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Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Astropolítica

"Se se pudessem interrogar as estrelas perguntar-lhes-ia se as maçam mais os astrónomos ou os poetas." Pitigrilli

Skin in the Game: Realising Australia’s National Interests in Space to 2025

Agosto 19, 2008

Vera Gomes

 

 

by Brett Biddington

Space is no longer the sole preserve of the national security community. Australia is dependent on foreign owned and operated satellites for basic services such as timing and navigation, communications and remote sensing. However, Australia has very little influence in the bodies that govern and regulate the peaceful use of space-based utilities. Any disruption or denial of these services will have a negative impact not only on national security but also on the economic and social well-being of the nation.

Australia has been spared the substantial costs associated with investing in the development and sustainment of national space capabilities. These investments were met largely through alliance relationships, in particular with the United States. Australia gained significant strategic and operational benefit from space-based utilities by permitting ground stations to be based on its soil. This situation is no longer sufficient.

New technologies have reduced the traditional barriers to operating satellites. An increasing number of nations and commercial bodies are developing space-based capabilities. In turn, as the competition intensifies, so the risk weapons being deployed into space also grows. In order to participate as a middle level power in the emerging debates about space security, many of which have global implications, Australia must put ‘skin in the game’ to ensure it has a confident, credible and respected voice. This report outlines a modest investment program that will allow Australia to protect and advance its national interests in space into the future.
 

Últimas no espaço

Agosto 19, 2008

Vera Gomes

Nos últimos meses temos assistido a várias tomadas de posições dos candidatos americanos sobre o Espaço e o que consideram que deverá ser a politica espacial americana.

 

Deixo aqui uma série de artigos publicados na Space Review sobre o assunto.

 

Obama sobre o Conselho Nacional do Espaço e Aeronautica;

- Artigo sobre o discurso de Obama sobre Espaço na Florida;

- Artigo de Jeff Foust sobre as campanhas presidenciais e Politica Espacial

 

Irão lança Safir Omid

Agosto 17, 2008

Vera Gomes


Várias agências de notícias internacionais estão a citar fontes iranianas que referem que o Irão terá lançado um satélite artificial na manhã do dia 17 de Agosto de 2008.

 

Supostamente o Irão terá lançado um foguetão Safir (Mensageiro) transportando o satélite Omid (Esperança) desenvolvido por especialistas iranianos. Porém, e mais uma vez, parece que o anúncio de Teerão não é completamente verdadeiro. Apesar das notícias iniciais referirem o lançamento de um satélite artificial, a agência de notícias da república islâmica IRNA, refere que o Irão terá lançado um foguetão Safir que será posteriormente utilizado para colocar em órbita o satélite Safir.

 

Anuncios semelhantes já haviam sido feitos anteriormente pelo Irão, nomeadamente no passado dia 4 de Fevereiro quando a república islâmica lançou um foguetão Shahab-3 na missão suborbital Kavoshgar-1.

 

O lançador iraniano terá 22 metros de comprimento, 1,25 metros de diâmetro e 26000 kg de peso.

 

(in: Em Órbita )

 

Could Conflict in Georgia Block US Access to the Space Station?

Agosto 16, 2008

Vera Gomes

The conflict between Georgia and Russia over the disputed region of South Ossetia may have huge consequences for NASA's ability to send astronauts to the International Space Station in the future. The US has criticised the Russian military action, prompting concerns for the future NASA use of the Russian Soyuz space vehicle. This comes at a particularly critical time, as concerns were already high due to the Shuttle decommissioning in 2010. The US is only allowed to use Soyuz up until 2011 as that is when the exemption from the Iran Non-Proliferation Act runs out. If US-Russian relations turn even more sour, an extension to the exemption may not be allowed, freezing the US out of any involvement with routine manned access into space. US Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat), an outspoken critic of the government's funding of the US space program, has brought these concerns to light blaming the Bush administration for an over reliance on Russia for future space access…

The Iran Non-Proliferation Act of 2000 was signed by US Congress as a means to encourage Russian involvement in the nuclear ambitions of Iran to cease. The Act restricts US funding to Russia by limiting all purchasing of technology and services relating to the Space Station. A waiver was granted to NASA so the US could make use of the Russian Soyuz space vehicle, and it was hoped that the waiver would be renewed in 2011 so the US could still have manned access to space during the "5-year gap" between Shuttle decommissioning and Constellation completion. However, the lawmakers in Congress will be very reluctant to renew the waiver if relations between the US and Russia degrade, throwing NASA into a very difficult situation once the Shuttle is mothballed. This concern has been amplified since the military action in the disputed region of South Ossetia in Georgia, a US ally.

