June 26 News Items

Augustine Panelists Assigned to Work Groups for Study (Source: SPACErePORT)
The blue-ribbon panel studying NASA's human spaceflight goals and programs has split itself into five work groups. Group 1 includes the entire panel and focuses on U.S. goals for human spaceflight. Group 2 focuses on ISS and the Space Shuttle. Group 3 focuses on exploration beyond LEO. Group 4 focuses on "integration" (including international and inter-agency issues and budgeting). Group 5 focuses on LEO access. (6/26)

"Skill Base" Focus Suggests Workforce Issues Among Augustine Panel Priorities (Source: SPACErePORT)
Four of the five work groups established by the Augustine Panel will include "industrial skill base" among the issues they'll address. This is encouraging news for Florida space advocates who have suggested that the "brain drain" likely to occur after the Shuttle retires will result in a loss of critical skills at the spaceport that would affect the nation's capability to support next-generation launch systems. Click here to view a chart of the panel's work group assignments. (6/26)

Mojave Space Port Gets FAA License for SpaceShip Two (Source: Hyperbola)
The Mojave Air and Space Port's FAA license for Scaled Composite's SpaceShip One flights was to expire this year on 17 June. The FAA has confirmed that the licence has been renewed and that it was for five years and it is open ended on the number of flights. (6/26)

Space 'Hotel' Takes Shape for Business or Pleasure (Source: ABC)
Imagine yourself, sometime in the next decade, with a fantastic idea for a new business that requires manufacturing in the weightlessness of space. Or maybe, having made your fortune on Earth, you'd simply like to vacation in a very high place. The Russians charge upward of $50 million for a short trip to the International Space Station.

NASA can't help you at all. But there's a Nevada company ready to offer a month's stay in Earth orbit for $15 million -- a bargain, considering that for 40 years, the cost of space travel has stubbornly refused to come down. Sounds like one of those things guaranteed never to happen? Maybe, but Robert Bigelow has two prototype space habitats, unmanned but functional, orbiting 350 miles above Earth, right now. Click here to view the article. (6/26)

Sea Launch Bankruptcy Hits Boeing's Second Quarter Earnings (Source: Space News)
Boeing expects to take a pretax charge of $35 million to its second-quarter earnings as a result of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Sea Launch Co., a commercial launch services provider in which Boeing is a 40 percent shareholder. Boeing said that, if Sea Launch's other shareholders do not make good on their obligations, Boeing could face additional pretax charges of up to $478 million. (6/25)

Boeing Could Face Half-Billion-Dollar Hit in Sea Launch Bankruptcy (Source: Seattle Times)
Boeing's financial exposure in the Sea Launch bankruptcy could include covering now-due loans and credit guarantees for about $478 million. Boeing is a 40 percent owner in Sea Launch, along with partner companies from Russia, Ukraine and Norway. Boeing will seek payment from its partners so it doesn't end up paying more than 40 percent of the tab. Boeing itself is owed $978 million by Sea Launch, court documents say. (6/26)

NASA's Next Rocket (Source: New Scientist)
NASA's plan to return to the moon by 2020 is looking shaky - rather like Ares I, the rocket it hopes will carry astronauts to space. Ares I has been beset by technical problems and its advocates now find themselves struggling to defend it against rival spacecraft. What were fringe alternatives a few months ago are now being seriously considered.

All the rockets have enough muscle to take a crew capsule to the International Space Station, which is in low-Earth orbit, but only a few can handle more distant missions. The most powerful are the largest of the Jupiter group and the Heavy Launch Vehicle, each of which could provide the lift needed for moon missions. The Jupiter rocket could even bring Mars within reach, its backers claim. Many now doubt that Congress will be willing to fund more than one new rocket, so if the agency continues with Ares I, it may be the only rocket it gets. Click here to view a chart showing the capabilities of Ares-1 and its alternatives. (6/25)

Mars May Hide Secret Water Table (Source: New Scientist)
The Red Planet could have a water table hidden underground, despite satellite data suggesting otherwise. Today the small amount of water detected on the planet is locked in the polar ice caps, but recently discovered geological features suggest liquid water once flowed on its surface. This could now be hiding beneath the rocky crust. Europe's Mars Express satellite has used ground-penetrating radar in some areas to look for a water table but found no evidence for one, despite research that concluded any water would be found within 9 kilometers of the surface - well within the reach of the probe's instruments. (6/26)

No comments: