April 1 News Items

NASA Awards Interim Protective Services Contract for KSC (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded a contract to Space Gateway Support of Cape Canaveral, Fla., to continue providing protective services at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This cost plus fixed fee contract begins on April 1, 2009, and will provide interim support until NASA awards a new competitive contract for agency-wide protective services. The Interim Protective Services Contract has a three-month base period and nine one-month option periods through March 31, 2010. The maximum potential value of this contract is approximately $40 million, if all options are exercised. (4/1)

Florida-Alabama Congressional Cage Match Planned at ISDC (Source: SPACErePORT)
Congressional delegation members from Florida and Alabama will be featured in a cage-match wrestling tag-team fight at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Orlando on May 28-31. The winning team will decide whether federal funding is invested to accelerate the development of NASA's Ares rockets, or to add flights and extend the retirement date for the Space Shuttle. The ISDC event will be preceded by a 2009 Space Investment Summit on May 27, which will feature a Brazilian kickboxing match to determine whether United Launch Alliance or SpaceX is funded to fly crew to the International Space Station. (4/1 - April Fools)

Preponderance of Positrons Points to Dark Matter (Source: WIRED)
An orbiting observatory may have found the first indirect evidence of dark matter particles colliding in space and disappearing, as if in a puff of smoke. The “smoke” in this case consists of positrons, the antimatter counterpart of electrons. The constant rain of energetic particles that bombards the Earth’s surface, known as cosmic rays, contains many more positrons than scientists expected. All theories agree that dark matter must give this signal, an increasing of number of positrons,” said Piergiorgio Picozza of the University of Rome, leader of the study. (4/1)

Another Florida Lawmaker Pushes Obama to Extend Shuttle (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has urged President Obama to extend the space shuttle era, "preferably" until NASA is ready to fly a replacement vehicle that the agency hopes can one day return Americans to the moon. The freshman lawmaker also said he personally lobbied Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, for the extension. "Mr. President, the current schedule to end the Space Shuttle Program is too compressed, and therefore potentially dangerous to the crews. Moreover, terminating the Program so quickly, not only do we face losing a talented and dedicated workforce, we leave ourselves vulnerable to various threats that may arise that may require orbital launch capability and NASA-related expertise," wrote Grayson.

His efforts build on efforts by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who recently added language to a Senate budget resolution that would allow the shuttle to fly beyond 2010, a retirement date that was set by the Bush administration and was confirmed in Obama's 2010 budget. Retiring the shuttle in 2010 would create at least a five-year gap in which the United States would not have the capability to send astronauts into orbit aboard NASA spacecraft. The shuttle's replacement, dubbed Constellation, would not be ready until 2015 at the earliest. Its aim is to return American astronauts to the moon by 2020. (4/1)

NASA's Robotic Return to the Moon Delayed to June (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Given the delays of a military mission before NASA's use of the Atlas 5 rocket to dispatch a moon mapper and experimental impact probe, the space agency has delayed its lunar launch from May to June. Liftoff of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and co-passenger LCROSS -- the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite -- is slipping from May 21 to sometime in June. Project planners are evaluating trajectories and the science potential to determine whether to shoot for a lunar launch window opening June 2 or wait until the next period that starts June 17. (4/1)

Sharing on Space Station a Must, Astronaut Says (Source: Space.com)
There may be questions on Earth over which food and bathrooms the multi-national crew of the International Space Station can use, but the rule in orbit is share and share alike, an astronaut said. NASA astronaut Michael Barratt said that each of the space station's American, Russian and Japanese crewmembers has their own private sleeping quarters, but everything else is open to all. "Other than that, the rest of this big space station is pretty much communal," Barratt, who launched to the station last week, told reporters Wednesday via a video link. (4/1)

Judge Orders Sanity Review for Ex-Astronaut (Source: Florida Today)
An Orlando Circuit Court judge today ordered former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak to undergo psychiatric evaluation by June 12. Judge Marc Lubet issued the order today after the state petitioned the court for the evaluation. Nowak must be evaluated by Dr. Wade Myers of Tampa and Dr. Gregory Prichard of Bristol, in the Panhandle. The doctors must submit their written reports to the judge, the state attorney and the defendant’s attorney by July 6. Nowak is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and attempted burglary with assault after investigators say she drove from Johnson Space Center in Houston to Orlando International Airport to attack romantic rival Colleen Shipman. Both women were vying for the affections of former astronaut William Oefelein. Nowak and Oefelein were both fired by NASA. (4/1)

