April 17 News Items

California-Based Center Controls DOD Eye in Sky to Support Troops On The Ground (Source: CSA)
For the troops on the ground in hot zones all around the world, there are many items they rely on that are vital in their day-to-day operations: their weapons, their wingmen, their body armor ... their space assets? The DOD's space assets are often overlooked as key items in the daily operations of the commander on the ground in operational areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. And perhaps no other unit has as much of a direct affect on those operations than the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Click here to view the article. (4/17)

Crist Decides Not to Ask for Ethics Probe in Space Tourism Case (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Gov. Charlie Crist decided not to ask the Florida Ethics Commission to rule on whether a former employee within his office [Brice Harris] broke the law by setting up a $500,000 grant for a Panhandle "space tourist" business and then taking a job overseeing the program. "In light of his recent resignation from the Andrews Institute we will not be making a referral to the Ethics Commission," a Crist spokesman said. If found guilty by the ethics commission, Harris could have faced public censure, a $10,000 fine, and could be forced to repay money to the state. The Governor's spokesman wasn't sure Friday if the state would still try to force Andrews to refund the $300,000 in taxpayer funds it landed for the deal. (4/17)

Naples Travel Agency Booking Flights to Space (Source: WBBH)
If you're looking to take a trip into space, now you can. Naples-based Betty Maclean Travel Agency is booking travelers on the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne. For $200,000, you'll be able to travel into space on a round trip that takes two-and-a-half hours. (4/17)

Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson to Speak at ISDC in Orlando (Source: NSSFL)
Space Adventures president and CEO Eric Anderson will be a speaker at the upcoming International Space Development Conference (ISDC) planned for May 28-31 in Orlando. Mr. Anderson will be speaking about the emerging space tourism market and the role of Space Adventures in facilitating private space flights. ISDC will cover a wide-range of topics including NASA policies, government programs, space solar power, space tourism and advocacy. Visit http://www.ISDC2009.org for more information. (4/17)

Expert: China to Offer Free Global Navigation by 2020 (Source: Xinhua)
China will be able to provide free global navigation and positioning services by 2020 with its own constellation of satellites named "Compass," an engineering expert said here Friday. Compass would cover all of China and its adjacent regions by the end of 2010 or early 2011, and it would expand into a global network by 2020, Cao Chong, chief engineer of the China Electronics Technology Group Corp., told Xinhua. Cao's statement contradicted earlier reports claiming that China would complete the system before 2015. (4/17)

Russia and Space Adventures Looking for New Space Tourist (Source: MosNews)
A vacated space aboard the Soyuz space capsule may allow another space tourist to travel to the International Space Station in September, the Russian Federal Space Agency says. Space Adventures is selecting candidates for the flight. It was earlier reported that Charles Simonyi’s flight to the ISS in April may be the last commercial space travel for a long time but, since Kazakhstan pulled its cosmonaut out of the next expedition, there may be a free seat aboard Soyuz TMA 16, heading for the ISS in September. (4/17)

Arianespace Wins Another Commercial Launch (Source: Arianespace)
Japanese operator SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. has chosen Arianespace to launch its new JCSAT-13 communications satellite. This new contract is the 7th contract signed in 2009 by Arianespace with the major satellite operators. The JCSAT-13 contract is the 27th that Arianespace has won in Japan out of 36 commercial contracts open to competition. JCSAT-13 will be launched by an Ariane 5 in 2013 from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport, French Guiana. (4/17)

U.S. Scientist Says Tie Up Asteroids to Protect Earth from Strike (Source: RIA Novosti)
If an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, the best way to avoid a global catastrophe could be to attach a long tether with a weight at the end to deflect its orbit, a U.S. scientist has suggested. David French, a doctoral candidate in aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, said that by attaching ballast and a tether to asteroids "you change the object's center of mass, effectively changing the object's orbit and allowing it to pass by the Earth, rather than impacting it." NASA has identified over 1,000 of potentially dangerous objects nearing the Earth, and the number is growing. (4/17)

