September 23 News Items

It's Not Lunacy, Probes Find Water in Moon Dirt (Source: New York Times)
The moon isn't the dry dull place it seems. Traces of water lurk in the dirt unseen. Three different space probes found the chemical signature of water all over the moon's surface, surprising the scientists who at first doubted the unexpected measurement until it was confirmed independently and repeatedly. It's not enough moisture to foster homegrown life on the moon. But if processed in mass quantities, it might provide resources -- drinking water and rocket fuel -- for future moon-dwellers, scientists say. The water comes and goes during the lunar day.

It's not a lot of water. If you took a two-liter soda bottle of lunar dirt, there would probably be a medicine dropperful of water in it, said University of Maryland astronomer Jessica Sunshine, one of the scientists who discovered the water. Another way to think of it is if you want a drink of water, it would take a baseball diamond's worth of dirt, said team leader Carle Pieters of Brown University. Scientists believe there are three possibilities: It came from comets or asteroids that crashed into the moon, those crashes freed up trapped water from below the surface, or the solar wind carries hydrogen atoms that binds with oxygen in the dirt. (9/23)

Harris Adds General Dynamics Team Pursuing GOES-R Contract (Source: Harris Corp.)
Two global leaders in highly advanced antenna technology - Harris Corp. and General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies - have teamed to pursue a 10-year program for the ground antennas that will support NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite -- R (GOES-R). Harris, an international communications and information technology company, is the prime contractor on the team. (9/23)

Ares 1 Work Continues Despite Cancellation Threat (Source: Flight Global)
Rocket builder Alliant Techsystems (ATK) says work is proceeding on several tests aimed at proving out its first stage for the NASA Ares 1 low-Earth orbit (LEO) launch vehicle despite the very real possibility the program may be cancelled. ATK is beginning to build segments for the first of two additional instrumented first-stage ground test units, one to be fired at a propellant temperature of 4°C (40°F) (cold test) next summer and the second to be tested at 32°C (hot test).

Additionally, the company plans to perform a drop test for its main parachute system on 7 October using a Boeing C-17 dropping a 27,216kg (60,000lb) payload on a single parachute, the world's largest, according to ATK. The Ares 1 will use three of the parachutes to recover the first stage. The full parachute recovery system will be tested on Ares 1-X, a full-scale prototype vehicle with dummy second stage and crew module that is scheduled for launch from Florida on 27 October. (9/23)

How Far Could You Travel in a Spaceship? (Source: New Scientist)
How far could an astronaut travel in a lifetime? Billions of light years, it turns out. But they ought to be careful when to apply the brakes on the return trip. Ever since cosmologists discovered that the universe's expansion is accelerating, many have wondered just how much this will constrain what we could see with telescopes in the future. Distant regions of the universe will eventually be expanding so fast that light from any objects there can never reach us. Likewise, dark energy - the mysterious force behind the acceleration - places a limit on human exploration of the universe, says an Australian scientist who has now refined this limit on our travels. Even with rockets that could take us to within a whisker of light speed, expansion would still eventually leave us behind. (9/23)

Lockheed-Sponsored 'Journey to the Stars' Show Opens in San Francisco (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park will become the second embarkation point in the United States for a very special Journey to the Stars. On Saturday, September 26, the spectacular new space show makes its West Coast premier, and will be presented seven to 10 times each day through the fall of 2010 at the Academy's Morrison Planetarium. Journey to the Stars - made possible through the sponsorship of Lockheed Martin Corporation - debuted on July 4th at New York City's Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, and is being made available to specially equipped planetaria across the country and around the world. (9/23)

Part of Planet-Formation Possibly Seen in Real-Time (Source:
Although it may take millions of year for swirling clusters of interstellar gas and dust to become a mature planet, scientists have discovered that rapid changes can be observed even within a fraction of that time span. Over the course of five months, the researchers observed that the infrared light from a disk of gas and dust around LRLL 31, a young star, tended to vary in unexpected ways. This suggests that another star — or perhaps a planet — is shoving the clump of planet-forming material around, which causes its thickness to vary as it spins around the star.

The observations were made using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Before Spitzer was launched in 2003, only a few transitional disks with gaps or holes were known. With Spitzer's improved infrared vision, dozens have now been found. The space telescope caught the warm glow of the disks, which allowed researchers to map out their structures. (9/23)

UCF Receives $25,000 from Northrop Grumman for Training Space Workers (Source: UCF)
The UCF Research Foundation has been awarded $25,000 by Northrop Grumman to administer a program designed to give up to 32 qualified college students real-world experience in the space industry. The bulk of the funding, $20,000 will support specialized training for college students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and put them in direct contact with Space Coast contractors and the types of projects they would be expected to complete in the space industry.

The remainder of the Northrop Grumman funding, $5,000, will support a program to recruit and train Brevard Community College students as technicians to support the launch of high-altitude sounding rockets. (9/23)

NASA Selects California Astrophysics Projects for Suborbital Flights (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected nine scientific teams to work on future high-altitude balloon and suborbital rocket payloads. The selected proposals address a wide range of astrophysical mysteries from dark matter and cosmic-ray antiprotons to studies of galaxy clusters and supernova remnants. Three of the projects are from California universities.

Researchers at the University of California will develop two balloon payloads, including a Nuclear Compton Telescope and a Microwave Polarimeter. Researchers at CalTech will develop a suborbital rocket payload to probe the "Extragalactic Background Signatures of Reionization." (9/23)

Commercial Launch Advocates Press for Station Crew Transport (Source: Next Step coalition)
Next Step in Space, a coalition working to support U.S. commercial human spaceflight, issued a white paper titled “Acquiring U.S. Commercial ISS Crew and Cargo Services Creates New Industry in LEO, Enables Program for Exploration Beyond” to help clarify issues discussed at a Sep. 15th hearing of the House Committee on Science & Technology on “Options and Issues for NASA’s Human Space Flight Program.” The coalition seeks to clarify that the Augustine Panel's suggested use of commercial cargo and crew transport services for the Space Station would complement, not compete with, NASA's broader program of human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. "With the Space Shuttle program nearing its end of life, the most economical options for transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) are: 1) sending taxpayer dollars to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz, or 2) investing in the American commercial space industry." Click here to view the white paper. (9/23)

Boeing Submits NASA Commercial Crew Transport Proposal, With Bigelow (Source: Flight Global)
Boeing has submitted a proposal to NASA to accelerate the development of commercial human space transportation under the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program announcement. Boeing's submission, which draws on the company's experience with proven human-rated spacecraft, proposes development of technologies that will mature its Commercial Crew Transportation System concept. Joining Boeing on the CCDev team will be Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, LLC. Bigelow will provide additional investment, requirements for crew transportation to its Orbital Space Complex, and its expertise from testing and validating the technologies necessary to construct and deploy a full-scale, crewed, commercial orbital space complex. (9/23)

Editorial: Don't Let Florida Space Bid Fail (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
These are bleak times for Florida's Space Coast. Barring a reprieve from President Barack Obama, NASA will ground the space shuttle in another couple of years. Thousands of high-wage jobs at the Kennedy Space Center will be lost, sending a shock wave through the region's economy. And NASA's development of its next manned space vehicle, which could offset some of the lost jobs, is running years behind schedule. The region is counting more than ever on Space Florida. Legislators created the agency in 2006 to take the lead in attracting and growing aerospace companies in the state. Space Florida could help fill the hole in jobs and investment left by NASA.

But lackluster results and questionable contracts led agency President Steve Kohler to resign in May. His exit may have marked a turning point for Space Florida. Yet the recent bungling by some board members in choosing a new president raises nagging doubts about whether the agency is finally on track. It's a good argument for legislators to continue to keep a close eye on Space Florida. While jobs from the shuttle will disappear, changes in the U.S. space program could create new opportunities for Florida. This month, for example, a presidential commission recommended that private companies take over the task of carrying cargo and astronauts to the international space station. Space Florida must take advantage of these kinds of opportunities, and it's Mr. DiBello's mission to make that happen. (9/23)

Florida Elected Leaders Plan Space Policy Forum on Sep. 28 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Many of Florida's top legislative leaders will join Space Coast congressional officials on Sep. 28 for the 3rd annual Florida Space & Technology Forum, to be held at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa. The event will feature presentations and discussions on state and federal space policy priorities, including a balloting process to establish a consensus for issues that will require state legislative action in Tallahassee early next year. (9/23)

India Launches Remote Sensing Satellite, Other Payloads (Source:
An Indian rocket placed a remote sensing satellite and several secondary payloads into orbit on Wednesday. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center and placed its main payload, the Oceansat-2 satellite, into a 728-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit nearly 20 minutes later. The 960-kilogram satellite carries three instruments for studies of the ocean and atmosphere. Also launched by the PSLV were six small secondary payloads weighing between 2 and 8 kilograms. (9/23)

Shuttle Extension Could Again Lengthen Hubble Life (Source: Flight Global)
Hubble proponents are mulling potential future servicing options for the recently reinvigorated 19-yr-old space telescope in light of an option offered by the Augustine Panel. As part of Option 4, one of five "families" of options revealed in a summary report of the group's findings in the 90-day study, the committee suggests continuing Shuttle flights to low Earth orbit to 2015, four years more than current plans, to eliminate a gap in the USA's ability to carry astronauts to the International Space Station until a next-generation vehicle can be commissioned. For Hubble, the extension opens the possibility of a sixth servicing mission that could boost the observatory's life by another five years or more from the 2014 life extension made possible by SM4, the fifth servicing mission that took place in May. (9/23)

A Waste of Space: Inspired Leadership and the Struggle for the Next Great Frontier (Source: OpEd News)
Why bother with space travel? As America's terrestrial problems escalate (e.g., budget deficits, financial crisis, war on terror, healthcare, etc.), critics have charged that space flight is little more than a futile and expensive hobby. After all, what hope is there that NASA programs will ever resolve practical problems such as winning the war on terror, reversing global warming, reducing the spread of AIDS, or eliminating global hunger? Indeed, space flight is so atmospherically insulated from the real world that NASA programs often appear to be little more than distractions.

So, why bother with space travel? Because, quite simply, the stars light the way to a brighter future. Space travel served as the path to Kennedy's New Frontier in the 1960s. If the US remains committed to accomplishing ever greater feats in the future, then we should look to the stars to light our way. Thus, space travel is not a distraction. Space travel represents the path to America's next Great Frontier. (9/23)

Ukraine Plans to Launch Tsyklon-4 Rocket from Brazil in 2010 (Source: Kyiv Post)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has confirmed that Ukraine's Tsyklon (Cyclone)-4 launch vehicle will blast off from Brazil's Alcantara space center in 2010. The Ukrainian leader said he had asked Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to help Ukraine's National Space Agency secure a $260-million loan from Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development. This money is needed to allow the Ukrainian National Space Agency to finish forming its charter capital and to accomplish a certain amount of work as part of the Tsyklon-4 project, Yushchenko said.

The Tsyklon-4 is the most advanced and powerful member of the Tsyklon launch vehicle family. It uses some of the technologies of its predecessor Tsyklon-3. The Alcantara space center's proximity to the equator helps increase the weight of a payload that should be placed into orbit by 30%-40%, using the maximum speed of the Earth's rotation near the equator. Ukraine's 2010 draft budget proposes allocating UAH 80.54 million for the Tsyklon-4 project at Brazil's Alcantara space center. (9/23)

NASA Scientist Charged With Aiding Wife's Firm (Source: Washington Post)
Mark R. Schoeberl, an atmospheric scientist who has worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center since the 1980s, is charged in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt with one felony count of acts affecting a personal interest. ... Schoeberl's wife, Barbara, owns Animated Earth LLC, which develops and distributes "Earth Today," a museum exhibit that allows people to access data on rainfall, earthquakes and other events displayed on a rotating globe. From 2006 to 2009, NASA authorized purchase orders worth up to $190,727 for Animated Earth's products and services, according to federal procurement data. It is unclear whether the charge is connected to those purchases. (9/22)

Air Force: SpaceX's Falcon 9 First Launch Planned for Nov. 29 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
After being removed from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing’s launch schedule for five months, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is back on the board. The most recent 90-day Eastern Range forecast released Tuesday has the new rocket's maiden launch planned for Nov. 29 at 11 a.m. local time. The reappearance of the Falcon 9 on the Air Force program comes exactly one week after several members of Congress cast doubt on the viability of commercial spaceflight as they defended NASA's plans to replace the space shuttle.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz), who is married to a NASA astronaut, led the charge in a heated House hearing. The Arizona Democrat said the U.S. could not "gain anything by confusing hypothetical commercial capabilities that might someday exist with what we can actually count on now to meet the nation's needs." Advocates of commercial space companies, especially SpaceX, say Falcon 9’s return to the Air Force manifest is a significant development that should show critics that the promise of new rocket companies is real. “It’s another wave in a cascade of recognition that SpaceX is a real company and another contender in the market,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. (9/23)

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