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The Space Log
Space for Everyone - March 2005


11:40 am: News briefs ... Florida students put in the midnight oil to make lunar oxygen: Students compete to produce lunar oxygen-producing tool: Florida Tech group a finalist in NASA contest - Florida Today - Mar.30.05 ...

... Here's a review of the new Apollo 13 DVD: "Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition" review - collectSpace - Mar.29.05 ...

... The Instapundit praises the Centennial Challenges program: Looking Forward to Prize Fights by Glenn Reynolds - TCS - Mar.30.05

11:40 am: SciTech brief ... After my paroxysm of postings about lithium-ion batteries, I should give fair time to fuel cells. If Ballard Power Systems (a top player in fuel cells) succeeds in meeting its 2010 targets for energy density, durablity, and costs as shown on the graphs in their technology "road map", then fuel cells will certainly move very close to real-world practicality and cost-effectiveness. If last year's technology hat trick is a guide, then Ballard has a good shot at meeting its 2010 goals.

There will still be the little problem of producing hydrogen (plus distributing it) but I would, not surprisingly, advocate we follow Glenn Reynold's suggestion and use space power to make it.

2:30 am: News briefs... Interest in Mars has grown tremendously over the past decade with the successes of the various orbiter and rover missions. While the Moon doesn't offer the range of enticements offered by the red planet, Leonard David reports that enthusiasm for returning to the Moon is growing and for a number of good reasons: Earthís Moon: Still A Puzzle - Space.com - Mar.29.05 ...

... Two space advocacy groups - the Mars Society and the Space Frontier Foundation - join forces to fight for the Hubble Telescope: SAVE HUBBLE! Space Leaders Call for Hubble Rescue - Space Frontier Foundation - Mar.28.05 * A new huddle over Hubble - MSNBC - Mar.29.05 ...

... All those aliens in UFOs must come here to see if those crazy stories about humans are true, e.g. there's the one about a boat with satellite navigation and communications powered by solar cells and can cross an ocean but is driven by a single person using oars: Photo: Rowing into history - CNET- Mar.28.05

2:30 am: SciTech brief ... Following up yesterday's news about a big advance in lithium-ion batteries, I tracked down some examples of high performance prototype vehicles powered by the currently available type of li-ion batteries.:

The tzero at AC Propulsion with li-ion batteries:

The Eliica (Electric Lithium-Ion battery Car) from, Japan is a four axle, eight wheel (one motor per wheel) speedster:

The Venturi is a beautiful high performance sports car from France:

With regard to fast charging of a high energy battery, I see that the Tango, which uses conventional lead-acid batteries to go up to 80 miles, offers an on-board charger that can "charge to 80% in under 10 minutes if 400 amp AC service is available at a nearby charging station." So fast high power charging of the new li-ion is not out of the question.


2:50 pm: SciTech news: A Big Battery Boost.... Yet another company has announced a major advance in lithium-ion batteries. Only this time it is a huge Japanese electronics firm, which says that it will begin selling the battery in a year: Toshiba's New Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Recharges in Only One Minute: New battery offers unsurpassed recharge performance and high energy density - Toshiba - Mar.29.05.

Previously, the companies Altair Nanotechnologies and NanoEner Technologies announced similar batteries: Charge a battery in just six minutes - New Scientist - Mar.7.05 * Ener1 Nanotech Unit Prepares to Commercialize Revolutionary Battery Electrodes - Chemie.DE - Feb.16.05.

They all are using nano-technology for the electrode materials to obtain superfast recharge times AND higher energy densities.

With so many companies showing similar technology, it implies that the approach is robust and viable (and that there are going to be a lot of patent lawsuits.)

If the performance numbers hold true in real world use and the price is no worse than that of the current Li-ion batteries, which seems so according to the chart on the Toshiba PR, then this is really big time news. Consumer electronics companies will love them because all sorts of wireless consumer devices are requiring more and more power. Fast recharge would be a whole new feature that battery powered devices have never had.

Such batteries may even bring the pure electric car back into the race with hybrids and hydrogen for the car of the future stakes. EVs seemed to be coming on in the 1990s but long recharge times and short driving distances left them confined to the speciality commuter car niche. I would bet that if these batteries can provide driving distances above 250 mi (400km) for a standard size sedan, then EVs will become real contenders.

Note that according to this battery researcher at MIT (who spoke before the recent announcements), the lithium-Ion battery has far to go before reaching its full potential: Battery Research: Too Little, Too Late? - Computerworld - Jan.10.05

10:25 am: Dial-up Sputnik ... I have not yet found many additional details on the nanosat that was thrown into orbit by the ISS crew during their recent spacewalk - Baby Sputnik Flies the Coop - Wired - Mar.29.05. However, this article - Nanosat Sends First Signal - RIA Novosti - Mar.28.05 - does give the interesting news that communications with the spacecraft are carried out via the Globalstar satellite telephone system.

The article doesn't say what kind of communications protocol is used but it would be cool if it used TCP/IP (i.e. Internet) as was implemented for the SpaceDev CHIPSat.

