October 9 News Items

Dordain Wins Backing for Joint Mars Program with NASA (Source: Space News)
European Space Agency (ESA) governments on Oct. 8 tentatively backed a proposal to join NASA in a two-step Mars exploration program that retains Europe’s goal of perfecting atmospheric entry, descent and landing technology, as well as developing a Mars lander and rover. (10/9)

NRO Director Defends Plan for Electro-Optical Spy Satellites (Source: Space News)
The U.S. government is making a significant upfront investment to reduce risk on its next generation of classified electro-optical imaging satellites, while an alternative being pushed by two key U.S. senators is based on unproven technology and is not adequate for the mission at hand, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. Bruce Carlson, director of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which builds and operates the nation’s spy satellites, said the White House-backed system, if approved and funded by Congress, will be delivered on schedule and within budget.

The alternative plan would develop a larger constellation of cheaper and less-complex satellites, according to U.S. Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Bond and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, are the leading proponents of the alternative plan. (10/9)

Launch Dates Slip for Galileo Validation Satellites (Source: Space News)
Deployment of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system has slipped again, with the European version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket now scheduled to carry four Galileo in-orbit validation satellites into orbit in two launches scheduled for late 2010 and early 2011. Both launches, from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, had been scheduled for 2010, but have suffered delays following last-minute difficulties with the satellites, which are being built by a European consortium led by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space. Introduction of Russia’s Soyuz rocket at the French Guiana site has also been delayed repeatedly, with an inaugural launch now tentatively set for April 2010. (10/9)

From Space, Stott Eyes Ride Home, Last Shuttle Flight (Source: Florida Today)
Former Kennedy Space Center engineer Nicole Stott, who was recently assigned to the last scheduled space shuttle mission, will be ferried home from the Space Station aboard a Shuttle that will be launched Nov. 12. The orbiter this week rolled from a KSC processing hangar into the Vehicle Assembly Building for attachment to an external tank, solid rocket boosters and mobile launcher platform. Stott, who holds degrees from the University of Central Florida and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, launched to the station Aug. 28 on Discovery to begin her first spaceflight and a three-month tour as a station flight engineer. (10/6)

Posey: Columbus Day Should Honor Future Discoveries (Source: Rep. Bill Posey)
“Our investment in space exploration has helped raise living standards for all humanity,” said Congressman Posey. “And there are so many more advancements in science and technology just waiting to be uncovered; along with countless new worlds to be explored. Now is the time to push forward and continue writing the chapter of discovery which began with Columbus some 500 years ago. Queen Isabella didn’t instruct Columbus to embark on his mission of discovery on the cheap and turn back after a few months. He pressed ahead and set an example for future explorers.”

Last April, Posey was joined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in introducing legislation (H.R. 1962, the American Space Access Act) that would extend the life of the Shuttle and provide additional funding to bring NASA’s next generation human space flight vehicle on line sooner. Last month Rep. Posey reiterated to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, that NASA needs additional resources to close America’s human space flight gap. (10/9)

South Korea Aims to Bridge Space Tech Gap (Source: Yonhap)
South Korea aims to bridge the gap in rocket and satellite technology with leading countries in the field of space exploration over the next decade by ramping up research and development and expanding cooperation with foreign agencies, the head of a state aerospace institute said. Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) President Lee Joo-jin said that while the country currently relies on foreign assistance to send a satellite-bearing rocket into orbit, continued research and development efforts and cooperative tie-ups with foreign space agencies should allow it to become more independent. (10/9)

South Korea Striving to Nurture Aerospace Industry (Source: Yonhap)
South Korea will strive to join the ranks of world's aerospace technology leaders by forging future cooperative tie-ups with foreign space experts and agencies at an upcoming global astronautical conference, organizers of the event said. The 60th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), scheduled to start Monday in Seoul for a five-day run, is likely to bring together a record 3,000 participants from 70 countries. (10/9)

Embry-Riddle Grad to Discuss Space Career with Students (Source: ERAU)
Damaris Sarria, an Embry-Riddle alumnus working as an engineer on the Space Shuttle program, and an advisor to the Coalition for Space Exploration, will meet with students at the university's Daytona Beach campus on Oct. 29 as part of the university's Alumni-Student Connection program. Come learn about her experiences working with NASA and Boeing at Kennedy Space Center, during a 5:30 p.m. meeting. Contact mailto:edmundodartey@erau.edu for information. (10/9)

Last Augustine Panel Meeting Ends in Debate Over Ares I (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The last public hearing of a White House space review committee on Thursday ended in a debate over whether NASA’s controversial Ares I crew rocket was safer than other rockets and should be scored higher in rankings of the various options the panel would present to the White House. The decision was made to not rate the safety of any rockets, in part because the committee members decided it was impossible to accurately assess the safety of space ships that have never flown before, like the Ares I.

However, the committee agreed that it would note in the text of the report that rockets with simple designs like the Ares I – which uses a first stage that is a five-segment version of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and a single engine second stage – are, in theory, safer than other designs. Liquid-fuel rockets often use several engines with moving parts, which some critics say are more likely to fail. However, critics of solid rockets note that once ignited, they cannot be stopped (unlike liquid engines) and when they do fail, they do so catastrophically.

The decision not to rate the Ares I as safer than the other rockets is likely to draw fire from Ares I supporters who say NASA’s studies show that the rocket is expected to be twice as safe as existing alternatives and 10 times safer than the space shuttle. Only one committee member, Bohdan Bejmuk, pushed to have the Ares I scored higher because of its design. "It seems to me that (Constellation) has a simpler rocket than almost any other rocket and we are not giving it credit," Bejmuk said. (10/9)

NASA Finishes Bombing Run of the Moon (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
It wasn’t exactly an “Eagle has landed” moment, but NASA successfully smashed two probes into the moon’s south pole at about 7:30 a.m. in the hopes of learning more about the presence of water on the lunar surface. The aim of the $79 million Lunar Crater Observing and Sensing Satellite is to see whether ice exists in shadow craters of the moon’s poles. The success of mission remains to be seen. NASA has a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. and one of the project’s scientists said Thursday that it could “take some time” to see if it worked. (10/9)

Report: Augustine Panel Appears to Favor Deep Space Missions (Source: AIA)
Deep space missions appear likely to fare well when the Augustine committee presents to the White House its final report on the future of human spaceflight. Of four possible alternatives, the so-called "flexible path" achieved top scores on four criteria: schedule, cost, benefits to science and preserving the space workforce. The flexible path option would include landing on an asteroid and orbiting Mars. (10/9)

Nelson, Kosmas Want NASA to Get Unspent Stimulus Funds (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida joined with members of the Texas delegation on Thursday by calling on the White House to help NASA by giving the space agency a portion of unspent funds from the $787 billion economic stimulus package. The Obama administration did not immediately respond to the request, nor provide details on how much leftover money would be available from the stimulus package, but Nelson wanted $3 billion to boost NASA and ensure “the peaceful use of technology for the betterment of mankind.”

Nearly 30 Texas lawmakers made a similar request earlier this week and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, is working on a companion request from the Florida delegation. “I believe diverting $3 billion in unspent recovery dollars to NASA will be a critical step toward protecting jobs and ensuring that our human spaceflight program, which has contributed so much to our economy and global leadership, remains strong,” said Kosmas in a statement. A spokesman for another Central Florida lawmaker, U.S. Rep Bill Posey, said the Rockledge Republican would support that proposal.

In his speech, Nelson also espoused the benefits of using commercial rocket companies as part of any future plan for space exploration. “Opening up to the private sector what has historically been limited to the realm of the government will enable economic growth, stimulus, and prosperity for many Americans,” he said. Their role has been a flash point for debate, as some defenders of NASA’s current plan to replace the space shuttle have criticized commercial rocket companies as being too underdeveloped. (10/9)

Posey Touts NASA, Urges Closure of Flight Gap (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
U.S. Rep. Bill Posey told the White House in a floor speech Thursday that it needs to keep its "promise" to close the flight gap between the space shuttle, due to retire in 2010 or 2011, and the first launch of its replacement vehicle, slated for a first launch in 2015. “The president promised he would close the gap between our space shuttle program and our Constellation program and we all need to be committed to helping the president of the United States keep his word,” said Posey, speaking after major business had ended for the day.

Posey, who represents many workers at Kennedy Space Center, also touted the benefits of sending astronauts into space. “The typical American home contains dozens and dozens of inventions and spin-offs from Americans investment in space,” he said, listing flat-screen televisions, fire-resistant fabric and carbon monoxide detectors. “Chances are you enjoy using batteries, cell phones, laptops, calculators, even Velcro. If so, you’ve benefited from our space exploration.” (10/9)

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