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Old 19-08-2004, 22:43   #101
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DC Agle (818) 354-5011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif

Donald Savage (202) 358-1727
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE: 2004-207 August 19, 2004

NASA Mission Returns With a Piece of the Sun

In a dramatic ending that marks a beginning in scientific research, NASA's Genesis spacecraft is set to swing by Earth and jettison a sample return capsule filled with particles of the Sun that may ultimately tell us more about the genesis of our solar system.

"The Genesis mission -- to capture a piece of the Sun and return it to Earth -- is truly in the NASA spirit: a bold, inspiring mission that makes a fundamental contribution to scientific knowledge," said Steven Brody, NASA's program executive for the Genesis mission, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

On September 8, 2004, the drama will unfold over the skies of central Utah when the spacecraft's sample return capsule will be snagged in midair by helicopter. The rendezvous will occur at the Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City.

"What a prize Genesis will be," said Genesis Principal Investigator Dr. Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "Our spacecraft has logged almost 27 months far beyond the moon's orbit, collecting atoms from the Sun. With it, we should be able to say what the Sun is composed of, at a level of precision for planetary science purposes that has never been seen before."

The prizes Burnett and company are waiting for are hexagonal wafers of pure silicon, gold, sapphire, diamond and other materials that have served as a celestial prison for their samples of solar wind particles. These wafers have weathered 26-plus months in deep space and are now safely stowed in the return capsule. If the capsule were to descend all the way to the ground, some might fracture or break away from their mountings; hence, the midair retrieval by helicopter, with crew members including some who have performed helicopter stunt work for Hollywood.

"These guys fly in some of Hollywood's biggest movies," said Don Sweetnam, Genesis project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But this time, the Genesis capsule will be the star."
The Genesis capsule -- carrying the agency's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the Moon -- will enter Earth's atmosphere at 9:55 am Mountain Time. Two minutes and seven seconds after atmospheric entry, while still flying supersonically, the capsule will deploy a drogue parachute at 33 kilometers (108,000 feet) altitude. Six minutes after that, the main parachute, a parafoil, will deploy 6.1 kilometers (20,000 feet) up. Waiting below will be two helicopters and their flight crews looking for their chance to grab a piece of the Sun.

"Each helicopter will carry a crew of three," said Roy Haggard, chief executive officer of Vertigo Inc. and director of flight operations for the lead helicopter. "The lead helicopter will deploy an eighteen-and-a-half foot long pole with what you could best describe as an oversized, Space-Age fishing hook on its end. When we make the approach we want the helicopter skids to be about eight feet above the top of the parafoil. If for some reason the capture is not successful, the second helicopter is 1,000 feet behind us and setting up for its approach. We estimate we will have five opportunities to achieve capture."

The helicopter that does achieve capture will carry the sample canister to a clean room at the Michael Army Air Field at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, where scientists await their cosmic prize. The samples will then be moved to a special laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, where they will be preserved and studied by scientists for many years to come.

"I understand much of the interest is in how we retrieve Genesis," added Burnett. "But to me the excitement really begins when scientists from around the world get hold of those samples for their research. That will be something."

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the Genesis mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operates the spacecraft. Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA's Johnson Space Center contributed to Genesis payload development, and the Johnson Space Center will curate the sample and support analysis and sample allocation.

More detailed background on the mission is available at http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov .

-end-
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Old 03-09-2004, 12:44   #102
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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2004

Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are now closed to all personnel as the spaceport braces for Hurricane Frances. Emergency management officials will return to KSC and CCAFS after the storm passes to reactivate the operations center, followed by the damage assessment and recovery teams.

The hurricane's predicted path shows landfall south of the Cape midday Saturday. The forecast track takes Frances across the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico very slowly over the weekend.

"KSC houses some of the jewels of America's space flight program," said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Readdy. "We've taken every precaution to secure our spacecraft and facilities and to keep our workers safe. In 40 years of space flight operations at Cape Canaveral, we've never sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but we've always been prepared," he said.

Tutti e tre gli obriter sono nell'OPF (Orbiter Processing Facilty), in grado di resistere a 105 mph di venti sostenuti e di raffiche... con Frances si prevedono venti fino a 140 mph.

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Old 03-09-2004, 12:50   #103
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Kennedy Space Center Closed as NASA Watches Storm

NASA is taking the threat from Hurricane Frances seriously.

The powerful storm is moving toward Florida's east coast and could affect NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this weekend. As of today, KSC is closed, and its nearly 12,000 workers have been sent home to make preparations with their families. The center is tentatively scheduled to reopen Tuesday, Sept. 7.

KSC workers have spent the past several days taking steps to protect the Space Shuttle fleet, spacecraft hardware, and facilities against damage. For the center, most major systems have been powered down, sandbags have been laid around building doors and heavy equipment moved into the massive, white Vehicle Assembly Building. Hardware has been covered with plastic or tarps and smaller pieces of equipment have been raised off the ground.

Meanwhile, NASA is keeping a close watch over Frances with its unique vantage points -- the International Space Station and Earth-orbiting satellites -- to track this dangerous storm. Return to this page for the latest news updates and images from space.

NASA Press Release: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004...c_frances.html


Image above: In the Orbiter Processing Facility, Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis' wheels are raised into their bays in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Other preparations at KSC include powering down the Space Shuttle orbiters and closing their payload bay doors. Workers are also taking precautions against flooding by moving spacecraft hardware off the ground and sandbagging facilities. Photo Credit: NASA


Image above: In the Orbiter Processing Facility, workers prepare to close the payload bay doors on Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Photo Credit: NASA


Image above: Workers in the Orbiter Processing Facility unwrap plastic for use in covering equipment as part of preparations for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Photo Credit: NASA


Image above: In the Space Station Processing Facility, workers cover with plastic the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Donatello in preparation for the expected impact of Hurricane Frances on Saturday. Other modules and equipment are being covered as well. They are also taking precautions against flooding by moving spacecraft hardware off the ground and sandbagging facilities. Photo Credit: NASA
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Old 06-09-2004, 19:58   #104
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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2004
1620 GMT (12:20 a.m. EDT)


NASA has released the first damage assessment for the Kennedy Space Center:

"Emergency crews are on site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and are providing the first information on conditions there following Hurricane Frances. They report that key buildings such as the Launch Control Center and the massive, white Vehicle Assembly Building are still standing.

"The emergency crews see some exterior damage to the VAB, where Space Shuttles are readied for launch. There are a significant number of panels missing from the exterior. The Shuttles themselves rode out the storm in their hangars, known as Orbiter Processing Facilities. We do not yet have information on conditions there."
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Old 07-09-2004, 00:14   #105
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Cape battered by Hurricane Frances; Ivan threatens

BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: September 6, 2004

Hurricane Frances battered the Kennedy Space Center with sustained winds of more than 70 mph, ripping off an estimated 40,000 square feet of siding on the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building and partially destroying the roof of a critical heat shield tile facility needed for NASA's shuttle return to flight effort.

Recovering from the impact of Frances could delay NASA's first post-Columbia shuttle flight, now targeted for March, officials said today. But center Director Jim Kennedy said the damage, while the worst in spaceport history, was not a disaster "by any stretch of the imagination" and that it was too soon to say what impact it might have on the agency's return-to-flight efforts.