Regardless of whether the waiver gets renewed, Senator Nelson is deeply suspicious of Russia's intentions when NASA will need to take Soyuz flights after 2010. Deteriorating US-Russia politics may result in "Russia denying us rides or charging exorbitant amounts for them," he said on Tuesday. In response to the problem with the renewing of the Act waiver in light of the recent Georgia violence, he stated:

"It was a tough sell before [to Congress], but it was doable simply because we didn't have a choice. We don't want to deny ourselves access to the space station, the very place we have built and paid. It's going to be a tougher sell now unless there are critical developments during the next 48 to 72 hours." - US Sen. Bill Nelson

So have there been any critical developments in Georgia? Today, US Defence Chief Robert Gates warned that relations between the US and Russia will be damaged "for years" if Russia does not step down from aggressive operations in the region. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded by saying the rebelling Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions will never integrate back under Georgian rule. He also stated that the military has started to hand back the Georgian town of Gori, although a military presence will remain. So no, although the brunt of the military action by Russia appears to have calmed, there will still be huge pressure on the region and innocent civilians will be caught in the middle for some time to come.

As if to make matters worse the US and Poland have just signed a defence deal, hosting part of the US missile shield to protect against rogue states launching missiles into Europe and the US. Russia has outright rejected the US proposal, saying that a US controlled system near its border will destabilize the military balance in the region. Today's signing will only contribute to the tension between the two nations.

For further details on the US-Poland missile plans, see Poland "agrees" to host controversial US missile defence system.

Nelson strongly believes the Iran Non-Proliferation Act waiver is "dead on arrival. Nobody thinks it’s going to happen, and the reality is there is no back-up plan for the space station." Many critics believe the Act will have a self-defeating effect as it will stop NASA from accessing the $100 billion ISS investment. "There will be consequences not just for Russia but for the U.S. too," Nelson added.

Sources: Florida Today, Orlando Sentinel, BBC

 

in: Universe Today

India and Israel: Together in Space

Agosto 08, 2008

Vera Gomes

Siddharth Ramana
Former Research Assistant, IPCS
e-mail: siddharth13@gmail.com

 

On 20 January 2008, India and Israel successfully forged a partnership in the space sector when an Israeli spy satellite was launched into space by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Techsar satellite was launched 9:15 am local time (0345 GMT) from the Sriharikota space station in southern India.

The significance of the satellite launch is magnified by the fact that this launch was earlier stalled owning to intense objections by Arab states which viewed the satellite to be a direct threat to their defence integrity. An earlier report in an Indian news media claimed that the satellite launch vehicle was dismantled at the behest of American pressure. Such was the pressure on the Indian government to not support the Israeli space aspirations, that according to a senior Indian intelligence official, the launch was "dismantled" completely to prevent even a future launch if the government changed its mind (DNA, 4 December 2007).

The satellite launch is another feather in the growing cooperation between the Jewish nation and India, an alliance which has culminated in Israel becoming the second largest defence supplier to India.

It makes sense for the Indians and the Israeli's to forge an alliance particularly in the space sector. India has been developing its space program as early as the 1950's and while initially catering to civilian purposes; ISRO has also been involved in upgrading India's military prowess. For example, the Agni missile is based on a successful civilian satellite launch vehicle. India can offer its space expertise in exchange for Israeli expertise in their Unmanned Ariel Vehicle Program or else work towards a commercial arrangement, which would significantly boost the international commercial viability of ISRO.

Indeed, the interest of Israel and India in space cooperation was broached when the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in November 2002. When visiting Israel in August 2003, Krishnaswami Kasturirangan, former chairman of the India Space Research Organization, expressed interest in the Israeli concept of small satellites and their employment, adding: ''Israel has much to offer in terms of cooperative programs for the future.'' The Israeli Ofeq spy satellite had attracted Indian attention even before this visit.

Owing to Israel's precarious security environment, the need for high resolution and timely imagery from enemy territory has led them to develop exceptional imaging technology. Indeed, the Israeli Spy Satellite Ofek-7 was instrumental in helping destroy a suspected nuclear bunker in Syria in September 2007.

The new satellite Tecsar is said to be technologically far superior to its Ofek predecessor. It would be the first satellite to incorporate Synthetic Aperture Capabilities. This feature allows the camera to take pictures of targets under cloudy and foggy conditions (Jerusalem Post, 20 September 2007). It would therefore place Israel in the small list of countries with imaging radar reconnaissance satellites able to distinguish camouflaged vehicles from rocky terrain, for example, and to see at night and through clouds and foliage. In addition, the aperture radar has 1-meter resolution and differing spot, mosaic and strip modes. These modes provide a multitude of different radar aspect angles to illuminate targets on the ground. And while further technical details of the satellite remain confidential, it is believed that the satellite also carries a powerful panchromatic camera.

