June 20 News Items

NASA Pinpoints Gas Leak, Plans Tanking Test (Source: Florida Today)
NASA engineers think they have pinpointed the cause of dangerous hydrogen leaks that prompted back-to-back launch scrubs for shuttle Endeavour and aim to conduct a fuel-loading test to prove it by the first of July. Shuttle program managers, meanwhile, say they believe the problem can be repaired in time to proceed with a launch attempt tentatively scheduled on July 11. (6/20)

Geeks in Space (Source: IEEE Spectrum)
They made their fortunes in engineering. Now they're spending them on space. Click here to see a slideshow of the big-money geek entrepreneurs who are fueling a revolution in space. (6/20)

Air Force Reviews Reliability of GPS Satellite Models (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Air Force officials appear increasingly optimistic that technical problems affecting the last GPS satellite put into orbit won't impact the operation of next-generation satellites slated to begin launching around the end of the year, according to industry officials.

Months of reviews by the Air Force and outside experts at Aerospace Corp., these officials said, have uncovered the root cause of degraded performance by a Global Positioning System satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and launched in March. Certain civilian frequencies being tested on the satellite interfere with and reduce the accuracy of signals transmitted on other frequencies. The same civilian signal is going to be a fixture on future GPS satellites. (6/20)

Militarization of Space: Threat of Nuclear War on Earth (Source: MediaMonitors)
On June 17, immediately after the historical ninth heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Yekaterinburg, Russia on the preceding two days, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao announced that their nations were drafting a joint treaty to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly. A statement by the presidents reflected a common purpose to avoid the militarization of space and said:

"Russia and China advocate peaceful uses of outer space and oppose the prospect of it being turned into a new area for deploying weapons. The sides will actively facilitate practical work on a draft treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and of the use of force or threats to use force against space facilities, and will continue an intensive coordination of efforts to guarantee the security of activities in outer space." (6/20)

Spaceplane Makes Emergency Stop Phoenix Airport (Source: East Valley Tribune)
Aviation entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's prototype aircraft designed to launch paying passengers into space made an emergency landing at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Friday morning after a warning light lit up in the cockpit. Gateway spokesman Brian Sexton said the aircraft landed without incident at about 10:30 a.m., and the crew began repairs. Late Friday afternoon the aircraft was hauled into a hangar for protection from a looming storm. It was on a flight from Mojave airport in southern California to Las Cruces, N.M. where it was to overfly a ground breaking ceremony for Spaceport America. (6/20)

Space Travel an Integral Part of India's Future Programs (Source: Zee News)
Space travel would be an integral part of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)'s future mission programs, including sending man to the Moon, the agency's Chairman G Madhavan Nair said. Appreciating the efforts of Indian scientists, he said the country had attained self-sufficiency in space technology due to hard work of its scientists. (6/20)

Spacebook Becomes NASA Goddard's Latest Web 2.0 Foray (Source: WFED)
Linda Cureton says when it comes to innovation, sometimes you just have to do it. The chief information officer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center says waiting for guidance, policy or standards can take years, and you end up with a lot of talk and not much action. That is why Cureton took a page out of the popular Facebook social networking site to launch of NASA Goddard's own version, called Spacebook. In fact, Cureton announced the new collaboration site on her blog. Spacebook officially went online June 8, she says. Visit spacebook.nasa.gov for information. (6/20)

Editorial: NASA is Worth the Tax Dollars (Source: Northern Virginia Daily)
Critics of the space program will no doubt sniff at the idea of paying the freight for a moon mission when the economy is in recession, health care reform is on the table and wars are being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why go to space when so many earthly needs cry out for tax dollars?

The answer is, if we don't someone else will. The Chinese, the Russians, the Europeans and others also have designs on the final frontier. Here's a better question: Can we really afford to let some other nation shame us with a 21st-century Sputnik moment? By Washington standards, the NASA budget is pocket change. It's money well spent if it puts stars in the eyes of our grandchildren. (6/20)

Buzz Aldrin Urges US to Focus on Mars (Source: AFP)
NASA should focus on sending a man to Mars and helping other nations travel in space, Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin said. Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong, said the US space agency needed to stop concentrating on simply developing new rockets and turn its attention to visiting the neighbouring planet. "I think our resources should... be on a pathway that can lead us to Mars," he told reporters during a trip to Hong Kong. (6/19)

Galileo Still Bedevilled Despite Progress (Source: Flight Global)
Despite launch contract signings and production award announcements declared at the Paris air show the Galileo satellite navigation system is still a program bedevilled by disputes and delays whose full deployment is likely to be more expensive and come years later than its stakeholders have been led to expect. While Arianespace celebrated its contract signing for launching the Galileo satellites, questions were being asked about the role of its EADS Astrium Ariane 5 rocket - with suggestions that 13 Samara Space Center Soyuz 2-1b boosters would also be needed, an eventuality that could extend the period needed to launch the entire constellation.

