January 14, 2010

Bigelow's Private Space Station Could Mean Future Business in Florida (Source: Parabolic Arc)
A Space News interview with Robert Bigelow provides an update on his company's plans. An excerpt: "2014 is the year in which all the spacecraft components would be deployed and assembled. We need seven rocket flights to succeed. 2015 is designated as when the first station operations would actually begin. But that’s predicated on what is going to happen in 2010, with the Crew Transport Vehicle, the CTV. We are hoping SpaceX will have a successful lifter in Falcon 9 and is going to continue to work on getting its Dragon CTV operational. So we’re hopeful that SpaceX is going to be there supplying boosters and also hopeful that the Atlas 5 is in there. We are anticipating United Launch Alliance is going to be a major supplier of our needs."

"I also have a design for a “Big Bertha” spacecraft for NASA’s Ares 5. We can create a module that has twice the volume of the entire international space station. One module alone could have 2,100 cubic meters of volume. We’re volume productive, not mass concentrated. We produce many times the volume comparable to another volume that’s a metal structure." Bigelow believes his company can provide affordable access to space for some 50-60 countries. Establishing a national space agency would be relatively easy. They would have access to space without having to run an expensive infrastructure as NASA does now. (1/14)

ESA To Curb Spending To Ease Pressure on Members (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency (ESA) will freeze its overall spending in 2010 and 2011 at 2009 levels and modify its contract-payment policy to accommodate stresses on the national budgets of some of its 18 member governments, ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain said. Dordain said the measures will permit the agency to maintain all the programs its member states have approved in recent years without forcing ESA to take out a loan, while at the same time reducing the near-term cash demands on its member governments. Dordain said ESA’s annual spending has risen substantially in the past three years and reached $4.85 billion in 2009. While the agency’s 2010 budget — a reflection of the new programs ESA governments have agreed to start, and ongoing cash requirements for existing programs — will rise 4 percent over 2009, its total cash outflow will be limited to 3.35 billion euros through 2011. (1/14)

Legislation Being Drafted to Keep Space Shuttle Flying (Source: Space Policy Online)
Senate Commerce Committee staffer Jeff Bingham told a symposium on human spaceflight and the future of space science that legislation is being drafted in the Senate to enable and enhance research on the International Space Station (ISS). Among other things, the legislation would extend the space shuttle program until a U.S. alternative is available. Bingham stressed the need to extend ISS operations beyond 2015 in order to make effective use of its scientific capabilities, and to have two ways to get crews back and forth to the ISS, not just one as will be true once the shuttle program is terminated.

He pointed out that the Columbia disaster proved the wisdom of having a second transportation system - Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. Bingham expressed skepticism about whatever plan is proposed by the Obama Administration because in his view it is being developed by the same mid-level White House staff - particularly at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - who came up with the Bush policy of terminating the shuttle and the ISS.

As for where the money will come from to keep them going, he implored the audience to "not drink the OMB Kool-Aid that we have a zero sum budget." Bingham explained that when or if the legislation will be introduced is up to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), for whom he works, and other Senators. (1/14)

NASA Finds Illegal Drugs In Shuttle Hangar (Source: Florida Today)
NASA found a small amount of a controlled substance thought to be cocaine in a shuttle processing hangar this week and technicians who work in the facility are being tested. Kennedy Space Center spokeswoman Lisa Malone said the substance was found in an area where workers have to swipe in electronically with identification cards. Those employees have been targeted for testing. The substance was found in Orbiter Processing Facility No. 3. (1/14)

Space Station Needs 'Extension to 2020' (Source: BBC)
Europe wants a decision in 2010 on an extension to the life of the International Space Station (ISS). At the moment, no programme for its use nor any funding has been put in place to support the platform beyond 2015. But the European Space Agency's (Esa) Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, told the BBC the uncertainty was undermining best use of the ISS. He said he was persuaded of its worth, and expressed the desire to keep flying the station until at least 2020. Only by guaranteeing longevity would more scientists come forward to run experiments on the orbiting laboratory, he argued. (1/14)

Engineers Tackle Robotic Refueling of Satellites (Source: AIA)
A $20 million study evaluating lessons from the past five missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that a robotic arm on the International Space Station could use a special tool to pierce the insulation and access fuel plumbing in a spacecraft that was never designed to be refueled. The effort could make orbital service stations possible while testing the robotic installation of new instruments. (1/14)

Embry-Riddle and Aerospace States Association Sponsor Manufacturing Summit on Feb. 22-24 (Source: ERAU)
The Aviation and Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Summit will be held on Feb. 22-24, 2010 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. The information presented at this Summit will provide you with the market intelligence you need to survive and prosper in challenging times. The fact-filled two-day event will present data and address issues on the state of aerospace manufacturing in the U.S. and around the world for both military and commercial markets, and address key trends and projections for the future. The summit is targeted toward small-to-medium manufacturers, OEMs and primes, service providers, government agencies, policy makers, economic developers, and educators who serve the aerospace industry. Click here for information and registration. (1/14)

Who Has Obama's Ear on Space? (Source: Florida Today)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Bolden is a former astronaut who flew four shuttle missions from 1986 to 1994, commanding two. He headed the safety division at Johnson Space Center during the effort to return the fleet to flight after the 1986 Challenger disaster. He is a retired Marine Corps major general who flew more than 100 missions in Vietnam and later commanded forces in the Pacific and Middle East.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Beth Garver Garver was the lead space policy adviser to Obama's presidential campaign and led the agency review during the transition. During an earlier stint, from 1996 to 2001, she served as associate administrator overseeing long-range plans and strategic management. She is often the public face of NASA, representing the agency at the White House and Congress. She briefly worked for former astronaut, Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, in 1983 and 1984.

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy responded at his confirmation hearing in February that space exploration is an unaffordable luxury. But he said research and development related to space exploration is crucial to national defense, civilian and military communications, weather forecasting and the study of the land and oceans. Holdren also was a member of President Clinton's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and holds advanced-science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. (1/13)

Russia Offers a Hand With Toilet Clog in Space (Source: New York Times)
Russia has offered its astronauts’ help in unclogging a high-tech toilet on the International Space Station that is reportedly backed up because of excess calcium in astronauts’ urine. Aleksandr Vorobyov, a spokesman for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said a Russian crew member had helped repair a toilet in the American sector of the space station six months ago, so “they have some experience in this line of work.” The comments came in response to an article in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which quoted the station’s flight director, David Korth, as saying, “We’ve learned a lot more about urine than we ever needed or wanted to know.” The problematic toilet was designed to purify urine into drinkable water. (1/14)

Veteran Astronauts Find New Roles in Commercial Sector (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Two former space shuttle and space station commanders are now competitors in the nascent world of commercial human spaceflight, a start-up industry still in its infancy but likely close to receiving a major boost from the White House. Ken Bowersox and Frank Culbertson are vice presidents at SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp., two U.S. companies at the forefront of the private space industry. SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft have already been selected by NASA to ferry cargo to the International Space Station beginning next year. Both companies are now vying for a NASA contract to begin developing vehicles capable to carrying humans to the International Space Station.

If Orbital or SpaceX is selected to develop a human-rated spaceship, the companies may provide specialists or expert operators to control spacecraft systems. Contractors could also fly private astronauts on test flights before launching on NASA missions. "If Orbital were providing the vehicle, I would be on the first flight," Culbertson said. Bowersox said Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, would decide the composition of the first manned flight of Dragon. (1/14)

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