September 18 News Items

Delta Launch Slips To Wednesday (Source: Florida Today)
The planned launch of the Delta-2 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport carrying two Missile Defense Agency satellites now is scheduled to take place on Wednesday during a window that will extend from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. (9/18)

Japanese Cargo Carrier Launched Successfully to Space Station (Source: AP)
A brand new Japanese space station cargo ship arrived at its destination Thursday, expertly plucked from orbit by an astronaut who toasted the first-ever event with her crewmates. It was the first time an unmanned ship was grabbed from orbit like this. The older-style Russian ships actually dock at the space station. So do Europe's freighters. Japan spent $680 million on the delivery trip. It plans one a year. NASA will rely more and more on these types of crew-less cargo ships, once the space shuttles are retired in another year or two. (9/18)

InDyne Wins Spaceport Contract (Source: DOD)
InDyne Inc. has won a $24,582,896 Air Force contract to provide operations and maintenance services for facilities, systems, equipment, utilities and infrastructure primarily for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and several Florida annexes in support of the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners. (9/18)

Two Embry-Riddle Alumnus Astronauts Assigned to Last Shuttle Mission (Sources: NASA, SPACErePORT)
NASA has assigned the crew for the last scheduled space shuttle mission, targeted to launch in September 2010. The flight to the International Space Station will carry a pressurized logistics module to the station. Two Embry-Riddle graduates will be among the six astronauts aboard, including Air Force Colonel Benjamin Alvin Drew, and Nicole P. Stott. (9/18)

Obameter Updated to Show Progress on Space Promises (Source: SPACErePORT)
The St. Petersburg Times has been updating its "Obameter" to gauge progress on space-related campaign promises made by President Obama. The Obameter lists a total of 18 promises, some of them made during speeches in Florida. The job of updating the status of each promise is a work in progress, with verification ongoing through multiple sources, including the SPACErePORT editor. More site updates are planned over the next couple of weeks. Click here to view the Obameter. (9/18)

ISS: What Have We Learned From Our Investment? (Source: What's New)
NASA has issued a 266 page report on research accomplished during the 2000-2008 assembly phase of the ISS. Of course, assembly of the ISS has recently been completed. An appendix lists the papers resulting from this work. Most, but not all, are from the proceedings of NASA conferences, but some are from respected, peer-reviewed publications. However, I do not believe any major field of science has been significantly affected by this work, which is not so much wrong as just unimportant. (9/18)

Who Benefits if NASA Buys Space Flights? (Source: Reuters)
The following companies are positioned to take advantage a proposed move to fly astronauts to the Space Station commercially: SpaceX, which is developing a seven-seat capsule, known as Dragon, and a rocket called Falcon-9. Price per-seat: About $20 million. Northrop Grumman, which partnered with Boeing in an unsuccessful bid to build NASA's Orion capsule. Lockheed Martin, which is building NASA's Orion's capsule. Boeing, NASA's prime contractor on the space station and may have its own capsule design. Orbital Sciences Corp., which is now looking to human-rate its Taurus-2 rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. United Launch Alliance, which is offering Delta and Atlas expendable rockets for human spaceflight. Sierra Nevada Corp., which is working on a NASA-derived spaceplane called the Dream Chaser. (9/18)

Runway Construction Makes Progress at Spaceport America (Source: Spaceport America)
The construction of a new runway is well underway at Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials have released new aerial photos taken on Sep. 13 of the 10,000-foot runway project, which is designed to accommodate horizontal launch space and air operations at the spaceport. The runway is expected to be complete by late Summer 2010. Measuring 10,000 feet long by 200 feet wide, the runway is designed for day-to-day space tourism and payload launch operations like those anticipated for Virgin Galactic, the anchor tenant for Spaceport America. The large concrete runway will also be able to accommodate returning launch vehicles, fly-back rocket boosters and other space launch and training vehicles. Click here to view a photo. (9/18)

U.S. and France Sign Agreements for Civil Space Cooperation (Source: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and French Space Agency President Yannick d'Escatha signed four agreements in support of U.S. and French space cooperation during a ceremony Thursday at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The agreements involve missions in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, including a Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission; a Magnetospheric MultiScale mission; a Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits mission; and a Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission. (9/18)

Orbital Eyes Launch Into Human Space Flight (Source: East Valley Tribune)
Orbital Sciences Corp. is eying a move into manned space flight, and that could bring more business to the company’s Arizona operations if NASA and the Obama administration are willing. An expert panel appointed by President Barack Obama to offer options on the future of the U.S. space program has suggested that “routine” manned space missions in low-earth orbit — such as resupply flights to the International Space Station — could be turned over to private industry so NASA can concentrate on deeper space exploration. If NASA decides to hand over more human space flight activities to private businesses, Orbital wants to be in on the action, said the company’s chief executive. “It’s a logical extension of what we are doing,” he said, referring to the privatization of human space flight. “The government has been turning over more and more functions to the private sector ... In another 10 to 15 years, this will happen.” (9/18)

Soyuz Launches Weather Satellite (Source:
A Soyuz rocket placed into orbit a Russian weather satellite and several secondary payloads on Thursday. The Soyuz-2.1b lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:55 am EDT (1555 GMT) Thursday and placed the Meteor-M1 satellite into low Earth orbit (LEO). The satellite is the first of three LEO weather satellites planned by the Russian space agency Roskosmos. The launch had been planned for Tuesday but was delayed twice because of weather and technical issues. Also on board the Soyuz launch were five smaller satellites, including the Sumbandila remote sensing satellite from South Africa. (9/18)

New Space Telescope Picking Up Light From Earliest Universe (Source: Times of London)
A European telescope designed to capture light from the earliest Universe has returned its first images to Earth. The Planck observatory is picking up radiation from just 300,000 years after the big bang and could give the clearest picture yet of what the Universe looked like just after its formation. The first images confirm that the instruments on board the telescope are working correctly, although real scientific results are not expected until the middle of 2010. “The images show everything is working as expected. We’ve been working for so long on this, so it’s really great now we’re finally getting some real data,” said Dr Jan Tauber, a Planck project scientist. (9/18)

Aerojet Engines Power Japanese HTV Mission to International Space Station (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet announced that the HII Transfer Vehicle (HTV) -- the first of the Japanese re-supply vehicles for the International Space Station (ISS) -- successfully rendezvoused and was captured by the ISS today. The HTV launched on Sept. 11 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan aboard an H-IIB launch vehicle carrying up to 6,000 kg. of supplies. When the HTV approached the ISS, the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), known as "Canadarm2," grappled and captured the HTV. (9/18)

Nelson: Obama Must "Pony Up" - White House: Awaiting Final Report (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Sen. Bill Nelson said President Obama is the only person who can save NASA’s human spaceflight program and that the White House must “pony up” more money if it wants to send astronauts beyond the space station. The Florida Democrat issued his challenge during the second hearing this week on NASA’s manned-space program, which faces major problems after the space shuttle’s retirement and was the subject of a three-month Augustine Panel analysis. Nelson said Obama should follow the initial recommendations of his space panel and give NASA at least $3 billion more a year on top of its budget of about $18 billion. But Nelson said he’s gotten no assurances from Obama that he would do so. The White House did not respond directly to Nelson and re-issued an earlier statement that said Obama would not chart a course for NASA until the Augustine Panel issues its final report later this month. (9/17)

NASA Finds Evidence Of What Could Be Water On Moon (Source: WESH)
New results were in Thursday from a probe launched from Cape Canaveral regarding possible water on the moon. NASA officials said there's not water on the moon, but there is evidence of what could be water, and the evidence is there in surprisingly large amounts. If explorers spend a long time on the moon, they can use water to drink and to turn into oxygen and fuel, officials said. The Apollo missions never found any. However, a new probe launched from the Cape has sent back vivid, clear pictures and evidence of what could be water in the form of ice in shadowed craters. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has actually found hydrogen, and water is made of hydrogen and oxygen. The probe has also found the tracks and landing craft of astronauts who visited during the Apollo days. (9/18)

China Selects 45 Candidates for Space Program (Source: RIA Novosti)
A total of 45 hopeful astronauts, including 15 women have made it into the second round of selection for China's space program, Xinhua said on Thursday. The candidates, with an average age of 30, will undergo a further round of physical and psychological tests to select a shortlist of five men and two women to take part in the next launch of a manned Chinese spacecraft, scheduled for 2011. All China's astronauts have so far been male. All of the 45 candidates, whose names have not been disclosed, are air force pilots with college degrees at the very least. China's first manned mission in space, Shenzhou-5, was launched on October 15, 2003. It carried Yang Liwei in orbit for 21 hours. In 2005 the Shenzhou-6 spacecraft delivered two more Chinese astronauts into space. A Chinese astronaut conducted the country's first spacewalk last September, making China the third country in the world after Russia and the United States to send a man into open space. According to earlier Chinese media reports, the country will begin the construction of its own orbital space station in 2020. (9/18)

Russia Launches Carrier Rocket with Canadian Telecoms Satellite (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia has launched a Proton-M heavy carrier rocket with the Nimiq 5 telecommunications satellite on board from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. The launch of a Proton rocket was carried out at 23:19 Moscow time (19:19 GMT) on Thursday. Telesat Canada signed a contract with International Launch Services (ILS) in 2007 for the launch of Nimiq 5 by an ILS Proton-M rocket with a Breeze booster. ILS, owned by the Khrunichev Center, RSC Energia and U.S. firm Space Transport Inc., provides spacecraft launch services for Proton-M heavy carrier rockets. Nimiq 5 is the fifth satellite in the grouping of Canadian geostationary telecommunications satellites owned by Telesat and used by satellite television provider Bell TV. The satellite has 32 Ku-band transponders and is expected to become operational in 2010 to provide a wide range of high-definition and specialty television services to Bell TV and Dish Network subscribers in Canada and the United States. Nimiq 5 has been built by Space Systems/Loral on the LS1300 platform, and has a service life of 15 years. (9/18)

Obama Taps White House Budget Official for Top NASA Financial Job (Source: Space News)
The White House said Sept. 16 it intends to send one of its senior budget officials to NASA to manage the U.S. space agency’s perennially troubled finances. President Barack Obama’s nominee for the NASA chief financial officer post, Elizabeth “Beth” Robinson, is currently director for budget at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), overseeing the development, enactment and execution of the president’s annual budget request. “My administration is committed to economic recovery, pushing the boundaries of science and space exploration and investing in the future of arts and the humanities, and these individuals will serve my team well as we work to accomplish these goals,” Obama said in a statement announcing his intent to nominate Robinson, as well as fill a senior Treasury Department post and appoint three people to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. (9/18)

More Space Business Beckons for Private Transporters (Source: Reuters)
Sometime in the next six years, astronauts bound for the International Space Station may find themselves strapped inside a private commercial spacecraft known as Dragon. They would take off from a refurbished launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station built by privately held Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the same firm that owns the Dragon capsule, its Falcon launch vehicle and the helicopters that would pluck the capsule from the sea on its return. Hiring others to fly crews to the space station is a necessity for the United States, which has shut down manufacturing lines for the 28-year-old space shuttle program. After two deadly accidents and operating costs 20 times more expensive than originally planned, the shuttles are due to be retired in late 2010 following six more missions to complete construction of the space station, a $100 billion project involving 16 nations.

"The [commercial] systems that have been developed are not only going to be good for the government, but good for the private sector and that lowers the cost substantially for everyone," said Mike Gold, who oversees Washington D.C. operations for Bigelow Aerospace, which plans to launch three-person habitats in space for research and commercial customers. "NASA should no longer have the luxury of building systems that can only be utilized by the government," Gold said. "The entrepreneurial space industry has never been in this strong of a position, but it's a window of opportunity and if they don't do the right thing it could be 10 years before we see true commercial and space utilization develop." (9/18)

No comments: