August 15 News Items

Satellites Planned to Help Extend Canadian Arctic Presence (Source: Space News)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is setting the stage for a constellation of new polar communications and weather satellites in support of the Canadian government's push to establish more of a presence in the Arctic. If approved, the Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) Mission would see the launch of two optical satellites into a highly elliptical orbit in 2016 to provide continuous communication services and weather observation of the country's northern regions. (8/15)

ViaSat Doubles Credit Line to Fund Broadband Satellite (Source: Space News)
ViaSat Inc. has doubled its line of credit to help finance its large all-Ka-band ViaSat-1 broadband satellite and may have to continue solo with the project until its launch in early 2011. The company nonetheless is more confident than ever about the project's market potential, particularly with military users in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, ViaSat officials said Aug. 5. (8/15)

Augustine Panel Briefs White House and NASA Officials on Finalized Options (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Augustine Panel is expected to present five exploration scenarios to President Obama, within "constrained" and "less constrained" budgets. The draft scenarios were discussed with senior NASA and White House officials last week, Commercial rockets play a key role in every scenario except the baseline "program of record" where Ares I is responsible for carrying crew to the ISS. The ISS is extended to 2020 in all options except the baseline. Editor's Note: I have attempted to describe the various scenarios in a chart posted here. (8/15)

Ares I-X: All Dressed Up But Maybe Nowhere To Go? (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA on Friday proudly announced that the Ares I-X rocket, a prototype of its controversial Ares I next-generation rocket, has been fully assembled and mounted on its mobile launch platform at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for a sub-orbital test flight this fall. The question is, will the 327-foot tall rocket -- on which NASA has spent $360 million -- be allowed to fly given that the Obama administration might cancel the Ares I? And if it does launch, what purpose will it serve if the rocket it hopes to prove never leaves the drawing board? The presidentially appointed committee charged with re-examining NASA's human space flight plans said this week they could not see any purpose for the Ares I. Click here to view a photo of the stacked Ares 1-X in the VAB. (8/15)

Microsoft Hosts Conference Discussing Elevator to Space (Source: Seattle PI)
It sounds straight out of science fiction: an elevator ride that takes you to space and back. How is that possible? Scientists are gathered in Redmond this weekend to try to figure it out. Microsoft is sponsored the 2009 Space Elevator Conference, a four-day long event with movies, presentations, and workshops where engineers and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the technical and logistical issues of building an actual elevator to space. "It's bringing top people around to present ideas from a research standpoint and a business standpoint," said conference spokesperson Melinda Young. "We're talking about a way to supplement travel to space by rockets." Editor's Note: Perhaps Microsoft is tired of seeing Google get so much attention for its sponsorship of various space initiatives. (8/15)

Virginia Candidates Look for Votes in Space (Source:
The race for governor of Virginia moved into outer space this past week, with both candidates pledging support for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island. Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell both traveled to the Eastern Shore to visit Wallops Island, the commercial spaceport that some state lawmakers are hoping develops into a cash cow for Virginia. Deeds said he would: providing state funding for the spaceport; enter into an MOA with Maryland to continue multi-state support; work with Virginia's U.S. senators to support the spaceport; and pursue space tourism opportunities. McDonnell pledged a tenfold boost in state funding for the spaceport, which would mean $1 million annually in a bid to make Wallops the nation's premier commercial spaceport. (8/15)

4 Million Pounds of Space Junk Polluting Earth’s Orbit (Source: EcoWorldly)
Millions of nuts, bolts, pieces of metal and carbon, and whole spacecraft from thousands of missions and launches form an orbiting garbage dump spinning around the Earth at speeds up to 22,000 mph. After the recent collision between a Russian and U.S. satellite, concern for the growing hazard of space junk is becoming even more acute within the international space community. In recent months, NASA and the European Space Agency have both diverted resources into monitoring space debris and researching ways of mitigating and—some day—removing it. (8/14)

Nevada Company Pitches 'Lite' Concept for NASA's New Spaceship (Source:
A stripped down version of NASA's future spaceship designed by Nevada's Bigelow Aerospace could be ready as soon as 2013, according to the company. A Bigelow official flew to Denver in July to privately brief a White House-charted panel on the suggested design based on the planned Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, which will carry passengers to and from low Earth orbit. Such a system is crucial to Bigelow's plans for deploying Sundancer, an inflatable space station module. Bigelow has spent the past two years working with Denver-based United Launch Alliance to study a human-rated version of the Atlas 5 rocket.

Bigelow's crew capsule design is modeled on the Orion vehicle that Lockheed Martin — one of United Launch Alliance's corporate parents — is developing for NASA. In a July 30 interview with Space News, Mike Gold, director of Bigelow's Washington office, said he believes a low Earth-orbit optimized version of Orion could be ready to launch atop a human-rated version of the Atlas 5 within three or four years — much sooner than NASA's discredited March 2015 target for the first crewed launch of Orion and its Ares I rocket. (8/15)

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