March 10, 2010

No Painfree Options -- "Deal With It" -- Says XCOR's Greason (Source: Space Policy Online)
Jeff Greason says there are no good options for NASA: "They all suck. Tough. Deal with it." Mr. Greason is President of XCOR and was a member of the Augustine Panel. His message was that everyone needs to be realistic in looking at where the human space flight program was headed under the previous plan and debate on their merits the issues about its future. Whatever the answer is, it is likely to be painful for someone.

Arguing that "we can't take our eyes off of Mars" as a long term goal, he emphasized that such a journey is not yet feasible and if that were to become the single focus it would be as unsustainable as the Apollo program, with perhaps one crew journeying there before that program would end: "Flags and footprints are supposed to lead to settlement, not be an end in itself." Intermediate missions to the Moon and "deep space" destinations like asteroids are prerequisites to Mars in his view.

"Constellation would have been canceled," he said, and while it is regrettable that so much money has been spent on it already, it was time to "stop digging." He asserted that a "lot of lies are being spun" about commercial crew and it is "silly" to say that commercial companies cannot provide such services, but it is likely to happen first with established launch vehicles, not entrepreneurial ventures. (3/10)

Rep. Frank Wolf and Five Others Will Call on Bolden for 30 Day Study (Source: Space Policy Online)
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), ranking member of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee and five other Republican Congressmen (Culberson, Olson, Bishop, McCaul & Posey) will call for NASA Administrator Bolden to appoint a team to report back before President Obama's April 15 "space conference" on how to maintain uninterrupted human access to space. (3/10)

Brevard Workforce Nationally Recognized for Workforce Transition Program (Source: NAWB)
In recognition of its Aerospace Workforce Transition Program, Brevard Workforce received a Theodore E. Small Workforce Partnership Award from the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) in Washington D.C. The NAWB honored Brevard Workforce as one of three Distinguished Honorees. The awards honor workforce boards around the nation that take the lead in engaging business, economic development, education, labor and other entities toward the goal of ensuring a highly-skilled workforce. The award is the highest level of recognition a workforce board can receive from the NAWB. (3/10)

Texas' NASA Fight Soars Even as State's Clout Fades (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Texas' hard-charging campaign to save NASA's back-to-the-moon Constellation program may have star-struck optimism on its side, but the political and historical realities could prove too daunting to overcome. For one, gone are the days when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, could protect Texas' interests during the Bush presidency, or Democrats such as Lloyd Bentsen could watch out for the Lone Star State as a powerful Senate committee chairman or treasury secretary for Bill Clinton.

Texans have so little clout in Washington nowadays that when U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, now Sugar Land's Republican congressman, wanted to meet privately with NASA chief Charles Bolden, he had to buttonhole the former astronaut after a House panel hearing. And although thousands of Houston-area jobs are at stake, Texans in 2008 did nothing to help usher Barack Obama into the White House. Furthermore, history shows previous lobbying efforts to salvage massive NASA projects have never succeeded. (3/8)

European Satellites Wait Out Shuffling Dnepr Manifest (Source:
Several European satellite missions are in limbo due to technical and political trouble plaguing the Dnepr rocket, a converted ballistic missile from the Soviet nuclear arsenal. The Dnepr's missile heritage makes it a responsive and accurate satellite launcher, but the 111-foot-tall rocket has been bitten by political wrangling between Russia and neighboring countries before. Four European satellite missions are scheduled to launch on three Dnepr flights over the next three months. Two of the missions will blast off from the Baikonur spaceport, and another launch will originate from the Yasny space base in southern Russia. (3/10)

China's First Two Women Astronauts Selected (Source: Xinhua)
China has selected its second batch of astronauts, including five men and two women, the first time women have joined the country's space mission. The two women astronauts, both aero-transport pilots from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, might take part in manned docking of China's future space lab, said Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country's manned space program. "In the selection, we had almost the same requirements on women candidates as those for men, but the only difference was that they must be married, as we believe married women would be more physically and psychologically mature," Zhang said on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session. (3/10)

Student-Built Spacecraft Will be Launched at Wallops (Source:
Not much bigger than a child's toy block, two spacecraft designed and built by university students in Kentucky and California will fly in space for a short period this month to gather information that may be applied to future small Earth orbiting space vehicles. The spacecraft will fly on a NASA suborbital Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket between 6 and 9 a.m. March 11, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The backup launch days are March 12 and 13. (3/10)

