News

3 August 2009
We sent out our latest policy letter, a set of recommendations for the Augustine Committee, otherwise known as the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee.

30 July 2009
Mark Sonter joins our Board of Advisors.

16 June 2009
Dr. Martin Elvis joins our Board of Advisors.

April 2009
Two conferences focus on potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (PHOs). The first, Near-Earth Objects: Risks, Responses and Opportunities - Legal Aspects, was organized by our newest Advisor, Professor Frans von der Dunk, and was held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (23-24 April). This was followed by the 1st IAA Planetary Defense Conference, sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics, the European Space Agency, and more than a dozen other organizations, including Rusty Schweickart’s B612 Foundation. The conference was held in Granada, Spain (27-30 April). Both conferences raised awareness regarding NEOs, and our capacity to interact with them.

20 April 2009
Dr. Frans von der Dunk joins our Board of Advisors.

25 March 2009
The discovery of several meteoric remnants of asteroid 2008 TC3, which was observed back in October 2008, the day before it crashed through Earth’s atmosphere above Sudan, was reported today in Nature. JPL’s Near-Earth Object Program reported the details of the discovery and incoming event in November 2008. This was the first time that an observed asteroid was tracked all the way to Earth’s surface, with physical samples making their way to the lab for study. News of the event was reported around the world, raising awareness of asteroids in our celestial neighborhood.

1 February 2009
Space Energy, Inc., a new space-based solar power (SBSP) development company, based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland (50 km from Zürich), launched their Website, which presents their business case for SBSP in a series of articles, videos, and an interactive presentation.

18 December 2008
The Economist published our letter to the editor in their end-of-year special edition (20 December 2008). The letter was a response to their article on solar power satellites, which appeared in their recent Technology Quarterly. Their article discusses the costs of developing space-based solar power (SBSP). This new approach to harvesting the sun’s energy generated nearly 700 comments at President-Elect Obama’s Change.gov, and was the subject of a New York Times editorial in July. Our letter suggests that if we want to develop this technology, rather “than build and then launch, we should launch and then build, using materials that are already in space: near-Earth asteroids.”

24 November 2008
Technology Review reports that the first of four telescopes that constitute the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is scheduled to come online next month. Pan-STARRS is one of two new sky-survey telescopes that are expected to detect many more near-Earth asteroids. The other one, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), is scheduled to see first light in 2014.

6 October 2008
The NEA 2008 TC3 is detected hours before Earth impact. Don Yeomans describes how this small (2-5m) asteroid was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey roughly a day before it burned up in the atmosphere above Sudan, Africa. “The meteoroid was notable as the first such body to be observed and tracked prior to reaching Earth.”

29 September 2008
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 1 rocket into Earth orbit. The Falcon 1 is “the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth.” It offers the world’s lowest cost per flight to orbit ($9.1m to place 420kg into LEO). Commercial flights are scheduled to start in 2010. Great work everyone!

25 September 2008
The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) released an excerpt of their report, Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response, which will be presented to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in February. The report notes that half a million (500,000) NEAs will be detected within the next 15 years. They propose building systems capable of “altering the orbit of threatening NEOs [so that they will] pass harmlessly by the Earth.” Such systems will not only increase public safety, they will also add to the pool of knowledge required for asteroid mining. We thank the ASE for their work, and urge COPUOS to support this important effort.

2 September 2008
Dr. Larry Gorman joins our Board of Directors. He replaces founding director Dr. Charles Poncé. Charles’s inspirational support preceded the organization’s formation and we are grateful for his ongoing encouragement. His thoughtful guidance on many issues has been invaluable.

2 September 2008
The LSST Corporation celebrates a “perfect” mirror blank. The single-piece primary and tertiary mirror blank, which includes a 8.4-meter primary and 5-meter tertiary mirror, was removed from its oven at the University of Arizona on 23 July, following three months of slow cooling. The LSST is scheduled to begin operations, in Cerro Pachón, Chile, in 2015.

25 April 2008
Dr. Dante Lauretta and the Honorable Andrea Seastrand join our Board of Advisors.

7 March 2008
The Planetary Society named the winners of its $50,000 Apophis Mission Design Competition last week. All three wining proposals, Foresight (US$137m), A-Track (US$387m), and APEX (US$493m), offer useful insights into the design of NEA-mining missions.

Congratulations to the winning team members: (1) SpaceWorks Engineering and SpaceDev; (2) DEMIOS Space, EADS Astrium GmBH, the Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme, Universität Stuttgart, and Prof. Andrea Milani Comparetti, Universitá di Pisa; and (3) EADS Astrium Ltd, UK, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, the Royal Observatory of Belgium, the Rheinischen Institutes für Umweltforschung, Universität zu Köln, and Telespazio.

Special congratulations to the Hong Kong team that received an Honorable Mention for Most Innovative Student Proposal, Houyi. Their design radically reduces mission costs by utilizing six CubeSats. The competition and award winners received international recognition today in Science.

3 February 2008
Site launch: AbundantPlanet.org.