Mammals to feature in maiden space flight

TINGALPA, Queensland, Australia

The Tingalpa Space Agency (TSA) today said that hackers recently compromised its computer network, gaining access to confidential files.

Director of the TSA Tom Carroll stated that while no major plans were leaked, some artist impressions of the proposed first mammalian test flight had been stolen.

"Yes, I can confirm that we will be sending bears into space first," he said.

The stolen artwork of a bear in the shuttle cockpit, awaiting launch.

Mr Carroll said that bears had been chosen not because there was a particular scientific advantage in sending them, but because people liked them.

"We'll also be sending mallards," he said. "Mallards are funny."

The plan also calls for having a troop of performing monkeys with hats and miniature cymbals near the launch pad, in case anything goes wrong. "We'll need a way of cheering people up if the thing blows up," Mr Carroll said.

TSA's chief rocket scientist, Johann Antony von Kloski, said that it was not immediately clear how the TSA's computer system was compromised.

"It appears that they came in through the portal somehow, and possibly scammed and or spammed us," he said.

Mr von Kloski said that a full security audit was currently underway.

"It's made us review the way we've been doing things here, that's for sure. You can't afford to cut corners, not when you're talking about running a space program."

Mr von Kloski said TSA had implemented a blanket ban on opening email attachments with subject lines about 'longer rockets', and that there would be harsh penalties for anyone found leaving the office unlocked at night.

"As an interim measure, we have decided to cancel our ADSL subscription, and we will leave the bear cage unlocked at night to deter would-be intruders."

Planet Earth to sport new man-made ring

TINGALPA, Queensland, Australia

The Tingalpa Space Agency (TSA) today announced plans to create several artificial rings around the Earth.

Director of the TSA Tom Carroll said that the TSA's ambitions stemmed from humanity's many centuries of looking to the heavens.

"Since man first gazed out at the stars and saw rings circling other planets, he has fostered a stalwart desire to have rings circling his own," Mr Carroll said. "With this new project, TSA is committed achieving just that."

TSA's Head of Research and Development Trish von Diesel said that the project had a solid scientific and environmental background.

Earth's new rings will consist of millions of frozen cane toads.

"The key component in this system is the use of the bufo marinus [cane toad]," Ms von Diesel said.

"These will form the bulk of the rings, the remaining parts of the ring consisting of space dust and miniature asteroids that will be attracted to the toads and naturally join them in their ring formation."

Cane toads have become a pest in Queensland since they were first introduced as a biological control for cane beetles in sugar cane crops. Since then, they have become a serious threat to native wildlife, particularly to animals that feed off frogs.

"The deaths of the toads will be completely humane," said von Diesel. "Cane toads are rendered unconscious by sub-zero temperatures. The coldness of space will freeze the toads. Once in orbit, they will die a painless death.

"Ultimately, they will enter into permanent orbit around the Earth, forming an attractive ring which is both functional and aesthetically pleasing."

The system is expected to cost between AUD$20 and AUD$1.5M. The completion date is tentatively scheduled for late August 2010.

TSA announces plans for Tingalpa Space Port

TINGALPA, Queensland, Australia

The newly-formed Tingalpa Space Agency (TSA) today announced its plan to build Australia's first commercial space port in Tingalpa, Australia.

Director of the TSA Tom Carroll said that the agency hoped to provide affordable access to low earth orbit by purchasing NASA's aging fleet of space shuttles, which are scheduled for retirement in 2010.

"It's quite likely that we'll be able to buy them quite cheap, since they're basically just throwing them out next year", he said.

"The goal is to make human space flight commercially viable, and I can think of no place on earth better-equipped to do that than Tingalpa."

TSA's chief rocket scientist, Johann Antony von Kloski, said that the agency was also exploring new experimental horizontal launch technologies that would dramatically reduce the cost of access to orbit.

"For as little as 50 gigajoules, we can put 2 tonnes into low earth orbit for $2.10, or roughly the price of a bus ticket."

"Our novel approach will work because it's just so crazy it might," he said.

Development of the space port is expected to proceed with minimal disruption to nearby business, with a time-share arrangement with the Tingalpa Model Aero Club expected to be finalised within months.

"The TMAC already has excellent orbiter landing facilities and windsocks at their Minnippi Parklands site," Mr Carroll said. "It would be a shame not to utilise them."

The TSA expects to present its plans to the Brisbane City Council on October 12.