October 6 News Items

California SBSS Launch Pushed Into 2010 (Source: Space News)
A planned October launch of the U.S. Air Force’s Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite aboard a Minotaur 4 rocket has been delayed until early 2010, a senior U.S. Air Force official said Oct. 5. “We had a technical issue on the Minotaur 4,” said Air Force Col. Ed Wilson, commander of the Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. “We’re moving that out to early spring, it looks like.” The SBSS spacecraft, built by Boeing, is intended to keep tabs on objects in space, particularly in geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator — the operating location of most communications satellites. SBSS has encountered numerous delays due to technical issues during its development. (10/6)

Astrium Inks Two-Satellite Deal with Kazakhstan (Source: Space News)
Space hardware and services supplier Astrium, furthering its partnership with the government of Kazakhstan, will build and launch two Earth observation satellites, and provide a satellite integration and test center in Kazakhstan, in a contract valued at $336 million. The contract also includes training Kazakh satellite engineers at Astrium’s satellite-production facility in Toulouse and integrating the two Astrium-built Kazakh spacecraft into the global satellite-imaging services network operated by Spot Image, an Astrium subsidiary.

One satellite will be built by Astrium Satellites in Toulouse and will carry an optical imager with a 1-meter ground resolution, meaning it can detect objects of that diameter and larger. The satellite will be similar to the Astrium-built Theos and Formosat-2 satellites for the governments of Thailand and Taiwan. It will be launched in early 2014. The second satellite, to be launched in late 2014, will be built by Astrium-owned Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) of Britain. Its principal imager will be a 7-meter-resolution optical camera. (10/6)

Russia to Launch Two European Satellites Nov. 2 (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Rokot carrier rocket with two European satellites is being prepared for a Nov. 2 launch from the Plesetsk spaceport in northwest Russia. A deal to launch Rockot with the SMOS spacecraft [primary payload] and the Proba-2 mini-satellite was concluded between the ESA and Eurockot Launch Services GmbH [a joint venture of the Khrunichev center and EADS Astrium]," the spokesman said. (10/6)

NASA: Arizona to Play Key Role in Next Moon Mission (Source: AZ Central)
Arizona played a key role as NASA prepared to put men on the moon, allowing Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and other astronauts to work on landscapes resembling the lunar surface and to get a crash course in field geology. Today, as NASA plans for the next U.S. footprints on the moon and eventually its first on Mars, the state's evolution into a center of space research means it will have a role even bigger than just a place to study geology, said Ashley Edwards, a NASA spokeswoman.

For the past 12 years, a group of NASA scientists and technicians calling themselves the DesertRATS (Research and Technology Studies) has been coming to Arizona to test new technology. What began with several researchers last month drew more than 100 to simulate a lunar mission. And Mark Robinson, a professor in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, developed a Lunar Reconaissance Camera that's allowing NASA to create detailed maps of the moon from an unmanned orbiter. Those will help determine landing sites. (10/6)

Boeing and RSC-Energia Team on Future Spacecraft Docking System (Source: Boeing)
Boeing and Russian aerospace company RSC-Energia signed an agreement to work together on a future common docking system for advanced space exploration vehicles. The two companies will complement each other's extensive knowledge in International Space Station (ISS) design, assembly and operation to produce an international standard for docking mechanisms. The agreement outlines collaboration between the two companies to produce a mechanism based on Energia's existing Androgynous Peripheral Docking System (APDS). Designed and built by Energia in Russia, APDS is a proven system that has connected every space shuttle mission to the ISS for more than a decade. (10/6)

ATK Lays Off 550 Utah Employees (Source: Salt Lake Tribune)
For months, many business owners in this small northern Utah community 20 miles northeast of Alliant Techsystems' Promontory plant waited for the dreadful blow. On Tuesday, it finally arrived. ATK laid off 550 of its employees, including 400 at its nearby plant. In another sense, though, it may be months before the real impact of the loss of 550 good-paying jobs at ATK is finally felt throughout the northern Utah economy. The reason is that the maker of solid-fuel rocket booster motors is providing the affected employees with severance packages that include up to 26 weeks of separation pay based on years of service.

