February 19, 2010

UCF Will Host 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (Source: UCF)
The nation’s third-largest university, the University of Central Florida, will host the Second Annual Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in 2011. The announcement was made during this week's inaugural event in Colorado. This two-and-a-half-day conference for more than 200 scientists is sponsored by the who’s who of the space industry. It provides a forum to learn about the research and educational outreach possibilities available through commercial flights into space currently under development by independent companies.

The 2011 meeting will be organized by the Planetary Sciences Group of UCF’s Physics Department together with Space Florida, the Southwest Research Institute, the Commercial Space Federation and Universities Space Research Association. UCF Associate Professor Joshua Colwell is leading the organization of the 2011 event at UCF’s main campus in Orlando. (2/19)

Orbital’s Launch Abort System for Orion Could Be Used on Commercial Launchers (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says the space agency wants to salvage technologies from the $9 billion Constellation program to use in the commercial rockets that would send astronauts into space. One of those elements could be the Launch Abort System that Orbital Sciences Corp. is building for the Orion spacecraft. (2/19)

Ohio Congressman: Beware the Pigs at Marshall (Source: Space Politics)
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) is one of over two dozen members of the House who signed the letter warning that NASA may be breaking the law by trying to shut down Constellation, but that doesn’t mean he’s good friends with another opponent of Constellation’s cancellation, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).

LaTourette tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he’s worried that other NASA centers may be “pirating” NASA Glenn projects if Constellation is ended, citing in particular the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama:

“The biggest pigs were the guys down in Alabama,” said LaTourette, a Republican from Bainbridge Township. “They were always trying to take stuff away from NASA Glenn, and it was because of Sen. Shelby...Nobody with a straight face could tell you it was based on merit,” LaTourette said. “It was because Shelby was a pretty big wheel in the United States Senate.” (2/19)

Mikulski: NASA Should be "Mission Driven" (Source: Space Politics)
“Since NASA’s creation, it has been a mission driven agency, and I believe having a clear direction and destination has contributed to NASA’s many successes,” wrote Sen. Mikulski. “NASA must continue to have a mission driven focus. To the maximum extent practicable, we should engage our international partners in formulating common destinations for human and robotic missions.” (2/19)

FAA Official Comments on Commercial Space Concerns (Source: Space Politics)
George Nield, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, weighed in on the debate about NASA's proposed reliance on the commercial sector, saying he was “a little troubled” by the intensity of some of the negative reaction to the new plan. “I’ve read some comments that have expressed disappointment, indignation, disdain, and even ridicule about commercial space transportation,” he said. “Although the critics seem small in number, their vehemence surprises me.”

Nield said he believes some of that concern stems from a mistaken perception that commercial space transportation is new, and thus by implication unsafe, when in fact it’s been around for decades, and companies have played a role in government space efforts since the beginning of the space age. “So I don’t see the value in bashing one of the partners just because the relationship going forward may be a little different than it has been in the past.”

“While it’s entirely legitimate to raise questions,” he added, “it doesn’t do America’s future in space any good at all to raise fears in what might be interpreted as an effort to undermine an industry that has served the nation well and is now prepared to expand its contribution.” (2/19)

Spaceport Field Guide Released (Source: Spaceports Blog)
SpaceWorks Commercial, a division of SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI), has released the Spaceport Field Guide (version 1.0). The Spaceport Field Guide (SpFG) is a Google™ Earth-compatible file developed by SpaceWorks Commercial that provides a database of worldwide launch sites and associated facilities. Together with the free Google™ Earth application available from Google™, aspiring space vehicle operators, students, and the public at large can browse the World’s spaceports on a virtual globe. This software is provided free of charge as an educational service to the community. Click here to access the guide. (2/18)

SpaceX Bid Protest Denied by GAO; Virginia Cleared for Moon Probe Launch in 2012 (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The General Accountability Office on Feb. 1 denied a bid protest brought by SpaceX against the US Air Force. The decision enables Orbital Sciences Corp. to utilize the Minotaur-V to launch a lunar probe from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in late October 2012. The full decision has not yet been posted at GAO. SpaceX has the option to appeal to the U.S. Court of Claims.

