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Guest : Price too high on space module for hire
(Sep. 22, 2010)

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has received few requests from private corporations wanting to lease space in the research module Kibo on the International Space Station, with the high cost thought to be a major reason for the lack of interest.

Under a pricing system introduced by JAXA in June last year, corporations can pay 5.5 million yen per hour to have astronauts from Japan, the United States or other nations carry out scientific experiments or other activities in Kibo.

JAXA expected to receive commissions for 10 to 30 hours per year, but orders have fallen well short of that, the agency said.

Since JAXA began leasing space in Kibo in September 2008, just four commercial operations have been conducted in the module.
The agency plans to work out measures to expand commercial use of the module, and will consult various companies in the near future.
"Amid a deep recession, 5.5 million yen per hour might've been too expensive," a JAXA official said.
5.5 million yen = 65 000 $ = 49 000 € (approximate numbers)


Guest : Canadian Space Agency Awards Mars Rover Contract to MDA
By Marc Boucher

Posted September 22, 2010 10:10 AM


Artists Concept of Future Robotic Explorer

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) was awarded a $6 million (CAD) contract today by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop a terrestrial prototype of a science rover for Mars exploration. The Mars Exploration Science Rover (MESR) prototype is part of the CSA Exploration Surface Mobility (ESM) program.

The investment is part of the Government of Canada's 2009 Economic Action Plan in which $110 million stimulus funds were allocated to the Canadian Space Agency over three years.

The news comes just days after MDA had announced that it had reached a major milestone in it's $14.5 million (USD) contract for an advanced information solution for NASA's next mission to Mars, the Curiosity Mars Rover.

The semi-autonomous rover prototype will be built and tested by MDA. The rover will be equipped with vision systems and detectors for navigation and will provide the interfaces for hosting a small robotic arm and upcoming sciences and payloads. it will be tested in the field in 2012.

The CSA hopes the project will position Canada as a potential partner in future international space exploration missions as Canada builds upon its expertise in space robotics. The technologies being developed for the rover could also be used for Earth-based applications in areas such as mining, transportation and security industries according to the CSA.


Guest : High-Level Space Leaders and Young Professionals Start Debates on Key Space Issues at the Space Generation Congress 2010
Source: Space Generation Advisory Council

Posted Thursday, September 23, 2010


SGC 2010 Opening Ceremony at Charles University, Prague

Between 23 and 25 September 2010, Prague, Czech Republic will become the headquarters for international space matters. High-level space leaders and young professionals in the sector will come together to debate the latest space topics of interest at the Space Generation Congress (SGC) 2010, the annual conference of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). The discussions will focus on five major themes: Industry, Agency, Climate, Exploration and Outreach.
Confirmed speakers include:

- Barbara Adde: Policy and Strategic Communications (PSC) Manager for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program

- Charles F. Bolden: NASA Administrator

- Ben Corbin: Aerospace Engineering and Planetary Science Masters Student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

- Chris De Cooker: Head of the International Relations Department at the European Space Agency (ESA)

- Berndt P. Feuerbacher: President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF)

- Mike Kearny: Chairman and General Secretary of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS)

- John Logsdon: Professor Emeritus at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs

- Clayton Mowry: President of Arianespace, Inc.

- Zdenek Nemecek: Dean of the Charles University Department of Mathematics and Physics

- Dumitru Prunariu: Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS)

- William Watson: Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation (SSF)

- Ray Williamson: Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation (SWF)

- Jim Zimmerman: President of International Space Services, Inc.
For the biographies of the moderators, rapporteurs, subject matter experts, and speakers of each session please refer to:

The full programme of the conference, which takes place at the Charles University (Malostranske nam. 25, 118 00 Praha 1), is available here (PDF).

For additional information please visit the SGC 2010 website.

Follow us on Twitter during the congress: or by using #SGC2010


Guest : Soyuz Maiden Launch from Kourou to Occur in March, 2011
:: 24.09.2010

Maiden launch of the modified Soyuz-ST LV from French Guiana is slated for March 2011, Roscosmos Deputy Hean Victor Remischevsky stated, quoted by RIA Novosti.
According to him, the launch has been postponed following the request of the payload provider. Hylas spacecraft should have been lofted by the Soyuz in Dec., however the customer now plans to use Ariane-5’s launch services. Next come French Pleiades already covered by Soyuz launch service contract. Pleiades are scheduled for launch in March 2011.
Incoming inspection of the Soyuz launch pad in Kourou by Russian and European officials confirmed its total readiness for launch, Remischevsky noted.
He also said that no human space launch planned from Kourou.

About Russian Soyuz at the Guiana Space Center

The European Space Agency (ESA) set up the program “Soyuz at the Guiana Space Center (CSG)” to bolster collaboration with Russia on launch vehicles. The program is organized as follows:
• ESA is contracting authority and program manager and provides the Soyuz Launch Complex facilities to Arianespace.
• Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) bears overall responsibility for the program on the Russian side, and coordinates the activities of the Russian industry involved in the program (TSENKI, Lavochkin R&D, TSKB Progress)
• French space agency CNES is project prime contractor and system architect for the Soyuz launch system at CSG.
• Arianespace is responsible for the supply of Russian systems to CSG, coordination and support of the Russian activities for the development phase. Arianespace will be the Soyuz-ST launch operator at CSG for the operational phase.

Roscosmos PAO


Guest : Roscosmos to send 2 space tourists to ISS after 2013
by Klaus Schmidt
Sat Sep 25, 2010 7:53 am
via: RIA Novosti

MISSION CONTROL – The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos plans to send Soyuz spacecraft with two space tourists to the International Space station (ISS) after 2013, the head of Roscosmos’ manned flights department, Alexei Krasnov, said.

“Such a proposal is under consideration of Roscosmos’ and the American Space Adventures [company],” Krasnov said adding that a flight is due not earlier than 2013. “There are also detailed offers, which we will study in Washington at a meeting of space agencies’ heads,” he continued.

Two tourists will be joined by a Russian professional space crew commander.

Russia stopped sending tourists to space last year because the International Space Station (ISS) crew has increased from three to six, and all the places on board the spacecraft have been reserved for Russian and foreign astronauts.

Russia’s RSC Energia corporation recently said it had the capacity to build five Soyuz spacecraft per year instead of four, meaning that at least one Soyuz spacecraft could be used for space tourism purposes in the future.

Space tourists started flying to the ISS in 2001.

Copyright 2010 RIA Novosti. All rights reserved.


Guest : Glonass to provide global coverage this year - top official
22:00 27/09/2010

Russia's top space official confirmed on Monday Russia's navigation system Glonass will cover 100% of the Earth's surface by the end of the year.

"This year, I think, we will provide 100% coverage of the globe with the Glonass navigation system," the head of the federal space agency Roscosmos, Anatoly Perminov, said.

"We will have 24 [operational] satellites in orbit and 3-4 spacecraft in the required orbital reserve," he added.

Glonass - the Global Navigation Satellite System - is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

The goal of Glonass project was to have global coverage by 1991. With the collapse of the Russian economy in the 1990s, work on the project was suspended. Beginning in 2001, Russia committed to restoring the Glonass system.

Russia currently has a total of 26 Glonass satellites in orbit, but two of them are not functional. The system requires 18 operational satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of Russia and at least 24 satellites to provide navigation services worldwide.

By mid-October, a total of 23 satellites are expected to be operational.

MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti)


Guest : Australian Scientists to Launch Space Program
:: 28.09.2010

Australian space scientists called on the government to invest more than 100 million dollars ( 96 million U.S. dollars) to help safeguard from the effects of severe space weather and political obstruction, local media reported Monday.
Academy fellow Professor Malcolm Walter told ABC News on Monday that Australia is one of the few western nations that does not have a space program.
He said Australia cannot rely on U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other nations' space programs forever, and the time has come to invest in the "new science frontier".
Members of the Canberra-based Australian Academy of Science and other space researchers have been working on the blueprint for four years.
The plan has a combined cost of 140 million dollars (134 million U.S. dollars) over the next decade, including a mission to the sun, launching Australian satellites and training young scientists and engineers.
Professor Walter said the Sundiver project would measure the temperature of the sun's outer layer and the speed of supersonic winds.
The Decadal Plan for Australian Space Science is being launched at the Australian Space Science Conference in Brisbane on Monday.


