June 29 News Items

Cargo Ship to Undock From ISS, Serve as Technical Platform (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia's unmanned Progress spacecraft, due to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on June 30, will be used as a technical space platform before being dumped in the Pacific. The modified version of the standard Progress craft docked on May 13, bringing 2.5 tons of supplies to the orbiter, including food, water, scientific equipment and messages for the three-member crew. It took the spacecraft five days instead of the usual two to reach the ISS, as the freighter underwent a number of flight tests en route to the orbital station. The freighter, equipped with an on-board digital control system, replaced the analog-controlled Progress spacecraft. (6/29)

NASA Increases Contract for Aerospace Vehicle Technology (Source: NASA)
NASA has increased the value of a current contract supporting R&D in structures and materials and aerodynamic, aerothermodynamic and acoustics technology for aerospace vehicles by nearly $20 million. The modification brings the value of the contract to $58.75 million. The contract was awarded to Analytical Services & Materials, Inc., Hampton, Va.; Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Lockheed Martin Corp., Palmdale, Calif.; and Northrop Grumman Corp., El Segundo, Calif. in August 2004. The period of performance ends in February 2010. (6/29)

Auditors: Galileo Project Ill-Conceived (Source: AFP)
Europe's much delayed satellite navigation network project Galileo has been ill-prepared and badly managed, the European Court of Auditors charged. "The programme lacked a strong strategic sponsor and supervisor: the (European) Commission did not proactively direct the programme, leaving it without a helmsman," the auditors' court opined after carrying out an audit of the ill-starred project. As well as the commission -- the EU's executive arm -- the 27 member states came into criticism for promoting their own industries first and foremost.

"Owing to their different programme expectations, member states intervened in the interest of their national industries and held up decisions. The compromises made led to implementation problems, delays and, in the end, to cost overruns," the official auditors declared. The 30-satellite network is meant to challenge the dominance of the US-built Global Positioning System (GPS), which is widely used in navigation devices in vehicles and ships. The EU aims to have it up in space by 2013. (6/29)

New Rocket to Create Jobs on Virginia Shore (Source: Baltimore Sun)
Ground will be broken Monday at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Atlantic, Va., on a launch facility that will test a new rocket designed to service the International Space Station once the shuttle retires. Construction will create 250 jobs and the launch site will eventually bring 400 high-tech jobs to the Eastern Shore by 2010, said Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who will attend the ceremony. The site, which is about 40 miles south of Ocean City, has been chosen by Orbital Sciences Corporation as the base of operations for development, assembly, and testing of the Taurus II rocket. Mikulski is chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA. (6/29)

NASA Wants Australian Wattle Plants in Space for Clean Air (Source: Daily Telegraph)
Astronauts exploring the far reaches of our solar system could in the future be breathing clean air from Australian plants such as wattles. The plants are a step closer to aiding deep space probes after the seeds of four types of Australian flora survived six months aboard the International Space Station. Canadian-born NASA astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who was on that mission aboard the shuttle Discovery last May, said the seeds completed more than 2800 orbits of the Earth with no signs of "space fatigue or damage".

"From NASA's perspective, we are interested in seeds that might be hardy enough to survive long duration exposure to the space environment and then germinate in greenhouses in space or on other planets," he said. "Ultimately, this will be essential to support self-sustaining outposts or colonies with food and oxygen." (6/29)

NASA Unveils Astronaut Class That Will Never Fly on Shuttle (Source: Space.com)
NASA has unveiled the nine Americans making up its newest class of astronaut candidates, a group that will never fly on the space shuttle. The six-man, three-woman astronaut class of 2009 is NASA's first batch of new spaceflying recruits in five years. The new astronaut candidates will likely only train to fly aboard the space station, Russian Soyuz vehicles, and NASA's shuttle replacement - the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and its Ares rockets tapped to ferry spaceflyers to orbit and back to the moon by 2020. The 11 astronauts of NASA's 2004 class are all expected to have flown once on a shuttle by the fleet's retirement next year, NASA officials have said. (6/29)

Apollo Monument Dedication Planned in Titusville on Jul. 17 (Source: SWF Foundation)
The U. S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation on Jul. 17 will dedicate the Apollo Monument in Space View Park downtown Titusville. The dedication ceremony begins at 10:00 a.m. and will feature astronaut Al Worden and other special guests. Twelve bronze panels will surround the base of the monument telling the Apollo story. On permanent display at Apollo are bronzed handprints of all the living Apollo Astronauts. Raised bronze profiles, by Artist Sandy Storm, are there for those astronauts who have died. An Apollo Reunion will follow the ceremony at Fox Lake Park. Visit http://www.spacewalkoffame.com for information. (6/29)

You Weigh In on NASA's Next Rocket Choice (Source: Florida Today)
I got a virtual bag full of mail following up on the columns I've written the last couple weeks. The first asked people to speak their mind to the presidential panel studying NASA's human space flight plans. The second pointed out the Ares rocket is not the only way to get NASA's shuttle replacement spaceship to orbit. The conversation was civil, lively and on point. That's just the kind of discussion we want about important space issues.

