May 26 News Items

Tom Cruise: Preparing to Go to Space (Source: All News Web)
A rumor is spreading through Hollywood that Tom Cruise is planning to go into space on one of Richard Branson's first Virgin Galactic flights. According to a Hollywood insider who wishes to remain anonymous Cruise has already put down a seven figure amount to book an entire spaceship for him and and wife, Katie Holmes. 'Let's hope the couple is still together for the trip as flights are still a few years off' the insider remarked. Virgin Galactic gives people (with the financial means) a chance to see planet earth from just outside the atmosphere and experience weightlessness. Cruise is believed to be one of a few Hollywood sceen idols who are planning or considering a space journey. (5/26)

Space Operations Vital To USAF And USA (Source:
Air Force officials discussed the importance of space as a warfighting domain before members of the Senate May 20 on Capitol Hill. Senior Air Force leaders in the space realm answered questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee Strategic Force Subcommittee, telling them that Air Force officials were postured to make the most of their assets as part of the joint fight. Gen. C. Robert "Bob" Kehler, the Air Force Space Command commander, told the subcommittee that the command's efforts to provide the services with resources to maintain a strong presence in space have been and continue to be a vital part of the national defense strategy.

According to USAF Deputy Undersecretary Gary Payton: "Our space systems are the envy of the world...Our surveillance satellites are able to detect missile launches anywhere in the world, our communications systems allow the president precise and assured control over nuclear forces, our wideband systems rapidly transmit critical information to our warfighters, our weather satellites allow us to predict future weather half a world away, our Global Positioning Systems enable knowledge down to centimeters and timing down to nanoseconds." (5/26)

Maryland Gov. Pledges Boost to State's Aerospace Industry (Source: The Gazette)
A week after NASA completed repairs to its Hubble Space Telescope, whose daily orbital operations are managed by the space agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Gov. Martin O'Malley on Tuesday announced plans to bolster Maryland's aerospace industry as the state has already done for life sciences. Speaking before the Maryland Space Business Roundtable in Greenbelt, O'Malley (D) proposed forming a Federal Facilities Advisory Panel through the state Department of Business and Economic Development. The panel's particular focus would be on aerospace opportunities, to harness the potential of the 50 federal installations in Maryland. He is also planning a Maryland Federal Facilities Summit.

"It's clear that we have the tools, base and competitive skills to be a leader," O'Malley said, referring to the state's space industry as an "unsung hero." Maryland hosts 16 of the nation's top 25 aerospace companies, with about $1.6 billion annually flowing from NASA-related business, O'Malley said. Private-sector space industry companies in Maryland include Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences, Science Applications International Corp., General Dynamics, Hughes Network Systems and Honeywell. Lockheed Martin and Hughes have headquarters in Maryland, in Bethesda and Germantown, respectively. (5/26)

Bolden's Burdens (Source: Space Review)
After months of waiting, space advocates finally got their wish Saturday: a nominee for NASA administrator. Jeff Foust reports on the reaction to the selection of Charles Bolden and what is in store for the former astronaut as he prepares to take over the space agency. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

The GAO, the Media, and GPS (Source: Space Review)
According to some news reports last week, the GPS system is on the verge of failure because of delays in launching new satellites. Taylor Dinerman discusses why there's less to be worried about than what those hyperbolic reports claimed. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

Cars Versus Rockets (Source: Space Review)
What does NASA have in common with the nation's troubled automakers? Michael Potter argues that both suffer from some fundamental organizational issues, and that NASA would benefit from better leveraging the capabilities and potential of the private sector. Visit to view the article. (5/26)

Hubble Repair Showcases Value of Manned Space Program (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The billion-dollar Hubble Space Telescope boasts astounding accomplishments. For nearly two decades, this window to the universe has peered back millions of years in time to produce stunning photographs of stars, nebulae and galaxies whose light took eons to reach the Earth. But the Hubble, launched with a flawed lens and fuzzy vision, would have been remembered as a colossal blunder had not the brave men and women of NASA been prepared to fly into space to install corrective optics. For those who continue to question the necessity for a human role in the exploration of space, the marvelous achievements this past week of physicist, astronomer and astronaut John Grunsfeld and his shuttle Atlantis crew mates provide an inspiring answer. In five grueling spacewalks to revive the aging Hubble, the astronauts demonstrated why human hands and minds in orbit remain indispensable. (5/26)

Space Crew to Double in Size, Tripling Research Capacity (Source: Florida Today)
The crew of the International Space Station will double in size this week, a long-awaited milestone that will triple the amount of scientific research that can be done on the $100 billion orbiting outpost. For more than a decade now, spacewalking astronauts have been in an assembly mode, piecing together the growing station in a construction zone 220 miles above Earth, while resident crews focused on simply keeping it flying safely. On Wednesday, a Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, a Belgian and a Canadian is scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan and then dock at the station Friday -- eight years, six months and 29 days after an inaugural crew of three opened the outpost for business.

They'll join a Russian, an American and an astronaut from Japan, forming the first full six-person crew to live and work aboard the complex, which is as large as an American football field. With the move to six-person crews, station residents finally will be able to turn their attention toward scientific research, logging up to 600 hours of experimentation during the next six-month expedition. They plan to shed light on the adverse effects of spaceflight on the body, knowledge critical to gearing up for human expeditions to the moon, Mars and other celestial destinations. (5/26)

Florida Worries Over Growing "Gap" in U.S. Manned Spaceflight (Source: AIA)
With only eight flights remaining in the current space shuttle program, the Central Florida economy is facing its biggest crisis in a generation. Out of 14,800 employees at Kennedy Space Center, anywhere from 3,500 to 10,000 could find themselves without jobs when the shuttle stops flying. The next-generation Orion spacecraft is currently scheduled to lift off in 2015, but any delay would only exacerbate the area's economic downturn. "If the gap continues to grow, we'll not hire [laid-off shuttle workers] back, and they'll be unemployed for a longer period of time, which will drive them out of the area. Then you have to build those skills over again," says Mark Nappi, vice president of United Space Alliance. (5/26)

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