March 17, 2010

Sen. Says Solid Rocket Motor Costs Will Double, Navy Disagrees (Source: Defense News)
Okay, everyone agrees - the cost of solid rocket motors is going up. The question is how much. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., insisted again March 17 that the cost of solid rocket motors that the U.S. military needs for its intercontinental ballistic missiles will double if President Barack Obama gets his way. While others praise Obama's plan to invest in commercial space companies, Vitter worries that one of the real losers in all this will be the U.S. military.

His logic: NASA is the nation's biggest customer for solid rocket motors, so if NASA drops out of the market, prices for everyone else will double. The military needs solid rocket motors for Minuteman ballistic missiles, submarine-based Trident ballistic missiles, missile interceptors and all sorts of tactical missiles. The Navy, which has studied the matter, says prices will probably rise, but they won't double. Rear Adm. Stephen Johnson, said he expects solid rocket motor prices to rise 10 to 20 percent. (3/17)

Arianespace Says No Need for More Launch Providers (Source: Space Daily)
The push by certain telecommunications operators for additional players in the space lift marketplace could work to the satellite industry's own detriment, generating an overcapacity situation and potentially creating launch services quality issues. This was the conclusion of several participants in a panel discussion on the launch sector's future. Taking part in the panel were Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall; Kjell Karlsen, the President and General Manager of Sea Launch; Yin Liming, President of China Great Wall Industry Corporation; and International Launch Services President Francis McKenna. (3/17)

Enterprise Florida Invites Florida Companies to Farnborough Air Show (Source: EFI)
Farnborough 2010 in the UK is fast approaching (July 19-25). This is one of the world's largest aerospace trade shows. Enterprise Florida has two 6m x 12m Islands which comprise the Florida Pavilion, and is offering use of the pavilion for Florida aerospace companies. Contact Ken Cooksey at for information. (3/17)

Iridium Sees Friendly Resolution to Motorola Dispute (Source: Space News)
The CEO of Iridium said a legal dispute with its former sponsor, Motorola, is likely to be resolved amicably by the two parties and will not block progress on Iridium’s plan to select a builder this summer for its next-generation satellite constellation. Motorola is demanding $24.7 million in cash from Iridium, saying Iridium’s purchase last September by GHL Acquisition Corp., and the company’s subsequent stock-market listing, constitute a change in control under the terms of a December 2000 loan Motorola made to Iridium. (3/17)

45th Space Wing Commander Nominated for 1st Star (Source: Florida Today)
The new commander of the 45th Space Wing is poised to get his first star. Col. Ed Wilson, who assumed command last month of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, has been nominated to become a brigadier general. Wilson, who said it was a dream come true to become commander of the 45th Space Wing, has a long family tradition of military service. His grandfather served in the military and his father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. (3/17)

Alien World Found in Not-So-Alien Setting (Source: MSNBC)
A newly discovered exoplanet is the first such alien world to resemble the planets in our own solar system. The planet, dubbed CoRoT-9b, was found to be about the size of Jupiter and situated at an orbit similar to Mercury, which is the innermost planet in our solar system. While that seems close, it is much farther away than other gas giant planets found around alien stars with the exoplanet detection method used in the new study. This distance in turn means that CoRoT-9b has a more temperate climate than so-called "hot Jupiters" that can experience radical temperature swings. (3/17)

FFCA Plans Mar. 23 Event with ATK (Source: FFCA)
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in Clearwater will host the next Florida Federal Contractors Association (FFCA) event, including an overview of ATK's programs in Clearwater. The meeting will be held on Mar. 23 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be a FFCA Members Only event and RSVPs are needed by Mar. 22 to ensure we provide our host with the appropriate personal information on each of the attendees. Contact Danielle Weitlauf at 727-547-7354 for information. (3/17)

Cramer Lobbies for Space Firm While Defending Constellation for Alabama (Source: Birmingham News)
Former Rep. Bud Cramer is helping Huntsville try to save NASA jobs related to manned space flight while he also is a registered lobbyist for one of the commercial space firms that stands to benefit should NASA cede the mission to the private sector. Cramer, a veteran Democratic lawmaker who did not run for re-election in 2008, said Tuesday that if SpaceX wants anything that is detrimental to Huntsville and Marshall Space Flight Center, he will not participate.

