May 11 News Items

Get SPACErePORT Breaking News Updates on Twitter (Source: SPACErePORT)
Can't wait for the Monday newsletters? Too busy to check the SPACErePORT blog? Looking for a reason to open a Twitter account? I'll now be providing breaking-news updates via Twitter. Click here to sign-up for my sweet tweets. Editor's note: You can also follow aerospace workforce news from Brevard Workforce by signing up for their Twitter feed here. (5/7)

U.S. "Harvesting" Canceled Satellite for Future Uses (Source: Reuters)
The U.S. Air Force on Monday said it was working with Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co to "harvest" for future use any government-owned property or ground stations developed for a canceled satellite communications program. Gary Payton, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, told reporters the Air Force had already spent $2.5 billion during two to three years of initial developmental work on the Transformational Satellite (TSAT) program, and hoped to use some of the technologies developed for TSAT in future programs. He said the program's original mission -- to provide follow-on protected satellite communications for selected U.S. government communications, including the president's ability to order a nuclear attack -- remained "absolutely critical." (5/11)

Japan Space Plan Calls for Doubling Space Budget, Missile Defense (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A draft of Japan's new space plan calls for increasing the number of information- gathering satellites from three currently to four within five years and developing advanced sensors and cameras for early-warning satellites in a geostationary orbit to detect a ballistic missile launch. The fiscal 2009 budget allocates some ¥350 billion for space programs, 10 percent more than in fiscal 2008. The draft says that, in five years, annual spending must be more than double the current spending. For example, it calls for launching 34 satellites in the next five years, more than twice the number of the past five years. (5/11)

Shuttle Lifts Off for Final Trip to Telescope (Source: New York Times)
Seven astronauts blasted off for one last dance with the Hubble Space Telescope on Monday. The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Florida on Monday afternoon to revamp and refresh the orbiting telescope. Commanded by Scott Altman, Atlantis bolted through the sky on a pillar of smoke and fire just after 2 p.m. Monday. Atlantis is carrying 22,000 pounds of custom-designed tools, replacement parts and new instruments to slice and dice starlight as well as the hearts of scientists and stargazers everywhere. It is rushing toward a Wednesday rendezvous with the telescope, which happened to be floating about 350 miles directly above Cape Canaveral at launching time. (5/11)

Bob Park Gets His Wish: "It's Time for Another Augustine Report" (Source: Space Review)
Last week the White House announced plans for a new review of NASA's human spaceflight program led by Norm Augustine, who chaired another space policy review nearly 20 years ago. Michael Huang expresses concern that the choice of Augustine as panel chair may lead to conclusions that could put the overall program in jeopardy. Visit to view the article. (5/11)

Space Cadets From Oz (Source: Space Review)
The Australian government recently released a defense policy white paper that includes an increased emphasis on space. Taylor Dinerman discusses how this shift will influence both domestic space policy as well as relations with other nations. Visit to view the article. (5/11)

Cheap Access to Space: Lessons from Past Breakthroughs (Source: Space Review)
One of the primary challenges of spaceflight in recent decades has been trying to reduce the cost of space access. John McGowan describes the importance of doing a larger number of small scale efforts to find the right combination of technologies and techniques that could make a breakthrough possible. Visit to view the article. (5/11)

NASA to Focus on Quiet, Efficient Aeronautics Technology (Source: AIA)
NASA has requested a boost of nearly $60 million for aeronautics research, as the agency seeks to implement a new program for reducing aircraft fuel burn. "We are talking 40-50% fuel-burn reduction. We're not interested in 5-10%," says NASA official Jaiwon Shin. Hybrid wing-body aircraft and open-rotor engines are among the technologies NASA is testing. (5/11)

NASA Approves Partial Privatization of the Space Program (Source: Fox News)
NASA's critics have long asked: Why does the space agency need to design and build its own rockets and spacecraft? When the Justice Department or the Centers for Disease Control want to send employees somewhere, they don't specify the aircraft types, let alone design the airframes, engines and avionics. They just buy plane tickets. Even the military finds it cheaper to use civilian aircraft for certain missions. So why should space transportation be any different?

NASA's beginning to agree. For the first time, after nearly a half century of building its own rockets and orbiters, it has approved the outsourcing of some of the equipment that enables its manned space missions to private contractors. Last week, acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese told a congressional subcommittee that the agency plans to give $150 million in stimulus-package money to private companies that design, build and service their own rockets and crew capsules — spacecraft that could put astronauts in orbit while NASA finishes building the space shuttle's replacements.