Guest : Two Russian Companies Plan to Build First Commercial Space Station
Sep 29th 2010

by Nancy Atkinson

Artist impression of the proposed Commercial Space Station. Credit: Orbital Technologies.

Will there soon be another human destination in low Earth orbit, or is this a redundant pipe dream? Two Russian-based companies hope to build the first-ever commercial space station, named, fittingly, Commercial Space Station (CSS). Orbital Technologies and Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energria) said in a press release that they will work together to build, launch, and operate the station, which they foresee as will being utilized by private citizens, professional crews as well as corporate researchers interested in conducting scientific programs.

“I am pleased to announce our intention to provide the global marketplace a commercially available orbital outpost,” said the CEO of Orbital Technologies, Sergey Kostenko. “Once launched and operational, the CSS will provide a unique destination for commercial, state and private spaceflight exploration missions. The CSS will be a valuable addition to the global base of orbital assets. We look forward to working with corporate entities, state governments and private individuals from around the world.”

The two companies provided no schedule for launches of the modules, or information about their funding or resources, except to advertise they are looking for partnerships.
OrbTechnologies | September 20, 2010

Proposed interior of a CSS module. Credit: Orbital Technologies


Guest : Guest Blog: What Will Satellite Operators Do With Excess Cash?
Thu, 30 September, 2010

Submitted by: Richard Roithner

The global satellite industry is in the midst of one of the largest capital spending binges in its history, building and launching new spacecraft to replace fleets that have been in orbit since the 1990s and earlier. But when the fleet is replaced in a few years, how will global satellite operators continue to spend their healthy cash flows? To be honest, no one is quite sure.

Chief financial officers of four leading satellite operators who spoke during Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week generally confirmed that after the current fleet replacement cycle, capital needs should significantly decrease after 2012/2013, making large free-cash flows available for both investments in new projects, possible acquisitions, debt repayment or even stock repurchase. Mobile satellite operator Inmarsat has already moved in one of these directions with the announcement of its new $1.2 billion Ka-band constellation to provide high-capacity broadband throughout the globe by 2014. Going in a different direction, FSS operator Eutelsat said recently it will, among other initiatives, increase its shareholder dividend, a move that often pushes up a stock price.


Guest : Lunar X teams in $20m race to put robot rover on the moon
Robin McKie, science editor

Saturday 2 October 2010 22.12 BST

Entries for Google's Lunar X prize from (L-R) Team Italia, Odyssey Moon and Jurban. Illustration: Pete Guest for the Observer

Dozens of entrepreneurs and space engineers will gather on the Isle of Man tomorrow to finalise plans for one of the world's most technologically ambitious and financially lucrative competitions: the Lunar X prize.

The $20m (£12.6m) award, which is being backed by Google, will be given to the first company that builds a robot rover craft, lands it safely on the moon, and directs it on a journey of more than 500 metres. The competition organisers hope to galvanise the exploration of the moon by opening it up to private industry. A deadline of 2012 has been set for all attempts to win the full prize.

"Nasa currently puts the cost of landing a robot rover on the moon at more than $1bn," said Julian Ranger, the UK financier who is raising cash for Astrobotic, one of the prize's key competitors. "We believe we can get that cost down to less than $50m, a price tag that will transform lunar exploration and make the moon a target for all sorts of commercial operations."

The little Astrobotic rover – which resembles a traffic cone on wheels – has also been designed to carry people's ashes to the moon as well as a variety of small experiments. In addition, it is intended to land the probe near the 1969 landing site of Apollo 11 in the Sea of Tranquillity.

"Part of our business plan will be to get our rover to move round the site and take a 3D high-definition film of it," said Ranger, a former software developer and self-confessed spaceflight fanatic who raised the initial investment that was needed to set up Astrobotic Technology. "If nothing else, it should prove to the doubters that the Apollo missions really took place."
"It is not the technology that is holding us back," said Ranger. "We could be ready in less than a year. Raising the cash will take longer, however."


Guest : World Space Week 2010 from tomorrow
Posted On: Oct 03, 2010


NEW DELHI (PTI): Astro-enthusiasts are in for a treat as the World Space Week 2010 will commence from Monday, during which a plethora of astronomy-related events will be conducted across India.

