July 8 News Items

ESA and NASA Establish a Joint Mars Exploration Initiative (Source: ESA)
ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood met NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science, Ed Weiler to establish a way for a progressive program for exploration of the Red Planet. The outcome of the bilateral meeting was an agreement to create a Mars Exploration Joint Initiative (MEJI) that will provide a framework for the two agencies to define and implement their scientific, programmatic and technological goals at Mars. (7/8)

Astronauts Elected to Scholarship Foundation Board (Source: ASF)
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is proud to announce its 2009-2010 Board and leadership team. Apollo 15 astronaut Colonel Al Worden is once again chair the Board of Directors for a fifth consecutive year. Joining him in this venture is Space Shuttle astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson as Vice Chairman. Attorney Michael Neukamm will once again serve as Treasurer/Secretary and Linn LeBlanc will continue to serve as Executive Director. (7/8)

Kosmas Boasts of Measure to Help Space Coast Businesses (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas managed to attach an amendment to House legislation that gives preference in receiving government loans to small businesses affected the upcoming retirement of the space shuttle, due to fly its final mission in 2010 or 2011. "The Kosmas Amendment was included in the Enhancing Small Business Innovation and Research Act (HR 2965), bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes and increases funding for the successful SBIR program. The bill passed the House 386-41."

“As we work to minimize the spaceflight gap, I want to make sure that the hundreds of small businesses involved with the Shuttle program have the support they need to move forward and keep their employees,” said Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, in a statement. “The SBIR program has proven successful in helping innovative businesses find a market for their products, and my amendment will give Shuttle-related small businesses a leg up in the grants process.” (7/8)

Interorbital Plans to Launch out of Tonga (Source: Parabolic Arc)
California-based Interorbital Systems plans to launch its Neptune 1000 rocket from the island of ‘Eua at the southeast end of the Tonga island chain in the South Pacific. “Over the past few days, I’ve been corresponding with our friend and fellow space enthusiast, King George V of Tonga, about our status of being quite near to beginning our flight test program. He has again stated that Interorbital has the Kingdom’s full support for setting up our private spaceport,” CEO Randa Milliron writes in a post on the Google Lunar X Prize website. (7/8)

Texas Congressman Supports Stimulus Funds For SpaceX (Source: Waco Tribune)
SpaceX, which tests rockets in McGregor, is competing for up to $150 million in federal stimulus dollars. SpaceX officials say they probably could double the size of its McGregor facility, from 80 to 160, if it receives a significant percentage of the $150 million. But securing the money won’t come easily. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, is fighting hard to get some, if not all, of the $150 million for spending on the Constellation program in his state.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, said Wednesday he strongly supports efforts by SpaceX to compete for stimulus money. He said he arranged meetings between congressional leaders and SpaceX chairman Elon Musk. “This will be a tough fight,” said Edwards, “but we will do everything we can to help SpaceX receive a significant amount of these funds.” (7/8)

Stacking of Ares I-X Begins at Kennedy Space Center (Source: USA)
For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new space vehicle will begin stacking on a mobile launch platform (MLP) at KSC, thanks to the hard work of employees from NASA and contractors United Space Alliance and Alliant Techsystems. The Ares I-X aft skirt, which was mated to a solid fuel segment in the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at KSC, rolled over to the 528-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building, where it will be lifted and placed on the MLP. On that platform, workers will secure the aft booster and continue adding segments of the first stage rocket, the upper stage simulators, the crew module mockup and the launch abort system simulator, taking the vehicle to a height of 327 feet. (7/8)

Weather Iffy for Endeavour Launch (Source: Florida Today)
NASA has reported no technical issues that would delay the start of a countdown to space shuttle Endeavour's 7:39 p.m. Saturday launch, but weather will be closely watched. "Everything is looking good," said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA test director, during a briefing at Kennedy Space Center. "All of our work is on schedule." The threat of showers and anvil clouds drifting within 20 nautical miles of Kennedy Space Center offers a 40-percent chance of conditions acceptable for liftoff, according to an Air Force forecast released this morning. (7/8)

Japan Plans September Test Launch of Upgraded H-IIB Rocket (Source: JAXA)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are planning the launch of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle Test Flight with the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV, a cargo transporter to the International Space Station) onboard. The launch will be conducted on Sep. 11 at the Tanagashima spaceport. (7/8)

NASA Successfully Tests Alternate Launch Abort System for Ares/Orion (Source: NASA)
NASA has successfully demonstrated an alternate system for future astronauts to escape their launch vehicle. A simulated launch of the Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) took place Wednesday at Wallops Flight Facility. The unpiloted launch tested an alternate concept for safely propelling a future spacecraft and its crew away from a problem on the launch pad or during ascent. The MLAS consists of four solid rocket abort motors inside a bullet-shaped composite fairing attached to a full-scale mockup of the crew module.

The 33-foot-high MLAS vehicle was launched to an altitude of approximately one mile to simulate an emergency on the launch pad. The flight demonstration began after the four solid rocket motors burned out. The crew module mockup separated from the launch vehicle at approximately seven seconds into the flight and parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean. (7/8)

Hukill Joins Race for Kosmas' Seat (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
Third-term state Rep. Dorothy Hukill wants to become a first-term congresswoman. Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, announced Monday she will challenge U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas for the 24th District seat in 2010. Kosmas, a New Smyrna Beach Democrat, was elected last November. Four other Republican candidates have filed for the race. Editor's Note: During the 2009 Florida legislative session, Hukill sponsored a bill to establish a Space Transportation Research & Development Institute (STRDI). (7/7)

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