August 1 News Items

CSA Responds to Governor's Request for NASA Program Support (Source: CSA)
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reached out to the California Space Authority recently to request input on NASA programs that industry leaders believe would benefit from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funding. CSA stepped up and organized a roundtable discussion which provided the Governor with a list of NASA projects that would have the greatest impact possible to the California economy. Although the numbers are preliminary, their analysis of the programs suggests they would provide for an economic impact somewhere around $300-$500 million and translate into 715-1230 direct jobs. Applying the multiplier for indirect and induced jobs, the total direct, indirect and induced jobs would be in the neighborhood of 3500-6000 new positions. Click here for a copy of the letter Gov. Schwarzenegger sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden expressing his support for California's space enterprise community and his desire that NASA's ARRA funds find their way to California. (8/1)

SES, Intelsat Ask Lawmakers to Rethink Launch Ban on China, India (Source: Space News)
The world's two largest commercial satellite fleet operators, Intelsat and SES, have joined forces to try to persuade Washington policymakers that China and India should be permitted to launch U.S. commercial satellites. The two companies have secured the full support, if not the active involvement, of the largest U.S. builder of commercial telecommunications spacecraft, Loral.

The three companies believe their businesses risk severe launch-supply bottlenecks in a market that, if the struggling Sea Launch Co. does not recover from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, would be reduced essentially to two main vehicles: Europe's Ariane 5 and Russia's Proton. Editor's Note: Atlas-5 and Delta-4 should be competing for more commercial missions, but they're too busy with government launches. (8/1)

NASA's Limited Budget Boxes-In Augustine Panel (Source: Space News)
A blue-ribbon panel under the gun to present options to the White House by mid-August for a safe, affordable and innovative human spaceflight program spent three days of public hearings grappling with budget realities that hem in NASA's choices. "Unless additional money is added to the program, there's a very tough tradeoff to be made," said Norman Augustine.

Sally Ride, the former astronaut who leads one of five panel subgroups, caused a stir July 28 when she insisted that any options the panel presents the White House in August for a sustainable human spaceflight program incorporate two key assumptions: that NASA will need to keep flying the space shuttle through at least March 2011 in order to complete its seven remaining missions, and that the Space Station should remain in service –- and supported by NASA –- through at least 2020.

Ride's recommendations, presented during the July 28 public meeting in Houston, encountered opposition from fellow panelists concerned that the $10 billion to $15 billion cost of her proposal would lengthen NASA's confinement to low Earth orbit. (8/1)

Current Environment Ripe for NASA-Commercial Partnerships (Source: Space News)
Despite bleak budget forecasts and the uncertainty surrounding NASA's human exploration program, opportunities for commercial space firms are better than they have been in decades, according to officials attending the Space Frontier Foundation's NewSpace 2009 conference. Not only do NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver seem to be very supportive of commercial space ventures, but the challenging budgetary environment means space agency officials are searching for innovative ways to meet their goals, said Jim Muncy of PoliSpace.

During her July 8 confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Garver said her recent experience working as a consultant in the commercial sector of the aerospace industry "taught me that the incredible talent and dedication of the workforce not only resides at NASA, but also in private industry." (8/1)

Launch Service Group to Lose up to 45 Positions (Source: Florida Today)
Up to 45 workers at Space Coast Launch Services involved with the Delta II program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station could lose their jobs after a Global Positioning Satellite launch next month. On Thursday, a warning letter was sent to all 300 Space Coast Launch Services workers about the upcoming situation. Up to 15 percent of them could be affected. "When the last Air Force (Delta II) launch flies next month, the Air Force no longer requires Launch Complex 17," company president Steve Griffin said.

Launch Complex 17 has two launch pads, 17A and 17B. After the Air Force launch in August, pad 17A will close. The two remaining launches, overseen by NASA, will fly from pad 17B in September 2009 and September 2011. Space Coast Launch Services might depend on NASA for money to operate and maintain launch pad 17B. While some layoffs are possible soon, Griffin did not know the number and was required by federal law to warn all workers who might be affected. (8/1)

Fill 'Er Up ... In Space? (Source: MSNBC)
Basically, here's how a fuel-depot system would change the spaceflight situation: Spaceships currently have to carry all the fuel they'd need for an entire trip at once. If fuel depots were built in orbit, however, spaceships coming up from Earth's "gravity well" could fill 'er up and continue their journey with a full tank of gas (or, say, liquid oxygen and hydrogen). Alternatively, you could design a different sort of transfer vehicle, optimized for making the trip from one orbital spaceport to another rather than launching and landing.

That would lighten the load for launch vehicles leaving Earth, since they wouldn't have to carry all the fuel for a long trip at once. And it might reduce the need to develop a new heavy-lift vehicle like the Ares V. You could get by instead with a smaller booster, launched empty and fueled up in orbit. "It really is a game changer," Jeff Greason, chief executive officer of California-based XCOR Aerospace and a member of the review panel, was quoted as saying in a New York Times report on the hearing. (8/1)

Virginia Symposium to Focus on Spaceport (Source:
An academic symposium will be held this fall to explore the potential of what officials are calling "Virginia's Spaceplex" in the Wallops Island area. Accomack County and state officials met with representatives from several state universities Wednesday in Richmond to hear preliminary proposals for a concept study for the Wallops area, which would emphasize developing a vision for its potential and which eventually would lead to an economic impact analysis and concrete recommendations.

The county last week issued a request for proposals for the study, saying it will aid in marketing efforts for Wallops area enterprises. But the group decided to take a broader approach and to concentrate on three different aspects of planning for growth in the area: to plan for immediate needs related Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II project; to hold a symposium; and to do comprehensive long-range planning. Immediate needs include providing housing and workspace for a group of Ukranians due to arrive within the year to work on Taurus II, Accomack County Economic Development Director Larry Forbes said Thursday. (8/1)

Virgin’s Enterprises Can Soar – But Also Fail to Reach Orbit (Source: The National)
Ask anybody from Abu Dhabi to Zanzibar. The name Virgin is synonymous in the business world with Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who has made an incredible career, and a $5 billion business, out of selling dreams. He might call it a “branded venture capital investor”, but that is what it really does – it sells a dream to consumers, and occasionally to international investors.

The dream has morphed over the years, from hyper-hip music in the 1970s, to super-cool air travel in the 1980s, to fast, efficient rail travel in the 1990s. There have been other dreams on offer too – shopping, drinks, bridal wear, mobile phones, holidays (including Zanzibar) and financial services – but they all have the same unique selling point: an image of youth and rebellious adventure, slightly wacky but ultimately reliable. Virgin shows that the next generation is as good as the old-timers at business. The kids are all right, it says. They can put the show on in the barn.

Branson has not had much luck when his companies bravely go onto the world’s stock markets. His formative experience with Virgin Group in the 1980s was a disaster, and since then there have been others whose return for investors has hardly been stellar – Virgin Victory, Virgin Express, Virgin Media and Virgin Blue come to mind. Just last week he sold his American company Virgin Mobile for less than half its flotation value. Abu Dhabi should reach for the stars, by all means, but the financial people should keep their feet on the ground. (8/1)

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