The theme of the WSW this year is "The Mysteries of the Cosmos".

Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), an NGO, will be celebrating the WSW with great enthusiasm along with educational institutions and communities across the country.

The week-long carnival includes activities like comet making, hydro-rocketry workshops, astronomy webcasts, a night sky observing trip and face painting for kids.

To commemorate the first Sputnik launch on October 4, 1957, a film on it will also be shown.

World Space Week Association is a nonprofit, international organisation founded in 1981, and a partner of the United Nations in coordination of World Space Week -- the largest public space event on Earth.

WSW was started in 2000 and since then has taken place every year on October 4-10. This year, it will be celebrated in 55 nations across the world.
The association plans to hold several events, including Google Lunar X Prize Summit on the Isle of Man in UK, Festival of Astronomy in Marrakech, Morocco, public lectures about space engineering and astronomy in Helsinki, Finland, inauguration of mobile planetarium and telescope in Kerala's Thrissur, star camp for high school students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, solar and radio observations in Mexico and Rocktober skies, a regional rocket launch in Alabama, USA.


Guest : Galileo ground station takes shape in Pacific
6 October 2010

New Caledonia

The latest far-flung addition to the worldwide network of stations serving Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system has been inaugurated in New Caledonia.

This French-administered group of islands is in the southwest Pacific. The new ground station is located near the capital Nouméa on New Caledonia’s main island of Grand Terre.

Ceremonial ribbon cutting
This ground station – one of the furthest from Europe – is an essential element in the Galileo ground segment, ensuring worldwide coverage of the navigation signal. French telecommunications company TDF is responsible for the site and its equipment.

“We are building up Galileo,” said René Oosterlinck, ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities. “This station is another stone in its construction. Another important part of Europe’s global navigation system is now ready.”
The formal inauguration ceremony occurred on 30 September. To respect local Kanak traditions, the inauguration took place in two parts. To begin with, Kanak authorities formally welcomed ESA and TDF. They then received a present from TDF, as is customary.

This local ceremony was followed by a more European-style inauguration event, with a ribbon cut by Alain Lazare, Mayor of the nearby commune of Boulouparis, Patrick Puy, head of TDF France and Director Oosterlinck.

The Nouméa site is now ready to receive its equipment, an important milestone for the Galileo programme. The first two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites are scheduled for launch in mid-2011 atop a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.


Guest : Roscosmos and NASA to Discuss Space Cooperation during the Meeting in November
:: 08.10.2010

Space Cooperation Working Group will meet in Washington in the framework of the Russian-US President Commission in Nov. 2010, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov told news media a Baikonur.
According to him, the agenda will cover a lot of topics, including additional shuttle mission in summer 2011.

«Not too much money is needed for NASA to conduct this launch… US space agency is a rich organization, compare to Roscosmos, they will find half a billion dollars easily, so the launch will take place in June-July timeframe, I believe”, Perminov said.
Officially, there are only two shuttles to fly to the International Space Station in the program. Last week US Congress approved NASA budget which implies additional shuttle flight.
Once shuttles stop flying, only Russian Soyuzes will support human space mission of the ISS.
Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency explained that the situation with the launch schedule would be clarified in November.
«In November, we will have an update. Currently, our industry maintains launches of 5 Progresses and 4 Soyuzes per year, until 2013. On the whole, this will last till 2015, when US COTS program shall be initiated with commercial cargo and crew transportation services for the ISS. Concerning our prospective cooperation, we are to consider it together with our US colleagues»,- Perminov concluded.

Roscosmos PAO


Guest : Space hotel project to be launched after contract is signed - Energia
08:04 10/10/2010

The implementation of the project to build the first space hotel will only start after a contract between Russian state-owned rocket and space corporation Energia and Moscow-based company Orbital Technologies is signed, the Energia head said.

Orbital Technologies on Wednesday announced sky-high plans to launch an orbiting hotel in space by 2015-2016.

"As of today, the company only has an agreement of intent. When we have a firm contract, there will be the terms and engineering design," Vitaly Lopota said.

The project will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Orbital Tehcnologies' CEO Sergei Kostenko said in late September, adding that Russian and U.S. investors have already been found.

