March 26 News Items

Wyle Test Lab and Staff Help Get Rocket Launches Back on Track (Source: Wyle)
Wyle's Southern California test laboratory and engineering staff have provided crucial services to allow the resumption of Delta rocket launches for military and commercial customers. Launches were delayed because of an industry-wide alert that numerous components on the Atlas and Delta rockets were not sufficiently tested for their ability to withstand the rigors of launch. "Prime contractors were alerted last year and screened all of their suppliers to make sure their shock measurement systems were suitable," said Jim Juve, general manager of Wyle's Western Test Operations. "Wyle's approach was approved and the prime contractors notified their suppliers they could test with us and get reliable test results." (3/26)

Space Coast Yuri's Night Events Planned for Apr. 4 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Join us as we honor the anniversary of the first manned spaceflight and the launch of STS-1 with an all-day space celebration in Cocoa Beach on Apr. 4! Included are a 5K "Space Race" fun run/walk on the beach; a NASA Space Education Expo; and a "Space Invasion" celebration (with costume contest). Visit for information. (3/26)

Senate Budget Committee Wants to Keep Shuttle Flying (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A U.S. Senate budget panel recommended Thursday that the space shuttle should be allowed to fly beyond its scheduled retirement in 2010 -- a proposal that directly contradicts a recent White House plan to mothball the shuttle next year. While the directive itself has little power, it sends a clear message to President Obama that NASA allies on Capitol Hill are not yet ready to end nearly three decades of shuttle flights. The non-binding resolution also suggests adding $2.5 billion to NASA's 2011 budget for post-2010 launches.

"…[A] fixed retirement date could create dangerous scheduling pressures," notes the Senate Budget committee resolution, which outlines Congress' spending priorities but has little effect on the actual spending, as congressional appropriations committees are responsible for doling out dollars. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, took credit for inserting the language. He sits on the budget committee and wants to limit the time between the space shuttle's retirement and the first launch of its replacement, now slated for 2015. (3/26)

NASTAR and ISU Partner to Provide Space Education Training Courses (Source: NASTAR)
The National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center and International Space University (ISU) have partnered to create a series of unique space education and training courses aimed to motivate, inspire, and educate people from a range of backgrounds and age groups. Each course will be taught by world-renowned space industry experts and include hands-on activities in a state-of-the-art aerospace training facility environment.

The ISU/NASTAR partnership will unveil its first course, Rocket Science 101, on June 24, 2009. Taught by ISU faculty member and 5-time Space Shuttle crew and space walker, former NASA Astronaut Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, this half-day course will include a comprehensive introduction on how rockets work, propulsion, preparing for space flight (government and private), how to enjoy your time in space, the impact of space tourism, and more. (3/26)

Lockheed Martin and University of Florida to Develop CubeSats (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin has partnered with the University of Florida to develop and launch five miniature CubeSat satellites to test innovative new space solutions. Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services will fund $450,000 of research and development projects at the university in 2009. The CubeSats will investigate technological advances such as miniaturized, space-hardened GPS electronics and state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin will also perform payload data analysis for these satellite missions. (3/26)

Six-Month Delay for First Ares I Five-Segment Rocket Test (Source: Flight Global)
NASA's first firing test of the five-segment solid rocket motor, DM-1, for the Ares I crew launch vehicle, has been delayed by up to six months from 2 April to August or September. Ares I uses a solid rocket motor for its first stage and its prime contractor Alliant Techsystems, which provides the Space Shuttle Program's four-segment motor, won the development contract in 2007. ATK says a six-month delay is possible because it needs to be "sure the first test is right and there is no critical path impact" - meaning the CLV's development will not be set back by the delay.

After DM-1 ATK had planned to test its demonstration motors DM-2 and -3 in August and September, respectively. Those tests are now likely to be delayed toward the end of the year, if not to 2010. The Ares I's first stage differs from the Shuttle solid rocket boosters as it has a modified solid fuel, new insulation materials for the segments and igniter - itself a solid rocket - and it will have a longer nozzle for lunar missions. Due to exhaust vortices generating an oscillation through the entire vehicle, the Ares' first stage will have mass dampers at the its base and other mitigation systems at its top. The first stage's base will also have additional small motors to initiate a tumbling motion for its descent profile. (3/26)

Emerging Nations Open To Comsat Suppliers (Source: Aviation Week)
Space Systems/Loral continues to dominate the commercial telecom satellite market, but European companies are maintaining their inroads and new market entrants are increasingly making their mark. As in 2007 and 2006, Space Systems/Loral led all geostationary satcom builders with eight orders, accounting for 29% of the open market. SS/L’s continuing domination of the market suggests that changes made after its Chapter 11 reorganization are bearing fruit.

