July 19 News Items

Where Were You When Apollo 11 Landed? Not Born Yet (Source: AP)
Most Americans have never known a world where man hasn't been to the moon. It used to be a given that people knew where they were when man first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, watching the black-and-white images on television. But now most Americans don't know where they were because the majority of Americans hadn't been born yet. The median age of Americans, as of last year, was 36.8, meaning more than half of U.S. residents are younger than 40, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. No figures have been calculated for this year yet. Five years ago, when NASA celebrated the 35th anniversary of the moon landing, the median age of Americans was 36.1, so most residents were at least alive when Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind. (7/19)

Station Toilet Not Working (Source: Florida Today)
The toilet in the U.S. Destiny module, one of two toilet systems aboard the space station, is malfunctioning from a flooded a liquid separator. International Space Station flight controllers and crew members are troubleshooting the the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, a $6 million compartment that was delivered to the station on STS-126 and installed later by the station crew. NASA officials state that this is a inconvenience, "not a serious issue." Until it is fixed, the six station crew members will use the toilet in the Russian Zvezda module and the seven space shuttle Endeavour astronauts will use the shuttle facilities. (7/19)

The Economic Failure of the Space Program (Source: Business Week)
Yes, let us celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, an amazing human achievement. But remember something else as well: The U.S. space program turned out to be one of the great economic and innovative failures of our time. For a decade it absorbed a big chunk of the country’s scientific and technical resources, while producing very few economically useful spinoffs.

Consider this: From 1962 to 1972, when the last Apollo mission landed on the moon, space-related activities got 59% of nondefense government R&D spending. To put it another way, while we were spending at a rapid pace on space travel, we didn’t put money into R&D in other key areas like energy and natural resources. (This omission had real consequences during the energy crisis of the 1970s).

Let’s put the spending into other terms. Between 1962 and 1972, the U.S. space program spent $176 billion (inflation-adjusted in 2009 dollars). In magnitude, that comes close to the mammoth federal expenditures on building the interstate highway system over the same period (outlays from the Federal Highway Trust Fund totalled $220 billion in 2009 dollars from 1962-72). (7/19)

Editorial: Can NASA Maintain Florida Orbit? (Source: Palm Beach Post)
NASA got a new administrator last week, and Florida's unemployment rate increased to 10.6 percent in June. The two stories are related. Apollo's boost for the nation meant a boost for the Florida economy. Beginning in the late 1950s, engineers flocked to Cape Canaveral on what came to be known as the Space Coast. The jobs paid well, and still do. But even as NASA sent up another shuttle mission last week, the future of the space program remains unclear, and so does a key part of the state's economy.

Fifty years ago, Florida was a tourism and farming state. The space program created the first high-tech segment of the economy. It drew related defense contractors, all of which provided a cushion as Florida grew more and more dependent on construction and development. NASA's economic impact on Florida is estimated at about $2 billion.

Sen. Nelson has guarded NASA's presence in Florida, but with the budget deficit in the stratosphere, it will be hard to convince his colleagues that the next stimulus should be a Mars mission. But Maj. Bolden surely doesn't want to lead NASA into irrelevance. Twenty-three years later, he and Sen. Nelson again are on the same mission. (7/19)

Editorial: Dark Side of the Moon (Source: Panama City News Herald)
Apollo’s 40th anniversary rekindles a lot of bygone feelings of pride and awe that we felt in those heady days. But they’re accompanied by a melancholy of lost opportunities, and a nostalgia for when Americans were all on the same page, not because we were grieving or fighting, but because we were inspired and had a sense of accomplishment. That might have been the last great thing Big Government did.

Today, the future of manned space flight rests not in Washington, which has neither the will nor the money to do it, but in the private sector. Space entrepreneurship has been progressing, attracting investors and testing new vehicles. The first step will be space tourism in low-Earth orbit. But if there’s money to be made in, say, mining the moon, the private sector will find a way to do it. That’s a very practical, profit-driven approach to space. Too bad it lacks the romanticism that surrounded Apollo 11. I’m going to enjoy its anniversary this weekend, because I’ll probably never see anything like it again. (7/19)

Editorial: Lost at Space Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With the imminent retirement of shuttles and the uncertainty surrounding NASA's next manned program, the future of space in Florida will increasingly depend on private companies. There is some commercial activity on Florida's Space Coast. United Launch Alliance sends up NASA, military and commercial satellites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and one company, SpaceX, plans to use a pad leased from the Air Force to help supply the international space station after shuttles are grounded.

But lately, the state's effort to grab a bigger share of this global industry -- worth tens of billions of dollars a year and growing -- is looking like a dud. Lawmakers in 2006 combined three space-related government agencies into one, Space Florida, and assigned it the mission of building a "world-leading aerospace industry in the state." Last year, they gave Space Florida $14.5 million to begin outfitting a military launch pad at Cape Canaveral for private rocket launches, a project expected eventually to cost more than $50 million. So far, however, the agency has not lined up any commitments from any companies to use it.

Meanwhile, other states, including Virginia and New Mexico, are aggressively pursuing commercial space ventures. Virginia has beaten out Florida for test flights from another company planning to launch rockets to supply the international space station. Other countries also are going after, and getting, space business. If Florida wants to hold on to its title as the nation's leading spaceport -- and all the jobs and investments that come with it -- lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist need to make sure Space Florida has the right leadership so it can rise to the challenges. (7/19)

4 Decades Ago We Landed on the Moon -- Will We Go Further? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Two months ago, former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski ascended Mount Everest, carrying a lunar rock brought back by the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon 40 years ago tomorrow. Along the way, he endured hardships like those experienced by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin: bulky equipment, rocky terrain and a lack of oxygen.

The effort made Parazynski the first astronaut to summit the world's highest peak. It also gave him a deeper understanding of why his boyhood heroes of Armstrong and Edmund Hillary sought the unknown. "Any time you explore ... you learn things you never expected," said Parazynski. "Any country that doesn't explore is going to ultimately recede." That faith that exploration brings its own rewards is the fundamental rationale behind NASA's efforts to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. By most other standards — cost, safety and scientific gain — the benefits are dubious. (7/19)

'Wrong to Say Ares Dead in the Water' (Source: Huntsville Times)
Contrary to some reports, don't write off the Ares rocket program yet, the chairman of an independent NASA review panel said Friday. Aerospace veteran Norman Augustine told reporters during a phone conference Friday that his panel - chartered by the White House to review NASA's future human spaceflight plans - is in place to look at options and alternatives, including Ares, which is managed by Marshall Space Flight Center. "It would be completely wrong to say Ares is dead in the water," Augustine said. "We've looked at derivatives of Ares and alternatives to Ares. We are looking at a whole bunch of possibilities." (7/18)

NASA and Air Force to Collaborate on Rapid Response Space Works (Source: NASA Watch)
NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) is partnering with the Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) in New Mexico to establish the Rapid Response Space Works. NASA ARC will serve as lead executing agent with overall contracting, programmatic and systems engineering responsibilities... The Rapid Response Space Works (RRSW) and Space Vehicle procurement has two primary objectives. The first objective is to standup initial operations of the RRSW. This objective creates the ability for the ORS Office to meet its "Deploy" mission capability of rapidly deploying capabilities to the warfighter within days to weeks. The second objective is to procure, outside of the RRSW, modular multi-mission space vehicles and/or buses and payloads for the RRSW. (7/19)

Report: Escape System Can't Save Astronauts if Ares I Explodes During First Minute (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The crew of NASA's newest spacecraft "will not survive" an explosion of the Ares I rocket within the first minute of launch because blazing chunks of solid-rocket fuel would melt the parachutes on the crew-escape system, according to a new Air Force report. The report by the 45th Space Wing used data from an unmanned Titan IV that was blown up by safety officers when its guidance system malfunctioned soon after leaving the pad at Cape Canaveral in 1998. Like Ares I, the Titan used solid-fuel motors.

But Jeff Hanley, who manages NASA's Constellation program that includes the Ares I, questioned the validity of the Air Force study because it relied on only one example. He said NASA had done its own study, using supercomputers to replicate the behavior of Ares I, that predicted a safe outcome. (7/17)

Russian Import Duties on GPS Navigators to be Raised at Least 25% (Source: Itar-Tass)
Import duties on GPS navigators may be raised by at least 25%, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said. The government is considering a proposal of the Industry and Trade Ministry and the Federal Tariff Service to reduce to zero the import duties on GPS components and to raise the import duties on finished GPS products. "That will allow Russia to import equipment for Glonass and GPS,” Ivanov said, adding that other countries, among them the United States, applied similar rules. (7/17)

South Korea Postpones First Rocket Launch (Source: Space Daily)
South Korea has again postponed the launch of its first space rocket due to technical reasons, a spokesman for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute said Friday. Russian counterparts building the first stage of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 had called for more time for testing, said spokesman Kim Hong-Gab. The launch date was previously set for on or around July 30, depending on the weather. It was the third time that South Korea has postponed the much-touted launch. (7/17)

5 Shuttle Launch Scrubs Cost Millions (Source: Space.com)
The repeated launch delays for the space shuttle Endeavour were not just frustrating, but expensive. NASA estimates every launch canceled after fuel tanking has begun can cost as much as $1.2 million dollars. Endeavour endured five liftoff scrubs before successfully launching Wednesday at 6:03 p.m. (2203 GMT), though some of these cancellations occurred before ground crews started loading propellant into the shuttle's external tank. The total price tag for this mission's postponements, which began in mid-June and ended with last week's liftoff, was less than $5 million. (7/16)

Spaceport America Installs Lunar Lander Launch Pads (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport, has installed three launch pads for NASA’s 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lande Centennial Challenge, which is administered by the X PRIZE Foundation to spur innovation and technology development. Called 'Tranquility Base' to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the trio of lunar lander launch pads was constructed the week of June 22 in preparation for this year's competition, which begins as early as July 20 and continues through October 31, 2009. (7/16)

Private Space Pioneers: We're Inheritors of Apollo Legacy (Source: CNN)
Richard Garriott had more reason than most to dream the Apollo moon landings would rapidly expand space travel. His father was a NASA astronaut, as were many of his neighbors near Texas' Johnson Space Center. With nearly all of humanity still on Earth nearly four decades later, the computer game developer paid $35 million for a ride aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station. Garriott believes the United States hasn't fulfilled the promise of the Apollo program yet.

"It was an assumed future that we'd all go to space [by now]," he said. "That hasn't come to pass, and it's created this interesting evolution of spaceflight right now." That evolution involves the privatization of space, and although the prospect of a spacecraft in every garage isn't near, a few private firms are getting close to manned, commercial spaceflight. (7/16)

NewSpace Companies Team to Promote Human Spaceflight (Source: SPACErePORT)
Commercial space companies can provide a domestic alternative to servicing Low Earth Orbit, allowing NASA to invest in other priorities. That's the message that a group of "New Space" companies and other stakeholders are sending with a collaborative campaign to increase public and government awareness of their expanding capabilities. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Central Florida are supporting the initiative. Visit www.NextStepInSpace.com for information. (7/19)

NASA Glenn Visitors Center Will Close; Exhibits Offered to Great Lakes Science Center (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
The NASA Glenn Visitors Center will close and its exhibits have been offered to the Great Lakes Science Center, NASA Glenn's director says. A tightening budget and the need to lift NASA Glenn's profile are reasons the 6,000-square-foot center must shut its doors, said Woodrow Whitlow, director of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park. (7/16)

Apollo Helped U.S. Engineering Dominance (Source: Shelbyville Times-Gazette)
Professor Billy Hix believes the space program was a powerful motivator which led young people to careers in science and engineering. "Without a doubt," he said, "that was an inspirational time for young men going into engineering." The lessening of interest in the space program over the years has taken away some of that motivation, and Hix said that NASA, and the Defense Department, are worried.

At the time of the Apollo 11 program, said Hix, the average age of the personnel seated at consoles in Mission Control was 28. Today, it's 52. When Hix works with industries in Huntsville, he said he sees engineers who tend to be in their 40s and 50s. Hix stressed the importance of science and engineering to everything from commerce to national security. Our leadership may be at risk. Hix said that in 2007, the U.S. graduated 64,000 engineers \-- while China graduated nearly 10 times that many. (7/19)

Loral To Build Telstar 14R Satellite for 2011 Launch (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Telesat's Telstar 14R telecommunications satellite will be built by Space Systems/Loral and launched in mid-2011 aboard an International Launch Services Proton rocket under contracts Telesat announced July 16. (7/19)

Espionage Conviction for Former Boeing Engineer (Source: Space News)
Dongfan "Greg" Chung, a 72-year-old former Boeing engineer living in Orange County, Calif., was convicted July 16 by a federal judge of charges that he stole restricted technology and trade secrets, including information related to the space shuttle program and Delta 4 rocket, and gave them to his native China. (7/19)

Contract Action Slows NASA Suborbital Rocket Program (Source: Space News)
The loss of key engineering personnel from NASA's sounding rocket program is expected to delay the launch of at least one suborbital rocket this summer at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., according to NASA officials. The work force reduction stems from a July 1 decision by Northrop Grumman Corp., prime contractor on the program, to terminate a subcontract with Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

