June 4 News Items

Private Space to the Government: "Get Out of the Way!" (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The future of space could soon belong to private companies—the soon-to-be retired space shuttle is being replaced by private launchers, space tourists are snapping pictures from the International Space Station, global positioning systems are ubiquitous, and entrepreneurs are building suborbital craft destined for use by paying customers. But the mood at the Space Business Forum, an annual gathering of investors and space geeks held in New York City, was impatience to get the feds out of the way so the private sector can attract investments and grow quicker. "I'd say the role of government [in the space industry] is too high," says an equity analyst for Morgan Stanley. Click here to view the article. (6/4)

The Business of Space Tourism (Source: Global News)
While Quebec billionaire Guy Laliberte calls his upcoming visit to space "social" and "poetic," it is also very expensive. The Cirque de Soleil founder will reportedly pay $35 million to become the latest "space tourist," blasting off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft before meeting Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk for a 12-day orbit of the Earth aboard the International Space Station. Five other space tourists have reportedly paid $20-$25 million for the out-of-this-world adventure. (6/4)

NASA Develops Rehydration Beverage to Remedy Human Dehydration (Source: NASA)
To help keep astronauts at peak performance during missions, NASA researched, qualified and patented a highly effective electrolyte concentrate formula that maintains and restores optimal body hydration levels quickly and conveniently. Developed as a remedy for dehydration, it helps prevent the loss of body fluids during heavy exercise, heat exposure and illness. It also can be used to treat dehydration caused by altitude sickness and jetlag.

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., licensed the patented rehydration formula to Wellness Brands Inc., Boulder, Colo. Wellness Brands plans to launch its first electrolyte concentrate brand, 'The Right Stuff' in June 2009. The novel electrolyte formula contains a specific ratio of key ingredients, sodium chloride and sodium citrate, for rapid restoration of hydration. These electrolytes, dissolved in water, optimize the levels of sodium ions in the body. The beverage is an isotonic formulation that restores both intra- and extracellular body fluid volumes in dehydrated astronauts, athletes and others. (6/4)

Bargain Blast-Off (Source: Globe and Mail)
Compared to the going rate for space travel, the $2,200 (U.S.) it cost Robert Jacobson to fly a plane used to train Russian cosmonauts was bargain-basement cheap. Sure, soaring 6,000 feet above the Florida gulf coast in an L-39 military jet is nothing like going into orbit (Mr. Jacobson's ultimate dream). The 33-year-old investor would have to blast more than 60 miles higher to hit the so-called “edge of space,” and another 149 miles to reach the International Space Station. But, at least through Aurora Aerospace, a new “astronaut training center” founded by a Canadian living in Tampa Bay, Mr. Jacobson got a bird's eye view of Earth without slapping down as much as $35-million – what today's space travellers reportedly pay for a seat on a Russian rocket. (6/4)

Moving NASA's Glenn Visitor Center Would Benefit Region (Source: Cleveland.com)
NASA Glenn visitor center could close or have a new home later this year. NASA Glenn officials said last week that a move to the Great Lakes Science Center is among options they're considering for its visitors center. Cuts in the space agency's budget have resulted in NASA Glenn paring up to $500,000 a year from its public affairs programs, including the visitors center, officials said. Options include keeping the center where it is or moving it elsewhere on its sprawling campus. But NASA Glenn officials said they need to find new partners and money to maintain visitor programs and attractions. The 6,000-square-foot visitors center features an auditorium, a gift shop and six galleries. (6/4)

SpaceShipTwo Success Puts Fatal Explosion in the Past (Source: New Scientist)
Blasting off to the edge of space in SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's commercial spacecraft, may be one step closer after the successful testing last week of a new solid-liquid hybrid rocket motor. The test follows a review of a fatal explosion in 2007. In 2004, the aircraft and rocket maker Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, won the Ansari X prize for SpaceShipOne, the first commercial spacecraft to reach suborbital space. Its motor burned a solid fuel using liquid nitrous oxide as an oxidizer.

It was during fuel flow tests with nitrous oxide that an explosion occurred at Scaled Composites' facility on 26 July 2007. Three engineers were killed and three more badly injured. An enquiry, involving NASA, recommended new safety measures for the motor, including switching the composite fuel tank liners to metal, using helium to pressurize both the fuel and inert volatile vapors, and eradicating potential contaminants. (6/4)

Mars Orbiter Enters Safe Mode After Disturbance (Source: AP)
NASA says its powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode after being hit by a cosmic ray or solar particle. The spacecraft abruptly rebooted its onboard computer Wednesday night, but can still send down engineering data to ground controllers. Crews at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena have been working to return the craft to normal science operations, expected as early as next week. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in 2005. (6/4)

China's Help in Peaceful Use of Space Lauded (Source: Xinhua)
China's rapid development in space technology is of help to the United Nations' effort in pushing for the peaceful use of outer space, the director-general of the United Nations Office in Vienna said on Thursday. Antonio Maria Costa also expressed his appreciation of China's proposal for a peaceful outer space in talks with the Chinese delegation participating in the 52nd session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on Thursday.