The layoff included 130 employees in Magna, 400 at its Promontory facility west of Brigham City and 20 in Clearfield. Magna workers make Minuteman III motors, those at Promontory work on space shuttle rocket motors and those in Clearfield wash motors that have been fired and prepare the casings to be reloaded with propellant. Included among the 550 were 130 who volunteered for the layoff. (10/6)

Florida Project is Among NASA Small Business R&D Grants (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 152 proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in the Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR. The projects address specific NASA technology gaps under a highly competitive, three-phase award system. It provides qualified small businesses with opportunities to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government. The Florida project is by Accelogic LLC of Weston, FL, for a Novel Supercomputing Approaches for High Performance Linear Algebra Using FPGAs. (10/6)

Five California Projects Among NASA Small Business R&D Grants (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 152 proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in the Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR. The projects address specific NASA technology gaps under a highly competitive, three-phase award system. It provides qualified small businesses with opportunities to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government. The five California projects are by Rolling Hills Research Corp. of El Segundo for Innovative Self-Powered and Self-Contained Sensor Array for Separation Detection; Rolling Hills Research Corp. of El Segundo for A Reusable, Oxidizer-Cooled, Hybrid Aerospike Rocket Motor for Flight Test; Advanced Science and Novel Technology of Rancho Palos Verde for Extremelly High Bandwidth Rad Hard Data Acquisition System; Transition45 Technologies, Inc. of Orange for Friction Stir Processing of Cast Superalloys; and Novawave Technologies of Redwood City for Compact, Dual Channel, Mid-IR Laser Spectrometer. (10/6)

Bill for Cirque Founder's Space Trip Could Rise Another $10 Million (Source: MetroNews.ca)
The final tab for Guy Laliberte's visit to the Space Station could rise to nearly C$50 million after this week's elaborate international show linking the Cirque du soleil founder with his terrestrial counterparts. Cirque officials confirmed their boss would get hit with another bill after Friday's spectacle, which will see 42 performers, 14 cities, and five continents linked to a video show hosted from the space station. The billionaire circus impresario, who is Canada's first space tourist, had a blunt reply when asked Tuesday whether his trip was worth the princely sum. "It's worth every penny and more," he said. (10/6)

Alabama Senator Slams Augustine Panel, Touts Constellation (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In a forceful floor speech, Alabama’s senior senator defended NASA’s current plan to return astronauts to the moon and jabbed the recent findings of a presidential space panel tasked with evaluating the agency’s troubled Constellation program. "I find many of the aspects proposed in their summary report to be unsatisfactory and disappointing," he said.

Supporters of Constellation view many of the Panel's options as a threat to the program. “This [Constellation] program is built on a foundation of proven technologies, using existing capabilities and infrastructure. The Ares I team will soon launch the first test flight and the groundwork for the Ares V heavy lift vehicle is well underway,” said Shelby, a Republican, whose state is home to thousands of future Constellation jobs.

Like other Constellation backers, Shelby focused on the point that the program would be in much better shape if it received billions more in funding over the past several years. And in a blunt message to the White House, Shelby warned President Barack Obama that Congress has a major say in NASA’s future. “NASA, and this administration, should never forget that the support of Congress will still be necessary to authorize and provide funds as we move forward,” said Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA funding. (10/6)

Arizona Airport Hangar Leased for NASA Work (Source: Yuma Sun)
It's now official - NASA has leased the newly completed defense contractor's hangar at Yuma International Airport to base its testing of parachutes for the newest generation of space travel launch craft. A lease has been concluded with the NASA team from the Houston Space Center that travels to Yuma several times a year as part of the mission to develop the parachute assembly system for the new Orion Space Capsule. The lease, signed by NASA's engineering consulting firm, Jacobs Technology, took effect on Saturday morning. The facility will provide a permanent base for the agency, which has already been testing the parachutes at Yuma Proving Ground. (10/6)

Obama May Decide Fate of New Orleans NASA Jobs (Source: WVUE)
President Obama may effectively decide how long most of the jobs at Michoud stay in place. A presidential commission will issue its final report in coming weeks and could recommend an extended life for the space shuttle program. Amidst that backdrop, Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana, hosted a public forum at the NASA assembly facility in New Orleans East, a gathering that drew a room full of anxious engineers.

"I want to stay in New Orleans but it's hard to find jobs," said Matthew Stiegler, a Lockheed-Martin employee whose father worked in both the Apollo and Shuttle programs at Michoud. "These are good jobs. We want to stay within this industry." The shuttle is supposed to stop flying next year, which would mean the loss 1,300 of the 1,900 jobs here. Down the road, some of those jobs would be replaced by a brand new rocket program, Constellation. (10/6)

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