July 24 News Items

XCOR Tests Lynx Design in USAF Wind Tunnel (Source: XCOR)
XCOR Aerospace, Inc., announced today that it has finished a series of subsonic wind tunnel tests of the aerodynamic design of its Lynx suborbital launch vehicle. The tests took place at the U.S. Air Force test facility located at Wright-Patterson Air Base using an all-metal 1/16th scale model of the Lynx. (7/24)

MDA Wins Polar Satellite Contract (Source: CBC)
The Canadian Space Agency has asked space robotics firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates to come up with a plan to put two satellites in space over the North to improve communications and weather observation in the region. MDA announced Thursday it was awarded a $4.3-million contract to develop the concept for the Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) mission. The mission is to launch two satellites in an elliptical orbit around Northern regions to assist in Canadians operations in the north, including those dealing with protecting Canadian sovereignty. (7/24)

Contest Supports Cecil Field Spaceport, Offers NASTAR Training (Source: eSpaceTickets.com)
eSpaceTickets.com was founded to give everyday ordinary people the opportunity to journey to space. They're initiating a national grass-roots support campaign for Cecil Field Spaceport with a prize competition. Their goal is for Cecil Field Spaceport to be a world-class spaceport for the everyday person. Their prize is a space flight preparation, training and genuine space experiences available at the NASTAR Center. This space tourism prize is valued at $3,000 plus airfare. Visit www.espacetickets.com for information. (7/24)

ULA To Reduce Workforce by 224 Employees in October (Source: Space News)
U.S. government launch services provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Denver has informed employees it will eliminate 224 positions across the company in October, following a first round of 89 layoffs in February, according to a July 24 company press release. (7/24)

Spot 2 Satellite Retired After 19 Years (Source: Space News)
The French Spot 2 Earth observation satellite, launched in 1990 for what was intended to be three years of service, is being retired after 19 years of uninterrupted operations and will be guided into a graveyard orbit by July 30, the French space agency, CNES, announced July 23. (7/24)

U.S. Air Force Secretary Appeals for More ORS Satellite Funding (Source: Space News)
U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley is urging Congress to boost funding in 2009 and 2010 for an Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office reconnaissance satellite that otherwise will fall behind schedule. (7/24)

Accord Permits India to Launch U.S. Hardware (Source: Space News)
India and the United States have signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that permits India to launch civil or other non-commercial satellites containing U.S. components. (7/24)

Political Science: Why the USSR Lost the Space Race (Source: What's New)
Launched on 4 Oct 1957, Sputnik carried no instruments. It just beeped as it passed overhead to taunt Americans. But a month later, Sputnik 2 carried a Geiger tube and a radio transmitter to relay the Geiger output back to Earth. It also carried a tape recorder to store data when the satellite is over the horizon, but it wasn't working on launch day. Soviet scientists placed a call directly to Premier Nikita Khrushchev requesting permission to delay the launch for a day, but Khrushchev refused; he wanted to announce another successful launch at a meeting of heads-of-state the next day At the very dawn of the space age, politics was already getting in the way of scientific discovery. Thus it was that the Soviet Union failed discover the Van Allen Belts. On 31 Jan 1958, only four months after Sputnik, the US launched Explorer 1 carrying an experiment designed by James Van Allen, Physics Chair at the University of Iowa. It was just a Geiger tube, a radio transmitter, and a recorder -- but the recorder worked. (7/24)

Ares V - Ares 1 = Ares IV (Source: NASA Watch)
Sources report that Steve King and his team are now focusing on a so-called Ares IV architecture - a smaller, less powerful version of the Ares V - one that would keep the current Ares-1 upperstage. Boeing seems to be in favor of this option rather than one that would use EELVs. The Ares IV would be used to launch crew or cargo missions. Editor's Note: This is a departure from the post-Columbia policy to fly crew and cargo aboard two separate vehicles. It also seems very similar to the Jupiter vehicle approach that Marshall Ares-1 managers spent a lot of time discrediting. (7/24)

Editorial: Missing the Mark (Source: Space Policy Online)
It is easy to become swept up in the enthusiasm of the new leadership team at NASA. Blogs and newspapers have been full of opinions about the past, present, and future of NASA, especially whether Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver have what it takes to turn the agency around. But these commentaries all seem to miss the mark. They are commentaries on NASA. What can NASA do? What should NASA do? Why can’t NASA be better than it is? How will Charlie and Lori fix NASA?

NASA is the wrong target. The question of whether NASA is achieving the goals that America wants should be aimed at the President of the United States and the indecisive (according to polls) American public that he represents. NASA has spent the last 40 years doing what it was told to do – build and operate the space shuttle and (albeit much more slowly and at much greater cost than expected) build a space station – while waiting for the signal to advance beyond low Earth orbit once more. The starting gun has fired twice, in 1989 and in 2004 but the occupants of the Oval Office in each of those cases did not follow through with requisite funding and political muscle to ensure those efforts bore fruit. (7/23)

Huge Telescope Opens in Spain's Canary Islands (Source: AP)
One of the world's most powerful telescopes opened its shutters for the first time Friday to begin exploring faint light from distant parts of the universe. The Gran Telescopio Canarias, a $185 million telescope featuring a 34-foot (10.4-meter) reflecting mirror, sits atop an extinct volcano. Its location above cloud cover takes advantage of the pristine skies in the Atlantic Ocean. Planning for the telescope began in 1987 and has involved more than 1,000 people from 100 companies. It was inaugurated Friday by King Juan Carlos. The observatory is located at 2,400 meters (7,870 feet) above sea-level where prevailing winds keep the atmosphere stable and transparent, the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute said. The institute, which runs the telescope, said it will capture the birth of stars, study characteristics of black holes and decipher some of the chemical components of the Big Bang. (7/24)

Russian Cargo Spaceship Launches to ISS with Supplies, Mail (Source: Xinhua)
A Russian space freighter carrying supplies, gifts and mail for the International Space Station blasted off on Friday, Mission Control officials said. The Mission Control Center outside Moscow said a Soyuz-U rocket lifted off with the Progress M-67 space freighter from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. The space freighter will deliver 2.5 tons of supplies, including food, water, fuel, and equipment, and letters and gifts from relatives of the crew. (7/24)

Bill Nye: Time for NASA to Innovate, Inspire (Source: LA Times)
Scientist Bill Nye says it may be time for NASA to reexamine its mission and cede appropriate tasks to private companies in order to better focus on a Mars mission and other 21st-century endeavors. "It's up to our new NASA administrator to calm the Cold Warriors and focus the agency on what it does best: inspiring us as we explore stars and worlds from space." (7/24)

NASA Trashed its Own Brand (Source: LA Times)
The famous science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." When NASA did the seemingly impossible and pulled off the Apollo moon landings, astronauts became our brave heroes and NASA was viewed almost as an academy for wizards and alchemy.

Through the extraordinary results of key missions, NASA earned the solar-system equivalent of unparalleled "street credibility." This success fueled the emergence of the NASA "brand," one of the most recognizable and powerful franchises on the planet. When the public thought of NASA, it often thought of science, integrity, discovery, credibility, high technology and the future of humanity. NASA made being a techie nerd cool.

But although NASA has assembled perhaps the largest group of world-class talent on science and technology, but rather than inspiring its bright minds to excel, it has instead smothered them with bureaucracy. All brands have life cycles. Importantly, an organization cannot manage its brands entirely by public relations and spin. Brand values have to be primarily driven by strategy and earned by results. (7/24)

Space Florida Hosts Spaceport Executive Summit (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida hosted a group of spaceport leaders from around the globe to attend the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Spaceport Executive Summit, the first such event of its kind. The Spaceports Executive Summit provided a venue for global spaceport leaders to come together in one setting to discuss best practices and challenges they face in further developing their spaceports.

“The focus was dialog about common challenges and opportunities between industry leaders, and we look forward to continuing long-term and robust collaborative efforts,” said Space Florida's Frank DiBello. "At the conclusion of the summit, the nine spaceport leaders all resolved to continue working together and strengthen their efforts for cooperation and collaboration," said Stuart Witt of the Mojave Spaceport. (7/24)

ATK Layoffs to Trim up to 450 in October (Source: Standard-Examiner)
Employees at ATK Space Systems were notified Thursday that the company will eliminate as many as 450 positions in October, with the majority of the cuts happening in Utah. The layoffs are necessary because of cuts in federal defense and space spending, and the upcoming conclusion of a missile program the company does work for in Utah. "We regret having to do this in this economic state we're in, but aerospace is getting hit across the board right now," Patterson said. Most of the cuts will come from ATK's Utah facilities, although a handful will come from facilities in Alabama and Florida. (7/24)

'Shuttle Could Drive Me Out of Business' (Source: Daytona Beach Hometown News)
When the space shuttle is scheduled to fly, a local business owner loses money. For several hours before a shuttle flight, air traffic restrictions are in place in a 40-mile circle around Cape Canaveral and that means banner plane operator Remy Collins is grounded. Mr. Collins said he is losing valuable summer business, especially when the shuttle is scheduled and then scrubbed several days in a row as it was before the last flight.

Mr. Collins said another week like that and he could go out of business. "I lost $10,000 last Sunday when the shuttle was scheduled," he said. Mr. Collins said the restricted hours have been extended in recent years. "They've increased the hours that I can't fly," he said. "It used to be a couple of hours before the Shuttle flight. Now it's eight hours." (7/24)

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