Dave Bonnar of Viera voiced the concern of many that NASA ought to aim higher than the moon. The space agency, Bonner and others told me, ought to be doing things that lead to a human expedition to Mars rather than repeating past feats. "The large NASA projected cost of returning to the moon with a manned station on the moon is not affordable and a waste of funding," Bonnar wrote in a longer letter. "The longer term vision for America should include the manned Mars mission goal." I heard most about my failure to write about the Direct launch system. Direct, touted by a mostly-anonymous band of engineers inside and outside NASA, is another means of cobbling together various shuttle launch components to make a new rocket. So, why didn't I talk about that? (6/29)

Lessons For The Future of Human Space Flight (Source: Space Review)
As the Augustine commission reviews NASA's human spaceflight plans, it is receiving no shortage of advice. Former NASA associate administrator Wes Huntress offers some lessons learned for the future of human space exploration. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1406/1 to view the article. (6/29)

To Boldly Go... Anywhere? (Source: Space Review)
The "Star Trek" franchise got a much-needed and successful re-launch with its latest movie. Eric Sterner argues that it's also time to re-think what NASA does and how much we are willing to spend to support it. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1405/1 to view the article. (6/29)

Big Sky Ranch (Source: Space Review)
You may not have heard of Bill King, but he was one of the pioneers of America's satellite reconnaissance program. Dwayne Day recalls the life and career of King, who recently passed away. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1404/1 to view the article. (6/29)

North Korea's Missiles: How Will They Use Their Ultimate Asset (Source: Space Review)
North Korea appears to be preparing for another missile test, perhaps disguised again as a satellite launch attempt. Taylor Dinerman looks at how the West's reaction, including South Korea's development of its own space launch system, could affect the North's plans. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1403/1 to view the article. (6/29)

Buzz Aldrin Calls For Focus on Manned Mars Mission (Source: Tech Herald)
Legendary Moon walker and NASA spaceman Buzz Aldrin has said the race to establish a permanent Moon base should be the result of international cooperation with the real focus on a manned mission to Mars. Aldrin said the next race to be the first to host a manned presence on the Moon should not be a financially damaging "space race" but an international effort combining the resources of China, Europe, India, Japan and Russia. He said a lunar race is, in fact, a "damaging" detour from what should be NASA's principal objective -- namely, the preparation for a manned mission to Mars. (6/29)

Frontiers are Meant to Challenge (Source: Lompoc Record)
Folks living here on the Central Coast of California have a long and abiding interest in space launches, in large part because we are privileged to witnessed several of them a year. The spectacle of rockets roaring into the heavens from Vandenberg is truly awe-inspiring. And there is an undeniable sense of pride when one of these marvels of modern engineering takes flight, because so many of our neighbors are the geniuses behind the local space program. But NASA's latest lunar adventure comes at a point in time when many believe the half-billion dollars in startup money for a future moon colony might be better spent providing health care to the millions of Americans who cannot now afford such care. With so many on this planet in need, can we really justify the expense, time, energy and resources to continue our push toward the stars? The short answer is, yes, we can — and we should. (6/29)

International Spacemen to Meet in Korea (Source: Chosun.com)
The city of Daejeon will be the venue for the 60th International Astronautical Congress. The major international conference to be held Oct. 12 to 16 this year is often dubbed the "Aerospace Olympics." Some 3,000 professionals from space agencies and industry as well as experts from around 60 nations will attend to share their knowledge about the latest developments in the field. Specialists from NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and more will discuss cooperation with other countries and ways to expand participation of developing countries in Asia and Africa. Companies such as Boeing Astrium and Arianespace will be on hand to exhibit their latest space technologies. (6/29)

Space Command Resources Increased by Force Realignment (Source: USAF)
The Air Force released its proposed FY10 force structure announcement, supported by the FY10 President's Budget, resulting in an increase in personnel throughout Air Force Space Command, civilian and military. "The proposed increase of approximately 700 positions across the command will help AFSPC meet our ongoing commitment to space and cyberspace missions," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of AFSPC. Final decisions will be made only after the appropriate environmental analyses have been completed and the National Environmental Protection Act conformity requirements have been met. (6/29)

Going Beyond The Status Quo In Space (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Why the Moon? While appearing barren, the Moon has the resources upon which to build a prototype space civilization. It is a power-rich environment, permitting initial steps to be undertaken using proven, inexpensive solar power generation technology. The Moon is readily accessible from Earth at almost any time. This accessibility makes it a practical site for such a pioneering development - one that is convenient enough to Earth so as to enable trade, travel and telepresence operation. In contrast, Mars and the inner solar system asteroids have infrequent travel opportunities and comparatively long trip times. They won't work for first steps towards economic development of the solar system. With experience and technology from developing the Moon in hand, Mars can then be settled and the rest of the inner solar system can be developed in a cost effective manner. (6/29)

Commercial Spaceflight Group Lobbies Augustine Panel (Source: Hyperbola)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation recommended to the Augustine Panel that NASA should invest in commercial human spaceflight capabilities to the International Space Station. Without leveraging the resources of the private sector, NASA will simply not be able to afford to meet the twin goals of (a) fully utilizing the Space Station, potentially through 2020, and (b) conducting sustainable exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit. "We believe this program should be modeled on the success of NASA's existing Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which is enabling the development of commercial capabilities to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, based on the principles of fixed-price, milestone-based, competitive awards." (6/29)

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