May 13 News Items

Astrotech Posts Profit for Quarter (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech announced financial results for the FY-2009 third quarter, which ended March 31. The Company posted a net income of $3.6 million on revenue of $11.8 million, compared with a third quarter fiscal year 2008 net loss of $0.8 million on revenue of $6.6 million. Net income for the nine months ended March 31, 2009 was $2.1 million on revenue of $21.6 million, compared to a net loss of $34.5 million on revenue of $19.5 million for first nine months of the prior fiscal year. (5/13)

Italy Aims to Send Spider-Bot Swarm to Moon (Source:
Nearly 40 years after Americans first set foot on the moon in 1969 with NASA's historic Apollo 11 flight, a host of private rocketeers are hoping to follow to win a $30 million prize. Team Italia, one of 17 teams competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, has grown into a national endeavor. Piero Messina, president of the Naples-based International Association for the Aerospace Culture (AICA), helped pull together all the major Italian aerospace and engineering universities, as well as the two largest Italian aerospace companies, to support the race to land a robot on the moon by 2012. Their designs for lunar robots resemble skittering spiders or crabs that could deploy as a swarm of mobile cameras and sensors on both legs and wheels. (5/13)

Orbcomm To Declare Total Loss on Six New Satellites (Source: Space News)
Satellite mobile messaging service provider Orbcomm will file a $50 million total-loss insurance claim for all six satellites it launched in June 2008, arguing that even if only one of them has completely failed in orbit, none of the other five qualifies as a "working satellite" under the company's insurance policy, Orbcomm Chief Executive Marc J. Eisenberg said May 11. (5/13)

Ariane-5 Countdown Underway for May 14 Launch (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Count-down operations for launch of Europe's Herschel & Planck space observatories are now underway at Europe's spaceport in French Guiana. The launch is planned for between 9:12 a.m.and 10:07 a.m. on May 14. (5/13)

Space Station Crew Expands to Six This Month (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The International Space Station will expand to a six-member crew on May 29 following the launch of the Soyuz TMA-15 following a launch from the from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on May 27. Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne (Belgium), and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk will join Russian Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronaut Mike Barratt and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to form the first six-person space station crew with five of them from different space station partner nations. (5/13)

Gotcha! Atlantis Snags Hubble 350 Miles Above Earth (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In a carefully choreographed approach much like a slow-motion celestial game of cat and mouse, shuttle Atlantis came up behind the Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday afternoon and astronaut Megan McArthur grabbed it with the shuttle's robotic arm. Atlantis drifted slowly to within 30 feet of the aging telescope so that the daring capture could be made. The dramatic maneuver 350 miles above Australia sets the stage for the really hard work that lies ahead: five days of back-to-back spacewalks by four astronauts using over a hundred specially designed tools to repair and upgrade the 19-year-old observatory. Some of the fixes have never been attempted before on orbit and NASA scientists are unsure whether they will work. (5/13)

NASA Sets New Launch Date for Virginia Minotaur Mission (Source: NASA)
The new launch date for the launch of a Minotaur rocket from Virginia's Wallops Island has been set for May 19, with May 20 as a backup. The window each night is 7:35 to 11:30 p.m. The rocket carries a military TacSat satellite as its primary payload. (5/13)

Hypersonic 'WaveRider' Poised for Test Flight (Source: Discovery)
Hoping to bridge the gap between airplanes and rocketships, the U.S. military is preparing to test an experimental aircraft that can fly more than six times faster than the speed of sound on ordinary jet fuel. Officially, it's known as the X-51, but folks like to call it the WaveRider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight. The design stems from the goal of the program -- to demonstrate an air-breathing, hypersonic, combustion ramjet engine, known as a scramjet.

The aircraft will be sent aloft on Oct. 27, assisted by an Army missile booster that will bring it to at least Mach 4.5, the minimum speed at which the air-breathing scramjet engine operates. The WaverRider scramjet will then kick in and accelerate the vehicle to at least Mach 6. The Air Force Research Laboratory expects that the aircraft will fly for about five minutes before crashing into the Pacific. (5/13)

Space Florida Board Plans Teleconference to Select Interim President (Source: Space Florida)
The Space Florida Board of Directors announces a Special Board of Directors meeting via Telephone Conference Call to discuss and vote on an Interim President for Space Florida and to discuss the process for selecting the permanent President of Space Florida. The public teleconference will be held on May 18 at 3:00 p.m. (5/13)

Masten Space’s XA-0.1B-750 Vehicle Completes First Flight (Source: Masten)
Masten Space Systems completed their first vertical take-off, vertical-landing (VTVL) rocket flight demonstration Friday. The demonstration proved out the design and controls of the 730lb rocket-powered vehicle, known as XA-0.1B-750 or “Xombie”, its internal nickname. While the vehicle was attached to a safety tether, it took off, ascended a few meters, descended, and shut down its engine as designed. “This is the first big step to providing fully reusable spaceflight,” said company CEO David Masten. “Larger vehicles, using the same technologies tested here, will be capable of taking a 100 kilogram (220 pound) payload to 120 kilometers (75 miles) and be reused without requiring lengthy refurbishment.” (5/13)

Boeing Moving Missile Defense Offices to Huntsville (Source:
Boeing Company will relocate the headquarters for its Missile Defense Systems (MDS) division from Arlington, Va., to the company's facilities in Huntsville, starting immediately. The move will ensure MDS remains aligned with its government customers, while adding to Boeing's presence in the Huntsville community. Initially, Boeing will shift division management and support functions, such as Human Resources and Finance, to Huntsville, and will evaluate moving other employees currently working on MDS programs in Arlington. Between 40 and 50 positions may be transferred by the end of this year. (5/13)

Russia, US Agree on $51 Million Price for Soyuz Space Trip (Source: MosNews)
Russian space agency Roskosmos and NASA have reached agreement on the price of a flight for US astronauts on the Russian Soyuz space shuttle. Starting 2012, the flight will cost $51 million, head of Roskosmos, Aleksei Krasnov, said in Moscow on Wednesday. Prices for tourist flights will also grow inline with inflation and the foreign currency exchange rate. The head of Roskosmos said the future of space tourism depended on the amount of Russian astronauts working at the orbital station. If Russia has three cosmonauts working at the ISS at the same time, the Soyuz capsule will have no vacant space left to seat space tourists, he said. (5/13)

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