July 23 News Items

China To Build Stronger Telescope Network In South Pole (Source: Space Daily)
Chinese astronomers will set up a stronger telescope network on Dome A, the top of the south pole, after the initial success in January, 2008. Gong Xuefei, an astronomer involved in the telescope project, said at a cross-Straits forum on astronomical instruments that the new telescopes are being tested and the first of them is expected to be installed in the south pole in summers of 2010 and 2011. The new network Antarctic Schmidt Telescopes 3 (AST3) is made up of three Schmidt telescopes with an aperture of 50 cm. (7/23)

Interview with Ross Tierney of Direct Launch (Source: Next Big Future)
Here is an interview with Ross Tierney. Mr. Tierney is a representative of the of the Direct Launcher organization, which has a proposal to get to the moon using NASA shuttle components and other existing technology. This Jupiter rocket system could also be used to go to near-earth objects and possibly even Phobos and Mars. The Direct Launch system is based on the Jupiter rocket, which can provide all of the capabilities of the NASA Ares system in less time and at a fraction of the cost. Click here to view the interview. (7/23)

NASA Student Airborne Research Program Takes Flight in California (Source: NASA)
Twenty-nine undergraduate and graduate students are participating in a six-week NASA Airborne Science field experience designed to immerse them in NASA's Earth Science research. The students represent 26 colleges and universities across the U.S. and nine foreign countries.

NASA's Student Airborne Research program runs from July 6 to Aug. 14 in California. The program began with lectures from university faculty members, research institutions and NASA scientists at the University of California, Irvine. One of the speakers is Sherwood Rowland of the University of California, Irvine, a Nobel Laureate in chemistry, who is a long-time user of NASA's DC-8 airborne capabilities for his research on atmospheric chemistry. (7/23)

GoreSat is Back (Source: NASA Watch)
According to the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 Triana (aka "DSCOVR" or "GoreSat") is back: "The Air Force is very interested in the space weather information and is part of an interagency team looking at the possibility of refurbishing DSCOVR and launching it to an orbit referred to as L1, about one million miles from Earth on a line with the Sun. If the team determines that the satellite can be refurbished and launched, they will make a recommendation to the President. Notionally, NOAA and NASA would pay for refurbishing the satellite, the Air Force would pay for the launch, and all agencies would receive the data." (7/23)

Russian Missile Designer Quits After Test Failures (Source: AFP)
The head of the institute developing a sea-based version of Russia's newest strategic missile has quit following repeated failures of the weapon in testing. Yury Solomonov, head of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, was the most senior official to date to take responsibility for the string of failures of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, currently in development. His resignation would most likely be accepted as the Russian space agency Roskosmos believed that the institute that has spearheaded development of the Bulava required changes in its management structure. (7/22)

Embry-Riddle Launches Its First Two Ph.D. Programs to Meet New Challenges in Aviation/Aerospace (Source: ERAU)
The daily challenges of aviation and aerospace are too complex to be solved by specialists alone. In an uncertain economy, airlines struggle to hedge fuel purchases and adjust routes. Space agencies work to stabilize orbiting spacecraft, study the atmosphere and space weather, and design rovers to explore planets.

To serve the need for more broadly educated experts, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is launching its first two Ph.D. degree programs – in Aviation and Engineering Physics. The new degrees take the university’s unique approach to education – a blend of theory and applied research – to the highest level.

The Ph.D. in Engineering Physics builds on the university’s solid program of space research, which is funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Air Force, and other agencies. Faculty researchers probe Earth’s upper atmosphere for clues about global warming, as well as space weather events like solar storms that can compromise satellite systems and disrupt power grids and pipelines. Others conduct studies of spacecraft dynamics and control, space robotics, cosmology and star formation, quantum optics, and the physiology of space travel. (7/23)

Raytheon Boosts 2009 Profit Outlook Following Strong Quarter (Source: AIA)
Strong sales of air-defense systems helped Raytheon to a 15% jump in second-quarter profit, beating analysts' expectations. Missile tests by North Korea led to increased orders from South Korea and Japan, and "Raytheon stands out as the international sales leader among the primes," according to JPMorgan Chase analyst Joseph Nadol. (7/23)

Northrop 2nd Quarter Profit Drops 20 Percent (Source: AP)
Northrop Grumman Corp.'s second quarter profit dropped by 20 percent as the No. 2 defense contractor said it was hurt by higher pension costs and higher estimates of costs to complete several ships being built in its Gulf Coast yards. Northrop earned $394 million in the three months ended June 30, down from $495 million a year ago. Revenue rose 4 percent to $8.96 billion from $8.63 billion a year ago. (7/23)

L-3 Beats Q2 Estimates with $225M Profit (Source: AIA)
L-3 Communications Holdings said a surprising 6% gain in net sales contributed to a second-quarter profit of $225 million -- down from last year's $275 million, but still above analysts' expectations. "We expect to continue to have opportunities to grow our businesses in the second half of 2009, maintain our strong program performance, deliver value for our customers and execute our plan for the year," said CEO Michael Strianese. (7/23)

Space Coast Workforce Officials Await Augustine Panel Findings (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Judy Blanchard, with the Brevard Workforce Development Board’s aerospace transition team, said she understands why NASA hasn't yet updated its workforce projections. "Right now I understand and I believe I agree with NASA’s findings," she said. "They too [like Brevard Workforce] are waiting on factors that are controlling the numbers to play out...the Augustine panel and their findings are going to have a direct impact on this.”

She said that 6,000-7,000 figure that Workforce Brevard President Lisa Rice expects to be unemployed when the shuttle program ends is an estimate based on the possibility that there might be no jobs to absorb the losses at KSC. With the economy is such bad shape, and so many workers' pensions worth a fraction of what they were a few years ago, many KSC workers that the county expected would retire at the end of the shuttle program now can no longer afford to stop working. (7/23)

Embry-Riddle Space Physicist Wins Prestigious NSF CAREER Award (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle scientist Dr. Katariina Nykyri has received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty members, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant, to support her continuing research into space plasma that may improve our understanding of plasma heating and transport through magnetic boundaries. Dr. Nykyri, an assistant professor in the Physical Sciences Dept. at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus, will receive $483,699 over the next five years from the NSF award program that encourages the activities of teacher-scholars who are judged likely to become leaders in academic research and education. (7/23)

Hornet to Commemorate Role in Apollo Missions (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Forty years ago, the crew of the aircraft carrier Hornet recovered the three Apollo 11 astronauts after their command module splashed down in the Pacific returning from their historic mission to the moon. Three months later, the ship recovered the crew of Apollo 12, whose three astronauts had completed the second successful lunar mission. The Hornet is now a museum docked at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, where veterans of the two recovery missions will celebrate those events at Splashdown 2009. (7/23)

Reprogramming Satellites During Flight (Source: MIT Technology Review)
Researchers in Germany have developed satellites that can be radically reconfigured in orbit. The approach could ultimately lead to multitasking satellites capable of switching, for example, from detecting pollution to searching for earthlike planets. The researchers, led by Toshinori Kuwahara of the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart, plan to launch a test satellite called Flying Laptop in 2012. The spacecraft's onboard computer will be able to reconfigure its own electronic hardware. (7/23)

JPL Director Predicts a Decade of Space Progress (Source: CNN)
What can we expect from space exploration over the next decade? By the time Brainstorm Tech 2019 convenes, we will have established a permanent presence on another planet (Mars), we’ll know if life exists on other planets in our solar system, we’ll have a “family portrait” of our neighboring 2,000 solar systems, and we’ll have a better understanding of what’s happening on our planet. This is what Dr. Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and vice president of the California Institute of Technology, predicts is within our grasp. (7/23)

China's First Space Telescope Anticipated to be Launched in 2012 (Source: Xinhua)
The predicted launch time of China's first space telescope is in 2012, and will be used to observe space black holes, said the chief scientist of the program Thursday. The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) comprises three to four single telescopes equipped with hard X-ray detectors, instead of optical lenses, said Li Tipei, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). (7/23)

NASA Delays Producing an Updated Workforce Report (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Without saying as much, NASA threw up its hands today and admitted that it doesn’t know what is going to happen with its human space flight program or how many people are likely to remain employed by it. The agency released its workforce report, four months late, but didn’t update its long-term job forecasts from its last report in October 2008. Instead, updated numbers will await findings of a presidentially appointed panel reviewing NASA’s current moon rocket plans that's due to report next month.

The findings of the panel, which is headed by former Lockheed Marin CEO Norm Augustine, could completely change NASA's direction and wipe out its current employment plans. Today's forecast, the latest in a series that NASA must submit to Congress, provides estimates only through the 2010 fiscal year -- while the space shuttle will still be flying.

The October 2008 report predicted at least 3,500 workers at KSC would lose their jobs. But that figure is now seen as widely optimistic. Work on NASA’s proposed Altair lunar lander, once promised to go to KSC, may now be up for grabs. The "gap" between the last shuttle launch and the launch of a new rocket to lift humans even to the international space station may stretch past 2015. A local Brevard County study found that between 6,000 and 7,000 employees from KSC were likely to lose their jobs, twice the NASA forecast. (7/22)

Florida Losing More Space Jobs Than Other States (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With an outdated forecast reaching only to the end of FY-2010, the latest NASA workforce report ignores the announcement by United Space Alliance that it would begin laying off 240 workers at KSC in October. The NASA report says there will be no changes in the KSC workforce in FY-2009, which ends on Sept. 30 -- one day before USA is due to hand out its pink slips.

The report also said that other centers, like Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, actually added employees in the past year. Workers at KSC, who have become increasingly concerned about their futures, are not likely to be fooled by the flat job-loss numbers.

“I honestly think the workforce is savvier than then we give them credit for,” said UCF's Dale Ketcham. “While it’s true we won’t know anything until the Augustine Committee options are decided upon, workers here know that regardless of what decisions are made, a painful transition has been KSC’s fate for years now. The details are to be determined.”

Space Coast Representatives React to NASA Workforce Report (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The fact that KSC still faces massive layoffs was not lost on Florida’s representatives in Washington -- nor was the absence of new information in the report. “It looks like a cut-and-paste,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, who said the report does little to forecast the future. “They made clear nothing is certain.”

The freshman lawmaker also criticized how the White House has handled NASA policy so far. In particular, he said President Barack Obama erred by not appointing Charles Bolden as NASA administrator until last month -- though Congress torpedoed Obama’s first two picks. “We’re eight months down the road and we just got an administrator and we’re still waiting for a vision,” Posey said.

Fellow freshman U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Smyrna Beach, worried aloud that "thousands of jobs remain at risk at Kennedy Space Center and throughout Central Florida. I urge members of the Augustine Panel to focus on options that mitigate the loss of the experienced and professional workforce at KSC and NASA centers across the country,” she said. (7/22)

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