EADS Astrium is also now asking the European Space Agency why OHB - its smaller competitor to supply the constellation's spacecraft - was given a €10 million ($13.8 million) contract for long lead items during the air show week while it got just €7 million. After a procurement process that has seen two consortia created and then merged and then abandoned, European industry is frustrated at the lack of progress. One executive expressed a common industry view that "Galileo has been taken in-house by the European Union and now we have a delay of a year. It is a pitiful situation." (6/20)

Canceling Ares I Could Prove Costlier for Ares V (Source: Aviation Week)
Embattled exploration-program managers at NASA say a decision to cancel the Ares I crew launch vehicle development now in favor of a potentially lower-cost effort to human rate the Delta IV heavy would add $14.1 billion - $16.6 billion to the cost of developing the Ares V moon rocket. Also, Aerospace Corp. Vice President Gary Pulliam said it will be possible to human rate a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle to carry the Orion crew exploration vehicle for about $3 billion less than it will cost to finish Ares I. (6/20)

The 5-Year-Old Space Age (Source: MSNBC)
Five years after the private-sector space age began, rocketeers are taking circuitous routes to turn their spaceship dreams into reality. And the pioneers of the age say that's just as it should be. The Space Age, with capital letters, dates back more than 50 years to the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957. That marked the first time an artificial satellite was put into orbit. The 5-year-old space age I'm talking about dates back to June 21, 2004, when the SpaceShipOne rocket plane became the first privately developed craft to carry a civilian astronaut into outer space.

When SpaceShipOne flew, some observers thought regular folks would be going on day trips to outer space within just a year or two. Indian-American millionaire Chirinjeev Kathuria, who helped extend the life of Russia's Mir space station in 2000 and now serves as chairman of the PlanetSpace rocket venture, certainly thought so. "When the industry started out, I think everyone - including ourselves - were naive in saying we could do this in 12 months or 24 months," Kathuria acknowledged. "I think everyone's becoming more realistic. That's why no one is saying, 'OK, we're going to do it this year or next year' anymore." (6/20)

Space Layoffs Would Exacerbate FL Jobless Rate, Now Highest in 34 Years (Sources: Orlando Sentinel, SPACErePORT)
After dipping slightly in April, Florida's jobless rate climbed past 10 percent in May, confirming fears that the state's labor market has a long road to recovery. The figure represents 943,000 unemployed people out of a workforce of about 9.2 million. The loss of thousands of high-wage space jobs next year as the Space Shuttle retires will come at a bad time because fewer employment alternatives will be available throughout the state. (6/20)

Florida Pension Fund Investments Could Support Space Business (Sources: Sun-Sentinel, SPACErePORT)
Amid recent unemployment news in Florida, one potential positive development is a decision by the state to invest at least 1.5% (~$250 million) of state pension fund dollars in technology-based companies that have a "significant presence" in Florida. The Florida Growth Fund is aimed at fueling growth in the state's space technology, aerospace and aviation engineering, computer technology, renewable energy, and medical and life sciences. The state's aerospace industry leaders have been among those calling for such a program for the past several years. (6/20)

Shuttle's Scrub Delays Schedule (Source: Florida Today)
Shuttle Endeavour's launch slip to mid-July is having a ripple effect, pushing back the planned early August flight of the next International Space Station assembly mission by a week-and-a-half. But target dates set by senior NASA officials on Friday remain subject to change as a result of the ongoing investigation into gaseous hydrogen leaks that triggered back-to-back launch scrubs for Endeavour this month. NASA still is trying to ferret out the root cause of the leaks and engineers are uncertain about what repairs might be required and how long they might take. (6/20)

ESA Signs €20 Million Deal on Next Gen Rocket Propulsion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The European Space Agency signed a €20 million contract rider with the Joint Propulsion Team consortium composed of Avio SpA, Astrium GmbH, and Snecma for the development of the future liquid engine demonstrator for the European Next Generation Launcher first stage, the High Thrust Engine Demonstrator. (6/18)

Orion Propulsion Qualifies Bigelow Space Station Propulsion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Orion Propulsion has completed a qualification test program for the Forward Propulsion System (FPS) of Bigelow Aerospace’s Sundancer Project, the world’s first commercial space habitat. The innovative Orion Propulsion thruster system uses hydrogen and oxygen that are produced from Bigelow’s proprietary Environmental Control Life Support System (ECLSS) as propellants for the spacecraft’s attitude control system . This truly “people-powered” space craft, which burns hydrogen and oxygen generated from water, sweat, and urine, eliminates the need for more toxic propellants such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide that are more costly to use and harmful to the environment. (6/17)

EADS Astrium to Build Satellite Integration Center in Kazakhstan (Source: EADS Astrium)
Astrium has signed a contract to build a major satellite integration center that will be part of the future Kazakhstan national space center. This contract is the first step of a major cooperation agreement between Kazakhstan space entities and Astrium that will lead to the construction of a satellite program for Earth observation, as well as the construction of an assembly, integration and test center. (6/17)

Obama Orders Review of National Space Policy (Source: Space News)
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a sweeping review of his predecessor's national space policy, a strategy released in October 2006 that emphasized security issues, fostered commercial enterprise and rejected new arms agreements that would limit U.S. freedom of action in space. Led by Obama's National Security Council, the review could involve debate among numerous executive branch agencies this fall, potentially culminating in a revised strategy governing U.S. conduct in space, according to multiple sources close to the White House. (6/20)

Loral Gets Contract for Two Intelsat Satellites (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Intelsat has contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build the Intelsat 19 and 20 satellites to replace aging Intelsat spacecraft, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Loral announced June 18. (6/18)

Missile Tracking Demo Satellites Readied for Launch (Source: Space News)
The second of a pair of long-delayed missile tracking satellites built by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Los Angeles has completed testing and is packed up awaiting orders from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to ship out for launch later this year. Scheduled to lift off in August, launch of the satellites is expected to be pushed back in light of a space shuttle launch delay that has muddled the manifest at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (6/19)

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