China Plans to Launch Third Unmanned Moon Probe Around 2013 (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch its third unmanned probe to the moon, Chang'e-3, around 2013 and expects to complete the three-phase moon mission in 2017, said Ye Peijian, chief designer of Chang'e-1, the country's first moon probe. The Chang'e-3 mission will include an unmanned soft landing on the moon and the release of a moon rover to prospect the surface and interior of the moon. (3/10)

In Spaceflight's Murky Future, Old Paradigms No Longer Apply (Source: Baltimore Sun)
For the first time, a U.S. president has canceled the main future human spaceflight program, leaving NASA without a direction, soon without a vehicle to fly people in space, and with its role as world space leader in doubt. How did we get into this predicament, and is there a path toward regaining the kind of space eminence Americans have taken for granted?

As an unapologetic space cadet, I'm appalled by Washington's chaotic leadership and judgment over several decades. As a critical historian, I am fascinated by the whole spectacle. We have achieved great things in space over the past half-century, despite our short attention spans. But, as Wernher von Braun, author of the Mars exploration paradigm, said, "We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming." It remains to be seen whether the public, facing the loss of space eminence and the rising interest of other nations, will rediscover its fickle enthusiasm for human spaceflight. (3/10)

Nelson Suggests Minor Shuttle Extension (Source: Space Politics)
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) addressed a potential minor shuttle extension. He recommended adding one additional shuttle mission, the “rescue” shuttle that would be held in reserve if there was a problem on the last currently-scheduled shuttle flight, to carry additional equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. “The risk to safety is minimal on a fifth shuttle flight,” he said. “The President should announce he is asking NASA to do that fifth flight.” Nelson didn’t address any further extension of the shuttle.

Nelson also blamed the strong negative reaction to NASA’s new plan in some quarters to poor decisions by White House advisors. “Unfortunately, some of his [President Obama's] advisers have not given him correct information about how to lay out his vision,” he said. And later: “The President let himself be misinterpreted.” In one case, planned heavy-lift launch technology and development, he specifically blamed OMB. (3/10)

New Space Florida Website Unveiled (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Florida has totally redesigned its website. Visit to view the new site. (3/10)

NASA JPL Plans Climate Day (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, Calif., is co-sponsoring Climate Day 2010. This two-day event will feature lectures and demonstrations by scientists, a Climate Jeopardy competition, career information and educator resources. The event will take place March 26-27, 2010, at the Pasadena Convention Center. For more details about Climate Day and to pre-register online, visit (3/10)

Ex-NASA Official Pleads Guilty Over Contracts (Source: AP)
A former high-ranking NASA official has pleaded guilty in Mississippi to designing contracts in a way that netted him more than $270,000 in illegal profits. Liam P. Sarsfield, a former chief deputy engineer in Washington D.C., controlled a $1.5 million fund and designed contracts that wouldn’t have to be put out for bid. He steered the contracts where he wanted them to go, including to Mississippi State University and a company in Ohio, prosecutors said Monday.

Authorities say some of the money ended up in the hands of another top NASA official who faces nine felony charges in U.S. District Court in south Mississippi, home to NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Courtney A. Stadd, NASA’s chief of staff and White House liaison from 2001 to 2003, is charged with steering contracts to his consulting firm’s clients, including the university, which scored a $600,000 contract to study remote sensing technology. Prosecutors say the men conspired. (3/10)

Mother of Space Storms Bearing Down on Florida (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Congress may keep elements of the Constellation Program on life support for a few years, but its current incarnation is dead. NASA's leadership has been quite clear that it does not want it. A change of this magnitude is certainly traumatic. It will help to think of the new direction as extending aviation to a higher altitude, and where commercial transportation goes, business follows.

During this very difficult period, Florida's ability to adapt and develop an entrepreneurial space industry (NewSpace) remains problematic. Space Florida has been preparing for this hurricane for several years and has developed an encouraging strategy, but difficulties remain. Existing state incentives and assistance programs aren't easily used to motivate very small companies to come to Florida, even though one of these may become the next large aerospace firm in the state.

