January 17, 2010

Possible Space Wars In The Near Future (Source: Space Daily)
Until recently, only the Soviet Union, its legal successor Russia and the United States were capable of developing anti-satellite weapons. U.S. analysts now think that China and India are acquiring similar capabilities. To what extent are such fears justified? It is hard to overestimate the role played by military satellite systems. Since the 1970s, an increasingly greater number of troop-control, telecommunications, target-acquisition, navigation and other processes depend on spacecraft which are therefore becoming more important. Ever since the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. launched their first military satellites, efforts have been made to develop anti-satellite systems. Such efforts were intensified after the creation of initial missile defense systems comprising the highly important space echelon. Click here to view the article. (1/17)

First Aviation Ph.D. Program Takes Off (Source: General Aviation News)
Students have begun coursework in a pioneering Ph.D. in Aviation program offered by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The three-year program, the only one in the nation, meets the need for people with upper-level research credentials to tackle the major issues facing today’s aviation and aerospace industry, according to university officials, who note the program is designed for working professionals. Students take courses online and complete three six-day residencies at an Embry-Riddle campus. (1/16)

Virginia Congressman Touts Spaceport (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The commercial space flight industry, including facilities like the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island, could get a boost thanks to a new bill, according Congressman Glenn Nye (VA). Last Wednesday, Nye joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to pass a bill that will simplify the laws and regulations governing national and commercial space flight programs saying, “Commercial space flight is a growing sector of our economy, and it has the potential to create thousands of new jobs here on the Eastern Shore. Simplifying these regulations will help new businesses grow and succeed, creating more jobs and growing our economy.”

According to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VSCFA), the MARS facility at Wallops Island will support the creation of 400 new jobs and $93 million in infrastructure development this year. The spaceport will be launching cargo to the International Space Station beginning next year. The legislation (H.R. 3237) passed the House by unanimous voice vote. It consolidates existing laws relating to national and commercial space programs that have been enacted separately over the years, and designates these laws as Title 51 in the U.S. Code. (1/17)

Virginia Space Legislation & Funding Referred to Committee (Spaceports Blog)
The 2010 session of the state legislature is considering a $1.37 million spaceport operating budget for the next fiscal year, backed by both outgoing Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and incoming Gov. Bob McDonnell. House Bill 21, to repeal the July 1, 2013 expiration date on the state's spaceflight liability and immunity law, has been referred to the House Labor & Commerce Committee where the sponsor, State Delegate Terry Kilgore, chairs the committee. Kilgore sponsored the original measure in 2007, making Virginia the first the nation to grant protection to the commercial launch industry. Similar measures were subsequently adopted in Florida and Texas. New Mexico is now considering a similar measure. (1/17)

Moon Mission Booked for 2012 from Virginia Spaceport (Source: Spaceports Blog)
NASA's Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft has booked Oct. 28, 2012 launch pad time at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. The spacecraft will be boosted to the Moon aboard a new five-stage solid propellant Minotaur V built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, according to a report in Aviation Week. (1/17)

No Spaceships at Oklahoma's Spaceport But They Are Welcome (Source: NewsOK)
A swath of gray concrete, nearly three miles long and double the width of a normal runway, the landing strip seems to stretch into oblivion. It’s the Oklahoma Spaceport’s No. 1 asset. The ramp alone is made of 96 acres of concrete — large enough to accommodate 42 parked Boeing 747s. The runway was constructed to allow a pack of B-52 bombers, each loaded with nuclear weapons and a full tank of fuel, to take to the skies in formation. But some have more modern plans for the runway and its facilities — plans not yet realized.

Though a sign on the control tower declares "Oklahoma, the Gateway to Space,” so far, no rockets have departed Burns Flat destined for space. Bill Khourie, executive director of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, believes that will change. He points to a growing commercial space industry expected to take off this year when NASA retires its fleet of space shuttles. Several U.S companies are working to develop an aircraft capable of transporting people into space. Rocketplane Global, which had planned to operate a commercial spacecraft that would take travelers to space, promised Oklahomans the moon but failed to deliver and, last year — financially broke — left the state.

The company collected $18 million in state tax breaks, but its Rocketplane XP spacecraft never materialized. Last summer, the company closed its Oklahoma City headquarters and relinquished its hangar at Burns Flat. Now, the Oklahoma Spaceport is continuing without them. "Rocketplane is old news. We’re moving on,” said Joe King, authority board chairman. "We just haven’t found our billionaire yet.” (1/17)

Oklahoma Spaceport Ready to Support Other Markets Too (Source: NewsOK)
Much of the activity at Oklahoma's Burns Flat Spaceport is aviation related and the facility — a public airport — is funded by hangar rent and fuel sales, as well as federal grants that pay for improvement projects. Armadillo Aerospace is interested in testing an experimental vehicle space vehicle at Burns Flat, where it has run test flights before. And XCOR may bring its Lynx vehicle to Burns Flat for test flights as well. Of eight licensed spaceports in the U.S., Burns Flat is the only one clear of military operating areas or restricted airspace. That offers Oklahoma a lot of opportunity, said Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell. And unlike New Mexico, which is scrambling to build a state-funded, $200 million spaceport in an agreement with Virgin Galactic, Burns Flat is ready for takeoff.

State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, said Burns Flat's piece of the pie will be examined this year in light of the budget crisis. He said Burns Flat’s runway is "impressive” but likely won’t ever see a spaceflight. "I think that was a pipe dream from the very beginning.” However, Dank said he hasn’t given up on Burns Flat and sees potential there for a company such as UPS or FedEx. Khourie said he’d be open to either delivery service coming to town, and he’s also approached Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers about using the facilities.

Burns Flat also serves as a hub for the Department of Defense’s Starbase program, an aerospace-oriented K-12 education program. Starbase classrooms are located throughout the state, but the one at Burns Flat serves the entire northwest portion of Oklahoma, Khourie said. Editor's Note: With the growing number of FAA licensed spaceports nationwide, Burns Flat could become a mid-western node in a network of point-to-point same-day destinations for suborbital vehicles, delivering people and high-value packages. (1/17)

Can Space Coast Tourism Get Post-Shuttle Boost? (Source: CFN-13)
There’s a new campaign under way in Central Florida to bring more money to the Space Coast now that many fear the retirement of the shuttle program could seriously hurt the community. It's called Takeoff for Liftoff. The campaign was created by business leaders, NASA, and leaders with Space Coast Tourism.

They are about to launch a major billboard campaign. Signs will be seen on U-S 1 and Interstate 95 in several cities in Florida, and even as far north as the Carolinas. There are also television, radio, and Internet advertisements in the works. "I think people are thinking we are just going to close down the space center and go home, and that's not the case,” said Rob Varley, Space Coast Tourism. “The space program is alive and well and moving forward and we're excited about the new programs." Tourism leaders say they think 2010 will bring in a lot of tourism dollars because of the urgency people feel with only a few launches remaining. (1/17)

Will the Space Coast be Same Without its Signature Spaceship? (Source: Florida Today)
It's hard to imagine their facsimiles vanishing: the shuttle in the playground at McDonald's on Merritt Island, shuttle signs and models adding stardust to everything from beach T-shirt emporiums to storage units, a shuttle soaring next to an eagle on the Titusville police patch. Could the shuttle -- set to retire later this year after nearly three decades of service -- follow the moon rockets into relative obscurity? There may be an elegant Apollo monument in Titusville's Space Walk of Fame, but few businesses now sport moons. Click here to view the article. (1/17)

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