July 3 News Items

USAF Boosts Space Situational Awareness (Source: Aviation Week)
U.S. military officials say they expect to have enough personnel and new computing power in place by October to warn U.S. and foreign satellite operators of possible collision hazards to their roughly 800 maneuverable platforms. An initiative to boost so-called conjunction analysis—prediction that two orbiting objects could collide at high speeds—took center stage for military officials after a defunct Russian communications satellite crashed into an operational Iridium spacecraft on Feb. 10, creating a new debris cloud comprising about 700 objects.

At the time, the Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., was monitoring about 140 spacecraft for possible collisions. That number has been on the rise since, and officials plan to routinely conduct potential-collision analyses on 800 spacecraft by this fall. As of May, the center was scrutinizing 330 satellites. However, this will require more workers to be assigned permanently to the mission; the center has been using personnel pulled from other assignments to fill in since the collision. (7/3)

Military Seeks Common Ground with Scientists on Fireball Data Flap (Source: Space.com)
Some scientists have been unhappy that a purported clamp down was afoot on their use of data snagged by U.S. military spacecraft – hush hush satellites that from time to time catch natural cosmic fireballs blazing through Earth's atmosphere. Digging in on this story is not easy. Military higher-ups and the agencies involved are guarded about how potent their satellite sensors are as they stare at Earth for nuclear detonations, missile launches and the like. In a new exclusive interview with SPACE.com, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Rego, who is in charge of the policy guidance behind the data release, said the Air Force Space Command is "circling the wagons" to close some loopholes in the dissemination of potentially sensitive information. U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said he's monitoring the situation and expects a solution that favors the needs of scientists. (7/3)

Inflatable Tower Promises Easy Access to Outer Space (Source: Discovery)
An inflatable tower nine miles tall and tethered to a mountain top could cut the cost to launch spacecraft, reduce the need for geostationary communications satellites, and improve cell phone signals. "This structure could be made of commercially available materials," said Brendan Quine, who, along with Raj Seth and George Zhu at York University in Toronto, Canada, wrote an article detailing their tower in the journal Acta Astronautica.

The tower itself would be 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) tall, 230 meters (754 feet) across, and weigh approximately 800,000 tons, or about twice the weight of the world's largest supertanker when fully inflated with a variety of gasses, including helium. To keep the Kevlar-laminate tower from floating away, and to provide access, three elevator tubes would anchor the tower to the ground. An elevator ride to the top would take about 40 minutes moving at 22 miles per hour. Click here to view the article. (7/3)

Augustine Panel Answers Workforce Question (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee (aka "Augustine Panel"), in answering questions submitted to their website, posted the following response to a question about whether job retention is a factor in their consideration of alternatives to replace the Space Shuttle: "The success of NASA and the nation’s human space flight program is dependent upon a vibrant and motivated workforce. The following evaluation parameter was explicitly listed in the committee's Statement of Task: 'Impact on the nation’s workforce, industrial base, and international competitiveness.'" (7/3)

ABS Buying KoreaSat-2 (Source: Space News)
Satellite operator Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) of Hong Kong, which in June announced a joint agreement with SingTel Optus for the purchase of the new ABS-2 satellite, announced July 2 it was purchasing the aging Koreasat-2 satellite from South Korea's KT Corp. and moving it to ABS slot at 75 degrees east. (7/3)

$738M Financing Package Gives Globalstar New Lease on Life (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar Inc. has completed a life-saving financial package featuring key backing by France's export-credit agency, Coface, a deal whose $738 million in total value will permit Globalstar to build and launch 24 second-generation satellites by the end of 2010, Globalstar Chief Executive Jay Monroe said. (7/3)

President Orders Sweeping U.S. Space Policy Review (Source: Space News)
U.S. President Barack Obama has given his administration until Oct. 1 to scrutinize existing national space policy as part of a sweeping review that could culminate in a new strategy governing American civil and military space activities. Sources familiar with the Obama review say it will address a range of topics that fall into several categories, including space protection, international cooperation, acquisition reform and national space strategy. Led by Peter Marquez, director of space policy for the White House National Security Council, the review will involve a slew of U.S. offices and agencies, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Treasury and Transportation departments, and U.S. intelligence agencies. (7/3)

Obama ITAR Reform Could Move Satellites Back to Commerce (Source: Space News)
As it launches a sweeping review of U.S. space policy, the administration of President Barack Obama has given indications that it is open to removing commercial telecommunications satellites from the U.S. Munitions List (USML), a shift that could make American satellite companies more competitive in the global market. Ellen Tauscher, who was confirmed June 25 as U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in June that reform of the U.S. export control regime, known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), is on the administration's agenda. (7/3)

