March 30 News Items

Space Foundation Reports on Space Economy (Sources: Space Foundation, Parabolic Arc)
Overall worldwide space revenues grew nearly 2.5 percent in 2008, rising to $257 billion. The largest segments of the space economy are commercial infrastructure and commercial satellite services, which together total 67 percent, compared to about 32 percent for government space spending. The largest growth sectors were space products and services, which grew 10.4 percent to $91 billion, mainly due to direct-to-home television services, which generated $69.8 billion in 2008. Fixed satellite services showed the strongest growth rate, with revenue up 31 percent to $16.8 billion. Space industry stocks suffered along with the world economy in 2008, declining 45 percent in 2008, erasing the gains from three consecutive years of growth. Still, space investment and output remain strong and the long-term outlook for the global space industry is encouraging. (3/30)

Russian Support for Mexican Space Agency (Source: Parabolic Arc)
It looks as if Mexico's space agency, Aexa, will be getting assistance from the Russian space agency Roskosmos. Deputy Director Segrey Saveliev recently led a delegation to Mexico to discuss bilateral ties, the Russian news agency TASS reports. Russian experts held negotiations with the Mexican Congress Senate Committee on Science and Technology, as well as with the initiative group on development of the national space agency. The visit took place following the initiative of the Mexican party. A Mexican space agency is to be established in a few months. After that, Roscosmos will negotiate the issues with the authorized state agency. According to Saveliev, “reliable legal basis is required” to commence discussions of the space programs with Mexico. Mexico is interested in cooperation in the satellite communication, remote sensing programs, as well as in the Russian Global Navigation System (GLONASS). Thus, prospects for bilateral cooperation are realistic. (3/30)

Report: Cosmonaut Grumbles About Space Bureaucracy (Source: AP)
Squabbles on Earth over how cosmonauts and astronauts divide up the space station's food, water, toilets and other facilities are hurting the crew's morale and complicating work in space, a veteran Russian cosmonaut said. Gennady Padalka told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper that space officials from Russia, the United States and other countries require cosmonauts and astronauts to eat their own food and follow stringent rules on access to other facilities, like toilets. "What is going on has an adverse effect on our work," Padalka, 50, was quoted as saying. (3/30)

Mexico to Build Spaceport (Source: M&C)
Mexico plans to begin construction this year on a space port to send satellites aloft, an official said Monday. The facility will be located in the southern state of Quintana Roo on the border with Belize, said state planning minister Jose Alberto Alonso Ovando. The location was chosen after extensive studies in part because of its proximity to the Equator, he said in an interview. Late last year, the Mexican National Congress approved the founding of a national space agency, Aexa. The agency's headquarters will be located in the state of Hidalgo from where it will oversee launches and space flights. (3/30)

Lockheed Martin Establishes Colorado-Based Space Vehicle Integration Laboratory (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin has established a new Space Vehicle Integration Laboratory (SVIL) in Colorado to enable a more efficient and reliable process for space vehicle component and flight software integration. As a Lockheed Martin Space Systems-wide asset, the laboratory will have applications for large, small, existing and future satellite development. The SVIL utilizes state-of-the-art computer hardware and software technologies to provide users with the ability to more thoroughly understand how their space vehicle, at various stages of development, will eventually operate on-orbit. This approach facilitates less complex development, and fosters close customer partnerships, with more transparency and long-term predictability. (3/30)

Harris Corp. Completes Design Review for Next-Generation GPS Control Segment (Source: Harris)
Harris Corp. has successfully completed demonstrations of its advanced communications and information assurance solutions for the Global Positioning System (GPS) Operational Control Segment (OCX) program. Harris is a member of the Northrop Grumman Corp. team, which is competing for the open-architecture, next-generation ground control segment contract that will support the entire network of existing and future GPS satellites. Total value of the contract to Harris if the Northrop team is selected in 2009 for the development phase could exceed $100 million over the next 20 years. (3/30)

Prosecutor: Faulty Part Could Have Destroyed Shuttle (Source: Houston Chronicle)
A Friendswood man pleaded guilty to one count of fraud today for selling NASA a space shuttle part that prosecutors allege could have endangered astronauts' lives. Richard J. Harmon, 60, the former owner of Cornerstone Machining Inc. in Alvin, pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of fraud involving a space vehicle part. He could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Harmon, who had worked in the aerospace industry for decades, subcontracted to build two fasteners for $18,795 each and agreed in doing so that he would meet all precise specifications or let authorities know what was changed. (3/30)

Lockheed GPS Team Maintains Schedule, Achieves Milestones in Design Review (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The Lockheed Martin team developing the Air Force's next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) spacecraft, known as GPS III, continues to meet or exceed key milestones on schedule in the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase of the program. Lockheed Martin, along with teammates ITT and General Dynamics, has successfully completed 61 of 71 subsystem and assembly PDRs. (3/30)

Ares I-X Slips Into August (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA managers have decided to position the space shuttle Endeavour on Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B when sister ship Atlantis lifts off from Pad 39A to service the Hubble Space Telescope, a move that will delay the first flight test of the shuttle follow-on vehicle by three or four weeks. Endeavour is to serve as a rescue vehicle for the Atlantis crew in case their orbiter is damaged during ascent, since they won't be able to shelter in the International Space Station because it isn't reachable from the telescope's orbit. The shuttle program had considered keeping Endeavour stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and rolling it out only if post-launch inspection of Atlantis revealed the need for a rescue flight. (3/30)

