May 3 News Items

Budget Coming This Week Won't Shorten Gap (Source: Florida Today)
The White House is not going to stop the shutdown of the space shuttle program. People are getting laid off. Equipment will be dismantled. Already-tenuous supply lines will be closed off. If you're waiting for this week's release of the NASA budget and hoping for a stay of execution, move on. It's not coming. Here's what to expect in the 2010 NASA budget: Funding for one additional space shuttle mission, bringing the total number of remaining launches to nine. Obama's blueprint said NASA must prove it can fly an extra mission safely and before the end of 2010, extending the program's life by three months. There's political talk about flying shuttles through 2011 or even 2015, but it's just talk unless Congress backs it with extra money. It would cost up to $4 billion more per year to keep flying shuttle while also staying on track with developing a new system, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

More money, and unprecedented emphasis, will be given to space-based missions to study the Earth. In particular, expect the administration to beef up research about climate change. For this new administration, climate-change research is listed in every public document as first among NASA's priorities, ahead of human space flight, robotic deep-space probes and aeronautics. That's no surprise. As a candidate, the president said he would re-examine the value of the human missions compared to robotic spacecraft and Earth science. Funding and support for a return to the moon, but with caveats about the scale of the missions and the timeline. The outline released so far indicates the administration continues to aim for a moon landing by 2020, but there are few details. (5/3)

NASA’s Next Chief Will Arrive at a Time of Change (Source: New York Times)
More than 100 days into his presidency, Barack Obama has yet to name the person he wants to lead NASA. In this delay Mr. Obama has company: President George W. Bush did not decide on his choice, Sean O’Keefe, until November of his first year in office. But NASA is on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation transition, winding down space shuttle flights and construction of the International Space Station before ramping up ambitions for a return to the moon and an eventual trip to Mars. Click here to view the article. (5/3)

Space Bills Fail to Pass During Extended Florida Legislative Session (Source: SPACErePORT)
Florida's 2009 Legislative Session has been extended into next week, but it appears that time has run out for the handful of bills intended to protect, expand and diversify the state's space industry. The extended Session deadline will apply only to finalizing the state's budget for next year. (5/3)

Texas State Legislature Advances Space Liability Measures (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The Texas State legislature is advancing a measure to limit space flight liability with seperate Senate and House bills advancing through the legislative process. The House bill is now expected to reach the floor while the Senate bill passed the chamber and has now been referred to the House. The measure may be a boost to flights aboard the spacecraft NewShepard owned by Blue Origin, which is being tested at a West Texas spaceport owned by Blue Origin's founder (and chief) Jeff Bezos. (5/3)

New Mexico Space Liability Measure Dies (Source: Spaceports Blog)
A New Mexico state legislature space flight liability measure died in committee without a vote of the full state legislature where Spaceport America is expected to launch the Virgin Galactic Enterprise in 2010. (5/3)

Lampson/Weldon: Commitment is Needed (Source: Washington Times)
Amid news of tough economic reports, government bailouts and excessive executive bonus packages, the last thing our country needs is more wasteful spending. But there's one government investment that has long proved its worth, priming the pump on innovation while contributing greatly to our overall economic strength - America's space program. However, some pundits now question whether NASA has lost its way. Recent chatter regarding major changes in NASA's current course of direction causes us serious concern. As former elected officials and proponents of space-related legislation, we have a deep understanding of the industry and the negative impacts from starting and stopping high-tech space programs.

First, a skilled workforce is displaced. Money is wasted. Overall program success decreases. Furthermore, starts and stops harm the NASA-industry partnerships necessary to assure America's leadership not only in exploring space, but also keeping a close eye on our home planet - Earth. NASA has been a premier institution for half a century - and at less than 1 percent of the national budget, the program embodies fiscal conservatism. Its state-of-the-art advances and basic research problem-solving has helped fuel our global economy. For America to backtrack on its space trajectory is to forgo space as a national strategic priority. Click here to view the editorial. (5/3)

Uganda President: Africans Must Travel to the Moon (Source:
Africans must travel to the moon to investigate what developed nations have been doing in outer space, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Saturday. "The Americans have gone to the moon. And the Russians. The Chinese and Indians will go there soon. Africans are the only ones who are stuck here," Museveni said, addressing a meeting of the Uganda Law Society in Entebbe. "We must also go there and say: 'What are you people doing up here?'."

Museveni urged the assembly of Uganda's top lawyers to support East African integration, arguing that one of the region's goals should be to develop a space program. "Uganda alone cannot go to the moon. We are too small. But East Africa united can. That is what East African integration is all about," he said. "Then we can say to the Americans: 'What are you doing here all alone?'." (5/3)

Lights Out for Dark Matter Claim? (Source: Science Now)
Last November, data from a balloon-borne particle detector circling the South Pole revealed a dramatic excess of high-energy particles from space--a possible sign of dark matter, the mysterious substance whose gravity seems to hold our galaxy together. But satellite data reported today stick a pin in that claim. Researchers working with NASA's orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope say they do not see the purported excess. The observations don't disprove the existence of dark matter, but they put a damper on hopes that physicists had already begun to see it. (5/3)

Branson: Space Tourism Set for Middle-East Blast-off (Source: The National)
A space tourism company is in “advanced discussions” with parties in the UAE over building a spaceport in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Virgin Galactic, owned by the British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, is planning to open a Middle-Eastern spaceport as one of a network of three or four permanent facilities around the world from which civilians can embark on sub-orbital space flights. (5/3)

Branson: Scotland Still on Track to Host Tourist Space Trips (Source: Sunday Mail)
Sir Richard Branson insists Scotland is still on track to launch tourist flights to space. The Virgin tycoon last week unveiled plans for "spaceports" in the US, Australia and Middle East. They will launch flights on a brief journey, with customers forking out £110,000 each. Virgin Galactic chiefs have earmarked RAF Lossiemouth for flights from 2014. (5/3)

Croatia Plans Satellite Launch (Source:
Croatia has started a space program on May 1: a planned science-exploration and educational project in the area of space technologies. The project was envisioned by the Vidulini astronomy association, which has presented its plans at a website ( The association`s representatives point out that their mission is to envision, construct, use various technical achievements, explore and hold educational activities with the goal of creating Croatia`s space program and the Agency for Space Exploration. The primary goal is to create, launch into the Earth`s orbit and maintenance the picosatellite (a satellite with the mass of 1,000 grams and dimensions 100x100x100 millimeters). (5/3)

Editorial: Shake up Space Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Florida's Space Coast is headed for an economic calamity. NASA's shuttle program is on course to shut down as soon as next year, and no later than 2011. By some estimates, at least 6,500 jobs will be lost at the Kennedy Space Center. Thousands more related jobs in the area also will go away. We agree with state Sen. Thad Altman, a Republican who represents the area, who told the Sentinel, "There is not a bigger economic issue facing the state of Florida than what's about to happen on the Space Coast."

Space Florida was supposed to spearhead efforts to create new jobs there. But despite burning through millions in taxpayer dollars since its 2006 launch, it has had few genuine accomplishments to tout and a series of controversies to explain away...Florida absolutely needs an effort dedicated to filling the economic chasm that will be left by the retirement of the shuttle. But it also needs capable leadership in that effort. The current crew at Space Florida isn't getting the job done. Click here to view the editorial. (5/3)

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