August 13 News Items

Shuttle Launch Hinges on Data From External Tank Tests (Source:
NASA is pressing ahead with preparations to launch the shuttle Discovery Aug. 24 on a space station resupply mission, but Program Manager John Shannon said today a final decision to proceed will depend on the results of last-minute testing this weekend to verify the integrity of external tank foam insulation. (8/13)

Florida Space Workforce Initiative Plans Meeting Aug. 18 (Source: RAWI)
The Regional Aerospace Workforce Initiative (RAWI) aimed at mitigating Shuttle-retirement job losses will sponsor a meeting on the afternoon of Aug. 18 in Orlando to continue working on a strategic action plan. For information contact Tyler Sirois at

Space Florida Hosts State Officials at Spaceport (Sources: Space Florida, SPACErePORT)
State Senator Thad Altman and Representative Ralph Poppell, both members of Space Florida's board, hosted a series of tours and briefings at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for Florida congressional and legislative members and staff last week. In a separate visit, Florida's Secretary of Transportation will visit with spaceport officials on Monday to view the planned Delta-2 launch and discuss that agency's continued interest in integrating space transportation into the state's multi-modal system planning. (8/13)

Space Florida Board Plans Presidential Search Meeting on Aug. 19 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Florida's board of directors will hold a public meeting/teleconference on Aug. 19 to discuss the status of an ongoing presidential search. Acting President Frank DiBello is among the finalists for the job. Korn/Ferry International is leading the nationwide search for candidates. According to 2008 annual report information, Space Florida had $44.9 million in net assets as of June 30, 2008, an increase of $3.7 million over the $41.2 million which came from its predecessor agencies. Space Florida had 2008 operating revenues of $11.6 million, including $7 million appropriated by the Florida Legislature. (8/13)

Astronaut Reunion Event Planned for Scholarship Foundation on Nov. 7 (Source: ASF)
Join more than 30 legendary astronauts as they gather in Cape Canaveral to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of that mission, Apollo 12, with crewmembers Alan Bean and Richard Gordon on Nov. 7. The event benefits the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and promises an evening of fine food, exquisite ambiance and amazing stories of back when. By becoming a sponsor now, your company will be guaranteed great seating, an astronaut guest to head your table* and astronomical recognition.

Other astronauts scheduled to attend thus far include: Buzz Aldrin, John Blaha, Vance Brand, Scott Carpenter, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Gordon Fullerton, Ed Gibson, Robert “Hoot” Gibson, Fred Haise, Hank Hartsfield, Tom Jones, Jack Lousma, Jim Lovell, Jon McBride, Edgar Mitchell, Mike Mullane, Bill Pogue, Rusty Schweickart, Dave Scott, Winston Scott, Rick Searfoss, Rhea Seddon, Bob Springer, Thomas Stafford and Al Worden. Other participants include: Dee O’Hara and Guenter Wendt. Visit fill out the form and send it in today! Individual tickets are also available. (8/13)

Space Panel Finds No Good Options (Source: Aviation Week)
With 18 days left in which to finish its work, the Augustine Panel is focusing on several options ranging from maintaining NASA's current plans to deferring lunar exploration in favor of direct visits to Mars and other deep space locations. NASA's current program of record -- retiring the shuttle and closing down the Space Station by 2016, developing the Ares I/Orion system as a shuttle replacement, and mounting a lunar return by 2020 -- simply doesn't fit within the FY '10 guidance, Sally Ride said. "There was not enough money to even start the lunar systems," she said.

However, the "less constrained" option, which ramps up to $3 billion a year more than the FY-10 plan, allows a lunar return by 2025. This budget, Ride said, is fairly close to what NASA's original exploration planners assumed they would have for the Constellation program several years ago. Also considered was an "ISS-focused" option that would extend station operations to 2020 but essentially sacrifice near-term exploration development in order to stay within the FY-10 plan. While a heavy-lift launcher system would be available in 2028 under this option, it would have nothing to lift, as no money would have been spent on lunar surface systems. More promising were the so-called "Deep Space" options, which would defer lunar exploration in the near-term in favor of trips to other locations in the solar system. (8/13)

Editorial: Is Russia Overreacting to U.S. Threat in Space? (Source: AIA)
A commentary by the Russian news service RIA Novosti questions that country's recent commitment to build new space defenses, noting that the U.S. appears unlikely to develop so-called "expeditionary aerospace forces" capable of launching precision attacks from space. In questioning the likelihood of the technology, the writer notes the "inertia of research and time-consuming development and adoption of new hardware," as well as a study by the Aerospace Industries Association warning that the Pentagon fails to take the industrial base into account when planning weapons systems or weapons cuts. (8/13)

India Eyes Mission To Mars As Government Reserves Funding (Source: Space Daily)
After the challenging mission to moon, ISRO has begun preparations for sending a spacecraft to Mars within the next six years. The government has sanctioned seed money of Rs 10 crore to carry out various studies on experiments to be conducted, route of the mission and other related details necessary to scale the new frontier, said ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair. (8/13)

Kansas Cosmosphere Gets Grant Money (Source: KWCH)
Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Kansas Cosmosphere will be updating its museum over the next two years to take guests from the past to the present and even glimpse the future of space exploration. The $137,000 grant will allow the Cosmosphere to add several new interactive simulators throughout the museum, and to extend the exhibits to include much more on the shuttle era, the International Space Station, Mars exploration and a peek at the new moon mars and beyond project, Constellation. (8/13)

Augustine Panel Contradicts NASA's Budget Assertions (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Augustine Panel's pessimistic assessment of NASA's manned-space future contradicts years of assertions by the agency that despite budget cuts totaling about $30 billion over the next decade, its moon-landing program was on track and within budget. However, the panel said those cuts, combined with expensive technical problems such as violent shaking by the Ares I rocket, have left its future in doubt. Constellation has spent more than $9 billion since 2005 to develop the Ares I and V rockets and the Orion crew capsule. But the $81 billion projected through 2020 for that program, operation of the space station and flying the shuttle through 2011 is not nearly enough, the panel said.

"We are on a path right now, for a system that requires [roughly] double the current budget just to operate," said Jeff Greason of XCOR Aerospace. "If Santa Claus brought us this [Constellation] system tomorrow, fully developed, and the budget didn't change, our next action would have to be to cancel it," he said. "Yup," responded Sally Ride. Ed Crawley of MIT noted that NASA's budget would enable the agency to extend the space station from 2015 to 2020, or develop the Ares I rocket to take astronauts there by 2016 -- but not both. "The Ares I option just doesn't make any sense" he said. (8/13)

Panelists Question Orion Too (Source: SPACErePORT)
As the Augustine Panel deliberated on different scenarios for human exploration, they achieved some consensus that commercial rockets and capsules should support Low Earth Orbit human spaceflight. Given the delays with Ares I and lack of funding for beyond-LEO human spaceflight, they also briefly questioned the need for the Orion capsule. Sally Ride suggested that Orion's size has forced NASA into a water-landing approach for the craft, and that a land-landing would be preferred. (8/13)

Augustine's Laws, As Applied to the Augustine Panel (Source: SPACErePORT)
Norm Augustine, chair of the panel now considering NASA's future exploration options, famously penned a book of "Augustine's Laws" to provide tongue-in-cheek guidance to large-enterprise decision makers. Some of those laws can be applied to his panel's efforts. On Cost Estimating - "The most unsuccessful four years in the education of a cost-estimator is fifth grade arithmetic." On Workforce Productivity - "One-tenth of the participants produce over one-third of the output. Increasing the number of participants merely reduces the average output." On Constellation? - "It costs a lot to build bad products."

On Constellation? - "The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems." On Schedule Estimates - "Any task can be completed in only one-third more time than is currently estimated." On Cost/Schedule - "The only thing more costly than stretching the schedule of an established project is accelerating it, which is itself the most costly action known to man." On Reorganizing NASA's Priorities - "It is better to be the reorganizer than the reorganizee." On the Augustine Panel - "The optimum committee has no members." (8/13)

Augustine Panel Endorses Commercial Human Space Flight Options (Source: Business Wire)
During what may be the last public meeting of the Augustine Panel, there was a strong consensus for funding a robust commercial human space flight program to provide human space transportation to low Earth orbit (LEO). Included in virtually every option presented was providing $2.5 billion over four years starting in FY2011 to support development of commercial human space transport capabilities. The panel also discussed options that included commercially-provided heavy lift capabilities for space exploration beyond LEO.

This endorsement of commercial human space flight comes a little over a week after NASA’s announcement of a $50 million commercial crew development program to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities while fostering entrepreneurial activity leading to job growth in engineering, analysis, design, and research. (8/13)

Nelson Was Right: We Can't Get There From Here (Source: SPACErePORT)
During the first meeting of the Augustine Panel, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) made clear his view that NASA's budget is simply too small to achieve the nation's goals for human space exploration. "In what the Office of Management and Budget have laid out for the president's plan in the outyears of 2011-2014 [the numbers are] entirely deficient for where we're going... NASA simply can't do the job that it's been given with the president's goal of being on the moon by 2020, if you take the OMB numbers."

