Crowd-sourcing the Space Frontier at South by Southwest (SXSW)

The South by Southwest (SXSW 2013)  festival (March 8-17, Austin Texas) combines “original music, independent films, and emerging technologies”. This year there will be a

panel on “Crowd-sourcing the Space Frontier” will include Anousheh Ansari, who visited the International Space Station in 2006 and was name sponsor for the Ansari X-Prize in 2001, and Citizens in Space project manager and citizen-astronaut candidate Edward Wright.

More at Citizen Astronauts, Space Entrepreneurs to Speak at SxSW

Space news from Bob Zimmerman on the John Batchelor Show

Bob Zimmerman reports on the latest space news during regular weekly slots (usually Tuesday and Thursdays) on the John Batchelor radio program. See the iTunes free Podcast for links to the latest shows.

This week Bob was on both the Tuesday and Wednesday shows and will be on again tonight. Here is what he has talked about so far:

Tuesday: Science:
Life found in Lake Whillans.
Help name two of Pluto’s moons.
Curiosity drills its first rock.
The founder of the Green movement rejects the modern Green movement.
The weak solar maximum continues.

Wednesday: Space:
Orion parachute tests.
Sea Launch’s problems: a failed launch last week plus Boeing is suing them.
Russia and Kazakhstan apparently have an agreement. Also, Proton flights are to resume, despite problems with upper stage.

Update: Here are the Thursday topics –
Antares hot fire test aborts just before initiation.
The next Dragon flight is now set for March 1.
Asteroid 2012 DA14. There is a lot to talk about here.
-are the minerals on it worth $195 billion?
-the various asteroid mining companies are all using it to sell their wares.
-the possibility of asteroid quakes as it goes by.

Sci-Tech: Lockheed-Martin fusion reactor project

NextBigFuture.com points to an interesting talk given at the Solve for X forum about a Lockheed-Martin  Skunkworks project about which I believe little has been revealed previously. In the video below,  Charles Chase of L-M discusses their compact nuclear fusion reactor design, which he believes could lead to a working 100MW prototype reactor in 5 years and go into commercial production by 2022. Charles Chase on energy for everyone – Moonshots – Solve for X.

He tells what the design does, i.e. it uses tritium-deuterium, creates a high beta configuration, provides very good containment and stability but unfortunately he gives no details on how exactly it does these things. I hope the reason he is now able to discuss this in a public forum is because they are in the process of publishing scientific papers on it but we will just have to wait and see.

More on public view of Mars missions + Update on Senate space policy committees

Here are more discussions of that survey of public views about human missions to Mars that I mentioned here earlier:

Trying to judge what such a poll means is problematic because the US public has always expressed conflicting views on space. A majority have a good feeling about it and support it in a general manner but they don’t think about space often and don’t see it, especially human spaceflight, has having any direct impact on them. When asked to rank space spending vs other priorities it is always at the bottom  of the list for most people.

I prefer to focus on the 10-15% of the public who always express very strong interest and support for spaceflight in such polls. Those 30-45 million people are more than enough to build a spacefaring community and industry. They just need to see that human spaceflight is affordable and in the coming years I expect that the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry will prove that to be true.

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An update on the membership of two Senate committees with big influence on NASA and US space policies: Senate committees get organized; Nelson and Cruz control space subcommittee – Space Politics

Everyone can participate in space