January 24, 2010

Virginia Spaceport Has Hiring Growth (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) is growing and is expected to start adding a few hundred jobs in support of commercial spaceport launch pad and support facilities construction for a lunar probe and several cargo missions to the International Space Station beginning in 2011. The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) is about to a new Deputy Director to assist in the rapidly growing commercial spaceport operations and launch pad construction. VCSFA Executive Director Billie Reed is expected to hire other support staff in 2010.

Spaceport Support Services, a Delaware-based contractor, provides engineering services to MARS and is now hiring an engineer to develop work process designs, cost estimates, and resolve problems involving both facilities and operations. Orbital Sciences Corp. is expected to hire several rocket scientists, engineers, and project managers to support the $1.9 billion NASA launch contract to re-supply cargo to the space station in addition to the planned NASA-sponsored lunar mission. Virginia has issued $26 million in bonds to support a second commercial spaceport launch pad. (1/25)

White House Decides to Outsource NASA Work (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The White House has decided to begin funding private companies to carry NASA astronauts into space, but the proposal faces major political and budget hurdles, according to people familiar with the matter. The controversial proposal, expected to be included in the Obama administration's next budget, would open a new chapter in the U.S. space program. The goal is to set up a multiyear, multibillion-dollar initiative allowing private firms, including some start-ups, to compete to build and operate spacecraft capable of ferrying U.S. astronauts into orbit—and eventually deeper into the solar system.

Congress is likely to challenge the concept's safety and may balk at shifting dollars from existing NASA programs already hurting for funding to the new initiative. The White House's ultimate commitment to the initiative is murky, according to these people, because the budget isn't expected to outline a clear, long-term funding plan. The White House's NASA budget also envisions stepped-up support for climate-monitoring and environmental projects, along with enhanced international cooperation across both manned and unmanned programs. Industry and government officials have talked about the direction of the next NASA budget, but declined to be identified. (1/24)

Peres: Israel is Connected to NASA (Source: INN)
Meeting Sunday with NASA director Charles Bolden, President Shimon Peres said that he was happy to have the opportunity to host the Bolden in Israel. "Israel is connected to NASA both in deeds and memories, chief among them the memories of the Columbia, and especially the memory of our Israeli hero, Ilan Ramon." Bolden, a former astronaut himself, is participating in an international conference sponsored by Herzliya's Fisher Institute for Space Research, in memory of Ilan Ramon. (1/24)

India Tests Rocket Booster for Heavier Satellites (Source: Thaindian News)
India successfully conducted the static test of its largest solid booster for launching heavier satellites using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk III). “The solid booster (S200) will form the strap-on stage for the GSLV-Mark III, which is in advanced stage of development for launching four-ton class of communication satellites,” the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said. The successful test makes S200 the third largest solid booster in the world, next to the Space Shuttle's reusable solid rocket motor (RSRM) and the P230 solid booster of the Ariane-5. (1/24)

New Zealand Rocketeer Meets with NASA (Source: Radio New Zealand)
A New Zealand company behind the launch of a rocket from Great Mercury Island, is to discuss its technology with NASA. Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck is to spend three weeks in the U.S. discussing the hybrid propulsion technology used in the launch of a rocket named Atea-1 in November. The trip includes visits to NASA's Ames rResearch Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, the Wallops flight Facility and Kennedy Space Center. Mr Beck says the aim of the trip is to bring work back to New Zealand. (1/24)

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