November 6 News Items

Bolden: Flexible Path Approach is “Attractive to Everybody” (Source: Space News)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says sending astronauts to various solar system destinations instead of focusing exclusively on the Moon is an “attractive” option that could allow the U.S. space agency to phase in promising new technologies while inspiring the American public at regular intervals along the way.

“You utilize lunar exploration, utilize visits to asteroids, whether it’s robotic or human,” Bolden said. “That’s what makes it attractive to everybody,” he said. “That’s the one good thing about it. It is not a lunar program, and it’s not a Mars program. It allows you to go to different destinations as you see the capabilities arise.” (11/6)

Air Force To Study Using Alternative SBIRS Sensor (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force intends to hire Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems to study the feasibility of incorporating a next-generation missile warning sensor into the service’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). Raytheon started work in 2006 on an experimental missile warning sensor for the Air Force under a program now called the Third Generation Infrared Surveillance system (3GIRS). The company was awarded a $46 million contract to upgrade the sensor to a fully flight-qualified payload. (11/6)

Huntsville Mayor Rallies Support for Ares I (Source: Huntsville Times)
Mayor Tommy Battle used his second "State of the City" address Thursday to plug the embattled Ares I rocket. Speaking to a sellout crowd of 1,300 people at the Von Braun Center's North Hall, Battle said the Rocket City has to find a way to keep the Marshall Space Flight Center-managed program alive.

Battle drew loud applause when he said Huntsville needs to "convince Congress, convince the White House that we have the finest pool of intelligence and technologically advanced people that have ever been on earth in the business of space. "If you ever let that pool disperse," he said, "you'll never get it back." (11/6)

NASA COTS Companies Benefit from Stimulus Aid (Source: Flight Global)
Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are to benefit from millions of dollars more than originally agreed under their NASA-funded Commercial Transportation Space Act agreements. NASA is spending $24 million on launch and test infrastructure, including at its Wallops flight facility where Orbital will launch its Taurus II rocket and the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, where SpaceX will operate its Falcon 9 booster. NASA declines to say how much investment the two companies' launch sites are getting because it "may be procurement sensitive information".

The funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and some of the $24 million is being spent on John C Stennis Center testing facilities. Orbital could not provide investment figures for its site and construction company RS&H, which has won a Wallops contract, is prohibited from giving details. However, sources close to SpaceX say that Kennedy will get around $1 million of ARRA funds and that company's complex will gain improvements. (11/6)

Stadd Gets House Arrest and Probation (Source: Space News)
Former NASA Chief of Staff Courtney Stadd, convicted in August of lying to U.S. government ethics officials and inappropriately steering agency funds to a consulting client, was sentenced to three years probation, six months of home confinement Nov. 6 and fined $2,500. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer before a courtroom packed with many of Stadd’s friends and aerospace industry colleagues. Stadd had been facing up to 15 years in prison, but during the sentencing hearing the prosecutors asked for only a one-year term. (11/6)

Google Unveils Protocol for Interplanetary Internet (Source: WIRED)
Vint Cerf, Google's internet evangelist, has unveiled a new protocol intended to power an interplanetary internet. The Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol emerged from work first started in 1998 in partnership with Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The initial goal was to modify the ubiquitous Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to facilitate robust communications between celestial bodies and satellites. They were forced to acknowledge that TCP simply couldn't cut the mustard, with massive delay and data loss caused by celestial motion rendering TCP useless.

"There was a little problem called the speed of light," joked a typically playful Cerf, as he outlined the idea to the OpenMobileSummit conference in San Francisco. "When Earth and Mars are closest, we're 35 million miles apart, and it's a three and a half minute trip one way, seven minutes for a round trip. Then when we're farthest apart, we're 235 million miles – 20 minutes one way, 40 minutes round trip."

The core issue is that TCP assumes a continuous (and fairly reliable) connection. DTN makes no such assumptions, requiring each node to buffer all of its packets until a stable connection can be established. Whereas TCP will repeatedly attempt to send packets until they are successfully acknowledged, DTN will automatically find a destination node with a reliable connection, and then send its payload just once. Given the latency of space communications and the minimal power restrictions placed upon satellites, DTNs approach seems prudent. (11/6)

Air Force Recruitment Video Focuses on Space Collision Avoidance (Source: USAF)
An Air Force commercial highlighting the service's role in protecting satellite and other space assets shows what happens when two pieces of space junk collide, sending debris on a potentially cataclysmic collision course with a vital communications satellite. Click here to view the video. (11/6)

Spain Incorporates Space Tourism in Airports Legislation (Source: SPACErePORT)
In a Spanish "Airports and Heliports Law" passed in July, language was included to support Catalonia's efforts to develop a space tourism industry. The law states that facilities and services necessary for space and space tourism can be located at airports. Also, "the Government shall put into effect...actions of promotion and devlopment of space-related activities, and especially, activities of education, public outreach and spacce tourism..." (11/6)

Orbital Debris Threatens Space Station (Source:
Flight controllers were monitoring an unknown piece of orbital debris that could pass within 500 meters of the International Space Station at 10:48 p.m. on Friday. The station crew might be asked to board the docked Soyuz capsules later, as a precaution, depending on the outcome of additional tracking data analysis. (11/6)

Foreign Land Awaits Soyuz Rockets leaving Russia (Source:
The first two Soyuz rockets scheduled to lift off from the Guiana Space Center next year will take their first step toward space Saturday, beginning a transatlantic ocean voyage to a jungle spaceport instead of heading for the familiar steppes of Kazakhstan. (11/6)

South Korean Weather-Communications Satellite to Launch From Kourou (Source: Xinhua)
South Korea plans to launch its first weather-communications satellite into space in March, 2010. The satellite was developed jointly by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and France's Astrium. It will be placed in geostationary orbit 36,000 km from Earth and be equipped with a multi-spectrum camera and sensor array that can help gather high quality ocean meteorological data including typhoons, ocean temperatures, the movement of dust and cloud formations. (11/6)

California Wants Boeing, NASA to Clean Up of Toxic Lab (Source: Daily Comet)
California environmental regulators have proposed forcing Boeing and NASA to clean up chemical and radioactive pollution at a 2,800-acre research site in eastern Ventura County. The draft of a revised cleanup plan for the Santa Susana Field Laboratory was announced Wednesday. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control wants any cleanup to meet federal and state standards. The draft plan names Boeing, NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy as the responsible parties. Boeing, which has been negotiating with the state for months over cleanup details, calls the plan disappointing. It has a week to respond. The lab 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles was used for nuclear power and rocket testing for more than four decades. (11/6)

Space Debris Threatens Space Station And Its Crew (Source: Florida Today)
Six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station will be ready to climb into Soyuz lifeboats for a potential evacuation tonight if a piece of space junk being tracked by flight controllers collides with the outpost. NASA flight commentator Kelly Humphries said a collision is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the crew was briefed on the unidentified piece of debris, which is expected to come within one-third of a mile of the station around 10:48 p.m. EST. (11/6)

Firm Will Is Needed to Advance Korea's Space Program (Source:
An independent panel of experts investigating the failure of Korea's first satellite launch rocket earlier this year announced on Thursday that the cause was an abnormal separation of the nose fairing assembly which covered the satellite payload. It caused by either a mechanical problem or a delayed detonation of a charge that facilitates the separation. The panel said no other abnormalities occurred during the launch. If that analysis is correct, then there is a good chance that the failure of the Naro or KSLV-1 rocket to put its satellite payload into orbit was due to a mistake in the portion of the rocket that Korean scientists were in charge of. (11/6)

China: Space Militarization Comment Misinterpreted (Source: Forbes)
Did the arms race in space begin this week? "Competition between military forces is developing towards the sky and space, it is extending beyond the atmosphere and even into outer space," said the chief of the Chinese air force in the Nov. 2 edition of People's Liberation Army Daily, the official newspaper of China's military. "This development is a historical inevitability and cannot be undone."

What cannot be undone is the effect of General Xu Qiliang's words. Chinese state media, however, tried to do just that, contending that the foreign media misinterpreted him. Then Chinese diplomats got in on the act. "China has never and will not participate in an outer space arms race in any form," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on Nov. 5. "The position of China on this point remains unchanged." (11/6)

LaserMotive is First Ever Prize Winner in Space Elevator Games (Source: Popular Science)
First proposed in 1895, and popularized by the Arthur C. Clarke book The Fountains of Paradise, space elevators have a rich history in the culture of space travel. Unfortunately, the history of their engineering success is far less impressive. But if the results from this week's Space Elevator Games are any indication, that might be about to change. Funded by NASA and the Spaceward Foundation, the yearly contest offers a $2 million first prize to any group whose machine can quickly climb a kilometer-long ribbon tethered to a helicopter, while receiving power remotely from the ground. On Tuesday, LaserMotive became the first team in competition history to qualify for the $900,000 second prize.

The LaserMotive machine consists of a motor that pulls the device up the 2,953-foot-long ribbon, photovoltaic cells that power the motor, and a ground-based laser that provides the light for the cells. LaserMotive set a new record for the competition, and became the first team to ever reach the top of the ribbon. However, they had to settle for the $900,000 second prize, as securing the $2 million first prize requires not only reaching the top of the ribbon, but doing so at an average speed of 11 miles per hour. Sadly, the LaserMotive machine ran slightly slower than that mark. (11/6)

General Calls for Focus on Protecting Satellites (Source: USAF)
The chief of U.S. Strategic Command wants better tools for protecting against threats from space debris -- an estimated 20,000 pieces of manmade material orbiting around the planet. Gen. Kevin P. Chilton laid out what he described as his "wish list" Nov. 4, emphasizing the importance of being able to predict collisions between debris and valuable satellites. Given the scarce number of personnel tasked with carrying out this mission, "we are decades behind where we should be, in my view," General Chilton said. (11/6)

Senate Votes to Restore NASA Funding Previously Cut by House (Source: Houston Chronicle)
In a strong show of support for President Obama's vision for NASA and manned space missions, the Senate agreed Thursday to hand over all that he asked for: $4 billion to build cutting-edge spacecraft as part of an $18.7 billion budget. The Senate voted 71 to 28 for a massive spending bill that would restore $670 million cut from manned space exploration by the House in June. The proposed spending still faces a strong test of wills as the Senate and House try to reach a budgetary compromise.

“NASA can't do anything unless it gets some serious, new, additional money,” said Sen. Bill Nelson. The Senate measure provides $3.2 billion for shuttle operations through Sept. 30 next year; $4 billion for construction and operation of the orbiting $100 billion International Space Station; and $628 million to pay the Russian space agency to ferry U.S. astronauts and cargo to the ISS after the shuttle fleet is retired.

Texas' senators split on the measure. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas, voted in favor of the spending bill and won a seat on the team of Senate negotiators that will work out differences with the House. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the GOP campaign committee working to win control of the Senate in 2010 and an increasingly ardent voice against federal spending, voted against the package. Cornyn backs full funding for NASA, spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said. But the overall measure increases federal funding for the various agencies and departments by nearly 13 percent over last year, McLaughlin said. (11/6)

China-Backed Space Measure Advances in United Nations (Source: Spaceports Blog)
China, Russia, and 68 other co-sponsor countries are behind a Transparency and Confidence Building Measures in Outer Space measure that was approved on Oct. 29 by the First Committee of the 64th UN General Assembly. Of particular note, the EU countries became a collective cosponsor. The measure will pave the way for talks on an agreement on the demilitarization of space, a Russian diplomat said. In the past, only the United States and several island nations opposed similar Russian proposals. The approval of the draft document by the committee practically ensures that the proposals will be adopted by the UN General Assembly in December.

The Russian official emphasized the fact that the U.S. has decided for the first time to go along with the rest of the world, and Washington has noted the importance of bilateral cooperation with Russia on all issues related to outer space. It clearly shows the shift in U.S. global policies in general and builds up optimism on the success of future talks on demilitarization of outer space, the Russian diplomat concluded. In consultation with allies, the United States is currently in the process of assessing options for international cooperation in space as a part of a comprehensive review of national space policy. (11/6)

Sirius Makes Strides in Third Quarter (Source: Wall Street Journal)
For the first time since December, Sirius XM Radio Inc. began adding subscribers, a promising sign for the paid-radio business. The company, which ran into financing difficulties that nearly sent it into bankruptcy early this year before Liberty Media Corp. took a 40% stake, is still suffering as consumers keep a tight lid on their spending, and it may lose subscribers again in the fourth quarter. (11/6)

DirecTV Shows Subscriber Gains, as Rivals See Loss (Source: LA Times)
Satellite TV operator DirecTV Group Inc. was one of the few pay-TV companies to attract new subscribers in the third quarter, as it reported revenue growth of 10 percent that was partly offset by higher costs to attract and serve those customers. DirecTV, which is controlled by media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media Corp., has focused on attracting consumers who don't mind paying more for quality TV as long as they get football and other packages they want. (11/6)

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