Incentives need not be limited to state or local government funds; angel investors and venture capitalists are increasingly recognizing the potential of the NewSpace entrepreneurs. NASA's recent decision to assign Kennedy Space Center the mission of engaging NewSpace companies is a possible source of strategic confusion and inefficiency. Will these state and federal entities effectively coordinate their activities, or will cultural and political differences create obstacles to strategic and tactical cooperation? (3/10)

Northrop Grumman Drops Out of Aerial Tanker Competition (Source: AIA)
Northrop Grumman Corp. says it will not compete in the bid for a $35 billion Pentagon contract to build 179 aerial refueling tankers. The company said the odds were stacked against its contender, a tanker based on the A330 commercial passenger jet built by Airbus, and the decision leaves Boeing Co. as the sole bidder. Editor's Note: Northrop Grumman would have employed hundreds of people on Florida's Space Coast if they would have won the tanker contract. It was hoped that this would offset some Space Shuttle job losses. (3/9)

Astrium Shrugs Off Galileo Loss, Reports Strong 2009 (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Astrium space hardware and services provider reported a 12 percent increase in revenue and a 33 percent increase in backlog in 2009 compared to 2008, with its services business growing by nearly 18 percent, Astrium parent EADS reported March 9. (3/9)

Editorial: Tell My 5-Year-Old That We've Given Up on Space (Source: USA Today)
My 5-year-old daughter knows their names: Earhart, Lindbergh, Yeager, Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin, Gagarin. In New York, she has visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and attended lectures in the planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History. She has seen a shuttle streak skyward from a Florida beach. To her, manned exploration of space is about more than technical capability. It is an expression of her curiosity about the world. The questions that begged answers, and the humans that dared answer them, inspire her. (3/10)

Panelists Criticize Space Plan (Source: Florida Today)
President Barack Obama is in for a chilly reception when he visits the Space Coast next month if a community forum Tuesday on his locally unpopular NASA plan is any indication. About 100 people in attendance at the space forum at Brevard Community College applauded as the panelists took exception with Obama's plan, which is outlined in his proposed 2011 budget. Click here to view the article. (3/10)

NASA Conducting Study About Shuttle (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is conducting an internal study to determine whether shuttle supply lines could be restarted if Congress directs the agency to keep its three-orbiter fleet flying. The manufacturing of new external tanks would take two years, likely resulting in a gap between the last scheduled shuttle mission in September and additional flights. Shuttle systems largely have been recertified to fly beyond 2010, so the biggest question is money, a NASA official said Tuesday. (3/10)

LaHood: Washington Looking at NextGen Funding Help (Source: AIA)
The Obama administration "wants to be helpful" in funding the NextGen air-traffic control system, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told airline executives on Tuesday, while refusing to give any details on what that help might look like. Airlines have complained that Washington is providing $8 billion to high-speed rail projects while failing to help the air travel industry in the face of a severe downturn. While stressing the importance of modernizing ATC, LaHood said high-speed rail will continue to be a priority for the administration. (3/10)

Chairman: EADS Won't Bid Solo Against Boeing for Tanker Contract (Source: AIA)
In response to Northrop Grumman's decision not to bid for the Air Force aerial tanker contract, EADS Chairman Louis Gallois said EADS would not move ahead with a solo bid against Boeing, and he noted that the request for proposals is based on a smaller airplane that gives a big advantage to Boeing's 767 over the A330 Multirole Tanker Transport. "What is the consequence of that? The U.S. Air Force won't have the most modern airplane in the world. It means Australia, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, the Emirates will have a more capable airplane than the U.S. Air Force," he said. (3/10)

Official: With More Funding, NASA Shuttles Could Continue (Source: AIA)
NASA could continue flying space shuttles beyond its Sept. 30 deadline if funds are made available to keep the program going, a space shuttle official said this week. In light of President Barack Obama's proposal to end NASA's shuttle program and have private companies take over the missions, several lawmakers have urged that the program be extended beyond the end of September, when it is due to be shut down. (3/10)

EADS Reports $1.04 Billion Loss in 2009 (Source: AIA)
The European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. said that reduced revenue from its delayed A400M military transport program and provisions against losses caused the company to move into the red in 2009. EADS posted a net loss of $1.04 billion last year, but the company said it had reached an agreement with European governments to save the A400M project. (3/9)

No comments: