November 27 News Items

Musk Considers Former Shuttle Factory for Tesla (Source: The District Weekly)
Tesla Motors has selected the City of Downey over the City of Long Beach as the manufacturing site for its new Model S, a four-door all-electric family sedan. “We’re very close to being able to make an official announcement,” Downey Mayor Mario Guerra confirmed during a brief telephone interview this afternoon. “I’m about to call a special meeting of the city council, and we’ll likely have an official announcement next week. Cars ought to be rolling off the line in 2011.”

Telephone and e-mail requests to Tesla Motors have generated no response. Long Beach and Downey became finalists for the automobile plant because both cities have vast manufacturing sites that were abandoned by the aerospace industry—the former Boeing 717 location in Long Beach and the former NASA production facility in Downey. In fact, the two sites are located only a few miles apart on Lakewood Blvd. But while Downey’s city officials were united and aggressive in their pursuit of Tesla’s enigmatic CEO Elon Musk, the City of Long Beach-—particularly Mayor Bob Foster and city management—-was accused of being difficult and nearly indifferent toward the possibility of a manufacturing plant that is expected to bring between 1,000 and 1,200 jobs to the area. (11/26)

Editorial: We Need Goals for Our Space Flight Program (Source: New Hampshire Sentinel Source)
The Augustine Panel's 155-page report provides our country with options for the future of human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. I served as a member of the committee, and am especially proud of the report for several reasons. First, the report makes clear that the key choice facing us is one of goals, not destinations. Too often the debate over human spaceflight becomes an argument over destination: Should we go back to the moon? Mars? But this risks choosing a destination first, then searching for reasons to justify that choice. At least in part, that is what went wrong with the International Space Station, a destination in low-Earth orbit that is still searching to explain its purpose.

Instead, we need to decide on our goals for human spaceflight, and have the destinations flow from these goals. The committee concluded that human spaceflight serves a variety of national interests, but sending humans beyond low-Earth orbit has as its fundamental goal charting a path for human expansion into the solar system. This is ambitious, but if this is not our goal, we should restrict ourselves to destinations in low-Earth orbit. Human expansion into the solar system is a goal worthy of a great nation working in concert with other space powers...

In the past, there have been too many glorious images of our exciting future in space unmatched by the budget for a realistic path to that future. The committee’s bottom line is that the United States should either provide a budget to do the job, or acknowledge that it is scaling back its ambitions in space. (11/27)

France Seeks Military Space Investment Partners (Source: Space News)
French defense officials said they are on track to increase military space spending by nearly 8 percent per year, on average, through 2014 but that the program and spending profile still depend in large part on whether other European nations agree to co-invest. With electronic intelligence and missile alert demonstrator satellites already in orbit, France is ready to move forward on operational systems that are more likely to be built if there is at least some contribution by other European Union nations. French Defense Ministry officials also said they have begun studying how to integrate the future encrypted government-only service offered by Europe’s planned Galileo navigation and timing system into French military vehicles alongside the U.S. GPS military code. (11/27)

Two Hearings To Examine Private Spaceflight Safety (Source: Space News)
As the Obama administration considers outsourcing part of NASA’s manned spaceflight program to the private sector, two congressional panels will examine potential safety issues associated with commercial human spaceflight Dec. 2 during simultaneous hearings. Tough questions from lawmakers are expected at a House Science and Technology space and aeronautics subcommittee hearing on human-rating NASA and commercial launch vehicles and spacecraft.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure aviation safety subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), will address Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of the emerging space tourism industry and the potential conflict between the FAA’s dual role of ensuring aviation safety and promoting the burgeoning commercial space market. At press time, the subcommittee had yet to release its hearing charter or list of witnesses. (11/27)

MDA of Canada To Build Payloads for Russian Telecom Satellites (Source: Space News)
Confirming its ambitions in Europe and Central Asia, Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) has unseated competitor Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy to provide electronics payloads for two large Russian telecommunications satellites in a contract valued at more than 200 million Canadian dollars ($187 million). The two satellites, Express-AM5 and Express-AM6, will be operated by Moscow-based Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC) and will provide a broad suite of commercial and government telecommunications services in the C-, Ku-, Ka- and L-band frequencies. (11/25)

Astrium Lands Four-Satellite Deal with SES (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES has selected Astrium Satellites to build four direct-broadcast television spacecraft in a contract valued at around 500 million euros ($753 million) and expected to be signed the week of Nov. 30. It will be the biggest single satellite order ever made by Luxembourg-based SES. The satellites will be delivered at six-month intervals starting in 2012, a production timetable that SES had said would permit the winning contractor to operate with maximum efficiency and correspondingly low cost. (11/27)

Albuquerque Firm Gets New Mexico Spaceport Contract (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority awarded a $32.5 million contract to an Albuquerque firm to build the terminal-hangar facility - the futuristic building often seen in artists' drawings of Spaceport America. Summit West was the lowest of four bidders on the project, said Steve Landeene, executive director of the Spaceport Authority. The three-floor, 110,000-square-foot facility will serve as the headquarters of operations for the Britain-based Virgin Galactic, considered the anchor-tenant company for the spaceport, as well as for the Spaceport Authority. Landeene said the bid award is a significant step in the overall construction of the $200-million state-owned spaceport, located southeast of Truth or Consequences. (11/27)

NASA Ames Motion Simulator Readies NASA for Moon Landing (Source: cnet)
The Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., is the world's largest high-fidelity motion based simulation system. Moving as much as 60 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally, the VMS gives pilots and engineers an opportunity to study flight characteristics of vehicles safely, in real time, and under accurate conditions. Right now, NASA is studying the designs for the next generation of human occupied space vehicles. The Altair lunar lander, now in its third design iteration, will undergo changes based on the studies here, and eventually go into production and be used in the next generation of spaceflight. Click here to view the article and photos. (11/27)

China to Launch Second Lunar Probe in 2010 (Source: Xinhua)
China will launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, in October 2010, a top Chinese space scientist said. Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first moon probe, said the second lunar orbiter will carry different payloads and orbit the moon in a different way. "It will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and be equipped with better facilities. We expect to acquire more scientific data about the moon with increased accuracy," he was quoted as saying. (11/27)

Space Shuttle Atlantis Lands at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Space shuttle Atlantis gracefully returned to Earth at Kennedy Space Center on Friday, bringing to an end 11 days in space and a jam-packed year of five successful shuttle missions for NASA. The orbiter and seven astronauts landed at 9:44 a.m. at KSC's Runway 33, bringing its total trip just short of 4.5 million miles. (11/27)

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