NASA to Restore Wallops Spaceport Shoreline in $45M Project (Source: DelMarVanow.com)
NASA is undertaking a $45 million project to protect over $1 billion of government assets on Wallops Island by restoring the island’s shoreline, which is eroding at the rate of about 10 feet a year. Recent storms also washed away half of a UAV runway on the island. NASA has $170 million in assets on Wallops Island, while the Navy has $70 million plus $800 million outfitting and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s assets there are worth $5 million. (4/17)

ULA Lands Contract (Source: Florida Today)
United Launch Alliance snared another multimillion-dollar contract this month, bringing to more than 60 the number of satellite-delivery missions it plans to fly between now and 2015. Under terms of the $184 million contract, the company will loft a classified payload for the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office in 2011. The NRO owns and operates the nation's fleet of spy satellites. The payload -- designated NROL-15 -- will blast off atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport's Launch Complex 37. The company in the past 14 months has won contracts for 14 launches. Eleven of those will take flight from Cape Canaveral. The others will fly from Vandenberg.(4/17)

Colorado Space Win: Telescope Finds 100,000 Possible Earth-Like Stars (Source: Denver Post)
The Kepler space telescope has captured its first images of a portion of sky with 14 million stars, with about 100,000 that could be candidates for hunting Earth-like planets during its 3 1/2-year mission. Two "incredible" milestones have been achieved in the past few days, said a program manager for Boulder-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies, which built the $591 million spacecraft. Last Friday, Kepler was able to finely focus on a patch of sky on its first attempt, making it one of the most precisely pointed astronomical telescopes in space. Test results indicate no on-orbit adjustment will be needed. In addition to Ball, Kepler is being controlled on a day-to-day basis by University of Colorado at Boulder students. It was launched March 6 by Colorado-based United Launch Alliance. (4/17)

Lawmakers Pressure NASA to Delay Shuttle's Retirement (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The faltering economy threatens to disrupt plans to retire the U.S. space-shuttle fleet next year and free up funds to develop a new generation of manned spacecraft. With Florida and parts of Texas particularly hard hit by the recession, their congressional delegations are maneuvering to stave off thousands of additional layoffs there by delaying shuttle retirements. Concerns about adding to local unemployment rolls recently prompted Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida to put language into a budget bill providing an extra $2.5 billion that could keep the shuttles flying through 2011. A House-Senate conference committee is considering the matter, even though officials at NASA are pushing to end the program a year earlier.

Instead of an arbitrary 2010 deadline, the goal should be to safely complete the remaining nine shuttle missions "and finish the international space station before shutting operations down," said Mr. Nelson, a former astronaut who flew on the shuttle and heads a Senate Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over space exploration. But reflecting the uphill battle facing any lengthy extension, a congressionally created panel released a report Thursday strongly endorsing NASA's 2010 date for safety and other reasons. Click here to view the article. (4/17)

Falcon-1 RazakSAT Launch Delayed (Source: New Straits Times)
Due for lift-off on April 21, the launch of a RazakSAT satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon-1 rocket has been delayed by as much as six weeks for additional work on the launch vehicle. (4/17)

Safety Board: We’re Fraked on Human Spaceflight (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has issued its annual report for 2008, and it’s not a fun read. Not at all. Basically, it says that the U.S. is facing a long gap in human spaceflight and there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about it. The panel’s basic conclusions are: it’s too expensive and dangerous to fly the shuttle beyond 2010; the shuttle’s replacement can’t be sped up very much; the COTS program (SpaceX, Orbital Sciences) can’t fill the gap. (4/17)

Arizona Instrument Monitors Developing Mars Dust Storm (Source: ASU News)
Scientists at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility are using the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to monitor a new dust storm that has erupted on the Red Planet. The dust storm began in mid-March 2009, in the large Southern Hemisphere impact basin named Hellas. It has since grown as it spread northward in a patchy fashion. How large the storm will become is unknown, but previous storms have grown to envelop the whole planet for weeks at a time. (4/17)

