Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003 "China has announced plans for a satellite intended to orbit the moon by the year 2007, and for a series of lunar missions over the next two decades.
The deputy director of the China National Space Administration, Sun Laiyan, told reporters in Beijing Wednesday that the satellite will be just the first phase of a three-stage lunar program. He said an unmanned spacecraft would return with samples of lunar soil by the year 2020, in the final stage."

Monday, December 29, 2003

Launch Result of IGS #2/H-IIA F6 | JAXA: "Launch Result of IGS #2/H-IIA F6
29, November 2003
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No 6 (H-IIA F6) with the information gathering satellite #2 (IGS) onboard from the Tanegashima Space Center at 13:33 on November 29, 2003 (Japan Standard Time). However, the vehicle failed to jettison one of its two Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB-As). H-IIA F6 was consequently destroyed by a destruction command from the ground at 13:43:53 as the vehicle did not gain enough height and speed due to the failure.
JAXA has established an accident investigation team led by President Yamanouchi and is investigating the cause of the accident. JAXA will provide additional information when it becomes available."
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency | JAXA: "New URLs following JAXA merger
Sep 30, 2003
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be born on Oct. 1, merging the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA).
A new JAXA website has been created. The following are the current and new website addresses for Japan's space-related web sites. Please change your links and/or bookmarks after Oct. 1. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Current websites are also accessible for a short period after Oct. 1 unless noted otherwise.

JAXA Website

The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
* This is site of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of JAXA

National Aerospace Laboratory
*This is the site of the Institute of Space Technology and Aeronautics of JAXA

Space Information Center

Space Station, Kibo Public Relations and Information Center

Earth Observation Research and Application Center (EORC)

Earth Observation Center (EOC)

The Moon Station
b e a g l e 2 : news: "Mars Exploration and the Search for Life is a Priority Says UK Science Minister.
29-Dec-03 12:00 GMT
The latest attempts to communicate with Beagle 2 via the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank and the Mars Odyssey spacecraft have been unsuccessful. However, the Beagle 2 team has not given up hope and continues to be optimistic that efforts to contact the lander will eventually be successful.
Full story
This message was also reinforced by Lord Sainsbury, UK Minister for Science and Innovation, who this morning joined members of the Beagle 2 team to answer questions about the status of the project.
'While we're disappointed that things have not gone according to plan, we are determined that the search should go on, both the search to make contact with Beagle 2 and also (the search) to answer the long term question about whether there is life on Mars,' said Lord Sainsbury.
'There's clearly still a good opportunity to make contact with Beagle 2 with Mars Express when it comes into action, and that has to be the first priority at this point. I think everything is being done by the 'tiger team' in Leicester to make contact with Beagle 2 and I want to wish them every success in their efforts.' "


Saturday, December 27, 2003

b e a g l e 2 : news: "Beagle 2 Teams Continue Efforts To Communicate With The Lander
27-Dec-03 11:50 GMT
Scientists are still waiting to hear from the Beagle 2 lander on Mars. Two attempts to communicate with Beagle 2 during the last 24 hours - first with the 250 ft (76 m) Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK, and then this morning with the Mars Odyssey orbiter - ended without receiving a signal. Despite this outcome, two teams at the Beagle 2 Lander Operations Control Centre in Leicester are continuing to study all possible options to establish communications with the spacecraft.
................................................... "
ESA - Mars Express: "Mars Express orbiting precisely and safely

27 December 2003 The Mars Express orbiter, mothership of Europe�s first mission to the Red Planet, is in a stable and precise orbit around Mars."
ESA - Mars Express: "Mars Express orbiting precisely and safely

27 December 2003 The Mars Express orbiter, mothership of Europe’s first mission to the Red Planet, is in a stable and precise orbit around Mars."

Friday, December 26, 2003

b e a g l e 2 : news: "Jodrell Bank doesn't find Beagle
27-Dec-03 00:25 GMT
Tonight's scan for a signal from Beagle 2 by the 250 ft (76 m) Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK, was unsuccessful.
Full story
The next communication opportunity with the Mars Odyssey orbiter will take place at about 06.15 GMT this morning. The results of this session will be announced at a press briefing in the Beagle 2 Media Centre at 08.30 GMT.
During this press briefing, Professor Colin Pillinger, Beagle 2 lead scientist, will be joined by Professor David Southwood, director of science for the European Space Agency, and Professor Alan Wells from the University of Leicester Space Research Centre. "

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Beagle 2 : the British led exploration of Mars: "Current status

06:53 GMT

No signal has been received from Beagle 2 during the first pass of Odyssey

04:35 GMT

Early indications suggest successful orbit insertion of Mars Express"

ESA - Mars Express Webcast

- LRK -
ESA - Mars Express - Merry Christmas from Mars:Mars Express enters orbit around the Red PlanetContact awaited with Beagle 2 on the surface: "Merry Christmas from Mars:
Mars Express enters orbit around the Red Planet
Contact awaited with Beagle 2 on the surface

25 December 2003
ESA PR 84-2003. This morning, after a journey lasting 205 days and covering 400 million kilometres, the European Mars Express space probe fired its main engine at 03:47 CET for a 37-minute burn in order to enter an orbit around Mars. This firing gave the probe a boost so that it could match the higher speed of the planet on its orbit around the Sun and be captured by its gravity field, like climbing in a spinning merry-go-round. This orbit insertion manoeuvre was a complete success."


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Beagle 2 : the British led exploration of Mars: "Landing timeline�
Beagle 2 is due to land on Mars at 2.54am GMT, 25th December 2003. We will aim to bring you news as soon as a signal is received from the lander. This could be 6.30am GMT at the very earliest."
ESA - Mars Express - Mars Express status report...: "Mars Express status report...

24 December 2003
At 12:00 CET today, the Mars Express orbiter was 169 000 kilometres from Mars and 156 167 000 kilometres from Earth.

The orbiter is now in the final configuration for Mars Orbit Insertion. No more commands are being sent to the spacecraft until after its capture by Mars. "

Monday, December 22, 2003 Headlines: "The Secret Of The 25-Hour Day
Pasadena - Dec 23, 2003
Steven Squyres, the principal investigator for the science instruments aboard the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, juggles his commitments to the four space missions he is actively involved in, as well as to his teaching and advising duties, with an energetic ease that makes some wonder if he has found the secret to a 25-hour day."
KRT Wire | 12/22/2003 | Earthquake changes landscape along the coast: "Posted on Mon, Dec. 22, 2003

Earthquake changes landscape along the coast
Knight Ridder Newspapers

SAN JOSE, Calif. - (KRT) - The view from Hearst Castle got just grander.
In Monday morning's earthquake, the Santa Lucia Mountain Range that holds the landmark estate and adjacent towns shrugged its shoulders and then grew with a sudden jolt, probably one to four feet, sending a 6.5-magnitude reminder that California's central coast is a very young and restless region.
'What happened was a mountain-building motion,' said geophysicist Andrew Michael of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. 'It's what created the mountain range in the Bay Area - and more spectacularly, the mountains of the Big Sur coast.'
Seismic activity will continue over the next week or so, particularly to the south and east of the source of the earthquake, called the hypocenter, which has been located 4.7 miles underground in the rugged backcountry six miles northeast of San Simeon and 13 miles west of Lake Nacimiento. Scientists were still working Monday to pin down which fault caused the quake."

Sunday, December 21, 2003 News: "Apollo 8 launched lunar exploration 35 years ago with help of Saturn V
Times Aerospace Writer,

Thirty-five years ago today three men were launched by the Saturn V rocket on the first leg of what many believe is still humanity's grandest voyage -the trip to the moon.
Apollo 8 was lofted toward the moon by the Huntsville-designed Saturn V rocket Dec. 21, 1968, carrying astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders. The crew orbited the moon 10 times on Christmas Eve and before returning home, splashing down Dec. 27, 1968.
It also was the first time men had ridden the massive Saturn V rocket and left Earth's orbit. "

Saturday, December 20, 2003

ESA - Mars Express - Retargeting complete: "Retargeting complete

20 December 2003
At 11:50 CET, flight controllers at ESOC confirmed the success of a crucial repointing manoeuvre, setting Mars Express on its final course for Mars Orbit Insertion.

