|Guy Laliberté at work|
- Unlike most of the rest of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), astronaut Chris Hadfield is at least on twitter (under the name Cmdr_Hadfield) and now he's also using social media tools to find a Canadian artist to design the poster for his upcoming mission to the International Space Station (ISS), according to the January 23rd, 2011 CTV Toronto article "Astronaut wants Canadians to help design NASA poster." The article cites the poster for Expedition 21 (showing the crew in Star Trek uniforms) and the poster for Expedition 26 (a re-creation of the Beatles' famous "Abbey Road" album cover) as potential inspirations for the newest poster. My personal favorite astronaut images are the original and effortless juxtapositions of personality, space mission and day job that Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberté created simply by wearing a red clown nose during his ISS trip in 2009.
|For rent. The Kennedy Space Center.|
- Meanwhile, back in the bankrupt American space bureaucracy, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) could soon be hanging "for rent" signs on Kennedy Space Center launch pads, firing rooms, the Vehicle Assembly Building and other facilities now supporting shuttle missions, according to the January 25th, 2011 article "For rent: Kennedy Space Center facilities, launch pads." However, nothing is set in stone yet since the "center has (only) requested space industry input on how those facilities could best be used to support government and commercial launches after the shuttle program's final flight." Thank goodness for the new commercial space providers and their expertise at telling the government what to do which is undoubtedly based on hard won expertise developed by actually doing stuff.
- But academia, at least Canadian academia, does seem to also have a sense of what needs to be done. For example, the University of Alberta has just signed a 10-year program with the University of Oslo to send forty students yearly for training at the Andoya Rock Range in Norway under the Canadian Norwegian Student Exchange and Sounding Rocket (CaNoRock) program, according to the January 31st, 2011 Edmonton Journal article "Uof A, Norway partner in outer space project." The article quotes Professor Ian Mann, research chair in space physics at the University of Alberta as stating that the exchange students will be launching rockets to an altitude of 10 kilometres, measuring the earth’s gravitational pull and performing other tasks similar to those done when launching a commercial satellite. Mann claims the program will prepare students for lucrative careers in space technology.
|CaNoRock III launches from Andoya.|
|ESA ATV cutaway.|
- Meanwhile, back in that lucrative commercial world, "Singapore could become launch pad to space" according to the January 31st, 2011 article in the Singapore Straits Times. The article quotes sources in the aerospace firm European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), as stating that the firm is preparing "to launch the world's first commercial space flight this year." Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until Monday, February 7th for the full story from the Strait Times (which printed only a teaser) although it is expected to be related to the planned launch of the latest European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to resupply the ISS on February 15th. EADS, which acts as prime contractor for the ATV, has made no secret of its plans for further development of the ATV into both a cargo return and human launch versions. It is also likely that the article will focus on the further development of an EADS suborbital space plane using Singapore subcontractors as described in the January 27th, 2011 Aviation Week article titled "EADS Astrium to Develop Spaceplane."
|Artists impression of the Clyde Space 3U cubesat.|
- Glasgow based Clyde Space, a leading provider of miniature spacecraft (and the direct competitor of Canadian based companies such as Com Dev International and Microsat Systems Canada Inc.), has just secured a funding package worth £1m, according to the January 31st, 2011 Rocketeers UK article "Clyde Space secures £1M funding." According to the article, the investment package was led by private equity firm Nevis Capital and includes funding from Coralinn LLP, Scottish Enterprise, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Technology Strategy Board and the Regional Selective Assistance program.
- And finally, the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and Bigelow Aerospace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) according to the January 31st, 2011 press release "EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace sign agreement to create next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme." The agreement will focus on joint efforts "to establish a next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme" for Dubai and the UAE, plus work to create a world-class microgravity research capability.