October 24 News Items

Starfighters Strikes Deal for Use of State-Developed KSC Hangar (Source: Space Florida)
NASA and Starfighters announced the signing of a Space Act Agreement enabling Starfighters, a private aerospace company that operates high performance fighter aircraft, to use the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) to conduct flight operations providing commercial space flight training, support research and development, test and engineering for the benefit of the emerging commercial space industry, and to otherwise advance aerospace and space-related technology in Florida.

Space Florida and Starfighters partnered in 2008 to house and maintain the jet aircraft in the State-owned and operated Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Hangar, located adjacent to the SLF. “Our alliance with Space Florida is a natural fit,” said Rick Svetkoff, Starfighters President and Chief Pilot. “We both want to see the commercial aerospace industry grow in Florida. With Space Florida’s assistance, we are making real strides toward that vision.” (10/22)

Alabama Lawmakers in Washington Blast Augustine Panel Report (Source: Huntsville Times)
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala, said the report provide no safety data that would help the White House or leaders in Congress to guide the future of NASA. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Ala, said the report was incomplete, ill-conceived and would delay NASA's progress. U.S Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala, said the report does not address safety concerns that could come about from extending the space shuttle past its planned 2010 retirement date and using the International Space Station as it ages. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala, said if the Obama administration is serious about space and NASA it will make sure the extra $3 billion a year the Augustine panel said NASA needs is in the federal budget. (10/24)

Six Surprise Passages From the Full Augustine Report (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The 157-page Augustine Panel report lacked an endorsement of an overall strategy, but there are a few passages of interest that were not included in the summary that was released in September. Here are a few passages that leapt out at us: 1) The gap is worse than we feared; 2) The current Ares plan to support ISS will be too late to help; 3) The Orion capsule may be too big, and it's too late to fix; 4) Bush and Obama are both guilty of underfunding Constellation; 5) Using EELV rockets may be cheaper, but would mean a radical restructuring at NASA; and 6) NASA is handicapped by rules that limit the way it does business. Click here to read the article. (10/24)

Bolivia, China, ITU Sign Agreement for Satellite Construction (Source: Xinhua)
The Bolivian government, China's Great Wall Industry Corporation and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) signed an agreement on Friday to construct and set a satellite in orbit. During the signing ceremony, Bolivian President Evo Morales said it statement confirmed that Bolivia would have its own space satellite in three years. This would promote the country's economic, social and technological development. The satellite would be called "Tupac Katari" in honor of an indigenous leader of the 18th century in Bolivia who fought for national independence. (10/24)

Seven Questions That Keep Physicists Up at Night (Source: New Scientist)
A panel of leading physicists spilled the beans about what keeps them tossing and turning in the wee hours. Here are seven key conundrums: 1) Why this universe?; 2) What is everything made of?; 3) How does complexity happen?; 4) Will string theory ever be proved correct?; 5) What is the singularity?; 6) What is really really?; and 7) How far can physics take us? Click here to read explanations of each question. (10/24)

Panel's Final Report Recommends In-Space Refueling (Source: Popular Science)
The Augustine Panel appears to once again favor private commercial spaceflight for launching cargo and crews to orbit, such as SpaceX's Falcon rockets. The report makes mention of a modified Ares V rocket and the Orion spacecraft as NASA's backup in case private industry fails to deliver, but does not mention the Ares-I rocket that is slated for its first test flight next week.

It also touts in-space refueling as a way to give both smaller and larger rockets longer legs on space missions. The report noted that a rocket would typically burn part of its fuel during launch, and then spend the rest injecting its payload toward whatever destination beyond low-Earth orbit. But a space tanker or fuel depot could provide more fuel for a greater boost. (10/23)

Mars Can Wait; NASA Should Try Landing on Asteroids First (Source: Ars Technica)
Forget all this talk about manned missions to Mars; is it time to scale back US space plans and land on an asteroid instead, Armageddon style? The committee has concluded that NASA now has plans that don't reflect any sort of budgetary reality, and suggests that a "flexible path" series of missions to asteroids and orbital LaGrange points as realistic goals for the next few decades. Mars can wait. (10/24)

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