March 18 News Items

Kosmas Leads NASA Action Team, Calls for Administrator and Shuttle Decisions (Source: Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas)
Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) led 13 of her colleagues from the bipartisan NASA House Action Team in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to name a new NASA administrator. Kosmas also reiterated her opposition to setting a hard deadline for retiring the Space Shuttle. Current plans allow for up to nine future launches, but only if they can be completed before 2010. The NASA House Action Team, which Kosmas co-chairs along with Republican Ken Calvert (CA-44), is a bipartisan group of legislators from across the country who have made advocating for NASA one of their top priorities.

Other members of the NASA House Action Team who signed the letter include Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Congressman Bill Posey from Florida, seven members from Texas, two from California, and two from Alabama. (3/18)

Florida-Based Orbital Commerce Project Offers Lynx Rocketship Rides (Source: Hobby Space)
Central Florida's Orbital Commerce Project (OCP), based on Oviedo, has successfully completed all requirements at the RocketShip Tours Space Tourism University and will be offering personal flights on the XCOR Aerospace Lynx at all future events. Suborbital flight is now a reality and can be purchased through OCP. RocketShip Tours and XCOR Aerospace have developed a comprehensive program that emphasizes luxury, quality, and confidence. Supported by world-class facilities and experts in the fields of Rocket Science, Spacesuit Technology, Aerospace Medicine, and Luxury Travel. For more information, visit OCP will host a Spaceflight Exhibit at the Festivals of Speed event in St. Petersburg on Mar, 27-28. (3/18)

Dutch Group Plans Caribbean Spaceport (Sources: Hobby Space, Space Horizon)
The need for spaceports able to serve the airlines of space becomes more and more clear. Current spaceports are being build in non-developed areas with no infrastructure for the space tourist and his or her family. Space Horizon organized a brainstorm session early in 2006 to discuss the possibilities for a spaceport to be build nearby already existing tourist facilities. One of the key outcomes of the session was the possibility to develop a spaceport on one of the Dutch Islands in the Caribbean. Most of these islands already know how to deal with tourist looking for luxurious holidays and a spaceport would be a major addition.

The spaceport would have facilities for training the space explorers, entertainment, bars and restaurants and a small shopping mall for people travelling with the space tourist. The development of a spaceport will bring enormous benefits to the local economy of the island and might even lead larger amount of tourist visits per year. Space Horizon is currently in contact with local politicians and investors and is in the process of talking to potential spacelines for usage of the spaceport to conduct their flights. Just recently a new collaboration has been initiated to bring the Spaceport Caribbean into the next phase. Caribbean Spaceport is currently the company taking all the necessary actions to have the spaceport deployed as soon as needed. Click here for info. (3/18)

Intelsat Announces Earnings (Source: Intelsat)
Intelsat, the world’s leading provider of fixed satellite services, reported results for the three-month period and combined year ended Dec. 31, 2008. Intelsat reported revenue of $608.8 million and a net loss of $524.2 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008. The net loss includes non-cash charges of $326.8 million for orbital location impairments. Intelsat reported revenue of $2,364.9 million and a net loss of $1,198.2 million for the combined year ended December 31, 2008. (3/18)

NASA Administrator Selection Update (Source: SPACErePORT)
President Barack Obama has reportedly selected retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration to be a special envoy to Sudan. Gration, a close friend of Obama with considerable experience on African issues, had previously been among the candidates under consideration to become the next NASA Administrator. Meanwhile, according to NASA Watch, a new NASA candidate has started to circulate inside the Obama Administration: Mae Jemison, MD. Dr. Jemison is a former astronaut who flew on STS-47 in 1992. (3/18)

Another Asteroid Buzzes Earth (Source: AP)
Scientists say a newly discovered asteroid whizzed harmlessly past Earth on Wednesday, the second close encounter in a month. The small space rock dubbed 2009 FH flew within 49,000 miles of the Earth's surface at 8:17 a.m. EDT. The asteroid, measuring 43 feet (13 meters) and 95 feet (29 meters) across, was spotted on Monday night by the Nasa-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. An asteroid this size usually comes this close to Earth every few months. (3/18)

