December 4 News Items

NOAA Budget Passback Includes Additional Money for Satellites (Source: Space News)
The White House’s budget office has added $87 million to the $428.8 million NOAA planned to request for the troubled National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) for 2011. The NPOESS weather satellite program has encountered massive cost growth and schedule slips in recent years, and an independent review panel concluded in the spring that the program is hobbled by ineffective management structure and needs a near-term infusion of cash to succeed. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy assembled a task force in the summer to make changes to get the program back on track. (12/4)

NASA Still Struggles with Accounting (Source: Space News)
Although NASA failed for the seventh year in a row to receive a passing grade from independent auditors, the agency has made significant progress in cleaning up its financial records, NASA’s newly appointed chief financial officer told members of the House Science and Technology Committee during a Dec. 3 hearing. “Today, using current systems and processes, NASA is able to track and control its funds, account for the costs related to individual programs and projects, and manage the agency’s day-to-day operations,” she said. The major problem preventing auditors from Ernst & Young LLP from approving NASA’s books is the space agency’s difficulty in calculating the value of its two largest assets: the space shuttle and international space station, which made it impossible for auditors to determine whether information included in the agency’s balance sheets was accurate. (12/4)

AIA Presses Obama on Export-Control Reform (Source: Space News)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to introduce legislation this month that could lead to a House-Senate conference next year that could ease restrictions on U.S. commercial communications satellite exports. In June, the House passed legislation in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2010 and 2011 that would give the Obama Administration authority to remove commercial satellites from the State Department’s Munitions List. Until now, the bill has awaited consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, though congressional and industry sources say the panel hopes to take up companion legislation before year’s end.

“We see this as a move toward reasonableness that I think is a very encouraging sign about the way Congress is approaching this,” Marion Blakey, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), said of the House legislation during a Dec. 3 conference call with reporters. “It’s being considered on the Senate side as well.” AIA sent Obama a letter Dec. 2 urging him to consider specific actions that would lead to looser restrictions on U.S. technology transfers to foreign countries. (12/4)

Mysterious "Strange" Stars May Rival Black Holes for Weirdness (Source: USA Today)
Think black holes are strange? Understandable considering these powerhouses of the universe (many times heavier than our sun) are collapsed stars with gravity so strong that even light cannot escape their grasp. But maybe they're not "strange" enough, suggest some astrophysicists. "Stellar" black holes, ones only a few times heavier than the sun, may actually be something even weirder called a quark star, or "strange" star. (12/4)

Black Hole May Construct its Own Galactic Home (Source: Science News)
A homeless black hole might be building a new galaxy to live in, new observations suggest. The find could be the latest clue in a longstanding mystery in astronomy: whether supermassive black holes or the galaxies that house them form first. “If it is true, it is very surprising, as it gives a whole new role to the black holes in the universe — not as devourers but as creators of galaxies,” comments Padelis Papadopoulos of the University of Bonn in Germany. The new observations, which were published online and in the December 1 issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics, could represent a shift in galaxy formation theories — but some think it’s too soon to rewrite the textbooks. (12/4)

WISE Launch from California Rescheduled to Dec. 11 (Source: NASA)
Launch of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is scheduled for Dec. 11. Launch and mission managers will gather at Vandenberg today for the Flight Readiness Review to verify the Delta II rocket and its payload are ready for liftoff. At Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 2, the spacecraft is safely tucked into in the outer nose cone, or "fairing," that will protect it during its launch and ascent. (12/4)

Europe and India Could Collaborate on Hypersonic Plane Technologies (Source: Economic Times)
Europe's EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services, is keen to forge partnership with the Indian Space Research Organization on supersonic and hypersonic aeroplane technologies, a top company official said. "We are looking very much into the future," said an EADS official. EADS is keen on building "green" aeroplanes acceptable to society and it's here that he sees a partnership role for ISRO with his company. (12/4)

Bartender, Gimme a Beer from Outer Space (Source: CNET)
Is all this space travel worthwhile? Will it really contribute to our civilization or our touchingly naive way of life? Will it even lift our spirits? I cannot be sure about the first two, as I feel these might be permanently floating somewhere out there. But I have some space-sourced spirit lifting to share. Japan's Sapporo Breweries, the entity that brings you those large silver tins of beer to complement your rainbow roll, announced this week that it is launching space beer. Sapporo "Space Barley", with its cute outer-space sparkling starred label, has been created using barley grown on the International Space Station. (12/4)

