July 4 News Items

Constellation Battle Numerous Risks - Orion Loses Unmanned Capability (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is undergoing further reductions in its capability - including the elimination of the vehicle’s unmanned ability - as Constellation managers attempt to resolve numerous issues ahead of the Orion Project PDR (Preliminary Design Review). Issues noted in the recent “Top Risks” review list 10 serious issues with the Ares and Orion vehicles, ranging from Ares I-X, through to Orion itself. Ares I-X stacking operations on a Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) - one of the key processing milestones - have been delayed by over a week, due to what appears to be issues repairing a broken crane that is being tasked with transferring the assembled Aft Booster for its stacking in the VAB.

“Currently Ares I-Y is scheduled for March 2014 with no powered second stage. Many believe that the program needs to demonstrate two unmanned flights prior to the first manned flight, today’s manifest has only one. The board decided not to change the manifest at this time, but a detailed CR (Change Request) with all the proposed changes, including Orion and Ground Operations impacts and test needs, will come to the board in October.” Ares I itself has three top risks, with First Stage nose first re-entry, now classed as a 4×4 risk and increasing. Range Safety System certification is classed as a 4×5 risk and increasing, while TVC certification is now a noted as a 3×5 risk. (7/4)

Rocket Racing League Gets Financing, New Leadership, New Planes (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Rocket Racing League has completed a $5.5 million dollar financing round, ensuring the next phase of development of the league. It also announced the appointment of a new President & CEO and the commencement of manufacturing activities for its next generation Rocket Racer. The financing round puts the League on track for execution of its plans to launch the world’s first interactive sport pitting pilot against pilot in manned rocket powered airplanes competing through a Raceway-in-the-Sky. Ramy Weitz is the league's new chief, taking over from Granger Whitelaw who will remain actively involved as Co-Founder, director. July 2009 also marks the kick-off of the manufacture of the League’s next generation Rocket Racer, in a collaborative partnership with Texas' Armadillo Aerospace and Velocity, Inc., of Sebastian, Florida. (7/4)

Brazil Plans to Expand Alcantara Spaceport (Source: Xinhua)
Brazil plans to expand its Alcantara spaceport by building 12 more rocket launching pads at there. Defense Minister Nelson Jobim described the project as one of "international importance." "We must not be naive. There are nations who are seeking to prevent Brazil from entering the exclusive circle of nations that launch rockets," Jobim said. Alcantara, which is located at Maranon in Amazon state, has the broadest launch angle in the world because it is very close to the Equator, a factor that dramatically reduces launching costs, according to the minister.

The base, which was established in 1983, had an original covering area of 62,000 hectares. But the area was then reduced to 8,713 hectares to give more land to home Quilombolas, name for descendants of runaway slaves during time of slavery. Wednesday's proposal would expand the base to 11,287 hectares, still far from the original area. If the plan is approved by the Congress, 2,000 Quilombolas would be transferred to a nearby area. (7/3)

NASA Chimps Earn Florida Comforts After Taking a Punishing Step for Mankind (Source: Times Online)
Lounging on his back with the breeze ruffling his hair, Marty the chimpanzee is scratching his belly as he watches for the golf cart that delivers bananas at around this time every day. From his shady lair he can gaze at the blue sky and open fields that stretch for miles around. But his Utopian existence and relaxed demeanour speak nothing of the horrors he endured in the five decades before he was granted peace at the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. One of dozens of infant chimpanzees seized in Africa for the US Air Force in the 1950s, he was recruited into the military’s air and space research program, which helped to pave the way for America’s first manned spaceflight in 1961 and, ultimately, the Apollo 11 Moon landing 40 years ago this month. (7/4)

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