September 30 News Items

Replacing OCO Could Mean Delays for Other Earth Science Missions (Source: Space News)
A NASA decision to replace a carbon-observing satellite lost in a February launch mishap could come at the expense of other Earth-observing missions entering development. Officials in Congress and the White House are working on a plan to replace the capabilities lost when NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was destroyed during a failed Feb. 24 launch attempt aboard a Taurus XL rocket. A decision is expected in the coming weeks. Any plans to replace the $209 million mission, designed to make precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide, could delay other projects in the pipeline, including the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission and ICESAT-2, which is a follow-on to NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite that was launched in 2003. (9/30)

NASA Extends Jacobs Contract at JSC in Texas (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded a three-year contract extension to Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tenn., for engineering and science support at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The contract extension has an estimated value of $978 million. The extension brings the total contract value to approximately $2.16 billion through Jan. 31, 2013, with an eight year total period of performance. (9/30)

Virginia Spaceport Authority Seeks Deputy (Source: NASA Watch)
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) seeks a skilled, entrepreneurial leader willing to join a small team and assume full responsibility for all ops. including construction, design, launch manifest, grants, personnel, bus. development financial mgmt and public affairs are produced, implemented and evaluated cost effectively and in accordance with all contract requirements, federal and state laws and regulations. The ability to work with Government and private sector Program Managers affiliates and subcontractors on time and cost results in a matrix management environment is vital. Deputy works with the Executive Director to establish the VCSFA as the East coast leader in commercial space flight support services. (9/30)

Satellite Companies Join Race for Broadband Stimulus Dollars (Source: AIA)
Satellite broadband companies have applied for some $2.2 billion in federal funds under the government's broadband stimulus program, despite skepticism over how much support they might get. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earmarks about $7.2 billion for broadband-related projects, and 2,200 applicants have requested funding totaling some $28 billion. (9/30)

Bart Gordon: U.S. Must Lead World in Space (Source:
Although there is near-unanimous support in Congress for a balanced and robust program at NASA, including human spaceflight and exploration, NASA has been allocated funding that doesn't match the important and challenging assignments we Americans have asked of our space agency. The bottom line now is that the money needs to match the mission. We either have to give NASA the resources that it needs to do the jobs the nation wants it to do, or we need to stop pretending that it can do all we've put on its plate.

However, I want to make clear that this isn't just an issue for budgetary "bean counters" to decide. NASA's activities have made important advances since its establishment that have made positive changes to everyday life. The accomplishments of the human spaceflight program, especially the moon landing, have also inspired a generation to pursue careers in science and engineering and led to a flowering of innovation that has helped strengthen our national economic competitiveness over the past 40 years. Moreover, the human spaceflight program has been a visible symbol of American technological prowess around the world. (9/30)

Editorial: Next Giant Leap Will be Costly (Source:
In 10 days, a NASA probe will crash into a crater on the lunar surface in a dramatic test for evidence of water on what had long been thought to be a completely arid moon. Around the same time, the Obama administration could be deciding whether a program intended to haul equipment and eventually people to the moon will be brought down to earth by high costs. It's another issue on which President Barack Obama could find himself at odds with lawmakers of his own party, many of whom have embraced the Bush administration idea of a return to the moon. And it truly is no clear-cut decision.

Where the money will come from amid a recession and efforts to reform health care, enact climate legislation and run two wars is anyone's guess. Norman Augustine, head of Obama's panel and former Lockheed Martin CEO, said the current program is not "executable'' without the extra $3 billion and that that may not even be enough. Lawmakers bristled at the thought that the work done so far could be scrapped — but these concerns need to be heard. Manned space exploration simply should not be done with less funding or less attention to detail than experts recommend. The Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters attest to that. (9/30)

Editorial: Space Program Brings Us New Technologies (Source:
Given the challenges faced by our society, many ask, "Why should we spend [$3 billion more] on space when we have so many problems here on Earth?" Here's a rocket scientist's perspective: We do have many pressing problems here on Earth, but how would we face these problems today without the knowledge developed by America's space program in the past 50 years?
Exploration is investment in future.

Imagine our society grappling with the problems of understanding a changing climate without NASA-developed weather and earth observation satellites. Imagine coping with a complex and interdependent world without advanced communications based on NASA developments in communications satellites, error-correcting codes and integrated circuits that are in everything from cell phones to computers.

Imagine facing security threats without stealthy aircraft made possible by fly-by-wire computer technology developed by NASA for the space shuttle using Apollo moon mission hardware. Imagine sending our troops into battle without hyper-accurate maps produced by shuttle radar mapping missions. Imagine surviving personal health-care crises without advanced medical imaging that evolved from NASA imaging of the moon and other planets and without advanced implantable medical devices using NASA technology. Imagine trying to meet today's challenges without these things. (9/30)

AIAA Panel to Discuss Augustine Panel (Source: AIAA)
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will host a panel of experts to discuss the implications of the Augustine Commission report on Oct. 5 at 2:00 p.m. EDT as a live, streaming, Internet radio broadcast, the discussion will be moderated by Dr. David Livingston, host of 'The Space Show' and may be accessed at (9/30)

New Space Station Crew Launches from Kazakhstan (Source: NASA)
The next residents of the International Space Station launched into orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft Wednesday from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev and spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte are scheduled to dock with the station on Oct. 2. They will spend nine days as members of a joint crew that includes Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA's Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott, the European Space Agency's Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and the Canadian Space Agency's Bob Thirsk. (9/30)

NASA Audit Criticizes Caltech Contract for Operation of JPL (Source: Pasadena Star)
The office of the inspector general at NASA released a report over the weekend questioning the way a $1.5 billion-a-year contract was awarded to Caltech for its operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The report questions whether the current contract gives the operator, Caltech, any incentive to control costs for the programs that it conducts on behalf of NASA. NASA rated Caltech's performance highly and extended the contract for over two years - shielding it from outside competition - despite doing a poor job controlling costs for a "large, significant project" that went unnamed in the audit.

In response to the report, NASA headquarters recommended beginning the search for an operator that could compete with Caltech. It also called for coming up with a way of evaluating Caltech's contract that better factors in its ability to control costs. Since 1993, NASA has awarded three 5-year contracts to Caltech for research and development as well as the operation of the facility, but NASA awarded Caltech a new kind of contract in 2003 that was supposed to give the operator the incentive to do good work. (9/30)

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