Chinese delegate Wang Wenbao, who is the director of the office of China's manned spaceflight, said China's space industry "is peaceful and open," and the country is willing to cooperate and communicate actively with the other countries around the world. Costa stressed that the peaceful use of outer space was an issue concerning the whole world, and international cooperation was very important. (6/4)

House Subcommittee Approves $18.2 Billion for NASA (Source: SPACErePORT)
The House Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee on Appropriations marked up the FY-2010 NASA budget on Jun. 4, resulting in an $18.203 billion figure for the agency. This represents a $421 million (or 2%) increase over FY-2009, but it is $482.7 million less than was requested for the agency. (6/4)

Space Travel Leaves You short, Fat and Ugly, Claim Scientists (Source: Telegraph)
Near zero gravity would leave humans stunted and cause their bones and muscles to be underdeveloped, said astrobiologist Dr Lewis Dartnell. They will also have bloated faces and lose their hair because fluid would pool in their skulls and there would be no need for insulation from the cold. Dr Dartnell, from University College London, admitted that by the time they reach their destination they may not pass an audition for Star Trek. "With little effort required to move around in microgravity and an environment that is never too hot or cold, future spacemen and women are likely to become pretty chubby," he said. (6/4)

House Places Temporary "Time-Out" on NASA Exploration Spending (Source: Space Politics)
After the Jun. 4 House of Representatives subcommittee markup of NASA's FY-10 budget, the biggest change is that Exploration is cut significantly, from $3.96 billion in the President’s request to $3.29 billion in the markup. In an accompanying statement, subcommittee chairman Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) says that uncertainty about NASA’s future exploration direction is the reason for this temporary “time-out” in spending: "Reductions from the budget request should not be viewed as a diminution of my support or that of the Subcommittee in NASA’s human space flight activities. Rather, the deferral is taken without prejudice; it is a pause, a time-out, to allow the President to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision."

The other major change is the creation of a new line item, “Construction and environmental compliance”, with over $440 million in FY10, nearly as much as aeronautics. No explanation is included in Mollohan’s statement about the funding. (6/4)

More Virginia Candidates Support Spaceport Effort (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Space issues continue to receive much attention during Virginia's ongoing gubernatorial race. Republican candidate and former state Attorney General Robert "Bob" F. McDonnell has provided political support for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport with great consistentecy on the campaign trail beginning with the statewide launch of his campaign, and he continues to do so in a recent interview with Human Events.com. Human Events Editor Jed Babbin posed this question: "One of the things you mentioned in your speech was also a little bit out of the ordinary. You said you wanted to build an east coast spaceport in Virginia. Why? How are you going to do that? What does it mean for the state?"

McDonnell responded: "Well, we’ve got the start of that already at Wallops Island, Virginia. We’ve got a spaceport that we’ve actually just teamed up with Maryland that just got its first major contract from Orbital [Sciences Corporation], a [$1.9] billion contract to launch satellites over the next couple of years. We competed with Cape Canaveral and won. It’s a tremendous victory for Virginia space travel. I think in the future, we all know, that space exploration and satellites and technology is going to be a tremendous source of economic activity in the future. I want to be at the cutting edge of that. We’ve got a start already. I know there are some things to do to boost state support of that, to help them with more research and development, to help them get more contracts. If we do that, I think it has enormous possibilities for jobs and new revenues to come to Virginia. That’s one of our great assets: We’re going to continue to make it better." (6/4)

United Space Alliance Assembles Space Ops Team (Source: USA)
United Space Alliance has assembled a team of experienced, innovative experts in space operations to support KSC’s mission to maintain the leading edge in space vehicle and payload processing, integration, launch and recovery operations. The team will compete for the Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) contract, which provides ground processing and operations for launch vehicles, spacecraft and payloads in support of the Constellation, International Space Station and the Launch Services programs. In addition, it includes support for the transition and retirement of legacy assets supporting both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. Joining USA on the team are Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Jacobs Technology. (6/23)

Northrop Grumman Wins Sole-Source Contract Extension to Support NASA Suborbital Launch Operations (Source: NASA)
NASA plans to extend a contract with Northrop Grumman to implement all of the sounding rocket missions for the NASA Sounding Rocket Program (NSRP). This includes the formulation, design, fabrication, testing, and launch of approximately 20 to 30 suborbital rockets annually. The contract also supports the electrical fabrication, mechanical fabrication, and environmental testing requirements of Wallops Flight Facility as a whole. The NSRP supports launches in Virginia, Alaska and Norway. NASA intends to procure the services on a noncompetitive basis from Northrop Grumman..."Northrop Grumman has the combined training, experience, and expertise to provide uninterrupted continuation of mission critical support." (6/3)

Life Sciences a Winner in Florida FY09-10 Budget (Source: SSTI)
Gov. Charlie Crist signed Florida's $66.5 billion 2009-10 budget into law last week, providing a mixed bag of funding outcomes for the state's existing economic development programs. The two main components of the Florida Biomedical Research Programs administered by the Florida Department of Health emerge with large funding increases. They total $52.2 million, up from $18.9 million in the previous year.

