February 13, 2010

Virginia Spaceport Hopes to Support Human Spaceflight (Source: Spaceports Blog)
If the United States proceeds to privatize the nation's space program launching several commercial spacecraft vehicle types with humans aboard to low earth orbit, then it may be time for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, VA. to advance as a redundant human orbital spaceport. Wallops Island could provide a realistic expectation for the commercial launch industry to avoid many technical delays, inclement weather, and conflicting range priorities associated with Florida.

There are 26 spaceports in the world that have boosted satellites into orbit. Yet within the United States there is only Florida and Virginia with the inclination and capability to serve the International Space Station through 2020 and beyond. Virginia should fully engage the fledgling commercial and NASA crews to orbit opportunity. (2/13)

Creative Budgeteer Boosts Virginia Spaceflight (Spaceports Blog)
Virginia State Sen. William Wampler has offered a budget amendment to dedicate prospective sales and/or corporate income tax revenues that may result from the sale of human spaceflights or commercial spaceflight training in the state to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) for operations and educational spaceflight simulation activities. The revenue could be used to stimulate STEM education with ZeroG Corp. flights and to supplement the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport commercial launch operations. Four public school teachers from Wampler's district flew on a ZeroG flight last year.

Virginia-based Space Adventures sells rides on Russian Soyuz boosters from time-to-time and a significant menu of other spaceflight training activities. Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. could in the future provide thrust capacity to loft a human-rated capsule from Wallops Island. Wampler, a senior member of the Virginia Senate Finance Committee and a member of the Joint Senate-House Conference Committee, was the patron of the successful Virginia ZeroGravity-ZeroTax Act in 2008, which supported Orbital's decision to locate Taurus-II to ISS cargo launches in Virginia.

Editor's Note: Florida's Legislature considered a similar approach multiple times in recent years, aimed at dedicating space-related sales-tax revenues for use by the state's space agency. The bills failed to pass, in part due to concerns that other industries would seek similar treatment, diminishing the Legislature's control over budgeting and shrinking the pool of funds available for discretionary spending. (2/13)

ILS Schedules its First Dual Proton Launch (Source: Space News)
The U.S. company that markets Russia’s Proton heavy-lift rocket, aiming directly at a key sales advantage touted by its principal European competitor, on Feb. 11 announced it will launch a Western-built commercial telecommunications satellite alongside a Russian-built satellite on the same vehicle in 2011. Reston, Va.-based International Launch Services (ILS) said the SES-3 satellite, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and owned by SES of Luxembourg, will be placed into geostationary transfer orbit on a Proton vehicle that also will be carrying the Russian-built Kazsat-2 telecommunications satellite, owned by the government of Kazakhstan. (2/13)

Proton Successfully Launches Intelsat 16 (Source: Space News)
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket on Feb. 12 successfully placed the Intelsat 16 television-broadcast satellite into geostationary orbit in a demonstration of what a heavy-lift launch vehicle can do when its payload is relatively light, ILS and Intelsat announced. (2/13)

Obama’s Move To End Constellation Prompts Industrial Base Questions (Source: Space News)
Industry advocates are voicing concern with U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel NASA’s Moon-bound Constellation program and the threat it poses to America’s aerospace work force and U.S. strategic missile arsenals, but Defense Department officials said the two agencies are forging a plan to sustain the nation’s solid-rocket motor industrial base.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is among those railing against Obama’s proposal to scrap NASA’s plan to replace its space shuttle fleet with new rockets and spacecraft in favor of relying on commercial crew taxis to get astronauts to the international space station and back. “This is not money-saving. This is having some kind of half-baked scheme that we can commercialize this,” said Bishop, whose district is home to ATK Space Systems. ATK executives told investors Feb. 4 that canceling Ares 1 would cost the company $650 million in contract backlog. (2/13)

French Stimulus Package Includes up to $1 Billion for CNES (Source: Space News)
The French space agency, CNES, is counting on an unforeseen cash injection of up to $1 billion from France’s economic stimulus package in the coming weeks to enable it to start programs that otherwise would not be funded even as it finances and reduces its debt to the European Space Agency (ESA). France’s planned government bond issue, the details of which are expected to be confirmed by the French parliament by March, sets aside up to 750 million euros ($1.03 billion) for space-related programs. (2/13)

Gingrich & Walker Support Obama on NASA Reboot (Source: Washington Times)
Despite the shrieks you might have heard from a few special interests, the Obama administration's budget for NASA deserves strong approval from Republicans. The 2011 spending plan for the space agency does what is obvious to anyone who cares about man's future in space and what presidential commissions have been recommending for nearly a decade.

The Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry in 2002 suggested that greater commercial activity in space was the proper way forward. The Aldridge Commission of 2004 made clear that the only way NASA could achieve success with President George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration was to expand the space enterprise with greater use of commercial assets. Most recently, the Augustine Panel made clear that commercial providers of space-launch services were a necessary part of maintaining space leadership for the United States.

NASA consistently ignored or rejected the advice provided to it by outside experts. The internal culture within the agency was actively hostile to commercial enterprise. A belief had grown from the days when the Apollo program landed humans on the moon that only NASA could do space well and therefore only NASA projects and programs were worthy. With the new NASA budget, the leadership of the agency is attempting to refocus the manned space program along the lines that successive panels of experts have recommended. (2/13)

New Commander Takes Reins at 45th Space Wing (Source: Florida Today)
Col. Burke "Ed" Wilson, who has a five-generation family tradition of military service dating back to the Civil War, took command of the 45th Space Wing in a ceremony Friday morning. The Change of Command ceremony included outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Edward Bolton handing the wing's flag to Lt. Gen. Larry James, commander of the 14th Air Force. James, as the presiding official, then handed the flag to Wilson, signifying the change to the new commander. Wilson was formerly commander of Space Development and Test Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. (2/13)

Proton Sets Sights on Ariane-led Dual Launch Market (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
International Launch Services announced this week it will place a commercial European-owned, U.S.-built satellite on the same Proton rocket as a Russian-built payload in 2011, potentially making the workhorse booster more competitive with the market-leading Ariane 5 launcher. The SES 3 communications satellite will join Kazakhstan's Kazsat 2 spacecraft on a single launch in late 2010 or early 2011, ILS announced Thursday. (2/13)

NASA Could be Rocketing to United Launch Alliance’s Sweet Spot (Source: Denver Business Journal)
It’s an interesting time in aerospace, and perhaps nowhere is it more interesting than at United Launch Alliance. NASA proposes scrapping its existing plans for human space flight and instead looking to industry to develop the next rockets and spacecraft to get U.S. astronauts into orbit and beyond. A hard fight over the strategy shift is ahead in Congress, but the future of space flight seems destined to change no matter the outcome.

And all this comes at a time when Centennial-based ULA, the primary contractor for government satellite missions, completes the melding of the rival rocket divisions of Lockheed Martin Corp. and The Boeing Co. into one company. The ULA picked Centennial as its headquarters in late 2006. Soon it will announce the location of a new headquarters campus consolidating its offices around the southern metro area. (2/13)

UK Advocates Push for Lossiemouth Spaceport (Source: Press & Journal)
Science Minister Lord Drayson has been urged to include the possibility of Lossiemouth becoming a spaceport in pursuing his policy of increasing the UK's share of the space technology market. The plea has been delivered by Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson following publication of the government's Space Innovation and Growth Strategy for the next two decades.

The document sets out the aim to “firmly establish the UK as one of the world's leading space nations” and details the changes in the business environment to see this happen. The paper was referring to the UK's acknowledged expertise designing satellites. (2/13)

New Zealand May Put Up $30 Million to Join Space Effort (Source: Dominion Post)
The race to find aliens and discover the origin of the universe is gathering pace, as a joint Anzac bid to host the world's biggest science project takes shape. New Zealand is likely to spend more than $30 million if a bid with Australia beats that of South Africa to build a $4 billion series of radio telescopes. Scientists from around the world will gather in Auckland on Monday, to discuss progress in the joint attempt to host what is known as the Square Kilometer Array, or SKA, project. (2/13)

Editorial: The Final Frontier of Profit? (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Government agencies have dominated space exploration for three decades. But in a new plan unveiled in President Barack Obama's 2011 budget earlier this month, a new player has taken center stage: American capitalism and entrepreneurship. The plan lays the foundation for the future Google, Cisco and Apple of space to be born, drive job creation and open the cosmos for the rest of us. Two fundamental realities now exist that will drive space exploration forward. First, private capital is seeing space as a good investment, willing to fund individuals who are passionate about exploring space, for adventure as well as profit.

