April 24 News Items

Florida Lawmaker Urges Congress to Extend Shuttle Era (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas today urged her fellow lawmakers to extend the space shuttle era for a year through 2011 when House and Senate negotiators meet to iron out differences between the two chambers' budget plans. The Senate version, at the behest of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, included a provision that would give NASA an added $2.5 billion to fly its eight or nine remaining shuttle missions through 2011, rather than hard-cap the shuttle's end in 2010, as Bush and Obama have advocated. The shuttle's retirement is expected to trigger thousands of job losses at Kennedy Space Center, which is located in Kosmas' east Central Florida district. (4/22)

NASA Pushes Back First Ares V Lunar Launch (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are quietly being pushed back and are in danger of slipping past 2020. In meetings over the last few weeks at KSC, agency managers have told employees and contractors that they are delaying the first lunar launch of the Ares V rocket – a cargo hauler slated to be the most powerful rocket ever built -- by two years.

NASA’s internal plans had called for Ares V to go to the moon in 2018, though the agency had announced a public goal of 2020. Internal deadlines are used by NASA to keep programs on track and to provide a margin of error for developmental problems. But because of growing budget woes, the agency is resetting its internal date to 2020. And privately, engineers say that means the public 2020 date to send humans back to the moon is in deepening trouble. (4/22)

Accelerating NASA's Ares I Isn't Easy or Cheap (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
An internal NASA study last year of how the Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule could be built faster portrays a program that is financially strapped and technically challenged. It found that efforts to speed up their development would require at least $3.8 billion more over the next several years. The "Constellation Acceleration Study" -- obtained by the Orlando Sentinel through a Freedom of Information Act request -- said that half that amount was needed just to cover $1.9 billion in cost overruns resulting from design changes to the Ares I and the Orion crew capsule.

Among the costly changes: a decision to land Orion in the ocean, rather than on hard ground, and a plan to install dampers on Ares I to counteract violent shaking caused by its solid-rocket first stage. "These costs must be addressed irrespective of acceleration," the study said. And even getting more money -- considered extremely unlikely -- is no guarantee, as the program continues to fall behind. (4/22)

Embry-Riddle Official Named to Space Grant Consortium Post (Source: ERAU)
Dr. Michael Hickey, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus, was recently elected to a one-year term as associate director of the Florida Space Grant Consortium (FSGC). The Consortium supports the expansion and diversification of Florida's space industry by providing grants, scholarships, and fellowships to students and educators involved in Florida higher education.

FSGC is composed of 17 top public and private colleges and universities in Florida, all of the state’s 28 community colleges, the Astronaut Memorial Foundation, the Higher Education Consortium for Math and Sciences, Kennedy Space Center, and the Orlando Science Center. Dr. Hickey also serves on the board of Space Florida. (4/24)

Mysterious Space Blob Discovered At Cosmic Dawn (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 23, 2009 - Using information from a suite of telescopes, astronomers have discovered a mysterious, giant object that existed at a time when the universe was only about 800 million years old. Objects such as this one are dubbed extended Lyman-Alpha blobs; they are huge bodies of gas that may be precursors to galaxies. This blob was named Himiko for a legendary, mysterious Japanese queen. (4/22)

PlanetSpace Loses Protest Over NASA Contract Award (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
PlanetSpace Inc- which lost out on NASA’s 3.5 billion dollar Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract last year- failed in their bid to have the award decision reversed, according to the GAO website. The company was a main contender to be the anchor tenant on the $50 million dollar-plus launch pad the state hopes to build at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. PlanetSpace filed an official protest to the GAO in January after NASA awarded SpaceX and Orbital the contract to resupply the international Space Station during the transition between the retirement of the space shuttle and when the Constellation program becomes operational after 2015. (4/24)