10:25 am: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Dr. David Schrunk on the topic of quality laws and democracy and its application to space development.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005, 7:00-8:30 pm (Pacific Time) Dr. David Schrunk, author and specialist on quality laws and space development. Dr. Schrunk will be discussing his new book, THE END OF CHAOS: Quality Laws and The Ascendancy of Democracy, an important subject for the space program as indirectly quality programs for laws in the space arena will be designed to facilitate rather than to hinder humankindís advancement into space..

Sunday, March 27, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Dr. Alan Binder, principle investigator for Lunar Prospector returns as a guest to The Space Show.

Recent shows include interviews with space columnist Sam Dinkin and space medicine specialist John Jurist who discusses medical requirements for space tourists.

10:25 am: This week's AMSAT news: Echo Telemetry Data Online * Echo Operating Schedule for April * Spring, Satellites and Spaghetti * FCC Report & Order on 'Smart Radios' * ARISS Status: Successful Contact with Mt. Gambier, Australia School * Upcoming School Contact * ARRL Article on Rains High School Contact * ARISS International Meeting Held * Energia News

10:25 am: Stevie briefs ... The adventures of Stevie Austin continue as shown in this latest update:

"We have updated The Stevie Austin Project Web Site to offer some exciting new photos and info which document the first phase of Stevie's intense Airborne Training Program. Stevie is working very hard to sharpen her Parachuting skills, in preparation for her upcoming Parachute/Skydiving Missions!

With the help of good folks from California to Texas to New Jersey, Stevie has acquired her own fully functional Parachute System, as well as an authentic Air Force Flight Suit, both of which have been put to immediate use during her Airborne Training.

Stevie remains at full Mission Ready Status and she looks forward to getting back in the air ASAP!"


3:15 pm: News briefs ... A posting at Martian Soil provides links to some interesting card model plans that include a MarsDial! from Bill Nye ,The Science Guy, the Mars Explorer Mars Rover Spirit and Opportunity, and a big set at NASA Paper Models. You can find many more free card model plans in the Space Models section here. ...

... Space Explorers, Inc. supplies space related science teaching resources for K-12 education. For example, the Mission: Solar System set of classroom mission simulations include Mars rover and orbiter, lunar orbiter, and asteroid rendezvous. ...

... Collecting Soviet space artifacts is becoming a big business and one that's not always on the up and up: Psst - Wanna Buy a Slightly Used Soviet Space Suit? - Wired - April 2005 issue ...

... Dwayne Day continues his examination of the Beagle 2 mission: A very sick dog indeed: the Beagle 2 failure investigation - The Space Review - Mar.28.05 ...

... The next ISS crew gets training in how to use the facility's ham radio station: Training of the ISS Expedition 11 - Energia - Mar.15.05 * Ham radio training - Energia - Mar.16.05 ...

... On Mir there were a couple of instance of small satellites literally thrown into orbit by cosmonauts during spacewalks. (A couple of these were student built.) Now ISS spacewalkers have also thrown a nanosputnik into orbit: Spacewalking Astronauts Outfit ISS For New Cargo Ship - Space.com - Mar.28.05 ...

... Neal Thompson's biography of Alan Shepard is coming out in paperback: Light This Candle ...

... A participant in a crew at the Mars Desert Research Station says it was a "once-in-a-lifetime experience": Nearest thing to Mars - Morning Sentinel (Maine) - Mar.28.05


1:55 am: News briefs ... The Apollo 13 - Special 10th Anniversary Edition DVD will be released on March 29, 2005. The two disk set includes a number of special features, such as the version edited for the Imax format. Available at Amazon. (Item via a HS reader.) ...

... Reflections on the mission and on the movie by Lovell and Howard in this article: Feature: 'Apollo' program lives on - UPI/WashTimes - Mar.25.05


2:05 pm: News briefs ... This sounds like an intriguing, near-term Solar Sci-fi style book: Novel sets murder on space station in 2010 - SignOnSanDiego.com - Mar.25.05. You can buy it at Reaching Beyond : A Space Thriller by Nora E. Milner, 2005, Authorhouse. ...

... Space spinoffs aren't needed to justify space development but they still are a genuine benefit to the world. See For Space, For Relief - WorldChanging - Mar.22.05 for a report about a water purification system derived from space research and used in emergency relief situations. ...

... Here are some different roads that NASA may take to the Moon: Lunar Roadmap Alternatives & Key Questions - Kent Joosten - NASA JSC - Jan.25,2005. See also Mark Whittington comments on the commercial road to lunar development: A New Way to Explore the Moon - The Washington Dispatch - Mar.24.05...

... Most moon visitors will not want to reach the Moon quite as quickly as this probe did: Kissing moondust: Forty years after crashing into the Moon, live, on national TV, Ranger 9 still offers an exciting ride. -Astronomy - Mar.24.05...

... More about Planetary Radio on XM: Planetary Radio hits the XM Satellite Radio Airwaves - Planetary Society - Mar.24.05...

... Companies created by Howard Hughes made significant contributions to space development and commercialization: The Hughes Beyond "The Aviator" - TCS: Tech Central Station - Mar.25.05


12:05 pm: News briefs ... An Imax film on the Mars rovers will be appearing this year: 'Pumping Iron' Director Spotlights Mars Mission in IMAX Film - Space.com - Mar.23.05 ...

... SETI proponent Seth Shostak discusses cosmic calls by the public: Lost for words in space - Guardian - Mar.24.05 ...

... Clifford McMurray wants to convince young people that space exploration is cool: Space Exploration: What Could be Cooler? By Clifford R. McMurray - adAstra / Space.com - Mar.24.05 ...

... The commercial space industry will be happy to see that there is at least some growth in the number of spacecraft launches: Teal Near-Term Outlook Projects 26% Growth in Spacecraft Launched - Teal Group/PR Newswire - Mar.23.05.


1:15 pm: News briefs ... Here's another article about projects to transmit personal calls to the stars: List in Space: Calling the Cosmos Gets Commercial - Space.com - Mar.23.05. See also the info and links here in the Vicarious Space Travel section...

... Maybe someday we will be able to see earth-like planets directly and look for signs of civilisation, e.g. smog: Extrasolar planets observed: For first time, light is detected from two confirmed planets orbiting stars outside our solar system - Cornell News - Mar.23.05


4:50 pm: News briefs ... You iPodsters out there can now download the latest NASA science news: Science@NASA to go: A new "podcast" puts audio recordings of NASA science news articles into your pocket MP3 player - Science@NASA - Mar.21.05 * science.nasa.gov/podcast.xml ...

.... The Indian lunar project gets ESA as a partner: ESA Council give go-ahead to Europe's cooperation with India in a lunar exploration mission - ESA - Mar.21.05 ...

... At the next party, you better watch what you say about Mars life: Scientist at center of Mars flap speaks out: Controversial story has long-term consequences, Stoker says - MSNBC - Mar.22.05 ...

... The Iridium sats keep going and going: Iridium Satellite Constellation Passes Milestone for Longevity - Iridium - Mar.21.05.

4:50 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, March 22, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Sy Liebergot, author and retired NASA Apollo program key team member.

Sunday, March 27, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Sam Dinkin, a regular columnist at the Space Review, Chief Economist at Optimal Auctions, Founder of SpaceShot, Inc., and on the Advisory Board of the Colony Fund.

4:50 pm: This week's AMSAT news: AMSAT KEPS distribution approved by AFSPC * AFSPC KEPS policy requires email addresses * ANS Editors Wanted * AO-51 operating mode info * ARISS Status: Texas School Contact Successful * ARRL Article on Bentley Contact * St John's School Video * Astronaut Training * ARISS School Selection Committee Meeting Held


7:05 pm: News briefs ... The Moon is not a detour on the way to Mars: En Route to Mars, The Moon: Why colonize the Moon before going to Mars? NASA scientists give their reasons. - Science@NASA - Mar.18.05 ...

... Alan Boyle discusses the price on a cosmic phone broadcast: The high cost of calling E.T. - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Mar.18.05 ...

... Another instance of space technology assisting a developing country: Indian satellites to enable telemedicine in Afghanistan - New Kerala - Mar.19.05 ...

... Michael Griffin has lots of challenges ahead: New NASA chief faces monumental job - CNN.com - Mar.18.05 ...

... Former astronaut John Young enters the space collectibles industry: Astronaut Young signs with Novaspace - collectSPACE - Mar.20.05

7:05 pm: Space software news... A new game from Sims creator Will Wright allows players to develop simulated life all the way from primordial spores to the creation of space empires: Will Wright Presents Spore... and a New Way to Think About Games - GameSpy - Mar.14.05 * Spore PC Preview - 1UP.COM - Mar.11.05. (Via Michael Huang) ...

... Try out the SpaceDev Lunar Lander Simulator, which is supported by the forums at Claimstake.com. ...

... The Claimstake game itself a

"3D dexterity game about asteroid mining in deep space. You are a Beltminer. You have been issued a Prospector mining craft in order to land on asteroids and stake a claim on valuable minerals. These minerals will be used for the good of the space station Terra. Your ultimate goal is to find water...and construct an Ice-water extractor on an asteroid.

At the end of each mission, you will will have to spend a percentage of you credits on repairing the Prospector, buying Mineral Beacons, and re-fueling your craft. Once you collect enough resources...you will be able to build an Ice Water Extractor.

The site has over 500 register users as of Feb.5 ...

... Check out BamBam131.com where David Robinson displays the many spaceships, space stations, and other space related 3D models made with Bryce.

7:05 pm: New space prize ... In 2003 the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust established the $500,000 Heinlein Prize to "be given as frequently as annually to one or more individuals who have achieved practical accomplishments in the field of commercial space activities": Heinlein Prize: Accomplishments in Commercial Space Activities - Press Release - Sept.29.03.

The goal is to encourage "human advancement into space through commercial endeavors" in honor of writer Robert Heinlein, many of whose books depicted a wonderfully exciting future for humanity in space.

Now the trust has announced the Robert A. Heinlein "Flight into the Future Project Contest", which is intended to support students and young researchers in European, African, and Middle Eastern nations who have innovative projects in the field of space exploration: The Heinlein Prize Trust Announces The "Robert A. Heinlein Flight Into The Future Project Contest"- Heinlein Prize: Press Release - Jan.27.05. (Contests for students in other regions will be announced later.)