Enterprise Florida, the state's main economic development organization, will receive $12.4 million - up from $11.9 million in the previous budget. Space Florida, concentrating on aerospace development, will receive $3.8 million - down from $4.0 million in the previous budget. Just over $21.1 million will be used for the Qualified Target Industries Tax Refund Incentive, Qualified Defense Contractors Tax Refund Incentive, and the High Impact Performance Incentive programs, collectively a decrease of $500,000 from the previous fiscal year.

The state's Quick Action Closing Fund, used by the state to arrange capital when competing for high-wage jobs, will receive $13.5 million in the FY09-10 budget, down from $26.5 million in the previous year. Gov. Crist originally requested $45 million for the Closing Fund in this year's budget request. Visit http://www.flgov.com/budget/sb_2600.pdf to view the budget bill. (6/4)

Miami Museum of Science Wins NASA Grant (Source: NASA)
The Miami Museum of Science will use $340,756 from NASA for a Youth EXPO program. It is a two-year pilot study for an interactive 3-D virtual world exhibit, designed to help students in grades 9-12 develop a better understanding of climate change and increase their awareness of, and interest in, related NASA climate science and careers. The study includes partners at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA Learning Technologies, and NOAA. (6/4)

Embry-Riddle DIEMOS Project Set for Zero-G Mission (Sources: Avion, SPACErePORT)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Team DIEMOS (Diaphragm Implemented Experiment to Model Oscillatory Slosh) has been accepted by NASA in the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. The program creates a unique partnership between college students studying hard sciences and NASA. The research is crucial in training future scientists and engineers and gives them the opportunity to work on difficult, real-life technical problems facing the space industry today. The team submitted the 40-page technical proposal in November and will fly this week in Houston aboard a NASA-sponsored Zero-G aircraft mission. The DIEMOS experiment investigates the difficult problem of fuel slosh in rockets and satellites, using a custom-made model satellite in an aluminum-framed polycarbonate enclosure. (6/5)

Air Force Aims to Launch Space Plane Next Year (Source: Space.com)
It has been a long haul to the launch pad, but the U.S. Air Force and Boeing are gearing up to loft the X-37B – an unpiloted military space plane. Tucked inside the shroud of an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), the winged craft will be boosted out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, orbit the Earth and then make an auto-pilot landing in California. The X-37B OTV-1 (Orbital Test Vehicle 1) is currently on the launch manifest for January 2010. Years ago, the X-37B was originally slated to be deployed from the payload bay of a space shuttle. But following the tragic Columbia accident, the craft was transferred to a Delta rocket, and then later geared to be sent aloft via the Atlas V EELV. (6/4)

Russia Increases Operational Glonass Satellites to 17 In Orbit (Source: RIA Novosti)
The number of operational satellites in Russia's Glonass grouping has been increased to 17 while three more remain inactive in orbit. Glonass - the Global Navigation Satellite System - is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters. "A total of 17 satellites are operational while three remain under maintenance," the statement said. The system requires 18 satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of the Russian Federation, and 24 satellites to provide services worldwide.

A total of 9.9 billion rubles ($360 million at the current exchange rate) was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion rubles ($170 million) in 2006. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a directive on September 12, 2008, allocating an additional $2.6 billion to develop the system. Two Proton-M launch vehicles are expected to lift off this year to put six more Glonass-M satellites into orbit. (6/4)

China to Join Efforts to Maintain Peace in Outer Space (Source: Xinhua)
China is ready to join the international community in efforts to maintain peace in outer space, a Chinese envoy said here at the 52nd plenary session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). "The Chinese government has always stood for and abided by the principle of peaceful use of outer space," Tang Guoqiang, China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Vienna, said, "We considered this an important part of efforts to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity." He also said outer space is the common property of humanity and its exploration and use concerns all humanity. He elaborated the Chinese government's position on the establishment and improvement of relevant laws and regulations to effectively prevent weaponization and an arms race in outer space, as well as on other issues. (6/3)

