June 27 News Items

Delta-4 Leaps Off Its Launch Pad (Source: Florida Today)
A Delta-4 rocket with a new national weather satellite blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. A storm cell swept within 10 miles of Launch Complex 37 as countdown clocks ticked toward zero, and the targeted liftoff time was reset three times before the rocket and its payload -- a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite -- left the pad. (6/27)

NASA, ESA Prepare To Pull Plug on Ulysses Sun Probe (Source: Space News)
The U.S.-European Ulysses solar-science satellite is scheduled to be switched off on June 30 after more than 18 years of studying the sun's polar regions, a mission that was originally designed to last just five years, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced. (6/26)

Hearing For NASA Picks Could Take Place July 8 (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is expected to hold a confirmation hearing July 8 for retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden and Lori Garver, the White House's nominees for NASA administrator and NASA deputy administrator, respectively. (6/26)

Extra $80M for NPOESS Included In Defense Bill (Source: Space News)
The Senate Armed Services Committee added $80 million to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) during a June 25 closed-door markup of the Pentagon's $534 billion spending request for 2010. The Air Force, which is developing the program jointly with NASA and NOAA, requested $400 million for the effort. However, the bill directs that the Air Force spend no more than half of the funds until the Pentagon, Commerce Department and NASA submit a program management and funding plan to Congress. A NOAA official said the agency is prepared to take lead responsibility for the program, which is over budget, behind schedule and hamstrung by a dysfunctional management structure, according to recent government and independent reports. (6/26)

NASA Scientist Arrested At Coal Mining Protest (Source: Space News)
Outspoken NASA climatologist James Hansen was arrested June 23 during a mountaintop coal mining protest in West Virginia. Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, was among 31 protesters arrested on charges of impeding traffic and obstructing police officers. (6/26)

Sea Launch Bankruptcy Stokes Fears of Rising Launch Prices (Source: Space News)
Major commercial satellite fleet operators said the June 22 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Sea Launch is bad news for the health of the industry despite repeated claims by some launch service providers that the global market is oversupplied with rockets. Industry officials said that while the oversupply situation often detailed by Arianespace Chief Executive Jean-Yves Le Gall and International Launch Services (ILS) President Frank McKenna is technically true, it is often at variance with the market's day-to-day reality.

Given political restrictions and technical issues with Chinese, Indian and Japanese rockets, these competitors have not been able to fully serve the commercial launch market. The result has been that, for many commercial satellite competitions, it is only ILS, Arianespace, and Sea Launch that are able to field serious bids for new launch business. All the major satellite fleet operators in recent months have voiced concerns about being able to secure launch services on a timely basis. They all remember the weeks following Sea Launch's January 2007 on-pad rocket failure, which sent customers scrambling to secure launch slots in what one launch services provider referred to as "a panic." (6/27)

Sea Launch Loss Would Cut Into U.S. Commercial Launch Share (Sources: SPACErePORT)
The international commercial market for launching geosynchronous telecommunications satellites currently can be serviced by large rockets like the Ariane-5 (Europe), Atlas-5, Delta-2/4, H-2 (Japan), Long March (China), PSLV/GSLV (India), Proton (Russia), Soyuz (Russia), and Zenit (Ukraine). Russian and European rockets dominate this market segment. According to Space News, "the two principal U.S. rockets, Atlas and Delta, have in effect removed themselves from the market to focus on more profitable U.S. government business." Although its rockets are produced abroad and launched from the equatorial Pacific Ocean, Sea Launch Zenit launches have been licensed by the FAA as U.S. commercial missions, and they have made up the majority of the U.S. share of the geosynchronous launch market. (6/27)

Ariane-6 Would Be a Single-Payload Launcher With Limited Commercial Use (Source: Space News)
The Ariane-5 is designed to carry two large satellites into geosynchronous orbit. A recent French government report for French Prime Minister Francois Fillon concluded that the successor to today's Ariane 5 rocket should limit itself to carrying one 6,000-kilogram satellite at a time into orbit. After Ariane 5, the report concludes, Arianespace should seek to perform only the minimum number of commercial launches needed to sustain the rocket's reliability for the European governments who will pay for its development. Seeking commercial market share above that, the report concludes, is not worth the investment. (6/27)

Rocket Carrying Students' Experiments Launches from Virginia Spaceport (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A suborbital two-stage Terrier-Orion rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The two-stage Terrier-Orion rocket carried experiments from nearly 100 university instructors and students who have been attending a week-long workshop at the Wallops Island facility. The rocket carried the experiments to an altitude of 73 miles. They were recovered and the results will be analyzed by the students this afternoon. The workshop, RockOn/RockSat is a program held in partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, the release says. (6/26)

