You can even buy the recording now on a CD-Single. (Amazon
The song was written by Tena
Clark, mentioned in the Space
Log previously and who as an entry
in the Music section. Her complete rendition
of the song and an article about her and the NASA commissioned
project are available at Alan
Boyle's Cosmic Log at MSNBC - Nov.21.02.
Internet Reaches Orbit
The advantages of a standard communications protocol apply to
telecom in space as well as on earth. The CHIPSat
spacecraft, for example, will provide data via basic FTP when
it goes to space this month - Web-Enabled
Spacecraft: CHIPS Observatory Will FTP Files in from Space - Space.com
See the section Interplanetary
Communications Infrastructure for information on efforts
to extend the web throughout the solar system.
The travel agency Travelers
Advantage and its partner Space
Adventures are sponsoring the Edge
of Space Sweepstakes in which a luck winner will fly on a
MIG 25 to 25km (82,000 ft.).
While not reaching where sub-orbital
vehicles will go, such an height will still provide
quite a thrill. From such an altitude, "your view directly
overhead fades into the darkness of space. Below you, the curvature
of Earth is awesomely apparent, and the horizon is 715 miles (1100
More info on the contest at Final
Countdown Begins for the Travelers Advantage Edge of Space Sweepstakes
- Travelers Advantage PR/ SpaceRef - Dec.18.02
Iridium continues to prove its value to the military, which renewed
its contract - Defense
Department Exercises First Renewal Option of Contract: Extension
Confirms DoD Commitment To Iridium's Global Communication Services
- Iridium PR - Dec.18.02 .
A Thai based project to launch a broadband satellite gets $390
Million in financing - Broadband
Grins In the Land of Smiles - Electronic Business - Dec.17.02,
while another sat to provide broadband to Australia and the Asian-Pacific
region successfully reaches orbit - Broadband
satellite avoids crash and burn - ZDNet - Dec.18.02
Signs of Life in Satcom?
It's been one of the worst years ever for the telecommunications
satellite industry. Almost no new satellites were ordered, several
on order were canceled or postponed, and then even more woe and
misery arrived with the recent rocket failures that destroyed
some the largest and most sophisticated telcom satellites every
But perhaps even in this cold dark Winter we can see some signs
that Spring may someday appear. For example, it was recently announced
that the satellite
broadband company WildBlue
will receive $200 million in investments from a consortium of
investors that includes Intelsat and Liberty Media, which is headed
by the famous cable industry leader John Malone:
Wildblue had been given up for dead after it failed to come up
with money to complete the construction of a satellite on order
from Loral. Now, though, it appears that the project is back on
While the satellite broadband service from DirecWay
and StarBand have not exactly
been booming successes, the WildBlue investors apparently believe
that if it's done with a satellite built specifically for broadband
there is a good chance it will do well. Besides rural areas where
there is no cable or DSL available, it has a fighting chance of
offering competitive prices to those services in suburban areas.
Meanwhile, Boeing will start to offer internet
connections to airline passengers with its Boeing
Connexion service: Airlines
to Offer Internet Access in '03 - Yahoo! News - Dec.15.02.
This will remain a relatively small business for a while but could
grow steadily, especially if the airline industry makes a strong
recovery from its current recession.
Finally, it looks like even the satellite
phone companies may get a break. They will apparently
soon be allowed to use supplementary ground transmitters in city
areas where buildings interfere with the satellite signals: Satellite
Phone Plan Expected To Get OK - Wireless News - Dec.17.02
This will allow them to provide cell phone like quality service
in combination with their worldwide satellite coverage for only
a modest premium price above cell phone rates.
Student Radio Astronomers
GAVRT (Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope) project, high
school students gain access to one of NASA's powerful radio telescope
antennas. The students will "collect real-time data with
sophisticated science equipment through distance learning."
The project is run by the Lewis
Center for Educational Research and is part of the GLOBE
program to involve students in hands-on research.
Read more about the project in the article : Schools'
Radio-Telescope Project Goes International - JPL - Dec.16.02.
More about Robotic
Singing NASA's Tune - check
out the song NASA True (mp3)
as sung by Priscilla Kelly on the NASA
Kids site. (This item comes via NASA
More Space Songs - Colin
Fries, a space historian and avid space music enthusiast,
kindly sent me a list of over 30 songs missing from my own list.
Activity with the amateur
radio stations on the ISS is increasing, especially
now that the number of antennas has increased to four. Read about
the status and plans for the Space Station ham systems in the
report on a recent meeting of the ARISS
(Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) organization
Team Meets at Goddard Space Flight Center - ARRLWeb - Dec.16.02.
Space News Briefs...
Talking Space - Here's the
latest schdule for The
- Dec. 18, 2002: Richard Godwin, space publisher.
- Jan. 1, 2003: Jim McDade, space advocacy, history, the Sputnik
- Jan. 8, 2003: Gene Meyer, Space Island Group.
- Jan. 15, 2003: John Carter McKnight, author of "The Spacefaring
- Jan. 29, 2003: Brook Mantia, space advocacy, women in space.
- Feb. 5: John King, CEO JLS Consulting, specializing in making
space advocacy work.
- April 2, 2003: Yuri's Night with Loretta Hidalgo and Dr. George
The show broadcasts live
in Seattle and on
line every Wednesday at 8-9PST. Past shows are available on
the web site archive.
Everyone Can See from Space
- The private spy satellites start to make an impact on events:
Cameras Cover the Bases - Washington Post - Dec.15.02
Apollo 17 and Going Back to the Moon
- These essays discuss the anniversary of Apollo 17
and the prospects for a return to the Moon: The
legacy of Apollo - BBC - Dec.16.02 * How
the world fell out of love with the moon - Guardian - Dec.16.02
JP Aerospace Busy in Near Space
The view from JP
Aerospace's Away 17 balloon launched
on Oct.17, 2002. The curvature of the earth is clearly visible
as well as Venus in the top right corner.
has carried out a number of projects in the past few months including
a sounding rocket launch and several high altitude balloon flights.
The payloads included Pongsats
with experiments from a several hundred students.
JPA was mentioned here
recently as an example of a private space development
organization with both full time paid employees and volunteers.
According to spokesman John Powell, on October 5, "JPA inaugurated
the new West
Texas Spaceport with a launch of the MicroSat Launcher
rocket. This was the third flight of the ML. For this demonstration
a low altitude was desired. The ML took off on a clean cone of
flame with almost no smoke. It climbed to nearly 17,000 feet where
the GPS system deployed the parachute."
JPA MicroSat Launcher flight at the
West Texas Spaceport on Oct. 5, 2002
Later in October and then in December there were flights of
high altitude balloons and tests of their advance balloon concepts.
The Ascender prototype, see photo below, was made by JP Aerospace
as two mylar cylinders. An Ascender would be used to carry payloads
Test flight of a prototype Ascender
On December 8th the team flew "a monster"
80 feet long and 15 feet in diameter mylar balloon built by JPA
team members. It "included a GPS tracking system, a balloon
separation system and a new ultra light mini beacon" and
it "flew to 91,000 feet with climb rates of over 1400 feet
per minute before landing 59 miles away."
A second balloon that day carried a "High
Rack" payload with various instruments and over 300 PongSats.
"The mission tested a new ultra light tracking system and
a new balloon release mechanism....The vehicle climbed to 94,100
feet and landed 63 miles down range."
The company's new hanger in Fort Stockton, Texas,
has 120 by 300 feet of hanger space and a large workshop area
and office space. They will be conducting most of their flights
now from Fort Stockton.
Space News Briefs...
Quick Trip to the Moon -
The article End
of an Era, Dawn of Another? - Astrobiology Magazine - Dec.11.02
about the 30th anniversary of Apollo 17 includes a cool 21 second
visualization of a simulated trip to the moon starting from a
look down at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. You then
rise quickly above Florida and into orbit. From there the earth
recedes as you look back on your way to the Moon. It ends with
the Moon's horizon providing an "Earthrise" scene.
Startup Gets to Space - When
James Benson started Spacedev
he wanted to obtain funding from NASA to send an explorer probe
to an asteroid to prospect for valuable metals. That project has
yet to leave the ground but in the meantime his company has won
contracts to build other types of spacecraft and space systems.
Spacedev built the Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer
(CHIPS) space craft, known as CHIPSat,
for the Berkeley
Space Science Lab. The satellite will be launched on December
19th from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Boeing Delta 2.
It's great to see a space startup succeeding at getting into
space. They may not yet be mining asteroids but this is a start
on that path.
Satellite Boom Box - Now
you can take satellite radio out of the car and carry it wherever
you want t to go : Delphi
and XM Introduce First Portable Satellite Radio - XM Radio - Dec.10.02.
This follows the recent release of the small SKYFi
Radio unit that can easily be used in the car or house.
Space News Briefs...
Space Soccer - As space
tourism grows and large space installations become
available, recreational activities in zero-G will become a popular
pursuit. For example, in the paper On
the Practical and Sporting Aspects of Football in Zero-Gravity
Oliver Thornton & Patrick Collins look at the possibilities and
practicalities of playing soccer in a 3-D arena in space.
The Space Future web site also offers other articles on space
sports such as Zero-Gravity
Sports Centers by Patrick Collins, Takashi Fukuoka and Tsuyoshi
Nishimura - 1994 and Orbital
Sports Stadium by Patrick Collins1, Takashi Fukuoka2 and Tsuyoshi
Nishimura - 2000.
Delta 4 Looking Back - The
video from the rocketcam attached to the Delta IV that launched
recently has now been posted in the Ecliptic
Enterprise gallery. A video of the launch last August of the
Atlas V, the other EELV, is available at the ILS
website. The Ecliptic gallery also includes the video from
the launch of STS-112 Shuttle Atlantis, which was the first time
a rocketcam was attached to a shuttle.
Space News Briefs...
Awakening to SETI - the famous
doctor, researcher, and author Oliver Sacks has an article about
life in space at Anybody
Out There? Part I - Astrobiology Magazine - Dec.9.02
Awakening Satellites - the
news of Iridium's demise has always been exaggerated. For example,
just announced that it will use Iridium as the satellite component
of its worldwide communication system:
Broadband Unveils Unique New Product Line Based On Low-Earth-Orbit,
Satellite Communications: "Total Global Coverage Creates
Extensive Commercial Aviation, Military, and Homeland Security
Applications" - Eagle PR - Dec.9.02
Communication Constellations section for more about
Measuring Shakes - the GPS
location system is being used to monitor shifts in the ground
in Southern California
to determine whether this can help predict earthquakes - GPS
may provide early earthquake warning - New Scientist - Dec.9.02
The images of earth from space have long been noted for their
mesmerizing beauty. NASA and the USGS recently posted a collection
of some of the most stunning earth shots under the Earth
as Art title: .From
distant eye, Earth becomes art - CNN.com - Dec.6.02
Check out the collections at Earth
As Art Collection - USGS EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, SD
As Art - NASA Landsat. Decorate your monitor screen with your
as Art screensaver . Find lots of other magnificent earth
views in the
Eyes in the Sky section.
IMAX announced that it would begin work with Tom Hanks on a 3D
movie about the experiences of the Apollo astronauts who walked
on and explored the lunar surface: IMAX
and Playtone to Spearhead Groundbreaking New IMAX(R) 3D Project,
Magnificent Desolation - IMAX PR - Dec.6.02
The movie will " allow moviegoers to explore the moon as
if they were traveling alongside these 12 extraordinary voyagers.
The project will detail what these men saw, heard, felt, thought
and did while on the surface of the moon. Magnificent Desolation
will be shot in the giant 15/70 format using 3D IMAX cameras and
will be released exclusively in IMAX theatres."
More about the project at Tom
Hanks to Blast Back into Space - People.com - Dec.6.02 and
Imax to return to space - CNN.com - Dec.6.02
MirCorp, which first got
the Tito space trip rolling and seeks to become the premier space
tourism company, has made a big upgrade to its web site with lots
of fancy graphics and animations (in Flash format). More importantly,
the site now provides lots more info on its various space related
tourist packages. MirCorp's
New Face for Space Goes Live! - MirCorp PR - Dec.6.02
See, for example, the Simulators
available at Star City to Citizen Explorers undergoing training
for space. You can also go for the Zero
Space Entrepreneurs to the Rescue
The largest, most powerful commercial communications satellite
ever built failed to reach geostationary orbit recently when the
upper stage of the Russian Proton launcher failed to fire: Proton
Upper Stage Fails, Leaves Astra 1K in Useless Orbit - Space.com
The failure of the SES Global
Astra 1K comes as a huge blow to the space industry, which is
already struggling with the telecom recession and with insurers
losing money from previous launch failures and satellite malfunctions.
Today comes word, though, that a new company - Orbital
Recovery - is proposing to use its "space
tug" to rescue the satellite:
Recovery Corp. proposes the SLES for ambitious mission to rescue
the stranded ASTRA 1K telecommunications satellite. - Orbital
Recovery - Dec.5.02
The tug is currently in development but the company says it could
be ready for launch within 20 months. They have begun talks with
SES and the insurance companies about the proposal.
The company was founded by long time space entreprenours including
Anderson and Dennis
Wingo (who previously started Skycorp
to assemble satellites on the space station.)
Space Services businesses like this will grow into
a big part of the space industry. Orbital Recovery, for example,
also proposes to extend the usable lifespan for a comsat after
its fuel runs out by using one its tugs to maintain the satellite's
position. The Space Station requires regular deliveries of goods
and re-boosts to higher orbit. Defunct satellites can be de-orbited
to reduce the build up of space debris.
As more and more activity occurs in space, there will be increasing
demand for services of all kinds.
Mars Desert Habitat to Include Observatory
The Mars Society announced -
Mars Society to Build Observatory at MDRS - Mars Society PR -
Dec.4.02 - that it will build a robotic
telescope observatory on the site of its Mars
Desert Reseach Station.
The telescope will serve a number of applications such as investigating
how a Mars explorers could operate scientific systems remotely
from within their habitat. The telescope will also be made available
for operation on line by students and amateur astronomers.
Study for Reusable Suborbital Vehicles - RLV News
Vivid Virtual Mars
Check out the marvelous Mars landscapes & animations by Kees
Veenenbos at his Space4Case
site. He used the elevation data from the Mars
Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA). He creates scenes from around
the planet as a visitor might see them. He offers a screensaver
and other goodies as well.
See the Computer
Modelling section for more sites dedicated to recreating
planets in our solar system as well as other star systems.
Just when rocketeers thought they were making progress in their
fight against the evil ATF Empire, along comes a bill hurried
through Congress that will make life even tougher for those committing
the terrible act of pursuing an exciting and educatioinal hobby.
Consumer rocketry involves very safe fuels that have been used
for decades. Small model
rockets, which typically use a blackpowder based fuel, are
often found in toy stores and have been deemed safe by various
state and federal agencies such as the FTC.
Power Rocketry involves motors rated H and higher (see motor
codes) and use composite fuels, particularly ammonium perchlorate
composite propellant or APCP. A rubber binder is mixed with the
ammonium percholate and renders it non-explosive. Instead, "it
burns in a controlled, predictable, and focused manner" (ref)
as needed for rocket propulsion.
Despite these known physical properties and a history of safe
use, the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) decided
to put ammonium percholate on its list of explosive substances
and since 1994 has sought to regulate its use in high power rocketry.
HPR enthusiasts must now pay for permits, must store rockets in
certified magazines, etc.
In response to this unwarranted and burdensome regulation, the
of Rocketry and the Tripoli
Rocketry Association brought a lawsuit against the ATF.
Lawsuit Announcement, though a legal document, provides a
very readable overview of the issues involved. This past summer
a court rejected the ATF's request that the lawsuit be thrown
out and looked favorably on its pursuit. The Joint
Statement on BATF Litigation - July.4.02 - The NAR President
discusses the courts decision. (See also ATF
Unfortunately, just when things were looking up, the Homeland
Security Law comes along and compounds rocketry's legal problems.
An undebated amendment to the bill subjects any substances listed
as explosive by the ATF to even further restrictions. For example,
previously, moving a composite motor across state lines required
a permit. Now moving it even within a state will require a permit.
Wickman's article at Homeland
Security Law Targets AP Composite Propellant - Amateur Rocketry
Society of American - Dec.02 for a full discussion of the
problem and what might be done about it. See also The
Day the Music Died for HPR: 11/25/02 :: MaxThrust :: News &
Information for model rockets and high-power rocketry.
Participants in technical hobbies are at a great disadvantage
in such fights. Amateur radio, for example, must also constantly
fight against encroachments on its frequency bands. The number
of participants is typically small so they don't provide enough
voters to get the attention of politicians. Few people in the
press have the background or take the time to understand the issues
and report thoughtfully on them.
In the US we constantly hear about the need to raise the level
of interest, education and participation in science and engineering.
Unfortunately, when it comes to supporting those who actually
pursue such technical activities, there is dull silence.
Consider a Christmas donation to the Tripoli
legal fund or NAR
fund. Or buy a EMRR
All Mankind On Line
James Cameron, of Titanic fame, will host an event this weekend
in Hollywood that will honor the Apollo project: Cameron
ignites Apollo tribute - Hollywood Reporter - Dec.3.02
The acclaimed documentary For
All Mankind by Al Reinert will be shown and then
Cameron will lead panel discussion that includes several former
astronauts, Reinert and perhaps a movie star or two.
Recently Reinert edited a special 20 minute version of the film
that you can view on line at Breakpoint
A related project is EarthShipTV,
an on line broadcasting site developed by Cameron and his brother
John, that has the "goal of 'reigniting the interest in continuing
the journey' of space exploration".
a Virtual Astronomer
I've discussed here many times the new robotic
telescopes that allow students and amateur astronomers
to make observations via the web in near real time.
At another level of remote astronomy involves Virtual
Observatories. Many ground and space based observatories,
looking in many different wavelengths, resolutions, and fields
of view produce more data than professional scientists can ever
possibly examine in detail.
To help with the study of this wealth of imagery, the Virtual
Observatories will make this data available on line so that students
and amateurs can look for interesting happenings in the cosmos
See the article Assembling
the Digital Sky: U.S. astronomers are gathering terabytes of data
into a worldwide “virtual observatory” that will be accessible
to scientists and laymen alike -Technology Review - Nov.23.02
Space Camp Progress - Nice
to hear that the Space
Camp is overcoming its financial problems and even
expanding its offerings such as a new ISS simulation that includes
a realistic EVA space environment: Space
Camp aims for the stars - Huntsville Times - Dec.1.02.
- The traffic at HobbySpace broke all records in November.
The site registered nearly 62,000 pageviews and over 39,000 visitors
(two or more pages delivered to the same internet address within
30 minutes count as 1 visitor.) In fact, for the past week, the
pageview rate has been greater than 2300 per day. At this rate
the total number of pageviews since opening the site in January
of 1999 should soon easily surpass one million.