Kehler: U.S. Military Still Needs Space-Based Radar (Source: Space News)
The cancellation of the Pentagon's Space Radar program last year has not eliminated the U.S. military's need for an all-weather, day-night imaging-surveillance capability, according to U.S. Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command. Kehler said the ability to detect moving targets, a key feature of the Space Radar, also remains a valid requirement. In the wake of the Space Radar's cancellation, the Air Force has been exploring alternatives including the use of commercially available systems deployed by countries such as Canada and Germany. (4/1)

Economic Crisis Poses Challenges for Space Industry (Source: Space News)
The space industry is facing enormous challenges because it is an extremely capital-intensive enterprise, and companies and governments around the world are grappling with the greatest economic crisis in decades, according panelists at the National Space Symposium. While many authors and analysts compare the current economic crisis with events of the 1920s and 1930s, those comparisons are "completely false and misleading," according to Alvin Toffler, futurist and author. "This crisis is different."

The world economy and everyday life are dramatically different than they were during the Great Depression, Toffler said. Comparisons fail to take into account important changes that have occurred including increased globalization, great technological complexity and the speed of modern life, he said. While Toffler said he cannot predict what changes will occur, he does expect the world's increasing reliance on space to play a role. (4/1)

Astrium Calls for Europe to Fund Soyuz Replacement (Source: Space News)
Astrium Space Transportation, a company that has seen its rocket-development division's revenues fall sharply with the completion of design work on Europe's Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, is urging European governments to fund development of a medium-lift rocket to replace Russia's Soyuz vehicle, Astrium Space Transportation officials said March 31. (4/1)

Lawmaker Blasts Agency's Choice of Satellite Imaging Systems (Source: Space News)
U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis Blair has submitted a report to Congress recommending the acquisition of a multibillion-dollar imaging satellite system that is the most expensive and highest-risk option that could be pursued, according to a March 16 letter from U.S. Senator Christopher Bond (R-Mo.). (4/1)

Military Eyes October for Scramjet Test Flights (Source: AIA)
Boeing's first X-51A WaveRider static test vehicle will be assembled within weeks, allowing test flights to begin as early as October. Hypersonic test flights will allow engineers to evaluate scramjet technology for future use in both missiles and reusable space-launch vehicles. (4/1)

Embry-Riddle Students Named Finalists in NASA Means Business Competition (Source: ERAU)
A marketing proposal aimed at boosting NASA's Constellation program, along with the agency's public image, has earned seven students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University a finalist berth in the NASA Means Business Student Competition, an annual contest funded by the Coalition for Space Exploration and managed by the Texas Space Grant Consortium. In the Fall 2008 semester, students teams from across the nation submitted preliminary ideas that NASA could use to better brand its Constellation Program. Each team also turned in a video production storyboard.

The Embry-Riddle team’s proposed marketing campaign, titled NASA: The Journey Continues, outlines how NASA could win support for the Constellation Program from average Americans and ultimately from Congress by emphasizing the many anticipated contributions the program will make, not only to space exploration but also to everyday life on Earth. The plan recommends that NASA make more efficient use of existing news media, create a more consumer-oriented website, and schedule more community outreach programs.

Other finalist teams are from Bentley University, Cal Poly, MIT, Miami International University of Art and Design, and the University of Wisconsin. As the last step in the contest, each team will present its completed branding strategy and 30-second video public service announcement at the 11th annual NASA Customer Service Engagement Conference to be held this May at Kennedy Space Center. The winning team will choose between a $10,000 cash award or a flight in weightlessness aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s specially modified aircraft, G-Force One. They’ll also be invited to share their marketing suggestions with senior officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in September. (4/1)

Harris Awarded Contract for Interoperable Radio Architecture for Space Missions (Source: Harris)
Harris Corp. and NASA have embarked on a cooperative effort to advance a common, software-defined radio architecture for future space missions. NASA has awarded Harris a 14-month, multimillion-dollar contract to develop Ka-band capable radios as part of the Communication Navigation and Networking reConfigurable Testbed (CoNNeCT), which will be installed onboard the International Space Station (ISS). CoNNeCT is currently scheduled to be launched to the Space Station via a Japanese H-II launch vehicle in 2011. (3/31)

