June 23 News Items

Space Florida Plans United Launch Alliance Financing Deal (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Space Florida and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are planning a $100 million debt restructuring for Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Atlas-5 launch facility was originally financed by the Spaceport Florida Authority in a $300+ million deal with Lockheed Martin. According to Space Florida's interim President Frank DiBello, the old financing deal had to be redone to avoid legal problems and disruptions associated with the facility's transfer to ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. DiBello said the restructuring deal was arranged in record time – less than 30 days. ULA employs about 750 people at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, and the refinancing deal had been touted as something that could save those potentially endangered jobs. DiBello played down any direct impact the deal would have on ULA employment, but he said the deal did make sure they could work uninterrupted. (6/23)

Sea Launch Files Chapter 11 to Address Financial Challenges (Source: Sea Launch)
Sea Launch, a leading provider of launch services to the commercial satellite industry, has filed voluntary petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The members of Sea Launch have unanimously determined that Chapter 11 reorganization is in the best interests of the Company, its customers, shareholders, employees and other related parties. Sea Launch intends to continue to maintain all normal business operations after the filing for reorganization. Subject to court approval, Sea Launch will initially use its cash balance to meet operational requirements during the reorganization process and is addressing Debtor in Possession financing, if necessary. In the court filing, Sea Launch listed assets of between $100 million and $500 million against liabilities of between $500 million and $1 billion. (6/22)

16 Year Old Infant Refuses to Age - Research Useful for Space Flight? (Source: ABC News)
Brooke Greenberg is the size of an infant, with the mental capacity of a toddler. She turned 16 in January. At about 16 pounds and 30 inches, 16-year-old Brooke Greenberg has not aged significantly, physically or apparently cognitively, since she was a toddler. Doctors hope that her case could shed light on the mysterious genetics behind aging.

Dr. Richard Walker of the University of South Florida College of Medicine says Brooke's body is not developing as a coordinated unit, but as independent parts that are out of sync. She has never been diagnosed with any known genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality that would help explain why. He hopes his research on her condition can provide valuable insights on controlling the aging process. One possible reason to slow the aging process, Walker suggested, would be to allow astronauts to travel in space for long periods of time. "But right now, it's only conjecture," he said. Click here to view the article. (6/23)

Time to Re-Think Space Treaties? (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Around 2020 we could get a bottleneck on the moon, with manned and unmanned probes from several countries whizzing around it from different directions. Various nations could even begin planting flags into its lunar soil. Let's hope they don't bump into each other, creating the first global conflict in space. To be sure, going to the moon is largely symbolic, rather than strategic. The moon gives no cosmic military advantage. And the moon has no air or water. The moon does have minerals, but mining the Earth is infinitely cheaper than mining the moon.

This raises another question: Can any nation plant its flag on lunar soil, claiming the moon as its own? The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 forbade nuclear weapons in space and prohibited countries from claiming territory on the moon or any other celestial body. But the treaty is vague and out of date. Perhaps now is the best time to strengthen and rethink this old treaty before national rivalries and tensions heat up as we approach 2020. Editor's Note: The outdated treaty's vague language also is a barrier to foreseeable types of commercial initiatives on the Moon and other space destinations. (6/22)

The Next Giant Leap (Source: GQ)
Forty years ago this month, NASA achieved the greatest feat in history: landing two men on the surface of the moon. Today, NASA is planning a return—to the moon again, and then beyond to Mars—but first they need to reinvent, from scratch, how to get there. Oh, and their other problem: explaining what the hell it is we’re doing in space. Click here to view the article. (6/23)

European Groups Talk Space at SpaceLand Expo in Italy (Source: SpaceLand)
Italy's SpaceLand group plans a Space Expo-Congress in Sardinia on Sep. 21-22 as part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The event gathers players government, industry and academia who are directly or indirectly involved with aerospace technology, life & material sciences related to space exploration as well as "spin-off" programs. ESA will also present its policy on Space Tourism. SpaceLand will address with Italian Space Agency officers the opportunities for education and research in lunar-gravity, Mars-gravity and zero-gravity conditions aboard parabolic aircraft flights for the advancement of biomedicine and biotech, physical-chemical sciences, robotic & crewed space exploration. Visit http://www.SpaceLand.it for information. (6/23)

Many Nations Are Looking to Repeat Apollo's Feat (Source: New York Times)
Last Thursday, NASA sent two probes to the moon in search of a possible site for a manned lunar station. Both China and the U.S. have announced that they plan to send manned missions to the moon around 2020. India and Japan are not far behind, launching their own unmanned probes to the moon and laying out their timetables for sending men there. Will we see a pileup on the moon around 2020? The idea of a traffic jam on the moon would have seemed preposterous to President John Kennedy when he announced the United States' goal of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth" by the end of the 1960s. Back then, the moon seemed impossibly distant. Click here to view the article. (6/23)

NASA's Lunar Spacecraft Arrives at Moon (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's first spacecraft to visit the moon in more than a decade has settled into lunar orbit. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, fired its engines for 40 minutes, putting it in position to be captured by the moon's gravity. It is preparing to start a yearlong, $511 million mapping mission to identify safe landing sites and interesting areas for future human exploration. First, the spacecraft will spend two months in an elliptical orbit testing its systems and seven science instruments, which will detail the lunar surface's topography, temperatures, resources and radiation exposure. (6/23)

No comments: