March 24 News Items

Inside NASA's Next Space Project (Source: ABC)
For 27 years, the space shuttle has been the center of the U.S. space program and the only means to send crews up to space. But, in a year and a half, the shuttle -- now on its 125th mission -- will be retired by presidential mandate. With only nine or 10 flights left to go, the program is on the brink of a major transition. So, what's next for NASA when the space shuttle quits flying? In effect, it will be back to the future. NASA will launch two rockets -- not one as they did in the Apollo days, when man first landed on the moon. Visit to view the article. (3/24)

Astrotech and Space Florida Announce Partnership (Source: Space Florida)
Astrotech Corp. announced a partnership with Space Florida to provide end-to-end mission assurance support, streamlining the process for commercial space customers to acquire support across a spacecraft’s lifecycle. Together, both organizations will provide a singular approach to global satellite market needs. Visit for information. (3/24)

EADS Astrium Puts its Suborbital "Space Jet" on Hold (Source: Hyperbola)
Hyperbola had heard that EADS Astrium had shelved for the time being its aspirations for the suborbital market and now the European space company has confirmed the rumor to this blog with the following statement: "The world economic situation has created a difficult near term environment in which to finalize ongoing discussions with investors. Astrium is to temporarily slow down the technical activities focusing on core risk mitigation for the project. The [space jet] team achieved impressive results in the pre-development phase particularly in the field of propulsion technology. Astrium sees suborbital flight as a promising area because of the emerging space tourism market." (3/24)

E'Prime Case Being Considered by Orlando Judge (Source: SPACErePORT)
E'Prime shareholders are awaiting a decision from an Orlando-based Magistrate Judge on a motion that would dismiss their complaints against former E'Prime president Bob Davis of Titusville. The shareholders are alleging multiple improprieties by Mr. Davis, including securities fraud, manipulation of securities, and breach of fiduciary duty.

According to court documents, South Florida's Aerospace Technologies Group (ATG) had agreed to purchase Davis' stock for $15 million, plus an estimated $10 million to clear up past liabilities and to start the launch business. ATG's due-diligence investigation for the deal revealed alleged misrepresentations by Davis of the status of E'Prime agreements with the Air Force, and START treaty limitations on their proposed Peacekeeper-based commercial launch vehicles. (3/24)

NASA Might Name Toilet For Comedian Stephen Colbert (Source:
NASA may consider putting Stephen Colbert's name on a space toilet, after the comedian came out on top of the U.S. space agency's online naming poll for a new space module. "Colbert" had amassed more than 230,000 votes to beat out second-place name "Serenity" by more than 40,000 votes. "Come on, Serenity?" Colbert said. "That's not a space module, that's a Glade plug-in."

The Node 3 module contains eight fridge-sized racks for many of the space station's life support systems, such as the new space toilet, as well as an observation deck that contains a work station for the International Space Station's 57-foot robotic arm. It is currently slated for launch later this year to the space station. (3/24)

Space Fan Obama Makes Out of This World Call (Source: AFP)
President Barack Obama looked to the stars Tuesday taking time out from his daily grind to delight in the wonders of space in a very long-distance video chat with astronauts orbiting the Earth. During a nearly 30-minute conference call, the president flanked by some Washington schoolchildren, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and Florida Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, peppered the 10 astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) with questions. (3/24)

NASA and Microsoft to Make Universe of Data Available to Public (Source: NASA)
NASA and Microsoft plan to make planetary images and data available via the Internet under a Space Act Agreement. Through this project, NASA and Microsoft jointly will develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content -- including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon -- explorable on WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft's online virtual telescope for exploring the universe. (3/24)

International Moon Mission Study to Examine Crew Rescue (Source: Flight Global)
European or Asian manned spacecraft using a US Earth departure stage to reach lunar orbit is one possible concept to be discussed this year by the world's leading space agencies as they work towards an international lunar outpost reference architecture by mid-2011.

That architecture is likely to include multiple transport approaches using different vehicles to guarantee that a lunar outpost can be supplied and its crews returned to Earth when necessary. Another use of multiple transport systems is for crew rescue - for example stranded astronauts in Earth or lunar orbit - could be met by a rescue spacecraft. (3/24)

Oversight Lacking with ASRC Contract, NASA Audit Finds (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center has not provided adequate oversight for a technology development contract that could be worth up to $600 million, NASA auditors said. Performance evaluations that determined award payments to Maryland-based ASRC Aerospace Corp. were not based on specific outcomes and milestones, according to a report released during the weekend by NASA's Office of Inspector General, the agency's in-house auditors.

"We found that performance evaluation factors were inaccurate, unverifiable, or too general to accurately assess the contractor's performance," the report said. In addition, the auditors questioned whether overtime totaling $136,000 during a nine-month period in 2008 was worked because no supporting documentation was available. KSC's procurement director agreed to implement all six of the audit's recommendations for improving oversight of the contract. (3/24)

Delta II Launches GPS-IIR Satellite (Source:
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket has launched carrying GPS-IIR-20. GPS-IIR-20 will replace the GPS IIA-27 satellite, which has reached the end of its design life. The new satellite also carries an experimental L5 signal, which will serve as a technology demonstration for future aircraft navigation systems. The next GPS launch will be of GPS-IIR-21 on 21 August, followed by the first launch of the next block of satellites, IIF - which is scheduled for 22 October on a Delta IV. (3/24)

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