Yesterday, in order to send Beagle 2 on its way to a Mars landing, Mars Express first had to be steered onto a collision course with the planet.
Today's manoeuvre successfully redirected the spacecraft away from Mars, back to a point 400 kilometres above the surface, where it is due to enter orbit early on Christmas Day.
ESA - Mars Express: "Retargeting complete

20 December 2003 At 11:50 CET, flight controllers at ESOC confirmed the success of a crucial repointing manoeuvre, setting Mars Express on its final course for Mars Orbit Insertion."

Friday, December 19, 2003

ESA - Mars Express - Mars Express releases Beagle 2: "
Mars Express releases Beagle 2

19 December 2003
ESA PR 83-2003. This morning, ESA's Mars Express flawlessly released the Beagle 2 lander that it has been carrying since its launch on 2 June this year.

Beagle 2 is now on its journey towards the surface of Mars, where it is expected to land early in the morning of 25 December. Mars Express, Europe's first mission to Mars, has passed another challenging milestone on its way towards its final destination. "

Thursday, December 18, 2003

A golden frontier - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED: "A golden frontier

By Paul D. Spudis

Recent news stories have shown that we are in the midst of a national debate on space goals. Although many options can be envisioned, including terminating human space flight, our 45-year space history shows that America wants people in space. But to where and to what end? "
IOL : SpaceShipOne takes giant leap: "SpaceShipOne takes giant leap

December 18 2003 at 06:15AM

Mojave, California - A rocket plane broke the sound barrier on Wednesday during its first powered flight, but the achievement was marred by a partial landing gear collapse that caused it to veer off a desert runway.

SpaceShipOne test pilot Brian Binnie was not injured, and the builder, Scaled Composites LLC, said damage to the craft will be easily repaired.

The company said the test was a milestone because it marked the first manned supersonic flight by an aircraft developed by a small company's private, non-governmental effort.

The craft is being developed by famed aviation designer Burt Rutan for flights to altitudes of 100 kilometres above Earth. The flights would be suborbital: high enough to be in space but not fast enough to be in orbit."
snip > News > Business -- Rocket plane makes Rutan, SpaceDev proud: "By Bruce V. Bigelow
December 18, 2003
On a day when America observed the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, a renowned aircraft designer claimed his own milestone in the skies above Mojave Airport.
In its first powered test flight, a rocket plane designed by Burt Rutan broke the sound barrier yesterday during a 60-degree climb that lasted 15 seconds. The stubby, delta-winged craft called SpaceShipOne ignited its engine after it was released by a mother ship at an altitude of 48,000 feet.
As Rutan's rocket plane reached near-weightlessness at 68,000 feet � the highest point of its flight � ground observers heard test pilot Brian Binnie exclaim over the radio, 'Wow! That was a wild ride!'
The flight also was a milestone for SpaceDev, a small Poway company that developed key components for the SpaceShipOne rocket motor. "
Company Main: "SpaceDev, Inc.

SpaceDev (OTCBB: SPDV) creates and sells affordable and innovative space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises. SpaceDev products and solutions include the design, manufacture, marketing and operation of sophisticated micro and nano satellites, hybrid rocket-based orbital Maneuvering and orbital Transfer Vehicles (MoTVs) as well as safe sub-orbital and orbital hybrid rocket-based propulsion systems. SpaceDev has been awarded contracts from NASA, National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO), Boeing, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Space Authority (CSA) Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and several commercial customers. SpaceDev is also developing commercial hybrid rocket motors and small high performance space vehicles and subsystems. "
SpaceDev Tests Rocket Motor for Powered SpaceShipOne Flight: "SpaceDev Tests Rocket Motor for Powered SpaceShipOne Flight

POWAY, CA (December 11, 2003) SpaceDev (OTCBB: SPDV) has successfully tested a hybrid rocket motor designed for the first powered flight of SpaceShipOne, built by Scaled Composites.

SpaceDev successfully test fired a motor with its proprietary propellant equal to about one-half the total capacity of the motor. The purpose of the test was to qualify the exact configuration of the motor to be used for SpaceShipOne's first powered test flight.

SpaceDev also performed a full flow oxidizer test through its proprietary main valve, during a recent glide test of SpaceShipOne, in further preparation of the first powered flight. The test was successful.

'This project gets more exciting every day', said SpaceDev founder and chief executive Jim Benson. 'SpaceDev and Scaled engineers are working well together on a very tight schedule, and you can feel the excitement and tension as this historic project continues to charge forward.'"
SpaceDev Powers SpaceShipOne to Break Sound Barrier

SpaceDev Powers SpaceShipOne to Break Sound Barrier
Flight on Historic 100th Anniversary of Wright Bros.

POWAY, CA (December 17, 2003) – SpaceDev’s (OTCBB: SPDV) revolutionary rocket motor technology successfully powered SpaceShipOne on its historic first powered flight, on the 100th anniversary of the first human powered flight by the Wright brothers. Today, a significant milestone was achieved by our customer, Scaled Composites, as they successfully tested the first manned supersonic flight of an aircraft developed by a small company’s private, non-government effort.

"It was an incredible sight!" said SpaceDev founding chairman and chief executive Jim Benson. "We were watching as the White Knight dropped SpaceShipOne at about ten miles up, and we waited breathlessly as the White Knight pealed off and SpaceShipOne fell for a few seconds. Then with a really visible flash of light and stream of smoke, our rocket motor lit, and SpaceShipOne seemed to blast straight up for about 15 seconds that seemed like minutes. Then the flame and smoke stopped, but you could still see little SpaceShipOne coasting up toward space at an incredible speed. What a sight! It was even more exciting than watching Apollo 17 lift off at night way back in 1972. After working on this project for four years, space is now exciting again!"

Saturday, December 13, 2003

U.S. space program needs 'destination mars': "U.S. space program needs 'destination mars'

SHARON BEGLEY, The Wall Street Journal Friday, December 12, 2003

(12-12) 08:58 PST (AP) --
Peering into the heavens on a starry night, you can't help but be struck by the single most obvious trait of that 'depthless spatter' (as John Updike called it in a recent poem): It does not lack for destinations.

But you wouldn't know that from the rumblings out of Washington. It has been 10 months since the tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia, and four months since the Accident Investigation Board called for a national debate on U.S. space goals. There hasn't been much of one; instead, officials have been meeting behind closed doors as part of an interagency review of space policy, asking how, or even whether, the U.S. should reach for missions more glorious than joy rides that go around in circles (via the space shuttle and International Space Station).

What's now emerging is more than dismaying. It looks like President Bush will propose little more than a riff on President Kennedy's vision of 42 years ago: Destination Moon.

Next week marks the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine, Orville Wright's 12-second flight over the dunes of the Outer Banks, with brother Wilbur running alongside. With that derring-do in mind, surely we can reach higher than lunar repeats. Measured by its value to science or to the soul, or by how it can inspire discovery or the imagination, the moon might as well be green cheese. "
snip - In search of the Wright stuff: "Dec. 13, 2003. 08:29 AM

In search of the Wright stuff
After the birth of the airplane on that chilly day 100 years ago, it seemed the only way to go was up Advances like the speedy s


'They done it! They done it! Damned if they ain't flew!'
---Johnny Moore, eyewitness
Humanity's future turned on the toss of a coin.

That was how Orville and Wilbur Wright decided who would be the pilot for man's first controlled, powered flight. Wilbur flipped, Orville called heads, the coin came down tails. So Wilbur would try to guide their Flyer into the air and safely back to land.

It was Dec. 14, 1903, a calm, sunny afternoon at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Without knowing 'a wing and a prayer' would become an aviation clich', the brothers bowed their heads and asked a blessing.

The plane was launched from rails laid on the sand. Orville ran alongside and steadied the right wing as Wilbur opened the throttle. Ten metres down the track, Orville fell behind. Another couple of metres, and it began to lift. But Wilbur, without benefit of flying lessons, committed a basic piloting error. He pulled back too hard on the stick, the nose rose sharply and the Flyer stalled. It crashed to the ground, damaging the right wing.

Wilbur had been in the air less than four seconds and hardly in control. The brothers knew this didn't count. But they knew, too, what was within their grasp. They wired their father: 'Success assured. Keep quiet.'"
Technology - story - network: "Hope on horizon 100 years after first flight as U.S. president considers new course

Canadian Press
Saturday, December 13, 2003

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - On the centennial of the world's first flight, high-speed travel seems to be at an all-time low.

The Columbia is gone. So is the Concorde. The remaining space shuttles are grounded. The space station is stalled.

