August 5 News Items

Florida Group Sets Federal Space Policy Priorities (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Aerospace Career & Development Council, a statewide group space industry stakeholders from industry, government and academia, has reached consensus on a list of federal space policy priorities aimed at expanding and diversifying the state's space industry. The one-page list has now been shared with the Florida Congressional Delegation to encourage coordinated bipartisan support. Click here to view the list. (8/4)

Budget Analysis Details U.S. Space Security Programs (Source: Secure World Foundation)
A budget analysis has been completed which examines a range of Department of Defense (DoD) space security programs outlined in its FY-2010 budget request. The review focuses on a suite of DoD space-related efforts, including high energy laser research, space control technology, and operationally responsive space, as well as microsatellite and rendezvous technology, missile defense and space situational awareness. For the complete budget analysis, click here. (8/5)

Korea Blames Russia for Rocket Launch Delays (Source: Korea Times)
Throughout the huge build-up to the South Korea's very first space launch, government officials have been doing their best to keep expectations modest. In fact, experts at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have been telling anyone that asks that the chances of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle 1 (KSLV-1) successfully reaching orbit are less than 50 percent.

However, with the repeated delays in the rocket launch, the fear of failure seems to be becoming real, as Korean authorities are reminded that they have little control over the fate of their space project, whenever it gets off the ground. Russia's Khrunichev State Space Science and Production Center, which is providing the technology for the project, forced a sixth postponement Tuesday, telling local authorities that it needs further time to address some ``technical issues'' detected during its recent testing of the rocket's liquid-fuel propulsion system. (8/5)

Chavez Cherishes his Chinese-Built Satellite (Source: Asia Times)
Last October, a new Chinese-built $241 million communications satellite called Simon Bolivar or Venesat-1 was launched from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China on a CZ-3B rocket. It is owned by Venezuela. Uruguay also obtained a 10% stake in this satellite because Venesat-1 now occupies an orbital slot - essentially a parking space for a satellite approximately around 35,900 kilometers above Earth - assigned to Uruguay. Thanks to this Chinese-built satellite, Venezuela's space agency - known as the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities - has now joined an elite group in Latin America with working satellites. This elite includes Mexico, Brazil - which has enjoyed strong ties for many years with China in space - and Argentina. (8/5)

Life on Mars Unlikely, Methane Mystery Suggests (Source: CBC)
A gas hailed as a possible sign of life on Mars disappears from the planet's atmosphere hundreds of times faster than expected. This suggests that Mars could in fact be an "extraordinarily harsh environment" for the survival of other organic molecules — the carbon-based chemicals on which life on Earth is based — said a new study. "This would leave little hope that life as we know it can exist at present or that evidence of past life can be preserved in the shallow surface layer," said the paper by University of Paris researchers.

They had created computer models to look more closely at variations in methane — a simple organic molecule that is the major component of natural gas. In January, NASA researchers reported that 19,000 tons of methane were released in high concentrations over three specific areas in Mars's western hemisphere over a short period in summer 2003. Most of the methane had disappeared by 2006. (8/5)

SpaceX Makes Move Toward EELV Missions (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX has hired Marv Vander Weg as Vice President of the company's EELV Customer Office, where he will be responsible for acquiring and managing EELV missions for SpaceX's U.S. Government customers. Vander Weg joins SpaceX from United Launch Alliance (ULA) where he was the Vice President for the Customer Program Office. In that role, Vander Weg was responsible for developing customer interfaces and enhancing customer satisfaction during the acquisition and execution of the contractual obligations for the Atlas and Delta launch vehicle programs. (8/5)

Curiosity Rover Assembled as Cost Impacts Debated (Source:
Assembly and test of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, and its Sky Crane descent stage, are accelerating at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. toward launch on an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral in October or November 2011. Cutting edge technology for MSL is springing to life as the flight rover and descent stage mature in JPL clean rooms. Developing such cutting edge hardware has brought technology delays and a much steeper price than envisioned. The MSL cost growth is also slowing the development of all other NASA planetary programs and will delay by 2-4 years all other Mars programs coming after MSL, including a Mars sample return now envisioned for the 2020s. (8/5)

Joint Mars Plans Come Together (Source: Nature)
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have unveiled a joint plan for exploring Mars in the latter half of the next decade. ESA will build a trace-gas orbiter, able to map plumes of methane in the atmosphere, for launch in 2016. This could help to target landing of the agency's flagship rover, ExoMars, and a mid-sized NASA rover, due for launch in 2018. "These two rovers will be focused on astrobiology — seeking the signs of life," says NASA's Mars program chief Doug McCuistion. The plan was negotiated at a NASA–ESA summit at the end of June. The community is pleased to have a 2016 orbital mission at all after the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), a large rover still scheduled for a 2011 launch, ran roughshod over NASA budgets with its price tag, which could end up being as high as $2.4 billion. (8/5)

Augustine Panel Narrows Options (Source: Florida Today)
The Augustine Panel is starting to narrow a list of options for NASA's future human spaceflight program, outlining seven different scenarios that likely will be refined for presentation to President Obama. The first would stretch out NASA's current Constellation effort so it would fit within the FY-2010 budget, which reduces from $108 billion to $81.5 billion the amount that will be available for human space exploration through 2020. The second would extend Space Station operations through 2020 while slowing development of the Ares-1 rocket to launch astronauts to the station as a precursor to missions beyond Earth orbit. The third is to retire the shuttle and cease U.S. space station operations as planned in 2010 and 2015, respectively, and then "Dash Out Of LEO" -- explore Beyond Earth Orbit as soon as possible. The Ares-1 would be killed under this option and NASA would proceed with the development of the heavy-lift Ares-5.

The remaining four scenarios all would exceed current budget projections. The fourth would extend shuttle fleet operations through 2015 and extend station operations through 2020, further pushing back exploration. A heavy-lift vehicle that is more "shuttle-derived" than Ares-5 would be pursued. The fifth is the Deep Space Flyby scenario that would concentrate on flying missions to orbit -- but not land upon -- the moon, Mars and other near-Earth orbit objects. The shuttle fleet would be retired in 2011 and station operations would continue through 2020 under this option.

The sixth is an option to fly lunar sorties to many different sites on the moon, using the lunar surface as a testbed or proving ground for missions to Mars. The shuttle would be retired in 2010 and a heavy-lift launcher derived from the shuttle or the Atlas-5 or Delta-4 would be developed. The final option would be to go directly to Mars, bypassing the moon unless it made sense to fly a test mission to the lunar surface as a steppingstone to an expedition to the red planet. (8/5)

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