June 2 News Items

Space 2.X - The Private Rocket Race Takes Off (Source: WIRED)
Building a successful startup in Silicon Valley is hard, but it’s not rocket science. Unless you’re SpaceX. Eschewing the traditional startup trappings of two college grads eating ramen, watching Adult Swim and coding until the wee hours of the night, SpaceX instead employs hundreds of brainiacs and builds its rockets in a massive hangar that once housed a 747 assembly line. SpaceX brings a startup mentality to launching rockets into orbit, which until recently was almost exclusively government turf. The hope is that minimal bureaucracy, innovation and in-house manufacturing and testing can be used to put payloads into space at roughly one-tenth the cost of traditional methods.

If the company’s newest rocket, the Falcon 9, successfully completes its two scheduled launches this year, it will rendezvous with the International Space Station in 2010. After that, it will officially begin its mission as NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services platform, replacing the space shuttle as the method for transporting cargo and crew to the ISS. SpaceX launched its first rocket, the Falcon 1, last September, placing a dummy payload into orbit. Space enthusiasts are holding their breath to see how Falcon 9 performs. Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at SpaceX’s facility. This is how the private sector builds a rocket capable of space travel. (6/2)

Atlantis Returns To Homeport Atop 747 (Source: Florida Today)
The orbiter Atlantis and its 747 carrier aircraft are safely back on the ground at Kennedy Space Center today after a cross-country trip that included a last-leg grand tour of Florida's Space Coast. The 747 and Atlantis rolled to a stop on Runway 15 at KSC, winding up a two-day cross-country ferry flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California. (6/2)

Augustine Panel Gets Broad Charter (Source: Space Politics)
Acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese signed the committee’s charter, identifying four key objectives: 1) expediting a new U.S. capability to support utilization of the International Space Station; 2) supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO); 3) stimulating commercial space flight capability; 4) fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities.

In addition to those objectives, the panel should, according to the charter: “examine the appropriate amount of research and development and complementary robotic activities needed to make human space flight activities most productive and affordable over the long term, as well as appropriate opportunities for international collaboration. It should also evaluate what capabilities would be enabled by each of the potential architectures considered. It should evaluate options for extending ISS operations beyond 2016.” Click here to visit the panel's website. (6/2)

Augustine Panel Deadline Unclear (Source: Space Politics)
One interesting item in the charter: the committee is supposed to issue its final report “within 120 days of the first meeting” of the committee, yet the panel is also supposed to “present its results in time to support an administration decision on the way forward by August 2009." according to the NASA press release. A quick check of the calendar confirms that the end of August is only about 90 days away, not 120. Editor's Note: In comments at a recent meeting, Space Coast Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas said she expects the Congress to re-consider NASA's budget requirements in light of the Augustine Panel's recommendations. (6/2)

NASA Touts Constellation Technology in Response to Critics of Costs (Source: AIA)
While the next-generation Orion crew capsule looks like a throwback to the Apollo program, NASA insists it is light years ahead of its predecessor in both safety and mission capabilities. Abort engines can lift astronauts clear of any emergency on the launch pad, and the cabin is engineered to temporarily withstand a puncture while in space. Orion can remain aloft for 210 days, and many of its components are interchangeable and upgradeable, meaning it could eventually serve as a platform for exploring Mars. Still, with a $44 billion price tag, critics say the entire Constellation program is a waste of taxpayers' money, and NASA should focus on cheaper, unmanned missions. (6/2)

NASA Plans Invite-Only Launch Access for Twittering, Blogging Media (Source: Freespace)
NASA, which has tiptoed into the new world of social media with Twittering astronauts and Facebooking rovers, is taking the next step with an invitation-only outreach to "the twedia" to cover a space shuttle launch. There are so many details to work out that the so-called TweetUp, originally planned for next week's launch of space shuttle Endeavour, has been rescheduled for the August flight of shuttle Discovery, said Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for the U.S. space agency. (6/2)

NASA Selects Four Proposals to Study Space Radiation Risks (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected four proposals for research to help understand space radiation's affects on human living in space. NASA selected proposals from the New York University School of Medicine in New York, the University of Texas Medical Branch in Houston, Loma Linda University in California and Georgetown University in Washington. The universities will work with collaborating organizations around the country.

These institutions will become NASA Specialized Centers of Research. They will consist of teams of investigators who have complementary skills and work together to solve a closely focused set of research questions. The proposals support the space radiation program element within NASA's Human Research Program. (6/2)

New York Couple Plans Zero-G Wedding with Florida Flight (Source: Zero-G Corp.)
Noah Fulmor and Erin Finnegan are planning their weightless wedding with Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G). Noah and Erin will become the first couple to be married in zero gravity. Along with their guests, Fulmor and Finnegan will say their "I Do's" while flipping and floating in mid-air. The wedding will be hosted by Zero-G Corp. with the flight departing from the Kennedy Space Center on Jun. 20. The bride will be wearing a zero-gravity wedding dress designed by Eri Matsui, a Japanese haute couture designer. The groom will be fitted with a specially-designed tuxedo courtesy of J. Lucas Clothiers, with tails crafted specially to take advantage of zero gravity conditions. (6/2)

NASA Aims To Improve Orbital Re-Entry (Source: Information Week)
NASA is conducting two suborbital re-entry experiments to help guide plans for improving re-entry for missions from the Space Station, the Moon and Mars. A team is analyzing flight data from a Terrier-Orion two-stage research rocket launched last week from Virginia. The rocket carried two Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Re-entry Experiments (SOAREX) more than 80 miles high before re-entry into the Atlantic Ocean. The first SOAREX experiment tested a heat shield that unfolded to protect a Tube Deployed Re-entry Vehicle during its descent. The re-entry vehicle was designed to give payloads more stability and better packaging for safer returns. The second experiment involved several temperature, pressure, and light sensors, as well as a mounted camera to determine the conditions that the vehicle's nose cone encounters during launch and in flight. (6/2)

Telesat Canada Withdraws from Satellite Lease (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Telesat Canada, in a move that provides the company with cash and removes pressure to spend money on a new satellite this year, has agreed with APT Satellite Holdings of Hong Kong to end a long-term lease of Telstar-10/Apstar-2R. Telesat will receive a refund of $69.5 million covering advance payments previously made on the lease contract, Telesat and APT announced June 1. (6/2)

Ruag to Buy Oerlikon Space AG (Source: Space News)
Ruag of Switzerland, which in July 2008 purchased Sweden's largest space company, on June 2 announced it had concluded a deal to acquire Switzerland's largest space-hardware builder, Oerlikon Space AG, in an all-cash transaction whose value was not disclosed. (6/2)

AsiaSat, EchoStar Form Television Joint Venture (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong and EchoStar Corp., a provider of direct-to-home satellite gear and satellite services, have agreed to create a joint-venture company to provide satellite television to Taiwan and perhaps surrounding areas, the two companies announced June 2. (6/2)

Arizona Region Becoming Aerospace Business Hub (Source: Arizona Republic)
With a multibillion-dollar economic impact, the aerospace industry is the southeast Valley's payroll leader, one of the region's largest employers and a workplace for some of Arizona's top research talent. Collectively, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe are home to more than 200 private firms, a state university, community college and an Air Force lab, all of which are engaged in a range of aerospace manufacturing and research, from helicopter assembly to space technology.

