March 13 News Items

New University Campus in Ames Future (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
A billion-dollar multi-university campus, complete with major laboratories, classrooms and homes for 3,000 people will rise one day at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View -providing the money comes in over the next 20 years. The ambitious joint venture, sponsored by UC Santa Cruz and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, was announced Thursday at the Ames center. The goal is to integrate the education and research project with the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. A nonprofit partnership formally named University Associates-Silicon Valley has already been created. (3/13)

Ukraine, Russia May Sign Agreement to Safeguard Spaceship Technologies (Source: Kyiv Post)
Ukraine and Russia are preparing to sign an intergovernmental agreement to safeguard spacecraft technologies as part of their cooperation in space exploration programs. The document is expected to be signed during a session of the Ukrainian-Russian committee for economic cooperation in Moscow on March 27. The agreement has been drafted at Russia's initiative. Ukraine's partners in space exploration projects include Russia, China, EU member-nations, Brazil and the United States. (3/13)

Bill Nelson and Co. Take Down Obama's NASA Frontrunner (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Word is that Steve Isakowitz, the frontrunner for the NASA Administrator's job, has been taken down by a group of his opponents on Capitol Hill. According to Washington insiders and Hill staff, a group of lawmakers led by Florida’s Democratic senior Senator Bill Nelson are taking credit for pushing Isakowitz out of the picture. Isakowitz is the chief financial officer at the Department of Energy and a former top NASA official. An engineer, he used to work for Lockheed Martin. He was widely considered the White House favorite for the NASA post.

But Nelson and a group of other senators including and Kay Bailey Hutchison pressed the White House this week to pull its support. Early information said that Nelson was also joined by Sen. David Vitter, but Vitter's office denied he played any role. Key to Nelson's argument was Isakowitz' role in the DOE’s decision to pull funding for the FutureGen clean coal plant. DOE had projected that it was way over budget -- costs had doubled to $1.8 billion, 70 percent of which would have been paid by taxpayers -- and backed out in January 2008, angering FutureGen’s supporters. During hearings last year, Isakowitz took a lot of flak for the decision. (3/13)

Hero Astronauts Launch Charity Auction (Source: ASF)
Legendary astronauts are launching a new mission - raising scholarship money through a prestigious online auction of their personal, space memorabilia and one-on-one adventures with them! Famed astronauts such as Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell, Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and first Space Shuttle Pilot Robert Crippen, to name a few, have donated items for the out-of-this-world auction, which raises funds for scholarships provided by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). Visit for information. (3/13)

SpaceTEC Supports Microgravity and Technician Credentials Workshop (Source: SpaceTEC)
SpaceTEC, the national center for aerospace technical training and certification, is supporting worshops and conference sessions at the July 19-22 HI-TEC conference in Arizona. HI-TEC is a national conference on advanced technical education where technical educators, counselors, industry professionals, and technicians can update their knowledge and skills. SpaceTEC is supporting two preconference workshops: Microgravity Environments and National Credentials for Technicians, and one main conference session on Mechatronics. Visit for information. (3/13)

Europe Postpones Launch of Herschel, Planck Telescopes (Source:
The launch next month of two large European telescopes designed to probe the formation of galaxies and the "Big Bang" scientists say created the universe has been postponed by several weeks. The Herschel and Planck telescopes were to have been taken aloft on April 16 in a dual launch from the European Space Agency's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch has been postponed to carry out additional ground checks. (3/13)

Iranian President Declares his Country a Space and Nuclear Power (Source: RIA Novosti)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday that pressure from Western powers trying to keep Iran in economic isolation have in fact spurred the country to become a space and nuclear power. "Had you not been bad-tempered and blocked the way, the Iranian nation would not have been present in space, and would not have become a nuclear power," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a near-Earth orbit on February 2. The research satellite was carried into orbit by a home-made launch vehicle, Safir (Messenger). Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad Soleimani earlier said that the country's scientists were working on the creation of four new satellites to be placed into near-Earth orbit. (3/13)

Test Flights Ahead at California Spaceport for SpaceShipTwo Mothership (Source:
The skies over California's Mojave Air and Space Port are serving as the proving ground for the WhiteKnightTwo, the massive mothership being tested to air-launch commercial spaceliners on suborbital flights. A third test flight of the huge carrier craft - which looks like a giant catamaran for the sky - is deemed as "imminent", said Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic - the company put into business by U.K. adventurer and billionaire Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic's aim is to propel public space travel into reality.