Entries must be sent by May 14, 2005 and awards will be presented on July 7, 2005, the anniversary of the birth of Robert A. Heinlein. Details of the contest is available in invitation.pdf.


3:35 pm: Sci-Fi writing contest... Write a story according to the following guidelines: "The year is 3037 and, despite the predictions of environmentalists, human beings still thrive on planet Earth. What's it like? Transport us to a day in the life of a character." Deadline April 30th, 2005: SCI-FI Contest - ReadingWriters, Home of The VERB.

3:35 pm: News briefs ... Here's a long (18.35min/281MB) video from a Canadian group about the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station: Mars sur Terre (Mars on Earth) - Le film (in French with English subtitles.). ...

... Richard Clar "is an early pioneer of art-in-space and began work in this field in 1982 with a NASA approved concept for an art-payload for the U.S. Space Shuttle." His Art Technologies(tm) site describes the various space art projects that he has developed. More about him and a conference he helped to organize in this article: Art in Space - TCS: Tech Central Station - Mar.18.05 ...

... David Livingston celebrates four years and over 300 shows at the frontier of alt.space: The Space Show Prepares to Turn Four - ad Astra/Space.com - Mar.18.05 ...

... Keith Cowing points to more great Saturn system pictures like this one: Cassini's Private Eclipse - JPL - Mar.3.05.

11:35 am: News briefs ... Following up the previous report on government restrictions on satellite tracking data (see also the Spaceflight Now article), CelesTrak reports (see the March 17th item at the bottom of the page) NORAD has offered an "Interim CFE Data/Analysis Redistribution Approval Process" that will allow for limited redistribution of tracking data by sites like CelesTrak...

... Space Transport 's plan to develop a suborbital space vehicle is in limbo while the founders try to develop a viable business plan. Meanwhile, the brave test flight pioneer Stevie Austin who survived the first Rubicon launch attempt with her head held high (by a beachcomber) is looking for other adventures:

Greetings from Rubicon ICU,

We have an update for you regarding Astronaut Stevie Austin's Plans for 2005!

Please visit Stevie's Web Site and check the latest news. There have been some changes in her plans this year but there is no change in her burning desire to get into the sky and beyond!

Stevie is prepared for an action packed year of adventure. She is asking for your help for referrals to any and all air/sky/space loving folks who may be willing to take her on various vital "Training Missions" such as Skydiving, Hang Gliding, Ballooning, Flying (in any and all types of aircraft) and most of all, Rocketing into space! These exciting "Training Missions" will each be filmed as part of Stevie's popular Internet Movie Series! We need the help of kind and fun-loving experts in these various fields to make her Missions happen. Please visit the site and get all the details.

Meanwhile, Stevie has returned "home" to Rubicon ICU in Pasadena, CA after a wonderful few months at STC HQ in Forks, Washington. She is staying fit and maintaining Mission Ready Status at all times. She's waiting for her next Mission as we speak. She will remain willing to travel anywhere in the country, at her own expense, to take part in any Training Missions that willing folks can offer her.

Thank you for your interest in Stevie's ongoing story and adventures! It'll be a fun and exciting year for sure!

Best regards,

Dr. James
Rubicon ICU
Pasadena, CA


5:10 pm: Andre Norton has died... The writer Andre Norton (the pseudonym used by Alice Mary Norton) has passed away at the age of 93: Science fiction author Andre Norton dies - Volunteer TV - Mar.17.05. Her bibiliography of science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories is enormous. She continued to write till the end of her life and her final novel, Three Hands for Scorpio, just came out.

Aleta Jackson of XCOR Aerospace says "Her novels such as Sioux Spaceman, The Star Are Ours, Uncharted Stars, and Cat's Eye helped a 13 year-old (me) decide to go into engineering, and especially aerospace. She will be missed."

11:45 am: News briefs ... From the images of Mars returned by the early flyby missions in the 1960s and from the rather static photos taken by the Viking landers in the 1970s, an impression of a dead, boring red world became ingrained in the minds of most people. Beginning, however, with Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor and continuing up to the recent rover missions, a new impression has emerged of a dynamic, fascinating, mysterious place: New Signs of Recent Glaciers, Volcanoes and Flowing Water on Mars - Space.com - Mar.16.05 ...

... There are new discoveries being made in the Saturn system as well: Cassini finds an atmosphere on Saturn's moon Enceladus - Spaceflight Now - Mar.16.05 ...

... One of the first questions for Michael Griffin will concern whether he will reverse the decision not to send a Shuttle repair mission to the Hubble Telescope: The People's Telescope: Wrangling Over Hubble's Fate - Space.com - Mar.16.05.

11:45 am: SciTech briefs ... Despite what you may have heard, we are a long way from the "end of science": 13 things that do not make sense - New Scientist - Mar.19.05 ...