In March, a group of influential business, government and academic leaders warned that Arizona's $3.8 billion annual aerospace payroll could dwindle unless determined efforts are made to expand the industry by supplying the science and engineering talent it demands. Click here to view the article. (6/2)

South Korea to Launch First Space Rocket in July (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
South Korea's government said Tuesday it had approved plans to launch the country's first rocket into space in late July. The National Space Committee gave the green light to the planned launch, tentatively scheduled for July 30 at Naro Space Center in Goheung, about 475km (297 miles) south of Seoul, a government statement said. Construction of the rocket is in effect complete and work is to begin soon to connect the first-stage main thruster to the second-stage space vehicle, the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute said. The thruster was built in Russia, which also helped design the launch pad. South Korean engineers built the rocket's second stage and the satellite it will carry into orbit. The launch vehicle weighs 140 tons, stands 33 meters (108 feet) tall and has a diameter of three meters. (6/2)

North Korea Also Plans Launch (Source: Spaceports Blog)
As South Korea prepares for its first space launch, North Korea appears to be preparing for a launch of its own, perhaps as part of a space and rocket technology race between the divided Koreas. Media reports that North Korea has commenced the development of a long-range missile to launch from the Dongchang-ni site on North Korea's west coast in the next few weeks. The rocket may be a version of the Taepodong-2 capable of a 4,000 mile range or perhaps orbit. A purported satellite launch last April by the North Koreans appeared to the outside world to be a failure. (6/2)

China's First Space Telescope to Launch in 2011 (Source: CCTV)
All the key technical difficulties have been overcome and a full size prototype has now been built. China's space telescope is a Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope, which makes it different from Hubble. It has the highest sensitivity and resolution in the world. China has made great efforts since 2000 to develop HXMT technology. The mission will be a milestone in the development of China's space exploration and astronomical sciences. (6/2)

Space Headache a Real Phenomenon (Source: BBC)
Astronauts need to add space headache to their list of occupational hazards, say researchers. After quizzing 17 seasoned astronauts they found more than two-thirds suffered from headaches on missions yet were headache free back on earth. The disabling headaches appeared unique - described by the crew as "exploding" - and were generally unrelated to common space motion sickness. The Dutch investigators propose space headache should be classified as a separate entity in its own right. Our study demonstrated that disabling headaches frequently occur during space missions in astronauts who do not normally suffer from headaches on earth Lead researcher Dr Alla Vein. In the past, experts have thought all headaches in space are a symptom of motion sickness, which is caused by disorientation due to the absence of gravity and plagued the Apollo program. (6/2)

NASA Job Loss Bigger Than First Thought (Source: WFTV)
The job outlook on the space coast may be even worse than first thought. Originally, NASA predicted it would lay off 3,500 workers at Kennedy Space Center when the shuttle fleet retires. However, that prediction has gone up to at least 4,000 employees. KSC's new director raised eyebrows with his newest prediction that NASA would layoff 4,000 employees, 400 more than the number NASA gave in October of last year. UCF official Dale Ketcham believes the actual number of layoffs could still be more than the new estimate of 4,000. He says original estimates of job losses at KSC were supposed to be offset by new work coming to NASA for the Lunar Lander and Ares 5, but there have been problems. "That work is all slipping out to the right to pay for problems that we didn't anticipate having with the development of the Ares 1 vehicle," said Ketcham.

The exact number is critical to east central Florida's economy. The average wage earned inside NASA is almost twice the wage outside of it, so every job lost there has an even greater impact on jobs that support the workers at NASA. "So if you are looking at 5,000 job loss inside the fence, [that's] 10-15,000 outside. That's a big impact," said NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel. (6/1)

100 Workers Laid Off at Harris Corp. (Source: Florida Today)
Harris Corp. laid off more than 100 workers, mostly mechanical engineers, as the company began to initiate cost cutting measures. Laid off employees came from the commercial reflector business and the census field data collection business. “The majority of that work is completed and we’re winding those two programs down,” Harris spokesman Jim Burke said. Burke said the number of employees to lose their jobs numbered more than 100 but less than 200. While most were mechanical engineers, some were administrative and management positions. The company employs 7,000 in Brevard County. The company has approximately $5 billion in annual revenue and 15,000 employees worldwide. (6/2)

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