September 14 News Items

Crunch Time for Russia Mars Probe (Source: BBC)
Less than two months before the scheduled launch of Russia's flagship planetary spacecraft, officials are set to recommend a delay until 2011. The Phobos-Grunt mission aims to land on the Martian moon Phobos to collect soil samples and return them to Earth. Sources within the Russian space industry gave details of the likely postponement. The Russian space agency Roskosmos is expected to announce the mission's fate within a week. (9/14)

Editorial: One Big Problem, Eight Vague Options, No Solutions for NASA (Source: EE Times)
The Augustine Panel's basic conclusions released this week after three months of study consisted of a list of eight "options" that were already widely known. What was missing, and what is needed, is a clear strategy for the future U.S. manned spaceflight. Why didn't the Panel provide any solutions, providing instead only eight options for policy makers? The reason is that, so far, no one has the courage to admit that "the solution" to the problem simply doesn't exist.

The fundamental problem is that NASA will soon lack the means to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, relying instead on what amounts to a Russian taxi service. It also has no current way to return to the moon. As things stand now, it will be at least six years after the U.S. space shuttle is retired next year before the U.S. can resume human missions in Earth orbit. A return trip to the moon won't happen before 2020. (9/14)

Gotcha! Jupiter Turned Comet into a Moon (Source:
Jupiter already has an abundance of moons, but from 1949 to 1961 it had another, temporary satellite in the form of a comet trapped in the gas giant's gravitational grip. Comet 147P/Kushida-Muramatsu was captured as a temporary moon of Jupiter in the mid-20th century and remained trapped in an irregular orbit for about twelve years, astronomers say. (9/14)

FAA Reauthorization Could be Stalled by Tiff Over Repairs (Source: AIA)
A long-term reauthorization bill for the FAA could be delayed by several unresolved issues, including a House provision that calls for U.S. inspections of European repair stations, according to sources on Capitol Hill. The House's $53.5 billion reauthorization bill requires twice-yearly inspections of overseas repair facilities, despite the Aviation Safety Agreement signed by the U.S. and EU last year. The Senate's two-year FAA bill does not require U.S. inspections in any country with a "bilateral aviation safety agreement in place," and a top GOP staffer warns that the House version could cause heavy job losses if European retaliation forces smaller U.S. repair stations to close. (9/14)

Can We Sustain a Commercial Launch Industry to Meet NASA's Needs? (Source: Space Review)
The release of the Augustine committee's summary report last week provided more fodder for the debate about the commercialization of cargo and crew transportation to low Earth orbit. Edward Ellegood looks to the lessons from the EELV program to see whether and how this could work. Visit to view the article. (9/14)

Taming the Fire: The Ares 1 First Stage Development Test (Source: Space Review)
Last week ATK carried out a successful static test of a five-segment rocket motor designed to be the first stage of the Ares 1. John Jurist provides an eyewitness account of the test and its implications for the controversial launch vehicle. Visit to view the article. (9/14)

NASA, Politics, Science, and Skepticism (Source: Space Review)
A proposed NASA Earth sciences mission could provide a new level of accuracy in climate data. Taylor Dinerman warns, though, that the agency needs to tread carefully to avoid getting mired into climate change disputes. Visit to view the article. (9/14)

Baikonur Launches Face Delay due to Launch Range Issues (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Cryosat-2 polar-ice-observation satellite will not be launched until late February at the earliest, about three months later than planned, because of delays at the Baikonur Cosmodrome that have affected the schedule of the Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr rocket. Cryosat-2 will be placed into storage before being shipped to the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan once a launch date has been confirmed by the Russian space agency, Roskosmos. The Baikonur spaceport is facing a logjam of missions in the coming months, including a planned Russian government Mars mission, a launch of Russian Glonass navigation satellites and a mission to the international space station. (9/14)

Embry-Riddle Plans Open House for Daytona Beach Campus Observatory (Source: ERAU)
The next public viewing session for ERAU’s Creekside Observatory is scheduled for Sep. 18 from 8-11 pm. Everyone is invited (including the neighbors and the kids) and it is free! Weather permitting, visitors will see Jupiter and its moons, Uranus, and the Hercules cluster M13. There will be an opportunity to learn about telescopes, the stars, star charts, and more. Anyone requesting more information can call Dr. Jason Aufdenberg at 386-226-7123. (9/14)

Embry-Riddle Lecture Series Includes Two Space Speakers (Source: ERAU)
This fall, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will host two space-focused speakers for its 2009-2010 Honors Program Distinguished Speaker Series, which runs from October through February. Bruce Jakosky will speak on Nov. 16 on "Science, Society, and the Search for Life Elsewhere." Homer Hickam will give a Feb. 16 speech that will also serve as the keynote address for Engineers Week at the university. All events in the speaker series are scheduled at 7 p.m. at Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus. The lectures are free and open to the public. Visit for information.