Individuals, professional crews and explorers interested in implementing their own research programs are expected to be the first clients of the commercial tourist hub, Kostenko said then.

So far, several super-rich businesspeople have been the only space tourists, traveling into space with professional cosmonauts, but if the project is implemented the space tourism market is likely to develop rapidly.

MISSION CONTROL (Korolyov, Moscow Region), October 10 (RIA Novosti)


Guest : Manned flyby of Moon considered
11 October 2010 Last updated at 10:50 GMT

By Jonathan Amos


It was on the Apollo 8 mission that the famous "Earthrise" image was acquired

The possibility of using the space station as a launching point to fly a manned mission around the Moon is to be studied by the station partners.

Letters discussing the concept have been exchanged between the Russian, European and US space agencies.

The Moon loop would be reminiscent of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission which snapped the famous "Earthrise" photograph.

The agencies want the station to become more than just a high-flying platform for doing experiments in microgravity.

They would like also to see it become a testbed for the technologies and techniques that will be needed by humans when they push out beyond low-Earth orbit to explore destinations such as asteroids and Mars.

Using the station as the spaceport, or base-camp, from where the astronauts set off on their journey is part of the new philosophy being considered.

"We need the courage of starting a new era," Europe's director of human spaceflight, Simonetta Di Pippo, told BBC News.

"The idea is to ascend to the space station the various elements of the mission, and then try to assemble the spacecraft at the ISS, and go from the orbit of the space station to the Moon.


Guest : Political obstacles for Sea Launch overcome - Energia
19:25 11/10/2010

International consortium Sea Launch plans to resume Zenit-3SL carrier rocket launches from its floating platform in the Pacific Ocean in 2011, the head of the Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia said Monday.

"All political conditions for resuming launches on the Sea Launch program have been met. All commissions in the United States have been passed. A license for 70 launches has been received," Vitaly Lopota said.

"There are enough contracts for satellite launches. The first launch is due at the end of next year," he told journalists.
MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti)


Guest : Lithuania has joined the modern countries club which deals with the development of space technologies
2010 10 07

From now on Lithuanian business and science communities will participate in the new space technologies development process and be entitled to using such technologies in their research activities and release of regular products. Today an Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the European Space Agency (ESA) Concerning Space Cooperation for Peaceful Purposes was signed.

The Agreement will guarantee scientific, technical and organizational assistance from the ESA professionals with no financial obligations. Within the framework of this cooperation Lithuanian scientists and businessmen will get familiar with standardization and certification requirements imposed by ESA on space technologies, products and services; they will also receive advice and have access to other necessary information.

The Agreement was signed by Minister of Economy Dainius Kreivys and ESA Director of Legal Affairs and External Relations Peter Hulsroj.

“Cooperation with and membership in ESA will allow Lithuania to be engaged in the development and application of state-of-the-art technologies; it will guarantee better development of high technologies in Lithuania and increase national competitiveness. Moreover, the ESA membership will ensure return on investment in R&D and technological development,” said Minister of Economy Dainius Kreivys.

Products developed using space technologies have been widely spread in people’s daily life; they include weather forecasts, internet access, TV broadcasting, satellite navigation, etc. The space sector is open to all modern scientific knowledge and may help develop the most advanced technologies in already traditional science and high technology-based sectors in Lithuania which include lasers, biomedicine, biotechnologies, power, new materials, fundamental natural sciences, etc.

Latvia signed the Cooperation Agreement with ESA in 2009; Estonia has already reached a higher stage of cooperation with ESA when a tentative period with ESA commissioning begins.


Guest : Time to find a second Earth, WWF says
October 13, 2010

Beijing, seen here during a sandstorm in March. Carbon pollution and over-use of Earth's natural resources have become so critical that, on current trends, we will need a second planet to meet our needs by 2030, the WWF has said.

Carbon pollution and over-use of Earth's natural resources have become so critical that, on current trends, we will need a second planet to meet our needs by 2030, the WWF said on Wednesday.

In 2007, Earth's 6.8 billion humans were living 50 percent beyond the planet's threshold of sustainability, according to its report, issued ahead of a UN biodiversity conference.

"Even with modest UN projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 humanity will need the capacity of two Earths to absorb CO2 waste and keep up with natural resource consumption," it warned.

