December 26 News Items

Virginia to Boost Commercial Spaceport Budget (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Virginia's spaceport is on the move in 2010 with outgoing Governor Tim Kaine including $1.37 million in the next state budget [114 (K)] for each of two years to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) to operate the commercial launch facility. The budget amendment was backed by Governor-elect Robert F. McDonnell during the 2009 statewide political campaign. (12/22)

Transition Phase Means a Full Plate (Source: Huntsville Times)
As a new decade begins, Marshall Space Flight Center workers will begin the final countdown for the four-decade-old space shuttle program and continue supporting the International Space Station. About 350 federal employees at Marshall work directly for the shuttle program, with another 500 splitting their time between the shuttle and other work, said Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot. We've got people here that have spent 20 to 30 years only working shuttle. There will be some who retire, but we will put people from shuttle into Ares mostly. "Anybody who has a job will have one when shuttle retires." (12/26)

Five Injured in Hotel Fire in Cosmonauts' Town (Source: RIA Novosti)
At least five people were injured in a hotel fire in a cosmonauts' town northeast of Moscow early on Saturday. The fire at the Orbita hotel occurred at about 8:00 a.m. in Star City, a famous location just 25 km (16 miles) northeast of Moscow where cosmonauts have lived and trained since the 1960s. Three injured people have already been hospitalized, and over 30 people have been evacuated, the source said. According to preliminary reports, the hotel accommodated Russian army officers and their families.

Experts Outline Steps to Create Pan-Arab Space Agency (Source: Gulf News)
Leading regional and international space industry experts gathered in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, at the region's leading platform for space and satellite technology. The second edition of the Global Space Technology Forum (GSTF) was officially inaugurated by Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. The three day event at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center came at an exciting time for the region's space industry with many exciting projects on the horizon.

In a session on space policy, regulations and economics, Dr Mohammad Argoun, the former Director of the Egyptian Space Program, discussed the economic and social benefits for nations of the Middle East embarking on space-based initiatives. He also presented a detailed outline of the necessary steps and milestones that governments in the region must reach before creating a Pan-Arab space agency. (12/26)

Trio of NASA Missions for 2010 Probe Secrets of Earth, Sun (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But that's not all the agency has planned: There are also launches of three new satellites aimed at better understanding the Earth's climate and oceans, and the sun. Two of the probes will examine Earth -- specifically the concentration of salt in the world's oceans and the presence of aerosol particles, such as soot, in the atmosphere. A third mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth. (12/26)

El Segundo Man Working on Largest Space Telescope Ever Built (Source: Daily Breeze)
As a young boy, Robert Luetgens looked up to the heavens and fantasized about soaring in space as an astronaut. Decades later, Luetgens works on a device that will not only observe the heavens, but also peer into our universe's past. Luetgens, 42, serves as a supervising technician for the James Webb Space Telescope at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Space Park campus in Redondo Beach.

James Webb will be the largest space telescope ever built. NASA plans to launch the telescope in 2014 to an orbit 1 million miles from Earth in order to observe glimpses of the universe when it was only a few hundred million years old. Luetgens, an El Segundo resident, specifically works on the James Webb's optical telescope, which is the primary mirror. (12/25)

Congress Extends Liability Protection for Commercial Launches (Sources: Orlando Sentinel, Space Politics)
In a move essential to Florida’s efforts to develop an expanded commercial launch industry, the U.S. Senate passed legislation late Wednesday that would extend federal liability protection for commercial space launch providers against catastrophic events. Every time a commercial company launches rocket with any payload, the potential third-party liability is enormous—a rocket could conceivably do billions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure and people.

Under the measure approved by the Senate, the U.S. government would continue for three more years to indemnify commercial launch operators against third-party claims for launch-related damages that exceed $500 million, up to a total of $1.5 billion. First established by Congress as part of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988, the liability-limiting legislation been extended four times. The House passed the same bill two months ago, so it will go on to the President for his signature, with the current indemnification provision expiring on December 31.

In order to obtain a commercial launch license, a company is required to purchase a private insurance policy that covers the third-party liability up to what’s called the “maximum probable loss”. Under the legislation, the government agrees to indemnify the companies beyond the MPL up to the $1.5 billion threshold. However, payment of claims is not automatic. Congressional approval is required for any payment. If claims go beyond $1.5 billion, liability reverts to the commercial launch operator. (12/25)

Jacobs Buys TYBRIN (Source: Trading Markets)
California-based Jacobs Engineering Group has announced the purchase of defense contractor TYBRIN Corp., with headquarters in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Jacobs announced the sale in a news release issued Thursday. Terms were not disclosed. Like TYBRIN, Jacobs has a presence at multiple government installations in Florida. TYBRIN provides services for the Department of Defense, NASA and state governments. It has more than 1,400 employees at 235 locations in 47 states and 18 overseas sites. (12/25)

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