September 17 News Items

Space Florida Board Approves DiBello, But Process Questions Linger (Sources: Orlando Sentinel, SPACErePORT)
Led by Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, the board of directors for Space Florida approved a recommendation to select Acting President Frank DiBello as the agency's new president. The selection process was a troubled one, with former NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale identified as the board selection committee's preferred candidate. Dale dropped out amid a groundswell of community support for keeping DiBello in place. Local newspapers hinted at a potential conflict of interest for board member Ken Ford, who was appointed to the NASA Advisory Council and served as its chairman while Dale was at NASA Headquarters. According to one reporter following the process, while his relationship with Dale may not in itself constitute a conflict for Ford, the appearance that there could be one should have caused Ford to recuse himself from the process.

Concerns were also raised that Dale, as a former George W. Bush appointee, might be unable to work well with the Obama Administration. As Acting President, DiBello had been building a relationship with NASA's new leadership, including Dale's Obama-appointed successor at NASA, to propose new roles for Kennedy Space Center and the state after President Obama identifies a new path for NASA's human space exploration program. (9/17)

Editorial: Space Florida Situation Reveals Solidarity, Not Strife (Source: SPACErePORT)
In some comments posted to articles about Space Florida's troubled presidential search, people pointed at the apparent disarray of Florida's space efforts. Normally I would share this view, but this time is different. With their insistance that Frank DiBello be kept at the agency's helm, local and state leaders showed a rare and refreshing unity. Their concerns about the political and programmatic ramifications of change, at this critical time for the state, were entirely valid. Some of these leaders saw the candidate who would have replaced Mr. DiBello, former NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, as part of the team that gave birth to the coming post-Shuttle gap (and its accompanying Central Florida workforce crisis), and they were worried that Ms. Dale--having bought into the Constellation program in its current form--would not fight to change the status quo that keeps KSC in a subservient role to other NASA centers. (9/17)

"Flexible Path" Option Praised by Augustine to Senate (Source: SPACErePORT)
Although the Augustine Panel avoided any formal discussion of their preferences among the options included in their summary report, Norm Augustine's testimony before a U.S. Senate committee seemed to reveal his personal preference for those options that include the "Flexible Path" approach. Flexible Path would include fly-by trips to the Moon and/or Mars, and potential landings on Phobos or asteroids that lack a deep "gravity well" which would complicate missions. Augustine said such missions could be accomplished sooner and would sustain high public interest. He said committing to Mars landing, for example, would push the actual mission out by more than a decade, allowing public interest to wane in the lead-up years.

Interestingly, in prior testimony, Mike Griffin suggested that the current Constellation architecture could support Flexible Path destinations, although this approach wasn't listed among the Augustine Panel's options. Editor's Note: It also seems possible to apply the Flexible Path approach to Option 4B, in lieu of its current "Moon-First" approach. This would minimize the gaps while allowing potential pre-2020 missions beyond Low Earth Orbit. (9/17)

Crawley Remarks Reveal Details on Augustine Panel Thinking (Source: SPACErePORT)
In his remarks before Congress on behalf of the Augustine Panel, Dr. Ed Crawley revealed an important difference of opinion between the Panel and NASA on one of the agency's “Key Exploration Objectives” for Constellation: to “separate crew from cargo delivery to orbit”. (I believe this objective/requirement was born in the post-Columbia CAIB report.) Crew/cargo separation is one of the primary reasons NASA decided to develop Ares-1, allowing the more-capable Ares-5 to be used solely for cargo. Based on Dr. Crawley’s remarks, it appears the Augustine Panel interprets this not as a requirement for two different types of vehicles, but rather the use of a single vehicle type, with separate launches for crew and cargo. Also, in response to criticism of the Panel's finding that crew transport should be transitioned to the private sector, Dr. Crawley said the Panel did/does not envision the sole use of commercial providers for human spaceflight, which suggests an expectation that a government-managed heavy-lift vehicle should also carry humans. (9/16)

Augustine Panel Exploration Options Chart Updated Again (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Augustine Panel offered five exploration options (some with multiple variants) to President Obama in their summary report. The options differ significantly in many ways, and the summary report does a fairly good job explaining these differences. In an attempt to present even more details on each option, FLORIDA SPACErePORT has developed a side-by-side chart. Click here to view and updated version of the chart. (9/17)