Russia Ready for Projects to Launch North Korean Satellites (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia is ready to begin projects with North Korean on launching its satellites with the help of Russian boosters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his South Korean colleague Yu Myung-hwan. "Russia is cooperating with many countries in aerospace, including launches of satellites by our boosters, including with South Korea. We ready for North Korea's developing similar projects," Lavrov said. (4/24)

Report: Ares Program Undergoing Big Changes (Sources: NasaSpaceFlight.com, Orlando Sentinel)
Citing schedule concerns and technical challenges, Constellation manager Jeff Hanley has outlined a series of proposed solutions to avoid further slips in the Ares/Orion schedule. Mr Hanley proposes deleting the Ares I-Y test flight, making Ares I’s first stage disposable, switching from Orion 4 to Orion 3 as the Full Operational Capability (FOC) date, along with a host of additional changes in order to achieve the 2015 target for manned Orion debut. The proposals come at a time where plans are being drawn up for a series of major reviews on the future of the Constellation Program.

NasaSpaceFlight's report lays out what many of the potential Ares/Orion changes are, from cutting Orion's crew capacity from six to four and cutting out some launches, and changing the reusablity of the first stage -- which would be more bad news for the Kennedy Space Center workforce. However, the significance of the proposed changes and their potential impact on the capability of the space ship are still not completely clear. (4/24)

Study Planned to Review Constellation Options (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Obama Administration will soon announce a new 60-day government study to review the various lunar rocket systems, including Constellation, to make sure NASA is on the right path for human exploration. Word is that the study -- effectively a redo of former NASA administrator Mike Griffin's 2005 "Exploration Systems Architecture Study" -- will be headed by Pete Worden, the director of NASA's Ames Center, though there are reports of pushback from some senior NASA figures against Worden heading the study.

However, the fact that the White House favors a new study is a poke in the eye to Griffin, who just last week not only defended Constellation but said "so what" if it was determined that other rockets were cheaper and better than Constellation's Ares I rocket and Orion capsule.

Garver Seen as Possible NASA Pick (Sources: NasaSpaceFlight.com, Orlando Sentinel)
In another move likely to be seen as a dig at Mike Griffin, NasaSpaceFlight.com reports that Lori Garver -- the former head of the NASA transition team whom Griffin accused on not being technically qualified to judge his rocket program -- is likely to be named next NASA chief. Meanwhile,

Missile, Radar Sales Boost Q1 Profits at Raytheon (Source: AIA)
Stronger sales of missiles and radars helped push Raytheon's profits 14% higher in the first quarter. Earnings rose to $452 million, up from $398 million in the previous year. Although some observers say military spending may eventually decline, the strong profits demonstrate that sales remain strong at some defense firms. (4/24)

Army Names Harris Corp. for $600M Satellite Terminal Contract (Source: AIA)
Harris Corp. recently received a contract from the Army to replace aging satellite communications terminals with terminals that can interface with new and legacy satellite systems. The contract is worth $600 million. (4/23)

Lockheed CEO Sees Stable Workforce Despite Economic Downturn (Source: AIA)
Lockheed Martin's workforce will remain stable or increase modestly over the next year, CEO Robert Stevens said. The DOD recently indicated it would cut some defense programs, but Lockheed's programs were largely spared. In fact, the Pentagon has requested additional Aegis radar systems built by Lockheed. (4/24)

FAA Pushes Congress for $20 Billion Air Traffic Control System (Source: AIA)
The FAA wants Congress to upgrade the 60-year-old air traffic control system, and to demonstrate how much times have changed, it has put the request into a six-minute video. The agency contends that a GPS-based system will give planes more flexibility in flight paths, eliminating congestion and increasing safety. The NextGen system would cost $20 billion to deploy. (4/24)

Nelson Keeps Pressing for Bolden to be NASA Chief (Source: Florida Today)
Seems that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson isn't the only one backing his friend, Charles Bolden, to be the next NASA administrator. "I happened to bump into Sally Ride today, and she said the same thing: Charlie would be great," Nelson said Thursday afternoon during a meeting with reporters on an unrelated topic. Bolden co-piloted the 1986 space shuttle flight that included Nelson, and his name is among the few considered as potential candidates for NASA administrator. Nelson said he's not sure why the White House continues to delay making an announcement. (4/24)

L-3 Sales Up for Quarter (Source: AP)
L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. reported a higher quarterly profit Thursday. The military contractor said it was helped by higher sales and Pentagon orders of surveillance and intelligence equipment. Net income rose to $199 million, or $1.66 per share from $189 million, or $1.51 per share, a year earlier. The New York-based company said revenue reached $3.64 billion, up 3.7 percent. (4/23)

NASA Faces Deadline for Tough Decisions on Shuttle (Source: Star-Banner)
NASA is facing a critical deadline to make its biggest decision in a generation: whether to go forward with plans to retire the space shuttle fleet and replace it with a new mode of space travel. But the agency still has no chief to make the $230 billion call. NASA seems so far off the White House radar, said one presidential expert, that it might as well be on Pluto.'As each day goes by, the need for these decisions becomes greater and greater, and the absence of an administrator becomes more and more an issue,' said John Logsdon, a member of the NASA Advisory Council who also advised President Barack Obama's campaign.

Obama's science adviser has said that crucial decisions on the shuttle and a new spacecraft to carry astronauts back to the moon will not be made until NASA gets a new administrator. In an interview two weeks ago, John Holdren did not know when that would be. A key deadline is April 30, when a congressional rule governing the shuttle's infrastructure expires. After that date, NASA will be free to start taking apart the shuttle program if it chooses.

But some in Congress want the shuttle to fly longer because retiring the fleet would force the U.S. to rely on Russia for trips to space for nearly five years. Obama has said he wants at least one more shuttle flight beyond those already planned. And that's not all. A Congressional Budget Office report concluded that NASA cannot carry out its current plans on its existing budget. The report outlined options that include delaying the flight of the new spacecraft, spending more money to meet the current schedule or drastically cutting back on science. NASA also has an extra $1 billion in stimulus money, but little direction in how to spend it. (4/23)

China Launches Remote-Sensing Satellite (Source: Aviation Week)
China has launched a remote-sensing satellite on Long March 2C from Taiyuan spaceport in the north of Shanxi province. The satellite, Yaogan VI, is one of a series that has been used for data collection for "scientific experiments, land resource surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster prevention and reduction." However, Western analysts say the satellite may be intended primarily for military applications. They say some satellites in the Yaogan series have carried synthetic aperture radars, while others have had optical imaging payloads. (4/24)

Wide Range of Education Initiatives at ISDC 2009 (Source: NSSFL)
This year’s International Space Development Conference will play host to an extraordinarily diverse range of education initiatives. A local competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize contest, Omega Envoy, is organizing the “Eggs-Prize,” a contest involving eggs, gravity and a very long drop. This contest will be held among high-school students attending the conference on Saturday May 30.

The primary focus of the presentations on Saturday will be education-based. This year’s ISDC will also have student presentations, an education roundtable and a book signing by space writer Andrew Chaikin. The ISDC conference will be held at the Omni Hotel at Champion’s Gate in Orlando from May 28th – 31st. The conference will be preceded by the Space Investment Summit on May 27th. Visit http://www.isdc2009.org for information and registration. (4/24)

Vandenberg AFB Receives USAF Environmental Award (Source: Air Force Magazine)
Vandenberg AFB, California, received the "installation cultural resources management award", one of three environmental awards issued to the Air Force out of eight recipients of these just-announced 2009 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards. (4/24)

NASA Engineer to Lead Space Workforce Efforts (Source: CSA)
The California Space Education and Workforce Institute (Institute) and its sister organization the California Space Authority (CSA) announced today that Lynn Baroff will serve as the new Executive Director for the Institute. Baroff comes to the Institute with extensive training and education experience, including a 16 year career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he began as the chief of management training in their human resources organization. More recently, he served as JPL’s liaison to the United States Air Force (USAF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in El Segundo. (4/24)

Lockheed Hosts Nearly 4,000 Students Nationwide During Young Minds At Work Day (Source: CSA)
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company opened its doors to students, aged six to 18 years, for the company’s annual Young Minds at Work Day. Nearly 4,000 students participated at company facilities across the country in Alabama, California, Colorado, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company annually hosts Young Minds at Work Day to motivate young people to pursue science and technology careers. A Lockheed Martin employee, contractor or customer is sponsored each student. Each student “shadowed” his or her sponsor during part of the day and participated in hands-on activities and tours of the company. (4/24)

California Space Enterprise Leads Nation and World in Economic Impact (Source: CSA)
A study released by the California Space Authority (CSA) shows California leading the nation and world in contributions to the economy. California accounts for 44 percent of the U.S. space market, and 21 percent of the global market, contributing more than $76 billion in total economic impact and more than 370,000 jobs. “California’s space enterprise has a greater impact on state revenue and jobs than any other industry, including entertainment, tourism and agriculture,” stated Hon. Andrea Seastrand, Executive Director of CSA, and former member of Congress from the state of California. “While many think of space enterprise as rocket scientists and defense contractors, applications from space-based technologies are widely used throughout many other industries. Environmental studies, crop infestation, water use monitoring, and oceanic observation all rely on space capabilities. Space enterprise is an enabler that stimulates entrepreneurial investment, innovation and the economy.” (4/24)

Sea Launch Successfully Delivers SICRAL 1B Satellite in Orbit (Source: CSA)
The Sea Launch Company successfully launched Telespazio’s SICRAL 1B communications satellite from its equatorial launch site. This event marks Sea Launch’s 30th mission from sea, since operations began in March 1999. Visit http://www.californiaspaceauthority.org/images/press-releases/pr090420-2_SeaLaunch.pdf to view the article.

Zero G Experiment Wins Cash Prize (Source: Space.com)
A Texas zero gravity experiment has won a $25,000 cash award and a free ride into space aboard a privately built rocket. The winning team from the University of Texas would see their work go up on a Falcon 9 rocket from private spaceflight firm Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), one of the sponsors for the first Microgravity Research Competition. Other competition sponsors included The Heinlein Prize Trust and the Rice Alliance. (4/24)

Small Satellites Provide Low-Cost Entree (Source: Aviation Week)
Satellite reconnaissance that delivers timely intelligence and strategic communications has become an essential part of national security for many nations, providing early warning of hostile attacks and extending command and control throughout areas of operation. Most nations, particularly small countries, lack the resources, technology and money to create and maintain constellations of orbiting satellites. Smaller, less-costly satellites weighing 500 kg. (1,100 lb.) or less are emerging as practical options. In recent years, large countries, including the U.S., as well as small ones have recognized the benefits of these platforms.

There are four categories of small satellites: Minisatellites weigh 100-500 kg.; microsatellites 10-100 kg.; nanosatellites 1-10 kg.; and picosatellites 0.1-1 kg. Mini- and microsatellites are becoming more common in space programs, for the advantages they provide in speedy launch schedules and economy. Nanosatellites are beginning to be tested and deployed, while picosatellites are largely experimental. (4/24)

Shuttle Launch Window Opens a Day Early to Ease Range Access (Source: SpaceToday.net)
NASA is considering moving up the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis next month by a day to give managers more opportunities before yielding to a conflicting event. Atlantis is currently scheduled to lift off May 12 on STS-125, a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. However, NASA officials said Thursday that they are looking into the possibility of moving the launch up one day, to May 11. That would give managers more opportunities to launch the shuttle before May 14, when the shuttle must stand down because of a previously-planned launch at Cape Canaveral that has range priority.

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