September 8 News Items

NASA Awards Helium Contract (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected five companies to provide liquid and gaseous helium for 17 agency locations, including the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. This new fixed-price requirements contract with economic price adjustment is for the acquisition of approximately 12.5 million liters of liquid helium and 235.7 million standard cubic feet of gaseous helium during a five-year period of performance starting Oct. 1. It has a maximum potential value of approximately $56.5 million. The awardees are: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.; Linde LLC; Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc.; Praxair Distribution Inc.; and Praxair Inc. NASA uses helium as a cryogenic agent for cooling various materials, precision welding applications, lab use, as an inert purge gas for hydrogen systems, and as a pressurizing agent for the space shuttle's ground and flight fluid systems. (9/8)

"COTS-Like": The Future of Space Procurement (Source: Space Review)
NASA's COTS program has demonstrated a new approach to developing commercial capabilities that can serve government and industry needs. Max Vozoff describes how the same model can help a cash-strapped space agency develop other capabilities it might not otherwise be able to afford. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

When Space and Art Intersect (Source: Space Review)
Many people in the space field are happy to talk about scientific and technical issues, but rarely discuss the interaction with, and relevance of, art. Jeff Foust looks at some recent examples of the role of art in space and space art, and how it could help generate interest in space among the public. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

Iridium: Were They Right Too Soon? (Source: Space Review)
The 1990s saw the rise and fall of several companies planning LEO satellite communications systems, which later found renewed life after going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Taylor Dinerman argues that as these companies now plan to refresh their satellite fleets they can offer some lessons for government satellite efforts. Visit to view the article. (9/8)

NASA's Science Projects Running Far Over Budget (Source: AIA)
Budget constraints are endangering not only NASA's much-hyped return to the moon, but also the completion of scientific projects such as advanced space telescopes and climate-change satellites. Thomas Coonce, who heads NASA's cost analysis office, says 27 scientific missions are an average of 43% over budget, due largely to "over-optimism" in the early stages of planning. (9/8)

SpaceX and Astrium Announce Groundbreaking Deal (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX and Astrium announce a contract for a SpaceX Falcon 1e to launch an Earth observation satellite designed by Astrium or its recently acquired subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL). The Falcon 1e is an 'enhanced' version of SpaceX's successful Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Astrium and SSTL provide a range of innovative, cutting edge Earth Observation satellite products and through this agreement will be able to offer customers a turnkey solution, with in-orbit delivery of a low Earth orbit satellite system. The partnership between SpaceX and Astrium paves the way for potential future cooperation. (9/8)

Augustine Panel Sees Need for Increased, Sustained Space R&D Investments (Source: SPACErePORT)
"The Committee strongly believes it is time for NASA to reassume its crucial role of developing new technologies for space. Today, the alternatives available for exploration systems are severely limited because of the lack of a strategic investment in technology development in past decades. NASA now has an opportunity to develop a technology roadmap that is aligned with an exploration mission that will last for decades. If appropriately funded, a technology development program would re-engage the minds at American universities, in industry and within NASA. The investments should be designed to increase the capabilities and reduce the costs of future exploration. This will benefit human and robotic exploration, the commercial space community, and other U.S. government users." (9/8)

NASA Plans Senior-Executive Summit on Oct. 6-7 (Sources:,
Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats recently told JSC workers that Administrator Bolden "has scheduled a NASA Executive Summit for all Senior Executive Service employees in Washington on Oct 6 and 7 to discuss strategic direction for the Agency." Whether that is a venue for further discussion about the path forward or a two-day rallying of the troops to support firm decisions already made remains to be seen. (9/8)

NASA: No Data Lost from Chandrayaan (Source: Economic Times)
Chandrayaan-I may have met a premature death, but its mission remains more or less accomplished. NASA has said that the termination of Chandrayaan-1 last week after losing radio contact with earth will not impact the retrieval of scientific data it has carried out in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization. “The spacecraft has met 90-95 % of its scientific objectives,” ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said. Chandrayaan’s high-resolution cameras have relayed over 70,000 digital images of the lunar surface including pictures of mountains and craters and the permanently shadowed area of the moon’s polar region. (9/8)

Shuttle's Departure From Station Could be Tricky (Source: Florida Today)
Shuttle Discovery today plans to depart the International Space Station as it arrived more than a week ago, with careful firings of its powerful and noisy primary jets. "When those 870-pound thrusters fire, it definitely gives the shuttle a little kick, and you just feel a little twang throughout the whole orbiter," shuttle pilot Kevin Ford said in a news conference last week. Discovery is flying without the aid of the six smaller steering jets normally used during docking and undocking maneuvers. They were shut down because of a suspected fuel leak hours after the shuttle's Aug. 28 launch from Kennedy Space Center. (9/8)

NASA Tracks Chinese Satellite Debris Headed Near Space Station (Source:
NASA is tracking a piece of leftover space junk from a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test that is expected to fly near the International Space Station twice on Wednesday, a day after the shuttle Discovery leaves the orbiting lab. The satellite debris is expected to come within 31 miles (50 km) of the space station at about 4:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday morning, then zip around again two hours later to pass within 15 miles (25 km), NASA officials said. (9/8)

ULA Rocket Engineer Soars to the Top (Source: Florida Today)
David Cone Jr. grew up in the segregated South and became the first black to earn an electrical engineering degree from what now is University of Central Florida. He also was the first black engineer at Cape Canaveral Spaceport's Launch Complex 36. And he's ascended to key positions during a long career that has led up to the planned launch tonight of an Atlas V rocket. "It was incredible. You know, at times I would have to pinch myself because this was something that I think not many people would ever get to do," Cone said. (9/8)

Atlas V Launches Top Secret Spy Spacecraft (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a super secret government satellite was launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Tuesday afternoon. This mission was the 16th flight of an Atlas V rocket from the spaceport and the 13th launch overall this year on the Eastern Range. (9/8)

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