Yet hope is on the horizon as President George W. Bush considers what might put the United States on a new course of space exploration. After three decades of sticking close to the home planet, astronauts may be headed back to the moon. The prize, this time around, may also include Mars. "

Friday, December 12, 2003

Global space rush targets the moon: "Dec. 11 — NASA may be left in the lunar dust as other nations launch their own moon plans. There is growing moon fever in China, Japan, India and Europe as lunar orbiters and robot lander missions are plotted out. The global attraction to the moon is stirring up the prospect that expeditions from various countries are keen to plant flag and footprint on the barren and foreboding world."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Delta IV Shuttle: Decatur rocket could be future of manned space flight program: "Delta IV Shuttle
Decatur rocket could be future
of manned space flight program

By Dawn Kent
DAILY Business Writer
Decatur may soon play a major role in the future of manned space flight, as the loss of space shuttle Columbia brings the next generation of space transportation into sharper focus.
At least 15 concepts for an orbital space plane have emerged, but all are tied to a product like one built in the River City."

Monday, December 08, 2003

SpaceX Announces Defense Department Launch Customer: "SpaceX Announces Defense Department Launch Customer

The KISS of Rocket Science
El Segundo - Oct 17, 2003
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) announced Thursday that the Office of the Secretary of Defense, through the Office of Force Transformation (OFT), has purchased the maiden voyage of the Falcon orbital launch vehicle. The launch will take place in early 2004 from the SpaceX launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Although developed entirely with private funding, Falcon will be the first launch vehicle consistent with the DOD goal of an operationally responsive launch capability. Moreover, Falcon represents a breakthrough in the cost of access to space and is designed to achieve a higher reliability than vehicles currently available.
TacSat-1, the satellite manifested, is being built and integrated by the US Naval Research Laboratory for OFT. It will be used for enterprise wide data and task communication for tactical and operational commanders through the Department of Defense's SIPNET. "

Wired News: Fast, Cheap Ride to Earth Orbit: "Fast, Cheap Ride to Earth Orbit By Erik Baard
Story location:,1282,61474,00.html
02:00 AM Dec. 05, 2003 PT
NEW YORK -- At 32, Elon Musk has already launched two successful online startups. But it's on a rocket that his reputation may ultimately ride.
On Thursday, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, unveiled its seven-story Falcon orbital launch vehicle in Washington, D.C., as part of the celebrations honoring the Wright brothers' flight 100 years ago this month.
While dignitaries may wax poetic about the breakthrough at Kitty Hawk, another historic memory gnaws at Musk, the restless founder of Zip2 and co-founder of PayPal. He looks beyond the dark skies to outer space, acutely aware that this month also marks 31 years -- nearly his entire lifetime -- since the last man walked on the moon. The hefty price tag on rocket launches has profoundly limited space efforts, sidelining earlier visions of space colonies and manned exploration.
'Every other aspect of technology has improved dramatically since then,' he said. 'We have to get costs down; otherwise we'll remain in this stalled position ever since the end of the Apollo moon landings. That's crazy. Our long-term goal is to do some good for human access to space. It's not necessarily the biggest business in the world, but it's a good business.' "

Wired News: India Fires Supercool-Fuel Rocket: "01:57 PM Dec. 05, 2003 PT
BANGALORE, India -- India said Friday it has developed a rocket engine that uses supercooled liquid fuel, a technology that would allow it to launch high-altitude satellites, send a man to the moon -- or build intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The engine proved its endurance by firing for nearly 17 minutes on the ground, the Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement. "


Such engines, known as "cryogenic" engines, are fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Rockets using these materials are primarily used to launch 2.5-ton communications satellites to orbits 22,000 miles above the earth. At that altitude, they match the speed of the rotating Earth and therefore stay fixed at one point above the ground.

Only a few countries -- including the United States, Russia and France -- can build cryogenic engines.


A cryogenic missile cannot be fired at a moment's notice. The fuel cannot be stored in a rocket indefinitely because it is highly explosive, so a missile would have to be fueled before launching.

India's bid to develop its own cryogenic engines suffered several setbacks. In 1992, Russia agreed to give India the technology but reversed the decision after Moscow signed the Missile Technology Control Regime with the United States. Washington objected to giving India the technology because of its potential use for nuclear missiles.

Russia later agreed to sell fully built engines, without passing on the technology, to India.

India developed a rudimentary form of its cryogenic technology in 2001 and several tests were held after that to fine-tune it.


© Copyright 2003, Lycos, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Getting to Low Earth Orbit: "Low Earth Orbit
Although parking a spacecraft in low earth orbit is by no means a simple task, almost all space missions so far have involved placing a spacecraft is terrestrial orbit. There are no technological problems involved and the only requirement would be an efficient propulsion system capable of delivering the thrust required to overcome Earth's gravity and obtain the velocity needed to achieve the desired orbit. "

Saturday, December 06, 2003 masters rocket technology for moon mission, says agency: "India masters rocket technology for moon mission, says agency

2003-12-07 / Associated Press /
India's space agency says it has mastered the rocket technology needed to launch high-altitude satellites and send a man to the moon.
The technology also can be used to deliver a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile, scientists say.
The cryogenic engine, which uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, was successfully fired for 1,000 seconds on the ground, exceeding the 721 seconds required for space flights, the Indian Space Research Organization said in a statement Friday. "

The homegrown technology would not only allow India to replace the Russian engines but could also give India the capability to build ICBMs by modifying the launch vehicle and replacing the satellite with a bomb. India conducted nuclear tests in May 1998.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | China sets its sights on the Moon: "China has outlined plans to land a man on the Moon by 2020, the country's chief space official said in comments broadcast on state television. "

"By 2020, we will achieve visiting the Moon," remarked Luan Enjie, director of the Chinese National Aerospace Bureau.

Translators said that Luan used a verb that specifically describes a human mission to the Earth satellite.

He said it would follow the launch of a probe to orbit the Moon by 2007 and an unmanned lunar landing by 2010.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

ESA - Science - Exploring space - Mars from 5.5 million kilometres: "3 December 2003
This picture was taken on 1 December 2003 from ESA's Mars Express spacecraft by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) under the responsibility of the Principal Investigator Prof. Gerhard Neukum.

It was processed by the DLR Institute for Planetary Research, also involved in the development of the camera, and by the Freie Universitaet, Berlin.
This picture shows the planet Mars as seen from a distance of about 5.5 million kilometres. This is a very unusual view of Mars because the planet is illuminated in a way never seen before from Earth.
The Sun shines on part of the western hemisphere, but more than a third of the Martian disc lies in darkness. The dark features at the top are part of the northern lowlands of Mars, where oceans possibly existed thousands of millions of years ago.
Credit: ESA "
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mars Express looks at its target: "Mars Express looks at its target

By Helen Briggs
BBC News Online

Europe's first solo mission to another planet, Mars Express, has taken its first image of the Red Planet.

The picture was captured when the probe was about 5.5 million kilometres away.
Mars Express is nearing its destination after a six-month voyage from Earth and is due to go into orbit around the fourth planet on Christmas Day.

By then, it will have released the tiny British lander, Beagle 2, which will drop down on to the surface of Mars to look for signs of past or present life. "

Dennis E. Powell on Space Exploration on National Review Online: "December 03, 2003, 8:58 a.m.
Milky Way Days
Returning to the new frontier.

By Dennis E. Powell
When President Bush delivers a speech recognizing the centenary of heavier-than-air-powered flight December 17, it is expected that he will proffer a bold vision of renewed space flight, with at its center a return to the moon, perhaps even establishment of a permanent presence there. If he does, it will mean that he has decided the United States should once again become a space-faring nation. For more than 30 years America's manned space program has limited itself to low Earth orbit; indeed, everyone under the age of 31 — more than 125 million Americans — was born since an American last set foot on the moon."


Saturday, November 22, 2003

Sky and Telescope - Divining Lunar Water: "November 19, 2003 | For centuries astronomers have known that the airless, Sun-baked Moon is dry. But the discovery of craters with permanently shadowed floors near the lunar poles raised an exciting possibility: Perhaps these dark hideaways contain water ice that could be mined by future astronauts?
In the 1990s the Clementine and Lunar Prospector spacecraft implied that such ice existed. The results were met with much fanfare in the media — it appeared that there was indeed ice on the Moon. But now scientists probing deep into the polar surface with radar have concluded that lunar ice, if present, will be more difficult "

Thursday, November 20, 2003

NASA - Space Science - Project Prometheus: "Project Prometheus
(formerly the Nuclear Systems Initiative)
In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the wisest of the Titans, and he gave the gift of fire to humanity. The name Prometheus means 'forethought.'