According to some, the Israeli decision to use an Indian launch vehicle is based on the inability of the Israeli Shavit booster to fire the 600lb satellite into space. However, Israeli critics have observed that the decision can be traced to Israel strengthening ties with a major power other than the US. (ABC News, 27 September 2007).

The launch is a boon for India, for according to details of an agreement, Israel would be sharing the satellite imagery with India and in addition, it would provide a financial windfall for ISRO. The need for such a satellite is being felt by India, which was given a rude shock in 1999, when armed Pakistani intruders established bases deep inside the Indian territory in Kargil. When the Indian satellites were used to map the positions of the insurgents, the pictures were hazy and did not reveal any ground level movement - an intelligence failure which proved critical (DNA, 4 December 2007).

In addition, the launch of the satellite made ISRO richer by about USD$14 million. The launch provided an advertising impetus to the reputation of ISRO in the USD$2.5 billion global commercial satellite launch services (Hindustan Times, 22 January 2008).

With reports that the satellite has already started transmitting high-resolution pictures, the Indian space establishment can be proud of its achievement. In addition, the Indian defence establishment can be commended for having successfully dodged the concerns of its Arab allies while pushing ahead with an alliance which would only mean a win-win situation for India.

 

(in: www.ipcs.org/Military_articles2.jsp )

Portugueses no espaço: aceitam-se candidaturas

Agosto 06, 2008

Vera Gomes

A Agência de Inovação (AdI) está a oferecer a jovens engenheiros portugueses a oportunidade de desenvolverem “um plano de formação complementar nos domínios tecnológicos estratégicos”, em “grandes organizações científicas internacionais, como o Laboratório Europeu de Física de Partículas (CERN), a Agência Espacial Europeia (ESA) e o Observatório do Sul Europeu (ESO)”.

A iniciativa visa aumentar a competitividade das empresas portuguesas e insere-se no âmbito dos protocolos estabelecidos entre a AdI, o CERN, a ESA e o ESO.

As candidaturas estão abertas até ao dia 29 de Agosto, com o "Programa e Financiamento" a poder ser consultado aqui

EU: 27 reunidos para debater estratégia espacial comum

Agosto 06, 2008

Vera Gomes

A presidência francesa da União Europeia quer que a exploração espacial a 27 assuma um peso fundamental nas políticas comunitárias. Para convencer os restantes países da urgência de uma acção conjunta no Espaço, a ministra francesa para a Investigação, Valérie Pécresse, recebeu, de 20 a 22 de Julho, os seus homólogos europeus, no centro de lançamentos da ESA, em Kourou, Guiana Francesa.

Os 27 estados-membros, mais a Suíça e a Noruega, que fazem igualmente parte da ESA, afirmaram, no comunicado final da cimeira, o compromisso europeu para um programa de exploração do sistema solar, que se quer “mundial e aberto a todas as nações”.

 
As propostas francesas
A presidência francesa pôs em cima da mesa duas propostas espaciais. A primeira, relativa a um centro de pesquisa conjunto sobre o clima, que sirva para centralizar, analisar e fornecer dados, para além de prestar serviços a cientistas sobre simulação digital.
A segunda proposta prevê a criação de uma estação espacial europeia de monitorização relacionada com assuntos de Defesa e segurança militar.

 

No final do encontro, Pécresse salientou a necessidade de “criar uma consciência espacial europeia” e a vontade de vários novos estados-membros, como Chipre ou Malta, em participar na Agência Espacial Europeia.

Os ministros encarregues das políticas espaciais debateram também o plano francês de criação de um novo centro de pesquisa europeia sobre o clima, baseado no modelo do CERN (organização europeia para a investigação nuclear), capaz de processar e centralizar os dados obtidos por observações espaciais.


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Europe’s space ambitions in context

Agosto 04, 2008

Vera Gomes

by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, July 28, 2008

 

Ireland’s rejection of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty in a popular referendum should have put the plans to establish a new EU space organization, complete with its own budget, on hold. At least that would have been the case if there was a way to force the leaders of the Brussels-based organization to conform to the rules they have established. In the US our system of checks and balances works, however slowly and imperfectly, to limit the powers of the government to break the laws they expect everyone else to follow; in the EU such limits seem not to apply.

 

A large and prosperous scientific community that depends of the EU for its existence is a powerful disincentive for any state that wants to reduce the power of Brussels or even to leave the Union.

Aside from the military strategy involved in the new EU space policy (which has already been covered) the reasoning behind the ever-increasing European space effort is worth looking at from the angle of their long-term political goals. One of the most important reasons for the EU’s existence is the desire to get beyond the nation state, the existence of which is blamed for the disastrous wars of the 20th century, as if the pre-national feudal era was a time of perfect peace. Breaking down the barriers between nations both in the name of free trade and in the name of postnationalist or transnationalist ideology is at the core of the EU’s “project”. Science is by its nature non-nationalist. The EU’s desire to fund as much “science” as is politically feasible fits neatly into its larger political strategy.

