October 5 News Items

SpaceX Reaches Key Milestone On Falcon 9 Development (Source: Space Daily)
SpaceX has completed acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9. Acceptance testing took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site. This recent series of tests subjected both stages to a variety of structural load and proof pressure tests to verify acceptability for flight.

"The successful completion of these tests marks another key milestone in our preparation for Falcon 9's first flight," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our team will now move forward with a static fire of the first and second stages, the last major milestone before hardware is transferred to SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral." (10/5)

Texas Delegation Members Urge $3 Billion Stimulus Redirect to NASA (Source: Rep. Pete Olson)
Today both Texas Senators and several Members of the Texas Congressional delegation sent a letter to President Obama requesting that $3 billion in available American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds be redirected to NASA to provide critically needed financial support for the mission outlined by Congress and the White House.

A lack of meaningful commitment to the goals and mission of NASA has been well known in the space community and was clearly outlined in the Augustine Panel report demonstrate a real need for an appropriate level of financial commitment. Allocating an additional $3 billion in unspent stimulus funds would not only ensure America’s global role in the aerospace industry and human space flight, but it would also help retain thousands of existing jobs within the aerospace industry, a key goal of the stimulus spending. (10/5)

Industry Insiders Foresaw Delay of Russia’s Phobos-Grunt (Source: Space News)
After months of insisting that Russia’s first interplanetary mission in more than a decade would lift off before the end of October, Russian space officials conceded in late September that the launch of Phobos-Grunt would have to wait until 2011 when the next favorable Mars launch opportunity rolls around. To industry insiders and critics of the way the program has been managed, the two-year delay was the foreseeable result of organizational and technical challenges that have dogged the mission from the beginning.

More than a week after the official decision was made to postpone the mission, the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, had not publicly acknowledged the delay. The job of breaking the news to the mission’s many international participants fell to the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute, the Moscow-based organization running the Phobos-Grunt science program. (10/5)

United Launch Alliance gets $927.7M Air Force Deal (Source: AP)
United Launch Alliance, a joint venture owned by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., received a $927.7 million contract from the Air Force for a capability to launch the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets, the Pentagon says. The rockets are designed to launch payloads into orbit under the U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. The contract award was announced late Friday. (10/5)

Analyst: U.S. Aerospace/Defense Firms Hobbled by Uncertain Export Policy (Source: AIA)
Analysts say defense firms need to ramp up foreign sales to ensure steady growth, but Washington's ambivalence could spell trouble for U.S. companies. While British and Canadian manufacturers benefit from established export policies and organizations, U.S. firms are hobbled by export restrictions. "I don't believe right now that there is a coherent export policy promotion for U.S. defense exports," says Grant Rogan, CEO of Blenheim Capital Partners. "And as a consequence, the United States is at a disadvantage." (110/5)

Which Way is Up? (Source: Space Review)
The fact that NASA's exploration program has run into budget and other difficulties is hardly surprising; the question now is how the White House and Congress will respond to the conclusions of the Augustine committee report. Dwayne Day summarizes a recent forum that brought together experts from government, industry, and elsewhere to tackle this issue. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1484/1 to view the article. (10/5)

A Committee Member Speaks (Source: Space Review)
With the Augustine committee's work nearly done, some of its members are starting to speak individually about their work. Jeff Foust reports on a speech last week by a committee member who provided his own insights into the work on crafting a new direction for NASA's human spaceflight plans. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1483/1 to view the article. (10/5)

The Other 40th Anniversary (Source: Space Review)
This summer marked the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, but this month marks a very different, yet important, 40th anniversary. Bob Werb recalls the work of Gerard K. O'Neill and how it set into motion a completely new way to look at spaceflight. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1482/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Is Ares 1 Too Little, Too Late? (Source: Space Review)
A center of attention in the current review of NASA's exploration plans is the fate of the Ares 1. Edward Ellegood argues that while its technical problems might be overcome, its cost and schedule issues make it unwise to continue. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1481/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Five Years Later, is Now the Time? (Source: Space Review)
Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the final, prize-winning flight by SpaceShipOne, which remains the last commercial suborbital piloted spaceflight despite earlier expectations. Jeff Foust examines how close we are to the long-anticipated blossoming of this industry. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1480/1 to view the article. (10/5)

The Gospel According to Mike (Source: Space Review)
In his nearly four years as NASA administrator Mike Griffin left a major impact on the space agency, particularly in the implementation of exploration. Taylor Dinerman uses a book of speeches by Griffin as administrator to reflect on his time in office. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1479/1 to view the article. (10/5)

Iran Studies Human Space Program (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Iran plans to send a faza navard (astronaut) into space and the nation is currently conducting the relevant studies, Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Reza Taqipour announced on Saturday, the Mehr News Agency and Tehran Times have reported. The Iranian government made a similar announcement about one year ago. "This project is currently under study and… (we) hope to be able to implement the project in the near future," Taqipour said at a ceremony held to inaugurate World Space Week. It has been estimated that Iran will attempt a human space program in 2021 but such a program would require significant national investment in space technology and launch infrastructure. Space observers indicate that Iran is advancing in rocket technology. (10/5)

Lunar Prospecting: Probe Ready to Touch Moon Water (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
An enterprising robotic explorer will smash into the lunar frontier Friday in search of water ice hidden deep inside the darkest corners of the moon, spewing hundreds of thousands of pounds of dust high above the surface in a celestial event visible from Earth. Just four minutes will decide the outcome of three years of preparations, four months of space travel, and a $79 million investment put into the bold LCROSS mission. NASA says the latest estimates predict impact at exactly 7:31:30 a.m. EDT Friday morning. That time could shift by a few seconds based on new navigation solutions in the coming days. Scientists have tapped Cabeus crater for the cosmic collision, a 60-mile-wide depression near the moon's south pole. (10/5)

Time Runs Short on Space Plan (Source: Florida Today)
They're asking people on the Space Coast to speak with a unified voice, to urge the president to keep the promises he made in Titusville last year to protect the space program and minimize space job losses. Hopefully, it's not too late. The plea makes me wonder whether local leaders have been paying attention to years of repeated warnings that this day was coming -- and coming fast. Community leaders have met and talked, met and talked, met and talked, but it's not clear they've done more than acknowledge the threat ahead.

Now, we're late in the fourth quarter of the big game to save Brevard's economic engine, and the plan is to heave a wobbly pass into the end zone and hope our team comes out of the scrum with the ball. I'm not saying you should not participate. Please do write to Obama. I'll do my part. When I do, I'll share my letter with you. I'm more concerned that the men and women we've elected to go to Washington on our behalf are not lobbying more vociferously for the space program. (10/5)

Private Space Technology Powers Up (Source: MIT Technology Review)
Utilizing the commercial sector for unmanned, and perhaps manned, missions is a way to reduce government costs. Franklin Chang Diaz, a former NASA astronaut and founder and president of Ad Astra Rocket Company, agrees. Diaz spoke at the Space Investment Summit in Boston last week. His company--spun off from his work at NASA--is developing a propulsion system called the variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket (VASIMR) to replace traditional chemical systems, which are less suitable for deep space missions to Mars and beyond (read a previous interview with Diaz, in which he explains the technology.) Last week, a prototype VASIMR engine, the VX-200, achieved a significant target: 200 kilowatts of power, the amount necessary for the company to start developing its flight version, which is expected to be ready in 2013. (10/5)

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