... Altair Nanotechnologies announced recently the development of a new type of electrode for Lithium-Ion batters that will allow for super-fast recharging and discharging: Charge a battery in just six minutes - New Scientist - Mar.7.05. Turns out that another company - NanoEner Technologies - is also using nanotechnology techniques to make a similar type of battery: Ener1 Nanotech Unit Prepares to Commercialize Revolutionary Battery Electrodes: Will produce high discharge rate lithium-ion battery electrodes for hybrid electric vehicles, other uses - Ener1- Feb.14.05.


2:15 pm: News briefs ... Progress continues on the restoration of the Saturn V in Houston: "Funds sought to restore Saturn V" - collectSPACE - Mar.16.05. More on the project and how you can help at Save the Saturn V ...

... Here's an excellent article on space art: In space art, the canvas is infinite - Orlando Sentinel - Mar.13.05 ...

... Students around the world continue to take advantage of the ham radio connection to the ISS: Students' Space Questions via Ham Radio Show Strong Science Slant - ARRLWeb - Mar.15.05

2:15 pm: SciTech brief ... These two sites offer news about developments in alternative fuels, hybrid and electric vehicles, etc.: WorldChanging: Another World Is Here and Green Car Congress.


11:00 pm: News briefs ... Satellite manufactuers will be happy to hear about the new company ProtoStar and its plans to build and operate three comsats to provide direct-to-home TV in asia: Asian satellite TV venture planned - spacetoday.net - Mar.15.05 * ProtoStar Closes on Initial Funding From New Enterprise Associates and SpaceVest. New Direct-to-Home (DTH) Satellite Provider to Support Asia's Expanding Market Demand. - ProtoStar - Mar.14.05 ...

... Wally Schirra, one of the original Mercury astronauts, has a new website (WallySchirra.Com): "Schirra's (Cyber) Space" - collectSPACE - Mar.15.05


1:30 pm: News briefs ... Projects such as the SLOOH service that bring public access via the web to large robotic telescopes will need strong publicity efforts if they are to survive: See stars from your computer: Internet Sites Bring Observatories To Astronomy Fans' Computers - MercuryNews - Mar.14.05 ...

... Amateur astronomers can see extremely faint objects with Dobson type big light-bucket, low cost telescopes: Amateurs join the hunt for elusive Pluto: For 75 years, it tested limits of observation - MSNBC - Mar.11.05 ...

... I hear that the gift shop at the The Museum of Flight in Seattle is selling the To Touch the Stars CD ...

... Encourage space.com to include To Touch the Stars titles in its SpaceBox song selection ...

... Enjoy the cartoon adventures of a flying ant at Klyde Flies in Space! - Klyde Morris

1:30 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Monday, March 14, 2005, 7:30-8:30 pm (Pacific Time ) - Henry Vanderbilt, chief of the Space Access Society, will be on a special edition of The Space Show this evening 7-8:30 pm (Pacific Time). They will discuss the Space Access '05 Conference, which will take place this April 28-30 in Phoenix, and a range of topics dealing with the question of how to lower the cost of access to space.

Sunday, March 20, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Jim McDade, long time space advocate, activists, and publisher of Space ADG newsletter.

Recent interviewees include George Whitesides, head of the National Space Society, and Terry McNeeley and Bruce Behrhorst of nuclearspace.com.

1:30 pm: This week's AMSAT news: AMSAT Volunteer Needed * AO-51 schedule page update * OSCAR 11 Celebrates 21 Years * AMSAT awards issued * ARISS Status

1:30 pm: Dreams of Space ... The Arts Catalyst program in Britain encourages collaborations between the arts and sciences and has sponsored a number of space related projects. A exhibit opening this month in Edinburgh (STILLS Exhibitions) will display photography and video of a microgravity project:

MIR - Dreams of Space

Stills, 23 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh
www.stills.org t +44 (0) 131 622 6200
Exhibition runs 19 March - 5 June

Vadim Fishkin (RU), Stefan Gec (UK), Yuri Leiderman (RU), Otolith Group: Richard Couzins, Kodwo Eshun, Anjalika Sagar (UK), Evgeni Nesterov (RU), Carey Young (UK)

MIR - Dreams of Space presents new photographic, installation and video works by British and Russian artists reflecting the utopian idealism that spurred the start of the space age and the enduring legacy of the Russian quest for Space.

The works were created through the MIR programme, a unique initiative which enables artists to work in conditions beyond the confines of Earth's gravity - in zero gravity and hypergravity - using facilities at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme and one of the former 'closed cities' of the Soviet Union.

50 years after the launch of Sputnik, and at the start of a new millennium, with new aspirations to build the International Space Station and to reach Mars, it is timely that artists are reclaiming these territories, in a contemporary and very direct sense.

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (SLO) , V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NL), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (FR/US), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (ESP) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art (RU).

A programme of MIR documentary & artist films accompanies the exhibition, including work by Andrew Kotting, Ewen Chardronnet, Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer, Morag Wightman and Marcel.li Antunez Roca.


1:25 pm: Red dust devils ... Alan Boyle reports on pictures of Martian whirlwinds, called Dust Devils, taken by the Spirit rover: Dust devil caught on Mars - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Mar.11.05...

... And Leonard David reports that Spirit got a solar panel cleaning free of charge from a passing devil: Spirit Gets A Dust Devil Once-Over - Space.com - Mar.12.05


10:05 pm: News briefs... Here's a nicely written essay on the possibility of Mars life: Reading the Red Planet: Life on Mars looks more likely than ever. Green monsters less so. - Wall Street Journal - Mar.11.05 (via a HS reader.) ...

... Here's a sculpture that really puts things into their proper proportion: UK Solar System set for creation - BBC - Mar.10.05 ...

... A trekker will make it into real space: Space Adventures Welcomes Eugene Roddenberry, Jr. as SPACEFLIGHT CLUB Member Son of science-fiction legend will make father's dream of private spaceflight a reality - Space Adventures - Mar.11.05

10:05 pm: Space radio news... Radio-Free-Mars has occasional live webcasts and also provides a big selection of Space Music songs for downloading. ...

... The The Planetary Society's Planetary Radio Show will now be available on the XM Satellite Radio anywhere in North America. Tune to Channel 133, XM Public Radio every Saturday at 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, 8pm Mountain, and 7pm Pacific.


10:20 pm: News briefs... Small businesses in rural areas might find it cost-effective to use satellite broadband provided by the new company dataBahn Satellite Services ...

... TalkToAliens.com is another effort to make a business from radio transmissions into space: Hello aliens, this is Earth calling - New Scientist - Mar.10.05 ...

... The Oxford English Dictionary takes sci-fi lingo seriously: SF Citations for OED.


10:40 pm: News briefs... I hope that the SLOOH project succeeds in making a business out of public participation in astronomical observations with large telescopes via the web: Slooh Joins Forces With Discovery.com To Introduce Online Exploration of Space: Discovery.com Audience Takes Command From Their Home Computers of High Powered Telescopes Situated in the Canary Islands -SLOOH PR/Yahoo - Mar.8.05. More Robotic Telescope programs are listed in the Astronomy section...

... With more modest tools, Tammy Plotner at Universe Today is guiding a "Messier Marathon", which involves observing all 110 Messier Objects in a single week.

10:25 am: News briefs... The X PRIZE Foundation has a new website of its own and provides lots of great info on the history of the program, new projects like the X PRIZE Cup, and other topics....

... Fraser Cain reports on an innovative spacecraft that will use ion propulsion to rendezvous and orbit two different asteroids: Dawn Will Show How Different Two Asteroids Can Be - Universe Today - Mar.7.05 ...

10:25 am: Rocketry simulation update... Apogee Rockets sent me an announcement regarding their famous RockSim rocketry software:

Apogee Components has updated the RockSim engine database to include every certified rocket motor on the NAR/CAR/TRA combined list of approved motors. This new database is in the RASP.eng format, allowing it to be used in any software program that supports this common engine format.

There are over 363 motors in the new database, compared to approximately 250 in the old data files. The database even includes many new motors that were certified after the NAR/CAR/TRA list was released in mid-2004.

This extensive motor database allows modelers using a simulation program (like RockSim) to pre-test their rockets with even more motor choices than before. Knowing how rockets will perform prior to launching them increases their safety and reliability. Because it reduces the chances of an expensive mishap, performing a preflight simulation saves modelers money.

The free data file can be downloaded from the Apogee Components web site at: Loading New Motor Files into RockSim

10:25 am: SciTech news brief ... Photovoltaics on tape and thin foil substrates, such as that from DayStar Technologies, appear to offer substantial improvements in cost and power to weight ratios: DayStar Technologies Unveils LightFoil Photovoltaic Product for Military and Homeland Security Applications: Specifically Designed for High Altitude Airships, Winged Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Orbital Applications for Next Generation Satellite Craft - DayStar - Mar.3.05

10:25 am: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday,March 8, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - the show features Ed Buckbee, co-author of "The Real Space Cowboys" and the first director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center as selected by Von Braun.

Sunday,March 13, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Terry McNeeley and Bruce Behrhorst from www.nuclearspace.com will be the guests.

See also the recent interview at NuclearSpace.com with Tim Frazier, DOE director for radioisotope power systems: Safety Considerations In Space Nuclear Operations - NuclearSpace.com - Mar.05

10:25 am: This week's AMSAT news: Call for papers - 2005 AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual Meeting * Keplerian Data Update * AMSAT Hamfest Activities for 12-13 March 2005 * Emory, TX ARISS Contact - 08 March 2005 * AMSAT awards issued * Cubesat mission status page * ARISS Status - 25 Feb 2005

10:25 am: Third space song contest is announced by the Mars Society:

Third International Space Pioneer Song Contest to be Held.
March 7, 2005

The Mars Society is proud to announce that it will hold its Third Rouget de Lisle Award contest for songs celebrating the cause of the human exploration and settlement of space.

We are asking for a tape or CD of songs, to be submitted together with a hardcopy of the lyrics by no later than April 30, 2005 to Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills, CO 80454. Songs can be any style; classical, folk, country, pop, jazz, rock and roll, etc. A committee of judges will then down select to ten finalists, who will be invited to play at the 8th International Mars Society Convention, University of Colorado, Boulder, August 11, 14, 2005. The audience will then vote for the winning songs. All finalists, however, will submitted to Prometheus Records for consideration for its next CD, and will also be forwarded to NASA for possible use as wakeup songs for crews of the International Space Station, the Mars Rovers, and the Cassini spacecraft which is now orbiting Saturn!

