May 4 News Items

Commercial Spaceflights May Be Restricted (Source: Aviation Week)
The way U.S. export controls work for space technologies could prevent commercial space operators from taking non-U.S. citizens on spaceflights, and the industry is urging reform of the system to prevent U.S. companies from being overtaken by foreign competitors. It is not just hardware and technologies that are covered by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) rules, but also passengers, and this will hamper such companies as Virgin Galactic and Bigelow Aerospace from taking non-U.S. citizens into space. Non-U.S. citizens who book a flight on Virgin Galactic could, in theory, see sensitive materials and are therefore covered under ITAR rules, said Marc Holzapfel, the company's senior counsel, during a press event in Washington April 29.

"Reforming ITAR will allow us to fly a Canadian citizen into space without his getting a security clearance," he said. The "outdated" ITAR rules are a challenge "second only to gravity" in keeping the U.S. commercial space industry on the ground, said Michael Gold, director of Bigelow Aerospace's Washington office. Noting that European providers are marketing "ITAR-free" components and technologies, Gold warned that the U.S. industry could let European competitors erode their business. (5/4)

Satellite "Sails" Could Reduce Orbiting Space Junk (Source: AIA)
Concerned by the growing accumulation of space junk in near-Earth orbit, European scientists are looking for ways to shorten the life of spent rocket boosters and other debris. Engineers are focused on developing lightweight "sails" to increase drag and hasten an object's re-entry into the atmosphere, where it will burn up harmlessly rather than pose a collision risk in orbit. (5/4)

Swedish Space Completes Acquisition Of Universal Space Network (Source:
Esrange, Sweden (SPX) May 04, 2009 - The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) has received all necessary approvals from the U.S. Government and has completed the acquisition of U.S.-based Universal Space Network (USN), a leader in space operations for telemetry, tracking and control (TT and C) services. USN will operate as a U.S. Corporation and subsidiary of SSC with no change to its operation or organization. (5/4)

Europe is About to Take an Astronomical Lead over U.S. (Source: McClatchy)
The world's astronomers are about to get a trio of powerful new eyes on the sky that can see better and farther than existing space telescopes. As a result, Europe will hold a scientific and technological lead over the United States in some key areas of cosmology, at least for a while. Next Monday, NASA will send a crew of astronauts to install greatly improved instruments on the 18-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. Just three days later, the European Space Agency will launch two even more advanced telescopes, named Planck and Herschel. (5/4)

Lockheed Martin Lays Off More Than 100 Workers as Space Shuttle Program Winds Down (Source: Times-Picayune)
Signaling the end of the space shuttle program, slightly more than 100 workers have been laid off at the eastern New Orleans plant where the orbiter's huge external fuel tanks have been built for more than three decades, company officials confirmed Monday. It was the largest single shuttle-related workforce reduction yet at the NASA facility operated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems. (5/4)

NASA Joins in Research Park Development at Wallops (Source: NASA)
NASA will join with Accomack County, Virginia, and the Marine Science Consortium, a nonprofit educational institution comprised of 14 State of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, to officially recognize the establishment of the Wallops Research Park during a ceremony at 10 a.m., May 6, at the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Wallops Island, Va. The 200-acre park, located just outside the Wallops Flight Facility main base gate, will serve as a location where state and local government, academia, and commercial businesses can work together to advance the nation's science and technology goals focused on commercial aerospace, Earth and Space science, and educational offerings. (5/4)

DirecTV, Liberty Media Detail Spinoff Plans (Source: LA Times)
DirecTV Group Inc., the nation's largest satellite TV provider, said today it will be combined with the entertainment unit of Liberty Media Corp. and spun off into a separately traded company. The deal will enable Liberty Media, an entity controlled by media mogul John Malone, to boost its stake in DirecTV to 54 percent from 48 percent. By spinning off Liberty's entertainment unit and combining it with the satellite business, DirecTV shareholders can more directly invest in the TV business with less overhang from other, unrelated units. (5/4)

Hawaii Spaceport Legislation Advances (Source: ResCommunis)
The 62 Mile Club has posted a legislative update video from Hawaii. In the video Rep. Gene Ward States that HB 994 has been passed which establishes a Spaceport in Hawaii. Section 2 of the bill appropriates funds for Hawaii to apply to the FAA for a space launch facility license: "There is appropriated out of the airport revenue fund the sum of $250,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009-2010 to be transferred from the department of transportation to the department of business, economic development, and tourism for the application for a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration...[and] the sum of $250,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009-2010 to be transferred from the Hawaii tourism authority to the department of business, economic development, and tourism for the application for a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration. (5/4)

India’s Israeli Spy Satellite: Quid Pro Quo (Source: People's Democracy)
Another link in the deepening military ties between India and Israel was established on April 20, 2009 when the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched a sophisticated surveillance satellite procured from Israel. Fooling nobody, ISRO at first blandly claimed that the satellite “will enhance ISRO’s capability for earth observation, especially during floods, cyclones, landslides and in management of disasters.” While denying that the satellite would primarily serve intelligence purposes, ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair coyly added that “however, spying depends on the user of the satellite.”

National and international media were full of such official versions but there were also some off-the-record statements attesting to the fact that the satellite was indeed meant for military surveillance of India’s borders and coastal areas, necessitated by the recent upsurge in terror attacks and infiltration. The RISAT-2 satellite definitely has an Israeli radar and is in all probability a TecSAR satellite procured off-shelf from the government-owned Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), almost identical to the highly publicized spy satellite launched for Israel by ISRO in 2008. The RISAT-2 not only looks the same as the TecSAR in the pictures available publicly, it also weighs the same (300kg), has a similar sun-synchronous circular orbit, and has the same orbital frequency of about 90 minutes. (5/4)

Satellite Technology Helps Canada Patrol Waterways (Source: Space News)
The Canadian government has sharply reduced the amount of time it takes to collect evidence of illegal fishing and other infractions in its territorial waters by deploying high-cost aircraft only after Canada's Radarsat 2 satellite has given an initial alert, according to Col. Francois Malo of Canada's Department of National Defense. Malo said Canadian authorities plan to extend their operational maritime surveillance capabilities with the next-generation Radarsat system, called Radarsat Constellation, by adding an Automated Identification System (AIS) terminal to each Radarsat Constellation satellite. (5/4)

Doing More for Less (Or the Same) in Space Science (Source: Space Review)
While NASA may be getting a modest budget increase overall in 2010, its space science program has a challenge of doing increasingly complex missions within a relatively constrained budget. Jeff Foust reports on what some NASA officials say are the best ways for NASA to balance cost, performance, and risk for its ambitious slate of science missions. Visit to view the article. (5/4)

Unilateral Orbital Cleanup (Source: Space Review)
The removal of orbital debris accumulating around the Earth is often described to be an international problem. Taylor Dinerman discusses how it might be more expedient for the United States to start on this on its own rather than wait for a multinational effort to form. Visit to view the article. (5/4)

The Vital Need for America to Develop Space Solar Power (Source: Space Review)
While there has been considerable discussion about how to develop space-based solar power, there has been less examination of why it's needed. Mike Snead explains why solar power from space might be the only way to meet the world's growing demands for energy in the next century. Visit to view the article. (5/4)

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