Space Topic News

Space Travel for the Masses (June 28, 2011, The Times of India): Space architect Susmita Mohanty talks about the future of space travel for masses.

Space Debris Is a Growing Problem (June 28, 2011, AFP): A scare triggered by orbital debris that on Tuesday came within a couple of hundred metres (yards) of the International Space Station (ISS) sheds light on an acutely worsening problem.

NASA Clears Last Space Shuttle for July 8th Blast Off (June 28, 2011, Reuters): NASA managers cleared space shuttle Atlantis on Tuesday for a July 8 launch, approving it for a cargo run to the International Space Station and the final flight in the 30-year-old shuttle program.

Blueprint Shows Way to Next Space Frontier (June 23, 2011, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson): The future of America’s space program is of vital importance to our country’s national security and to the economy of several states.

Spinning Robotic Landers Make Space Exploration and Hop and Skip (June 23, 2011, A former robot contender for the Google Lunar X Prize may find resurrection as a robotic lander for surface missions to planets and moons across the solar system. Its secret rests in a spinning midsection based on proven satellite technology that ensures almost unshakable stability.

The Dawn of the  Final Mission (June 22, 2011, The Observer News): STS-135 Atlantis is the final manned U.S. space mission currently on the calendar.

Understanding Space Weather Forecasts (June 21, 2011, Washington Post Blog): In light of the severity of threat, understanding the basics of solar weather phenomena becomes important. It should help you understand the nature of the threat if and when it becomes real. Although a solar strike may not happen tomorrow, it is clearly in the realm of possibilities anytime over the next few years.

NASA Spacecraft Reveals Moon as Never Before (June 21, 2011, A spacecraft that mapped the lunar surface in unprecedented detail has been declared a resounding success, one that “forever changed our view of the moon,” NASA announced today (June 21).

Looking for New Vistas of Space Exploration (June 21, 2011, Space Travel ): With the ISS slated to go out of business in 2020 the world needs to decide exactly where manned cosmonautics is going from there.

How NASA, DARPA Are Keeping Kids Interested in Space (June 20, 2011, Kit Eaton): NASA won’t be flying its own astronauts into space for a while…putting a further damper on the good PR that comes from the visually and intellectually stimulating space program, which encourages students of engineering and science. To keep folks interested, NASA and DARPA are pushing (a little) money into a program that’s directly aimed at students themselves.

NASA and ESA Team Up for Joint Mars Exploration Program (June 18, 2011, Science News): America’s space agency NASA and the European Space Administration (ESA) have joined forces to send an orbiter and a descent & landing module to Mars in 2016 and then again in 2018.

NASA Selects New Heavy Lift Rocket (June 18, 2011, MSNBC): Facing mounting pressure to bring industrial competition to a congressionally mandated heavy-lift rocket development program, NASA has tentatively selected a vehicle design featuring solid-fueled, side-mounted boosters that eventually could be replaced with liquid-fueled engines, according to U.S. industry and congressional sources.

Shuttle end means it’s time for America to define our new space goals (The Huntsville Times, June 9) As the U.S. bids farewell to a reliable space vehicle, it will be up to NASA and the broader science community to lobby Congress for an aggressive space policy – one that will invigorate America to stand behind it. President Obama has yet to be that cheerleader. He’s got other pressing challenges. Given the past few years of economic struggles, space advocates could see America’s wanderlust for cosmic adventure come to an end – especially with a gap in U.S. space flights until a next generation heavy-lift rocket is designed.

Space politics makes strange bedfellows (Washington Examiner, June 8th) Which all goes to show (as we’ve seen for the last year and a half) that space policy is truly non-partisan, and non-ideological, and it is driven primarily by rent seeking, not a desire to open up space to humanity.  As long as space policy remains unimportant, it will continue to be subject to the petty politics of those whose states and districts benefit from the jobs created, even as wealth is destroyed.  But the good news is that this may delay things sufficiently long that an expensive, unnecessary rocket never gets built at all.

Is the Final Frontier Closed? (The Times Union, June 8) NASA’s budget, now at about $18.5 billion, is slated to stay fairly level over the next five years. Plans are to rely more on commercial space ventures while developing “game changing” technology that can propel people deeper into space, including Mars and the asteroid belt, and much faster than would be possible today.