Satellite Industry Players Call for De-Regulation for International Partnerships (Source: Telecom Tiger)
Industry players representing the government agencies, satellite service operators, pay-TV platform operators, content providers and telecom carriers gathered recently and called on the need for deployment of more satellites to meet India's market demand. “Despite the extraordinary success of ISRO over the past couple of years, the digital telecoms and DTH markets remain seriously under-provisioned in terms of transponders,” said Simon Twiston Davies, CEO, CASBAA. “Commercial satellite services such as VSAT systems delivering national communications backbones and DTH services for home subscribers just can’t source enough satellite capacity from the domestic market. Additional market de-regulation supporting international partnerships is essential,” he added. (3/18)

No Chinese Rockets for US Satellites - Yet (Source: Asia Times)
At the end of February, Eutelsat Communications SA, announced that it intends to use a Chinese rocket in 2010 to launch a new communications satellite built by Thales Alenia Space, a European satellite manufacturer, without US-built parts. Both companies are US defense contractors - Eutelsat is a major supplier of satellite services to the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan - and both find themselves at the heart of a heated debate over the future of US-China relations in space. This debate centers on US export control policies which have remained virtually unchanged for a decade.

Bear in mind that no US satellite has been carried into space aboard a Chinese rocket since the late 1990s, and in effect, Chinese rockets remain off limits to any satellite containing US-built parts. Numerous US companies active in the global space sector support reform efforts and want them to happen rapidly. However, outspoken conservative members of the US Congress in particular who do not want US national security interests to be shoved aside are mobilizing, and framing this debate in a very direct way. (3/18)

Europe Plans to Use its Vega Rockets Instead of Russian Ones (Source: Itar-Tass)
Europe plans to start using its own Vega carrier rocket for launching small satellites instead of Russia’s Rokot and Dnepr from 2010, European Space Agency Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain said. He said the first satellite of this type, GOCE, was launched aboard Russia’s Rokot carrier rocket on Tuesday. Another such satellite, SMOS, will be launched aboard Rokot in July. A Dnepr carrier rocket will blast off from Baikonur at the end of the year to take CrioSat-2 to orbit. As for the next four satellites, ESA plans to launch them aboard Vega carrier rockets, which are expected to become operational in early 2010. (3/18)

Russia to Test Launch Angara Rocket in 2011 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia's new Angara carrier rocket will start test flights in 2011, the rocket's developer said. The Angara, designed to place heavy payloads into orbit, is currently under development at the Khrunichev State Space Science and Production Center. "The work is going according to schedule. A light-class Angara will be launched in early 2011 and a heavy class rocket will be launched at the end of that year," Khrunichev's first deputy head Vasily Sychyov said. He added that after 2011, all heavy satellites could be sent into orbit on the Angara from a space center located on Russian territory. (3/18)

Europe to Orbit Three Satellites with Russian Rockets in 2009 (Source: RIA Novosti)
The European Space Agency (ESA) has plans to orbit three research satellites in 2009 using Russian carrier rockets. A Russian Rockot launch vehicle successfully put into orbit on Tuesday the European GOCE satellite, which will measure and map the Earth's gravitational field. He said the next Earth Explorer, named SMOS, could also be launched aboard a Rockot vehicle mid-year. The SMOS has been designed to detect soil moisture and saline levels in the world's oceans. The third launch is expected to take place in late 2009.

The Rockot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile. It uses the original two lower stages of the ICBM, in conjunction with a Breeze-KM in the upper stage for commercial payloads. (3/18)

ATK Awards $257 Million to United Space Alliance for Ares I and Ares 1-X Programs (Source: ATK)
Alliant Techsystems announced that it awarded United Space Alliance (USA) a $257 million contract to perform subcontractor support to ATK for the NASA's Ares I and Ares 1-X programs through the Design, Development, Test and Engineering (DDT&E) phase. The contract includes engineering, deceleration system development and technical KSC operations support for Stage I activities. (3/18)

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