August 12 News Items

NASA Also Lacks Money to Keep Track of Asteroids, Report Says (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA is charged with spotting most of the asteroids that pose a threat to Earth but does not have the money to complete the job, a U.S. government report says. That is because even though Congress assigned the space agency that mission four years ago, it never gave NASA the money to build the necessary telescopes, according to the report released Wednesday by the National Academy of Sciences. Specifically, the mission calls for NASA, by the year 2020, to locate 90 percent of the potentially deadly rocks hurtling through space. The agency says it has been able to complete about one-third of its assignment with the current telescope system. (8/12)

Hawaii Tightens Restrictions on High-Tech Investment Tax Credit (Source: SSTI)
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle recently allowed a significant revision to the state's High-Technology Investment Tax Credits program become law without her signature. The program, which has provided a 100 percent credit on high-tech investments since 2001, now will cap its credits at 80 percent. Investors also will no longer be able to transfer their credits to other investors. The revisions will apply through December 2010, when the tax credit program is scheduled to expire. (8/12)

Oklahoma Reduces Funding for Spaceport Authority (Source: SSTI)
Most agencies, including the House, Senate and governor's office received a 7 percent cut in the enacted budget. Higher education will see about a 2 percent increase compared to last fiscal year, which should prevent the need for increased tuition, according to the governor's office. The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority is slated to receive $493,215 in the upcoming year, down from $530,340 last year. (8/12)

Augustine Panel: NASA Constellation Program Unaffordable (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Augustine Panel has concluded that NASA's current Constellation Program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 will not fit into the current presidential budget. In fact, the panel has found that President Barack Obama's current budget does not allow for any significant human exploration program. "We are on a path right now for a system on a close order of just double the budget to operate," said panel member Jeff Greason. He added that if Santa Claus gave the program to the country fully developed, NASA would still have to cancel it because the agency could not afford to launch it. (8/12)

Virginia Governor Candidate Deeds Supports Spaceport (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, sent a letter on Monday to the Accomack County Board of Supervisors to pledge his support for Orbital’s Taurus II rocket project at Wallops Island. In the letter, Sen. Deeds expressed his interest in the project and his excitement at the new economic possibilities it could bring to the Eastern Shore and the rest of the commonwealth. Sen. Deeds will be visiting the Eastern Shore later this week. (8/12)

Augustine Panel Narrows NASA Options (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's Project Constellation cannot be executed within the $81.5 billion budgeted for human spaceflight through 2020 -- a $26.5 billion drop from previous projections -- so the Augustine Panel will bring it forward only as a reference mission. Missions to Mars -- while an ultimate goal -- will not be among scenarios offered up. The idea of doing a "Dash Out Of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) is also being dropped. It appears the Ares I rocket will be on the chopping block, while the panel supports increasing investment in the development of commercial crew transportation services.

The panel appears to favor extending International Space Station operations through 2020. The idea of extending shuttle operations through 2015 is still on the table. So is the idea of shutting the shuttle fleet down in 2011, and developing a smaller version of the Ares V to send astronauts on sorties back to the moon with the idea of eventually building an outpost on the lunar surface.

Also in the running: Flying missions to orbit the moon, near-Earth asteroids and Mars -- but not land on interplanetary bodies. Three options for launch vehicles will be carried forward: A smaller version of the Ares V, a heavy-lift version of the Atlas V or Delta IV or a commercially procured heavy-lift rocket that uses either Russian hydrocarbon engines or a newly developed U.S. hydrocarbon engine. The Atlas V's Russian RD-180 first stage engine is an example. It uses liquid oxygen and highly refined kerosene as propellants. (8/12)

Newfound Planet Orbits Backward (Source:
Planets orbit stars in the same direction that the stars rotate. They all do. Except one. A newfound planet orbits the wrong way, backward compared to the rotation of its host star. Its discoverers think a near-collision may have created the retrograde orbit, as it is called. The star and its planet, WASP-17, are about 1,000 light-years away. The setup was found by the UK's Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP) project in collaboration with Geneva Observatory. The discovery was announced today but has not yet been published in a journal. (8/11)

Ukrainian PM Confirms Plans to Launch Satellite in 2011 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Ukraine will launch its own communications satellite in 2011 despite the current political crisis in the country, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said. The satellite, dubbed Lybid, is being developed by the Yuzhnoye design bureau to be launched on the Zenit-3 LV carrier rocket. The development has been slow due to the shortage of funding. The National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU) earlier said the Lybid project would be financed by the Canadian MDA company. NSAU is expecting to receive a $254 million loan from MDA in April 2010. (8/12)

Second-Generation Gemini Capsule Could Support Commercial Human Spaceflight (Source: Huntsville Times)
If Craig Russell has his way, for the right amount of money - say, $30 million - a person will be able to strap into a Gemini capsule and orbit the Earth. Russell formed Americans in Orbit to honor the 50th anniversary of Mercury astronaut John Glenn's Feb. 20, 1962, launch into space. Glenn was the first American to orbit the planet. "Right now, our challenge is to raise the $70 million to pay for the launch vehicle and get this off the ground," said Russell, a retired pilot. Originally, Russell wanted to build a single-person Mercury spacecraft but opted to use the twin-person Gemini design instead.

"This way we can sell a seat on future flights," he said, "and it gives us more capability." Russell went to Houston and copied technical plans for the Gemini spacecraft. He also found a test article left over from the Gemini program and plans to use it as a teaching and engineering model for university students. "From that effort, we will build a complete Gemini spacecraft," Russell said. "It will be reusable and completely modern." Americans in Orbit, which has a 10-member advisory panel composed of aerospace engineers and businessmen, plans to use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to launch the spacecraft, Russell said. (8/12)

NM Spaceport Seeks Bids for Electrical System (Source: New Mexico Business Weekly)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is seeking bids from contractors to construct an on-site electrical system at the Spaceport near Upham in southern New Mexico. The system will connect on-site infrastructure to an off-site electrical substation with a six-mile distribution line, said Authority Executive Director Steve Landeene in a news release. (8/12)

US Clears India's Launch of Algerian Satellites with U.S. Components (Source: The Hindu)
The US has allowed ISRO to launch Algerian satellites having American components using an Indian launch vehicle following a Technical Safeguards Agreement (TSA) between the two countries. A Technical Safeguards Agreement, covering launches of satellites having US components on Indian launch vehicles, was signed between India and the US on July 20 during the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi. (8/12)

Germany Proposes Unmanned Moon Landing for 2015 (Source: Reuters)
Germany should try to launch an unmanned mission to the moon by around 2015, the government official in charge of aerospace matters said. Economy Ministry State Secretary Peter Hintze said a German moon landing could be feasible "within the next decade, around 2015," and urged cooperation with other European countries and the United States. The enterprise would likely cost around 1.5 billion euros ($2.12 billion) over five years and could encourage industry to develop new technologies, said Hintze, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). The investment would be "money well spent," said Hintze, though he added: "At the moment, the finances aren't there." (8/12)

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