On Thursday, the White House ordered a top-to-bottom review of the entire manned space program, one that will be led by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, long considered a friend of private space ventures. Both developments show that the once-reluctant space agency and the Obama administration are ready to support commercial human spaceflight. It's a dramatic change, one that could reduce America's dependency on Russia for the next half-decade after the space shuttle program ends, and one that could kick-start a space program that some see as having stalled for 40 years. (5/11)

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Tests Mach 4 Ramjet (Source: PWR)
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s PWR-9221FJ dual-mode ramjet engine successfully completed its first ground test at Mach 4 flight conditions at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tenn. A dual-mode ramjet engine is a key technology for developing reusable hypersonic vehicles. (5/11)

Senator Nelson Expects Ares and Lunar Mission Approval (Source: WDBO)
Senator Bill Nelson told reporters in his Orlando office that he expects the blue ribbon panel called to review the manned space program to approve plans to return to the moon. "I think you will see that panel say the Ares rocket and the Orion capsule are the way we need to go." "Then if the president will get behind pushing that, we can speed up development of the new rocket," he added. NASA has already spent $6.9 billion on its plan to return to the moon. (5/11)

N.J. Legislators Question State Grants for Defunct Space Education Group (Source: Star-Ledger)
For more than five years now, the state has been sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a small, nonprofit organization with the Star Wars-sounding name, E3CO, whose mission is teaching elementary and high school students about growing food in space. But if the mission of E3CO seems a bit strange, what happens to its money each year may be even stranger. Records show that much of the money has gone to pay the salaries of two people -- one with political connections and the other a woman who has been dead two years. (5/11)

DigitalGlobe Will Launch Offering (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration's plans to use more commercial satellite imagery for intelligence gathering will propel the IPO of DigitalGlobe Inc. into the market this week. DigitalGlobe, which derived three-quarters of its 2008 revenue from the U.S. government, is set to trade Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DGI. Though the initial public offering is considered a strong one by analysts, the company first filed to go public in April 2008, just ahead of a free fall in the broader markets. (5/11)

Rocket Scientists Ignite Students' Imagination About Careers in Engineering (Source: Futures Channel)
In Huntsville, Alabama, teams of engineers are building a 325-foot, two-million pound rocket that will go from 0 to 1,000 miles per hour in less than 60 seconds. Those engineers are also igniting the imaginations of thousands of math and science students about career opportunities most never knew existed. This week, The Futures Channel released "Designing and Engineering Rockets," its third documentary video in a series that takes viewers inside NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to meet the people who are building the new Ares Launch Vehicles that will take the United States back to the moon and beyond. Click here to view the movie. (5/11)

Canada Looks to Build Next Moon Rover (Source: CanWest)
Canada is quietly putting together a proposal to build NASA an all-Canadian moon rover - a vehicle with a pressurized air cabin that astronauts could use without wearing bulky helmets and air tanks. One space industry executive says this could be Canada's next big area of expertise after the Canadarms. There are at least three American lunar rovers under development already. Now Ottawa's Neptec Design Group is also leading a team designing a separate, Canadian vehicle. MDA Corp., which built the Canadarms and Radarsat satellites, is also working on its own proposed lunar rover. (5/11)

Citizens Group Lobbies for NASA (Source: Florida Today)
Lawmakers in Washington will be visited by 30 Brevard County residents who will talk up the space industry and urge better funding for NASA. The Florida chapter of Citizens for Space will join similar lobbying groups from NASA centers in Houston, Mississippi and Ohio. The group arriving May 18 for a week of lobbying includes students, retirees, members of the aerospace industry, hotel industry officials and members of chambers of commerce, as well as small business operators. (5/11)

Mining the Moon, They Hope (Source: Financial Post)
Canadian miners aim to regain lost ground as resourceful innovators. If we can mine natural resources underground or underwater, then why not in outer space? That is the kind of thinking that will rule this week as some of Canada's top engineers gather in Toronto for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum's (CIM) annual conference. One of its ongoing mandates is to make sure Canada keeps its historical leg-up in mining technology and innovation.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception Canada has lost some ground in recent years as other countries have poured ever-more dollars into research and development, and the CIM wants to make sure Canada remains a mining leader. Technologies on display will include a focus on mining in outer space. Experts say this is not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. NASA is considering a US$100-billion-plus program to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020, and mining technology could play a key role. (5/11)

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