For NASA, the name "Prometheus"is indicative of our hope to establish a new tool for understanding nature and for expanding our exploration capabilities. The gift of fire to humans was a powerful gift. We believe that the knowledge that will be enabled by the technologies developed by Project Prometheus will also be a powerful gift. NASA intends that Project Prometheus will be a true gift that will enable the peaceful exploration of the Solar System and our ability to answer important questions about the origin of life in the universe. The Nuclear Systems Initiative was a useful title for the proposed program in that it was clear, concise and easily identifiable. As we move forward with the program, we believe that a name that also contains meanings related to our goals should be used, therefore, we have changed the name to "Project Prometheus."
Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter: "The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter is an ambitious proposed mission to orbit three planet-sized moons of Jupiter -- Callisto, Ganymede and Europa -- which may harbor vast oceans beneath their icy surfaces. The mission would launch in 2012 or later"
USGS Geomatics: Lunar Topography: "Lunar Topography
Topics on this page: Lunar north pole topography
from Clementine imagesLunar south pole topography
from Clementine imagesLunar Gores
for GlobesLunar Maps
LPI PublicationsASPRS PublicationsLinks"

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

See Learning In A Whole New Light: Text Version: "Join the Earth Crew
There's a lot more going on at NASA than just exploring space! Find out about some exciting careers at NASA. Join the Earth Crew to become part of the NASA team yourself!
Astronaut School
How about a ride on the Vomit Comet or spending the day underwater as a human submarine? Pack your lunch and bring your backpack to Astronaut School!
Meet the Astronauts
Did you ever want to be an astronaut? Have you ever met an astronaut? Here's your chance! Meet the men and women of NASA who explore space by going there!
Living in Space
So you want a condo in Space? What about the bread crumbs that could float up your nose? What ever will you wear? Check out life where everything floats.
Bringing Space Home
Why do we send people to space? We are all natural 'explorers'. Stop in and see how our human adventure in space makes our life here on earth better in surprising ways.
Explorer's Galaxy
Meet NASA Team members and Astronauts who grew up near you. Add to the Explorer's Galaxy by nominating an educator. This is a galaxy that is expanding with new 'stars' every day! "
Science & Technology: SMART-1 is spiralling out through the Earth's radiation belts

SMART-1 is spiralling out through the Earth's radiation belts
19 Nov 2003 12:55

Summary of overall status, current activities and planned activities.
The spacecraft is now in its 102nd orbit and has been functioning very well since the last anomaly occurred on November 5. SMART-1 has now operated flawlessly for more than 12 days.

The spacecraft was operated in electric propulsion mode almost continuously, only interrupting it during the eclipses where the power available from the batteries cannot sustain the high demand of the engine. As a precaution we were also keeping the engine off until the orbit altitude was more than 10 000 km. The total cumulated thrust time is now more than 663 hours and we have consumed about 10.5 kg of Xenon fuel. Moreover, the electric propulsion engine performance, periodically monitored by means of the telemetry data transmitted by the spacecraft and by radio-tracking by the ground stations, has shown in the last period a stable slight over performance in thrust of about 1.5%. We are presently increasing the semi-major axis at a rate of about 150 km per day. Due to the electric propulsion system's excellent performance and the decreased radiation environment, we are now planning to extend the thrust to altitudes below 10 000 km.

The electric power produced by the solar arrays continues to be affected, as expected, by the radiation environment. We continue to register on average a loss of less than 2 Watts per day. This degradation should last until the trajectory crosses the radiation belts, i.e. for another month. At this rate the solar arrays will have lost about 130 W at the exit of the radiation belts. Due to the built in power margins, this will allow the spacecraft to continue thrusting at full power, hence shortening the time envisaged to reach the Moon. Of course, this is provided that we won’t get another exceptional solar storm again soon.


Saturday, November 15, 2003

ESA - European Space Agency - Multimedia Gallery: "Every week we update our Multimedia Gallery with videos from our collection:"

Should find some SMART-1 Videos. - LRK-
Yahoo! Groups : LUT_Group: "The purpose of this group is to discuss the Launch Umbilical Towers used for American manned space flight. It is primarily targeted at the Apollo LUT, but includes discussion of the Shuttle tower, as well as other launch structures.

Due to problems with spamming, new members are moderated, and test messages are not allowed. "

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

No Ice at the Lunar Poles | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "No Ice at the Lunar Poles

Using the 70-centimeter (cm)-wavelength radar system at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, the research group sent signals deeper into the lunar polar surface -- more than five meters (about 5.5 yards) -- than ever before at this spatial resolution. 'If there is ice at the poles, the only way left to test it is to go there directly and melt a small volume around the dust and look for water with a mass spectrometer,' says Bruce Campbell of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution.
Campbell is the lead author of an article, 'Long-Wavelength Radar Probing of the Lunar Poles,' in the Nov. 13, 2003, issue of the journal Nature . His collaborators on the latest radar probe of the moon were Donald Campbell, professor of astronomy at Cornell University; J.F. Chandler of Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; and Alice Hine, Mike Nolan and Phil Perillat of the Arecibo Observatory, which is managed by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center at Cornell for the NSF. "
International Lunar Conference 2003: "The Space Frontier Foundation Supports the 2003 International Lunar Conference
Get ready for another historic and exciting lunar event this coming November. I am not talking about the lunar eclipse which will be observable this November 8. I am referring to the International Lunar conference 2003 which is being held in Hawaii the week of November 16-22.
The International Lunar Conference 2003 is a decisive week-long gathering of American and international space program representatives, scientists and engineers, astronomers, business people and entrepreneurs, educators and enthusiasts all seeking to develop global and inter-global understandings, strategies, initiatives and enterprises leading to a permanent human presence on our Moon within the decade."
News Newsletter November 2003: "An interview with Jim Benson is scheduled to appear in the November 3, 2003 issue of 'Space News.'

International Lunar Conference 2003 - November 16-22:
Jim Benson will be presenting the results of SpaceDev's Lunar Dish Observatory mission design, including an animation, at the International Lunar Conference 2003 in Hawaii, November 20, 2003. He is also scheduled to give a presentation on 'Property Rights in Space.' For information about attending this important conference, please see:

Air Force Research Lab:
SpaceDev continues test firings the week of November 3, 2003 of its Air Force 'space tug' hybrid rocket motor at SpaceDev's Poway, CA facility. To attend a firing, please call: Susan - 858-375-2075"
Yahoo! News - Findings Dampen Hope of Water on Dark Side of Moon: "Findings Dampen Hope of Water on Dark Side of Moon
Wed Nov 12, 1:44 PM ETAdd Science - Reuters to My Yahoo!

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists dampened hopes of finding large amounts of water on the dark side of the Moon on Wednesday with new evidence showing that if any deposits existed, they are in short supply.

Data from the Clementine and Lunar Prospector space missions in the 1990s had suggested there could be significant supplies of water, vital to support life and human colonies on the Moon, stashed in the craters near the poles.
But after conducting a radar survey of craters constantly in shadow at the lunar poles, Bruce Campbell of the Smithsonian Institution (news - web sites) in Washington DC and his colleagues said they did not uncover any evidence of thick ice deposits.
'Any lunar ice present within the regions visible to the Arecibo radar must therefore be in the form of distributed grain or thin layers,' Campbell said in a report in the science journal Nature.
The wavelengths from the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico that can penetrate deep into the craters did not produce strong echoes which would have indicated large chunks of ice.
Weaker echoes suggest any water that is there would probably be embedded in rock.
If there is water, it would probably have been deposited when comets, which are comprised largely of ice, collided with the moon over billions of years.
Scientist believe most of the water would have evaporated into space but some may have collected in the shado"
Lunar poles are as dry as dust: study: "Lunar poles are as dry as dust: study

PARIS (AFP) Nov 12, 2003
Any lingering hopes that the Moon may contain hidden deposits of ice at its poles have been dashed by a study using ground-penetrating radar, which shows that even at its extremities, Earth's satellite seems waterless.
Smithsonian Institution researcher Bruce Campbell and colleagues scanned the lunar poles using a radar with a wavelength of 70 centimetres (30 inches), which is capable of penetrating several metres (yards) of dust and which would strongly reflect any thick ice.
But the radar images yielded no evidence of any significant deposits of frozen water.
'Any ice in these regions must be in the form of disseminated grains or thin (centimetres [inches] or less) interbedded layers,' Campbell's team reports in Thursday's issue of Nature, the British science weekly.
The findings confirm scans of the Moon's surface by unmanned missions, notably the 1998-9 US spacecraft Lunar Prospector.
The absence of detectable water could be because impacts with the lunar surface by icy comets have been few, the scientists say.
Alternatively, any water that rises to the lunar surface is rapidly lost into space."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

APOD: 2003 November 9 - Apollo 17 Lunarscape: A Magnificent Desolation

Explanation: Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot and the second human to walk on the Moon, described the lunar landscape as "a magnificent desolation". Dramatic pictures from the Apollo missions to the lunar surface testify to this apt turn of phrase. Near the Apollo 17 landing site, Family Mountain (center background) and the edge of South Massif (left) frame the lunarscape in this photo of astronaut Harrison Schmitt working alongside the lunar roving vehicle. Schmitt and fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan were the last to walk on this magnificent desolation.

