December 6 News Items

Virginia Railroad Car Float $1-Million Repair May Boost Spaceport (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The Bay Coast Railroad line is seeking $1 million for repairs to the railroad car float that links Virginia's Eastern Shore with the rest of the state -- and which some say could play a future role in developments at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport such as moving rocket boosters and large parts to the Virginia space launch facility from the port at Norfolk.

Virginia has $700,000 in grant money to repair the float, which ceased operations last summer, but another $300,000 from a revolving loan fund administered by the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission would need to be repaid over 10 years by some combination of the two Virginia Eastern Shore counties and the railroad. The Taurus-2 requires first-stage fuel tanks built in Ukraine and to be delivered to the port in Norfolk. Transport options include barge or the rail-barge combination. (12/6)

Editorial: Lawmakers Must Press Case for Space Support (Source: Florida Today)
The Space Coast unemployment rate is clocking in at 11.4 percent, a number that’s taking a brutal toll on individuals and families struggling to survive. Now imagine the impact a 13 percent jobless figure, or higher, would have on our community. That’s what is looming when the shuttle program ends next year and eliminates about 7,000 jobs at Kennedy Space Center, plus as many as 21,000 more as businesses that rely on NASA paychecks cut workers or shut their doors.

The grim projections came a few days ago from the Brevard Workforce Development Board during a meeting between local officials and Brevard’s state lawmakers in which the need to forcefully address the post-shuttle transition took center stage. It was the right message to hear, because as Florida’s Congress members urge President Obama to support and fund a new mission for NASA, Brevard legislators are continuing efforts to make their colleagues realize space is critical to Florida’s economy and citizens. The Legislature’s work is vital in creating an innovative, business-friendly climate to attract high-technology ventures to Brevard and around the state. With the shuttle’s demise near, and Florida’s economy in the tank, it’s a matter of urgency. (12/6)

Florida Legislator Creates Statewide Space Caucus (Source: Florida Today)
Freshman State Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) has established a legislative Space Caucus that has grown in bipartisan membership to 42 lawmakers in the House and Senate. That’s a noteworthy accomplishment in a body where space has long been brushed aside as a Brevard issue, with members failing to recognize NASA’s $4 billion annual economic impact to the state. The caucus is to meet Wednesday in Tallahassee, and Workman has asked members to come forward with space-related legislation they would like introduced. He’s also asked aerospace company officials to explain how their operations benefit areas far beyond Brevard. (12/6)

Commercial ISS Transport Taking Shape, Awards This Week? (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA is gearing up to release $50 million in economic stimulus money to fund technology development for commercial crew transport to the International Space Station and any other low-Earth-orbit (LEO) destinations that may show up. Announcement of Space Act agreements under the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) effort could come as early as this week, and may even present an opportunity to see how President Barack Obama wants to proceed in human spaceflight.

At the top of the list of options is dropping development of the Ares I crew launch vehicle in favor of sending crews to the space station on some sort of human-rated commercial launch vehicle. Work to send unpiloted commercial cargo spacecraft to the ISS could feed into that approach, and it already has advanced to the point that flight hardware has reached its launch site.

The first-stage booster for the debut flight of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle under development by Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX) arrived at the company’s Florida launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 24. The test flight, now targeted for no earlier than February, is a precursor to SpaceX’s work for NASA to demonstrate ISS cargo resupply capability. Click here to read the article. (12/6)

With Delta-4, ULA Launches 36th Mission in 36 Months (Source: ULA)
Launching its 36th successful mission in 36 months, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket delivered the Air Force's third Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-3) satellite into orbit. Launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, WGS-3 joins the USAF's two other WGS satellites, which both launched on ULA Atlas V vehicles.

ULA was formed on Dec. 1, 2006, as a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, bringing together two of the launch industry's most experienced and successful teams -- the Lockheed Martin Atlas and Boeing Delta teams -- that had supported America's presence in space for more than 50 years. ULA's first launch occurred only 14 days later as a Delta II rocket launched NROL-21 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (12/6)

NASA Astronaut Candidates Train in Pensacola (Source: Pensacola News Journal)
Seven aspiring astronauts recently spent a month and a half at Pensacola Naval Air Station for an intensive bout of training in preparation for traveling to space. The seven candidates who came to Pensacola NAS were not pilots, and needed to go through water-survival training, aviation physiology training and indoctrination flight training.

In addition to water-survival training, the candidates got to spend some time in flight simulators and took familiarization flights and instrument training flights in T-6A Texan II turboprop aircraft. The candidates finished training at Pensacola NAS in mid-November, and returned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for the next round of training, which includes extensive instruction in systems onboard the International Space Station. (12/6)

After Moon, India Ready for Mars (Source: DNA)
A feasibility report done by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has established that India has the capability to go on a mission to Mars. "Various concepts are emerging to look at Mars and the nearby objects like asteroids and comets. A feasibility study by Isro has established that India has the capability to go to Mars. Our Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) can be used to launch a Mars mission," said ISRO's former director. (12/6)

India to Test World’s Third Largest Solid Rocket Booster (Source: Thaindian News)
The Indian space agency is expected to take a major step in January towards realizing its next generation rocket by ground-firing the world’s third largest - in terms of fuel mass and length - solid rocket booster developed in-house. An Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) official said: “The large solid propellant booster project was taken up nearly a decade ago and will achieve its first milestone next month.” (12/6)

Variety's No Strangerto NASA Project List (Source: Huntsville Times)
Huntsville may be known around the world for its rockets and missiles, but many here work on science programs that ride on those rockets. Seeded by the first Marshall Space Flight Center director, Dr. Wernher von Braun, and carried on over the past five decades, science still thrives in Huntsville, said Corky Clinton, acting manager of the Marshall Science and Mission Systems.

"We have a diverse portfolio of scientific programs and projects in the works at Marshall, ranging from developing robotic lunar landers and small satellites to rewriting 21st century astrophysics texts all while using NASA technology to help the developing world," Clinton said. Click here to view a list of top projects. (12/6)

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