WhiteKnightTwo's builders, the Mojave spaceport-based Scaled Composites, unveiled the spacecraft mothership on July 28, 2008. That rollout was followed by a Dec. 21 maiden flight with another scurry into the sky taking place in early February. While the third flight of the vehicle is close at hand, "we never give a date in advance as we only take off in light winds and generally good weather at this stage in an experimental program," Whitehorn said. (3/13)

NASA Drops 50,000-Pound Dummy Rocket on Arizona (Source:
NASA and the U.S. Air Force managed to drop a 50,000-pound rocket booster on the Arizona desert. Well, it was a sort of a crash test dummy. But the 25-ton heft was real. As hoped, a parachute opened and the booster set down intact. The drop was a test of the next-generation rocket called Ares, designed to get the space agency, and some astronauts, back to the moon. The recent test, conducted Feb. 28 near Yuma, went off without incident. (3/13)

Sen. Webb Announces $21-Million for Wallops (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Senator Jim Webb announced success in securing $21 million in federal funds for the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility enabling launch pad improvements, small satellites and unmanned aerial systems as contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 1105) that was signed into law Wednesday by the President.

The Wallops flight facility is integral to the economy of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and requires significant improvements to serve NASA's anticipated needs in coming years. The Virginia-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is breaking ground soon on a new multi-million dollar launch pad to facilitate re-supply of the International Space Station beginning in 2011. (3/12)

Shuttle Delay Shifts Atlas Launch Date (Source:
With NASA's decision to try launching space shuttle Discovery on Sunday evening, the upcoming flight of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a military communications satellite from Cape Canaveral will go into standby mode under an agreement reached between the space agency and Air Force officials.

"The Range schedule has been updated. The Atlas has moved to an indefinite date, which just means that they are going to slide behind us," NASA's Mission Management Team chairman Mike Moses told reporters at a news conference this morning. Under the current scenario, a shuttle liftoff on Sunday would allow the Atlas to launch as early as Tuesday evening. The Tuesday launch window will extend from 9:24 to 10:00 p.m. EDT. (3/13)

NASA Dryden Director Kevin Petersen to Retire in April (Source: CSA)
Kevin L. Petersen, director of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, announced he plans to retire from NASA effective April 3. A veteran aerospace engineer and manager with 38 years experience at Dryden, Petersen has served as the center's director for more than 10 years and is the longest-serving field center director currently at NASA. Visit (3/12)

California's Lt. Governor Highlights STEM Education (Source: CSA)
California Lt. Governor John Garamendi joined Oklahoma Lt. Governor Jari Askins and Aerospace States Association (ASA) delegates in Washington, DC on Mar. 9 for an ASA Capitol Hearing on Education, Aviation and Space. Considerable attention was devoted to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational needs facing the industry. “I am pleased that today’s program is highlighting the importance of STEM education to the aerospace industry,” stated Lt. Governor Garamendi. “To remain competitive in the 21st century global economy, California and the United States must better prepare students for high-wage science, engineering and technician jobs,” he continued. Visit (3/12)

Interorbital Systems Enters Google Lunar X Prize with Team Synergy Moon (Source: CSA)
The ambitious dream of returning humans to the Moon---this time to stay--- is alive and well in a magnificently diverse team of space enthusiasts, artists, engineers, students, and explorers called SYNERGY MOON. Visit for information. (3/13)

Increased NASA Funding Would Stimulate Economy While Keeping Industry Strong (Source: The Hill)
For more than 50 years, NASA has been the civilian agency with the most inspiring and, in many cases, the most technologically challenging missions. Space exploration pushes the boundaries of our capabilities and challenges America’s innovative spirit to develop new technologies and reach new frontiers. Sustained, robust federal investments in NASA will support a stronger high-tech industrial base, strengthening our economy and solidifying our position as the world leader in space. (3/12)

Sen. Nelson: Satellites on Front Line in Battle Against Global Warming (Source: The Hill)
We know that global warming could have devastating effects on all the Earth’s very delicate ecological systems. Experts largely agree that weather extremes will be more intense if global warming goes unabated — if we don’t act now to curb dirty emissions from cars and industry. If the trend continues, the U.S. and many other places around the world could see rising sea levels, contaminated drinking water, and more severe and damaging hurricanes, droughts and wildfires.

The tools our scientists use to measure global warming are our first line of defense. Satellites orbiting the Earth play a key role in helping us keep an eye on planetary changes. That’s why it’s imperative we maintain and improve upon satellite technology that provides our scientists, forecasters and others with the data they need to help observe and better understand our ever-changing weather patterns and conditions here on Earth. (3/12)

Satellite Operators on Solid Ground (Source: Wall Street Journal)
While economic turmoil has laid low industries from construction to automobiles, the world's largest satellite-services companies appear to be operating in a different orbit, posting strong earnings and rising revenues. London-based Inmarsat reported a 20% jump from a year earlier in fourth-quarter revenue. (3/13)

Budget Cuts Threaten NASA Program at Local Schools (Source: Ventura County Star)
Long after the last bell rings, students still fill Room 2 at San Cayetano School in Fillmore, rushing back and forth between computers with robotic “rovers” and a miniature model of Mars. The robotics program was a first for an elementary campus that Principal Jan Marholin said has turned into a science and technology school over the past two years.