Bolden May Win Quick Senate Approval (Source: Space.com)
Key members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee are clearing the way for swift confirmation of four-time space shuttle astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, the president's pick to lead NASA. Congressional aides say a confirmation hearing for Bolden, as well as former NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver — the White House pick for the space agency's No. 2 slot — could be scheduled as early as the week of June 8. One congressional aide said May 28 that Bolden's strongest ally on Capitol Hill, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), has asked the committee to schedule "something in the next two weeks." The Senate Commerce Committee's top Republican, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, said the panel would move quickly to confirm the nominees. (6/3)

Cheap No Option, Says Griffin (Source: Huntsville Times)
Former NASA administrator Dr. Michael Griffin has warned leaders debating the future of American spaceflight that "on the cheap" is not an option. "We can make a decision either to do spaceflight ... or not to do it," Griffin told a conference of test engineers. "On the cheap" is not a choice, he said. Griffin, who led NASA under former President George W. Bush and is an eminent scholar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was asked about the work of the Augustine Commission. Asked about Norm Augustine's panel to review U.S. human spaceflight plans, Griffin said if America can't pursue its space goals "with sufficient robustness...I hope Norm would recommend we just not do it." (6/4)

Wyle Unit Serves in Vital Role for Selection of New European Space Authority Astronauts (Source: Wyle)
Wyle's Germany-based GmbH unit played a vital role in the recent selection of six new European Space Authority (ESA) astronauts, the first named since 1992. Casey Pruett, managing director of the unit, assisted in supervising all logistic components for organizing the implementation of two phases of psychological and one phase of medical testing. He served as the deputy project manager to Dr. Volker Damann, head of ESA's Crew Medical Support Office, and was responsible for the psychological and medical components of the ESA astronaut selection campaign. (6/3)

Cirque du Soleil Founder to Fly to Space (Source: SpaceToday.net)
The Canadian founder of a flamboyant Cirque du Soleil performance company plans to fly to the International Space Station as a space tourist. Guy Laliberté has a reported net worth of $2.5 billion. The flight would be on the next Soyuz taxi flight to the ISS, scheduled for the end of September; US company Space Adventures previously announced that a seat on that mission was potentially open to commercial customers after plans to fly a Kazakh cosmonaut fell through. (6/4)

Will Mars Rover Roll Again? (Source: MSNBC)
NASA experts are taking fuzzy pictures and trying out different recipes for Red Planet dirt as they continue their weeks-long effort to get a stuck Mars rover moving again. It's been more than three weeks since the Spirit rover became mired in loose dirt on the west side of the Martian feature known as "Home Plate." During that time, the mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has fielded scores of suggestions for freeing up Spirit, rover project manager John Callas told me today. Callas said he and his colleagues have heard from "farmers who have had tractors stuck in the mud and figured out how to get them out," as well as a 7-year-old boy named Julian who suggested having Spirit push itself out with its robotic arm. (6/4)

Fake Astronaut Gets Hit by Artificial Solar Flare (Source: NASA)
In 1972, Apollo astronauts narrowly escaped a potential catastrophe. On Aug. 2 of that year, a large and angry sunspot appeared and began to erupt, over and over again for more than a week, producing a record-setting fusillade of solar proton radiation. Only pure luck saved the day. The eruptions took place during the gap between Apollo 16 and 17 missions, so astronauts missed the storm. The agency is in high gear preparing to send people to the Moon to set up a manned outpost, a step toward eventually sending humans to Mars or elsewhere in the solar system. These missions will take astronauts outside the protection of Earth's magnetic field for months or even years at a time, and NASA must know how to keep its explorers safe from extreme solar storms. So scientists are creating an artificial solar radiation storm right here on Earth. And they're testing its effects on an artificial human: Matroshka, the Phantom Torso. (6/4)

NASA Falling Further Behind (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With a White House-ordered review of its next-generation Constellation rocket program just weeks away, NASA faces some unwelcome news: Key milestones for the agency's Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule are falling further behind schedule because of design flaws and technical challenges. An important test of the Orion's emergency escape system that was supposed to happen last year will not come off before November and could slip further. A review of the proposed fixes for the violent shaking at liftoff that has plagued development of the Ares I has been delayed from this summer to December. Even the first test flight of the Ares design — a mock-up rocket called the Ares I-X — has been moved from April to July to August and now possibly September.

A key question the review panel must answer is whether Constellation will fit within NASA's budget, which right now includes more than $3 billion in projected cuts through 2013, after the space shuttle is retired next year. Constellation's development costs are now projected at more than $40 billion through 2015, up from $28 billion in 2006. And even Cabana acknowledged that money is the main concern. Click here to view the article. (6/4)

Space Florida Undergraduate Space Academy Tracks Alumni (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida's recent survey of undergraduate participants in their Space Academy program revealed that 59% are currently working in STEM fields and credit their Academy participation for their job success. 38% are still at college finishing STEM degrees or attending as graduate students. 2% are serving in the military or law enforcement, and less than 1% are working in non-STEM areas. (6/4)

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