Endeavour Rolls Out to Launch Pad for Possible Rescue Mission (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space shuttle Endeavour has arrived at Launch Pad 39-B at KSC. It is perched alongside Atlantis, which sits on Pad 39-A for a May 12 Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Endeavor would be launched in the event of an in-orbit emergency aboard Atlantis. A post-Columbia panel recommended that NASA be prepared for such rescues when an in-orbit shuttle cannot use the International Space Station as a safe haven. If not needed for a rescue mission, Endeavour would be relocated to Launch Pad 39-A for a June mission to the Space Station. (4/17)

Safety Experts Call for Shuttle Shutdown (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Saying NASA is at a critical crossroads, independent safety experts have called for the agency to stay the course and shut down the shuttle program after nine remaining missions. Keeping NASA’s shuttle fleet flying beyond 2010 would endanger astronauts and sap money from efforts to return American astronauts to the moon by 2020, the group said. “Continuing to fly the shuttle not only would increase the risk to crews, but also could jeopardize the future U.S. exploration program by squeezing available resources,” the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said in its latest annual report, released Thursday. The panel was created by Congress after the 1967 Apollo 1 launch pad fire killed three astronauts. (4/17)

Space Research Bill Clears Florida House, Advances in Senate (Source: SPACErePORT)
A bill to establish a Florida-based Space Transportation Research & Development Institute, led by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, has received its final approval by the full House of Representatives. House Bill 69 is sponsored by Rep. Dorothy Hukill (R-New Smyrna Beach), with the co-sponsorship of key legislators from the Space Coast and other areas of the state. A Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R-Daytona Beach) has been approved by two committees and now awaits its third hearing before going to the full Senate for their vote. (4/17)

Sea Launch Counts Down To Monday's SICRAL 1B Launch (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
The Sea Launch team is initiating a 72-hour countdown at its equatorial launch site, in preparation for the launch of Telespazio's SICRAL 1B communications satellite on April 20. Liftoff is planned at 01:16 am PDT (8:16 GMT), at the opening of a 57-minute launch window. The team arrived at the launch site, at 154 degrees West Longitude, on April 15 and began ballasting operations to increase stability at launch depth. (4/16)

India Set for Monday Spysat Launch (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
India's defense surveillance capabilities will get a quantum boost Monday with the launch of a sophisticated spy satellite that can see through fog and clouds. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) workhorse polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) that will soar aloft from the Satish Dhawan spaceport with the radar imaging satellite (RISAT), will also put into orbit the Anusat, a micro educational satellite built by Anna University. (4/16)

Budget Report: NASA Facing Shortfalls, Launch Delays (Source: USA Today)
NASA faces launch delays and budget shortfalls, no matter what, suggests a Congressional Budget Office report released Thursday. Budget analysts looked at four trajectories for space agency planning in the next decade. "On the basis of the cost growth that has occurred in the past, CBO’s analysis indicates that the costs of NASA’s development programs could grow by 50 percent, on average," says the report, which notes that NASA intends to request an average of $19.11 billion every year from 2010 to 2025. In that time, the space agency hopes to launch 79 science missions, alongside the "Constellation" series of human spaceflight rockets to replace shuttle.

If NASA follows current plans to develop a new moon-landing rocket, and stop space shuttle launches, then the first astronauts visits to the moon will likely be delayed three years, until 2023. A second scenario, continuing space shuttle operations, would boost NASA's budget needs 25% to an average of $23.8 billion, with similar moon-landing delays. A third scenario, delaying science missions to fund 2023 moon landings, would lead to a 10% yearly bump of about $21.1 billion each year. And a fourth option, gutting science and aeronautics to fund moon-landings, means the agency would launch only 44 science missions over the next 15 years and aeronautics research would be cut by about a third. (4/16)

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