International Space University and Singularity University Opening Ceremony at Ames (Source: ISU)
NASA Ames Research Center will welcome more than 500 guests, including an international cadre of students and faculty from nearly 40 countries for the International Space University and Singularity University Opening Ceremony on June 29. The ceremony will be held in the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and will feature a multimedia celebration of space. The event will welcome the students of ISU's 22nd annual Space Studies Program and the inaugural class of the SU Graduate Studies Program to NASA, Silicon Valley and California. NASA will also hold a Space and Technology Showcase in the Civic Center Plaza in Mountain View, Calif., with more than 30 interactive demonstrations. (6/26)

Space Panel Visits Marshall (Source: Hunsville Times)
The committee charged with evaluating NASA's human spaceflight plans spent about half a day Thursday at Marshall Space Flight Center talking with engineers and program managers. While there was plenty of local interest in the visit to Marshall and the United Launch Alliance rocket plant in Decatur, it may take some time to find out what members think about the work here. The committee made no public comments during the trip. A public meeting of the officially titled Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee will be held in Huntsville on July 28. A time and location have not yet been set. (6/27)

India Strides to Space, Eyes $120 Million Annual Business (Source: Reuters)
India's space agency plans to double its revenues to $120 million a year by increasing satellite launches to claim a bigger chunk of the global space business, the head of its space agency said on Friday. Last April, India sent 10 satellites into orbit from a single rocket, signaling its intention to expand into that business. It also dispatched its first unmanned moon mission last October to join the Asian space race in the footsteps of rival China. ISRO has signed an agreement with 26 countries for launching satellites and joint research work, including Russia, France, Germany and Italy, along with South Africa and Brazil. "We are opening up our market further and by next March we are looking at $120 million worth business," said ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair. (6/27)

UK Company on Lunar Course (Source: New Electronics)
A Cambridge based thermal imaging company is heading to the moon as part of NASA's mission to search for the presence of water. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there by blasting impactors into a crater. Thermoteknix' Miricle TB2-30 ultra ruggedised thermal imaging camera will be used to monitor temperature variations in the blasts within the crater and the resulting plume. The system is calibrated for temperature measurement in extremely harsh environments under the most extreme vibration conditions. (6/27)

SpacePort Indiana: Real Launches, Real Space Data, Real Time (Source: Midwest usiness)
A fully operational space launch facility in southern Indiana? With a $4 million contract with Raytheon, funding from NASA, direct support and collaboration from the FAA and multiple commercial launch and testing contracts, SpacePort Indiana is turning heads around the country. Located on a massive concrete pad in the middle of the Columbus Municipal Airport (a former U.S. Air Force base), SpacePort Indiana (SPI) expects to complete more than 130 rocket and high-altitude balloon launches during 2009, according to SPI CEO Brian Tanner.

The growing testing facility at Columbus and other commercial SpacePorts springing up around the country will likely be sites where NASA will test and validate numerous subsystems for the new Constellation program vehicles. Aside from the high-altitude balloons, how big are the rockets actually being launched out of Columbus? Tanner said: "We launch rockets in the 'sounding' class that are generally 15 to 20 feet tall and eight to 11 inches in diameter." These rockets carry commercial payloads that transmit data to ground stations in the region.

"Our engineering staff builds rockets here and uses rockets and rocket engines supplied by customers. The rockets supplied by customers tend to be design platforms that are evaluating a proprietary technology." SPI launches vehicles with both solid-fuel and hybrid design (solid and liquid fuel). The Hoosier space company, which has plans for a new 25,000-square-foot building, also has a rocket-engine testing platform that can test engines with up to 3,000 pounds of thrust. As a new industry will require a new work force with specialized skills, Tanner is actively collaborating with the Purdue School of Technology to inaugurate a formal certification program to train a new generation of space-centric workers. Click here to view the article. (6/27)

Knob Puts Atlantis in Tight Spot (Source: Florida Today)
NASA will try to free a knob stuck between the dashboard and a cockpit window on shuttle Atlantis -- a problem that some fear could trigger lengthy launch delays or even an early retirement for the orbiter. A notched rotary knob from a lighting bracket somehow got wedged between the orbiter's cockpit instrument panel and a forward window during the Hubble repair mission. Flying "as-is" is not an option. NASA cannot adequately evaluate the structural integrity of the window with the knob wedged against it. Another fear is that the effort to free the knob might be so invasive that it could cause serious delays in future Atlantis flights. The next one is scheduled for Nov. 12. (6/27)

Virginia Space Authority Director Wins Entrepreneur Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Billie Reed, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, was given the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Inside Business for his work to bring the authority from being 100 percent supported by public funds to 85 percent self-supported. His award also honors the eventual launch of operations and services for clients valued at more than $200 million as well as a partnership with Orbital Sciences Corp., valued at $1.9 billion to resupply the International Space Station. (6/27)

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