October 22 News Items

Space Future is Up To White House (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
While the Augustine Panel report mostly lists options, it indicates that members felt that the best way forward was for NASA to pick a good rocket, invite other countries to share the cost and use commercial rockets to take astronauts and cargo to the space station so that the agency can explore the inner solar system and ultimately Mars. "If, after designing cleverly, building alliances with partners, and engaging commercial providers, the nation cannot afford to fund the effort to pursue the goals it would like to embrace, it should accept the disappointment of setting lesser goals," the report said.

Despite the list of options, however, there are signs that President Barack Obama may reject all or most of the committee's suggested increase to NASA's current $18 billion budget. Privately, senior policy advisers monitoring the committee's work have said that NASA's current Constellation moon-rocket program is "busted" and that the Ares-1 rocket, at least, should be canceled. "That just says that we have a program that doesn't work," said one administration official. "I am not psyched about that, but that's just the honest truth." (10/22)

Huntsville Rep. Parker Griffith Says Augustine Panel Report "Lacks Ambition" for NASA (Source: Huntsville Times)
The Augustine Panel report is incomplete and lacks ambition, according to Huntsville Democrat Rep. Parker Griffith. Griffith says the report keeps NASA from growing and pursuing new, challenging missions.

"We did not get to where we are today by settling for the status quo... The report...lacks the ambition and drive that first put our astronauts in space, beat the Russians to the moon, and is synonymous with the American space program," Griffith said. "Time and again, the Constellation program has proven to be the best and safest option to continue America's legacy as the leader in manned spaceflight, but the full report seems to ignore every positive study, every report, every positive conclusion that demonstrates this." (10/22)

Panel Says NASA Should Consider Canceling Ares-1 (Source: New York Times)
Ares-1 and Orion are not scheduled to begin operation until March 2015. Because of NASA’s budget constraints, the Augustine Panel concluded that the date of the first flight would very likely slip two years. The panel did not call Ares-1 an engineering failure but rather a victim of smaller-than-expected budgets and changing circumstances. “With time and sufficient funds, NASA could develop, build and fly the Ares-1 successfully,” the panel wrote. “The question is, should it?”

Because of the delays, the Ares-1 may be too late for one of its primary tasks, ferrying astronauts to and from the space station. Its defenders point to its simple design, arguing that it will be far safer than earlier rockets. While agreeing that the Ares-1’s simplicity was an asset, the panel was unconvinced that the rocket would be markedly safer than competing concepts.

Further, the planned launching rate for the Ares-1 is no more than two per year, “raising questions about the sustainability of safe operations,” the panel said. In turning away from the Ares I, the panel also makes a strong push for turning transportation to low-Earth orbit to private space companies. (10/22)

Posey Favors Shuttle-Extension Option (Source: Rep. Posey)
“If the President is going to keep his promise to close the gap and keep America first in space he must revise his budget plan and put more money back into the NASA budget. I would fully support such a plan and, in fact, introduced a bill to do just this more than six months ago.”

“The report confirms what some of us have been saying for months and that is that the marginal costs of continuing to fly the Shuttle are not as large as many assume,” added Posey. The report makes clear that the only way to close the gap significantly is to extend Shuttle flights beyond 2010 and that the “savings resulting from Shuttle retirement are not as great as they appear. Conversely, the marginal costs of flying the Shuttle are less than implied by the existing bookkeeping.” This is largely due to the fact that NASA’s fixed costs will remain whether the Shuttle continues to fly or is retired. (10/22)

Confusion Cleared Over Need for $3 Billion Increase (Sources: Space Policy Online, SPACErePORT)
The Augustine Panel called for a $3 billion increase to NASA's budget, but the approach to achieving that increase has been the subject of some debate and confusion. Some observers believed the requirement to be for compounded increases of $3 billion per year. Some thought it called for an immediate and sustained increase of $3 billion. Some thought it called for a ramp-up to a sustained $3 billion increase.

Mr. Augustine cleared up the confusion by confirming that his panel envisioned a gradual ramp-up to the $3 billion figure by FY-2014, sustained in the years thereafter. This might be good news for federal budgeteers trying to locate the money, but it is less aggressive than Florida and Texas lawmakers who are seeking an immediate infusion of $3 billion from unspent federal stimulus funding. (10/22)

NASA’s Fundamental Budgetary Conundrum (Source: Augustine Panel)
"Within the current structure of the budget, NASA essentially has the resources either to build a major new system or to operate one, but not to do both. This is the root cause of the gap in capability of launching crew to low-Earth orbit under the current budget and will likely be the source of other gaps in the future." (10/22)

Several Panel "Findings" Focus on Right-Sizing NASA Workforce, Centers, Etc. (Source: Augustine Panel)
"NASA’s budget should match its mission and goals. Further, NASA should be given the ability to shape its organization and infrastructure accordingly, while maintaining facilities deemed to be of national importance."

"The NASA Administrator and program managers need to be given the responsibility and authority to manage their endeavors. This includes providing flexibility to tailor resources, including people, facilities and funds, to fit mission needs."

"There are significant fixed costs in the NASA system. Given that reality, reducing the funding profile much below the optimum for the development of a given program has an amplified effect of delaying benefits and increasing total program cost." (10/22)

Giffords Stays Put on Constellation Support (Source: House Science Committee)
Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) offered the following remarks in the context of the Augustine Panel's report release: "Congress has already made its decisions on the issues considered by the panel. Now that both internal and external independent reviews have confirmed that the Constellation program is being well executed, we know what needs to be done. Let’s get on with it and cease contemplating our collective navels.” (10/22)

Greason Counters Shelby Assertion on Launch Vehicle Safety (Source: Space Politics)
In comments at the International Symposium on Personal & Commercial Spaceflight, Augustine Panel member Jeff Greason's comments were in direct opposition to assertions made by Sen. Shelby of Alabama that proposed commercial crew systems would not be as safe as NASA-developed Constellation vehicles. Greason begged to differ.

"The the truth is, Ares 1 is, right now, a paper booster,” Greason said. “And the further truth is, its projected launch rate is extremely low, so it will never get out of ‘infant mortality,’” that initial phase of non-probabilistic failures. “Even if Ares 1 were built exactly as planned, we would never find out whether its mature probabilistic risk assessment was or was not achievable as planned, because we would never get through the phase of life where we’re supposed to work out all the teething problems.” (10/22)

Northrop: Sales Rise Four Percent, Profits Drop Four Percent (Source: Torrance Daily Breeze)
Northrop Grumman earnings for the third quarter were hurt by higher pension costs, but results handily beat analyst estimates, and the maker of military aircraft and defense electronics lifted its profit outlook for the year. Third-quarter sales rose to $8.73 billion, up from $8.38 billion in the third quarter of last year. Net earnings dropped to $490 million, from $512 million a year earlier. (10/21)

Nelson on NASA: Return is Vastly Greater Than Investment (Source: WDBO)
Senator Bill Nelson said Wednesday that NASA gets less than 1% of the federal budget, but people think it's more, because of the value they place on its discoveries. Nelson said the Augustine Panel report will provide President Barack Obama "with a stark choice to continue on the path that we're on, which is underfunding and underallocating the space program, or we can choose a different course." (10/21)

Russia Delays Launch of Three Glonass Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
The Oct. 29 launch of a carrier rocket bearing three Glonass navigation satellites has been delayed until Feb. 2010, Roscosmos said. Roscosmos said the delay was caused by the need to carry out work to increase the reliability of the satellites. Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov earlier pledged that all six satellites required to complete the Glonass satellite grouping would be launched by the end of 2009.
A total of 9.9 billion rubles ($360 million at the current exchange rate) was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion rubles ($170 million) in 2006. (10/22)

California Street Named After Space Shuttle (Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram)
A divided Downy City Council agreed this week to rename Clark Avenue in honor of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the new learning center built in its name. In a special session, the City Council voted 3-2 to change Clark to Columbia Way inside city limits, Mayor Mario Guerra said Wednesday. (10/22)

It Came From the Moon, and Now it's Dying (Source: Philadelphia Daily News)
In Washington Square Park, in soil that once cradled the dead bodies of slaves, soldiers and strangers, it took root. Where some of the darkest memories of our planet were buried, so, too, was a tree that had been to the darkest side of our moon. Of the approximately 400 seeds that NASA astronaut Stuart Roosa took with him to the moon in 1971, only about 60 "moon trees" are confirmed to exist today, said Dave Williams, NASA planetary curation scientist. Philadelphia has one - and it's dying. (10/22)

Oceanic-Route GPS System Shows Promise of NextGen (Source: AIA)
Satellite-based air-traffic control systems now being used over much of the world's oceans offer a glimpse into the benefits of NextGen. In the U.S., Lockheed Martin's ATOP, or Advanced Technology and Oceanic Procedures, has been in use on oceanic routes for four years, saving airlines some 10 million gallons of fuel by allowing more direct flight paths. The system automates altitude changes and other routine pilot requests, freeing controllers for more essential duties. "It's really changed the way we do business," says an FAA official. (10/22)

Raytheon Beats Expectations, Predicts Profit in 2010 (Source: AIA)
Raytheon beat Wall Street expectations by announcing net income of $490 million for the third quarter, well ahead of analysts' forecast. Raytheon boosted its full-year earnings guidance and predicted another profitable year in 2010. (10/22)

"Old Space" and "New Space" Converge Under New NASA Policy (Source: AIA)
Experts say the line between public and private spaceflight is beginning to blur as NASA and for-profit companies move toward greater cooperation. On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told a financial conference that "space may someday soon become the new thing in investing" as his agency partners with private firms to speed innovation. (10/22)

Editorial: The Quest for New Space Pioneers (Source: Huntsville Times)
The nation's top space chief diverted from some space-related appearances Wednesday in Huntsville to visit several area schools. Charles Bolden talked to students about the importance of getting a good education, making wise choices and not being afraid to fail. The student outreach seemed timely. About 70 percent of the aerospace workforce in Huntsville will be eligible to retire in about five years. Without new talent to replace them, the nation's space program could be paralyzed. No NASA administrator in recent memory had devoted so much time to schools during visits to Huntsville. (10/22)

Posey, Olson, Coffman: We Should Keep Investing in Space (Source: The Examiner)
What do we aspire to achieve and what means are needed? Today, space is one area in which the United States is undeniably and universally respected around the world. Decisions in the near future will determine if this will be the case for much longer. NASA's current budget is $18 billion. The Augustine Committee reports that for NASA to have a viable program it will need an additional $3 billion both immediately and into the future. We do not take spending $3 billion lightly, but it is our strong belief that the failure to do so will be even more costly in the long run. (10/22)

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