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In an op-ed in the November 19 New York Times, Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist William S. Marshall asks why the discovery of more water than expected at the Moon's South Pole did not get more media coverage. Saying that a similar discovery 30 years ago would have been "heralded as one of humanity's greatest discoveries," he wonders if "it's a symptom of our age, that the problems that bedevil us on Earth limit our interest in other worlds -- just when we need them (and the inspiration they offer) most."
The following presentations were made to the Survey Committee of the National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey on November 16-18, 2009 in Irvine, CA. Titles are from the agenda for the meeting.
- Status of NASA's Solar System Exploration Program, James Green, NASA Headquarters
- NRC Report on Radioisotope Power Systems, Ralph McNutt, APL
- Availability of Launch Vehicles 1, Max Vozoff, SpaceX
- Status and Prospects for the DSN (Deep Space Network), Barry Geldzhaler, NASA Headquarters
- Future DSN Operations, Michael Rodrigues, JPL
- Availability of Launch Vehicles 2, George Sowers, United Launch Alliance
- Current and Future Launch Services, Bill Wrobel, NASA Headquarters
The Survey Committee of the National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey met at the NRC's Beckman Center in Irvine, CA earlier this week. It was the second meeting for the Survey Committee, chaired by Steve Squyres, best known as the "father" of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
The Survey Committee is responsible for writing the decadal survey based on input from its five panels and the planetary science community at large. The output will be a consensus-based prioritized list of planetary science missions that should be undertaken in the decade 2013-2022.
Public sessions of the November Survey Committee meeting were devoted to presentations about the availability of launch services and of the Deep Space Network, as well as an update from NASA's Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green and a summary of the NRC's recent report on radioisotope power systems (RPS) by Ralph McNutt. Dr. McNutt co-chaired that NRC committee that produced the RPS report and also is a member of the Survey Committee. Presentations from the meeting are available under "National Research Council" on our left menu or by clicking here.
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope was honored with Popular Science magazine's 2009 Best of What's New Grand Award and a 2009 Breakthrough Award. Kepler's task is detecting Earth-like planets around other stars. The magazine awarded top honors to one breakthrough in each of 10 categories; Kepler won for aviation and space.
It wasn't the only space science mission to be honored, either. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Herschel and Planck observatories also received Breakthrough Awards.
A total of 10 programs were honored in the aviation and space category. Two other space winners were the Launch Abort System for Orion and Elon Musk's Falcon launch vehicle.
NASA's latest prize competition, to improve the design of the gloves that are part of the pressure suits worn by astronauts on spacewalks, was held November 18-19, 2009 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center, FL. According to media reports, $350,000 of the available $400,000 was awarded to first and second place finishers: Peter Homer won $250,000 and Ted Southern won $100,000. Homer also won in 2007 and started his own company to produce spacesuit gloves according to NASA's Centennial Challenges website.
This is the fourth set of prizes NASA has awarded in the past several weeks. Masten Space Systems won $1,000,000 and Armadillo Aerospace won $350,000 in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge; LaserMotive won $900,000 in the Power Beaming Challenge; and three companies shared a $750,000 purse in the Regolith Excavation Challenge. The goal of the glove challenge is to promote the development of a highly dexterous and flexible glove that can be worn comfortably for extended periods. The glove challenge was conducted for NASA by Volanz Aerospace/Spaceflight America.
Over three consecutive days this week, European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) Director Kai-Uwe Schrogl introduced his Institute to the Washington space policy community, capping his appearances with testimony to the House Science and Technology committee on Thursday.
ESPI was created five years ago by the Member States of the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide independent analysis for policymakers about a broad range of space policy issues. Located in Vienna, Austria, the Institute receives direct funding from the host government and ESA for operations and the conduct of studies. European space agencies detail staff to the Institute.
At a meeting co-sponsored by George Washington University's Space Policy Institute (SPI) on Tuesday, Dr. Schrogl and colleagues Wolfgang Rathgeber and Nina-Louisa Remu briefed four ESPI publications, and on Wednesday, Dr. Schrogl briefed a fifth to a seminar hosted by the Space Foundation on Space Applications for International Development. Four of the five studies are available on ESPI's website; the fifth (Responsive Space in Europe) will be published in January.
The Space Situational Awareness (SSA) briefing on Tuesday at the ESPI/SPI event sparked the most discussion. Richard DalBello, Vice President and General Counsel of Intelsat General, argued that ESPI's focus on governmental approaches to SSA was "insensitive" to what is being done already by commercial satellite operators like Intelsat, which operates a fleet of 50 satellites. DalBello said that the commercial sector could not wait for "glacial" governmental discussions and negotiations and that putting governments in the role of regulator on SSA is "wrong." The commercial sector is stepping up to this issue, he said, and can help lead the way.
The ESPI/SPI event was kicked off by a stimulating talk by Richard Buenneke, Deputy Director of the State Department's Office of Missile and Space Policy. Noting that this year not only marks the 40thanniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, but also of Sesame Street, Mr. Buenneke joked that his talk was sponsored by the letter "C." For space policy, he said C stands for the adjectives "congested," "complex," and "contested" and the nouns "concept" and "capabilities." Citing a recent statement by the United States to the United Nations General Assembly reaffirming U.S. support "for a number of long-standing principles, including those in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty," Mr. Buenneke provided a summary of the key features of U.S. space policy and how the five C's factor into them.
On Wednesday, Dr. Schrogl discussed ESPI's book on sustainability as part of a panel on capacity building. He was joined on the panel at the Space Foundation event by Ken Hodgkins, Director of Space and Advanced Technology at the U.S. State Department, and Dr. Carlos Ganem, President of the Brazilian Space Agency. Dr. Ganem's remarks focused on Brazil's interest in launching a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing satellite to improve studies of the Amazon rain forest. Noting that Brazil's existing CBERS remote sensing satellites, built and launched in cooperation with China, cannot see through clouds or heavy tree canopies, he appealed for relief from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that apparently are a barrier to Brazil acquiring the necessary technology.
On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Dr. Schrogl was part of a five-person panel testifying before the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee on global space capabilities. The panelists discussed the advantages of international cooperation in space and challenges of international competition. He identified three fields of transatlantic space cooperation: "promising" -- space for security, especially SSA and Europe's draft code of conduct for outer space activities; "necessary" -- space as a strategic economic issue area and tool to deal with climate change; and "potential" -- space exploration. Regarding the latter, he emphasized that "full and successful use" of the International Space Station must be the priority in establishing a basis for future human space flight cooperation. A webcast of the hearing is posted here.
The Japanese government is looking to cut spending for its Fiscal Year 2010 (which begins April 1, 2010) and the space program appears to be one target. Asahi Shimbum reports that the Government Revitalization Unit, which is looking across the Japanese government to cut wasteful spending, has asked the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to withdraw its request for 5.8 billion yen for development of Japan's new GX medium class launch vehicle. The GX would be powered by a liquified natural gas engine. Japan has spent 70 billion yen already on the engine and another 140 billion yen is needed, according to the report.
An English-language report citiing another Japanese news source, Yomiuri, has more discouraging news: "JAXA's financial woes do not end with the recommended cancellation of the GX engine; the advisory committee also called for a ten percent budget reduction to about 350 billion yen (~390 million USD) for resources related [to] its HTV program, according to the Yomiuri." HTV is Japan's automated transport spacecraft for taking cargo to the International Space Station. Its first flight was a complete success earlier this fall.
The White House has released this press statement.
Amercan and Chinese media sources are reporting that increased space cooperation was one area of agreement between President Obama and Chinese President Hu. China's Xinhua press agency reported: "Hu said the two leaders also agreed to deepen cooperation on the basis of mutual benefits in areas such as anti-terrorism, law enforcement, science and technology, space exploration, civil aviation, high-speed railway, infrastructure, agriculture and health care."
The Associated Press reported: "Charting a new frontier for cooperation, the two agreed to reciprocal visits by the heads of their space programs."
The multinational Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is holding its 6th plenary meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 17-18. Included is a public exhibition at the Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Eighty national governments, the European Commission, and about 60 global organizations participate in GEO. According to a NASA press release:
"The exhibition in the Reagan Building's Atrium Hall will be open to the public on Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Highlighted projects featuring NASA contributions include near real-time fire detection, global agricultural monitoring, natural disaster monitoring and forecasting, and a famine early warning system."
Latest word from Congress Daily (subscription required) on the status of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (H.R 2847).
"Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Hoyer said he expects the House will reject an expected GOP motion to recommit that would put language in the FY10 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations conference report prohibiting the transfer or release of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States, including for prosecution.
"Hoyer cited as precedent the FY10 Homeland Security conference report, which the House approved last month after rejecting a similar motion, 224-193. The vote came after the House initially approved, 258-163, a similar nonbinding Republican motion to instruct conferees.
"Hoyer said that Democratic leaders are deciding when to name C-J-S conferees. Republicans have charged that Democrats are delaying naming conferees to protect their members from taking difficult votes."
Events of Interest
- National Space-Based PNT Advisory Bd (e.g., GPS), December 4-5, 2013, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC
- Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law, December 5, 2013, Cosmos Club, Washington, DC, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm ET
- House SS&T Cmte Markup (two space-related bills), December 5, 2013, 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. 9:00 am ET
- Space Policy & History Forum Featuring Pam Melroy, DARPA, December 5, 2013, National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC, 4:00-5:00 pm ET
- DuPont Summit on Sci, Tech & Env Policy, December 6, 2013, Whittemore House, DC, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
- AGU Fall Meeting, December 9-13, 2013, San Francisco, CA Press conferences on special topics will be webstreamed each day. See our "favorites" list. Note that times are in PST.
- NAC Audit, Fin & Analysis Cmte, December 9, 2013, NASA HQ, Washington, DC, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm ET
- NAC Human Expl & Ops Cmte, December 9-10, 2013, Kennedy Space Center, FL
- NAC Technology & Innovation Cmte, December 10, 2013, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm ET
- NAC IT Infrastructure Cmte, December 10-11, 2013, Kennedy Space Center, FL
- FAA Commercial Space Trans Adv Cmte, December 10-11, 2013, Washington, DC
- NASA Advisory Council (NAC), December 11-12, 2013, Kennedy Space Center, FL
Full calendar of future events (with filters)-click here »
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