 interview, according to an Interfax-AVN report in Ukraine's Kyiv Post. "The crew makeup, partners and project budget are on the agenda." The Virginia-based space tourism firm Space Adventures announced in January that it had sold one of two tickets for the Soyuz flight to the Moon for $150 million. The company did not say who had purchased the ticket.
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16 August 2011
Jodie Foster helps keep search for aliens alive

"Contact" star Jodie Foster was among donors helping to revive the 42 radio telescope dishes at a key California institute searching for extraterrestrial life.
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15 August 2011
SpaceX plans November test flight to space station

California-based rocket maker SpaceX said Monday that it will make a test flight in late November to the International Space Station, now that NASA has retired its space shuttle program.
"SpaceX has been hard at work preparing for our next flight -- a mission designed to demonstrate that a privately-developed space transportation system can deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS)," the company, also called Space Exploration Technologies, said in a statement.
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12 August 2011
NASA Consolidates Human Spaceflight Office
NASA has officially consolidated its human spaceflight program, including the international space station, deep space exploration, and commercial cargo- and crew-transport operations, under a single mission directorate. The new Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate comprises what used to be the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates. Bill Gerstenmaier, formerly the Space Operations associate administrator, will head up the new directorate.
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12 August 2011
NASA Selects Seven Firms To Provide Near-Space Flight Services

NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space.
As part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.
The selected companies are:
+ Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas
+ Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore.
+ Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif.
+ Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.
+ Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif.
+ Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif.
+ XCOR, Mojave, Calif.
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11 August 2011
Russia space chief regrets focus on manned missions

The new chief of Russia's space agency on Thursday said it had put too much emphasis on manned space flight and needed to increase financing on projects that brought a tangible return. Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin, in one of his first interviews since taking office this year, said the agency was spending almost half its budget on manned flight and it was no longer good enough just to put a human in orbit.
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FOR FURTHER READING
22 August 2011
New opportunities for smallsat launches

Small satellites show increasing potential to do more in space at lower costs than big satellites, but an ongoing challenge has been finding cost-effective ways to launch them. Jeff Foust reports on new opportunities involving existing large rockets and proposed small rockets to serve the smallsat market.
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22 August 2011
An enduring value proposition for NASA human spaceflight (part 3)
In the latest installment of her assessment of the value of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Mary Lynne Dittmar examines the national security implications of human spaceflight, particularly from the perspective of soft power.
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22 August 2011
Ranger: Voyage to the Moon and beyond
Fifty years ago this month the first spacecraft in the Ranger program launched into Earth orbit. Drew LePage examines the early history of this program and how it set the foundation for more than just missions to the Moon.
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22 August 2011
The wit and wisdom of Burt Rutan
Last month recently-retired aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan was a featured guest at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Eric Hedman recounts what Rutan had to say about his career and work, including development of suborbital vehicles, at the event.
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22 August 2011
Review: The View from Here

This is a turbulent time for the space workforce, as some workers lose their jobs while other companies wonder how they’ll attract a new generation of engineers. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides practical career guidance for aerospace and other engineers.
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15 August 2011
Of ships and space

Why has the retirement of the shuttle resonated with the general public so much? Stewart Money discusses how the shuttle, unlike spacecraft before or after it, captured the essence of being a ship.
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15 August 2011
An enduring value proposition for NASA human spaceflight (part 2)

What value does NASA provide to the nation? In the second part of her analysis, Mary Lynne Dittmar argues that value, not widely recognized, is more fundamental than human space exploration.
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15 August 2011
The evolving ecosystem of NewSpace

When most people think of NewSpace, visions of space tourism and low-cost launchers come to mind. Jeff Foust examines several entrepreneurial space companies that are instead working on technologies that could enable or be enabled by improved access to space.
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15 August 2011
After the shuttle era, space exploration continues and thrives

Space advocates find themselves having to fight the perception that the end of the shuttle program means “the end” of NASA itself. Lou Friedman says that today is a vibrant time for space exploration, even if those accomplishments aren’t often recognized.
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15 August 2011
Will a new space power rise along the Atlantic?

Brazil is making a major push to turn its equatorial spaceport into a major hub of launch activity. Doug Messier reports on the various initiatives underway and the challenges the country faces to join the ranks of the world’s space powers.
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