December 13 News Items

Augustine Panel Members, and PlanetSpace, Come to Sea Launch's Rescue (Source:
Sea Launch is completing a comprehensive plan for a revised and revitalized supply chain management structure with its partner organizations. This element is a significant factor in the company’s emergence and success going forward. During the first quarter of 2010, Sea Launch plans to submit a Plan of Reorganization to the bankruptcy court as a step toward emerging from Chapter 11 status. Sea Launch will also be working to secure exit financing to provide a strong foundation for transitioning from bankruptcy to a healthy and reliable launch services provider.

Excalibur Almaz and PlanetSpace are working to provide exit financing through Space Launch Services, LLC (“SLS LLC”), as well as equity investment in a reorganized Sea Launch, for the purpose of sustaining reliable commercial access to space. SLS LLC is led by Bohdan (Bo) Bejmuk, an aerospace consultant with in-depth knowledge of space systems and launch vehicles. In parallel with its focus on the reorganization process, Sea Launch successfully completed the launch of the Intelsat 15 satellite on November 30, on a Zenit-3SLB vehicle from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. This is Sea Launch’s fourth and final launch campaign of 2009.

Editor's Note: It's probably no coincidence here that Bo Bejmuk chairs NASA's Constellation Program Standing Review Board, was a member of the Augustine Panel, and serves as an executive consultant with Excalibur Almaz. Excalibur Almaz Vice President Leroy Chiao also served on the Augustine Panel. PlanetSpace's interest in supporting Sea Launch is also very interesting, as its chairman, Chirinjeev Kathuria, was one of the founding directors of MirCorp, which provided commercial access to Russia's former Mir space station. (12/13)

Editorial: Lawmakers Should Push Approval of Larger Solar Plant at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Out at Kennedy Space Center, the launch pad for decades of space exploration, another venture is taking flight. That’s solar energy production at Florida Power & Light’s new $78.9 million, 10-megawatt solar power project on 60 acres of old citrus field south of the KSC Visitor Complex. It’s one of three solar plants the company is building in Florida, a state whose endless supply of sunshine should make it an international leader in the burgeoning alternative energy industry.

Construction of the nearly 40,000 solar-panel plant has already created 100 jobs in Brevard County. And shows the huge potential to draw more solar and renewable energy jobs to transform the spaceport into what it can and should become — a green-energy hub that would bring direly needed high-tech jobs. But Brevard and Florida are at a crossroads, and large numbers of future jobs will go elsewhere unless the state Legislature finally wakes up and becomes a far more aggressive player in the race to land alternative energy R&D and manufacturing. So far, its record is pitiful. This year, lawmakers killed Gov. Charlie Crist’s initiative to require utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, standards that would encourage an alternative energy boom in Florida.

SunPower, the California-based company building the 10-megawatt KSC solar farm and pegged to construct the larger facility, wants to build a solar energy research and development center and solar-panel manufacturing plant in Florida, said CEO Tom Perkins in a Dec. 4 letter to Crist. With its highly skilled work force and desperate need for new industry to replace job losses at KSC when the shuttle fleet retires next year, Brevard is the natural site for both. But the plan could fall through without fast-track legislation to allow regulatory approval. (12/13)

Kansas Cosmosphere Has Until July to Raise More Than $100,000 for Grant (Source: Hutch News)
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is about to embark on a campaign to raise $1.5 million to $2.5 million over the next three years to bring its museum of space flight up to date, add more interactive exhibits, perform major maintenance on the building and put the museum in position to acquire new artifacts when NASA retires the space shuttle. "It's very important for them to be ahead of the game and continue to be a cutting-edge, exciting place, the sort of place that inspires the passion and great thinking we associate with the space quest," said Kate Van Cantfort of the Hutchinson Community Foundation, which last month agreed to give the Cosmosphere $10,000 in local matching money toward a $137,000 federal grant.

Raising the remaining matching money to obtain the federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services is the Cosmosphere's immediate priority. The museum has until July to do that. The grant and local matching money would be used to update the museum's space exploration galleries, which currently end with the Apollo-Soyuz missions of the 1970s, and add more interactive exhibits. (12/13)

Space Agencies Join Forces to Systematically Observe Climate Variables (Source: ESA)
Over 30 000 people from 190 nations are gathered at the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. On Thursday about 150 distinguished guests attended an ESA-hosted side event entitled 'Global Monitoring of our Climate: the Essential Climate Variables'. During the event, speakers from various agencies highlighted the role that Earth observation satellites play in providing systematic global climate observations. These observations are essential for climate change research and for managing mitigation and adaptation strategies. (12/13)

Virgin Galactic President Visits Florida to Discuss Civilian Space Travel (Source: Naples News)
No light. No sound. No weight. Just space. Bold adventurers with deep pockets have within their reach five minutes free from the bounds of Earth on SpaceShip Two, Virgin Galactic’s newly unveiled commercial space ship. More than 300 people have secured their place in line to become space tourists for $200,000 a pop. “They watched the 1969 moon landing and somebody told them one day they would go to space,” said Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn, who wowed Naples crowds at the Community School of Naples on Thursday and the Forum Club of Southwest Florida on Friday.

Still, Whitehorn is convinced commercializing space will not only provide once in a lifetime opportunities bit it will be invaluable to science, cargo transport and global travel while freeing NASA from launching satellites or carrying astronauts to the Space Station. “I have the hugest respect for NASA but it needs to get back to the exploration of space,” Whitehorn said. Some Forum attendees Friday questioned the project’s safety and wondered if a catastrophic accident could kill the project. But Whitehorn isn’t planning on any accidents. “This will be safer than driving a car down I-75,” he said.After five or so years of successful commercial flights, Whitehorn said the price could come down to about $90,000. (12/11)

Military Agency Studying Space Garbage Service (Source:
The Pentagon's research and development division is studying concepts to remove dangerous space debris from orbit, an endeavor long dismissed as too costly but potentially feasible with technology advancements. The study is called Catcher's Mitt and will explore technically and economically feasible ways to rid Earth orbit of space junk that threatens active space missions, including the International Space Station and valuable satellites. DARPA is leading the Catcher's Mitt study. (12/11)

Space Program: Is it Worth the Cost? (Source: Jacksonville Ti
Jacksonville area residents have provided a variety of opionions on proposed goals for our nation's space program. Click here to read their comments. (12/11)

Space the Future of Destination Weddings? (Source: Edmonton Metro News)
Looking for an exciting place to have your destination wedding? How about outer space? It might be possible sooner than you think as business tycoon Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic project soars forward. The Edmonton World Trade Center hosted an information session yesterday with the world’s first public space-travel provider Virgin Galactic. The event was hosted by Michael Broadhurst, Western Canada’s only certified space agent. As president of the Vision 2000 travel company, Broadhurst is excited about the project and looking forward to the long-term possibilities. “Incidentally, my great ambition in this, we sell a lot of destination weddings, I think this would be the greatest ride for a destination wedding,” said Broadhurst. (12/10)

No comments: