Russian space officials unveiled a full-scale model of the Kliper spaceship. If funding is provided, Kliper will replace the Soyuz space capsule as Russia's human space vehicle. The spaceship, designed by RKK Energia, is twice the size of the Soyuz and will carry a crew of six. It has two main parts: a reusable re-entry craft with a lifting body design, and an orbital module. Like the Soyuz, it has a rocket to pull the spaceship away from the launch vehicle in an emergency. For cutaway views, see Encyclopedia Astronautica and RussianSpaceWeb.com.
Microbiologist Charles Cockell and astrobiologist Gerda Horneck want to turn seven areas on Mars into 'national parks', conserved in their pristine state. 'It is the right of every person to stand and stare across the beautiful barrenness and desolation of the Martian surface without having to endure the eyesore of pieces of crashed spacecraft scattered across the landscape,' they write. Cockell is not against colonization, though. He says that setting aside some areas for conservation would free up the rest of the planet for settlement.
Terminator and Titanic director James Cameron is guest editor of the December issue of WIRED Magazine: 'This special issue of Wired is about honest-to-God, two-fisted, hairy-knuckled exploration.' Cameron worked for nearly a year on this issue, developing stories on the future of exploration in the oceans, on earth and in space. Contributors include Buzz Aldrin, Sean O'Keefe, Burt Rutan, Robert Ballard, Sylvia Earle and Kim Stanley Robinson. (The issue is not online yet.) Apart from making blockbuster films, Cameron explores the depths of the oceans and is a member of the NASA Advisory Council and the Mars Society.
NASA's prize competition program, Centennial Challenges, is asking for proposals and partner organizations. NASA plans four categories: Flagship Challenges (space missions), Keystone Challenges (technologies), Alliance Challenges (run by partner organizations) and Quest Challenges (students and other groups). You can also submit ideas for prizes.