If everyone used resources at the same rate per capita as the United States or the United Arab Emirates, four and a half planets would be needed, it said, highlighting the gap in "ecological footprint" between rich and poor.
... : Living Planet Report 2010
We really are all in this together. Sounds like a political slogan, but the reality is we share our planet with thousands of other species, from elephants to algae. And we need them as much as they need us. Our 2010 Living Planet Report should make everyone stop and consider the natural resources the world provides us with – and how we shouldn’t take any of it for granted.


Guest : China has no desire for new space race
Source: Global Times

21:36 October 13 2010]


Ouyang Ziyuan

Editor's Note:

In the 21st century, the eyes of the world are turning to space again. New programs to explore space's resources are being launched in many countries, including China. Is there a new space race? Why are so many countries keen on lunar exploration? What benefits can the quest for space bring? Global Times reporter Yu Jincui (GT) talked to Ouyang Ziyuan (Ouyang), a senior consultant at China's lunar exploration program, on these issues.

GT: Why did China initiate its lunar exploration program? What influence will the program have on China's devel-opment?

Ouyang: Strictly speaking, China is a developing country. Some people argue that rather than explore the moon, we should concentrate on dealing with problems on Earth. It is understandable.

However, from a broader development perspective, we should not only be engaged in lunar exploration, but also step up our pace.

The lunar exploration program covers many high-tech fields. It is very scientifically demanding, which stimulates the technological upgrades and innovations.

Lunar exploration is a threshold for exploring deep space and remote space, and it could provide the basic experience for eventually exploring other planets. There are unimaginable abundant natural resources on the moon, such as rare earths, or uranium and titanium ores. The titanium ore reserve on the moon is the same size as the whole of China.

Although we are not able to exploit these resources due to the extremely high cost and technological limitations, as scientists, we have the responsibility to prove the existence of these resources and inform the people.

The moon has a very huge energy reserve. Japanese scientists recently came up with a design idea that if humanity could build a moon belt for solar power generation and transmitting energy back to the earth, human energy needs could be permanently satisfied.

Since the 1990s, a total of nine lunar probes have been launched into space, two from China (including the newly launched Chang'e-2 satellite), three from the US, one from Europe, two from Japan, and one from India.

The world is witnessing the climax of the second round of lunar exploration. All the countries involved are expecting to discover more comprehensive and concrete knowledge about the moon.

If China doesn't explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can't safeguard our proper rights and interests.

The contribution of the Apollo project of the US is amazing. According to one calculation, the input-output ratio is 1:14. It drove the development of high-tech worldwide and made the US a leader in the high-tech field for almost 20 years.

China's lunar exploration program is nowhere near as big as Apollo project in size, but it could also make great contributions in promoting technological improvements, scientific progress and talents cultivation.

China should not stay in the cradle of the Earth forever. The Chinese people should make contributions to the human development in the field of space exploration.

GT: Is there a new space race?

Ouyang: I am strongly against seeing lunar exploration as a race. The second round of lunar exploration is quite different from the first one conducted by the US and the former Soviet Union, which was a struggle for hegemony in space.

Every competent country will certainly take part in space exploration out of self-development and for technological and scientific progress. These countries are working together to contribute to the sum of human knowledge and development.

Those who highlight China's alleged ambitions for control may have different agendas and motivations.

GT: How is China's space program by international standards?

Ouyang: Different countries have different advantages and disadvantages.

Japan has better equipment and India has the advantage over China in computer software.

In the final round of a marathon, several groups form. We could use this analogy to describe the current situation in the field of lunar exploration. The US and Russia belong to the leading group with the strongest strength.

Although China is the only other country to have performed a space walk, we still lag far behind these two countries. The second group refers to those that have launched lunar probes, such as India, Europe, and Japan. That's where China is.

Of course, there is a third group covering all the countries that are preparing to get involved in the field. Out of the needs for their own national development, more countries are expected to join the team in the future.

GT: The US has suspended its Constellation program at the beginning of 2010, and India is determined to realize manned lunar exploration in 2020. Will these affect China's plan?

Ouyang: I have been paying attention on the space policy of the US. I think the Obama administration generally agree with George W. Bush's space plan, since it is necessary to maintain the US space leadership, control the future energy sources and safeguard the US military strategy.

