May 16 News Items

UK Students Beat U.S. Team for Rocketry Crown (Source: AIA)
Student rocketeers from Madison West High School in Wisconsin, and the Royal Liberty School in Romford Essex launched their rockets at the Second Annual Transatlantic Rocket Fly-Off. The five-member team from Royal Liberty School scored 39.54 to win the event for the UK the second year in a row. Madison West High School, the 2009 Team America Rocketry Challenge Champion, logged a score of 50.68. Each point represents a deviation from altitude and time aloft targets, so the lower the score, the better. The student teams were challenged to design, build and launch model rockets with a raw-egg payload that must return to the ground unbroken. This year's contest goals were an altitude of 750 feet and a flight time of 45 seconds with the egg situated horizontally to mimic the position of an astronaut. (5/16)

Nelson's "Iron Will" Leads to NASA Frontrunner (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
If retired Marine Corps Gen. and former astronaut Charlie Bolden emerges as the next NASA administrator he has one man to thank for it: Florida's Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson has tirelessly -- some might say obnoxiously -- pushed for his old friend and the man who piloted the shuttle that Nelson flew on in 1986, where he earned the nickname “Ballast” from fellow astronauts.

In fact, Nelson not only stumped for Bolden, he also actively lobbied against alternative candidates. Though highly regarded by the aerospace community and NASA insiders, Bolden, 62, was never the White House's first choice for the NASA job. But for three months, other names that the White House floated for the job were knocked out of the running or withdrew from consideration. Much of the resistance was spearheaded by Nelson. (5/16)

End of One Era, Start of Another for Hubble (Source:
Marking the end of an era, spacewalkers Andrew Feustel and John Grunsfeld removed the no-longer-needed COSTAR corrective optics package from the Hubble Space Telescope today and replaced it with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, an $88 million state-of-the-art instrument designed to study the large-scale structure of the universe. The $50 million COSTAR, or Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, was installed in 1993 during the first Hubble servicing mission. It was equipped with small mirrors that exactly counteracted the spherical aberration marring Hubble's famously flawed primary mirror. COSTAR routed corrected light to all of Hubble's instruments except the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which had its own built-in corrective optics. (5/16)

NASA Shuffles Aeronautics Deck with Flat Budget (Source: Flight Global)
NASA will see no growth in its budget for aeronautics research through 2014, and in real terms may even shrink owing to inflation, in budget proposals set out by the White House. President Barack Obama has pushed NASA's aeronautics budget for the current fiscal year to 30 September to $650 million, with a $150 million top-up from his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 to be spent on NextGen air traffic management development.

But beyond that, aeronautics research at NASA faces a cut in real terms if inflation rises much above 1% in the first half of the next decade. After the FY2010 request for $507 million, aeronautics research's annual increases never rise above $4 million. In 2010 NASA will shift some focus to fundamental studies with its "integrated research" budget, which aims to investigate greener aviation technologies. But while integrated research starts with $62.4 million, by 2014 that will drop dropped to $60.5 million, and all this funding is taken from other programmes. (5/16)

Proton launches communications satellite (Source:
A Russian Proton rocket successfully launched a commercial communications satellite early Saturday. The Proton M lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:57 pm EDT Friday (0057 GMT Saturday) and released the IndoStar II/ProtoStar II satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit a little over nine hours later. The satellite is a Boeing 601 HP model owned by ProtoStar Ltd., a Bermuda-headquartered company, but will be used by Indonesian satellite TV company Indovision to replace the Chakarawarta 1 satellite at 107.7 degrees east in GEO, hence the satellite's dual name. The spacecraft weighed approximately 4,000 kilograms at launch and carries 27 Ku-band and 13 S-band transponders. The launch was the second commercial Proton mission this year. (5/16)

First Spaceman? Kittinger's Record-Breaking Sky-Dive from the Edge of Space (Source: YouTube)
In 1960, Joseph Kittinger stepped out of a balloon-bourne platform 31 km above Earth (technically space) reaching speeds of almost 1000km/h. He's arguably the first man in space. Click here to see another video of his series of jumps. (5/16)

Eutelsat Posts Revenue Boost in First Quarter (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on May 14 reported a 5.6 percent increase in revenue for three months ending March 31 compared to a year ago and said all three of its principal business lines contributed to the growth. Paris-based Eutelsat, the world's third-largest commercial satellite fleet operator as measured by sales, said its businesses appear so healthy that the company is raising its revenue forecast for all of 2009 to 925 million euros ($1.26 billion). Eutelsat's 2009 fiscal year ends June 30. (5/16)

In Upset, Raytheon Loses GBS Contract to Lockheed (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services of Valley Forge, Penn., was awarded a $43 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to take over the Global Broadcast Service (GBS) and centralize its operations. The GBS system uses government and commercial satellites to broadcast intelligence data, Web site pages, television news channels and other products to U.S. military users around the world. (5/16)

Spacewalkers Tackle Toughest Hubble Repair Job Yet (Source: AP)
Facing their toughest job yet, spacewalking astronauts floated outdoors Saturday to give the Hubble Space Telescope a better view of the cosmos by installing a new high-tech science instrument and fixing a broken camera. It was the third spacewalk in as many days for the shuttle Atlantis crew, expected to be the most challenging ever performed because of the unprecedented camera repairs. Astronauts have never tried to take apart a science instrument at the 19-year-old observatory. (5/16)

Confirmed: President to Interview Bolden (Source: Florida Today)
President Barack Obama will meet Monday with former astronaut Charles Bolden to discuss filling a crucial vacancy at NASA, the White House announced Friday. The president "wants to meet with somebody about filling the important role of future NASA administrator," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday. Asked whether that meeting was with Bolden, Gibbs acknowledged, "He will meet with him Monday, and we'll see how that goes." Bolden has been the contender favored and heavily promoted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Orlando Democrat who leads the Senate panel that has jurisdiction over NASA. The two flew together in a 1986 shuttle flight. (5/16)

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