Orbital Sciences Corp. is set to commence launching the new Taurus-2 booster from the Wallops Island site early next year and thereupon commence specific performance on the $1.9 billion NASA contract to provide re-supply and cargo to the international space station. PlanetSpace attacked the award of the ISS cargo contract to Orbital but it too was denied by the GAO. (2/17)

Ukrainian Rocket Engineers to Assist Taurus 2 (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Several Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine-based rocket scientists-engineers will be taking-up residence in-and-around the Eastern Shore of Virginia this year to assist Orbital Sciences Corporation launch the first Taurus 2 booster to low earth orbit and subsequently several missions to the Space Station providing cargo and re-supply.

The first-stage core tank design and design verification services will be provided by the Ukraine-based KB Yuzhnoye (Zenit-derived heritage) and Yuzhmash will be providing core tank production under contract with Orbital Sciences Corp.

The plan for medium class commercial space launch booster Taurus 2 is to use two of the Aerojet AJ26-62 rocket engines, originally designed by Samara, Russia-based Kuznetsov, and derived from the NK-33 engine developed by the former Soviet Union for the ill-fated N-1 moon rocket of the 1960s and 1970s. (2/17)

Booming Eutelsat Raises 3-year Growth Forecast, Eyes Asia (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat, which already shares dominance with SES of the world’s most profitable region for satellite-service providers, in recent months has been able to raise prices for capacity offered in the Middle East, Africa and Russia. Eutelsat raised its forecasted growth rate for the next three years to more than 7 percent on average and said it is setting its sights on a further expansion into Asia. (2/19)

NASA Raises Bet on Commercial Cargo (Source: Space News)
NASA is proposing to add $300 million to its commercial cargo program in 2011 in part to keep Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX on track to begin delivering cargo to the international space station next year.

The proposed funding would substantially increase NASA’s planned investment in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program the agency began in 2006 as a $500 million effort to seed development of new logistics vehicles and rockets that were expected to be ready by 2010.

NASA officials say they are still sorting out exactly how to spend the additional $300 million in commercial cargo funding added to the Exploration System Mission Directorate’s budget in President Obama’s $19 billion 2011 spending request for NASA. (2/19)

NASA Makes $75M Pledge to Commercial Suborbital Firms (Source: Space News)
NASA intends to devote $75 million in funding over five years for an effort to fly science and education payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles such as those under development by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace.

The new Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program was announced on Feb. 17 at the first Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Colorado. NASA’s $15 million annual commitment will “dramatically expand the number of research and education payloads that fly into space.” The CRuSR money is included in NASA’s 2011 budget request currently before Congress. (2/19)

Orbital Bullish on National Security Satellite Market (Source: Space News)
Rocket and satellite builder Orbital Sciences Corp. is predicting a sharp drop in the number of commercial telecommunications satellites to be ordered worldwide in 2010 following an exceptionally strong 2009, and said it expects to win three or four of those contracts.

The company’s advanced space programs division, which includes classified and unclassified satellites for the U.S. government, increased revenue by 15.6 percent in 2009 and is likely to continue to grow at double-digit rates in 2010 and perhaps beyond. (2/19)

U.S. Broadband Stimulus Sets Aside $100 Million To Subsidize Satellite Services (Source: Space News)
One year after President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which earmarked $7.2 billion to extend broadband communications across the country, satellite firms have seen little benefit from the initiative.

The vast majority of contracts awarded to date have offered money for terrestrial wireless and fiber-optic projects. Nevertheless, industry officials say a federal program set to begin this spring that will set aside at least $100 million to bring satellite-based services to remote communities is an encouraging sign. (2/19)

Second Missile Warning Satellite Achieves Milestone at Lockheed Martin (Source: CSA)
Lockheed Martin has achieved a key integrated test milestone on the second Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit (GEO-2) spacecraft at its facilities in Sunnyvale, California. Click here for more. (2/19)

Space Race Cuts: California Firms Wait (Source: CSA)
To the aerospace industry in Southern California the proposed budget for NASA released this month is just that – a proposal. The document is still a work in progress with possible changes coming once Congress gets its say on the direction of the nation’s space program. Click here to view the article. (2/19)

CSA Issues Statement on NASA Budget--President Obama Proposal is Game Changer (Source: CSA)
Andrea Seastrand, Executive Director of the California Space Authority (CSA), issued the following statement in reaction to President Barak Obama’s February 1 release of his FY 2011 NASA Budget Proposal. Click here to view the statement. (2/19)

Colorado Delegation Supports Orion Funding (Source: Denver Post)
Members of Colorado's congressional delegation have asked President Obama to continue FY-2011 funding for NASA's next-generation human- spaceflight projects. President Obama's budget cancels a crew vehicle designed and built by more than 450 Colorado employees of Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

In a letter, Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Doug Lamborn, Betsy Markey and Mike Coffman note: "In fiscal year 2008, over $780 million was obligated to the Colorado aerospace industry, in addition to $85 million going to educational institutions." Lockheed's Orion crew-exploration-vehicle work creates about 1,000 high-tech and high- paying jobs in Colorado, the letter said, and supports 22 companies across the state. (2/19)

Florida Backers Told to Get With Obama's Program, Let Go of Past (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Space Summit participants heard repeatedly from industry executives, academics and experts that Florida must adapt to a new U.S. national space policy that favored commercial rocket companies or give up its ambitions to be a world-class launch center.

"This [administration's shift towards commercial space] should not come as surprise to anybody," former Republican Congressman Bob Walker told 200 participants. "For a decade there have been presidential commissions that have said that the way this country had to move was to commercial space. The question is are you going to embrace where the world is headed?"

Patti Grace Smith, a former FAA official under President Bush, was even more harsh, saying that Florida had to walk away from John F. Kennedy's legacy and "step out from behind its past… if Florida is to remain a major space player." (2/19)

CryoSat Launch Delayed (Source: SpaceToday.net)
A technical problem with its Dnepr rocket has delayed the launch of ESA's CryoSat-2 spacecraft. The Dnepr rocket was scheduled to launch the spacecraft from Kazakhstan on Feb. 25, but will be delayed for an unspecified period because of a problem with a steering engine on the rocket's second stage. No new launch date has been announced, although the delay is expected to be at least a week and a half. The spacecraft is designed to measure changes in thickness in ice sheets in the polar regions. It is a replacement for the original CryoSat, lost in a Rockot launch failure in October 2005. (2/19)

Florida Leaders Aim to Save State's Space Sector (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
During a daylong space summit in Orlando, about 150 representatives of government, industry and academia attempted to sort through the projected fallout from the end of the space shuttle program later this year, and President Obama's planned cancellation of the Constellation program, which was to replace it.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas announced bipartisan legislation is being drafted that would restore funding for manned space flight from Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County. "The president's budget proposal is not the end of the game," Kosmas said. "We are not going to allow this lack of vision and unacceptable budget to move forward."

The end of the shuttle program is expected to leave nearly 20,000 people without jobs. State and local leaders have been devising ways to keep the engineers and other valuable workers in the area until a replacement project or industry can employ them again. But without the Constellation project, those prospects dimmed. (2/19)

Eutelsat Swaps Rockets for Satellite Launches (Source: SpaceFlightNow)
Eutelsat is switching a communications satellite launch this summer from a Chinese booster to the Ariane 5 rocket, citing international trade regulations and consequences from an earthquake in Italy last year.

The W3B satellite was scheduled for launch this year on a Long March 3B rocket provided by China Great Wall Industry Corp. In its place, Eutelsat officials said the W3C spacecraft will be put on the Long March manifest between June and September 2011. W3B will slide into the Ariane 5 rocket's backlog for launch in August or September 2010, according to Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat. (2/19)

Military Career Expo Planned at Patrick AFB (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Military Career Expo is coming to Patrick Air Force Base on Thursday, February 25th from 10am – 2pm. Do not miss this opportunity to meet with top companies like Northrop Grumman, Mac Tools, Lockheed Martin, ManTech, and more. The Expo will be at The Tides which is located off of A1A, just outside of PAFB. Please view the link below and register to attend this event. Click here for information. (2/19)

Downy Space Center Invites Teachers (Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram)
The Columbia Memorial Space Center will host six open houses for teachers whose students might be interested in a trip to the moon or a galaxy, far, far away. The free open houses - targeted to all teachers with elementary, middle, high school and college students - are scheduled Feb. 25 and 27, March 25 and 27 and April 22 and 24. (2/19)

Americans May Still Go to the Moon Before the Chinese (Source: The Economist)
When NASA announced its new spending plans, some people worried that cancellation of the Constellation moon program had ended any hopes of Americans returning there. The next footprints on the lunar regolith were therefore thought likely to be Chinese. Now, though, the private sector is arguing that the new spending plan actually makes it more likely America will return to the moon. Click here to read the article. (2/19)

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