The winner of our first contest "The Pioneers of Mars" was recently used as wakeup music for the Mars rover Opportunity. Written by partners in life and song Karen Linsley and Lloyd Landa, "The Pioneers of Mars" was honored with the Mars Society's first Rouget de Lisle award in 2000.

Co-author Landa died unexpected of a heart attack days before the song's debut at the Mars Society's August 2000 Toronto conference, after which Karen exclaimed in tears, "Get to Mars. And when the notes of this song are heard on Martian soil, he will live again."

The Second Rouget de Lisle was held in 2004, with the winners awarded at the 7th International Mars Society Convention in Chicago. The winners of that contest were:

Gold Medal Category;
1st place; "Thank God Dreams Survive," by Bill, Tina, and Casey Swindell
2nd place; "On to Mars," by Robert McNally

Silver Medal Category
3rd Place; "Lullaby for Mars," by S. Miria Jo
4th Place; "When Mice Become Men," by Janetta Deavers

Bronze Medal Category
5th Place; "Make this World Come Alive," written by Leslie Fish, sung by Beatriz Serrato
6th Place; "First Footprint," by Robert McNally.

Songs from the first and second Rouget de Lisle contest have been posted and are available for downloading at the "Mars Songs" link at www.marssociety.org.

So tune up your harps, space bards, turn in your songs and prepare to turn out for Boulder. Let your voices ring out into the solar system. Mars needs music, and the Boulder conference is going to be the Woodstock of Mars!

For further information about the Mars Society, visit our website at www.marssociety.org.


12:00 pm: News briefs... Fourteen Cubesats from ten different universities and a private company will be launched in April on a Russian DNEPR vehicle. The launch is being coordinated by California Polytechnic State University. Here is an article on one of the university projects: CubeSat could put KU in orbit - LJWorld.com - Mar.5.05 ...

... I'm starting to think that lunar solar power might not be such a crazy idea after all, especially if the VSE program succeeds in establishing a base on the Moon: Criswell on Lunar Solar Power - SciScoop - Mar.4.05. Note that a prototype solar cell derived only from materials available on the Moon was recently built by a university group:Lunar colony to run on moon dust and robots - New Scientist - Jan.23.05 ...

... And for Moon base construction, we can use a concrete derived from only sulfur and lunar soil (no water required): Materials to build concrete structures exist in abundance on the lunar surface - UAH - Feb.14.05 ...

... Here's another article about the Deep Space Communications Network and its efforts to make a business out of transmitting personal messages, images, etc into the cosmos: Send your photos, videos spacebound - Florida Today - Mar.6.05 See also the Craigslist "ad into space" program and Alan Boyle's earlier report at Space signals for sale - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.23.05) ...

... Jeff Foust reports on the internal events at NASA that led up to the decision to cancel the repair mission: Hubble slips away - The Space Review - Mar.7.05. Robert Zimmerman's recent article argues that the decision was not supported at the time by hard data and analysis: Space Watch: Backing a bad Hubble decision - UPI - Mar.3.05


2:20 pm: News briefs... PlanetQuest is a "nonprofit organization dedicated cutting edge research in planet detection and citizen science". It is developing a distributed software system similar to that used by SETI@Home but for analysing telescope data in the search for planets around other stars: Planets Lurk on Your Desktop - Wired News - Mar.2.05 ...

... Alan Boyle reports on space related audio programs available on the web: Download the sound of science - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Mar.2.05. As an example, he mentions Slacker Astronomy, which describes itself as "a weekly, five minute podcast covering recent news item in astronomy." While I don't use an iPod, I di prefer downloading prgrams like the SpaceShow and listing to them at my convenience, such as when I'm jogging, rather than listening directly online via a stream. I list a number of space programs in my SpaceCast section.

2:20 pm: SciTech: Sonofusion gets louder ... Amazingly hot temperatures have been measured in the bubbles produced in sonoluminescence experiments: Bubbles Get Hotter than the Sun - LiveScience - Mar.3.05 * Temperature inside collapsing bubble four times that of sun - PhysOrg - Mar.2.05.

This is quite interesting because not long after the first report of sonofusion by a group led by Rusi Taleyarkhan came out in 2003, a theoretical paper in Nature by Didenko and Suslick at the University of Illinois claimed to prove that sonoluminescence bubbles could not possible reach temperatures high enough to produce fusion reactions. Now measurements by the same Suslick prove that in fact the bubble temperatures reach much higher temperatures that he said were possible.

In 2004, Taleyarkhan (who has since moved from Oak Ridge National Lab to Purdue University) and his collaborators published a second refereed paper in Physics Review E that reproduced the earlier positive results with an apparatus improved to overcome shortcomings in the original experiment.

Recently, an attempt supported by the BBS to reproduce the Purdue experiment was unsuccessful. Taleyarkhan claims this was due to problems in the other team's setup.

Note that Jeffrey Clymer maintains a timeline and bibliography page on sonofusion developments.


5:20 pm: British rocket history will be the subject of the The BROHP Charterhouse Conference 2005, 31st March to 2nd April, 2005. The BROHP (British Rocketry and Oral History Project) meeting is supported by the British National Space Centre, British Interplanetary Society, UKSEDS, and other groups.

I've heard that technical literature and information that's been inaccessible for decades because of the British Official Secrets Act is gradually being released about the very active rocketry programs of the 1950s and 60s. A number of British rocket engine designers from that period attend the conference.

For lots of information on British rocketry, see Nicholas Hill's www.spaceuk.org website.

(This item via a HS reader.)

4:15 pm: Satellite tracking mess... Bill Harwood gives an excellent report on the situation involving the US government's new restrictions on access and distribution of spacecraft tracking data: Satellite watchers worried about Air Force restrictions - Spaceflight Now - Mar.2.05. As many of the commentators point out, these restrictions will only hamper those trying their best to obey the rules. (See my earlier item on this topic.)

4:15 pm: News briefs ... More about Craigslist offering to send messages to space via the Deep Space Communications Network : Craigslist Beamed to Extraterrestrials - TechNewsWorld - Mar.1.05 (via Ken Schweitzer) ...

... ESA is sponsoring a workshop program in which students will " to find novel and innovative ways of sustaining human life in space: Aurora Exploration Programme - First Habitat Design Workshop: Call for applicants - ESA - Mar.1.05 ...

... Sounds like a fun light and shadow show in Pasadena this Friday: JPL Artist Sheds Light on Pasadena Event - JPL/NASA - Mar.1.05


2:45 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, March 1, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Dr. Pascal Lee returns to The Space Show.

Sunday, March 6, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features George Whitesides, Executive Director of NSS.

2:45 pm: This week's AMSAT news: AO-51 Schedule Update * AMSAT upgrading member database * AMSAT-UK Colloquium Call for Papers * AMSAT awards issued * ARISS Status: 1. Maine Contact Successful 2. ARRL Article on Illinois Contact 3. SuitSat Meeting Held 4. NASA Explorer Schools Applications Reviewed

11:45 am: Around the world in 80 hours... The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer is off on its one man nonstop journey around the world. Follow its progress via this tracking page and the mission log.

11:05 am: Sat observing contest ... The ESA Rosetta spacecraft is aiming to rendezvous with, orbit, and land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. To build up the speed to catch the comet by 2014, the spacecraft will carry out a series of flybys of the Earth and Mars. A flyby that will come within 1900km of earth will take place this Friday, March 4th.

To raise awareness of the event, ESA is sponsoring a contest for the best photo of the spacecraft taken by amateurs: Amateur watchers invited to 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest - ESA - Feb.28.05. The winner will get two tickets "to attend the exclusive Venus Express launch event at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany, in mid-2005 (date to be announced)".

See the Sat Watching section for links to examples of photography of spacecraft taken from the ground by enthusiasts.

11:45 am: Drawn to the sky ... The ancient practice of astronomical sketching has not lost out completely to CCD imaging. Putting to paper ones observations of the sky can greatly enhance the experience. Craig D. Wandke eloquently expresses his joy at observing and recording his visual studies of the Moon in this article: At night, I'm drawn to the moon - csmonitor.com - Feb.23.05.

11:45 am: Space biz news ... Iridium may have lost billions of dollars its original investors, but as a small, private company it is gradually developing several niche markets that might actually allow it to survive for a long time: Iridium Announces 2004 Revenue and Subscriber Growth - Iridium - Feb.23.05 ...

... XM Satellite Radio's stock got a big boost when it announced yesterday that it would raise its subscription fees to $12.95 per month, matching that of Sirius. The company also received a boost when its new satellite was successfully launched: Zenit launches XM satellite - spacetoday.net - Mar.1.05.

11:45 am: News briefs ... Dwayne Day reviews the Beagle 2 failure review fiasco: A different kind of openness - The Space Review - Feb.28.05 ...

... James Oberg reviews an America-Russia disagreement over what is pushing the ISS around: Action-reaction in space: the "gyrodine war" heats up - The Space Review - Feb.28.05...

... Alan Boyle reports on who won the bid to transmit messages to outer space: Personal ads for aliens - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.28.05 ...

... I recently heard from Fred Bortz, who writes science books for young people. His site also includes an archive of his reviews of space and science books, many of which have been published in major newspapers and magazines. ...

... Checkout the rocketry newsletter at ModelRockets.us....

... The Explorersweb - the pioneers checkpoint is "run by a community of some of the world's most experienced explorers... [it aims] to open up the most extreme parts of the world and beyond to all go-wishers.... The site publishes independent, noncommercial guides and news on mountaineering, ocean sailing, polar expeditions, space travel, edge technology, adventure statistics and hands-on science. " The PYTHOM - Space Expeditions section focus on space adventures....

... Big government space programs always like to talk about the great things they will accomplish 20 years from now. Unfortunately, the date always remains 20 years from now. The Japanese space agency follows the pattern: Report: Japan Eyes Manned Base on Moon - NY Times/AP - Feb.28.05

11:45 am: SciTech: Aviation news ... Here are some status reports on several of my favorite aviation-related projects:

Continue to February 2005 articles in archive

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