"It's way too early for us to state that we do or don't have a problem," he said. "But as you know, we were working hard to protect the shuttle return-to-flight date of March and we'll just have to see how that goes."

More important than the shuttle's eventual launch date is the potential impact of Hurricane Ivan, a powerful storm that some computer models show tracking toward Florida's east coast. Given the damage caused by the category 1 winds of Hurricane Frances, Kennedy sees Ivan as a potential "doomsday scenario" that could affect the future of America's manned space program.

"I don't want to speculate on what possible worse damage we could have with a category 2, 3, 4, 5 direct hit," Kennedy said. "It would certainly be significant to the future of human spaceflight."

NASA closed the space center last Thursday, sending 12,000 contractors and 2,000 civil servants home to make their own preparations for Frances. The agency's three space shuttles, mounted on jacks in their Orbiter Processing Facility hangars, were powered down, their cargo bay doors closed and their landing gear raised and stowed.

Sandbags and plywood panels were used to shore up vulnerable doors and windows while NASA trucks and cranes were moved inside the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

A disaster assessment-response team, or DART, began surveying damage today and a teleconference with senior NASA managers is planned tomorrow to review the results.

A preliminary inspection shows NASA's three multi-billion-dollar space shuttles - Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour - came through the hurricane unscathed, as did critical hardware bound for the international space station as well as an astronomy satellite scheduled for launch next month.

But the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, suffered major damage to its protective skin and a facility that manufactures and repairs heat-shield tiles for the shuttle fleet lost at least part of its roof.

"The tile facility, which is located out in the general area of the OPFs and the VAB, has taken significant loss," Kennedy said. "We believe the roof is partially gone, it has extensive water damage within the facility. That could possibly be a very difficult situation to deal with because tile manufacturing is to some extent on the critical path for return to flight."

The Vehicle Assembly Building is a national icon, a massive, 525-foot-tall cube originally built to assemble 36-story Saturn 5 moon rockets. Today, NASA uses the facility to build up space shuttle boosters atop mobile launch platforms, to attach the shuttle's solid-fuel external tank and the orbiter itself prior to rollout to the launch pad.

The only flight hardware in the VAB when Frances struck were two external tanks, both protected by dense scaffolding and access platforms, and two booster "aft skirts" that are the first pieces mounted to the launch platform.

Engineers estimate the VAB lost about 1,000 4-by-10 foot aluminum panels on its south and east sides, starting about 100 feet up and extending to a height of 350 feet or so. "And that would include typically not only the outer panel, but the insulation and in some cases, a sub panel behind it to where it's like an open window to the VAB," Kennedy said.

Repairing the VAB is "certainly a high priority for us," he said. "As you think about things that are time critical, the VAB repair is one. Not only because we need the VAB to process hardware, but I am concerned about Ivan and 40,000 square feet of open window exposed to Ivan.

"I will tell you the preliminary input of the facilities folks was they really didn't know how, with five days notice before Ivan arrives, how we could do much in temporary repair. ... They have great concern about how they might be able to do that with just a few days' time."

Hurricane Charley, which skirted the northern boundary of the Kennedy Space Center last month, caused some $700,000 damage. The cost to recover from Frances, which was barely a category 1 storm when it hit Brevard County, is not yet known.

"I don't consider this to be a disaster by any stretch of the imagination," Kennedy said. "How big the bump in the road (for return to flight) is to be determined. It's a bump in the road for sure. You may or may now know that with Hurricane Charley, which just kissed the northern tip of Kennedy Space Center with the south eyewall as it passed across Volusia County, we took a $700,000 damage. This one is going to be significantly more than that. But how significant, I don't know so how big the bump in the road is, we don't know."

All in all, he said, "the initial feeling was that we had dodged a big bullet."

"If you think about what we believed we might have to deal with five, six, seven days ago, was a hurricane category 4, with the possibility of growth to a five and a direct hit to the Kennedy Space Center," he said. "I was significantly worried about the future of human space flight based upon that doomsday scenario.

"So when they drove on site today and saw most of the buildings intact, very few trees down, most of the power lines still up ... it wasn't the appearance of a war zone like we have seen on (in hurricane newscasts). It wasn't like that. So I feel very fortunate it's as minimal as it is."

As for Hurricane Ivan, Kennedy said his team of forecasters, led by John Madura, believe the storm has the potential to pose the same sort of doomsday scenario he worried about last week.

"Some of the models show it coming up close to the space coast of Florida," Kennedy said. "John Madura's one of the best and when he's worried, I'm worried."
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Old 08-09-2004, 15:26   #106
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Kennedy Space Center damage estimate updated

BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: September 7, 2004

The Kennedy Space Center, reeling from widespread wind and water damage caused by Hurricane Frances, will remain closed to normal work until Monday at the earliest while engineers complete a detailed damage assessment.


The Vehicle Assembly Building lost hundreds of side panels, creating holes in the facility's structure. Photo: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now

Updating initial damage reports Monday, center Director James Kennedy said today that Frances ripped off some 820 panels measuring 4-by-16 feet each on the east and south sides of the Vehicle Assembly Building, an area covering more than 52,000 square feet. About 20 percent of that total included lost sub-surface insulation panels, leaving gaping "windows" into the building's interior that are open to the elements.

"That concerns us a lot," he said. "The facilities engineering people today don't think that between now and the possible arrival of (Hurricane) Ivan as early as next Saturday there is anything they can do to plug those holes.

"So we will probably be, for the next period of time, including Ivan if she comes ashore, sitting there with an open window to the world in the VAB."

The sides of the building were not the only sites of damage. A 30-member team inspecting the roof of the cavernous structure had to beat a hasty retreat when they discovered "it was very insecure," Kennedy said.

"It was soggy, it was weak and they did not want to run the risk of falling through the roof of the VAB," he told reporters.

Netting is being strung up inside the building just below the roof to catch any debris that might fall until repairs can be made.


Workers pile up the VAB debris. Photo: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now

A nearby tile processing facility, where the shuttle's thermal protection system tiles and blankets are manufactured and processed, suffered extensive damage, losing about a quarter of its roof.

"Our shuttle TPS facility was hit hard," Kennedy said. "It makes the thermal protection system tiles and blankets and that facility has what I would estimate at about 25 percent of its roof ripped off. This is very critical to any kind of a schedule we might hope to achieve on shuttle. The tile production, the TPS production was on the critical path."

NASA managers are looking into whether the work can be temporarily moved to Palmdale, Calif., where the shuttle fleet was built, or possibly to Houston until the building can be rebuilt.

Loss of the tile facility alone could hamper NASA plans for launching the shuttle Discovery next March on the first post-Columbia shuttle mission.

Many observers believed that date was going to be difficult to meet even before Frances struck, because of technical issues associated with implementing safety upgrades. Little reserve time was left in the processing schedule and it's not yet clear how repairs to the VAB and the tile facility might affect that work.

Kennedy declined to speculate.

"I'm not going to estimate when we might return to flight," he said. "It's very much to be determined, the impact that the facility damage will have on our ability to return to flight. We'll be working with the shuttle program people over the coming weeks to help assess that."

