Marc Boucher: December 2011 Archives

White Paper - China's Space Activities in 2011China Releases White Paper - China's Space Activities in 2011, SpaceRef

Marc's note: China's Information Office of the State Council today published a white paper on China's space activities in 2011. You can download a PDF of the white paper from the SpaceRef web site.

"Outer space is the common wealth of mankind. Exploration, development and utilization of outer space are an unremitting pursuit of mankind. Space activities around the world have been flourishing. Leading space-faring countries have formulated or modified their development strategies, plans and goals in this sphere. The position and role of space activities are becoming increasingly salient for each active country's overall development strategy, and their influence on human civilization and social progress is increasing."

Arianespace Soyuz-Fregat Flight Marc's note: You can watch live the final flight of the year of an Arianespace Soyuz-Fregat launch at 12:09 pm ET. This is the 1,784th launch of a Soyuz rocket which will orbit six new satellites of the Globalstar-2 constellation. The launch is from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Marc's Update 2:17 pm: The Soyuz has launched successfully. from Arianespace:

"For today's launch, the liftoff occurred at 11:09 p.m. local time from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Launch Pad #6 and was the 1,784th flight of a Soyuz family vehicle. During the mission, Soyuz' re-ignitable Fregat upper stage performed two propulsive burns separated by a coast phase of approximately 50 minutes, followed by the Globalstar satellites' separation in a two-step process. The initial spacecraft pair was released from the upper portion of a purpose-built dispenser system, followed 1 minute, 40 seconds later by the remaining four satellites' separation from the dispenser's lower section."

This Year @NASA

Marc's note: NASA has released this edition of "This Year @NASA". Enjoy the highlights.

Marc's note: Please note that from 11:00 pm ET tonight through 11:00 am ET tomorrow NASA Watch will be undergoing maintenance and may be unavailable at times during that time with commenting turned off. We're implementing a new commenting system. All old comments will be archived and ported to the new system.

Marc's update - 12:00 pm ET Dec. 26: As part of our ongoing plan to improve NASA Watch we've decided to implement a new comment system. The transition is ongoing and is taking a little longer than expected. This is due to the sheer number of comments that need to be migrated to our new system.

We'll be using Disqus a third party comment service which we've already implemented on some of the other SpaceRef web sites. One of the benefits of the new comment system will be a faster system, an ability to whitelist more commenters and a more effective and time saving spam filtering system. If you already have a Disqus account you can start commenting right away. Otherwise it just takes a couple of minutes to create a new commenting account.

The new system is effective immediately for new posts as of today. Older posts will have their comments transitioned over the next day. If you have any questions please send your inquiry to

File photo of Soyuz 2.1bAnother Soyuz rocket launch fails, BBC

"Russia's recent poor launch record has continued with yet another Soyuz rocket failure. This time, a Soyuz-2 vehicle failed to put a communications satellite into orbit after lifting away from the country's Plesetsk spaceport. Debris is said to have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere near the western Siberian town of Tobolsk."

Marc's note: Based on the records I've found this appears to be the first failure of the Soyuz-2.1b which had previously launched successfully six times. It appears the third stage failed at the 421 second mark. The Soyuz rocket was launching a Meridian military communications satellite for the Russian armed forces.

December Issue of Space Quarterly AvailableDecember 2011, Volume 1, Number 2, U.S. Edition, Space Quarterly

(Preview the cover)

The latest edition of Space Quarterly is available! In this issue we're focusing primarily on space policy and the Space Launch System with a few budget and commercial pieces in between.

U.S. Space Policy is examined by well known space policy analyst Marcia Smith who delves into the nuances and politics of current policy. We also get an update on Japan's space policy, insight into India's burgeoning space program and analysis of China's mindset.

The Space Launch System is NASA's next big program. Mandated by Congress, ignored and then reluctantly given the green light by the White House, Eric Sterner provides political context on the program. Dennis Wingo then provides technical context on the Space Launch System, comparing it to the Saturn V, and analyzing design and mission requirements.



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