July 18 News Items

Study Predicts $1.5 Billion Market for Commercial Lunar Services (Source: X Prize Foundation)
A study performed by the Futron Corporation, an aerospace consultancy based in Bethesda, MD, predicts that companies such as those competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will be able to address a market in excess of $1 billion over the course of the next decade. The results of the study resonate with the expectations of the X PRIZE Foundation, which conducts the $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch privately funded spacecraft capable of exploring the lunar surface. The market projection demonstrates the breadth of commercial opportunities that companies are likely to pursue either during or after the conclusion of their Google Lunar X PRIZE missions.

The study, which involved a detailed examination of the 19 teams already registered in the competition, as well as a robust analysis of potential lines of business, identified six key market areas: hardware sales to the worldwide government sector, services provided to the government sector, products provided to the commercial sector, entertainment, sponsorship, and technology sales and licensing. Taken together, the study projects the value of these markets to be between $1 - $1.56 billion within the next decade. Additionally, some Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors have set their sights on additional market sectors that fell outside of the scope of the Futron report, which could result in an even higher total market size. (7/17)

Ares I-X Launch Delayed; Ares I Thrust Oscillation Problems Continue (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Last month, Sentinel Space Editor Robert Block reported on the likelihood that the first test flight of the Ares I-X -- a mockup of the Ares I intended ot test performance of the solid-fuel first stage -- would be delayed past its scheduled date of Aug. 30. Officially, he reported, NASA was holding to the August date for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center but that September was "more likely." Now comes the officially revised date, courtesy of a memo from Johnson Space Center's Robert Ess, the Ares I-X mission manager: Oct. 31.

"This is still a very aggressive schedule and requires a lot of tasks to complete on or before their planned dates," Ess wrote in a memo obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. And there's word from Marshall Space Flight Center, where Ares I is being designed, that engineers there are continuing to wrestle with the issue of "thrust oscillation." (7/17)

Florida Space Firm Wins Virginia Spaceport Work (Source: CCT)
Titusville-based Command and Control Technologies Corporation (CCT) has been awarded a follow on task order from the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) for the design and development of a Universal Ground Fluid Control System (UGFCS). The UGFCS will be located at new space launch facilities being jointly developed by VCSFA and Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE:ORB) at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, Virginia. (7/16)

Private Companies Eye Growth in Space (Source: AIA)
From cargo to science to tourism, private companies see space as the next great frontier. Following the success of Apollo, "It was an assumed future that we'd all go to space [by now]," says entrepreneur Richard Garriott, who paid $35 million to hitch a ride to the International Space Station. "That hasn't come to pass, and it's created this interesting evolution of spaceflight right now." The private space industry is growing and hiring at a time when many others are cutting back, and executives are hopeful for even more growth if NASA can be convinced to contract out portions of its work to the private sector. (7/18)

Senate Confirms Bolden as NASA Administrator (Source: AIA)
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of a former astronaut to lead NASA. Charles Bolden should be sworn in by July 20, marking the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Bolden will take over the agency at a time when the U.S. is struggling to define its future in space. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., himself a former astronaut, said he hopes Bolden will "bring back the magic from a time when we rode rockets to the moon." (7/17)

Mars Simulation Begins On Devon Island (Source: Space Daily)
The FMARS Xll 2009 crew has arrived on "Mars" and is now entering their formal simulated Mars mission. They are on Devon Island, north of the Arctic Circle, peering out the portholes of the Mars habitat located at the edge of the Haughton Crater. The stark beauty of the arctic desert scenery adds to the realism of this epic endeavor, with human explorers restricted by operational constraints similar to those to be faced by future human explorers on Mars. They are living in the habitat, conducting daily EVAs while wearing full analog Mars spacesuits, and limiting their communications with Mission Support and their families back on "Earth." (7/17)

