February 15, 2010

UCF Professor Working on One-of-a-Kind Asteroid Space Mission (Source: UCF)
University of Central Florida asteroid expert Humberto Campins has been selected to help prepare a one-of-a-kind mission. The mission is unique because it aims to bring back to Earth a sample of a primitive, organic-rich asteroid that is not found in any meteorite collection. This asteroid formed somewhere between Mars and Jupiter; however, its current orbit brings it relatively close to Earth (sometimes almost as close as our moon). This proximity to Earth makes it more accessible for a spacecraft visit.

The OSIRIS-REx mission, led by researchers at the University of Arizona at Tucson, is one of three finalists for NASA’s next space mission under the New Frontiers program. The team has already received $3.3 million to complete a 12-month mission study plan. NASA then will determine which of the three projects it will ultimately fund for flight sometime in 2016. Campins, a UCF professor who has partnered with scientists around the world and is well known for his expertise in asteroids, is no stranger to space missions. Most recently, he worked with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. (2/15)

NASA's New Direction Could Lift Local Space Assets (Source: Hampton Roads Business Journal)
President Obama's proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2011 delivered both good and bad news for Virginia space organizations such as NASA Langley, Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The decision to forgo, at least temporarily, manned trips to the moon and beyond will have a direct impact on Langley. The research facility was involved in several areas of the Constellation program, including about 300 service employees and 80 contractors. Of Langley's $750 million annual budget, about $65 million was funding for Constellation.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore all of a sudden are in the right place at the right time. The MARS facility has slowly but steadily been growing as a viable commercial launch pad for private industry sending things into space for the government. "This [proposed] NASA budget very much reflects the new recognition of the commercial sector that has been out there believing in its capabilities for the past three decades but hasn't received a lot of support," said Laura Naismith, spokesperson for VCSFA and MARS. (2/15)

Rocket Launch Kicks Off Season at Alaska's Poker Flat Range (Source: News Miner)
Launch season at Poker Flat Research Range is under way. The rocket range, located about 30 miles north of Fairbanks, fired its first rocket of the year on Tuesday. The range has an international reputation as a research facility, largely because there are few others like it. The 5,132-acre site is one of only three in the world available for high-latitude research rocket launches. The others are located in Norway and Sweden.

Poker Flat has been owned and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute since 1968, and has been funded through a contract with NASA since 1979. According to the Poker Flat Web site, more than 1,500 meteorological missiles and 236 major high-altitude sounding rocket experiments have been launched from the range by researchers and technicians. (2/15)

New Mexico Spaceport's Final Construction Phase Underway (Source: KOAT)
Crews have started pouring concrete as part of the final phase of construction on the New Mexico spaceport's 10,000-foot runway. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority says the runway is expected to be completed this summer. The work began in August. The multilayered runway is made up of 24 inches of prepared subgrade, four inches of asphalt and a 14-inch finish layer of concrete. Officials say the first concrete was poured last week. (2/15)

Adding Rocket Man to His Résumé (Source: New York Times)
The coming debate over the future of the American space program will, in no small part, revolve around this question: Should the United States hire Elon Musk, at a cost of a few billion dollars, to run a taxi service for American astronauts? President Obama’s budget asks for $6 billion over five years for commercial launch capability development and services, which would most likely be split among two or three competitors .

That is the chance that Mr. Musk, 38, and his eight-year-old company, SpaceX, have been waiting for. Smart, brash and prickly, with the accent of his native South Africa, Mr. Musk promises that SpaceX will be able to provide space trips aboard its Falcon 9 rockets at $20 million a seat — a small fraction of the cost of a ride on the space shuttles or the Russian Soyuz rocket. And Mr. Musk, says he could do it in two or three years once he signs a contract with NASA. Click here to view the article. (2/15)

Spaceport Featured in "State of the Ports" Event on Feb. 23 (Source: WTCO)
The World Trade Center Orlando will host its 10th annual State of the Ports event on Feb. 23 in Orlando. Mark Bontrager from Space Florida will provide an update on the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Other updates will be provided by the Orlando Aviation Authority, Port Canaveral, Daytona International Airport, and Sanford International Airport. Click here for information and reservations. (2/15)

Change in Direction for NASA Will Mean Millions for Indiana and Spaceports (Source: Spaceport Indiana)
Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator at NASA, made it clear that President Obama's budget changes will mean a bigger role for commercial space flight and private industry over the next few years. In a conference held in Washington DC last week, Garver spelled out the plan that included new crew carrying vehicles and ISS re-supply ships that will come from the private sector. SPI's President Brian Tanner and Advisory Board Chairman Tim Morris met with Garver and other NASA officials to talk about its role in commercial space flight.

"Clearly NASA will be working with Spaceports around the country and other small and large businesses to meet the goals of the US space agency" Tanner said. The cancellation of the Constellation program will re-direct nearly 25 Billion in federal dollars to commercial companies. NASA Dryden will now be tasked to test private space craft to insure the safety and reliability of the platforms. NASA will be paying for seats on the new vehicles in order to get their Astronauts into space.