Wanted: Moon Engineers (Source: EE Times)
Engineering students worried about their job prospects and looking to expand their design experience may want to consider a NASA internship program. The assignment? Design a lunar habitat for future astronauts. The space agency is seeking engineering students to help design new technologies that will be needed to establish a manned lunar base. Top candidates will be offered paid internships with NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program. Final entries are due by May 15, 2010. (12/4)

Space Chair: Rancho Cordova Business Creates International Ad Sensation (Source: KXTV)
Toshiba, the giant electronics manufacturer, had already booked advertising time on television networks in Europe and Japan. Their must-stop-and-watch image commercial would feature an armchair rising from the ground to the edge of space, beautifully shot in high definition. It would be a creative way to market Toshiba's new line of flat screen televisions. The only thing missing was the "money shot" -- an arm chair hovering at the edge of space. Special effects was not an option because viewers would know it was fake. Sort of like the scene of the White House blowing up in the movie Independence Day. Everyone knows it's not real.

NASA could probably put Toshiba's little orange armchair in space, but that would take years of planning and cost millions of dollars. And their ad campaign was set to air in just weeks. The production company in charge of creating the ad is based in London, England. But even across the Atlantic Ocean, they had heard of a man who works out of a small warehouse in Rancho Cordova, a man who has flown science projects under helium balloons to the edge of space more than 100 times. When John Powell received the first email asking if he could fly a light-weight chair high above the Earth, his first reaction was "no one is going to be sitting in the chair, right?" Correct. Powell's second reaction: "Yeah, we can do that. It sounds like a really fun mission." Click here for more. (12/4)

Embry-Riddle at War: Aviation Training During World War II (Source: ERAU)
Scholar and historian, Dr. Stephen Craft will visit Northwest Florida on Apr. 7 to discuss the contributions made by civilian aviation schools in the United States during World War II. Craft is Associate Chair at Embry-Riddle as well as the author of Embry-Riddle at War: Aviation Training During WWII. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by Florida Humanities Council and the Fort Walton Beach area campuses of Embry-Riddle. Dr. Craft will be at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in Valparaiso at noon, and at the Aviation Institute Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach at 6:00 p.m. Contact Ron Garriga at 850-678-3137 for information. (12/4)

Delta 4 Launch Pushed Back to Saturday Night (Source:
After weather and technical problems on Thursday night, officials decided to forego attempting to launch the Delta 4 rocket and a U.S. military communications satellite from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Friday. The next try could come Saturday. The initial countdown Thursday evening was scrubbed after a long hold caused by upper level winds, thick clouds, rain and some sort of technical issue. (12/4)

Alabama Congressman Challenges Safety of Commercial Rockets for Crew Missions (Source: Huntsville Times)
U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, took a panel of experts to task this week over claims that commercial rockets could be developed and used to loft astronauts into space safer than the Marshall Space Flight Center-managed Ares launch vehicles. "What hard evidence do we have that they can deliver manned space flight in a more timely way than the Ares 1 or constellation? Is there any evidence?" (12/4)

Solaren to Close Funding for Space Solar Power (Source: GreenTech)
Solaren hopes to raise more than $100 million to develop an orbiting solar farm in space. The project would require billions of dollars, including rockets that are likely to cost $150 million each. Gary Spirnak is used to playing with big ideas and machines. The Manhattan, Calif.-based company, Solaren Corp., expects to close funding in less than two months to start developing the project in earnest, Spirnak told Greentech Media. He hopes to raise more than $100 million, the amount Solaren will need to validate its designs in the lab. (12/4)

Russia Plans to Send 10 Spacecraft to ISS Next Year (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia will launch four manned and six cargo supply missions to the International Space Station in 2010. The first two Soyuz carrier rockets have been delivered to the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan in preparation for next year's launches. The Russian segment of the ISS currently consists of the Zvezda and Zarya modules, and the Pirs and the Poisk docking stations. A NASA space shuttle is scheduled to deliver Russia's MRM-1 (Rassvet) module to the ISS next May, to provide additional cargo storage and docking facilities for the Russian segment. Russia plans to add a multipurpose scientific module and two energy modules to the ISS in the next three years and continue rotating at least two cosmonauts as part of the station's six-member crew. (12/4)

NASA, Lockheed Martin and Germany Team to Build Better Rocket Tanks (Source: Huntsville Times)
Marshall Space Flight Center has teamed with Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colo., and MT Aerospace in Augsburg, Germany, to build the the first full-scale rocket fuel tank dome using improved welding and manufacturing processes. The NASA and Lockheed Martin team traveled to Germany to view the application of two separate manufacturing processes: friction stir welding, a solid-state joining process, and spin forming, a metal working process used to form symmetric, or even, parts. (12/4)

No comments: