August 31 News Items

ASRC Wins Contract Extension at NASA Glenn Research Center (Source: NASA)
NASA's Glenn Research Center has awarded a one-year contract option to Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) for engineering and scientific services. The option has a value that will not exceed $50 million. The contract provides engineering and scientific support services to Glenn's Lewis Field and Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. ASRC will provide on-site support services for technical, engineering and scientific tasks in the areas of aeronautics, microgravity science, space exploration, space power and propulsion, and related science and technology activities. (8/31)

Augustine Commission Delays Report Release (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
An independent space panel won't release its report on American human spaceflight today as expected. Instead the commission is shooting for a release in mid-September, said NASA's liaison to the 10-member panel, led by retired Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine. The committee, however, aims to send a draft of their executive summary to NASA and the White House sometime in the next 36 hours, said NASA official Phil McAlister. He said the report won't contain any surprises and should correspond to four to seven options developed in hearings earlier this month. These include plans to rely on commercial rocket companies to reach the International Space Station and build a free-ranging spaceship capable of exploring the inner solar system. But all the options are hamstrung by NASA budgets that don't provide enough resources, the panel concluded. (8/31)

Chinese Rocket Fails to Deliver Commercial Satellite (Source:
The Chinese have suffered a problem during the launch of the Indonesian Palapa-D communications satellite via a CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B (CZ3B-12) launch vehicle. The launch took place at the Xi Chang spaceport on Monday, but failed to place the spacecraft in the required orbit – due to an issue with the CZ-3B’s third stage. The Palapa-D satellite was scheduled to replace the Palapa-C2 (23864 1996-030A) satellite – which is due to come to the end of its life in 2011 – at 113.0 degrees East. It is unknown at this time if the spacecraft can be saved, though this is unlikely. Latest reports from the Chinese State media – which appeared to undergo a news blackout for several hours after launch – claim the problem is related to a failure of third stage ignition. (8/31)

To the Moon, NASA? Not on This Budget, Experts Say (Source: AP)
"NASA has been like a star athlete that's broken world records back in the 1960s and is stuck in the bleachers ever since, unable to suit up for what it does best," said space scientist Alan Stern, who quit last year as NASA's associate administrator for science. But, as has been the case since about 1971, money is holding engineers back, Stern said. "Bush never delivered on his promise to up NASA's funding," Stern said. He added that the previous NASA administrator "tried cannibalizing NASA (to pay for exploration) but that wasn't enough. (8/31)

Giving NASA a Clear Mission (Source: Space Review)
A common refrain among space advocates is that NASA is given too much to do and too little funding to accomplish it. G. Ryan Faith makes the case for giving NASA a straightforward mission -- space exploration -- and prioritizing its tasks accordingly. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

Protecting the Space Workforce (Source: Space Review)
Cancellation of Defense Department programs and the uncertainty surrounding NASA's exploration plans could lead to the loss of thousands of aerospace jobs. Taylor Dinerman warns that such cuts could lead to a brain drain like the ones seen after previous mass layoffs. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

Is the Near-Earth Space Frontier Closed? (Source: Space Review)
Much of what made the Space Age possible was driven by the development of ICBMs and related spacecraft systems. Andrew Tubbiolo argues that this legacy may make it more difficult for commercial and civil entities to expand their activities in Earth orbit. Visit to view the article. (8/31)

India: Mars Mission by 2013-2015 (Source: Times of India)
India's mission to Mars will take place between 2013-2015, Indian Space Research Organization chief G Madhavan Nair said. "We have given a call for proposal to different scientific communities. Depending on the type of experiments they propose, we will be able to plan the mission," he said. The mission is at conceptual stage and will be taken up after Chandrayaan-2, Nair said. "Once in two years you get an opportunity for the mission," Nair said. ISRO Chairman is in Goa to host the eighth international conference on low cost planetary missions. (8/31)

Augustine Committee Ideas Require More Money (Source: Florida Today)
When President Barack Obama decides what to do with the manned spaceflight report a blue-ribbon panel will submit to the White House, the success of the option he chooses will depend largely on one factor, lawmakers say. Money. "The No. 1 most significant thing that needs to happen -- whichever choice is made -- is that sufficient funding must go with the recommendation," said U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, a New Smyrna Beach Democrat whose district includes Kennedy Space Center. "In the past, there have been visions with funding that didn't match," she said.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations panel that oversees NASA funding, agreed: "NASA has been asked to do too much with too little." It's not clear how Obama will react to the report outlined by the 10-member Augustine Panel. But John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, said the choices are not mutually exclusive. "You can take some of one, and mix it with some of another," he said. Both Kosmas and U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, have pushed for using the shuttles beyond their expected 2011 retirement date. (8/31)

Asteroid Mission Getting Attention (Source: Florida Today)
I love the movie Armageddon. Sure, the movie wildly departs from the realities of space flight. Two souped-up, top-secret military space shuttles are rolled out on a moment's notice, shipped to Kennedy Space Center and launched within minutes of another from adjoining pads. A bunch of barely trained oil riggers make up an astronaut crew asked to save the world by crash-landing on a monster asteroid and bust it apart with a nuclear warhead. Oh, and they're supposed to fly safely home.

However, the underlying premise of the movie is very real, and more and more people are starting to say it would be a good idea for NASA to look at sending astronauts to an asteroid. Among them: the panel of space experts who are delivering their final report on the future of NASA to President Barack Obama this week. (8/31)

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