While damage to the VAB and the tile facility were the focus of attention today, other facilities suffered as well. A three-story computer facility near the VAB and orbiter processing facilities lost a large portion of its roof, but computer hardware on the third floor had been covered last week and appears to have survived intact.


http://www.spaceflightnow.com/hurricane/images/040907grandstand.jpg

Less important but visually dramatic, the roof of the grandstand at the KSC press site, where the world's media covered the Apollo moonshots and shuttle launchings, was ripped off as well. And a visitor's center building housing a refurbished Saturn 5 moon rocket also suffered heavy damage, losing 25 to 30 percent of its roof.

"The truth of the matter is many, many buildings have siding and roofing damage, water leaking situations and there's going to be an awful lot of work to repair the damage that's been done," Kennedy said.

Even so, he was relieved the damage wasn't more extensive. Last week, Kennedy was worried that Frances, then a category 3 hurricane, could make a direct hit on the space center.

"We are very fortunate to have had the limited damage that we've experienced from hurricane Frances," he said today. "There was a time a week ago when some of us worried about the future of human spaceflight, at least, with the potential of the loss of orbiter vehicles, with the loss of international space station hardware.

"I'm proud to tell you that although we've had some minor issues with hardware, the hardware being processed for the shuttle and the station is secure and in good shape."
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Old 08-09-2004, 15:35   #107
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Su SDC il nostro più importante fornitore di notizie, shuttle_guy, che lavora per la United Space Alliance ha fatto sapere che i lavoratori non torneranno al KSC prima di lunedì prossimo, di fatto quindi perdendo in tutto 2 settimane di lavoro necessarie per far tornare a volare lo shuttle entro a marzo...

Quote:
I now have the info. on return to work no earlier than Monday. That means this storm has cost us atleast 2 weeks of Shuttle processing in a schedule that had force fit a 6 month OPF schedule into 3 months.

Message to Employees - 9/7/04

NASA has announced that the Kennedy Space Center will remain closed to all but essential personnel until Monday, September 13, 2004 pending the clearance of facilities and worksites across the center. USA facilities in Florida will also remain closed, and USA-Florida employees should not report for work, onsite or offsite, before Monday unless specifically called on by their management. Access will be strictly controlled by the Emergency Operations Center, onsite.

While conditions in the surrounding communities are slowly improving, significant hazards and inconveniences remain. A good number of homes in Brevard County are still without power and some flooding persists in low-lying areas with the potential for additional heavy rain. Traffic lights remain out and gasoline remains in extremely short supply in many areas. Potable water and ice are also in short supply. Employees are advised to monitor local media for updates and to use extreme caution when re-entering the area.
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Old 13-09-2004, 18:30   #108
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BREAKING NEWS

Da Guardian.co.uk:

Space probes feel cosmic tug of bizarre forces

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 12, 2004
The Observer

Something strange is tugging at America's oldest spacecraft. As the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes head towards distant stars, scientists have discovered that the craft - launched more than 30 years ago - appear to be in the grip of a mysterious force that is holding them back as they sweep out of the solar system.

Some researchers say unseen 'dark matter' may permeate the universe and that this is affecting the Pioneers' passage. Others say flaws in our understanding of the laws of gravity best explain the crafts' wayward behaviour.

As a result, scientists are to press a European Space Agency (Esa) meeting, called Cosmic Visions, in Paris this week for backing for a mission that would follow the Pioneers and pinpoint the cause of their erratic movements.

The strange behaviour of the Pioneers - which swept by Jupiter and Saturn in the Eighties - was discovered by John Anderson and Slava Turyshev of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and Michael Martin Neito of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

They had been tracking the probes using the giant dishes of Nasa's Deep Space Network. By the time the two spaceships had swept beyond Pluto, they noted there were persistent anomalies in their trajectories. Every time they looked the Pioneers were in the wrong place. The effect was not large, but it was significant. Something more than the Sun's gravity appeared to have a grip on the craft.

The reasons for the anomaly have caused a rift among physicists, however. Some believe the effect may simply be flaws with the probes. Gas from fuel tanks may be leaking from them, slowing their passages, say some astronomers. 'Unless there is really good evidence to the contrary, we should stick to simple ideas like these and not go around blaming strange new types of particle or flaws in general relativity,' said Professor Martin Barstow, of Leicester University.

But this view has been rejected by Anderson. 'It's hard to imagine such a leak happening on both probes at the same time in such a way as to produce an identical acceleration,' he said.

And most scientists back him. 'The effect is real,' said Bernard Haisch of the California Institute for Physics and Astrophysics.

One proposal put forward is that Newton's idea that the force of gravity weakens as distance increases may be incorrect over very large spaces, and may drop off over very long distances.

'It is time to settle the Pioneer issue with a new deep-space mission that will test for, and decide on, the anomaly,' Anderson, Turyshev and Nieto state in Physics World .

By fitting a Pioneer follow-up probe with new measuring equipment, navigational device and communications gear, it should be possible to discover if the probes are in the grip of a new force of nature.
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Old 19-09-2004, 23:53   #109
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Teets: America must reach for space dominance

AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND NEWS RELEASE
Posted: September 18, 2004

On the anniversary of the first man-made object reaching the moon, the Department of Defense's executive agent for space urged America to strive for dominance in space.

Undersecretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets, who also serves as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, used the occasion of a Soviet Union mission to highlight what he believes to be the three keys for the United States to achieve space dominance.

"I believe that, today, it is fair to say the United States is the leading space nation in the world, but it certainly hasn't always been that way," he said Sept. 14 at the Air Force Association's 2004 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here.

"Forty-five years ago today, the Soviet probe Luna 2 reached the moon. It didn't land on the moon; it (crashed). But, it was still the first man-made object to touch the surface of another world," Mr. Teets said.

That probe, launched Sept. 12, 1959, hit the moon near the Sea of Serenity, where Apollo 15 touched down 15 years later. The relation between that Soviet probe and current U.S. space supremacy lies in America's approach to space research and technology, Mr. Teets said.

"At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were taking their first faltering steps on the road to space," he said. "We called it the ŒSpace Race,' and it was not a foregone conclusion that we would win."

The Soviets chose to "take the low road," in terms of technology, while the Americans opted for the "high road," Mr. Teets said. The United States used finely tuned, one-of-a-kind spacecraft and rockets that performed very well, but were extremely delicate, he said.

"(The Soviets) took a lower-tech road ... in some ways it was like a brute-force road, with mass-produced spacecraft and rockets that were less sophisticated but were very much more operationally responsive," he said.

Mr. Teets said it is a mistake to assume that one approach is always better than the other.

"Even though we have superiority in many aspects of space capability, we don't have space dominance, and we don't have space supremacy," he said. "The fact is, we need to reach for that goal. It is the ultimate high ground."

Mr. Teets said the United States needs strong and enduring commitments in three areas to meet that goal: developing a professional space cadre, having a strong and well-funded industrial base, and maintaining a position at the leading edge of space technology.

"The first, and unquestionably the most important, is the development and maintenance of a strong professional cadre of military and civilian government personnel," he said.

"If we do that right, I believe the rest will fall into place," he said. "If we do that, we'll have professional acquirers, people who have experience in the development of leading-edge high-tech systems, extremely well-qualified and trained military officers who can operate the systems that give us such an edge in our warfighting capabilities.

"There can be no doubt that we enjoy the benefits today, in major ways, of our national security space systems," Mr. Teets said.

The second area of attention is the space technology industrial base, he said.

"We need a strong and consistently funded industrial base able to produce quality space systems and products," Mr. Teets said. "We can't have a rollercoaster effect where we're asking our industrial partners to build up one year only to crater the next year. We can't have them developing the talented work force necessary for production of high-tech space systems, and ... the following year ask them to lay those same people off.

"It's important for us to have a certain amount of consistency and constancy in our investments in important space systems," he said.

Mr. Teets referred to recent problems with the acquisition system to illustrate his point:

"There was a period of time ... when we let some of the industrial base start to wither. At the same [time]," he said, "people who had been involved in the space system for many years started to take retirement, so it kind of [had] a double whammy effect."

The final piece needed to achieve space dominance, Mr. Teets said, is continued governmental investment in leading-edge space-system research in technology.

"We are at the forefront of space technology. We need to remain there," he said. "I know certain European countries have picked up the challenge and started to invest more heavily in leading-edge technology; certainly China has shown some of the same inclinations. We need to maintain a strong and vital space system research and technology endeavor going forward. That's what will keep us on the leading edge."


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Old 20-09-2004, 21:48   #110
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Teets: America must reach for space dominance

AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND NEWS RELEASE
Posted: September 18, 2004

On the anniversary of the first man-made object reaching the moon, the Department of Defense's executive agent for space urged America to strive for dominance in space.

Undersecretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets, who also serves as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, used the occasion of a Soviet Union mission to highlight what he believes to be the three keys for the United States to achieve space dominance.

"I believe that, today, it is fair to say the United States is the leading space nation in the world, but it certainly hasn't always been that way," he said Sept. 14 at the Air Force Association's 2004 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here.

"Forty-five years ago today, the Soviet probe Luna 2 reached the moon. It didn't land on the moon; it (crashed). But, it was still the first man-made object to touch the surface of another world," Mr. Teets said.

That probe, launched Sept. 12, 1959, hit the moon near the Sea of Serenity, where Apollo 15 touched down 15 years later. The relation between that Soviet probe and current U.S. space supremacy lies in America's approach to space research and technology, Mr. Teets said.

"At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were taking their first faltering steps on the road to space," he said. "We called it the ŒSpace Race,' and it was not a foregone conclusion that we would win."

The Soviets chose to "take the low road," in terms of technology, while the Americans opted for the "high road," Mr. Teets said. The United States used finely tuned, one-of-a-kind spacecraft and rockets that performed very well, but were extremely delicate, he said.

"(The Soviets) took a lower-tech road ... in some ways it was like a brute-force road, with mass-produced spacecraft and rockets that were less sophisticated but were very much more operationally responsive," he said.

Mr. Teets said it is a mistake to assume that one approach is always better than the other.

"Even though we have superiority in many aspects of space capability, we don't have space dominance, and we don't have space supremacy," he said. "The fact is, we need to reach for that goal. It is the ultimate high ground."

Mr. Teets said the United States needs strong and enduring commitments in three areas to meet that goal: developing a professional space cadre, having a strong and well-funded industrial base, and maintaining a position at the leading edge of space technology.

"The first, and unquestionably the most important, is the development and maintenance of a strong professional cadre of military and civilian government personnel," he said.

"If we do that right, I believe the rest will fall into place," he said. "If we do that, we'll have professional acquirers, people who have experience in the development of leading-edge high-tech systems, extremely well-qualified and trained military officers who can operate the systems that give us such an edge in our warfighting capabilities.

"There can be no doubt that we enjoy the benefits today, in major ways, of our national security space systems," Mr. Teets said.

The second area of attention is the space technology industrial base, he said.

"We need a strong and consistently funded industrial base able to produce quality space systems and products," Mr. Teets said. "We can't have a rollercoaster effect where we're asking our industrial partners to build up one year only to crater the next year. We can't have them developing the talented work force necessary for production of high-tech space systems, and ... the following year ask them to lay those same people off.

"It's important for us to have a certain amount of consistency and constancy in our investments in important space systems," he said.

Mr. Teets referred to recent problems with the acquisition system to illustrate his point:

"There was a period of time ... when we let some of the industrial base start to wither. At the same [time]," he said, "people who had been involved in the space system for many years started to take retirement, so it kind of [had] a double whammy effect."

The final piece needed to achieve space dominance, Mr. Teets said, is continued governmental investment in leading-edge space-system research in technology.

"We are at the forefront of space technology. We need to remain there," he said. "I know certain European countries have picked up the challenge and started to invest more heavily in leading-edge technology; certainly China has shown some of the same inclinations. We need to maintain a strong and vital space system research and technology endeavor going forward. That's what will keep us on the leading edge."



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Old 29-09-2004, 21:14   #111
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Tense Moments During Trailblazing Private Space Flight

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 29 September 2004
11:28 am ET

"Now that was fun."
Pilot Mike Melvill

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – In a white-knuckle flight that could nonetheless herald a new era of space tourism, a privately built, three-person rocket ship successfully flew to space and back today.

The craft, SpaceShipOne, made an unscripted series of rolls near the top of its flight. The engine was shut down early. The flight terrified some who watched from the ground and on a live webcast. However, pilot Mike Melvill seemed unfazed.

"That was a really good ride. I feel like I nailed it," Melvill said after he landed. "But right up at the top I got a surprise when it really spun up and did a little victory roll."

The event was the first of two flights scheduled to capture the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

The X Prize money goes to the first privately built vehicle that can haul a pilot and two passengers -- or the equivalent weight -- to the edge of space, then repeat the feat within two weeks, in this case by Oct. 13. SpaceShipOne’s design team, Scaled Composites, based here at the Mojave Spaceport, said before the flight that they were ready to turn the vehicle around for reflight, perhaps making the second run Oct. 4.

Trouble at the top

Under clear desert skies here, SpaceShipOne was under the controls of a single pilot, but it was weighted as if three people were aboard.

Slung underneath the White Knight carrier aircraft, SpaceShipOne and Melvill headed down the runway just after daybreak and lifted off to the cheers of thousands of gathered well-wishers. The joined vehicles made a slow spiraling ascent high above the desert landscape. The White Knight then released SpaceShipOne. After dropping and gliding a few seconds, Melvill ignited the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor.

The target was 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude -- a sky-high goal required by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri in order to vie for the cash prize. The altitude is generally considered to be the threshold of space.

The unofficial altitude reached was 358,000 feet. That's 67.8 miles (109.1 kilometers). An earlier report put the altitude at 330,000 feet.

On the way up, SpaceShipOne went into an unexpected roll, twirling at a pace of several times per minute. Melvill shut down its main engine sooner than expected.

"Uh oh, uh oh"

The spinning did "not appear to be scripted maneuver," according to the official narration of the flight. The craft started spinning a minute after burn started, officials said.

"Uh oh, uh oh, he is in the roll," was how the event was described to viewers when the spinning started.

During its first launch in June, Melvill said the craft rolled 90 degrees to the left, then 90 degrees to the right following motor ignition. "It has never ever done that before," he explained.

It is not yet clear what the problem was, however. Melvill did indeed turn the spaceship into an airplane, as planned, and then glided down.

SpaceShipOne returned later in the morning and landed on the same runway.