NASA uses facilities at Wallops Island, Va., and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., to launch suborbital sounding rockets for various science and engineering objectives. Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman, which oversees NASA's Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC) at both facilities, is planning five missions over the next three months at White Sands. (7/19)

Devon Island Mars Explorers Test Florida Hardware (Source: FMARS)
The crew of the 2009 Flashline Arctic Mars Research Station, (FMARS) is halfway through their month-long mission and have accomplished many of the goals that they set out at the beginning of the mission. The crew has had the chance to smooth out some of the rough edges and test out both Omega Envoy's Lunar Rover Prototype and Prioria Robotics Unmanned Aerial Vehicle the Maveric. Both robotic tools are from Florida-based companies as are two of the expedition members. Outside of snow flurries, sub-zero temperatures and the occasional spacesuit problem, the crew of six has been doing very well and will be conducting a Skype interview session with Kennedy Space Center interns on Jul. 20. (7/19)

Astronauts Add Porch to Space Station (Source: Space.com)
Spacewalkers and robotic arm operators attached the final piece of the International Space Station's Japanese Kibo laboratory - an exposed platform for science experiments. The addition completes the $1 billion Kibo complex, the station's largest lab, and allows researchers to test how different materials react to the harsh space environment. (7/19)

It’s Blast-Off Britain as Ban on Space Flight Ends (Source: Times Online)
Britain is finally – and officially – to put men and women into space. A government policy against sending Britons into orbit is to be reversed after almost a quarter of a century. Until now, British-born astronauts have had to “hitch” rides on American or Russian space missions. However, Lord Drayson, the science minister, has confirmed that the decision not to fund human space-flight training programs, made by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, is to be rescinded. (7/19)

Apollo 9's Rusty Schweickart, of Sonoma, Would Rather Look Ahead (Source: Contra Costa Times)
He was among the first to float untethered in space, taking in Earth's round fullness through nothing but a clear visor. Russell "Rusty" Schweickart piloted the lunar module on its first space flight, a crucial test run for the Apollo 11 moon landing three months later. He spent 46 minutes outside, running tasks, testing the portable life support pack — he lived, so it worked — and Earth-gazing.

Schweickart lays claim to a celestial slice of history. But 40 years later, something about Memory Lane chafes. "It's kind of been-there, done-that," said the Apollo 9 crewman, now 73 and living in Sonoma with his wife, Nancy. Schweickart fears NASA is reliving space-race glory at a steep cost. He laments the push — directed by President George W. Bush in 2004 — to get Americans back on the moon for longer stays, perhaps to set up a lunar outpost, even a launching pad for future missions. "Moon, Mars and Beyond," he says, is making Swiss cheese out of NASA's budget. (7/19)

How Michael Collins Became the Forgotten Astronaut of Apollo 11 (Source: The Observer)
As Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous walk on the moon, a third member of the team sat alone in the mothership plagued by terrors of returning to Earth alone. It was the secret terror that gripped astronaut Michael Collins throughout the Apollo 11 project 40 years ago. As his spacecraft, Columbia, swept over the lunar surface, Collins - the mission's third and largely forgotten crewman - waited for a call from fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to say their lander craft had successfully blasted off from the Moon.

The realization that the normally icy-cool astronaut was so obsessed by such an outcome puts a fresh perspective on the celebrations that will, this weekend, absorb the United States as it commemorates the moment, on 21 July 1969, that an American first walked on another world. (7/19)

Rocketing Past NASA (Source: Washington Post)
On Oct. 4, 2004, a group of revolutionaries in the Mojave Desert sent a little dart-shaped rocket called SpaceShipOne beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Burt Rutan, the ship's designer, had gotten tired of waiting for NASA to change -- to become more nimble and innovative -- or else get out of the way. So he created the first purely privately funded manned space vehicle. "Government space agencies want to commit us to their old-fashioned technologies," he says. "We already know how that stuff works. What we need is the freedom to try some new, smarter and less expensive ideas."

Four decades later, a succession of corporate buyouts and takeovers has left just two contenders, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have the heft and experience required for building the big, beefy spacecraft NASA will need for any future moonshots. NASA cannot innovate radical new rocket technologies while it is so dependent on a couple of huge corporations with an interest in protecting their investments and infrastructure dedicated to the old shuttles.

But beyond that creaking federal-industrial universe, change is afoot. Rutan, Branson and other private pioneers in the "NewSpace" business are starting to unveil cheaper, faster and sexier ships. Last July, Branson proudly introduced his new craft, which he called "one of the most beautiful and extraordinary aviation vehicles ever developed." (7/19)

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