NASA's Chief NASA Safety Advisor Testifies on Shuttle Extension, COTS, Other Options (Source: SPACErePORT)
In his testimony to the House Science Committee on Tuesday, the chairman of NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), Joseph Dyer, said his organization "does not support extending the shuttle beyond the current manifest." In response to questions about extending flights into 2015, he said the safety-oriented re-certification of Shuttle subsystems called-for in a post-Columbia report (and endorsed by the Augustine Panel) would likely generate unforeseen costs. On the topic of pursuing non-Constellation architectures, he said "the ASAP believes that if Constellation is not the optimum answer, then any other new design must be substantially superior to justify starting over." On the subject of COTS, he said "there is no evidence that the COTS vehicles will be completed in time to minimize the gap between Shuttle and the follow-on program." (9/17)

Getting to SBIR Phase III: How to Win a Congressional Earmark, Sep. 21 (Source: Alchemy)
Last year, Congress set aside $18.3 billion in the federal budget for earmarks. With the right assistance, many SBIR Phase II technologies make excellent earmark projects. This workshop, conducted by Paul Secor (Secor Strategies, LLC) and Alan Dillingham (Alchemy GS) will show your company how it can tap into this opportunity. The event will be held in Kissimmee on Sep. 21. Visit for information. (9/17)

DARPA Considering "Catchers Mitt" Orbital Debris Removal Initiative (Source: DARPA)
DARPA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) from its Tactical Technology Office (TTO) regarding implementation of an orbital debris removal capability. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited. The Government may consider issuing a formal solicitation at a later date. Information is sought from all potential sources, domestic and foreign, on innovative technological solutions that will enable the Government to provide orbital debris removal capabilities and to identify interest and qualification for participation in any future program. Click here for information. (9/17)

Russia Delays Launch Of Weather Satellite Indefinitely (Source: Space Daily)
The launch of a new meteorological satellite on board the Soyuz 2.1b carrier rocket has been postponed indefinitely due to technical glitches, a source involved in preparations for the launch said on Wednesday. The Federal Space Agency Roscosmos earlier said the launch of the Meteor-M satellite and five mini-satellites has been postponed for another 24 hours after the first launch attempt was postponed on Tuesday due to poor weather conditions at the Baikonur spaceport. The second launch attempt was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled for technical reasons. At present, Russia does not have any weather satellites in orbit and uses meteorological data from U.S. and European weather agencies. (9/17)

China Struggles for Space Entrepreneurs (Source: Asia Times)
Many in China are watching the U.S. deliberations on the Augustine Panel options closely, because this time they sense that the pressure is really on both in terms of when NASA programs are going to evolve, and how NASA's objectives are going to be achieved. The Panel simply states that NASA's budget needs a boost of, "approximately $3 billion per year above the FY 2010 guidance in total resources". It also places considerable emphasis both on the need for a multinational exploration framework which is already in motion, and on a much stronger commercial space role.

The ranks of current and former NASA employees and administrative personnel are completely divided over NASA's future. The Review Committee's recommendations are under attack by far too many critics. All of this is infighting is setting the stage for gridlock at a time when NASA must make many important decisions. China, meanwhile, is facing no shortage of funds as it sits and watches these various twists and turns in this latest chapter in NASA's history. CNSA has money to spare. China's manned space program as it is currently structured looks remarkably sound. China can simply proceed with its current realistically balanced timetable for manned spaceflight, while allowing for occasional outbursts in the form of enthusiastic statements from various Chinese officials who eagerly suggest that things might happen sooner than people expect. Click here to view the article. (9/17)

Resolution Supports Effort To Bring Shuttle To Oklahoma (Source: KTUL)
A resolution passed unanimously by the Tulsa Economic Development Commission supports the effort to bring a retired space shuttle to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. Tulsa's museum is one of 20 being considered by NASA to receive one of three shuttles that are set to retire next year. Tuesday's resolution represents the economic development community's appreciation for the impact that bringing a retired space shuttle to Tulsa could have on the area's economy. "In order to convince NASA that Tulsa should be the home of a retired Space Shuttle, we need to marshall all of Tulsa's influence and resources," says TASM Executive Director Jim Bridenstine. "This is just another example of the growing support in the community for this project, and I am ecstatic that others are catching the vision." (9/17)

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