Atlas V Targeting Friday Launch From Cape (Source: Florida Today)
The Air Force and United Launch Alliance plan to hold a flight readiness review Wednesday to set the launch date for a next-generation military communication satellite from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. A Friday liftoff is targeted for an Atlas V rocket carrying the Global Wideband SATCOM-2 spacecraft. (3/30)

SpaceX Announces Launch Window (Source: Florida Today)
Space Exploration Technologies announced the launch window for ATSB's RazakSAT on Falcon 1 Flight 5 is scheduled to open April 20 at 7 p.m. EDT. It will be the fifth flight of the single-engine rocket. SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch site is about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site at United States Army Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific. Due to the location of the launch site, the Kwajalein local date at the opening of the launch window will be April 21. (3/30)

'Most Habitable Zone' on Mars Revealed (Source:
Evidence is building that NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander plopped down on a microbe-friendly location. Descending onto Mars on May 25, 2008, Phoenix was designed to study the history of water and habitability potential in the Martian arctic's ice-rich soil. It did not pack instruments designed to find life. To date, there is no firm evidence that Mars ever hosted biology. But researchers say the landing site has or had the ingredients necessary to support life as we know it. (3/30)

NASA Unveils Orion Spacecraft in Washington (Source: Reuters)
NASA gave visitors to the National Mall in Washington a peek at a full-size mock-up of the spacecraft designed to carry U.S. astronauts back to the moon and then on to Mars one day. The U.S. Navy-built Orion crew exploration vehicle will replace the space shuttle NASA plans to retire in 2010, and become the cornerstone of the agency's Constellation Program to explore the moon, Mars and beyond. (3/30)

Orion Splashdown Test Planned Off Florida Coast (Source: Reuters)
The Orion program's $2 million Post-Landing Orion Recovery Test (PORT) project will make sure that crew members can be rescued from the choppy waters of the Atlantic in case of an emergency requiring an aborted launch, using the full-scale, 18,000-pound (8,000 kg) model of Orion. On April 6, the capsule will be dumped into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, using one of the ships that usually recovers rocket boosters from shuttle launches. Instruments within the capsule will measure the acceleration and tilting astronauts would experience upon landing in waves.

Editor's Note: If NASA plans for Orion to splash down off the coast of Florida for recovery and refurbishment, perhaps this PORT exercise can also serve as a pathfinder for SpaceX and its Dragon capsule. (3/30)

To the Moon and Beyond (Source: Boston Herald)
The United States needs a space program that is going somewhere. Otherwise, Neil Armstrong’s famous first step on the moon will have been reduced to being just, “One small step for a man!” Forty years ago, the U.S. accomplished one of the greatest feats of exploration when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Sadly, looking back at those glorious pictures of the Apollo program, I’m struck with the same sense of historical wonder that I have when looking at images of the pyramids of Giza or the Acropolis in Athens. While it only happened 40 years ago, we seem completely disconnected to that age.

Since then, we have been coasting on the glories of that achievement. We have had some wonderful robotic successes and the International Space Station is a significant achievement, but these programs have been frail offspring of Apollo’s legacy. In fact, U.S.-manned space vehicles (the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station) have “explored” over 1.5 billion miles since the end of Apollo. However, all of this mileage occurred in orbit within 250 miles of Earth. (3/30)

Europe, Russia in Mars Mission Rehearsal (Source: AFP)
Six volunteers from Europe and Russia will on Tuesday allow themselves to be locked up in a capsule in Moscow for over three months to simulate the conditions for an eventual manned mission to Mars. The two Europeans and four Russians will not be allowed to leave the facility until their mission ends 105 days later, allowing scientists to assess the psychological effects of long duration space flight. (3/30)

Mysterious East Coast Boom Was Falling Russian Rocket (Source:
A mysterious boom and flash of light seen over parts of Virginia Sunday night was not a meteor, but actually exploding space junk from the second stage of a Russian Soyuz rocket falling back to Earth, according to an official with the U.S. Naval Observatory. Residents of the areas around Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va., began calling 911 last night with reports of hearing a loud boom and seeing a streak of light that lit up the sky. An observatory satellite tracking program showed that the Soyuz rocket debris should have come down exactly in the area where the fireball was spotted. (3/30)

Satellites, Launches, and the Recession (Source: Space Review)
How are big commercial space companies, including the operators of commercial communications satellites, coping with the economic crisis? Jeff Foust reports that these operators are surprisingly optimistic about their prospects, even as other parts of the industry are more concerned. Visit to view the article. (3/30)

Is the Chinese Manned Space Program a Military Program? (Source: Space Review)
Some on the West have argued that China's planned mini space station will be a military facility of some kind. Chen Lan describes the role the military plays in China's human space program and why those concerns are largely unfounded. Visit to view the article. (3/30)

Can Space Tourism Survive the Economic Downturn? (Source: Space Review)
In today's economy, spending on luxury items, including private trips into space, can be difficult to justify. Taylor Dinerman examines the prospects for some of the leading companies in the space tourism field. Visit to view the article. (3/30)

The Last One Out Can Turn Off the Lights... (Source: Space Review)
Last week another veteran space journalist, Mark Carreau, lost his job as part of a wave of job cuts hitting the newspaper industry. Dwayne Day worries about the effects these layoffs will have on overall coverage of space issues. Visit to view the article. (3/30)

Establishing a Global Space Lobbying Organization: Yuri's Foundation (Source: Space Review)
One challenge for space advocates has been in building consensus around a specific goal or mission. John Leonard suggests one solution in a form of a foundation featuring astronauts and other space leaders. Visit to view the article. (3/30)

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