Tanner and Morris also briefed NASA and the FAA on the new Air Space Management System (ASMS). The ASMS will allow tracking and deconfliction in national air space (NAS) and at satellite level. The FAA AST-100 Commercial Space Flight Office will visit Indiana to see a demonstration of ASMS. The system is designed to help support NEXTGEN which is the FAA's program to improve the airspace used by the commercial airline industry and private pilots. SPI and Raytheon have been working on the program for about 12 months and the result has been remarkable according to Tanner. "What we can see, and how we can react to conflicts and potential dangers has been multiplied almost exponentially with this new system." (2/15)

Save Our Space Exploration Rally Planned on Feb. 27 (Source: ACDC)
A "Rally to Save American Space Exploration" is planned for Feb. 27 at Brevard Community College's Titusville campus. The event, which begins at 3:00 p.m., is part of a fight to "help protect workers, the community and the future of American Spaceflight in Florida!" (2/15)

The Last Shuttle and the Rise of China (Source: American Thinker)
President Obama's budget will limit funding of NASA and effectively end America's manned space program. The president sees the exploration of space as either an unnecessary waste of money and resources or not compatible with budgetary constraints, such as they are. NASA's budget is but a small fraction of government spending, but it falls under the administration's proposed spending freeze. Conservatives who are pleased with any federal belt-tightening might think twice in this instance. Beyond the issue of jobs and the broad technological advancements that historically are fruits of the space program, there is the larger question of American power and purpose.

The space shuttle's last nighttime flight was on February 8, 2010. As matters currently stand, the last flight of the space shuttle will be sometime later this year. The next American astronaut, assuming there is one, will have to use a Russian or Chinese rocket to reach space -- that is, if either nation is still willing and able to give him or her a ride. Editor's Note: The "American Thinker" is either uninformed or lacks the desire to tell the whole story. (2/15)

Cancellation at NASA Puts Olson to the Test (Source: Houston Chronicle)
President Barack Obama's plan to cancel NASA's cherished back-to-the-moon Constellation program puts freshman Texas Congressman Pete Olson in a tough spot. As a conservative Republican who has opposed almost every Obama administration initiative, the 47-year-old Rice University graduate has zero clout at the White House. As a first-term Republican who ousted the Texas Democrat in line to lead the House panel overseeing NASA, Olson has little leverage with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

Yet the fact that his congressional district includes Houston's Johnson Space Center has thrust the Sugar Land resident into the forefront of an uphill battle to rescue the Constellation program and potentially save up to 2,500 of the nearly 18,000 space-related jobs in the greater Houston area. Olson says he welcomes the challenge, the most serious test of his political skills since entering Congress in January 2009. He's optimistic that he and other lawmakers can forge a bipartisan coalition in Congress powerful enough to reverse Obama's decision to end the moon program. (2/15)

Commercial Space Takes Center Stage (Source: Space Review)
If all goes as planned, NASA will rely on commercial providers like never before for access to low Earth orbit. Jeff Foust reports on the views from both government and industry about this shift aired at a recent commercial space conference. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1566/1 to view the article. (2/15)

History Doesn't Echo, it Reverbs (Source: Space Review)
In the wake of NASA's decision to cancel Constellation, there's been a new wave of concern that the US is ceding the Moon to China. Dwayne Day examines the evidence and finds, once again, little proof that China is racing to the Moon. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1565/1 to view the article. (2/15)

Will NASA's Embrace Kill NewSpace? (Source: Space Review)
NASA's decision to embrace commercial spaceflight capabilities has raised the ire of some in Congress who prefer that NASA stick with Constellation. Taylor Dinerman cautions that by raising NewSpace's profile, the new NASA policy could endanger entrepreneurial space efforts. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1564/1 to view the article. (2/15)

Groundhog Day 2010 (Source: Space Review)
NASA's new policy means another shift in direction for the space agency. Wayne Eleazer warns this may be another case of a "one size fits all" decision that doesn't really fit the nation's space access needs. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1563/1 to view the article. (2/15)

"There's a War Going on Upstairs" (Source: Space Review)
What's the real reason why the White House has changed course on space policy? Would you believe "space Nazis"? Dwayne Day reveals the truth, at least as according to Richard Hoagland. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1562/1 to view the article. (2/15)

Putin: Glonass Satellite System Should Go Commercial (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed on Monday introducing the Glonass navigation system throughout the country's regions and getting it onto "commercial rails." "It should be commercialized so as to make it more effective," he said. According to Putin, the Glonass system is highly competitive and has a distinct advantage over its European counterparts.

Russia currently has a total of 22 Glonass satellites in orbit, but only 16 of them are operational. The system requires 18 operational satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of Russia and at least 24 satellites to provide navigation services worldwide. The Glonass navigation satellite system is expected to start operating worldwide by the end of 2010. (2/15)

Russia to Launch 3 Glonass Satellites in March (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Proton M carrier rocket bearing three Glonass satellites will be launched from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on March 2. The carrier rocket and the satellites are currently being tested at the Kazakh space center. (2/15)

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