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Musk Pulls Back on SpaceX Work, Lays off 25 Percent at Tesla as Cash Reserves Shrink


An updates on Elon Musk, who is now trying to balance CEO commitments to both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, his electric car company. Facing a severe credit crunch that has cut off access to capital, Musk fired the previous CEO, laid off 87 Tesla employees, and delayed the launch of a battery-powered Model S sedan.

In an interview with The New York Times, Musk said he would have to cut back his time on SpaceX from about 70 percent to 50 percent so he could take over as Tesla CEO from Ze’ev Drori.

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Korean Astronaut: Next Stop, the Moon


Korean astronaut So Yeon Yi recently spoke with the Space Generation Advisory Council’s Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific, Bee Thakore, about her trip to the International Space Station.

Bee: Would you like to travel to Moon or Mars?

So Yeon Yi: Definitely! I pray that they pick me for Moon. I would love to see both Moon and Mars.

Bee: What do you plan to do now that you have attained your dream of being an astronaut?

So Yeon Yi:
Before becoming an astronaut I was not as aware of the strides that we need to bring in our educational systems and how important it really is to provide the young people – students in schools and colleges with the right tools and above all, inspiration. I am considering furthering research and being very active in inspiring the young generation.

Space Entrepreneurs Promise Point-to-Point Travel, Low-Cost Launches


Spinoffs Expected From Suborbital Vehicle Work
Space News

The development of commercial suborbital space vehicles should lead eventually to businesses such as commercial hypersonic point-to-point air travel and low-cost launches to low Earth orbit, according to spaceship builders, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs who gathered here October 22-23 to take part in the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.

The key to making those businesses profitable will be achieving safe, affordable and reliable access to space, Jeff Greason, president of XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif., said at the conference, which was hosted by the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. The private suborbital flight enterprise “builds up the infrastructure we need to go do the bigger and better things,” he added.

Phoenix Mission Team Wins National Space Club Award


23 October 2008

PASADENA, Calif. — The National Space Club presented NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander mission team with its Astronautics Engineer Award last night in Huntsville, Ala. Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., accepted the award on behalf of the team at the Space Club’s 20th Annual Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner.

The nonprofit National Space Club established the Astronautics Engineer Award in 1991. It is given to scientists and engineers in the United States who have led and made significant contributions in rocketry and astronautics. Past recipients include NASA’s Return to Flight Team and Alan Stern, former associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

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Kaguya Captures Earth Rise in HDTV


Check out this amazing movie of the Earth rising over the Moon shot by the Japanese Kaguya orbiter.

9 October 2008

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) successfully captured a movie of the “Full Earth-Rise” using the onboard High Definition Television (HDTV) of the lunar explorer “KAGUYA” (SELENE) on September 30, 2008 (Japan Standard Time, JST, all the following dates and time are JST.) The KAGUYA is currently flying in a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km.

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PlanetSpace Adds Boeing to COTS Team


Press Release

PlanetSpace announced today it has added the Space Exploration division of The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) to its existing teammates, Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT), on the proposed solution to NASA for the Commercial Resupply Services to the International Space Station.

The PlanetSpace ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) team includes the following major members:

  • PlanetSpace is the overall prime contractor and manages the CRS contract.
  • ATK provides the Athena III launch vehicle and ground processing.
  • Lockheed Martin and Boeing will develop, produce and operate modular Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) that serve as the cargo carriers to the International Space Station.

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Spaceport America Institute Formed


23 October 2008

LAS CRUCES, NM – In recognition of the critical role that expanded personal and commercial access to space will play in the growth of the global economy and society, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), has announced its intent to create a non-profit organization, called the Spaceport America Institute (SAI).

The Spaceport America Institute will be the catalyst for developing a reservoir of educationally valuable content from narratives, videography, digital images, operational data, and online exchanges.  SAI will be a collaboration between Spaceport America and the educational community.  The combined resources, talent and technology will augment education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

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Mystery Investor Funds Massive Russian Space Tourism Vehicle


Russia-InfoCentre has a brief update on Myasishchev Experimental Machine Building Plant’s planned 16-passenger suborbital tourism vehicle.

“Researchers plan to demonstrate ready and tested vehicle in 2011-2012. Russian experimental machine-building plant signed the contract with the Russian investor, who prefers to be anonymous. The contract provides funding for development of M-91 aviation and space system – six months of preliminary engineering and couple of years for all necessary tests.”

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Officials Believe Problem with Soyuz Re-entries Solved


Why this space ride won’t be so rough
Russians resolve electrical problem with Soyuz craft, NASA official says

James Oberg

“Russian space officials say they solved the problem going forward by making modifications in the spacecraft, starting with the one that was launched this month and will remain attached to the space station until next spring. As for the Soyuz due to come back this week, the Russians say the problem was fixed when an explosive bolt was removed during an emergency spacewalk in July.

“Of course, all this assumes that the problem has been correctly identified. And there’s the rub.

“The supposedly faulty bolt assembly has not yet even been returned to Earth for disassembly and inspection. It will be coming home on the current return mission, and could provide the first real evidence that the theory behind the previous failures (and the justification for the workarounds and repairs) is correct.”

NASA’s Phoenix Lander Finishes Scooping Up Soil


This image, taken by the Surface Stereo Imager (SSI) of NASA’s Phoenix Lander, shows Martian soil piled on top of the spacecraft’s deck and some of its instruments.

21 October 2008

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has finished scooping soil samples to deliver to its onboard laboratories, and is now preparing to analyze samples already obtained. Scientists are anxious to analyze the samples as the power Phoenix generates continues to drop. The amount of sunlight is waning on Mars’ northern plains as late-summer turns to fall.

The spacecraft’s robotic arm is digging into the lower portion of the “Upper Cupboard” and “Stone Soup” areas of the Phoenix worksite. Its Surface Stereoscopic Imager is taking photos of this trenching so scientists can better map out the geology of the Red Planet’s ice table.

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