July 25 News Items

Turkey Expecting Satellite Deal to Spark Homegrown Space Industry (Source: Space News)
The Turkish government's contract with Telespazio to provide a high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite, plus training and ground facilities to develop Turkey's space industry, includes a feature that Turkish authorities say will result in the equivalent of $455 million in contracts being awarded to Turkish industry. In addition, Turkish industry is expected to be given contracts equivalent to 20 percent of the face value of the $353 million Gokturk satellite project. (7/24)

UK Eyes NASA-Style Agency (Source: Space News)
The British government, which for years has invited other European nations to view its way of funding space programs as the way of the future, is now considering whether to abandon its current approach in favor of a classic NASA-style space agency. Lord Drayson, Britain's science and innovation minister, said his office has given itself 12 weeks to consult with the public, industry, academia and other government departments to determine whether the British National Space Center (BNSC) should have its own budget, as is the case in France, Germany, Italy and at the European Space Agency (ESA), where three-quarters of Britain's space budget is spent. (7/24)

Italy Skeptical of U.S. European Mars Collaboration (Source: Space News)
The Italian Space Agency (ASI), which up to now has taken the lead role in Europe's ExoMars lander and rover mission, is deeply skeptical of a planned U.S.-European collaboration on Mars exploration expected to lead to the de facto dismantling of ExoMars as originally planned, ASI President Enrico Saggese said. Saggese said ExoMars appears to have been sacrificed on behalf of a long-term collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). (7/24)

James Webb Telescope To Receive Stimulus Funding (Source: Space News)
NASA plans to spend $65 million of its $1 billion in economic stimulus money to help pay for an existing contract with Northrop Grumman Corp. to complete some design and integration work on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman is NASA's prime contractor for the $4.5 billion JWST program. The infrared telescope is planned for launch in 2014 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket provided by the European Space Agency. (7/24)

Intelligence Bill Calls for Space Coordination Office (Source: Space News)
A Senate panel recommended July 22 the creation of a new office within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate and provide policy direction for the management of space-related intelligence assets. (7/24)

ULA Announces Plan for New Round of Job Cuts (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. ULA, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture, said the reductions are necessary to meet competitive challenges and future pricing assumptions. They are also related to the closing out of ULA's Delta 2 rocket business, the completion of the company's work on NASA's Ares 1-X test flight program and discontinued government funding to accelerate the Atlas 5 launch manifest. (7/24)

Constellation Gets $310M In NASA Stimulus Funding (Source: Space News)
NASA's Constellation program stands to get $310 million in stimulus funding following Congress' signing off in mid-July on the agency's plan to spend the $1 billion it received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted in February. Another $90 million will be spent on NASA commercial crew and cargo programs.

NASA waited months for lawmakers to approve the spending plan, which was submitted to lawmakers in April. Congressional and industry sources said the funds were held up by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who wanted all $400 million the recovery act included for exploration to be spent on Constellation. Although the initial spending plan included $400 million for space exploration, NASA proposed to spend only $250 million on Constellation, with the remaining $150 million going toward commercial crew and cargo systems. (7/24)

Wallops a 'Hidden Jewel' (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
Forty years after astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, two busloads of Delmarva's movers and shakers this week got a peek at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which supporters hope will be the next space venture to capture the public's imagination. The tour was organized by the Greater Salisbury Committee. Also touring the spaceport were elected officials, along with economic development and tourism representatives, all of whom were allowed to walk around the control room and a launch pad and view NASA and Navy facilities on Wallops Island. (7/25)

Sexual Discrimination in Space (Source: Russia Today)
Twenty-five years ago Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to travel into orbit, the first also Russian, but she was the first woman to walk in space. Svetlana was 36 when she was thrust into the Cold War space race. While in orbit she undertook hours of experiments and, in doing so, broke new ground for women to join the front line of space exploration.

It is true the standing of the whole country was at stake, but Svetlana says her mission was tough for other reasons, as she also was the first to fight against sex discrimination. “Even among our space-colleagues there were men wondering why we needed to weld and said that we might burn each other’s space suits or the spaceship’s exterior. It is a great responsibility,” Savitskaya said. “If I listen to their concerns, then people could have said that surely it was not something women should do. But after my spaceflight, everyone had to shut up.” (7/25)

How to Glue Together a Lighter Spacecraft (Source: New Scientist)
Rocket-driven spacecraft normally use strong, heavy-metal mountings to hold their fuel tanks in place within the fuselage. But there may be a better way. Burt Rutan, the aerospace pioneer whose firm Scaled Composites is designing civilian suborbital spacecraft for Virgin Galactic, is using an alternative technique to secure the fuel tanks in order to keep the weight of the space plane down.

Rutan says the use of heavy mountings can be avoided completely by careful design of the tank and fuselage. His idea, described in a US patent granted last month, is to glue the fuel tanks to the inside of the craft. His tanks have a cylindrical composite-coated midsection that fits snugly inside the spacecraft and is bonded to the inner surface of the fuselage with a superstrong industrial adhesive. A secure fit is crucial as the tanks are connected to the combustion chamber where fuel is burned, and any movement could risk a dangerous leak. (7/25)

What NASA's Return to the Moon May Look Like (Source: New Scientist)
The Apollo era may have ended as funding fizzled, and the programme's astronauts may be bigger fans of Mars, but the hope of returning to the moon never really went away. NASA is still sorting out what this lunar presence might look like. The agency's lunar surface systems office has examined more than a dozen different mission scenarios for astronaut habitats in preparation for a review in mid-2010.

The front-runner is a "greatest hits" scenario that combines the best parts of other mission concepts, Leonard told New Scientist. In this approach, lunar landers would deliver habitats, rovers, and robots that could crawl across the lunar surface, propelled by solar power. Click here to see a gallery of proposed designs for NASA's future return to the moon. (7/23)

Ion Engine Could One Day Power 39-Day Trips to Mars (Source: New Scientist)
There's a growing chorus of calls to send astronauts to Mars rather than the moon, but critics point out that such trips would be long and grueling, taking about six months to reach the Red Planet. But now, researchers are testing a powerful new ion engine that could one day shorten the journey to just 39 days. Traditional rockets burn chemical fuel to produce thrust. Most of that fuel is used up in the initial push off the Earth's surface, so the rockets tend to coast most of the time they're in space.

Ion engines, on the other hand, accelerate electrically charged atoms, or ions, through an electric field, thereby pushing the spacecraft in the opposite direction. They provide much less thrust at a given moment than do chemical rockets, which means they can't break free of the Earth's gravity on their own. But once in space, they can give a continuous push for years, like a steady breeze at the back of a sailboat, accelerating gradually until they're moving faster than chemical rockets. (7/24)

NASA Goes Private for Space Transportation (Source: Tampa Tribune)
NASA is turning to private space companies to plug a worrisome five-year gap in its ability to boost astronauts into orbit and return them safely to Earth. The gap runs from the end of next year, when the three remaining space shuttles are supposed to be retired, until 2015, the earliest that NASA's replacement system will be ready to do the job.

To shorten the spaceflight gap, two private companies are being asked to demonstrate the ability to deliver food, water, equipment and supplies to the space station starting in 2011. Commercial launches of human crews, a much riskier operation, would come no sooner than 2012, if at all. There will be "a significant gap" in the ability to get cargo and people into orbit, Michael Suffredini, space station program manager, told the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee last week. (7/25)

Astronauts Finish ISS Battery Changeout (Source: Aviation Week)
Spacewalkers Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn were able to finish replacing the oldest set of batteries on the International Space Station July 24, catching up on a task that was halted abruptly on July 22 when the carbon dioxide level in Cassidy's spacesuit started rising during the third extravehicular activity (EVA) of the STS-127 mission.

As a result, planners rewrote the timeline for the fourth EVA to accommodate the work left undone. Originally Cassidy and astronaut Dave Wolf were to have replaced four of the six batteries in the P6 truss element on July 22, leaving only two more for the July 24 spacewalk. (7/25)

Attention Sen. Shelby: NASA dDoesn't Have Monopoly on Ingenuity (Source: Waco Tribune)
While Americans are ruminating, perchance even dreaming of man’s quest for the moon and beyond, some are reflecting on the sobering fact we no longer have the right stuff to put a man on the moon. As leaders debate what NASA’s mission should be, fights rage over the imminent retirement of the aging space shuttle and the NASA Constellation program some see as replacing it, despite problems that have dogged and delayed it.

Some insist NASA should be concentrating on the conquest of space and new rocket technologies, leaving the nuts and bolts of building more conventional rockets for NASA to spunky outfits such as SpaceX. The debate has created rifts. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican conservative who has made a career of attacking government-run programs, ironically is all for those in his home state, including the beleaguered Constellation program.

Most recently, he sought to divert more money originally targeted for private rocketry firms such as SpaceX into the government-run Constellation program. Some political observers fear he’ll succeed, too, unless U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn weigh in. His efforts seem contrary to cherished Republican principles, going against the very grain of private enterprise and the ingenuity that often sprouts in such endeavors. (7/24)

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