Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Space News

It has been a while since I posted on Space related topics (for a run down on the stance of this blog on Space issues see here), but this week there are a number of stories worth reporting.

Spaceguard UK, the organisation working for action on near earth object threats have two interesting news pieces this week -
Firstly they report a grilling for NASA at the US House of Representatives over funding on addressing the threats from near earth object impacts. Secondly they report on an Italian team's assertion that a lake near the epicentre of the 1908 Tunguska Impact Explosion site in Siberia covers impact evidence from the event.

Also this week, it was reported that the British government had upgraded its' military satellite communications system with a launch of a new satellite from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. Another satellite was launched in March. The new system will allegedly assist the remote controlled "Predator" drones as well as handling coded communications for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This particular project of the military industrial complex has a price tag of £3.6 billion. It has been financed through a private company with City money, says the Morning Star. It is the UK's biggest, most expensive space venture to date - a pity, but no surprise, it had to be for warlike purposes. The platform is sinisterly or wittily (depending on your perspective) titled Skynet 5B - Skynet was the computer-based military network home of the evil anti-human artificial intelligence in the Terminator films. However, it has been the name for the British secure military communication
system since 1969 - so perhaps the joke was the other way round!
Brits are notoriously the villains of choice in Hollywood...still, it keeps British actors in work!

Meanwhile, in a historic event, China's first lunar module began orbiting the moon last week. Chinese officials have denied that they are in a "space race" with Japan, who have recently launched a similar module. India is said to be planning a mission for April next year. Meanwhile the Chinese have announced that they are looking at private funding for their space programme -
From Dragon Space -

China will accept private investment to help put a man and a rover on the moon, seeking outside funding for its expanding space ambitions, state media said Thursday. The funding opportunities will be open to "competent institutions and enterprises," the Shanghai Daily quoted a spokesman for the China National Space Administration as saying.

Things get closer to the prophetic Fall Revolution novels of Ken MacLeod every year!

Lastly today, for awe and wonder, some amazing stuff from NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan can be found here.

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