"Now that was fun," Melvill said afterward. "I shut the engine down at 11 seconds before it would have shut down automatically. So we would have gone a long way higher than we really did."

Things didn't seem so glorious from below.

"My heart stopped here on the ground," said Erik Lindbergh, grandson of famous flyer Charles Lindbergh. Erik Lindbergh is on the board of the X Prize.

Could have gone higher

Melvill said the control issues were building up, leading him to shut down the engine. "I knew I had done the 100 kilometers with room to spare," he said.

"We were asking him [Melvill] to go-ahead and abort and shut it off where he wouldn't have gone a 100 kilometers," SpaceShipOne's chief designer, Burt Rutan. "He stayed in there just for a handful of seconds more."

Despite the control issues, Rutan said the ship is ready to go for the next X Prize flight.

"We will be analyzing why we got the roll near the end," Rutan said. "Will it delay whether we fly on Monday or not, I don't know that … we have to look at the data."

If there's no needed delay, the ship can easily be turned around for a Sunday or Monday flight, Rutan said.

Space Tourism to come?

Aside from the obvious dangers in spaceflight that today's mission highlighted, the flight promises to boost hopes of putting regular folks in space. Curious onlookers and space tourism promoters were on hand for the historic flight.

The White Knight carrier plane was emblazoned with the logo of Virgin Galactic, which earlier this week announced it would contract for a variant of SpaceShipOne to carry paying tourists into space.

Robert Bigelow, billionaire hotel magnate and space tourism promoter, said this about SpaceShipOne this morning: "I'm impressed with the sheer speed of the vehicle." It goes over Mach 3 (Mach 1 is the speed of sound) and is privately built. "That's an accomplishment in itself besides all the other things it'll do today."

Bigelow this week announced a new prize of $50 million for the first private group that can build an orbiting, passenger-carrying spacecraft.

Wayne Stacy, 36, a coach and sports science professor from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, just came to the Mojave to watch a bit of history.

"I missed class for this, but the students did not seem to mind," Stacy said. He saw first SpaceShipOne spaceflight on television in June. "It was just amazing. I just had to be here to see what is one of the most significant events of our time." Stacy thinks the space tourism industry "is already going. But we need events like this to create awareness outside the space community."

Verification required

Whether or not the vehicle officially reached qualifying altitude will be verified by independent methods, said X Prize Foundation head Peter Diamandis in a pre-flight interview with SPACE.com.

At least three independent methods, two radar tracking systems, and an onboard "gold box" will be used to verify flight conditions and altitude, Diamandis said. There appears little doubt the threshold was exceeded.

"One down and one to go," Diamandis said after today's flight.

More than a dozen teams around the globe are building, testing, and flying hardware to compete for the Ansari X Prize, an offer that expires at year’s end. The X Prize Foundation hopes to jump-start the space tourism industry through competition among entrepreneurs and rocket experts.
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Old 29-09-2004, 21:20   #112
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Mars Express latest findings give hints about water loss in the Martian atmosphere

27 September 2004
Recent results from the ASPERA-3 instrument on board Mars Express confirm that a very efficient process is at work in the Martian atmosphere which could explain the loss of water.

Water is believed to have once been abundant on the Red Planet. Professor Rickard Lundin, leader of the ASPERA-3 team, describes these findings in a paper published in the latest issue of Science.

Mars is bombarded by a flood of charged particles from the Sun, commonly called the ‘solar wind’ and consisting of electrons and alpha particles. The solar wind erodes the atmosphere of Mars, and is believed to have stripped away a large amount of water that was present on the planet about 3800 million years ago.

Geological evidence, as recently confirmed by images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard Mars Express, indicates that water flows and even an ocean in the northern hemisphere shaped the surface of Mars.


Today, water still exists on the Red Planet, but less than in the past. Observations made earlier this year by the OMEGA instrument on Mars Express showed that Mars has vast fields of perennial water ice, stretching out from its south pole.


The ASPERA-3 instrument on board Mars Express aims to answer the question of whether the solar wind interaction with the upper atmosphere of Mars contributes to the depletion of water. It is measuring a process called ‘solar wind scavenging’, or the slow ‘invisible’ escape of volatile gases and liquid compounds which make up the atmosphere and hydrosphere of a planet.

Using plasma spectrometers and a special imager to detect energetic neutral atoms, ASPERA-3 is making global and simultaneous measurements of the solar wind, the inflow of energetic particles, and also the ‘planetary wind’, which is the outflow of particles from the Martian atmosphere and ionosphere.


Aspera 3 has established that the solar wind penetrates through the ionosphere and very deeply into the Martian atmosphere down to an altitude of 270 kilometres. This seems to be the reason for the acceleration processes that cause the loss of atmosphere on Mars.
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Old 29-09-2004, 21:22   #113
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Rover Report Card: Prospect of Mars Life More Likely

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 28 September, 2004
7 a.m. ET

Rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep those Mars rovers rolling. You can almost hear the crack of a Martian whip.

Since January, NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity robots have been wheeling and dealing with the red planet. Last week they had their driving licenses renewed for an additional six months. The science results already have changed how researchers view Mars, and the mission could be far from over.

The rovers steadily worked through a primary three-month mission that ended in April. Then the Mars twosome added another five months of "bonus exploration" during the first extension of their respective duties.

The overall health of the robotic explorers points to more travel, more science and more discovery, mission officials say. All the better to piece together a more solid story about the history and present state of the red planet – and whether or not it has been, or is today, a home for life.

Cold conditions

Spirit at the Gusev Crater site is partway up the west spur of highlands tagged the Columbia Hills, a drive of more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from its landing spot.

On the other side of the planet, at Meridiani Planum, Opportunity is inside the stadium-size Endurance Crater, wheeling itself toward the base of a stack of exposed rock layers labeled Burns Cliff – a location that is a potential exit route on the crater's south side.

If power were the only limiting factor, the solar-energized rovers could chalk up multiple years of service. "But chances are that something else will get us before then," said Mark Adler, Mars Exploration Rover Mission Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Both rovers face ever-colder conditions as winter sets in on Mars. "Anybody that has a machine knows. Things break sooner or later," Adler said. "But life is good…and we’re going to keep driving them as long as they last."

Heat shield inspection

Next on Opportunity’s agenda is to wheel itself up and out of Endurance Crater.

The plan is to steer the robot by a nearby hunk of discarded hardware – a heat shield that protected the rover and airbag landing system as they plunged through the martian atmosphere last January.

"If the heat shield broke, we may be able to see a cross-section of the heat-shield material and observe the char depth to compare that with what we predicted," Adler told SPACE.com. "For science, we expect that the heat shield dug a pretty good trench on impact."

Opportunity could use its Microscopic Imager to inspect in detail the heat shield, Adler said. Once done at that site, the rover is to bolt out across the "big Meridiani parking lot," he added.

Spirit’s mission is being geared to explore rock outcrops in the Columbia Hills – a far different place than months of driving across the plains of Gusev Crater.

"And that’s sort of the bottom line," Adler said. "In my opinion, it’s worthwhile to keep funding the rovers because the discoveries keep coming as long as they can go explore new terrain. I hope our sponsors will agree with that. It’ll be very hard to stop operating these rovers as long as they can continue to roll."

Emerging picture

In looking back on the months of Mars exploration, what is the most striking, surprising new view of Mars obtained by the rovers?

"That's hard to say this early in the game. I think it's going to take a long time for the science community to fully digest our results," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover project.

But Squyres added: "What's emerging to me is a picture of Mars as a planet that's made of basaltic rock, and with groundwater that's dilute sulfuric acid. The acid interacts with the rock, dissolving things out of it, and then can evaporate away and leave interesting sulfate salts behind. When you have a little interaction and a little evaporation, you get the kind of deposits -- like a little bit of magnesium sulfate salt in the soil -- that we see at Gusev. When you have a lot of interaction and a lot of evaporation, you get the kind of sulfate-rich evaporate beds we see at Meridiani."

Taking this into consideration, the life on Mars issue, Squyres said, means grappling with a key notion. "I think that we've got to start considering how easy it might or might not be for life to take hold in this kind of sulfur-rich, low-pH [measure of acidity] environment."

Supporting suspicion

And given the data amassed to date by the twin robots, is the prospect now more likely that Mars was, or is now, an abode for life?

"I think so," Squyres responded. "We've always suspected that there were places on Mars where liquid water has been present at the surface for significant periods of time, but now we have some actual in-situ evidence to support that suspicion," he told SPACE.com.

Squyres underscored the significance of the kinds of mineral deposits that the Opportunity rover has found at Meridiani, including evaporites and concretions – the kinds of materials that can be good at long-term preservation of evidence for life.

"So our results don't just provide evidence that there were habitable environments, they also suggest a possible search strategy for evidence that there might once have been
life," Squyres said.

Martian time scale

Thanks to rover science data relayed so far, the outlook for life on Mars is a resounding yes, but with a caveat, explained Ronald Greeley, a leading planetary scientist at the Department of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University in Tempe. "This is still a long way from saying that the ‘spark’ of life ever took place."

Consider the exploration of Mars by spacecraft, beginning with the NASA Mariner 4 flyby of Mars in 1965. Greeley recounted that every new mission provides increasing information to support the idea of a "wet" Mars.

From polar processes, channels and valley networks, to the recent observations of small young gullies and measurements of water – the water history of the red planet is being revealed in step-by-step fashion.

Now the twin Mars rovers show that the rocks at both sites have been formed and altered by extensive water, Greeley said. "While water is certainly at or near the surface in many areas today, what we do not know is the time scale for the formation and alteration of the rocks seen at the rover sites."

Greeley said that, in his mind, placing constraints on the martian time scale is the biggest need facing Mars researchers now. "The next level of understanding of the features seen on the surface -- and the related environments -- is dependent on this time scale. The only way to get at this issue is to have suites of samples returned to Earth from key places on Mars," he said.

Saga of water

So far, the most striking aspect of Mars rover work is the saga of water on the planet.

Not necessarily ‘floods’ of water, but sufficient amounts to alter the rocks. This is true even at the Gusev site, Greeley added, where the basaltic rocks show several lines of evidence of modification by water. This could be from water in the atmosphere, interactions by ground water – that is to say, subsurface water that percolates through the rocks and soils -- or surface water, he said.

"For the most part, the Mars Exploration Rover results confirm the pre-mission interpretations of remote sensing data for Gusev crater and Sinus Meridiani. This gives confidence that the Mars community can exploit the great wealth of present and future remote sensing data as the exploration program moves forward," Greeley concluded.

Life on Mars, past or present, remains an open question. That’s the view of Joy Crisp, JPL project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover effort,

"We already knew that there was liquid water around in the past, so I'm not sure that the rover mission has really changed the prospects for past life," Crisp noted. "The mission has not changed the prospects for current life. Today, Mars is still the harsh place we thought it was."

Fossils?

Through Mars rover science, research teams have found a specific rock deposit that preserves a record of a past environment that could have been favorable for life.

"And that could have preserved evidence of fossil life, if life was around when the rocks were deposited or later soaked in liquid water," Crisp said.

To the extent that water and life go together -- which they do -- the rovers have enhanced the case that "Mars had the right stuff in the past in terms of liquid water," said Ray Arvidson, Mars Exploration Rover Deputy Principal Investigator from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Certainly, all the ingredients to make the biogeochemical compounds would have been there," Arvidson stated.

"It bodes well for all the right stuff, in terms of a Mars environment and materials for life to get started and to evolve. And whether it happened or not, I think we need to go down and explore with the right tools," Arvidson concluded.
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Old 05-10-2004, 01:48   #114
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Non ci siamo dimenticati qualcosa? SpaceShipOne
ha vinto l'X-prize! Anche il secondo volo è andato...

Quote:


http://www.space.com/missionlaunches...ss_041004.html

SpaceShipOne Wins $10 Million Ansari X Prize in Historic 2nd Trip to Space
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 04 October 2004
10:56 am ET

Updated 12:32 p.m. ET

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – Human flight took a significant step forward today as the privately built SpaceShipOne flew into suborbital space for the second time in five days, securing the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

With pilot Brian Binnie at the controls, SpaceShipOne rocketed to an unofficial height of 368,000 feet, setting a new altitude record for the craft and proving that private industry can build a viable vehicle for sending paying passengers to space.

"This is a milestone for humanity," said John Spencer, president of the Space Tourism Society in Los Angeles.

Shortly after SpaceShipOne became airborne this morning, Spencer told SPACE.com the flight represents "the kickoff of the space tourist industry."

Seconds after being released from the White Knight carrier plane somewhere above 46,000 feet, Binnie ignited SpaceShipOne’s hybrid rocket motor, boosting the craft above the target point of 62 miles (100 kilometers) required by the X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri in order to win the cash prize.

The top altitude was confirmed by radar while SpaceShipOne was gliding back to Earth. The craft touched down like a regular airplane at 11:14 a.m. ET.

On a roll

The Ansari X Prize is a $10 million purse for the first privately built vehicle that can safely haul a pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers to the edge of space -- then repeat the feat within two weeks.

Last week, SpaceShipOne, under the controls of pilot Mike Melvill, coasted above the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude point and successfully completed the first of the back-to-back X Prize flights.

That Sept. 29 flight -- dubbed X1 -- saw SpaceShipOne soar to a reported 337,500 feet. Melvill’s rocket ride was not without incident. The craft rolled nearly 30 times in an unplanned manner as it shot faster than a bullet out of Earth’s atmosphere.

Melvill was able to dampen out the roll, re-enter the atmosphere, and make a controlled glide and landing at the Mojave Spaceport. This flight was deemed by a team of judges as a successful first flight for the Ansari X Prize.

Today's clinching flight went off without any apparent hitches. It reached 69.7 miles (112.2 kilometers), well above the minimum target.

"This was a sweet ride," said noted science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle. "I've been around since they were stuffing people into Mercury capsules. This is great stuff."

SpaceShipOne was under the control of a single pilot in both flights, but it was weighted as if two additional people were aboard.

There is significant additional performance in the craft's hybrid rocket motor, its designers say, enough to propel it on an even higher suborbital trajectory.

"We might have gotten to 370,000 feet if my mother-in-law hadn't spilled about a pound of coffee on me this morning," Binnie said after stepping out of the space plane. "A little accident added to the drama of the day."

The competition

SpaceShipOne's apparent success is not expected dull enthusiasm of other rocketeers building suborbital vehicles, predicted Peter Diamandis, head of the X Prize Foundation, in a pre-flight interview with SPACE.com.

"If the Ansari X Prize is won…I think you’ll see the first Canadian, the first Russian, the first British, the first Romanian…all the X Prize teams outside the United States will continue their work to become the first of their nation to carry out a first private flight into space," Diamandis said. "I think that’s still huge news."

Brian Feeney, who leads a rival X Prize effort called the da Vinci group, wished the SpaceShipOne team well this morning just prior to the flight, and he vowed not to stop his own effort.

"Even if the prize is won today, we will fly," Feeney told SPACE.com. "We're moving our program as fast as we can. We'll announce a launch date in a short period of time."



Brian Binnie

Feeney was wearing a gold-colored outfit to promote GoldenPalace.com, the sponsor of his Canadian team. But Feeney's mission has been a largely volunteer effort, while SpaceShipOne is backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

"Not everyone has a billionaire available to them," Feeney said this morning.

Next step

With today's flight, Binnie became just the second civilian pilot to earn his astronaut wings, along with Melvill. The 51-year-old Binnie is a program business manager and test pilot at Scaled Composites, the firm that built SpaceShipOne.

That firm is led by Burt Rutan. And he has plans.

The company made a deal last week to build a new rocket plane for British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who will market space tourism flights to the public under the name Virgin Galactic.

"What you've seen here is a research and development program to look at new ideas on how manned spacecraft can really be significantly safer … and there will be new ideas out there," Rutan said after today's flight. "We will be developing new ideas also on SpaceShipTwo."
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...rize.html#main
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:20   #115
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SpaceShipOne soars to $10 million X Prize

BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: October 4, 2004; Updated with post-flight quotes

MOJAVE, Calif. - SpaceShipOne, flown by veteran test pilot Brian Binnie, rocketed into space history today, climbing higher than 62 miles for the second time in five days to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for designer Burt Rutan and financial backer Paul Allen.

"It was very exciting, very exciting," Binnie said after the flight, standing in front of SpaceShipOne on the runway at Mojave Airport. "I thank God I live in a country where this is possible."

Carried to an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet by the sleek twin-engine White Knight carrier jet - another innovative Rutan design - SpaceShipOne was released at 1549 GMT (10:49 a.m. EDT) to begin its historic climb to sub-orbital space. Seconds later, Binnie ignited the craft's hybrid rocket motor and the spaceplane shot skyward on a near-vertical trajectory.

During the first X Prize flight last Wednesday, SpaceShipOne began rolling rapidly 50 seconds into powered flight at a velocity of 2.7 times the speed of sound. Pilot Mike Melvill, 63, shut down the craft's engine 11 seconds early in agreement with advice from the ground, reaching an altitude of 337,600 feet, or 63.9 miles, more than enough to meet the X Prize requirement.

He quickly damped out the rolls using the ship's maneuvering jets and completed a picture-perfect return to Earth.

This time around, the rocketplane remained stable throughout its climb out of the discernible atmosphere, coasting to an altitude of roughly 368,000 feet, or 69.7 miles, before falling back toward the Mojave Desert. The previous altitude record for an aircraft was 354,300 feet, or 67 miles, set by X-15 pilot Joe Walker in 1963.

"It's hard to describe," Binnie told reporters. "It's a fantastic experience and it culminates when the motor shuts down and you realize you are no longer encumbered, there is a darkness outside the windows and it is contrasted starkly by this bright pearl that is the greater California area, which is the view from up there. ... It's a fantastic view, it's a fantastic feeling. There's a freedom there and a sense of wonder that, I'll tell you what, you all need to experience."

Just before reaching the high point of the trajectory today, Binnie, 51, rotated, or "feathered," SpaceShipOne's main wing sharply upward in a procedure designed to produce enormous aerodynamic drag on re-entry. The feathered wing, another Rutan innovation, caused the spaceplane to re-enter the atmosphere belly first in a so-called "care free" orientation similar to that of a badminton shuttlecock.

The procedure worked flawlessly last Wednesday, helping damp out what remained of SpaceShipOne's unplanned rolling motion, and it worked flawlessly again today. After enjoying three-and-a-half minutes of weightlessness at the top of his ballistic trajectory, Binnie endured more than 5 "Gs" as SpaceShipOne plunged back into the denser atmosphere.

The 24-minute flight ended with a flawless landing at the Mojave airport at 1613 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT), where Rutan, Microsoft co-founder Allen, Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson and a throng of X Prize officials, sponsors, VIPs, journalists and well wishers waited.

"The last thing I said to Brian before we closed up the door around 6 o'clock this morning was to use the driver, keep your head down and swing smooth," Rutan said after landing. "I'd like to say to Brian right now: Nice drive."

An X Prize trophy and a check for $10 million will be presented to Allen and Rutan during a Nov. 6 ceremony in St. Louis.

Today's flight was a triumphant moment for Allen, who pumped more than $20 million into the project, and for Rutan, whose relentless assault on the high frontier will long stand as a testament to the sort of daring, innovative engineering and sheer determination that marked the early days of American aviation.

As usual, Rutan took the opportunity to make a dig at NASA, which he refers to as "that other space agency."

"Quite frankly, I think the big guys, the Boeings, the Lockheeds, the nay-say people at Houston, they probably ... think we're a bunch of home builders who put a rocket in a Long Easy," he said, referring to one of his recreational aircraft designs. "But if they ... got a look at how this flight was run and how we developed the capabilities of this ship and showed its safety, I think they're looking at each other now and saying, 'We're screwed.'"

Said Allen: "It's very hard for me to express how proud I feel of Burt and his team, the pilot, the guys in mission control and the other people at Scaled who made this happen. It's really an incredible feat of technology.

"I've been involved with technology for a while but this is really amazing," he said. "This is rocket science. This is real first-class, top-line rocket science executed with an incredible degree of precision. This flight couldn't have been any smoother."

If X Prize founder Peter Diamandis is right, Rutan's accomplishment and the efforts of other X Prize participants will spur the same sort of competition and innovation that fueled the development of the commercial airline industry. Except this time around, the goal is outer space.

"We've let the genie out of the bottle," he said in an interview Sunday. "We're at the beginning of an industry here. We're going to have investors coming in, there's a multi-billion-dollar market that's beginning and Wall Street and the venture capital community can see that.

"When capital comes in, there'll not only be one ship flying, there will be a dozen different ships, the price will go down, reliability will go up and we'll begin an industry. It happened in aviation, it happened in the personal computer marketplace, there's no reason in the world why it's not going to happen here in the personal spaceflight market."

The identity of the pilot for today's launch was not revealed until a few hours before the flight. A graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Binnie has more than 4,600 hours of flying time in 59 different aircraft, including the F/A-18, the A-7E, the White Knight and SpaceShipOne. He holds master's degrees in aeronautical engineering and fluid mechanics and is a veteran of 33 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.

Binnie, whose fighter pilot call sign was "B-squared," was at the controls last December when he made the first supersonic flight in SpaceShipOne. Encountering a roll oscillation during landing, one of the craft's landing gear collapsed.

Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into sub-orbital space during a June test flight and he was at the controls last week for the first of the two X Prize launches. Given his experience dealing with the unexpected roll during that flight, Melvill seemed a natural choice to make the second flight today. But as usual, Rutan did not immediately explain his choice of pilots.

To win the Ansari X Prize, SpaceShipOne had to make two flights in two weeks carrying the weight of three passengers to demonstrate a commercially viable turnaround time.

In both cases, only a pilot was on board. The total required weight - 270 kilograms, or 595 pounds - was made up of the pilot, video documentation equipment and personal items selected by the staff at Rutan's company, Scaled Composites, and the X Prize foundation, including Rutan's college slide rule, a teddy bear that will be auctioned off for charity and seedlings.

And, on the first flight, the ashes of Rutan's mother. Otherwise, Rutan said, "we are not flying things that will end up on eBay and be sold or dealt with in any commercial nature at all," Rutan said before the first flight. "There's only a couple of things that are charity related, the rest are things the person who flies it has signed an agreement with us that he will not sell it, that it is for him and his family."

With public transport, in space or otherwise, comes government regulation and in this case, that falls to the Federal Aviation Administration. Rutan has complained in the past about the slow pace and high cost of the regulatory process, which he says disuades investors.

But FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told CBS News she believes the process will, in fact, be streamlined as the industry develops and the technology matures.

"Regulation absolutely will get more efficient," she told CBS News. "For one thing, we learn a lot, we're working closely in partnership with industry and we're getting their feedback. But there's no question about the fact that as you have more launches, you begin to see things that are not a problem and you set those aside.

"And the regulations themselves, in terms of things like the environmental requirements, will be streamlined better, we'll do things simultaneously with other agencies, building on work that's already been done. i think all of this is going to get a lot simpler and smarter. And from the regulator's standpoint, that's what we've got to do."

Blakey is bullish on the future of commercial manned spaceflight, saying the success of SpaceShipOne will make many people realize "you actually could write a check and go pretty soon, that's a big deal."

"Yes, it will only be available to folks with a fair amount of money initially," she said. "But I think competition in this country is going to drive the price and cost down. Things like the X Prize put a lot of momentum behind it because year after year, there are going to be more competitors out there putting people into space."

The Ansari X Prize was funded through Jan. 1 with a so-called "hole-in-one" insurance policy. The premium was financed with private donations and corporate sponsorships. The prize was created to "jump-start the space tourism industry through competition among the most talented entrepreneurs and rocket experts in the world," according to a foundation fact sheet.

Major sponsors include the Ansari family, the Champ Car World Series, 7-Up, M&Ms, First USA and other organizations. Allen's company, Mojave Aerospace Ventures, plans to license the technology developed by Scaled Composites to Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Group.

Virgin Galactic plans to open next year and begin launching commercial rocket flights for private citizens in 2007. Tickets are expected to run around $200,000 initially, although Rutan said last week he expects the price to drop dramatically as more companies enter the commercial spaceflight arena.

"I have a hell of a lot bigger goal than they do," Rutan said today of NASA and the large aerospace companies. "And you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system for Sir Richard Branson that's at least a hyundred times safer than anything that's ever flown man into space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.

"What you see here is a research and dev program to look at new ideas on how manned spacecraft can really be significantly safer. And that was with this new type of hybrid motor, which is significantly safer, and that was with our feathered re-entry, which is a significantly safer way to fly to space. And there'll be new ideas out there.

"We will be developing new ideas also in SpaceShipTwo," he said. "We are going to build on a research program and I believe that coming right out of the bag, the first space tourism business will be considerably safer than the original airliners that started flying people a long time ago. I'm very confident in that now."

Diamandis agreed.

"When I was a kid, the Apollo era was going on and the expectation was that we'd all have a chance to go," Diamandis said. "But of course, that never was the mission of NASA, to take the public into space. it's the mission of private industry. But now that we've jump started this private industry with Scaled Composites and many of the other 26 Ansari X Prize teams, we are going to see industry making it possible for all of us to go into space.

While initial flights will be sub orbital, Diamandis believes commercial manned flights to low-Earth orbit are just around the corner.

"We're going to bridge that gap from sub orbital to orbital flight and I think that's going to happen well within 10 years," he said. "But once we're in orbit, we're two thirds of the way to anywhere. And we'll have private teams building ships to go to the moon and to go to Mars.

"It's in our genes. We are explorers in our hearts. And all we have to do is get the roads to space built and that's what we're doing right here in Mojave, we're building the roads, the personal, private roads to space."

Asked if she might sign up for a commercial space flight someday, Blakey laughed, saying "I'd love to fly on this thing because I love to fly. But I have a feeling it's going to be a while before I'll have the cash to get involved. So will I be in the line? Yes, but I'll be probably pretty far back."
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Old 07-10-2004, 20:15   #116
gor
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metti qualche notizia anche in italiano,non tutti leggono tanto bene l'inglese.
http://www.giornaletecnologico.it/ne...41617a4f04513/ ciao.
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Old 08-10-2004, 17:13   #117
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Old 08-10-2004, 17:30   #118
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Quote:
Originariamente inviato da Maury







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Old 08-10-2004, 17:33   #119
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Ecco in quel caso l'inglese mi va bene
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Old 09-10-2004, 17:02   #120
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Da BBC.co.uk:

Anniversary launch for 'nanosats'

Fifty mini-satellites are to be sent into space to celebrate the launch of the first ever satellite, Sputnik 1.

The "nanosats", each weighing 1kg, will blast into orbit on board an Ariane rocket in 2007, said Arianespace.

Each satellite will represent a nation, and will do small-scale research experiments during two years in orbit.

The former Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 was the size of a basketball and became the first human-made object to leave Earth's atmosphere on 4 October, 1957.

"Just like 50 years ago, when the first man-made Earth satellite was launched, these nanosatellites will signal a new era for scientists worldwide," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chief executive officer for Arianespace.

The company markets launch services for the European Space Agency (Esa).

"Arianespace is very proud to be participating in this commemoration," he added. "Supporting science and research is an integral part of our assigned mission."


Space race

Compared with Sputnik which weighed 83kg, nanosatellites weigh under 10kg and can be sent up in clusters in low-Earth orbit, which is less than 2,000km above the planet's surface.

Increased miniaturisation of electronic and mechanical components has made it possible to construct much smaller and lighter satellites.

These satellites can significantly reduce the cost of access to space for many nations and can be used in groups, or swarms, for Earth observation.

UK satellite company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has developed small satellites, like SNAP-1 which was launched in June 2000.

It weighed 6.5kg and carried micro-miniature GPS navigation, camera technology, onboard computing, propulsion and attitude control technologies.

Commercial telecommunications satellites are costly, commonly as big as buses, and can weigh up to eight tonnes.

At the time of Sputnik 1's historic launch, which was described as "the simplest kind of baby moon", the US and the Soviet Union were in a race to space.

Some voiced concerned about its launch because its orbit would take it over the US seven times.

Others speculated that its launcher rocket could be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon thousands of kilometres.

Sputnik 1 was followed a month later by Sputnik 2, which carried the first living creature, a dog called Laika, into space.

In December 1957, a US rocket carrying a test satellite exploded. The US successfully launched its first satellite, Explorer, in February 1958.

The mission for 2007 was announced at the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) congress in Vancouver, Canada.
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