June 10 News Items

Feinstein Slams New Spy Sats (Source: DOD Buzz)
The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence expressed “extraordinarily serious concern” that the intelligence community and Pentagon may repeat the disaster of the Future Imagery Architecture system and made clear to DOD Secretary Gates that there is bipartisan support on her committee for questioning the electro-optical system President Barack Obama recently approved. “We have extraordinarily serious concerns involving the waste of many, many dollars over a period of years and are rather determined it not happen again,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein, who is also a member of the Senate Appropriation defense subcommittee. Feinstein said she and Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican who shares the same committee assignments, shares her concerns about the EO system.

A congressional aide contacted after the hearing said there is a “huge philosophical difference raging” between members of the Senate intel committee and the intelligence community. This aide said the Senate body is convinced that the lesser system could handle much of what needs doing and is concerned “that the last few percent [in improvements] drive the large costs.” Enormous quantities of cash are at stake in this debate since the best estimates I’ve heard for the exquisite system indicate it will suck up at least $10 billion over the next three to five years. (6/10)

South Korea Completes Spaceport for Rocket Launch (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
South Korea has completed a spaceport which will be used to send a satellite into orbit from its own territory for the first time, officials said. A ceremony is planned for the opening of the Naro Space Center in Goheung, 475 kilometres (300 miles) south of Seoul. The centre, which cost $250 million, will on July 30 launch the KSLV-1 rocket, which will put a satellite into orbit. The rocket, which cost 502.5 billion won, will be the first space vehicle launched from South Korean soil. Its Russian-built first-stage thruster will arrive next week. Russia also helped design the launch pad. South Korean engineers built the rocket's second stage and the satellite. (6/10)

Another Mars Rover Is Stuck ... in California (Source: Space.com)
In an unassuming building at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory here, the struggle to free the Spirit rover from a patch of soft Martian sand has been brought to Earth. Spirit, one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) currently on the surface of the red planet, has been stuck in Martian soil up to its hubcaps since May 6 when it became mired in a dirt patch (now called "Troy") while driving backward. "So we backed into trouble," MER project manager John Callas said this afternoon while standing in a viewing hallway overlooking a dirt-filled pit housed in JPL's In-Situ Instrument Laboratory, where a replica of Spirit and its twin Opportunity is being used to recreate Spirit's predicament and develop a sound method for freeing the rover. (6/10)

Zambian Minister Urges Africa Involvement in Space Science (Source: Xinhua)
A top Zambian government official warns the southern African country risks lagging behind in technology advancement if there is no investment in space science. Gabriel Namulambe, the minister of science, technology and cocational training, said there was need to promote and exploit science and technology as an instrument for development, adding that an environmentally friendly and indigenous technological capacity was a catalyst for socio-economic development. (6/10)

Crew Performs Unusual Spacewalk Inside Station (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Working in spacesuits inside a compartment opened to vacuum, space station commander Gennady Padalka and NASA flight engineer Michael Barratt carried out a short 12-minute internal spacewalk today to finish rigging a port in the Zvezda command module for arrival of a new docking module in November. Because they were working in vacuum, the activity was considered a spacewalk, the 125th since station assembly began in 1998, the sixth so far this year, the eighth for Padalka and the second for Barratt. Today's work tied the record for shortest spacewalk, a mark set in 1965 by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in the first spacewalk ever conducted. (6/10)

USAF Cancels TSAT Work (Source: Aviation Week)
The Air Force isn't waiting for congressional approval to proceed with dismantling the multi-billion dollar Transformational Satellite architecture that was proposed for termination by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month. It is terminating for convenience the Transformational Satellite Communications System Mission Operations System (TMOS) contract with Lockheed Martin. The contract was worth over $2 billion. No doubt Lockheed and the Air Force will be negotiating an amicable parting of ways; a total cost for the termination isn't yet known. A contract for engineering support and integration with Booz Allen Hamilton worth about $20.8 million will also be terminated. Meanwhile, the Air Force plans to allow the competitive risk reduction contracts with Lockheed Martin and Boeing for the satellite segment to run out, which will occur July 7. To date, the Pentagon has spent about $733 million with each company for this work. (6/9)

Astronaut Lands as Google’s ‘Energy Nerd’ (Source: CCTV)
It all started when astronaut Ed Lu bought a hybrid car that has a meter telling him how many miles per gallon he’s getting at any moment. “I noticed that my driving efficiency was getting better as weeks and months went by. Then I thought it would be great if I had the same information about my house,” he said. With sponsorship from Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, Lu began a year ago to transform the inspiration from his car into real technology. He now leads a team of Google engineers working on the Google PowerMeter, software that analyzes energy consumption data captured by “smart meters” and translates that into easy-to-understand information so people see where they can reduce energy use. (6/10)

U.K. Claims No. 2 Spot Among World's Defense Exporters (Source: AIA)
Britain says it has secured second place among the world's military exporters, following a year with $6.8 billion in overseas defense sales. According to the government's Defense and Security Organization, that represents a 17% share of the worldwide total. Despite a widespread recession, DSO says the U.K. defense sector is expected to remain strong. "There is not a significant drop in global export orders compared to the same point in previous years, which helps reinforce the view that the defense and security sectors are weathering the recession better than many other sectors," the DSO said. (6/10)

AIAA Names Top 10 Emerging Aerospace Technologies (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has released its first annual list of top emerging aerospace technologies. Developed by AIAA’s Emerging Technologies Committee (ETC), the list ranges from alternative fuels to advanced space propulsion. Click here to view the list. (6/10)

Iridium Awarded U.S. Navy Contract for DTCS Development (Source: Iridium)
Iridium Satellite LLC (Iridium) announces that the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren has awarded one of its subsidiaries a $21,688,808 indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity cost-type contract to support development and delivery of the Distributed Tactical Communications System (DTCS). DTCS is an extension of "Netted Iridium," the company's push-to-talk communications capability. DTCS will provide over-the-horizon, on-the-move, beyond line-of-sight netted voice and data communications over the Iridium network for the tactical warfighter. (6/9)

Giant Star Betelgeuse Mysteriously Shrinking (Source: AFP)
A massive bright reddish star in the Orion constellation has mysteriously shrunk by over 15 percent in the last 15 years and astronomers have not yet determined why, according to a study. Betelgeuse, considered a supergiant star, is so large that it would reach to Jupiter's orbit in our solar system. But at a radius of about five astronomical units, the star has shrunk in size since 1993 by a distance equivalent to Venus's orbit. (6/9)

No comments: