July 15 News Items

Former 'N Sync Member Lance Bass Still Hopes to go into Space (Source: NY Daily News)
Lance Bass wants to do the moonwalk - and he's got the goods to pull it off. "I'm a trained astronaut, and it's my time to go," the former 'N Syncer told us at the Louis Vuitton Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Lunar Landing event on Monday night. Bass attended space camp as a kid and actually tried to launch into orbit on a Russian rocket in 2002. (7/15)

South Korea to Launch its Own Space Rocket This Month (Source: SpaceDaily.com)
South Korea will this month launch a satellite using its own rocket as part of a drive to join Asia's space race. An experimental satellite weighing 100 kilograms (220 pounds) will be launched into a low earth orbit on July 30 from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, 300 miles south of Seoul. Only nine other countries have their own launch vehicles. The launch will come around four months after Seoul's rival North Korea in April fired a long-range rocket for what it called a satellite launch. (7/14)

Space Station Is Near Completion, Maybe the End (Source: Washington Post)
After more than a decade of construction, it is nearing completion and finally has a full crew of six astronauts. The last components should be installed by the end of next year. And then? "In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft," says NASA's space station program manager, Michael T. Suffredini. That's a polite way of saying that NASA will make the space station fall back into the atmosphere, where it will turn into a fireball and then crash into the Pacific Ocean. It'll be a controlled reentry, to ensure that it doesn't take out a major city. But it'll be destroyed as surely as a Lego palace obliterated by the sweeping arm of a suddenly bored kid. (7/14)

Boulder Space Business Incubator Selects Initial Companies (Source: Daily Camera)
A new Boulder nonprofit on Tuesday selected three Colorado companies for its business incubator designed to further entrepreneurship and job creation in the space industry. Boulder firms Zybek Advanced Products Inc., Net-Centric Design Professionals (NDP) and Colorado Springs-based Space Awareness Services were the first companies selected to participate in eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship. The University of Colorado and SpaceDev Inc. launched eSpace earlier this year to help aerospace businesses with resources such as funding, building relationships and gaining access to federal grants and contracts. (7/15)

Pro/Con - Should Space Exploration Continue? (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
Ellen Koven: Absolutely, yes! Let's not allow our wallets to determine our destiny. Don't ask me how much money we should spend, and which rocket systems are better than others. I'm no scientist, but I don't believe all of life is focused on our single little orb, Earth. Budget cuts can't stop our yearning to know what else is out there. Aside from that, space exploration also has a practical side.

Denise Covert: Weigh the cost. I can't say I really cared at all about the space program until I graduated college and moved to Brevard County. I find myself conflicted about what the future of the program should be. Space exploration is admirable, and has led to so many scientific advancements (not just Tang). We've poured so much money into the International Space Station, it doesn't make sense to abandon it. Also, private industries are coming up with their own rockets that may be a cost-saving alternative to what NASA's looking at. But the fact remains that our economy is in crisis, and we are hemorrhaging money. (7/15)

Venus had a Wet, Volcanic Past (Source: Astronomy Now)
Covered in oceans, continents and flowing lava, Venus may have once been more like Earth's twin than its evil step-sister, say planetary scientists. Venus is sometimes nicknamed Earth's twin because the two planets share a similar size, gravity and bulk composition. But with a thick cloak of sulphuric acid clouds and a surface pressure nearly one hundred times that of Earth, it is far from hospitable. Planetary scientists believe that a young Venus once possessed Earth-like oceans, which evaporated into space to leave a barren landscape. Thanks to ESA's Venus Express satellite, the first map charting the planet's southern hemisphere at infrared wavelengths, and comprising over one thousand individual images, gives scientists another tool in the quest to understand how the two planets evolved so differently. The new Venus Express map is the first to hint at the chemical composition of the rocks. The data suggest that the highland plateaus are ancient continents created by volcanic activity and were once surrounded by oceans. (7/15)

A Change in Plans After $3 Billion? (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA is developing alternative designs to the Ares I rocket at the request of a White House-appointed panel that's reviewing the future of manned spaceflight. That has some space experts worried that the Ares I project might be dead, although NASA has spent $3 billion and four years developing the rocket. The Augustine Commission - so nicknamed for its chairman, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine - has asked NASA to submit a plan that would scrap the Ares I crew rocket and instead modify the powerful Ares V - designed as a cargo ship - to carry both crew and cargo. Another alternative already suggested to the Augustine panel would use a version of the current space shuttle's boosters and fuel tank as a moon rocket. (7/15)

Under Deadline Pressure, Augustine Panel Ends Site Visits (Source: AIA)
The presidential panel charged with evaluating the future of U.S. manned spaceflight says it will stop conducting site visits in an effort to meet its August deadline. The 10-member committee headed by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine has conducted four on-site inspections of facilities ranging from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to a SpaceX manufacturing plant in California. But as the end-of-August deadline nears, those visits will be halted in favor of public hearings and fact-finding meetings throughout the month of July. (7/14)

Hawaii May Apply for Spaceport License to Alleviate Tourism Slump (Source: Honolulu Advertiser)
A prolonged slump in visitor arrivals has state officials looking to the heavens for help. What they see is a nascent industry that could provide a jolt to the state's tourism business. Hawai'i's current terrestrial-based tourism sector is in severe decline, and is a key factor behind a major budget deficit and plans to cut pay for state workers. During these tough times, the state is considering spending $500,000 applying to become a federally licensed spaceport. (7/14)

United Space Alliance to Lay Off 400 Employees (Source: Houston Business Journal)
United Space Alliance is planning to lay off about 400 employees later this year, including about 160 in Houston, according to a company spokeswoman. Jessica Pieczonka said the Houston space operations company will shed about 4 percent of its workforce to align itself with NASA’s workload and budget going into the next fiscal year, which begins in October. Of the 400 employees to be laid off, 60 percent will be in USA’s Florida office, while 40 percent will be in Houston, Pieczonka said. The company has 9,300 employees companywide, according to Pieczonka, with about 3,700 in the Houston area. The layoffs will bring the employee count down to about 8,900, she said. (7/14)

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