However, the US suffered great trauma from the financial crisis. Due to the slow economic recovery, the US couldn't afford a huge lunar exploration plan with a total investment of $108 billion. But it is noticeable that although the US suspended the Constellation program, it didn't give up rocket or spaceship research.

I have communicated with other countries' chief scientists for lunar exploration and they all expressed that their country would stick to their original plans. So will China. Although US lunar exploration has slowed down, it will not affect the global lunar exploration process.

India has always taken China as a competitor in this regard. It is determined to realize manned lunar exploration by 2020. We need to understand India. As a large country, it needs lunar exploration to spur technological development and invigorate the national spirit.

GT: Will China land on the moon?

Ouyang: The precondition for manned lunar exploration is that we must assure the safe return of the astronaut to the Earth. Any unnecessary risk is not allowed. Therefore, China is very cautious and moves forward step by step according to our own capability.

There is still not a definite timetable for China's manned lunar exploration. The former director of NASA once said that if China were willing, it would send its astronaut to the moon by 2020. Some domestic scientists have suggested 2025 as a proper time and some have suggested 2030.

We scientists have conducted relevant research on manned lunar exploration, and are trying to realize the national dream of landing on the moon as soon as possible.

GT: What's your attitude on international cooperation on lunar exploration?

Ouyang: China has been sticking to peaceful space exploration and objects to any form of space militarization. China welcomes international coopera-tion and has been constantly seeking international cooperation.

We always hope to learn from others' experiences and purchase advanced equipment from them.


Guest : New international standard for spacecraft docking
18 October 2010

Partners in the International Space Station programme have agreed on a new standard for docking systems, which will be capable also of implementing berthing. The agreement allows a range of compatible, but not necessarily identical, mechanisms for spacecraft docking. A first agreed version of the Interface Definition Document will be released on 25 October.

The International Docking System Standard (IDSS) provides the guidelines for a common interface to link spacecraft together. It builds on the heritage of the Russian developed APAS system (Androgynous Peripheral Attachment System) used for the Space Shuttle for the ‘hard docking’ and the innovative soft-capture features of the new NASA and ESA systems. Other agencies will be free to choose specific features behind the interface.

ESA-developed berthing and docking mechanism

Russian docking mechanism

Space Shuttle's orbital docking system
... : Space Station Partners Release International Docking Standard
Source: NASA HQ
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The International Space Station Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) has approved a docking system standard. The international standard will provide guidelines for a common interface to link future spacecraft ranging from crewed to autonomous vehicles and from low-Earth orbit to deep-space exploration missions. The interface definition document is available at:
... : International Docking Standard

Download International Docking Standard pdf

The International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) has approved for public release an International Docking System Standard (IDSS) which contains the information necessary to describe physical features and design loads of a standard docking interface.


Guest : Building Europe's vision for space exploration
19 October 2010

In-orbit assembly around the Earth will play an important role in the future exploration plans
Credits: ESA / AEOS - Medialab

Europe's vision for launching astronauts and robot explorers out into the Solar System will come into sharper focus on 21 October when the ministers responsible for space activities meet in Brussels to discuss Europe's goals for space exploration. Events can be followed live on the web.

Ministers from the 29 ESA and EU states will rendezvous in Brussels this week for their second International Conference on Space Exploration as the next step towards creating a future European exploration strategy.

The ministers will build on the debate begun a year ago in Prague during the first high-level conference dedicated to the topic.

Core discussion points during the three main sessions include the new technologies needed, access to space and what infrastructure is needed in low Earth orbits.

The ministers will also have insights at the plans, priorities and programmes of the world's other space agencies and discuss about opportunities for cooperation.

Exploration missions heading to Moon and Mars - and beyond
Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab

Events at the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels can be followed live via the web stream at

The conference is co-organised by the Belgian Presidency of the EU, the European Commission, the Chair of the ESA Ministerial Council (Italy) and by ESA.

Proceedings will be opened by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Sabine Laruelle, Minister of Scientific Research, Belgian Presidency of the EU, Giuseppe Pizza, Italian Secretary of State, Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.

As in Prague, Ministers and Heads of Delegations are expected to play an active role. Senior officials from the European Commission, ESA and national space agencies are also invited.