In 2007, San Cayetano was selected to partner with NASA in its three-year Explorer Schools program, receiving funding for specialized equipment, staff training and other resources. Since then, students have chatted with an astronaut, participated in webcasts and built robots as their teachers expanded science and technology classes and trained with NASA experts.

As budgets get cut, teachers get pink slips and cash for training dries up, educators say such partnerships are even more important. But San Cayetano might be one of the last campuses to get that opportunity. After its inception in 2003, the NASA program accepted 50 schools annually nationwide. By 2006, resources were cut, and only 25 schools were chosen. This school year, no school has been added. Rob LaSalvia, the project manager at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio, said NASA is reviewing the program, and it will come back and hopefully expand its reach. (3/13)

Space Station's Close Call with Junk: More to Come (Source: AP)
The near-hit of space junk Thursday was a warning fired shot across the bow of the international space station, experts said. There's likely more to come in the future. With less than an hour's notice, the three astronauts were told they'd have to seek shelter in a Russian capsule parked at the space station in case a speeding piece of space junk hit Thursday.

"We were watching it with bated breath," NASA space debris scientist Mark Matney said. "We didn't know what was going to happen." The debris missed. Engineers still don't even know by how much and may never get a good figure. It could have been a few hundred feet or a couple miles. Apparently the crew members left an instruction manual on board and Fincke had to be told by Mission Control how to go about getting back onto the station once the threat had passed. (3/13)

Japan Warns it May Shoot Down North Korean Satellite Launcher (Source: Guardian)
Japan today threatened to shoot down a satellite that North Korea plans to launch early next month if it shows any signs of striking its territory. Tokyo's warning that it would deploy its multibillion-dollar missile defense system raised tensions in the region after North Korea said that it had identified a potential "danger area" near Japanese territory along the rocket's flight path.

The regime told the International Maritime Organization that its boosters would fall into the Sea of Japan – about 75 miles (120km) from Japan's north-west coast – and the Pacific Ocean. Officials in Tokyo said they reserved the right to destroy any threatening object in mid-flight, despite North Korean warnings that it would consider such a move an act of war. (3/13)

European 'Supermodel' Satellite Set to Fly (Source: BBC)
Europe is set to launch one of its most challenging space missions to date. The Goce satellite will map minute variations in the pull of gravity experienced across the planet. Scientists will use its data to improve their understanding of how the oceans move, and to frame a universal system to measure height anywhere on Earth.
The super-sleek spacecraft will go into orbit on a modified intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north-west Russia.

"This is the most beautiful satellite that has ever been built - and for good reason," enthused one of the scientists who conceived the mission, Reiner Rummel, from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Goce's striking good-looks are a requirement of the extremely testing environment in which it will have to operate. The arrow shape and fins are necessary to keep the spacecraft stable as it flies through the wisps of air still present at an altitude just under 270km, much lower than for most Earth observation missions. (3/13)

Final Piece of Ares-1 Demo Rocket Heads to Spaceport (Source: NASA)
The final pieces of the Ares I-X flight test rocket left the Alliant Tech Systems manufacturing facility in Promontory, Utah, Thursday and began a 2,917-mile journey to its launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage motor segments are the last shipment of Ares I-X major hardware elements. The hardware will arrive in Florida later this month and undergo final processing and preparations before being stacked with the other portions of the rocket. (3/13)

Russia to Send Signal to North Korea on Danger of Military Space Activity (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia is to send a signal to the DPRK about the danger of military-space activity, a Russian government official said in connection with North Korea’ s intention to launch a booster rocket carrying a satellite. “It is extremely important to send a signal to our North Korean neighbors since any military-space activity can complicate the debates regarding security on the Korean peninsula,” he said.

“This can complicate relations between North and South Korea and affect the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear dossier,” Margelov holds. “As neighbours of North Korea we want clarity about these plans,” said the Russian MP.

“We in Russia remember well a test launching of several North Korean Taephondon booster rockets a few years ago. Their flight was quite chaotic, also in the direction of Russian territory,” the official recalled. “All our related services have operated properly; and no military, let alone military-space activity of North Korea will pass unnoticed,” he stressed. (3/13)

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