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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Space special 2, october, 08-business edition

In today's edition:

  1. Lockheed wins $977 million NASA contract
  2. China aims to land moon-buggy by 2012
  3. India to take second moon shot by 2012, eyes Mars
  4. Astronauts head for extreme space makeover
  5. Shortlist announced for Martian experiment
Ok, this time, I got kind of too much news, but I really shortened them so...I'm not such a fan of long news, especially after NewScientist stopped publishing previews of paid content and I discovered other sources of news. So, worry not, the blog is going to its ultimately short form. I have so much work anyway...
As for the news, the major part is financial. Why this is important? Because it drives science in one way or another.

Lockheed wins $977 million NASA contract

Company to provide support for systems used in new generation of rockets

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $667.3 million contract to provide support for systems used in its new generation of rockets designed for human spaceflight.

NASA said the contract runs from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2012 with two one-year options that would extend the deal to 2014 and raise its total value to $977 million.

Under terms of the agreement, Gaithersburg, Md.-based Lockheed Martin will help NASA transition its operations from the Space Shuttle to the Constellation program, including Ares rocket. source

My comment: Interesting enough, according to New Scientist, Lockheed Martin barely took that contract. I don't know what this is supposed to mean, but...Also, notice the timing, it implies that the new program will be ready by the end of 2014 in the worst case scenario. Not that I actually believe that...

China aims to land moon-buggy by 2012

BEIJING (Reuters) – China aims to put an unmanned buggy on the moon by 2012, local media reported on Friday, laying the ground for its greater ambitions of putting a man on the moon.

In October 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It sent two more astronauts on a five-day flight on its Shenzhou VI craft in October 2005.

Its first lunar probe, the Chang'e-1 satellite, named after a lonely goddess who lives with a rabbit on the moon and pines for her husband, finished its mission last month after orbiting the moon thousands of times.

Before the moon-lander, China will send Chang'e-2 satellite to fulfill another circumlunar mission, CCTV added. The lunar mission would include three steps of "orbiting, landing and returning", but has not disclosed schedule of any manned moon mission so far. source

My comment: Nice...My republican friends didn't believe me when I said that the Chinese space program is important sign of the well, not end of the world, but the beginning of a new era. Now I think it's getting clearer and clearer that I was right. But hey, maybe Obama will bring change in the positive sense, who knows...

India to take second moon shot by 2012, eyes Mars

Thu Nov 13,

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Buoyed by the success of its maiden lunar mission, India on Thursday said it will send a second unmanned spacecraft to the moon by 2012.

The announcement came less than a week after Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned spacecraft, entered lunar orbit for the start of a two-year mission.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the second spacecraft would also place a probe on the moon's surface, analyse it and send the data back.

He said Chandrayaan-1 will on Friday drop a probe, painted in India's national colours, on the moon. During its mission, Chandrayaan-1 will provide a detailed map of the mineral, chemical and topographical characteristics of the moon's surface.

India hopes the lunar missions will boost its space programme into the same league as regional powerhouses Japan and China.

India would use the infrastructure created for the lunar mission for more ambitious programmes-sending satellites to Mars and Venus. source

My comment:Same as my previous comment. New players are coming and they are coming mercilessly so to say. True, it's not going to happen immediately and some terrorist attacks might cool down the enthusiasm, but it's happening. In any case, there's nothing to fear-more competition, quicker advance. Science will always win even if the national ego loses.

Astronauts head for extreme space makeover

By Marcia Dunn, Nov. 9, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The international space station is about to get all the comforts of a modern, high-end, "green" home: a fancy recycling water filter, a new fridge, extra bedrooms, workout equipment and the essential half-bath thanks to the Friday's mission of Endeavour .

The space station will go from a three-bedroom, one-bath house with kitchenette to a five-bedroom with individual termostats and laptop hooks, two-bath house with two kitchenettes and an exercise machine capable of some 30 routines.

They also will be delivering the essentials of NASA's first attempt at a closed-loop environmental system in orbit, where almost everything gets recycled. Already, the power on the space station is generated from solar panels.

Most significant is the water recovery system — it will turn urine and condensation into fresh drinking water. The system is essential if NASA is to increase the size of the space station crew from three to six. That switch is supposed to occur by the middle of next year.

The existing space station galley provides hot or warm water — but not cold. The same with food — hot or warm, but nothing cold. Fresh food like apples or onions that go up on Russian supply ships or NASA's shuttles has to be gobbled up quickly. The lone refrigerator is restricted to science experiments. So the astronauts are quite excited about getting a second refrigerator with the new kitchenette. It will keep drinks cold and food fresh.

NASA does not expect to get the water generation system up and running before spring until it makes all the checks that the water is safe to drink. Until then, the space station crew will continue to use water delivered by the shuttle and unmanned Russian supply ships. Endeavour will take back to Earth the first samples of recycled urine. Additional samples will be brought back by another shuttle in February to make absolutely certain the system is working properly.

If everything goes well, the space station will open its doors to six full-time residents next May or June. The jump in crew size is especially important for the Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts who have been waiting years to live aboard the space station.source

My comment:Awesome, right? Well, the recycled pee sounds quite disgusting, but if you think about it, in Spain there are already such projects and they are working quite well. So, it won't be so bad. And in any case, you can't expect a working space program with countries paying for their stay on the ISS if you don't make it self-sustainable and well, safe. And I don't know about you, but I get a kind of nice feeling when I hear how astronauts have fixed something and done something for the station, it's almost like it's a dear pet everyone loves taking care of.

Shortlist announced for Martian experiment

European scientists said they had selected a shortlist of eight men Monday willing to take part in a 105-day isolation experiment to further knowledge about the stress of a manned trip to Mars.
Six of the eight candidates will be chosen to live, eat, sleep and work inside a sealed laboratory in Moscow that will simulate a Martian mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

Their stay, starting in March, is a precursor to a longer study later in 2009 in which another six-member crew will experience 520 days together.

The extreme experiments are aimed at seeing how long-term confinement acts on mood, morale, hormone regulation and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.

The final eight candidates for the 105-day test are all male, aged between 28 and 39, and hail from Denmark, Sweden, Germany (2), France (3) and Belgium, ESA said in a press release.

They were put through their paces at the Central Clinical Hospital of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where doctors carried out extensive medical tests and had them screened by a neurologist, a dentist, a psychologist and an ophthalmologist.The project is a joint venture between ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight and the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP).

ESA and NASA have separately sketched dates around three decades from now for a historic manned flight to Mars.A round trip to Mars will take at least 18 months. © 2008 AFP source

My comment: First, how come they are all men? Aren't they women willing to participate? What a discrimination...Jokes aside, I thought that we already had that experiment in Big Brother. The Biggies however are usually not so intelligent, so they might have coped better with isolation than the big scientists and so on. I'm not being arrogant-it's a fact, the smarter the person, the less resilient to psycho attacks.

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