Ares 1-X Official Sees Test Launch Slipping Past September (Source: Space News)
The first test launch of the U.S. space agency's Ares 1 rocket program, scheduled for Aug. 30, is now expected to slip beyond September, according to NASA's Ares 1-X Mission Manager Bob Ess. In a July 2 interview with Space News, Ess attributed the anticipated delay to a combination of hardware assembly challenges and launch range availability. Although Aug. 30 remains the official date for launching the prototype rocket from a converted space shuttle pad at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Ess said the launch is likely to slip easily into the fall. (7/3)

Shelby Shifts Florida-Bound Stimulus Money to Alabama (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby has fought the Obama administration to block $150 million intended to help private companies build rockets capable of reaching the space station. Now, it appears that Shelby has won, in a decision that could have a major impact on the Cape Canaveral workforce and America's continued access to space. Administration and industry sources said Shelby insisted that $100 million of the money — part of $1 billion set aside for NASA under this spring's economic-stimulus bill — be diverted to Constellation, the troubled rocket program meant to replace the space shuttle.

The fight shows the extent to which Shelby will go to defend both Constellation and Marshall Space Flight Center, the Alabama facility developing the Ares I rocket central to Constellation. The Obama administration hopes that the private companies, who've already received NASA money to build cargo rockets, might be able to speed up development of rockets that could launch humans as well. Those rockets would launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, where thousands of workers are facing post-shuttle layoffs. And if the rockets showed real promise, they could replace Constellation. Shelby is determined to prevent that from happening. (7/3)

Indonesia Launches Rocket Into Space (Source: Space Daily)
Indonesia successfully launched a home-grown rocket into space on Thursday as part of plans to send a satellite into orbit by 2014, officials said. The RX-420 rocket took off from a launch pad in Garut regency, West Java province. "The RX-420 rocket was successfully launched this morning. We're very happy," Aeronautics and Space Agency spokeswoman Elly Kuntjahyowati said. Another type of rocket which was successfully tested last year will be combined with the RX-420 to carry a satellite into orbit in 2014, she said. (7/3)

Bolden and Garver Confirmation Hearing on July 8 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A confirmation hearing for Charles Bolden, the nominee for NASA Administrator, is set for July 8 at 2 p.m. in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which will oversee the review. The panel also will question Lori Garver, his nominee for deputy, as well as several other candidates for positions in the new administration, including Polly Trottenberg, who could be the next assistant secretary for Transportation Policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation. (7/1)

Sea Launch Consortium to Draft Reorganization Plan by Fall (Source: Kyiv Post)
The Sea Launch international consortium, which announced its bankruptcy last week, will draft a corporate reorganization program within two months. Sea Launch operations are continuing. One launch from the sea platform and another from the Baikonur spaceport are scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. (7/3)

Space Florida Aims to Secure Minotaur Launches (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida has given the Air Force a proposal to launch small payloads from Launch Complex 46, the easternmost launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Air Force last month issued a request for launch proposals from four spaceports: Cape Canaveral, Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska; Wallops Island, Va.; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Under the request, a military contractor would launch payloads, possibly small spy satellites, into low Earth orbit using the Minotaur class solid motor rocket, which is built from decommissioned Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles.

In the proposal delivered last week, Space Florida laid out plans to launch the solid motor rocket from Launch Complex 46. "We already have a mobile service tower there," Bontrager said. "It has a lot of quality infrastructure that is in good shape that can benefit any commercial or civil solid motor launch capability that they need." Working for the Air Force, Orbital Sciences Corp. is developing the much more powerful Minotaur 4 from deactivated military Peacekeeper missiles. The rocket can lift a two-ton payload into low Earth orbit. Preparing LC-46 to launch Minotaur rockets would require "a couple of million dollars" in improvements, Space Florida interim President Frank DiBello said. Minotaur launches from the Cape eventually could employ several hundred workers, he added. (7/3)

Mysterious Light Originates Near A Galaxy's Black Hole (Source: Space.com)
Photons with a trillion times more energy than visible light are flying out of a relatively nearby galaxy. Until now, scientists didn't understand this light's origin, but a new study shows that its source is a giant black hole inside the M87 galaxy. The radiation takes the form of high-frequency gamma rays. "We detect it in roughly 25 galaxies so far but we never knew where exactly it was coming from," said a study team member. "Only in the case of M87 were we able to narrow it down to the black hole vicinity." (7/3)

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