Second, companies and investors are realizing that everything we hold of value—-metals, minerals, energy and real estate—are in near--infinite quantities in space. As space transportation and operations become more affordable, what was once seen as a wasteland will become the next gold rush. There are millions of asteroids of different sizes and composition flying throughout space. One category, known as S-type, is composed of iron, magnesium silicates and a variety of other metals, including cobalt and platinum. An average half-kilometer S-type asteroid is worth more than $20 trillion. (2/13)

Airborne Laser Scores 1st Successful Missile Kill (Source: AIA)
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said Friday that a high-powered airborne laser shot down a ballistic missile during its boost phase, the first successful test of the futuristic technology. Boeing is the lead contractor, with contributions from Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. "The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers, and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the MDA said. (2/13)

For Many in Aerospace, Growth is Not Expected Until 2011 (Source: AIA)
While most aerospace companies say they are glad to have 2009 behind them, 2010 is not bringing a significant turnaround. Many are already looking to 2011. Textron Chief Financial Officer Frank Connor said that with 2010 expected to be a tough year, the company is focusing on earnings growth in 2011. Boeing CEO James McNerney said his company is also looking to 2011, when production of the 787 will ramp up. (2/13)

Senate Schedules March Debate on FAA Reauthorization (Source: AIA)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a week of floor time in March to debate reauthorization for the FAA -- including controversial safety measures pushed by the NTSB and family members who lost loved ones in last year's crash of a Colgan Air commuter plane. The Senate bill would open pilot-training records, mandate additional inspections of flight schools and boost new pilots' required flight time from 250 hours to 1,500. (2/13)

Editorial: Private Companies Won't Take Over Moon Missions (Source: AIA)
The absence of the U.S. from low-Earth-orbit missions was expected to last only a few years, during the interval between the retirement of the space shuttle program and its replacement with the Constellation program. But President Barack Obama's 2011 budget dropped Constellation and now, for the first time since 1962, the U.S. will have no way to fly humans into space, writes columnist Charles Krauthammer. He argues that private companies will not take over the responsibility because it will be too expensive. (2/13)

Reps Tell NASA’s Bolden: “Stop Damaging Constellation” (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A group of 27 members of Congress, mainly Republican representatives from Alabama and Texas, two states with major NASA centers, wrote a letter Friday to NASA chief Charlie Bolden, demanding that he agree to cease any activity that could be construed as damaging to the Constellation moon program. Among the signatures was Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, and Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, who represent Kennedy Space Center workers. They said they were disturbed by reports that NASA was working behind the scenes to turn off contracts for Constellation’s Ares I rocket and Orion capsule in violation of Congressional wishes.

“We have become aware if the formation by NASA Headquarters of at least five “tiger teams,” the job of which is to shut down Constellation and to transition to the new program,” the letter said. It also said that it understands NASA has given “verbal” instructions to directors of the agency space center s to close down the program, as well as put a contract on hold and planned to “set aside” money supposed to be spent on Ares and Orion.

Last year, lawmakers prohibited NASA from canceling any Constellation programs this year and starting new ones in their place unless the cuts were approved by Congress. The language inserted in the Consolidated Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010 expressly prohibits the “termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program.” The group also warned Bolden that setting aside funds could be in violation of the Impoundment Act which was enacted after the Nixon administration refused to spend money that was allocated by Congress. (2/13)

NASA Cancels KSC Contract Leading to Charge “Obama Broke Law” (Orlando Sentinel)
NASA on Friday cancelled its solicitation for the next generation ground services contract for Kennedy Space Center, leading to accusations that President Barack Obama broke the law. NASA last year put out a bid request for the Exploration Ground Launch Services program, or EGLS (pronounced “eagles”), which was supposed to provide jobs for up to 1,700 workers to prepare rockets and payloads and run all launch operations for Constellation, NASA’s next-generation space-exploration initiative.

The contract was expected to be awarded in April this year. Among the companies bidding for the multi-billion dollar contract was Boeing and United Space Alliance, NASA’s prime shuttle contractor. But President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal would cancel the Constellation program and its Ares rockets and Orion crew capsule. The decision led NASA to send out a letter Friday to all bidders notifying them that the solicitation was over.

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, blasted the decision and accused the White House of breaking the law. “[The] Administration’s unilateral decision to cancel contracts associated with the Constellation program, absent Congressional consent is a direct violation of the law and of Congressional intent,” Posey said in an angry press statement. “The President’s budget has not been approved by the Congress. Congress has not directed the Administration to cancel the Constellation program in fact it has done just the opposite in recent legislation,” he said. (2/13)

Delaware North Tapped for NASA Visitor Complex Contract Renewal (Source: DNC)
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts has been awarded the contract to operate the KSC Visitor Complex. The new concession agreement, which begins May 1, 2010, has a 10-year base period with one five-year option and five one-year options. Delaware North came out on top in a competitive bid process that began in 2009. Since 1995, Delaware North has operated the Visitor Complex – the public component of the Kennedy Space Center launch facility – for NASA. During the past 15 years, the company has designed and built major new attractions such as the Apollo/Saturn V Center and the recent Shuttle Launch Experience, which simulates what astronauts experience while launching into space aboard a space shuttle. Editor's Note: Both of these attractions were developed with financial support from Space Florida and its predecessor agencies. (2/13)

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