Representatives from the European Parliament, and scientific and trade associations are expected. International participation is encouraged, with representatives from the major space agencies attending.


Guest : TerreStar Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Wed, 20 October, 2010

By Peter B. de Selding


Technicians test and assemble the TerreStar-2 satellite. Credit: Space Systems/Loral photo

PARIS — TerreStar Networks on Oct. 19 became the latest mobile satellite services provider to seek protection from its creditors under U.S bankruptcy law and asked its bankruptcy court to allow EchoStar Corp. to invest $75 million immediately to enable TerreStar to remain operational while its reorganization proceeds.


Guest : Europe To Broaden Access to the Space Station
Thu, 21 October, 2010

By Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — The 27-nation European Union and individual European nations that are not taking part in the international space station will be able to place experiments on the orbital complex for a three-year trial period that ultimately could provide a fresh revenue source for the project, European Space Agency (ESA) officials said Oct. 21.

The new policy, disclosed by ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain during a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, of European ministers to discuss space exploration policy, has been approved by the ESA governments now financing Europe’s space station program and by NASA and the other station partners, Dordain said.


Guest : Mistrust Dilutes Goodwill at Global Space Exploration Conference
Fri, 22 October, 2010

By Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — An Oct. 21 conference of the world’s spacefaring nations to discuss space exploration featured a heavy dose of good feelings but also highlighted the mistrust that will slow the effort: Germany’s suspicions of France, France’s fear of being dominated by the United States, Russia’s distrust of long-term U.S. government policy, the U.S. distaste for new international bureaucracies and many governments’ refusal to start multibillion-dollar investments.

Organized by the European Union, of which Belgium holds the six-month rotating presidency, the “Second International Conference on Space Exploration” in Brussels, Belgium, confirmed the results of the first conference, held in Prague, Czech Republic, a year ago: It is difficult to discuss a space exploration strategy in the absence of one.

The meeting ended with an agreement to meet in Italy in 2011 to pursue discussions, and to consider the creation of a group of experts to guide the effort.

But alongside the statements that space exploration is of necessity a global enterprise calling for global cooperation, individual governments used the conference to raise less-noble issues that lurk beneath the surface.


Guest : An international vision for space exploration
22 October 2010

A shared vision for space exploration came into sharper focus this week when European ministers, space executives and international representatives met to discuss their ambitions for future space exploration.

European Ministers in charge of Space matters, Heads of Space Agencies, representatives from European Member States and international Delegations gathered in Brussels at the 2nd International Conference on Space Exploration on 21 October 2010. Belgian Minister of Scientific Research Sabine Laruelle (centre first row) is flanked by Italian Undersecretary of State Giuseppe Pizza (on her left) and by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain (on her right).
Credits: Emmanuel Bourgois, October 2010

Given its importance, more than 150 people attended the second International Conference on Space Exploration from 32 countries, including eight countries from outside Europe. Most of the major international space agencies were represented. ESA, the European Commission, members of the European Parliament, scientific and trade associations also attended the event in Brussels, 21 October.

From left to right: ESA Astronaut Frank De Winne; Belgian Minister of Scientific Research Sabine Laruelle; H.R.H. Prince Philippe of Belgium; ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Italian Undersecretary of State Giuseppe Pizza on the occasion of the 2nd International Conference on Space Exploration on 21 October held at "Palais d'Egmont" in Brussels.
Credits: Emmanuel Bourgois, October 2010

The Conference unanimously concluded that action is needed now to ensure that Europe has a significant role in future space exploration. It confirmed that space exploration is a driver for innovation, developing new technologies and making scientific discoveries, but also a political and global endeavour.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain addressing the audience at the 2nd International Conference on Space Exploration on 21 October in Brussels.
Credits: Emmanuel Bourgois, October 2010

As a result of the constructive atmosphere, the Conference ended with the unanimous decision that concrete action is needed in four main areas, with specific actions for Europe (see link in right hand side bar).

All delegations agreed to meet next year in Italy for the first meeting of a high-level ‘platform’ to work together on the future of space exploration.

The Conference at Ministerial level was co-organised by the Belgium EU Presidency, the European Commission, the Italian Presidency of the ESA Council and ESA.
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