According to Sally Ride, as reported in the Huntsville Times: Plans to extend the station, develop Ares I and other lunar exploration technology, such as moonbase equipment, could cost $149 billion beyond the $100 billion already planned for those efforts across the next decade. (8/13)

NASA Budget Threatens Manned Missions, Group Says (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Current budget constraints confronting NASA make it virtually impossible to sustain manned missions to the Moon, Mars or further into space in coming decades, a blue-ribbon study group is expected to tell the White House. The findings mean the Obama administration, which created the commission, faces a stark test of its commitment to pursue expensive human space exploration efforts despite ballooning federal deficits. (8/13)

Winners and Losers in Space Debate (Source: Wall Street Journal)
One of the big losers from the Augustine Panel's work is likely to be Alliant Techsystems, a champion of the proposed Ares I and Ares V rockets. Alliant has argued that killing Ares I will complicate NASA's efforts to develop more-powerful rockets suitable for missions to the Moon and beyond. With Boeing and Lockheed Martin also having invested a lot of effort and prestige in NASA's current manned programs, Wednesday's deliberations appeared to provide a vote of confidence in smaller, more entrepreneurial aerospace companies, including startups such as SpaceX.

Another winner could turn out to be the Pentagon, if the White House opts to use billions of dollars in NASA funds to enhance and upgrade the Air Force's existing Delta IV and Atlas V rockets to carry astronauts. The rockets are operated by a joint venture made up of Boeing and Lockheed, and that organization has been pushing hard for such an option.

The Air Force was lukewarm about the concept until the last few months, when Air Force Space Command embraced it, partly as a way to keep a lid on military launch budgets. Although some Augustine Panel scenarios entail major layoffs and restructurings of NASA's own workforce and those of some of its largest contractors, Wednesday's discussions seemed rushed and in some cases, based on sketchy data. (8/13)

Alabama Congressman Asks for White House Support on Ares Rocket Program (Source: Huntsville Times)
Rep. Parker Griffith (D-AL) wrote President Barack Obama urging the White House and the Augustine Commission to press on with the Marshall Space Flight Center-managed Ares rocket programs. "When considering the final report of the Augustine Commission, I believe that it is critical for our nation's policymakers to recognize that today's current space transportation architecture is capable of achieving our human space flight objectives in a safe, innovative, affordable and sustainable manner," Griffith said in a statement. (8/12)

Clearwater High School Buzzing About Astronaut Alumnus (Source: WFTS)
A Clearwater native is getting set for her first trip to space. Nicole Stott is one of seven astronauts who will be aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. It's a mission to the International Space Station and those at her old school are ready to blast off too. Jenny Buffington is a part of the ground support team for her friend and former classmate. She'll be one of the Clearwater High School grads at Cape Canaveral August 25 as Nicole Stott goes into orbit. "We've been waiting or this for a very long time." (8/12)

Editorial: Obama Should Fulfill Pledge for a Strong Space Program (Source: Florida Today)
President Obama’s blue-ribbon panel on NASA’s future is moving rapidly toward presenting the White House with options by the end of the month. The importance of the committee’s work cannot be overstated, nor that of the decisions the president will soon make. He will determine America’s direction in space for at least a generation and with it whether our nation retains its global leadership in exploring the cosmos. He also will determine what happens at KSC and the enormous benefit it brings to our community and the state of Florida in high-technology jobs and $4 billion in economic impact. (8/12)

Foam Keeps Falling Off Shuttle's Fuel Tank (Source: WFTV)
A team of engineers and managers are trying to decide what to do about the space shuttle Discovery. They could have to roll the shuttle off the pad and delay its launch because foam keeps falling off the fuel tank. After the Columbia disaster, NASA vowed it would try to keep foam pieces weighing more than 1/100th of a pound from falling off the shuttle's tank. That's the same weight as about 12 sheets of paper; yet they can't figure out why heavier chunks keep coming off. NASA is considering rolling the shuttle back into the Vehicle Assembly Building to replace insulating foam on the tank in trouble spots called ice frost ramps. (8/12)

Ares May Be in Jeopardy (Source: Huntsville Times)
The Ares I rocket, managed at Marshall Space Flight Center, might become a museum piece before it ever blasts off on a mission if a White House-appointed panel discussion Wednesday is any indication about NASA's future. NASA has spent $3 billion over the past four years to develop Ares I, which would be used to loft astronauts to the space station or be used with the much larger Ares V on a moon mission.

The bulk of the Ares I mission, at the end of the next decade, would be to fly astronauts to the space station. But under options laid out in President Bush's plan to return to the moon, America would end involvement with the station by late 2015. "Ares I would not be ready until 2016 under the current budget and development," said Dr. Sally Ride. "With the station gone, that means Ares and (the) Orion (spacecraft) would have no place to go." (8/13)

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