October 27 News Items

NASA Awards Space Radiobiology Research Grants (Source: NASA)
NASA is funding 12 proposals from nine states to investigate questions about the effects of space radiation on human explorers. The selected proposals from researchers in Alabama, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington have a total value of approximately $13.7 million. The ground-based studies will address the impact of space radiation on astronaut health. Research areas will include risk predictions for cancer and models for potential damage to the central nervous system and the heart. (10/27)

It's A Go For Next Ariane 5 Launch (Source: Space Daily)
Arianespace's sixth Ariane 5 flight of 2009 has been approved for its October 29 liftoff following the launch readiness review, performed at the Spaceport in French Guiana. Ariane 5's payload lift performance for this latest mission is 9,515 kg., which includes a combined total of about 8,700 kg. for the NSS-12 and THOR 6 spacecraft, plus the launch vehicle's dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware. (10/27)

Satellites, Hypersonics Underpin Australian Space Goals (Source: Aviation Week)
The Australian government is signaling its intent to become a player in the space business by announcing plans to set up a formal national space policy, steered by a small group to facilitate the fledgling venture. At the same time, the country is also laying out a space sciences program, and has issued requests for proposals to industry, academia and other government agencies for basic science experiments to help kick-start the initiative into life. The plan is supported by a modest $37.07 million in initial “seed” money, which the government will use to match investment from winning proposals on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Although smaller than the A$100 million originally sought when talk of a national space policy last hit the headlines two years ago, most domestic players seem happy with the initiative. “This is the opportunity to show we can do something, and to come up with a number of projects fairly quickly,” says Russell Boyce, Defense Sciences Technology Office (DSTO) and University of Queensland hypersonics chairman. “It is also a recognition by the Australian government that we depend incredibly heavily on space and space technology.” (10/27)

Gulf States Launch Aerospace Alliance (Source: NASA Watch)
Governors and other elected officials from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi announced the launch of the Aerospace Alliance, a 501(c)(6) private/public organization that will establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world class aerospace, space and aviation corridor.

The members of The Aerospace Alliance include business leaders, economic development professionals and government officials. By promoting their common assets and the region's long-standing tradition of excellence in the aerospace industry, participating states and organizations will seize opportunities to grow the sector, attracting more jobs and suppliers to the region. Members will advocate for policies, programs and specific aerospace projects on the local, state and national level.

Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux said Northwest Florida is destined to become a world-class home for new aviation and aerospace jobs. The alliance establishes each state's Gulf coast region as part of "a world class" aerospace and aviation corridor." Editor's Note: Florida space industry stakeholders hope to expand the Alliance to include Texas, allowing support for space industry development "from JSC to KSC." (10/27)

NASA's Ares I-X Launch Rescheduled for Wednesday (Source: NASA)
NASA mission managers canceled Tuesday's scheduled launch of the Ares I-X flight test because of weather concerns at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Another launch attempt is targeted for Wednesday. A four-hour launch window opens at 8 a.m. EDT. Forecasters predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather Wednesday. (10/27)

Boeing Submits Bid to Run KSC Ground Operations (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Boeing has submitted a proposal to NASA to run ground systems and launch-operation services for the agency's next-generation spacecraft. As the prime contractor for ground operations at the Kennedy Space Center, Boeing has thrown its hat into the ring to manage ground systems integration for the Constellation program, set to replace the shuttle. However, the Obama administration has yet to decide on funding and technology for continued human space exploration.

Boeing has already won several Ares 1 contracts in recent years and said Monday it expects to win the Exploration Ground Launch Services contract in April. The Obama administration is leaning toward outsourcing major components of its space program, such as ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station. The scale and nature of sending this type of work to private contractors, unheard of in NASA's history, could help the administration cope with an increasingly dire budget situation and fill crucial gaps in its program. (10/27)

Orbital Sciences Profits Slide 18% (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Revenue and profits declined at Orbital Sciences Corp. last quarter as more work on NASA’s space station resupply contract failed to make up for less contract activity on communications satellite and missile defense programs. Income in the third quarter of 2009 fell 18 percent to $9.4 million, compared to $11.4 million in the year-ago period. Revenue decreased 1.5 percent to $277.1 million.

The revenue growth leader for Orbital last quarter was the advanced space programs division which posted a 38 percent sales surge to $94.4 million compared to the year ago period as work increased on the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. First awarded in December 2008, the deal could eventually produce revenue nearing $2 billion. Sales in the launch vehicles segment fell 2 percent to $110 million primarily as a result of the termination of the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program by the Missile Defense Agency. Satellites and space systems sales declined 24 percent to $75.7 million as work was completed on several communications satellite contracts. (10/27)

New Aerospace Options Could Mean 800 Colorado Jobs (Source: Denver Business Journal)
New programs to speed up commercial space flight options for U.S. astronauts would create more than 800 jobs in Colorado and thousands across the country. That’s the conclusion of a survey conducted by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, a Washington D.C.-based trade group for companies pursuing passenger service to space for NASA astronauts and others. “I think it’s time for NASA to do the very hard things,” said Jim Voss, a vice president at Sierra Nevada Corp. subsidiary SpaceDev Inc., in Louisville. (10/16)

New Mexico Spaceport Visitor Center Approved (Source: KRWG)
The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has voted to establish a welcome center for Spaceport America in downtown Truth or Consequences. With the support of local residents who want the center to be located downtown, the NMSA has agreed to lease an old fire station from the city. A welcome center is also planned for the village of Hatch which is on the southern approach to Spaceport America.

"We budgeted $500,000 for the Sierra County/T or C welcome center, and we will review renovating the approximately 6,000-square foot firehouse if we can," said Steve Landeene, Executive Director of the NMSA. If the building can't be renovated economically, other options for the site may need to be explored. (10/27)

MoonScraper is the Best Method for Moving Lunar Soil (Source: Construction News Portal)
Lunar Regolith is the scientific term for moon dirt. It's a heavy, fine, and cohesive sand that covers the moon's surface several meters deep. Because of these properties Lunar Regolith is difficult to dig. A group of University of B.C. students, sponsored by Miskin Scrapers Works, Inc., have created a robotic MoonScraper that competed at a NASA-sponsored robotics challenge. The aim was to create a robot that could move the most simulated moon dirt in a 30-minute timed trial. (10/27)

Should Nations Fly to the Moon Together? (Source: Christian Science Monitor)
Ed Weiler of NASA and David Southwood of the European Space Agency (ESA) chatted amiably about their ultimate passion – and one of the holy grails of planetary science: bringing back a rock sample from Mars. But the conversation inevitably got bogged down in the hard reality of arithmetic. Both knew it would take at least $1 billion just to land a spacecraft on the Red Planet.

Why not have NASA and ESA team up on a venture? Not just one agency putting an instrument on another's spacecraft. An entire set of missions – jointly. As Weiler put it: "Maybe we ought to be conceiving these things upfront, together." The result: An announcement this past July of a pioneering agreement between the two agencies to develop a joint Mars exploration program. The effort would begin with missions in 2016 and 2018. It would reach its apex in the 2020s with the first return in the history of the human species of soil and rock samples from another planet. (10/27)

JPL Unveils New 'Environmentally Friendly' Flight Projects Center (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
On Monday, JPL unveiled its new environmentally friendly Flight Projects Center, a 193,491-square-foot building that boasts a variety of sustainable features. The six-story, $70 million facility will be used to house missions during their design and development phases, enabling engineers and scientists from various countries to more closely collaborate during critical mission phases. (10/27)

First Moon "Skylight" Found -- Could House Lunar Base? (Source: National Geographic)
A "skylight" found on the moon's surface could provide access to a cozy underground shelter for future humans on the moon, scientists say. Japan's Kaguya spacecraft recently captured pictures of the curious dark hole, which may open onto a large underground lava tube. Scientists have long searched for easy access to lava tubes on the moon, since the lunar caves hold promise as natural shelters, noted Junichi Haruyama, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

"Lava tubes … provide ready-made protection from the harsh lunar environment: meteorite bombardment, radiation from space, and the large changes in temperature through the lunar day," Haruyama said. Due to the moon's volcanic past, scientists have long expected that lava tubes exist in the lunar underground. But even with decades worth of pictures from various lunar orbiters, no skylights had ever been spotted. That's because the holes can be difficult to distinguish from craters when seen from orbit. (10/27)

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