 

There is also the continuing “brain drain” problem. Europe’s best scientists are still tempted to travel across the Atlantic to work for America’s well-endowed and independent universities. This sometimes gives them the chance to get involved in some of the highly-profitable startup firms that tend to spring up around these institutions. To keep these men and women contented and busy inside European research centers, generous funding for interesting projects is needed.

 

A large and prosperous scientific community that depends of the EU for its existence is a powerful disincentive for any state that wants to reduce the power of Brussels or even to leave the Union. Space programs carry a great deal of symbolic weight in addition to their scientific value. They are also nowhere near as controversial as nuclear projects or biotech ones. Launching a probe such as ESA’s Rosetta mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is nowhere near as hard to support as building a new nuclear research center such as ISTAR or supporting new genetically modified organisms.

 

As an aside, someone should make a new study of the ways politicians have used science as a way to legitimate themselves. It is not simply a case of “racial science” or “scientific socialism”, but the way in which science is recruited or volunteers itself for all sorts of causes, much the same way that art in all its diverse forms has often been used as a political tool.

 

Space investments by the EU and by EU member states has played an important role in creating a set of “European” as opposed to purely national technologies. Even when a technology began as the project of a single nation, such as France with Ariane or Italy with Aleina’s pressurized space structures for the ISS, these have over time become less “national” and more European. This process will accelerate as the changes being made under France’s six-month EU Presidency become embedded in the institutions.

 

Europe is slowly moving towards a decision to build a manned spacecraft of its own. Logically the next step is to build a version of the ATV that can bring cargo back to Earth. After that it will not be too difficult to build a manned capsule comparable to the US Orion. How much they want to spend and what resources, particularly how many highly trained engineers, they have available will determine when this spacecraft will be ready. After that they will decide if they want to build a full-blown set of lunar travel systems. In spite of some reports coming out of Moscow, it seems that the Europeans have little appetite to jointly build a system with Russia.

Space exploration is no longer a duopoly of the US and Russia. The EU, India, and China all mean to play a role in the human expansion into the solar system.

For the US, Mike Griffin, in his speech to the French Parliament’s Space Committee, strongly rejected the view that it “…is somehow unfairly excluding international partners from the development of Orion and Ares.” He noted the many statements from French politicians, as well as from President Sarkozy, to the effect that independent access to space is an “absolute priority”. Neither the US nor the Russians nor the Europeans want to depend on the others more than is absolutely necessary. The “gap”, like the periods after the Challenger and Columbia disasters, is an experience the US does not want to see repeated.

 

Space exploration is no longer a duopoly of the US and Russia. The EU, India, and China all mean to play a role in the human expansion into the solar system. This should not surprise anyone: the need to explore and to build new settlements is universal. For Europe the obstacle will not be a lack of drive, but a conflict between those who want to explore and expand in the name of their respective homelands and those who want to do so as “Europeans.”

 

Razões para ir ao planeta vermelho

Agosto 04, 2008

Vera Gomes

02.08.2008

 

 

Há quem diga que devemos colonizar
o espaço para sobreviver
 

 

 

Essencialmente, as razões para colonizar um planeta habitável - que poderá ser Marte, aqui ao lado, ou um planeta extra-solar, ainda por descobrir, semelhante ao nosso - são duas. A primeira é que precisamos de acesso a outros recursos naturais, uma vez que os do nosso planeta estão a esgotar-se; a segunda, porque convém encontrarmos um refúgio no caso de um cataclismo destruir a Terra. Esta segunda razão não é tão disparatada como pode parecer. O celebre físico britânico Stephen Hawking declarou, há uns meses, numa conferência por ocasião do 50.º aniversário da NASA intitulada Por que devemos ir para o espaço, que "a conquista do espaço poderá mesmo determinar se temos ou não futuro". Hawking preconiza a criação de uma base lunar permanente num prazo de 30 anos e o desenvolvimento de sistemas de propulsão que permitam sair do sistema solar. Segundo ele, "se tencionamos viver mais um milhão de anos, vamos ter de ir a sítios onde ainda ninguém foi".

E Richard Gott, astrofísico da Universidade de Princeton, que gosta de profecias dramáticas, disse também recentemente, no New York Times, que, se quisermos perdurar enquanto espécie, temos de nos despachar a estabelecer uma colónia num planeta como Marte. "Se ficarmos apenas num planeta, acabaremos por ser atingidos por alguma coisa". A.G.
 

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