May 27 News Items

Space Coast Congressional Leaders Host Discussion on Averting Post-Shuttle Brain Drain (Source: SPACErePORT)
Senator Bill Nelson and Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey moderated a gathering of senior officials from Florida and various federal agencies to discuss options for mitigating the loss of local aerospace workforce talent following the Space Shuttle's retirement. Officials from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Institute of Technology, University of Central Florida, and University of Florida presented ideas for initiating or expanding R&D programs on the Space Coast, including: a Space Transportation Research & Development Institute; pursuing Eastern Range improvements and 'space traffic control' within the FAA's NextGen effort; a planetary science institute; FAA- and NOAA-supported unmanned aerial vehicle programs at KSC; and life sciences/biotechnology work related to the International Space Station National Laboratory.

Two Air Force generals were present and discussed their commitment to Eastern Range improvements that would make the Cape a more attractive launch site, in-part through innovative changes to the scheduling process for range access. FAA officials were present to discuss NextGen, UAV, and commercial launch opportunities. An official from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy discussed opportunities for Innovation Clusters and NextGen. Other opportunities included giving KSC responsibility for spaceport infrastructure on the Moon and Mars; attracting non-space work to keep local aerospace talent in-place; and consolidating Air Force and NASA space supply chain operations at the launch site.

KSC Director Bob Cabana hosted the meeting at the state-built Space Life Sciences Lab. He closed the meeting with an acknowledgement that many great ideas were discussed, but they likely would not prevent a major workforce upheaval after the Space Shuttle is retired. He said he's encouraging the workforce to take advantage of state-sponsored training services through the Brevard Workforce Development Board. (5/27)

Spaceflight Panel Wants Open Minds (Source: Aviation Week)
Membership in the White House/NASA panel being set up to give the Obama administration a quick review of the U.S. human spaceflight program will be announced as early as this week, and the group of 10 aerospace experts should clear all the regulatory wickets to begin work in about two weeks, according to Norman Augustine, the retired Lockheed Martin CEO who will chair the group. Augustine said the panel will consist of experts who are "fully open-minded on the subjects."

"My final desire, or stipulation, was no zealots," he told Aviation Week. "By zealot I mean somebody who's made up their mind and is just interested in selling their position, because that's not our role. Our role is to listen and weigh." The group will have to hit the ground running to meet its end-of-August deadline, which was set so any changes that grow out of its work can be reflected in NASA's budget. The panel's broad charter, as set by White House Science Adviser John Holdren, will be "to identify and characterize a range of options that spans the reasonable possibilities for continuation of U.S. human space flight activities beyond retirement of the space shuttle." (5/27)

North Korea Raises Tensions with Two Missile Launches (Source: AIA)
One day after detonating an underground nuclear device, North Korea reportedly has fired two short-range missiles. According to intelligence sources in South Korea, the North launched one surface-to-air missile and one surface-to-ship missile, each with a range of about 80 miles. (5/27)

Tampa-based Aurora Aerospace Offers Astronaut Training (Source: Aurora Aerospace)
Tampa-based Aurora Aerospace is offering training packages for commercial spaceflight astronauts. The company offers Zero=Gravity flight training, jet flights, hypoxia-high altitude training, simulator training, and physiologic training and medical certification. Aurora joins a growing list of Florida companies hoping to offer such services in support of the emerging personal spaceflight industry. Visit for information. (5/27)

Editorial: Space Leadership Vacuum (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The name of President Obama's pick to lead NASA — Charles Bolden — first appeared in the news weeks ago. He comes with solid credentials and admirers in the space community and in Washington, D.C. It's hard to understand why the president took so long to nominate him. A new administrator to tackle NASA's pressing issues is months overdue...And space program leadership isn't just an issue on the national stage. Florida's own space agency, which is trying to attract commercial-space investment to help ease the loss of shuttle jobs, doesn't have a permanent chief. Former Space Florida President Steve Kohler resigned earlier this month after coming under fire from space-industry representatives, state legislators and local officials for lackluster results and no-bid contracts.

Space Florida's board has replaced Mr. Kohler with an acting president, space consultant Frank DiBello. He's also highly regarded, but it's important to get a permanent chief in charge soon — whether it's Mr. DiBello or someone else who is well-qualified. It's a crucial time for space policy on both the national and state levels. Getting the right leaders in place ought to have a greater sense of urgency. The choice of Mr. Bolden seems a good start, though a late one. (5/26)

Atop New NASA Leader's Agenda: Human Spaceflight (Source: Christian Science Monitor)
Charles Bolden Jr. knows a thing or two about steering complex hardware through turbulence. He flew combat missions in Vietnam. He piloted two space shuttle missions and commanded two others. Now, as President Obama's nominee to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the former Marine brigadier general has been tapped to steer the agency through a potentially uncertain transition. The space shuttle program is winding down, and its replacement – the nearly five-year-old Constellation program – is under review. Until that review is complete, budget entries for the program beyond the current fiscal year carry an asterisk. Pending confirmation, it now falls to Mr. Bolden to guide NASA through the tough decisions ahead on the future of human spaceflight. "What we've got is a situation where we're going to wipe the slate clean, and we're going to do something different," says Roger Launius, a former NASA historian and now curator of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. (5/27)

Atlantis Ferry Flight Could Start Sunday (Source: Florida Today)
Shuttle Atlantis is expected to start its two-day ferry flight from California to Florida as early as Sunday. Meanwhile, senior shuttle managers are meeting to review Endeavour's readiness for the year's third mission: a targeted June 13 launch to the International Space Station. More than 150 KSC employees, mostly United Space Alliance contractors, are helping to prepare Atlantis for its two-day, 2,500-mile piggyback ride across the country atop a modified Boeing 747. That work adds about $1.8 million to the cost of a typical mission. The shuttle program budgets for the cost but could otherwise apply the money and workers' time to different tasks. (5/27)

Soyuz Launches Additional ISS Crew (Source:
A Soyuz rocket launched a spacecraft Wednesday carrying three new crewmembers for the International Space Station as the outpost expands its crew to six people for the first time. The Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:34 am EDT (1034 GMT) and placed the Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft into orbit nine minutes later. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS on Friday. On board the spacecraft is Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, and Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk. The three will join the three current members of the ISS crew, Gennady Padalka, Michael Barratt, and Koichi Wakata. This will mark the first time the ISS will have a six-person permanent crew. (5/27)

Japan's Moon Robot Plan Comes Under Fire as Space Blueprint Finalized (Source: Mainichi Daily)
An expert panel settled on the final blueprint for Japan's activities in space Tuesday, though a plan to send robots to the moon came under harsh criticism from the public. While there were no dissenting voices among the expert panel at the Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, the plan to send a bipedal research robot to the surface of the moon as a first step toward manned missions drew particular criticism in opinions submitted by the public. The committee received 75 opinions criticizing the robot mission idea on the basis that it had no value beyond a technological "demonstration."

The idea of sending the robots, which originated with expert panel member Mamoru Mori, chief of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and an astronaut, did not receive any proactive support among the 458 individual and group opinions received from the public regarding the blueprint. The blueprint will go before a meeting of the headquarters' committee at the beginning of June for final approval. (5/27)

Work Will Soon Begin on New Virginia Launch Pad (Source: Salisbury Daily Times)
Construction of a new launch pad for Orbital Science Corp.'s Taurus II rocket should begin this summer, the company's launch site manager said. Orbital ultimately expects to be capable of doing four to six launches a year from Wallops, launch site manager Norman Bobczynski said. The company's choice of Wallops as the home base for its Taurus II project will bring $40 million to $100 million of investment into the area from Orbital, NASA and the state, Bobczynski said. Bobczynski recently gave an update on the project to the Eastern Shore Defense Alliance, which is a group of area business people and others interested in supporting defense-related organizations on the Eastern Shore. Orbital Sciences has become a corporate member of the alliance.

Bobczynski has a quarter-century's experience in the space industry, working with liquid-fueled rockets. He worked for 23 years with the Atlas missile program at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California before retiring from that job in 2006. He then worked for rival company SpaceX on the Falcon 9 project in Florida before being hired by Orbital last June for the Taurus program. SpaceX was the other company, along with Orbital, that was awarded a NASA contract in December for multiple missions to take cargo to the International Space Station after the space shuttle program ends. (5/27)

NASA's Slender Ares I to be Tested for Stability Before Launch (Source: NASA)
The first flight test of NASA's new rocket configuration to carry astronauts into space will take place later this year. Ares I-X consists of a four-segment first stage solid rocket motor, and a simulated upper stage that represents the weight and shape of the Ares I rocket and Orion crew vehicle. It will be launched in a suborbital arc into the Atlantic to collect data on its flight dynamics and parachute recovery performance. The flight of the unpiloted Ares I-X will be an important step in confirming that the rocket design is safe and stable in flight before piloted flights of Ares I begin in the middle of the next decade. But -- even before the launch of Ares I-X -- a critical series of ground tests will take place to confirm that the vehicle's dynamic response will respond to launch loads and vibrations the way that computer analytical models have predicted it will respond. (5/27)

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