NASA’s uncertain future: New rocket design in works, but its mission is unclear (Orlando Sentinel, June 7) With Congress struggling to control spending, critics are wondering whether the country needs a new spaceship that lacks both a mission and destination except for occasional trips to the International Space Station.

Boeing Issues Layoff Notices as NASA Retires Space Shuttle Program (Daily Tech, June 7) With NASA slowly completing its Space Shuttle program, Boeing is issuing 60-day advance layoff notices to about 510 employees in the Space Exploration division. Those receiving layoff notices are about 260 employees in Houston, 150 employees at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and 100 employees at a company facility in Huntington Beach, California.

Tea Party in Space Supports Democratic Senators on Heavy Lift Rocket Competition (Satelite Spotlight, June 7) Politics makes for strange bedfellows, especially when it comes to anything having to do with money these days. So it shouldn’t be a total surprise that the TEA Party in Space has issued a statement supporting the efforts of California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to get NASA to competitively bid the development of its heavy lift rocket for deep space exploration.

Maxwell: U.S. space program needs new ‘giant leap’ (Scripps News, June 6) Ironically, despite the untold benefits of space exploration, interest and excitement for it have declined substantially in recent years. Some research links the decline directly to less focus on science and math that were traditional parts of American public education. And with the space shuttle program ending this year, interest and excitement for space exploration probably will dwindle even more if something drastic is not done.

Five Steps Toward Future Exploration (Space Daily, June 6) With the selection of five new NASA ASTEP projects, NASA is a step closer to obtaining the necessary technologies for new and truly novel planetary exploration missions.

New strategies for exploration and settlement (The Space Review, June 6) It’s hard to imagine an audience more supportive of space exploration, development, and especially settlement than attendees of the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC). For decades—this year marked the 30th annual ISDC—space advocates have been attending the conference to learn more about the latest developments and prospects for the future, looking forward to the day when humans are living and working permanently beyond Earth.

Impending death in the shuttle family (Omaha World Herald, June 3) “Everybody who has ever been associated with human spaceflight knows we’re not giving up on human spaceflight. … (the new space plan is)  “an opportunity to go back and do a do-over … go beyond low Earth orbit and explore our solar system and other planets.”

‘Worms From Hell’ Unearth the Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life (Washington Post, June 1) In addition to uncovering a new realm of biology on Earth…this could have important implications for extraterrestrial research, or astrobiology. Scientists seeking life beyond Earth are intrigued by the possibility that microbes could be living below the surface of Mars, in particular — a planet that is now cold, dry and bombarded by harmful radiation but was once much wetter, warmer and better-protected by an atmosphere. … Life on Mars could be more complex than we imagined.”

Space: The ascent of Manx (The Independent UK, May 31) Among the future spin-offs she sees coming out of the current projects are Moon bases with remote machines in search of minerals and energy resources and the development of near-space travel to make every part of the globe reachable within two hours. “Everything we use today and take for granted results from space exploration – weather forecasts, cell phones, computing – we would be back in the dark ages without satellites,” she says.

NASA Moves Closer to Manned Missions to Mars (Green Answers, May 30) NASA has moved one step closer to sending astronauts into deep space with the announced development of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). The MPCV replaces the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, commissioned under President Bush and nixed under President Obama due to budgetary constraints

Is Obama Grounding JFK’s Space Legacy? (The Star Press, May 27, 2011):  Obama’s advisers, in searching for a new and different NASA strategy with which the president could be favorably identified, ignored NASA’s operational mandate and strayed widely from President Kennedy’s vision and the will of the American people.

“Space Heroes Stuck in the Past” (The Examiner, May 26, 2011) I understand these mens’ nostalgia for the space program of their glory days, and even sympathize with it. But they need to understand their own history better, and realize why no one has walked on the moon in the almost forty years since Gene Cernan last left boot prints in the dusty regolith. I can only hope that, over time, when dozens and hundreds, even thousands of people are going into space on commercial vehicles in the years to come, and even back to the moon, many at their own expense, they will still be alive to see it and come to regret their misguided attempts to slow down what could have happened earlier with more enlightened policies. And while I can’t agree with their opinions yesterday, I will always honor their accomplishments and sacrifices for our nation four decades ago.

U.S. Army Wants Tiny Satelites as Orbital Spies (, May 25) The United States Army is making a serious push to launch swarms of tiny, inexpensive spy satellites, which would serve as eyes and ears for soldiers on the ground.

At What Price the Moon? (The Atlantic, May 25, 2011) But the true challenge Kennedy threw down in that 1961 speech still applies. Without a Soviet rival to “race,” and without the imperative of a cold war threat to counter, do we really care enough about space for science and exploration’s sake to pay the costs and bear the burdens for that effort to bear dramatic fruit? The jury is still out on that one, in part because I don’t know that the country’s been asked to sacrifice much for NASA’s scientific efforts. But in any event, as Kennedy said, we shouldn’t attempt something halfway. We should figure out what scientific, engineering, or technology goals we really do care enough about to pursue, get excited about, and focus on carrying those through to completion–and let the rest go.

JFK’s Moon Shot: Q & A With Space Policy Expert John Logsdon (, May 24) As the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s momentous speech approaches, caught up with historian and space policy expert John Logsdon, author of “John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon”

NASA unveils new deep-space exploration vehicle (CNET, May 24, 1011): NASA today announced its plans for its next-generation deep space crew exploration vehicle.

US Spending Bill Bans NASA Exchanges with China (Global Times, May 9) Frank Wolf, a Republican congressman from Virginia who chairs a House spending committee that oversees several US science agencies, inserted two sentences into the legislation that prohibits the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from coordinating any joint scientific activities with China, the Science Insider magazine said.

Shuttle Launch Delayed Until at Least May 10th (Fox News, May 3, 2011): NASA says the next-to-last space shuttle launch is off for at least another week.

NASA Faces Awkward, Unfortunate Spaceflight Gap (Fox News, April 14, 2011): Some of the biggest hurdles facing NASA’s future are the uncertainty surrounding the agency’s human spaceflight program after its shuttle program retires, and the policy decisions that have limited its options to build something new while depending on private spaceships, a former industry experts said Wednesday.

Congress Set to Vote on Reduced NASA Budget (The Flame Trench, April 14, 2011): Congress today is expected to vote on a budget for the current fiscal year that cuts overall spending by $38 billion and NASA funding by $241 million compared to last year.

Private Rocket Firm Under Pressure to Fill Space Shuttle Void (, April 13, 2011): Private rocket builder SpaceX is trying to speed up testing of its new Dragon spaceship to enable it to visit the International Space Station on the next demonstration flight.

NASA Climate Change Program on Ice (The Daily Press, April 13, 2011): In 2007, NASA was tasked with improving the accuracy of computer models used to predict climate change.

NASA Astronaut Set to Rocket into Space (New York Daily News, March 28, 2011):  When Col. Ron Garan Jr. rockets to space early next month, the NASA astronaut’s biggest booster will be in Yonkers.  Garan, 49, leaves Earth on April 4 for a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station – and his proud papa guarantees he’ll do a stellar job.

Russia, Israel to Boost Space Cooperation (Voice of Russia, March 28, 2011):Russia and Israel will expand space cooperation, pursuant to a document signed by the two sides’ space agencies.

Unveiled: NASA’s Orion Moon Craft Which Could Put Humans on an Asteroid (Daily Mail, March 22, 2011): A test version Nasa shuttle that will allow astronauts to fly to and from the International Space station was showed off today.

Ticket to Ride Just Went Up 20 Percent (, March 22, 2011): The cost of round-trip transportation just went up. Russia has increased the cost of a trip to the ISS (International Space Station) 20 percent, to $63 million per person.

June Shuttle Launch Critical (Florida Today, March 16, 2011): NASA officials assured skeptical senators Tuesday they’re on course to make a third shuttle flight this year and develop the next heavy-lift rocket.

SpaceX Wins An SES Satellite Launch (Aviation Week, March 15, 2011): Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) will launch the SES-8 medium-sized communications satellite on a Falcon 9 vehicle in 2013, under the startup launch service provider’s first geostationary communications satellite launch contract.

Key Quotes from Today’s NASA Hearing (Space Ref, March 15, 2011): The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a full committee hearing today titled Realizing NASA’s Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century.