Commercial Space Programs Expand.

It comes as no surprise that commercial space programs are expanding at an ever increasing pace.  Now the government and NASA are putting unused space program assets to use helping these enterprises along.

NASA will turn over one of its unused space-shuttle launch pads to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) so that they can set up a second site in Florida.

SpaceX current sends routine re-supply missions to the ISS using its Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX won out over protests from rival space company Blue Origin, founded by Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos.

The Government Accountability Office dismissed Blue Origin’s protest.  However, the GAO said NASA could consider renting the launch pad under exclusive or multi-use arrangements for the launch pad.

NASA spends around $100,000 a month to maintain the site, so this agreement will help both NASA and SpaceX.

SpaceX is already launching its Falcon rockets from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral and it has a launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX’s locations are a little different from other commercial space enterprises that are basing their operations out of the New Mexico spaceport.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mother Earth Rising.

The European Space Agency launched the Gaia satellite last week.

Gaia is the personification of Earth in Greek mythology.

But this Gaia, is designed to map the Milky Way in 3D.  Which should look really good on my 3D TV when the movie comes out.

From it vantage point at the L2 Lagrange point, Gaia will measure the motions of the stars in the galaxy orbiting  around the super-massive black hole at the center .

Like the original Star Trek television series, Gaia’s five year mission is to measure light curves and position information over time for all the stars in the galaxy.  This highly accurate information over time will determine distances for each star that will be used to make a more accurate 3D model of the galaxy.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Exomoons?

If you have seen the movie Avatar (if you are reading this blog I will assume that you have), then you know the mythical planet of Pandora seems to be orbiting a large gas giant planet.

Although the orbit doesn’t make a whole lot of scientific sense, the model is sound.  Exomoons, by definition, orbit an exoplanet.  However, just like the movie and perhaps our own Solar system, some of these moons may be capable of sustaining life where their parent planet cannot.

Saturn’s moon Titan is believed to be able to sustain life since we have found oceans of water underneath the frozen surface.

So the prospect of an exomoon harboring life is also plausible.

But how do you find an exomoon orbiting around an exoplanet parsecs away?  Teams of scientists are currently working one methods to detect exomoons using the science developed hunting for exoplanets and data already gathered from Kepler.

So perhaps Pandora does exist, but I wouldn’t hold by breath of finding unobtainium anywhere in the Universe.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Oh, The Places We’ve Been (https://plus.google.com/+KevinGill/posts/bGA7kwn48f5)

I found this amazing graphic (below) that shows where humans have ventured from the planet.

Kevin Gill used his very own creation, the Orbit Viewer WebGL, and data from the NASA/JPL Horizons ephemeris.

First, the program is very impressive itself (props to Kevin) and the graphics are incredible.

If you would like to play with Kevin’s program you can check it out here.  It is really amazing.

You can find the original article here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

China Lands On The Moon

Sunday night, China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander and rover successfully landed on the Moon.

Yutu rover emblazoned with Chinese Flag as seen by the Chang'e 3 lander on the moon on Dec. 15, 2013.  Credit: China Space

China is only the 3rd country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon (India and the E.U. have crashed probes on the Moon, but not landed).

Although the United States is still the only country to have successfully sent people to the Moon and back, China is working hard to repeat that feat.  Ironically, the Chinese spacecraft landed on the same day that America’s Apollo 17 mission left the Moon for their return trip 41 years ago.  It has been that long since anyone on Earth tried to land their again.

So congratulations to the Chinese Space Agency for a job well done.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Can Lady Gaga Save Spaceflight?

A few week ago, I told you that Lady Gaga would be the first entertainer to give a concert, although brief, from orbit.  It turns out that her, and other, Pop music might just save spaceflights in the future.

Researchers from Curtin University in Western Australia have used radio waves generated by local stations to track objects orbiting the Earth.

Using information from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) the team was able to track many objects simultaneously.

Professor Steven Tingay, Director of the MWA at Curtin University and Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) said the MWA will be able to detect the space junk by listening in to the radio signals generated by radio stations.

The ability to track a large amount of space junk simultaneously is important due to the ever shifting orbits and collisions that happen above our heads on a daily basis.  The junk is a hazard to all intact space vehicles.

For instance, the International Space Station (ISS) travels at 4.791 miles/s (7.71 km/s) or 17,100 mph (27,600 km/h).  The craft orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes or so.  Running into anything at that speed is going to be bad.

With all the new commercial space flights just starting to take off, the amount of debris is a navigation hazard, but if it is tracked, the danger can be greatly decreased.

 

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman