Exploration News - 10 January 2012

10 January 2012
Popovkin: Russia 'Well Aware' of Risks to Phobos-Grunt
In a post-mortem interview on the failed Phobos-Grunt Mars mission, the head of the Russian space agency said the probe was launched "despite risks of which Russian scientists were well aware," the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported Jan. 10.
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06 January 2012
Failed Russian space probe to fall
The most probable date for its re-entry into the atmosphere is Jan. 15, Roscosmos said.
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10 January 2012
Photographing the International Space Station from Your Own Backyard
If you have the right equipment, capturing your own photo of the space station from your hometown can be almost as easy as tracking it, and definitely more satisfying.
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09 January 2012
NASA Intends To Add $375M to Lockheed's Orion Contract for Delta 4 Test Launch
NASA intends to add $375 million to Lockheed Martin Space Systems' $6.4 billion Orion space capsule contract so that the company can procure a Delta 4 rocket to power a 2014 test flight of the next-generation crew vehicle.
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05 January 2012
China's space ambitions ally glory with pragmatism
As China pushes to become a global space power, experts say its ambitions go well beyond a symbolic moon landing, to satellite observation and a global positioning system to rival that of the United States.
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05 January 2012
Rare Moon mineral found in Australia
A mineral brought back to Earth by the first men on the Moon and long thought to be unique to the lunar surface has been found in Australian rocks more than one billion years old, scientists said Thursday.
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05 January 2012
Reality Check for Indian Astronauts
India has been dabbling in the development of an indigenous space capsule for years, and proposed launching such a spacecraft atop its powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), currently the most powerful operational rocket in India. The first launch was mooted for 2016 or soon afterwards. The concept looked good on paper, but it overlooked a major problem. Put bluntly, the GSLV is unreliable as a satellite launcher, and is totally unsuitable for launching astronauts.
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03 January 2012
Manned Moon mission on the Chinese horizon
Preliminary research on a "giant leap" to the moon has been included in the government's plans for the next five years, according to a white paper issued on Thursday. The white paper, China's Space Activities in 2011, said that research on a heavy-thrust carrier rocket - vital for launching manned spacecraft to the moon - will be carried out in the next five years and that China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.
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03 January 2012
China sets up state-level aerospace research institute
A research institute focusing on the development of the country's aerospace engineering technologies was jointly founded by the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) on Saturday.
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03 January 2012
India lags China in research, complains PM
India's prime minister on Tuesday said the country was not spending enough on scientific research, meaning it lagged badly behind regional rival China. Speaking at an annual science conference, Manmohan Singh said India was spending only one percent of its trillion-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) on scientific research.
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01 January 2012
NASA's Twin Grail Spacecraft Reunite in Lunar Orbit
The second of NASA's two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft has successfully completed its planned main engine burn and is now in lunar orbit. Working together, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will study the moon as never before.
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30 December 2011
China issues white paper on space exploration
- China conducts international space exchanges, cooperation in various forms
- China to tighten monitoring on space debris
- China to develop new-generation launch vehicles
- China to launch orbiters for lunar soft landing in next five years
- China to push forward human spaceflight projects in next five years
- China makes rapid progress, breakthroughs in space industry
- China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.
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30 December 2011
India unveils statue of cosmonaut Gagarin
A statue of the world's first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, was unveiled Friday in Mumbai on the grounds of the Nehru Science Center, center officials said.
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30 December 2011
Minister orders Russian space agency security blitz after blogger invasion
Russia's space agency Roscosmos has been given until January to rectify security at its plants or face the consequences, after a reported penetration of its rocket plant in northern Moscow.
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30 December 2011
China to launch Shenzhou-9, Shenzhou-10 spacecraft next year: spokesman
China will launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and achieve space rendezvous and docking missions with the orbiting Tiangong-1 vehicle in 2012, a spokesman for the China National Space Administration said Thursday. Spokesman Zhang Wei made the announcement at a press conference held in Beijing for the release of a white paper titled "China's Space Activities in 2011."
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27 December 2011
NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Testing for Orbital Test Flight
NASA successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle's parachutes high above the Arizona desert Tuesday, Dec. 20, in preparation for its orbital flight test in 2014.
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24 December 2011
Russian satellite hits 'cosmonaut street' in Siberia
A fragment of a Russian satellite that crashed into Siberia in the latest setback for Russia's space programme hit a residential house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said Saturday.
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28 December 2011
Owner of house hit by satellite fixes roof himself amid compensation snag
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23 December 2011
Russia's space chief says industry in 'crisis' after latest failure
"The space branch is suffering a crisis. We must resolve this situation and give way to the youth...Perhaps it's time for reshuffle," agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said.
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22 December 2011
Belarus Strongman Vows Nation Will Build World's Best Spacecraft Ever
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday the former Soviet republc would build the best spaceship the world has ever seen. Lukashenko, once famoulsy dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the United States over the country's poor human rights record, said he had spoken with the country's leading scientists on the "construction of our own spacecraft."
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21 December 2011
Vega to fly ESA experimental reentry vehicle
The launch of ESA's IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle on Europe's new Vega rocket is now in detailed planning, a major step towards the craft's flight in 2014.
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21 December 2011
A Brighter Future for Spaceflight
These are probably the worst times that the spaceflight community has experienced in decades. But there's reason for hope. Although the near-term future will continue to be difficult, we are actually building the foundations for a much brighter future in space.
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21 December 2011
ESA astronaut André Kuipers on his way to the International Space Station
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19 December 2011
Scientists find microbes in lava tube living in conditions like those on Mars
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FOR FURTHER READING
09 January 2012
Exoplanet explorers
While scientists ultimately hope to launch large, dedicated space telescopes to directly image Earth-like extrasolar planets, such missions are expensive and likely far in the future. Jeff Foust reports on some efforts to fly less expensive space missions in the coming years to expand the horizons of exoplanet science and lay the groundwork for more ambitious missions.
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09 January 2012
A new paradigm for arbitrating disputes in outer space
There are few mechanisms today for arbitrating disputes on space-related issues, particularly those where non-governmental organizations are involved. Michael Listner describes a newly-adopted approach that could make it easier to resolve issues without the need for diplomatic maneuvering.
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09 January 2012
Reporting Kepler 20e and 20f
Last month NASA scientists announced the discovery of the first planets similar in size to the Earth orbiting a Sun-like star, a finding that got considerable media attention. John Hickman examines what the media got right and wrong in their reporting of the discovery.
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09 January 2012
Review: Beyond Pluto
The outer solar system has been the subject of a number of major discoveries, and some controversy regarding nomenclature, in the last decade. Jeff Foust reviews a book that, unfortunately, misses out on those developments but does provide some interesting older insights.
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03 January 2012
Where the candidates stand on space in 2012
The 2012 presidential campaign kicks into high gear on Tuesday with the Iowa caucuses, as seven major candidates vie for the Republican nomination. Jeff Foust reports on what those candidates have said—and, more commonly, have not said—about space policy in the campaign to date.
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03 January 2012
An enduring value proposition for NASA human spaceflight (part 5)
In the final installment of her series on a value proposition for human spaceflight, Mary Lynne Dittmar makes the case for re-establishing something like the National Space Council to better coordinate and communicate the national security value of human spaceflight in an increasingly competitive global landscape.
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03 January 2012
Chasing unicorns
Even as the Space Shuttles were being retired, there was a final behind-the-scenes bid to try and keep flying them commercially. Mary Lynne Dittmar discusses some of the lessons learned from that effort.
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03 January 2012
Spooky action at a distance: Apollo 18 on DVD
The recent movie Apollo 18 polarized audiences: some found the film too slow and boring, while others appreciated its verisimilitude. Dwayne Day reexamines the film and the new insights into its production provided by its release on DVD.
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03 January 2012
Review: Asia's Space Race
A Chinese government white paper released last week discussed that country's plans in space for the next several years, raising concerns about competition with the United States. Jeff Foust reviews a new book that argues the greater competition is among China's neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, whose space ambitions could lead to conflict.
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19 December 2011
Stratolaunch: SpaceShipThree or Space Goose?
Last week Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen announced he was teaming up with Burt Rutan, Mike Griffin, and others to create Stratolaunch Systems, a new company developing an air launch system. Jeff Foust describes the company's launch concept and the issues that have generated skepticism in some quarters.
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19 December 2011
ISS Next: chasing humanity's future in space and the "next logical step"
Missing from the debate about the future of NASA's human spaceflight efforts is one long-term question: what comes after the ISS? Roger Handberg argues that the failure to contemplate that question now could eventually mean ceding leadership in space station efforts to the Chinese.
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19 December 2011
An about face for commercial crew
NASA appeared set to press ahead with more conventional contracts for the next phase of its commercial crew program, but last week the agency abruptly changed course and said it would go back to Space Act Agreements instead. Jeff Foust reports on the reasons for the change and the reactions from industry and government.
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19 December 2011
Review: Integrating Women into the Astronaut Corps
While women are commonplace in NASA's astronaut corps today, commanding missions and holding management positions, it took considerable effort for women to become astronauts. Jeff Foust reviews a book that discusses the political, cultural, and technical issues associated with that integration.
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