According to a story from Agence France-Presse (AFP), a collaborative space mission planned for later this year may give a new meaning to “Red October.” The governments of Russia and China are planning to launch China’s first Mars probe in October 2011.
Today’s launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is an important development in the future of privately funded space flight. Although the Obama administration has substantially curtailed the manned space flight program proposed by his predecessor, and the future of America’s space program in a "post-shuttle" future sometimes seemed to be in doubt, SpaceX and other private space companies are demonstrating that the "Space Age" is far from over.
From Cape Canaveral last Sunday evening, the Air Force, in conjunction with United Launch Alliance (ULA), launched a “massive, secret spy satellite” according to a CBS report, the 351st Delta launch since the program’s maiden flight in 1960.
According to an old quote often attributed to Mark Twain, everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Most of the time the weather which most immediately captures our interest is that in our immediate surroundings, but it turns out that the Sun’s weather is quite capable of having an immediate impact on human life.
Nearly a year has passed since President Obama’s controversial Augustine Committee’s report recommended a dramatic change in the future of NASA’s manned space flight program. However, it seems that little has changed on Capitol Hill. The recently-adopted NASA budget is approximately the same as previous appropriations—$19 billion for 2011—while dramatically reducing the amount to be spent on commercial space vehicles and accelerating development of a heavy launch vehicle which would be needed for manned flights to the Moon and eventually Mars.
Since the signing of the United Nations charter in 1945 the international institution which has grown since that day has made a point of proving itself invasive, irrelevant, meddlesome, and, when possible, oppressive. However, the UN’s actions fall into another category, on occasion.
President Obama’s proposed changes to NASA’s plans for manned space flight have implications for many aspects of the aerospace industry. Following the recommendations of the Augustine Committee, Obama decided to essentially terminate his predecessor’s plans for resuming manned flights to the Moon, and an eventual mission to Mars. Now his administration’s move toward privatizing space flight is drawing aerospace giant Boeing into the space tourism market.
When the year 2012 is mentioned, one usually assumes the worst. Dave Reneke, an Australian astronomy lecturer and columnist, may have just given reason to vindicate some fears — but not as bad as the movie 2012 would have one suspect.