February 5, 2010

Another Embry-Riddle Grad Heads Into Space (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
Astronaut Terry Virts will become the sixth Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate to enter space when he pilots the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Sunday morning. Virts, 42, of Colombia, Md., is scheduled to launch at 4:39 a.m. on one of the last four shuttle missions. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and earned a master's degree in aeronautics in 1997 from Embry-Riddle. (2/5)

Embry-Riddle Study Predicts Rebound for U.S. Aerospace Industry in 2010 (Source: ERAU)
A new study by the Center for Aviation and Aerospace Leadership (CAAL) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University predicts that the aerospace industry will recover in 2010 – and the rate of recovery could be relatively quick. In fact, the study, titled the Aerospace Economic Report and Outlook for 2010 (the AERO 2010 Report), goes even further by suggesting that the recovery in aerospace manufacturing may help lead the U.S. economy out of the recession.

The results of this study, as well as other aerospace manufacturing topics, will be discussed at Embry-Riddle’s first Aviation and Aerospace Manufacturing Summit, to be held Feb. 22-24, 2010, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla. Visit Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s Web site at http://worldwide.erau.edu for more information about the event. To obtain copies of the AERO 2010 Report, call the Center for Aviation and Aerospace Leadership at 210-659-7703, ext. 7. (2/5)

Griffith Loses Science Committee Seat (Source: Space Politics)
Congressman Parker Griffith (R-AL), who switched parties in December and as a result gave up his post on the House Science and Technology Committee, won’t be returning as a GOP member. Griffith instead will be assigned to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which deals in issues ranging from healthcare to technology, but not space. Griffith tried to put a positive spin on the assignment, but others criticized the appointment in a Huntsville Times report. “When North Alabama’s pressing need is job protection for NASA, Parker can spend his time dealing with the Toyota recall,” said Doug Dermody, chair of the Madison County Democratic Party. (2/5)

Homer Hickam Unhappy with Obama Plan (Source: Space Politics)
Homer Hickam is so unhappy with NASA’s new direction he’s asking for key officials to resign. In a letter Friday to the House Science and Technology Committee the Rocket Boys author said he had written to OSTP director John Holdren and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, asking each to resign. “They are the principle [sic] architects of the decision to cancel the American lunar spaceflight program known as Constellation,” he states. “Garver and Holdren are political activists and gadflys who have no business making serious space policy. They should leave.” Curiously, he makes no mention of NASA administrator Charles Bolden at all in his letter: perhaps he doesn’t classify him with Garver and Holdren as “political activists and gadflys”, but that would seem to imply that he thinks Bolden is more of a figurehead—which doesn’t seem any more flattering. (2/5)

Orbital Wins Missile Target Work (Source: DOD)
Orbital Sciences Corp. of Chandler, Ariz., was awarded a definitization modification under its previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to perform medium range target system integration, mission planning, and launch services in support of the Aegis flight target mission event 16E2. The work will be performed in Chandler, Ariz., with launch services at the Pacific Missile Range Facility with an estimated completion date of March 2011. The obligated amount of $10,824,205 used fiscal year 2009 research, development, test and evaluation funds. (2/5)

California Spaceport Group Wins Air Force Work (Source: DOD)
Spaceport Systems International of Lompoc, Calif., was awarded a $48,000,000 contract which will provide for future launch spaceport services for the Launch Test Squadron within the Space and Missile Systems Center/Space Development and Test Wing. At this time, $300,000 has been obligated. (2/3)

Northrop Swings to Q4 Profit (Source: AIA)
Northrop Grumman Corp. swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $413 million after losing $2.5 billion in the year-earlier period. Looking ahead, CEO Wesley Bush says shipbuilding could be a concern due to rising costs and weak margins, while UAVs and cybersecurity present "a robust set of opportunities" for the company. (2/5)

Oklahoma Spaceport bill Passes House Day After Failing (Source: The Oklahoma)
House Bill 2430 was approved 68-27. House members voted it down Wednesday, 51-45. If members want to eliminate the agency and the spaceport, which has had its share of critics over the years, they should file a bill calling for it to be dissolved, Miller said. The Space Industry Development Authority received about $500,000 last year.

Rep. Todd Russ, whose district includes the spaceport, said U.S. Air Force pilots make touch-and-go landings at the spaceport, which has one of the longest runways in the country. The spaceport is attractive for certain ventures, such as a training area for unmanned drones, he said. "We are on the brink of possibly having some very large breakthroughs,” he said. If nothing serious develops in three years, Russ said he would talk with legislators about possibly closing the spaceport. (2/5)

Payton Slams Space Firms’ Quality (Source: DOD Buzz)
The makers of America’s rockets and satellites “are still stumbling on fundamentals too often,” said Gary Payton, former astronaut and the top Air Force man on space acquisition. Payton’s comments seem to indicate a continuing trend of shoddy quality control among those whose toughest job is turning out top quality parts and software and making sure they work and fit well.

The biggest problem lies with suppliers, who are selling equipment that is just not up to snuff, Payton said. However, the primes also must shoulder blame since they are not overseeing suppliers at the factory level as closely as they must. “We have been finding problems on satellites and launch vehicles; valves on launch vehicles, gyroscopes and reaction wheels on satellites,” Payton said. “We have been finding test execution problems.” The problems are not as severe they were five years ago, though.

The Air Force is trying to tackle this. Space and Missile Systems Command, the Air Force’s rocket and satellite honchos, is hiring 900 people over the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) to beef up the ranks of testers, acquisition specialists, cost estimating experts (of whom there are very few) and systems engineers, Payton said, to help catch these problems early in a program. (2/5)

Obama Space Plan Is At Outline Stage (Source: Aviation Week)
Managers and engineers at NASA are scrambling to put some meat on the bones of the dramatic policy shift proposed by President Barack Obama in his Fiscal 2011 budget request, working with limited guidance to cancel the Constellation Program of human space-exploration vehicles and begin finding a private route to space. The closely held policy change left even the most senior agency managers at a loss for words as reporters questioned them about details .

“We will be working with OMB and OSTP to understand details of all this,” said NASA’s Doug Cooke, associate administrator for Exploration Systems, the day after the budget came out. “...We’ll be looking at what areas we want to invest in in terms of propulsion and the technologies. It’s not something that we have totally nailed down.” (2/5)

NASA Administrator to Hold News Briefing at Kennedy Space Center (Source: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will meet with reporters covering the launch of space shuttle Endeavour at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The news briefing will be held at Kennedy's press site at 10 a.m. EST, Saturday, Feb. 6. (2/5)

Space Florida Chief Has Concerns About NASA Plans (Source: CFL13)
Space Florida President Frank DiBello said his organization’s mission is more critical than ever now to support NASA and its contractors by bringing in high-tech businesses to Florida and the Space Coast. He said with the impending space gap, combined with the potential 7,000 jobs lost when the shuttle program retires at the end of this year, the group is striving to woo companies interested in space-based applications to hire them. However, he expressed concerns about President Obama's plan to refocus NASA's goal from exploration to developing new technologies. (2/4)

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