November 12 News Items

Broken Urine Recycler May Affect Space Mission (Source:
A broken device that recycles astronaut urine into clean drinking water on the International Space Station may have a slight impact to life onboard next week when NASA's shuttle Atlantis arrives to boost the number of people there to 12. Any impact would likely pertain to things like digging into supplies of spare urine bags (to hold stuff that would normally have been recycled), or determining how many astronauts can use the two bathrooms on the station, or the one on Atlantis. The space station has plenty of water to support its six astronauts through next spring with or without the recycler, he added. (11/12)

Orbital Picks Dutch Firm for Cygnus Solar Arrays (Source: Space News)
Dutch Space B.V. of the Netherlands will provide solar arrays for nine Orbital Science’s Cygnus unmanned cargo ferries to supply the international space station under a contract valued at more than $35 million. The contract highlights the trans-Atlantic design of Cygnus, whose exterior shell is being built by Thales Alenia Space of Turin, Italy. Dutch Space also provides solar arrays for Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle. (11/12)

Stellar Lithium Deficiency Linked to Planet Formation (Source:
A deficiency of lithium in a star's atmosphere may be a sign of the presence of planets, astronomers reported this week. In a paper in the journal Nature, astronomers surveyed 30 Sun-like stars known to have planets and found nearly all had unusually low levels of lithium, just as the Sun does. Astronomers speculate that the presence of planets robs the stars of angular momentum, causing them to spin more slowly; this, in turn, causes the lithium in the atmospheres to fall to the surface and be destroyed. (11/12)

Inventors to Compete for $400,000 in Astronaut Glove Challenge (Source: NASA)
Reporters and the public are invited to attend the 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge on Nov. 19 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla., near NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The $400,000 prize challenge is a nationwide competition that focuses on developing improved pressure suit gloves for astronauts to use while working in the vacuum of space. The competition is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EST on Nov. 19 and conclude with an award ceremony at approximately 5 p.m. Visit for information. (11/12)

The Lisa Nowak I Knew (Source: Newsweek)
The last time I saw Lisa Nowak was Thanksgiving weekend 2001 at our 20th high-school reunion. This moment is etched in my mind, though I'm not sure why. The infamous drive from Texas to Florida, the diaper drama and wig, the love triangle, the late-night jokes—all of that had yet to happen. Lisa had the right stuff. She was elated about her twin girls, born just weeks before. And she was looking forward to pulling on her spacesuit and going for a ride. Nowak was the great Astromom—the woman who could mother three kids and train for a NASA shuttle flight.

Six years later, this week, Nowak appeared before a judge in an Orlando courtroom and pleaded guilty to two charges in the notorious case against her: felony burglary and misdemeanor battery. She looked exhausted, thin, and aged. Nowak answered the judge's questions calmly and confidently, then listened as her victim, Colleen Shipman, described the horror she experienced on Feb. 5, 2007, when Nowak followed her to her car at Orlando International Airport and assaulted her with pepper spray. A shaken Shipman, who was dating Nowak's love interest, former shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, detailed the nightmares. "I know in my heart when Lisa Nowak attacked me, she was going to kill me," Shipman testified. "I believe I escaped a horrible death that night." (11/12)

Space Station Gets New Research Module (Source: AP)
A cargo ship has delivered a Russian research module to the International Space Station. Russia's space agency says the spacecraft carrying the Poisk (PAW'-eesk) module docked with the orbital station Thursday after a two-day trip from Earth. The space agency, Roskosmos, said the small module will be used for scientific research and experiments once it is secured and linked to the station with communications cables. That will require a space walk, scheduled for January. The decade-old international space station has expanded and now has a crew of six. The current crew includes two Russians, two Americans, a Canadian and a Belgian. (11/12)

Alabama Space Grant Consortium Presents $323,000 for University Fellowships/Scholarships (Source: NASA)
The Alabama Space Grant Consortium presented some $323,000 in fellowships and scholarships to 48 undergraduate and graduate students from seven Alabama universities. The Alabama Space Grant Consortium includes doctorate-granting state universities involved in space-related research activities that promote America's continuing leadership in aerospace technology and exploration. Funds for the awards were contributed 50-50 by the participating universities and by NASA's National Space Grant College & Fellowship Program through the Alabama Space Grant Consortium.

Editor's Note: The Florida Space Grant Consortium also supports scholarships and fellowships in Florida, but also focuses on grants to universities for strategically focused space research and education projects, with matching funds provided by the State of Florida through Space Florida. (11/12)

Best Invention of the Year: NASA's Ares Rockets (Source: Time)
From a distance, the Ares-1 rocket is unprepossessing — a slender white stalk that looks almost as if it would twang in the Florida wind. But up close, it's huge: about 327 ft. (100 m) tall, or the biggest thing the U.S. has launched since the 363-ft. (111 m) Saturn V moon rockets of the early 1970s. Its first stage is a souped-up version of one of the shuttle's solid-fuel rockets; its top stage is a similarly muscled-up model of the Saturn's massive J2 engines.

Alongside Ares-1, NASA is developing the Brobdingnagian Ares-5, a 380-ft. (116 m) behemoth intended to put such heavy equipment as a lunar lander in Earth orbit, where astronauts can link up with it before blasting away to the moon. Somewhere between the two rockets is the so-called Ares-5 Lite — a heavy-lift hybrid that could carry both humans and cargo and is intended to be a design that engineers can have in their back pockets if the two-booster plan proves unaffordable. (11/12)

Analysts Anticipate "Precipitous Fall" for Defense Procurement (Source: AIA)
With the Pentagon's personnel and maintenance costs growing, analysts say military procurement will likely see cuts as budgeters come to grips with a ballooning federal deficit. "There's a storm gathering" over the Pentagon's budget, says Michael Bayer, chairman of the Defense Business Board, pointing out that procurement spending has suffered "a precipitous fall" in the trough of the last three spending cycles dating back to the Korean War. (11/12)

Inside Astronaut Boot Camp (Source: Popular Science)
What does it take to prep humans for a trip to an asteroid or a martian moon? Starvation? Isolation? Recycling feces for food? NASA's newest astronauts began a grueling training regimen this fall to find out. The recruits will take an outdoor survival course in Maine, spend up to two weeks living in an underwater lab in Florida, endure altitude chambers, and struggle through flight mechanics. For long-duration deep-space missions, astronauts will need new training entirely, perhaps including spending weeks, even months, in confinement and isolation.

Jason Kring, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who studies the human factors of spaceflight, agrees with that intensive training here on Earth is a must. He also suggests that NASA include a clinical psychologist on the crew to help mitigate potential conflicts. “What to us would be a minor problem in an office environment can become a big deal after six to eight months with the same people,” he says

NASA is already making efforts to screen more carefully for psychological flaws, after the meltdown of Lisa Nowak, the shuttle astronaut who goes on trial next month for attempting to kidnap a fellow astronaut’s girlfriend. It’s not hard to imagine how such instability could sink a space mission. Click here to view the article. (10/22)

NASA Narrows Field for Commercial Crew Development Dollars (Source: Space News)
NASA has narrowed the field of competitors still in the running for $50 million in economic stimulus money the U.S. space agency intends to award this year to seed development of commercial crew transportation systems, according to industry sources. NASA contacted at least six companies Nov. 6, inviting United Launch Alliance, Boeing, SpaceX), Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., SierraNevada Corp. and Paragon Space Development Corp. to discuss the Commercial Crew Development, or CCDev, proposals each submitted in September.

It remains unclear how NASA will divide the $50 million for commercial crew initiatives the agency received in February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Boeing announced in September it would use CCDev money to accelerate development of a crew capsule that could be launched atop a human-rated Atlas 5 or other expendable rocket. The project, which proposed a teaming arrangement with Bigelow Aerospace, is one of at least three Boeing-backed proposals that industry sources say made the cut. (11/10)

Iridium Announces Quarterly Results (Source: Iridium)
Iridium's net income decreased 11.2% to $15.0 million in the third quarter from $16.9 million in the third quarter of 2008. Subscribers were up 16.1% to approximately 359,000 at the close of the third quarter from approximately 309,000 at the close of the third quarter of 2008. Commercial service revenue increased 23.0% to $43.9 million in the third quarter compared to $35.7 million during the third quarter of 2008. Government service revenue increased 2.1% to $19.4 million in the third quarter compared to $19.0 million in the third quarter of 2008. (11/12)

More Florida Members Sign-On to Kosmas NASA Funding Letter (Source: NSS)
The National Space Society reports that the bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letter sponsored by Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas and Congressman Ken Calvert, seeking an addition of $3 billion to NASA's budget, has gained several signatures from representatives around the nation, including the following Florida members: C. Brown, A. Grayson, A. Hastings, K. Meek, R. Klein, D. Wasserman-Schultz, R. Wexler, B. Posey, and T. Rooney. (11/12)

JPL Employees Criticize Government for Pursuing Background Checks (Source: Pasadena Star News)
JPL employees Wednesday criticized federal authorities for seeking a U.S. Supreme Court review of an appeals court decision blocking the government from requiring mandatory background checks. The U.S. Solicitor General's Office wants the nation's highest court to review the ruling, arguing that it could affect the government's ability to conduct background checks of contract employees.

Robert Nelson, a JPL scientist and the lead plaintiff in the case, said he was disappointed by the government's decision to pursue the case to the Supreme Court level. "We particularly had hoped that the Obama administration would take a closer look at the unwise national security decrees of his predecessor," Nelson said. In June, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its previous ruling from January of 2008, which granted JPL employees an injunction against having to submit to background checks to continue their employment. (11/12)

ATK Reports Strong FY10 Second-Quarter Financial Results (Source: ATK)
Alliant Techsystems reported that sales for the quarter rose 11 percent to $1.2 billion, driven by continued strength in the company's Armament Systems and Mission Systems groups, partially offset by expected lower sales in the company's Space Systems group. Net income in the second quarter was up 18 percent to $73 million. Second quarter margins reached 11.2 percent. Orders in the quarter of $1.1 billion were in line with the company's expectations. (11/12)

Boeing Expected to End Stake in Sea Launch (Source: LA Times)
After struggling for nearly 15 years to prop up an unusual way to launch satellites into space, Boeing is expected to throw in the towel and walk away from its stake in Long Beach-based Sea Launch Co. Kjell Karlsen, Sea Launch president, said that Boeing was likely to have little or no ownership position in the rocket launch company after it emerges from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Court reorganization early next year. "I would like to see Boeing being part of the new Sea Launch, but it's more likely they will work in a supplier capacity and not in an ownership role." (11/12)

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