India to Launch Reusable Winged Spacecraft Prototype (Source: The Hindu)
An Indian version of the space shuttle will be test-flown from the spaceport at Sriharikota in a year’s time. The Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), as it is called, will be a combination rocket-aircraft: the aircraft with a winged body, which is the RLV, will sit vertically on the rocket. The engineering model of the aircraft is ready at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram. The first stage of the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3, flown in the early 1980s, will form the booster rocket. Weighing nine tonnes, it is called S-9. After it takes off like a rocket, the booster will release the unmanned aircraft, which will go into space. At the end of the mission, the aircraft will land in the sea. (4/1)

ATK Makes Utah Staffing Cuts Official (Source: Standard-Examiner)
ATK Launch Systems, following up on plans announced in February, handed pink slips to about 300 of its 5,000 Utah employees Tuesday. ATK attributed the layoffs, shared between facilities in Box Elder County, Clearfield and Magna, to changes in the programs it works on for NASA and the Department of Defense. Those include the fading space shuttle and Minuteman missile programs, both of which have provided substantial work for ATK in Utah over the years. (4/1)

KSC Security Force Lays Off 40 Managers (Source: Florida Today)
Space Gateway Support has laid off up to 40 management-level members of the security force and finance department it operates at Kennedy Space Center. The Tuesday layoffs leave the security force at about 180 people, a nearly 20 percent reduction, according to officials of the union that represents security officers. KSC officials, however, say the sprawling compound remains well guarded. The layoffs occurred because KSC's budget for security and fire protection service was cut in anticipation of a new contract, which is under protest. (4/1)

North Korea Launch Will Violate U.N. Resolutions (Source: Reuters)
South Korea and Japan warned North Korea on Wednesday it would still violate U.N. resolutions if it tried to put a satellite into space, just days ahead of a planned rocket launch both see as a disguised missile test. The rocket appears to have a bulb-shaped tip that gives credence to Pyongyang's claim it will carry a satellite, U.S. defense officials said on Tuesday. The U.S., Japan and South Korea say they see no difference between a satellite and a missile launch because they use the same long-range rocket, the Taepodong-2, which is designed to carry a warhead as far as Alaska. (4/1)

Rocket Launches May Need Regulation to Prevent Ozone Depletion, Says New Study (Source: CU Boulder)
The global market for rocket launches may require more stringent regulation in order to prevent significant damage to Earth's stratospheric ozone layer in the decades to come, according to a new study by researchers in California and Colorado. Future ozone losses from unregulated rocket launches will eventually exceed ozone losses due to chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which stimulated the 1987 Montreal Protocol banning ozone-depleting chemicals, said an Aerospace Corp. researcher. The study, which includes the University of Colorado at Boulder and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, provides a market analysis for estimating future ozone layer depletion based on the expected growth of the space industry and known impacts of rocket launches. (4/1)

Experts: Space a Changing Frontier (Source: Denver Post)
The next 50 years in space will look much different than the first 50 years, a succession of speakers said Tuesday at the 25th National Space Symposium. Future space missions will feature collaborations between nations with funding and technology more likely to come from private companies than governments. "Space is not just a two-way race any more," said George Nield, associate administrator of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Nield noted that China has joined the United States and Russia in launching manned flights, with countries such as India and Japan planning to put humans into space, and others, including Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, planning to build spaceports.

Colbert Demands "Democracy in Orbit" After Winning Poll (Source: CNN)
Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert has warned NASA to name a new wing of the international space station after him or he would "seize power as space's evil tyrant overlord." A NASA spokesman said the agency is aware of Colbert's threat, issued Monday night on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," but no decision will be made on the node's name until next week. Colbert topped NASA's online poll soliciting names for the node. The runner-up was Serenity, which Colbert said is not an appropriate name. "That's not a space station," Colbert said. "That's an adult diaper."

The contest rules spelled out that NASA reserves the right to "ultimately select a name in accordance with the best interests of the agency. ... Such name may not necessarily be one which is on the list of voted-on candidate names." NASA's hedging prompted a Pennsylvania congressman to urge the agency to name the node after the comedian. "The people have spoken, and Stephen Colbert won it fair and square, even if his campaign was a bit over the top," Rep. Chaka Fattah said. Fattah sits on the congressional committee that oversees NASA's funding. "NASA, I urge you to heed Congressman Fattah's call for democracy in orbit," Colbert said. "Either name that node after me, or I, too, will reject democracy and seize power as space's evil tyrant overlord." (4/1)

Ranking the Top Threats in Space (Source: Defense News)
A panel of officials with representatives from the Air Force, industry and even a former astronaut were asked what they see as the largest threat to U.S. space assets. Among their answers: “Not knowing what everything is on orbit scares me. I am still interested in knowing what everything is at least at the geosynchronous level.” “A focused cyber attack could be severely disabling...We have a lot of stuff in space that needs to be protected.” “Orbital debris. There were times when we had to bring astronauts back inside the space station because of fears of collisions from space debris. If there was an impact that would cause catastrophic damage.” (4/1)

Space Race Raises Risk of Nuclear War (Source: Political Affairs)
An unchecked race to militarize space is underway that is “increasing the risk of an accidental nuclear war while shortening the time for sanity and diplomacy to come into play to halt crises,” an authority on space warfare says. Through their military and commercial research facilities, the world’s military powers are pursuing development of a reusable, unmanned, hypersonic, space-strike delivery platform that “would permit rapid precision strikes worldwide in 120 minutes or less,” Matt Hoey said. The strike platform could loiter in near-space or in low earth orbit and assault terrestrial targets at incredible speed “with a nuclear or conventional payload and then return to any base in the world on demand,” he explained. (4/1)

Goldstone Antenna Relocation Project in Funding Phase (Source: Desert Dispatch)
The proposal to relocate a 90-foot antenna from NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Complex at Fort Irwin to Barstow Community College has been finalized, and project overseers expect to submit the proposal by June 2010, according to Karla Warner, a Goldstone outreach coordinator. The Pioneer antenna is proposed to move onto BCC’s campus in conjunction with the construction of a new science and technology center. Warner expects the project to break ground sometime between 2012 to 2014, and to complete construction around 2017. Right now, however, the project is trying to gain traction by securing seed money for the $34 million project. (4/1)

Hard Times on Earth Inspire Some to Look to the Stars (Source: Wall Street Journal)
On many evenings, as darkness sets in, Jamie Vogel turns off his TV and computer, steps outside his home in Raleigh, N.C., and tilts his head upward to contemplate the stars. We may be living in bad times, says Mr. Vogel, a 43-year-old computer engineer, "but it's never a bad time to look up at the sky."

Yes, much of the world is focused on the travails of the global economy. We're bombarded by news of layoffs and foreclosures. But Mr. Vogel and others like him are making an extra effort to look beyond our little planet. They argue that this age of uncertainty is actually a good time to dream mankind's biggest dreams. And they're being encouraged by space-exploration proponents who are finding new ways to involve amateur astronomers. Click here to view the article. (4/1)

US Military to Expand Satellite Monitoring Program (Source: New Scientist)
The US military plans to boost the number of satellites it routinely monitors for the risk of a smash-up with orbiting debris. The move could prevent future accidents like the recent collision between a US communications satellite and a defunct Russian probe. The US Air Force has cataloged more than 19,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters across, General Robert Kehler, Commander of Air Force Space Command, said. But despite the extensive catalog, the military does not have the ability to calculate the risk this space junk poses to every operational satellite. "We keep that catalog up to date, but we do not watch everything for collision purposes all the time," Kehler said. (4/1)

Group: U.S. Space Programs Need Better Oversight (Source: Reuters)
U.S. government spending on unclassified satellites and space programs is out of control and soared 42 percent to $16.9 billion in fiscal 2009 from $11.9 billion in 2005, the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense said. The group, which compiled the first independent database of federal space programs, said billions of dollars in space-related programs for national security were spread over the three military services and other agencies with no central authority to track spending. "Without this bird's-eye view on spending, those who determine our space and national security policy -- in the White House, on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon -- do not have a crucial tool for setting spending priorities," said the group. (4/1)

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