Also planned at Embry-Riddle on Sep. 21 is a colloquium featuring Dr. Kenneth Ford, chairman of the NASA Advisory Council and director of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. The colloquium will be held at the university's Daytona Beach campus at 3:30 p.m. (9/14)

Augustine Taking Findings to Capitol Hill (Source: Aviation Week)
Senators and representatives will get a chance to respond to the recommendations of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee this week, with back-to-back hearings on the panel’s findings. Chief among them is the conclusion that NASA won’t be able to get human beings out of low Earth orbit without about $3 billion a year more than it’s getting for exploration, and even then it probably won’t be able to meet the ambitious back-to-the-Moon goals of its current program. “Human exploration beyond low Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 budget guideline,” the Augustine Panel said in its summary report. (9/14)

What Astronauts Really Wear (Source: Post & Courier)
In the history of NASA, the public has read about what astronauts eat, what they drink, how they sleep and how they communicate. But little -- if anything -- has been said about what they wear under those bulky space suits. Until now. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata wore new, high-tech underwear that he kept on for a solid month during his space station stay. Mr. Wakata, while on the Endeavour, was off Planet Earth for four and a half months. His colleagues "never complained," he said, thus concluding that J-Wear is doing its job. The Japanese product is anti-bacterial, water absorbent, seamless, odor-eliminating, antistatic and flame retardant, and it is used in shirts, pants and socks as well as underwear.

Comfort and style have not been compromised. They are somewhere between boxers and briefs and are billed as being light and comfortable. If this sounds unimportant to NASA's mission of pioneering the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research, consider that there is no washing clothes in space to offer an alternative. J-Wear may not match Tang or the Dustbuster as a spin-off of the space program. But for the future of manned space exploration, it's one small step to traveling in (sky) high style. (9/14)

A Down-to-Earth Space Program (Source: LA Times)
For the last five years, the U.S. has been saddled with a space program that manages to be both unrealistic and uninspiring. It's unrealistic because it depends on funding and technology that are not available, and uninspiring because it proposes a mere repeat visit to the moon -- and not very soon at that -- and a trip to Mars that is way too far off to excite any young person alive today. Last week, the Augustine Panel offered a way out of our space dilemma. Though the panel's conclusions are couched in the dry, analytic language favored by policy wonks, it will be a pity if they fall into the oblivion that is so often the destiny of such exercises. (9/14)

NASA Not As Expensive As You Think (Source: Florida Today)
The American people spend $18 billion a year on space exploration. That's a lot of money. It's not as much money as some people think. Whenever we engage the public on issues related to NASA policy or spending, there's a steady stream of complaints about waste. Some people sense space exploration is over-funded. Others note it's going to take NASA 15 years or more to repeat the moon landing completed in half that time in the 1960s. To be sure, NASA spends a lot of money and no doubt wastes some of it. We've told you here about the boondoggle programs, cost overruns and vanishing government property. But that's the case with most big government agencies.

By the mid-1970s, with less urgency, the space agency's share of national spending fell to 1 percent. It's been sliding ever since. Today, we spend about 0.5 percent of the national budget on NASA. With that money, NASA designed, constructed and operated five of the most versatile spaceships ever flown -- the space shuttles -- as well as a permanent science outpost in space, the Hubble Space Telescope and an armada of probes scouting all corners of our solar system. (9/14)

China Breaks Ground on Space Launch Center (Source: AP)
China broke ground on its fourth space center Monday, highlighting the country's soaring space ambitions six years after it sent its first man into orbit. The spaceport on the southern island province of Hainan incorporates a launch site and mission control center for slinging the country's massive new rockets into space carrying satellites and components for a future space station and deep space exploration. China's future space ambitions include building an orbiting station and sending a mission to the moon, putting it in the forefront of the tightening Asian space race involving India, Japan and South Korea. China says its space program is purely for peaceful ends, although its military background and Beijing's development of anti-satellite weapons have prompted some to question that. (9/14)

NASA Strategy Could Benefit Wallops (Source: Daily Press)
Perhaps the most eye-opening Augustine Panel recommendation is that NASA use private companies to launch people into low-Earth orbit so the agency can focus on developing long-range plans to explore the moon and beyond. The strategy could benefit Virginia's Eastern Shore, where state leaders have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and incentives to help build the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. NASA has launched rockets from Wallops since 1945. "There is that possibility," said Douglas Dwoyer, a retired Langley administrator and current board member of the Hampton-based NASA Aeronautics Support Team. Other states are looking to get into the action, particularly Florida, which is hailed as an industry leader. That state could lose up to 6,500 jobs when NASA retires the space shuttle, which could happen as early as next year. (9/13)

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