Boeing Wins Four-Satellite Contract (Source: SpaceToday.net)
Boeing, which has not been a major player in the commercial satellite market in recent years, announced this week a contract for four satellites of a new design to communications satellite operator Intelsat. The contract for Intelsat 21, 22, and two satellites yet to be named will be the first to use the Boeing 702B satellite, a smaller version of its existing large Boeing 702 communications satellite platform. Terms of the contract, or when the satellites would be delivered for launch, were not disclosed. Boeing has won very few commercial satellite contracts in the last several years, focusing more on government sales. (7/18)

Editorial: Commercial Industry Role Critical to Future U.S. Space Progress (Source: Roll Call)
Since the 1960s, the legislative branch has been an equal partner with the executive in providing funding, oversight and direction to America’s bold space missions. Forty years ago when the lunar module Eagle landed on the Sea of Tranquility, only the U.S. and Soviet governments had the ability to send humans into space. Today, there are several other nations involved in human space flight. And now, there is a burgeoning commercial space flight industry. Entrepreneurial private corporations can provide launch and cargo services, equipment and infrastructure for exploration, and economic activity throughout the inner solar system.

Soon we will be in a post-space shuttle period when NASA no longer has the capability to launch humans in space. Congress should set policies to leverage the commercial space flight industry to help us through those years. Indeed, the involvement of the private sector is vital. is being asked to make a limited budget go far in exploration, scientific research and aeronautics activities. NASA faces a hiatus of several years in launching human crews. Commercial crew flights and cargo transportation to low Earth orbit must be encouraged so that we can productively utilize the ISS for scientific research. Commercial firms can provide alternatives to our dependence on Russia for transporting Americans to space after the space shuttle is retired. (7/18)

India Admits Spacecraft Glitch After 8 Weeks (Source: The Telegraph)
A malfunction aboard Chandrayaan-1 has crippled an electronic eye used to maintain the spacecraft’s orientation in its lunar orbit, forcing engineers to activate the only backup available. An on-board sensor that tracked stars and helped ensure the spacecraft’s antenna and its cameras pointed in the right directions began to malfunction on April 26, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said. Although ISRO took steps to overcome the hurdle, the space agency remained silent about the glitch for over eight weeks. (7/18)

Hardware Problem Blamed on NASA Satellite Crash (Source: AP)
A piece of rocket hardware failed to separate during the launch of a NASA climate satellite earlier this year, causing it crash back to Earth, according to an accident summary released Friday. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory splashed into the ocean near Antarctica on Feb. 24, minutes after lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Taurus rocket. A team of space experts appointed by NASA to investigate the mishap said the nose cone that protects the satellite did not come off as planned. Although the investigators could not pinpoint the exact cause for the failed separation, they said four potential problems with the rocket's hardware may be to blame. (7/18)

After Walking on Moon, Astronauts Trod Various Paths (Source: CNN)
It turns out going to the moon is a tough act to follow. For all their Buck Rogers, "Right Stuff," history-making achievements, the question for many of the 12 astronauts who walked on the lunar surface starting four decades ago ultimately became "one giant leap to where, exactly?" "You have your peak experience at 38 or 39," says space historian Andrew Chaiken, summing up their collective experience, "and [they] have a hard time coming up with something to do for an encore."

In the 40 years since the Apollo program first took humans to the moon, the astronauts' lives have taken diverse paths. Almost all had been military test pilots before joining NASA; in later life, they found themselves ministers, politicians and conspiracy buffs. Some struggled with common issues: Many of their marriages fell apart and alcoholism affected at least one. Click here to view the article. (7/18)

Endeavour Docks at ISS Amid Heat Shield Questions (Source: AFP)
Endeavour successfully docked at the International Space Station on Friday amid questions about the integrity of the shuttle's heat shield. The entry of Endeavour's crew aboard the ISS will bring the number of astronauts inside the orbiting space station to a record 13. As the shuttle approached the ISS, Polansky photographed the underside of the Endeavour to discover whether Wednesday's takeoff caused any damage to the shuttle's heat shield. During the launch, debris could be seen peeling away from the shuttle and then striking it.

NASA officials have said there is not yet any cause for concern and that an early review showed only "a few minor dings" in some tiles due to the loss of small foam pieces from the external fuel tank. (7/18)

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