December 31 News Items

Honeywell Aerospace to Lay Off 265 in Arizona (Source: AIA)
Honeywell Aerospace says it will cut 265 jobs in Phoenix in 2010 and will temporarily close its Phoenix-area operations next week in order to reduce costs. The company already closed some operations for the holidays and will close more in the first week of January. Operations affected include the Honeywell Aerospace plant near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and operations in Glendale and north Phoenix. (12/31)

Commercial Spaceflight: Big Decade, Big Future (Source:
It's been a wild and crazy ride in space since the first decade of the 21st century began, but as it nears its close the realm of commercial space travel has taken one giant leap into reality. Now, commercial space is on a growth-curve, with a whirlwind of large and small companies ready to offer a variety of skills.
There is growing recognition of this fact, evidenced by the recent Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee – a report that spotlighted the commercial space industry, advising NASA to encourage and use more commercial space services to support future human space missions.

Even so, the coming year is shaping up like a space-based game of "Truth or Dare". Some see a tradition-breaking paradigm in the offing, one that increases the reliance on the private sector for space tasks. Others are not sure, envisioning risky hand-shakes with firms that offer little in the way of track record. Click here to view the article. (12/31)

NASA Plans Backup Astronaut Escape System (Source: Discovery)
With NASA retiring the shuttle fleet in 2010, next generation spaceships are being developed with a renewed focus on safety. Determined never to repeat the tragic Challenger launch accident, NASA not only is developing a crew escape system for the space shuttles' replacements; the space agency also has a backup system that could fly astronauts to safety in case of an emergency.

Significantly improving safety is one of the reasons the U.S. is retiring its three-ship shuttle fleet after five more missions in 2010 to complete construction of the International Space Station. Like the venerable Russian Soyuz capsules still in use today, previous U.S. spaceships had emergency escape systems that could fly a crew module to safety in case of an accident on the launch pad or during the early phases of flight. The escape system is such an important part of NASA's planned Orion vehicles, that NASA decided to develop a whole new technology should Orion run into problems with the tried-and-true tower-style escape system.

NASA asked its independent engineering and safety center, set up in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster, to come up with a crew escape system that eliminated Orion's planned 40-foot-tall, rocket-laced tower that would pull the capsule away in case of a launch emergency. A small team of NASA engineers and contractors created and tested what it called the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS. "Max" is a nod to the late Maxime Faget, the designer of the Mercury capsule, the first U.S. manned spacecraft, and to Faget's engineering design philosophy: Build rapidly and test. (12/31)

Loral Selected to Provide Echostar Satellite (Source: Loral)
Loral was selected to provide a new direct broadcast satellite (DBS), EchoStar XVI, to a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (Nasdaq:SATS). EchoStar XVI is the seventh satellite contract awarded to SS/L in 2009. It is planned for launch in 2012. The space-proven SS/L 1300 satellite bus, used by EchoStar XVI, provides the flexibility for a broad range of applications. Loral currently has 59 satellites on orbit and has amassed more than 1,600 years of reliable on-orbit service. (12/31)

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