Friday, November 07, 2003

IDL JPL Ephemeris and Solar System Timing: "IDL JPL Ephemeris and Solar System Timing

JPLEPHEM - Read and Interpolate JPL Planetary Ephemeris
This package provides routines to open, read, and interpolate the JPL Planetary Ephemeris in FITS format. The JPL ephemerides provide the positions and motions of the major planetary bodies in the solar system, including the earth, moon and sun, to very high precision. The JPL ephemerides are provided as blocks of Chebyshev coefficients, which, when interpolated, reproduce the original JPL numerical integrations within 1.5 cm."


Home Page of Craig Markwardt

Monday, November 03, 2003

Science & Technology: Instruments: "Instruments
The Venus Express payload comprises a combination of spectrometers, spectro-imagers and imagers covering a wavelength range from ultraviolet to thermal infrared, a plasma analyser and a magnetometer. This set of instruments will be able to study the atmosphere, plasma environment and surface of Venus in great detail.
The investigation aims to enhance our knowledge of the composition, circulation and evolution of the atmosphere of Venus. The surface properties of Venus and the interaction between the atmosphere and the surface will be examined and evidence of volcanic activity will be sought.
Most of the instruments are re-using designs and/or spare hardware originating from either Mars Express or Rosetta. Fitted onto a spacecraft whose design is derived from Mars Express and adapted to cope with the thermal and radiation environment in Venus orbit, they will gather data for a planned 500 Earth days (about two Venusian years).
The instruments are provided by collaborative efforts between scientific institutes in ESA member states and Russia. Principal investigators in different European countries lead the nationally funded collaborations."

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Bush May Announce Return To Moon At Kitty Hawk: "BEYOND LEO

Bush May Announce Return To Moon At Kitty Hawk

Washington - Oct 29, 2003
A report by Space Lift Washington and published by NASA Watch suggests a major new space policy initiative is under consideration and may be announced by US President George Bush at celebrations planned for the centenary of flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina December 17th.
As the full implications sinks in of funding three decades of a space program with no serious long term policy planning, Congress has become increasingly hesitant to offer NASA a blank check anymore.
From a variety of backgrounds and constituencies, pressure is being placed on Congress and the Bush Administration to get serious about space."

Friday, October 24, 2003

Latest News for the Low Dose Radiation Research Program: "Space Radiation Research Program
Nasa Research Announcement (NRA) 03-OBPR-07:
Research opportunities for ground-based research in space radiation biology and space radiation shielding materials. Beginning October 10, 2003, this solicitation will be available electronically via the Internet at:
Notices of intent are due: November 10, 2003
Proposals are due: January 9, 2004

NASA Space Radiation Laboratory Dedicated
The NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy�s Brookhaven National Laboratory was dedicated on October 14, 2003.

Low Dose Radiation Research Program Workshop IV
October 27-29 DOE Low Dose Radiation Research Program Workshop IV, Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

All activities will take place at the Wardman Park Marriott located at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metrorail stop on the Red line."
13March 1989 - Solar CME Storm: "SUNSTORMS and SPACE WEATHER
Coronal Mass Ejections
June 2000 - Shavuout 5760 X-Class Solar Flares
5 February 2000 Metal Dragon X-Class Solar Flare
2000-2001: Solar Magnetic Field Flips
March-April 2001: Noaa9393 Sunspot, Aurora, Flare
September 2001 Aurora
13 March 1989 Solar Flare
11 May 1999 Quiet Sun
Een Virtuele Reis door de Zon "
The Phantom Torso: "The Phantom Torso
An unusual space traveler named Fred is orbiting Earth aboard the International Space Station. His job? To keep astronauts safe from space radiation."

May 4, 2001 -- Fred has no arms. He has no legs. His job is keeping astronauts safe.

Fred is the Phantom Torso, an approximately 95-pound, 3 foot high mockup of a human upper body. Beneath Fred's artificial skin are real bones. Fred's organs -- the heart, brain, thyroid, colon and so on -- are made of a special plastic that matches as closely as possible the density of human tissue.

Fred, who's spending the next four months on board the International Space Station (ISS), will measure the amount of radiation to which astronauts are exposed. High-energy particles that pass through the human body can disrupt the way cells function. Although no astronaut has ever been diagnosed with space radiation sickness, excessive exposure could lead to health problems.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Optical Physics: "Light Beams in High-Order Modes

A recent project that we have been working on involves the geometric phase that results from cyclic changes in the modes of a higher-order Gaussian beam. A set of the beam modes of a Gaussian beam carry orbital angular momentum. Patrick Crawford (Summer 2002), Matt Pysher (Summer 2002), Henry Sztul (Spring 2000 and 2001) and PJ Haglin (Summer 2000) have been working on this project. We have done the first measurements of this phase for optical beams. An article on this work appeared recently in Physical Review Letters [PRL 90, 203901 (2003)].

When you have a collimated beam of light the wave equation in three dimensions becomes the paraxial wave equation. This equation can be solved in either Cartesian or cylindrical coordinates. The solution in Cartesian coordinates gives a family of solutions expressed in terms of Hermite polynomials multiplied by a Gaussian envelope. These Hermite-Gauss solutions (or modes) are categorized by their indices (n,m) and 'order' N=n+m. The Hermite-Gauss (HGnm) of order zero, HG00 is the usual output of an ordinary laser (TEM00): "
NASA's History Office: Hot Topics/FAQs- New Publications - New OnLine

Monday, October 20, 2003

NEO Tools For The Observer: "JPL's Solar System Dynamics Group have provided the following software tools for the sky observer:

Ephemeris Generator for all bodies in the solar system including comets and asteroids.

Small Body Orbital Elements provides the orbital elements for numbered asteroids, unnumbered asteroids and comets.

Object Identification - Given a date, location and region of sky, find all comets and asteroids matching the constraints within the region.

What's Observable Tonight? - Given an observation date, location and other constraints, find all asteroids and comets that are observable on that night.

Finding Pre-discovery Observations With SkyMorph "

Orbit for Hermes Dynamically Linked from 1937 to 2003: "Orbit for Hermes Dynamically Linked from 1937 to 2003
Steven R. Chesley
Paul W. Chodas
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
October 16, 2003

Using sophisticated orbit determination tools, the difficult problem of finding a precise orbit for the long-lost and recently rediscovered asteroid Hermes has been solved.


The recovery of Hermes was announced on October 15, 2003 by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge Massachusetts. The object was initially noted by Brian Skiff of the LONEOS asteroid search program at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, and key follow-up measurements were provided by James Young of JPL's Table Mountain Observatory in California. Tim Spahr of the MPC located prediscovery observations from the last 7 weeks and computed the new object's orbit. Noticing that the orbit was very similar to that of Hermes, last seen during its close approach in 1937, Spahr concluded that the new object was almost certainly Hermes. Definitive proof of the object's identity was still lacking, however, because an orbit linking the known positions in 1937 to those in 2003 could not be found.

Finding the precise orbit of Hermes is difficult because its trajectory is very chaotic. In the 66 years since it was last seen, the asteroid has made numerous close approaches to both the Earth and Venus. Since the orbital changes at each approach depend highly on the circumstances of the encounter, finding an orbit with the precise sequence of encounter conditions that links positions in 2003 to those in 1937 is a challenging problem in orbit determination.

We have now solved this problem by using the JPL Sentry impact monitoring software in a novel way. Starting from the 2003 positions, Sentry found twelve distinct dynamical pathways that produced encounters in 1937, each with a different sequence of intervening close approach circumstances. Comparing these predicted 1937 encounters with the one determined directly from the 1937 observations, we were able to identify the most consistent candidate, and then zero in on the precise orbit that best matches the positions in both 1937 and 2003. We now know that since it was last seen, Hermes has made eight close approaches to the Earth and Venus to within 0.06 AU, including an Earth approach to within about 1.6 lunar distances in 1942. The new orbit solution allows us to predict future close approaches with great accuracy; we can now predict that Hermes will not approach the Earth any closer than about 0.02 AU (8 lunar distances) within the next hundred years.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Rock lost in space for 66 years: "Rock lost in space for 66 years

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Astronomers have seen a large asteroid that they first found 66 years ago and then lost in the depths of space.

It is called Hermes and it entered the record books by making a close approach to the Earth, just beyond the Moon.

But after only five days, it was lost because of the Sun's glare. Despite searches, it was never seen again.

Now scientists have spotted it once more - a faint dot in images taken by an observatory in Arizona. It was soon recognised as lost Hermes by its orbit. "

Out of the darkness

Hermes was discovered by Karl Reinmuth at Heidelberg, Germany, on 28 October 1937. He tracked it for only five days and then lost it.

It became famous because it passed within 800,000 kilometres of the Earth - two Earth-Moon distances.

But after 66 years in the dark, Hermes is back.

Early on 15 October, Brian Skiff of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, US, found it again. At first, he did not realise it was Hermes.

"Since we find new near-Earth asteroids fairly regularly (I found, for instance, two other small asteroids also last night), my only reaction upon finding it was that it was unusually bright," he told BBC News Online.

Lost & Found: Near-Earth Asteroid Spotted after 66 Years: "Lost & Found: Near-Earth Asteroid Spotted after 66 Years
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 06:30 am ET
20 October 2003

A large near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1937 but not seen since was found again last week.

The rediscovery ends an investigation, ongoing for 66 years, while the boulder the size of a modest town repeatedly slipped by unnoticed.

The space rock, called Hermes, is well known to asteroid experts for its passage about twice as far from Earth as the Moon back in 1937. At the time, astronomers didn't know of any object that had ever come closer.

Hermes orbits the Sun on an elongated path that crosses the orbits of Earth and Venus, and then curves well out into the solar system. The new observations suggest it may be larger than originally thought, perhaps about a mile wide (1-2 kilometers).

Steven Chesley of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), called Hermes' elusiveness 'the last real big remaining thorn in the side for this business' of large-asteroid detection."


Saturday, October 18, 2003

Prime Minister Announces Mission to Moon: "Prime Minister Announces Mission to Moon
August 16, 2003

The Chandrayan-1 mission, announced by the Prime Minister yesterday (August 15, 2003) during his Independence Day address to the nation, represents India's foray into a planetary exploration era in the coming decades. Today, India is confident of undertaking a complex space mission because of its indigenously developed launch vehicle and spacecraft capabilities. This mission will provide a unique opportunity for frontier scientific research. Chandrayan-1 is expected to be the forerunner of more ambitious planetary missions in the years to come, including landing robots on the moon and visits by Indian spacecraft to other planets in the solar system.

The Chandrayan-1 mission envisages placing a 525-kg satellite in a polar orbit 100-km above the moon. The satellite will be launched using a modified version of India's indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The spacecraft will initially be launched into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit, and subsequently manoeuvred into its final lunar orbit using its own propulsion system. The main objectives of Chandrayan-1 include obtaining imagery of the moon's surface using high-resolution remote sensing instruments in the visible, near infrared, low and high-energy X-ray regions. Furthermore, considering the interest expressed by the international scientific community, a provision has also been made to accommodate instruments from other countries.

The spacecraft is expected to be ready for launch by 2008. "

Friday, October 17, 2003

GSLV - Summary: "GSLV - Summary

The Geosynchronous Satetllite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is intended to eventually launch Insat-type satellites for India, to make India less dependent on foreign rockets for Insat launches. The GSLV improves on the performance of the PSLV with the addition of liquid strap-on boosters and a cryogenic upper stage. The solid first and liquid second stages are carried over from the PSLV. The GSLV will initially use a cryogenic upper stage supplied by Russia, having ordered 7 upper stages. India originally tried to buy the technology to build a cryogenic upper stage from Russia, but under pressure from the United States, that technology was not provided. Therefore, India, has been working on developing a cryogenic upper stage for the past seven years."
India: Aerospace Sources >Spaceflight: "India: Aerospace Soruces > Space Flights
ASLV PSLV GSLV SpaceFlight India's Launch Vehicle

India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) came on 18 April from Sriharikota. The flight, designated GSLV-D1, began at 10.13 GMT and placed the 1540kg GSAT 1 payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). The satellite will use its own propulsion system to reach a geosynchronous (24-hour) orbit. The orbit is slightly lower than a true GTO, having the following parameters: inclination 19.3 degrees, orbital period 557.6 minutes, perigee 168km and apogee 31,961km.
The GSLV is a three-stage vehicle, with the first stage supplemented by four liquid-propellant strap-on boosters. The first two stages are modifications of those used on the previously flown Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The introduction of the GSLV means that India no longer has to rely upon foreign launchers to place communications and remote sensing satellites into geosynchronous orbits. However, whether the GSLV will ever become a viable commercial launch vehicle is open to question; there are already sufficient launch vehicles available for such work without a newcomer entering the marketplace. More...

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C2 lifted off at 2:22 am EDT (0622 UT) from the Indian Space Research Organization's launch facility at Sriharikota, an island in southern India. The rocket successfully placed three satellites into a 727-km (450-mi.) polar orbit. The launch was the fourth success for the PSLV, a four-stage rocket that uses a combination of solid- and liquid-propellant stages, along with a set of strap-on boosters. In addition to the PSLV, which can place about 1.2 tons into polar orbit, India is also developing the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), capable of placing 2.5 tons into geosynchronous orbit. More...

The ASLV was created by adding two additional boosters modified from the SLV-3's first stage and by making other general improvements to the basic SLV-3 4 stage stack. The ASLV is actually a five-stage vehicle since the core first stage does not ignite until just before the booster rockets burn out. The payload capacity of the ASLV is approximately 150 kg to an orbit of 400 km with a 47 degree inclination.The first launch of the ASLV on 24 March 1987 failed when the bottom stage of the core vehicle did not ignite after booster burn-out. The second attempt ended with the Rohini payload falling into the Bay of Bengal on 13 July 1988 when the vehicle became unstable and broke up soon after release of the booster rockets. Finally, on 20 May 1992 the SROSS 3 (Stretched Rohini Satellite Series) was inserted into LEO by the third ASLV. However, instead of obtaining a circular orbit near 400 km, the ASLV only achieved a short-lived orbit of 256 km by 435 km, not unlike the degraded performance of the SLV-3 launch of 31 May 1981.
The last ASLV mission in May, 1994 successfully reached its programmed orbit of 434 km by
921 km. More...

SpaceFlight Leading Sources of Online Space News.
Launch Vehicle: India

Welcome to Indian Space Research Organisation: "The prime objective of ISRO has been to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. Since 1969, when it was set up, ISRO has established space systems like the INSAT for telecommunication, television broadcasting and meteorological services, and the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) for resources monitoring and management. ISRO has also developed the satellite launch vehicles PSLV and GSLV to place these satellites in the required orbits"

Earth Imaging Spacecraft Launched by India's PSLV: "Earth Imaging Spacecraft Launched by India's PSLV
By Staff
posted: 02:30 am ET
17 October 2003"

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- India successfully launched an Earth resources sensing satellite into polar orbit Friday, the nation's space agency said.

Liftoff of the three-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Center was reportedly on time at 12:52 a.m. EDT (0452 GMT).

The eighth flight of the Indian Space Research Organization's PSLV booster carried RESOURCESAT-1, a 3,000-pound (1,360-kilogram) spacecraft built with three cameras that see light in different wavelengths.

Here is some more information about the spacecraft as provided by the Indian space agency:

RESOURCESAT-1 (IRS-P6), the payload on board PSLV-C5, is the most advanced remote sensing satellite built by ISRO so far. The tenth satellite of ISRO in IRS series, RESOURCESAT-1 is intended to not only continue the remote sensing data services provided by IRS-1C and IRS-1D, both of which have far outlived their designed mission lives, but also to vastly enhance the data quality.

The 1,360 kg RESOURCESAT-1 will be launched into an 817 km high polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.

From - LRK -
India Approves Moon Mission: "India Approves Moon Mission
By K.S. Jayaraman
Special to
posted: 04:15 pm ET
19 August 2003"

NEW DELHI, India -- India will send a spacecraft to the moon by 2008, prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in his Independence Day address to the nation Aug. 15. The announcement has put an end to suspense over the fate of the roughly $100 million project of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that was waiting for a formal sanction for over eight months.

The mission -- named Chandrayan-1 -- foresees placing a 1150 lb. (525 kilogram) satellite in a polar orbit 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the moon. The spacecraft will be launched by a modified version of India’s indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The lunar orbiter will be designed to operate for two years.

"This mission will provide a unique opportunity for frontier scientific research," ISRO said in a statement. "It is expected to be the forerunner of more ambitious planetary missions in the years to come, including landing robots on the moon and visits by Indian spacecraft to other planets in the solar system."

Chandrayan-1’s aim, according to the study group that recommended the mission, is to obtain a chemical map of the entire lunar surface. The data from the mission will be used to create a 3-dimensional atlas of regions of interest using high-resolution remote sensing in the visible, near infrared, low and high-energy X-ray regions.

Observations using the X-ray spectrum and stereographic coverage of most of the moon’s surface at a ground resolution of 5 meters is designed to provide new insight in understanding lunar surface processes, according to ISRO. The areas selected for a focused study are the north and south polar regions (believed to contain ice) and the lunar South Pole’s Aitken basin -- an ancient crater impact area.

At the end of the mission ISRO expects to provide the scientific community an improved model of the moon’s gravity. This would be made possible with the highly accurate measurements of moon’s topography by a lunar laser ranging instrument and the digital elevation model derived from 3-D imageries obtained by the terrain mapping stereo camera.

- LRK -

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Gunter's Space Page - Information on Launch vehicles, Satellites, Space Shuttle and Astronautics: "Nuclear Powered Payloads"

ALSEP - General: "Experiment Operations During Apollo EVAs
Experiment: Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package"
4Reference || Variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket: "Variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rockets or VASIMRs as the name is commonly abbreviated is a hypothetical form of spacecraft propulsion that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to accelerate a propellant. VASIMRs bridge the gap between high-thrust low-specific impulse propulsion systems and low-thrust high-specific impulse systems, being capable of functioning in either mode simply by adjusting its parameters of operation. The propellant, usually hydrogen, is first ionized by radio waves and then is guided into a central chamber threaded with magnetic fields. The ions spiral around the magnetic field lines with a certain natural frequency; by bombarding them with radio waves of the same frequency, the system heats the ions to 10 million Kelvins. A magnetic nozzle converts the spiralling motion into axial motion, driving the hydrogen ions out the back of the rocket and producing thrust. The radio waves and magnetic fields would be produced by electricity, which would almost certainly be produced by nuclear fission. Any conceivable chemical fuel used in a fuel cell or to activate a generator would be more efficiently used in a conventional rocket. Solar energy could be more efficiently used in a solar thermal rocket. By adjusting the manner of heating and a magnetic choke, a VASIMR can control the exhaust rate. Closing the choke shifts the rocket into high gear; it reduces the number of ions exiting the drive (thus producing less thrust), but keeps their temperature high (thus increasing specific impulse). Opening the choke has the reverse effect. A spacecraft would use low gear to climb out of planetary orbit, and high gear for interplanetary cruise. The method of heating plasma used in VASIMR was originally developed as a result of research into nuclear fusion. One possible future enhancement of the VASIMR system may be to promote fusion among the atoms of the propellant; this could provide a great deal of extra heating, and therefore provide even greater thrust than the electrical input into the system would otherwise allow. However, such an enhancement is not expected to be practical any time soon. NASA HSF- VASIMR

This article courtesy of Wikipedia. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. GFDL:
China Successfully Completes First Manned Space Flight: "DRAGON SPACE

China Successfully Completes First Manned Space Flight

Beijing (AFP) Oct 16, 2003
China completed its first manned space flight Thursday when the Shenzhou V capsule with astronaut Yang Liwei returned safely to Earth, sparking celebrations and a pledge of a new mission within two years.

The capsule landed at 6:23 a.m. (2223 GMT Wednesday) just 4.8 kilometres (2.9 miles) off target in the vast grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region some 300 kilometres (186 miles) northwest of Beijing.

Lieutenant Colonel Yang, 38, was in good health and the Beijing Space Command and Control Centre and Premier Wen Jiabao announced the mission a 'complete success.'

Yang exited the capsule on his own, looking dazed, and was seen on television waving following his 21-hour flight that covered 600,000 kilometres (372,000 miles).
Variable-Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket: "Variable-Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket

This rocket is expected to enable long-term human exploration of outer space.
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Johnson Space Center has been leading the development of a high-power, electrothermal plasma rocket - the variable-specific-impulse magnetoplasma rocket (VASIMR) - that is capable of exhaust modulation at constant power. An electrodeless design enables the rocket to operate at power densities much greater than those of more conventional magnetoplasma or ion engines. An aspect of the engine design that affords a capability to achieve both high and variable specific impulse (Isp) places the VASIMR far ahead of anything available today. Inasmuch as this rocket can utilize hydrogen as its propellant, it can be operated at relatively low cost.

The design of the VASIMR is so original that a prototype is being developed in collaboration with the Department of Energy and with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its Center for Manufacturing Technology. The VASIMR is expected to be commercially useful for boosting communication satellites and other Earth-orbiting spacecraft to higher orbits, retrieving and servicing spacecraft in high orbits around the Earth, and boosting high-payload robotic spacecraft on very fast missions to other planets. Similarly, the VASIMR should make it possible for robotic spacecraft to travel quickly to the outer reaches of the Solar system and begin probing interstellar space. By far, the greatest potential of the VASIMR is expected to lie in its ability to significantly reduce the trip times for human missions to Mars and beyond. This reduction in times is expected to enable long-term exploration of outer space by humans - something that conventional rocket designs now preclude.

Because the VASIMR uses plasma to produce thrust, it is related to several previously developed thrusters; namely, the ion engine, the stationary plasma thruster (SPT) (also known as the Hall thruster), and the magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster [also known as the Lorentz-force accelerator (LFA)]. However, the VASIMR differs considerably from these other thrusters in that it lacks electrodes (a lack that enables the VASIMR to operate at much greater power densities) and has an inherent capability to achieve high and variable Isp. Both the ion engine and the SPT are electrostatic in nature and can only accelerate ions present in plasmas by means of either (1) externally applied electric fields (i.e., applied by an external grid as on an ion engine) or (2) axial charge nonuniformity as in the SPT. These ion-acceleration features, in turn, result in accelerated exhaust beams that must be neutralized by electron sources strategically located at the outlets before the exhaust streams leave the engines.

In the LFA, acceleration is not electrostatic but electromagnetic. A radial electric current flowing from a central cathode interacts with a self-generated azimuthal magnetic field to produce acceleration. Although LFAs can operate at power levels higher than those of either the ion engine or the SPT and do not require charge neutralization, their performances are still limited by the erosion of their electrodes.

Spaceflight Now | Shenzhou Launch Report | First Chinese space hero safely returns to Earth: "First Chinese space hero safely returns to Earth
Posted: October 15, 2003

Wrapping up a historic day in space, the Shenzhou 5 return capsule parachuted to a soft touchdown today, bringing to an end China's first manned voyage into space and opening the door for a wide variety of future plans in the final frontier.

Touchdown came at 6:23 a.m. local time Thursday (2223 GMT; 6:23 p.m. EDT Wednesday), according to the central Chinese television network CCTV and the Xinhua news organization. Video from the landing site showed the craft's single occupant -- Lt. Colonel Yang Liwei -- waving to a crowd assembled around the capsule as it laid on its side minutes after landing.
Chinese media also reported the landing point was just 4.8 kilometers from the targeted touchdown site in Inner Mongolia.

Yang was carried away from the spacecraft in a seat and looked a bit wobbly and dazed on state television coverage of the event. Official reports from Xinhua say Yang 'was confirmed to remain in good health' after his 21-hour stint in orbit.

The taikonaut soon left the landing site for a two-hour flight to the capital city of Beijing, the location of China's control center, training facility and the home of Yang's family. 'The spaceship operated well. I feel very good and I am proud of my motherland,' he said. "

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

China puts man into orbit to join elite space club with Russia and US: "China puts man into orbit to join elite space club with Russia and US

JIUQUAN, China (AFP) Oct 15, 2003
China Wednesday launched an astronaut into space aboard the Shenzhou V craft in a historic mission which catapults the country into an elite club alongside Russia and the United States.
The Long March II F rocket carrying the capsule blasted into clear skies from the remote Gobi desert in north China's Inner Mongolia at 9:00 a.m.for a 21-hour flight that will see the craft orbit the Earth 14 times.
Shenzou V went into preset orbit 10 minutes after take-off as China became just the third country after the United States and the former Soviet Union to put a man in space 42 years after Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's epic first flight.
Russian Gagarin was the first human in space on April 12, 1961 in a flight lasting 108 minutes. Days later on May 5 American Alan Shepard spent just 15 minutes on a suborbital flight.
People's Liberation Army Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei, 38, was at the controls Wednesday and reported 34 minutes into the flight that he 'feels good' and that the craft was operating normally.
'I feel good, see you tomorrow,' Yang, a fighter pilot with more than 1,300 hours flight time, was quoted as saying.
Chinese President Hu Jintao watched the blast-off at the Jiuquan Launch Center and hailed the successful launch as 'the glory of our great motherland'.
He said the culmination of the 11-year space program was a 'historic step of the Chinese people in the advance of climbing over the peak of the world's science and technology'.
The Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese space officials as saying the maiden manned flight was a 'success'."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Space Calendar (JPL): "Oct 13 - Comet C/2003 K4 (LINEAR) Perihelion (1.024 AU)
Oct 13 -[Oct 08] Comet P/2002 O8 (NEAT) Closest Approach To Earth (2.848 AU)
Oct 13 - Asteroid 1585 Union Occults HIP 43060 (7.1 Magnitude Star)
Oct 13 - British Interplanetary Society's 70th Birthday (1933)
Oct 13-14 - 14th Annual October Astrophysics Conference: The Search for Other Worlds, College Park, Maryland
Oct 13-15 - Meeting: The New Rosetta Targets, Capri, Italy
Oct 13-15 - Symposium: Atmospheric Remote Sensing using Satellite Navigation Systems, Matera, Italy
Oct 13-16 - Workshop: Multiwavelength Mapping of Galaxy Evolution, Venice, Italy
Oct 13-17 - 3rd International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration, Alberta, Canada "
BIS Spaceflight - News: "Latest News:
Brazil holds out hope for space programme
Brazilian president Luiz Inacio de Silva has vowed to continue his country's space programme following the explosion of the third VLS booster on the launch pad at Alcantra on 23 August, killing 21 people. He has stated that the VLS will make a successful flight before 2006. Damage to the Alcantra facility is estimated at $33 million, compared with Brazil's $12 million annual space budget.
India aims for the Moon
The Indian government has confirmed that the country's first Moon probe, Chandrayan 1, will be launched in 2008. The 525 kg spacecraft will be launched by a modified version of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle into a geostationary transfer orbit and using its on board propulsion system, will be propelled towards the Moon."
The British Interplanetary Society: "'From imagination to reality'
Founded in 1933, The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) is the world's longest established organisation devoted solely to supporting and promoting the exploration of space and astronautics.

The BIS is financially independent, has charitable status and obtains its main income from a worldwide membership. The Society's headquarters are situated in central London."
BIS Spaceflight - Space Chronicle: "The first JBIS issues of Space Chronicle appeared under the editorship of Andrew Wilson between August 1980 and July 1986. These issues became widely read offering articles at a more general level than those found in the other monthly JBIS issues. In effect Space Chronicle was regarded by many as a new space magazine being set apart by its unique character.
Click here to order on-line
Vol. 56 Supplement 1, 2003

The B.I.S. Space-Ship

The Problem of Interplanetary Propulsion

The Challenge of the Spaceship (Astronautics and its Impact upon Human Society)

The Lunar Base

Minimum Satellite Vehicles

Some Limiting Factors of Chemical Rocket Motors"

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

NSSDC Master Catalog: Spacecraft: "Launch Date/Time: 2003-09-27 at 23:04 UTC
On-orbit dry mass: 305 kg

SMART-1 launched successfully on September 27 at 23:04 UT (7:04 p.m. EDT).
The SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology 1) is a lunar orbiter designed to test spacecraft technologies for future missions. The primary technology being tested is a solar-powered ion drive. It will also carry an experimental deep-space telecommunications system and an instrument payload to monitor the ion drive and study the Moon. The primary scientific objectives of the mission are to return data on the geology, morphology, topography, mineralogy, geochemistry, and exospheric environment of the Moon in order to answer questions about planetary formation accretional processes, origin of the Earth-Moon system, the lunar near/far side dichotomy, long-term volcanic and tectonic activity, thermal and dynamical processes involved in lunar evolution, and water ice and external processes on the surface. "

- LRK -
ESA - SMART-1 - The SMART way to travel: "9 July 2003
SMART-1 first orbits the Earth in ever-increasing ellipses. When it reaches the Moon, its orbit is altered by the Moon's gravitational field. It uses a number of these 'gravity assists' to position itself for entering orbit around the Moon.

Credits: AOES Medialab, ESA 2002."


- LRK -

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort:
" We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Space Settlement:

"Online Space Settlement Books
NASA Ames/Stanford 1975 Summer Study.
Space Resources and Space Settlements NASA Ames 1977 Summer Study.
Space Resources Overview NASA-California Space Institute 1984 Summer Study.
Space Resources Volume 1, Scenarios NASA-California Space Institute 1984 Summer Study.
Space Resources Volume 2, Energy, Power, and Transport NASA-California Space Institute 1984
CoEvolution Book on space settlement edited by Stewart Brand and published in 1977. This work contains arguments for and against space colonization, very interesting. "

Celestia: A 3D Space Simulator: "Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit. "



Friday, October 03, 2003

The Industrial Physicist: "April/May 2002
Volume 8, Number 2
Solar power via the moon
Solar-power stations constructed on the moon from common lunar materials could beam clean, safe, low-cast commercial electric energy to Earth via 12-cm microwaves---David Criswell

Illuminating new territory with lidar
Light detection and ranging (lidar) has been around since the 1960's, but recent advances in other technologies have enabled its use in a wide variety of research and commercial applications---Jennifer Oullette"

Getting Power From The Moon: "Getting Power From The Moon

Houston, TX (April 15, 2002) - If a physicist in Houston has his way you'll be able to say good-bye to pollution-causing energy production from fossil fuels. In the April/May issue of The Industrial Physicist Dr. David Criswell suggests that the Earth could be getting all of the electricity it needs using solar cells - on the moon.
In the article Criswell proposes a Lunar Solar Power (LSP) System, using arrays of solar cells on the lunar surface to beam energy back to Earth. Criswell estimates that the 10 billion people living on Earth in 2050 will require 20 Terawatts (TW) of power. The Moon receives 13,000 TW of power from the sun. Criswell suggests that harnessing just 1% of the solar power and directing it toward Earth could replace fossil fuel power plants on Earth.
'The lunar operations are primarily industrial engineering,' says Criswell. He and Dr, Robert Waldron first described LSP in 1984 at a NASA symposium on Lunar Bases and Space Activities in the 21st Century. 'Adequate knowledge of the moon and practical technologies have been available since the late 1970's to collect this power and beam it to Earth. The system can be built on the moon from lunar materials and operated on the moon and on Earth using existing technologies,' reducing the expenses associated with transporting materials to the moon. He adds that LSP would be even cheaper if parts of the production machinery are designed to be made of lunar materials."

University of Houston - Collegium: "UH's Man on the Moon
by Philip Montgomery
University of Houston Professor of Physics David Criswell concedes he may appear slightly off the wall with his idea for snaring sunbeams on the Moon and transforming that solar power into electric gold for mankind.
The promises are grand�cheap energy for everyone, a reduction in wars over petroleum resources, a new source of wealth unlike anything seen before, and the opening of the solar system to human exploration and habitation. Cheap unlimited power is what people need, and Criswell, who has eighteen patents in space and terrestrial solar power and space transportation, says he has a plan that can deliver.
His vision is solidly grounded in engineering and economics. He is the director of the University of Houston Institute for Space Systems Operations, has worked on the Apollo missions, and directed major research projects and technical review programs at the Lunar and Planetary Institute for NASA. When the shuttle Columbia exploded last February, he was among the experts assembled by The Wall Street Journal for an online roundtable about what the tragedy would mean for the United States space program.
For twenty years, he has touted something called the Lunar Solar Power System. And he has published more than 250 research articles and contract and advisory reports on the economics of returning to the Moon to provide electricity to Earth. "



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