Other U.S. manufacturers are not having similar success, though. Orbital Sciences Corp. finished the year with three orders, two fewer than in 2007. In quarterly earnings posted on Feb. 19, OSC said the global economic crisis could impact its satellite activities, although its popular Star 2 small satellite bus line could allow it to fare better than competitors. The other two big U.S. builders, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, scraped by with three awards between them, although that was better than the single order they won the year before.

However, Sierra Nevada Corp. landed a contract to build a second-generation low-Earth-orbit constellation for Orbcomm, and Lockheed Martin was short-listed for Iridium Next. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are counting on technology spinoffs from military/government satcom programs—like the Transformational Satellite and Wideband Global Satcom—along with streamlined production and testing setups, to help them improve market share. (3/25)

How to Save the World From an Asteroid Impact (Source: New Scientist)
It is 2036. A large asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Unless it is stopped, it will crash into the Pacific Ocean, creating a devastating tsunami. What should we do? We could blast the asteroid with a nuclear bomb, but that would risk shattering it into smaller pieces that could still threaten Earth. Or maybe we should try to force it off course by slamming into it with a heavy object - an unproven and therefore risky technique. Now there may be a third option: gently nudging the asteroid away from Earth without breaking it apart, either by exploding a nuclear device at a distance or zapping it with high-powered lasers. (3/26)

Meteorite Hunters 'Strike Gold' in Sudan (Source: New Scientist)
Last October, astronomers found the first asteroid on a certain collision course with Earth, observing the 4-meter-long rock as it hurtled towards the planet and then exploded in the sky some 37 kilometers above the Nubian Desert in Sudan. At the time it was unclear whether the blast would leave anything but dust behind, but a team of scientists and volunteers has managed to recover fragments of the 80-ton asteroid, called 2008 TC3, during several searches that began in December. So far, meteorites weighing a total of about 5 kg have been found. (3/26)

King Retires as Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Source: NASA)
David King, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is retiring from the agency to accept a position as executive vice president of Dynetics in Huntsville, effective immediately. Robert M. Lightfoot, Marshall's deputy center director, will serve as acting director until a successor is named. (3/26)

SBSS Launch Slips Until July (Source: Aerospace Daily)
Launch of the U.S. Air Force's first Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite aboard a Minotaur rocket has slipped as engineers try to ensure that the flight does not suffer the same fate as NASA's Orbital Carbon Observatory (OCO). The Block 10 SBSS launch, which had been expected to take place in April or May, is now likely to slip to July, according Boeing. OCO was lost in February when the fairing on its Orbital Sciences-built Taurus XL rocket failed to open. Orbital also builds the Minotaur, which has a lot of hardware in common with the Taurus, including fairing systems. (3/26)

Harris Corp. Rolls out Internet-Based Satellite Controls (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Harris Corp. has unveiled a new Web-based software product that allows satellite operators to monitor and control their spacecraft via the Internet. Harris believes NASA, military services and private companies are potential buyers of the new product, which "enables customers to realize time and cost savings while providing instantaneous support from any network access point." (3/26)

Florida University R&D Grows, But Lags (Source: SPACErePORT, SSTI)
University-based R&D in Florida grew from $1.204 billion in 2003 to $1.545 billion in 2007, an increase of 28.3%. However, despite efforts to maximize Florida's share of federal R&D investments, only 53% of the state's FY-07 R&D funds were from federal agencies, giving Florida a rank of 38 among the 50 states. Only four other states received more than 75 percent of their academic R&D funding from the federal government in FY-07. Also, Florida ranks a low 42 out of the 50 states in the production of science and engineering doctorates, with 5.98 Ph.D.s conferred for every 100,000 residents, based on FY-06 data. (3/26)

Astrotech Teams With Syncomm to Enhance New Business Model (Source: Business Wire)
Astrotech Corp. announced a partnership with Syncomm, a spinoff of Hughes Aircraft Company, to provide commercial satellite customers with expertise in end-to-end aerospace systems. Syncomm Engineering Services, comprised of Hughes and other aerospace industry experts, provides resources in multiple engineering disciplines including mechanical, electrical, environmental, and optical engineering for both ground and space-based programs. Also included in the Astrotech-Syncomm enterprise is Develecom, a strategic solutions company bringing project financing, insurance and underwriting support. (3/25)

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