Cramer is chairman of Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, which registered as a lobbyist for SpaceX on March 1. He is one of three Wexler & Walker lobbyists listed on the registration. But Cramer also is leading a 25-member task force of north Alabama aerospace advocates who are trying to persuade Congress to preserve the Constellation return-to-the-moon program that is critical to Marshall's mission. (3/17)

FAA to Get 90-Day Extension as Congress Deadlocks on Reauthorization (Source: Reuters)
NextGen funding, airline safety, airport improvements and other major aviation issues may be on hold as Congress appears unable to pass an FAA reauthorization bill by the March 31 deadline. A spokesman for Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says a bill will be introduced on Thursday to extend the FAA's current funding for 90 days, giving lawmakers extra time to agree on a more permanent bill. (3/17)

Boeing Sees Modest Growth in Space Over Five Years (Source: Reuters)
Boeing expects only modest growth in its space revenues over the next five years with commercial orders seen accounting for a growing share as government orders decline. Government orders comprised about 90 percent of Boeing's space business now, but would shrink to around 70 percent as defense spending flattened out, said a Boeing executive.

He said commercial sales would increase from 10 percent to around 30 percent of the total, bolstered by the need for many satellite operators around the world to replace aging spacecraft in coming years. Boeing hopes to sell more of its Wideband Global Satellites (WGS) in coming years, noting that the Air Force had issued a request for proposals for up to six more WGS satellites and two were already included in the fiscal 2011 budget. The company also saw some "opportunities" in the classified sector, he said, without giving any further details. (3/17)

NASA Chief Bolden Sees Opportunities for Industry (Source: ABC)
NASA's Charles Bolden said the agency's focus on commercial space transportation would provide "incredible opportunities" for U.S. companies. One of few agencies to get a top-line budget increase, NASA's funding is due to increase by $6 billion over the next five years, Bolden said. He said funding plans would put NASA back on track as a "big-picture innovator" in technology development that could create future growth. (3/17)

Florida Plans Disaster-Response for Job Losses (Source: Florida Today)
Like emergency managers gathering in a bunker before an approaching hurricane, workforce and aerospace industry officials plan to establish a team to help coordinate their response to the waves of space-related layoffs expected this year. "They know who's doing what, and they know who to talk to if they need help or they've got to gather information for something," Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce, said of emergency managers. "That's the same kind of concept that we've got going here."

The "rapid response" communications team was one of several strategies rolled out Tuesday by the Regional Aerospace Workforce Initiative, a seven-county effort promoting job alternatives for displaced space workers. During a meeting attended by about 50 people at the University of Central Florida, Rice estimated the shuttle program's planned retirement after four more flights and cancellation of the Constellation moon program -- if approved by Congress -- could result in up to 9,000 direct job losses.

Another 14,000 community jobs could be affected as families reduce spending or leave the area. "It's just massive," Rice said. "It's amazing how this is going to ripple out for us, and what it's going do to us." The biggest employment hit would come in October if shuttle flights stay on schedule. (3/17)

Simulation/Training Industry Says it Could Absorb Many Shuttle Job Losses (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando’s military-oriented simulation/training industry says it may have jobs for many displaced Shuttle workers. But workforce officials in Brevard County aren't convinced the region's training-simulation companies will have nearly enough openings for those expected to lose their jobs. Even if such jobs materialize, there is not enough money, so far at least, to retrain space workers to fill them, Brevard officials say.

Few shuttle contractors have offered to retrain their employees, fearing it could undermine the shuttle program while there is still hope it might be extended or saved. And NASA hasn't put any money toward retraining, though the space agency says it supports the use of such services where available. So far, Brevard Workforce has received $2.6 million from the state for retraining, with an additional $3.2 million request pending in the Legislature. That would cover fewer than 15% of the workers expected to lose their jobs.

"Our industry is growing at a net increase of about 1,000 to 1,500 jobs per year," said Ken Kelly, an industry consultant and past chairman of the National Center for Simulation, an Orlando-based trade group. "Theoretically, we could absorb much of the job loss at the Cape over several years." Many space-related workers, with their knack for technology, would be considered strong candidates. (3/17)

Nelson Sees NASA Gains After Talk with Obama (Source: Florida Today)
We'll see the fruits of that conversation when the president visits on April 15," Nelson told journalists after his Oval Office meeting. Nelson, D-Orlando, met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the space program and, more briefly, health care reform legislation. "Excellent conversation," Nelson said of the talk. But he wouldn't comment on whether Obama supports his push for an extra shuttle flight or for pushing ahead with plans to develop a heavy-lift rocket, saying only, "To be determined." (3/17)

Aldrin: Let Shuttle Do Heavy Lifting (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
There are numerous bits of information, disinformation and just plain wrong ideas now swirling about NASA and the Space Coast concerning whether or not it is possible to extend the operational life of the space-shuttle program. So here are the facts: Currently, there are five to seven shuttle external fuel tanks in various stages of assembly, with another tank ready for a "launch on need" mission. Some of these tanks would require more parts than others, but they exist. There are four remaining shuttle missions on the manifest.

I have proposed stretching out these remaining flights to one every six months. With the four remaining flights, plus at least five sets of additional spare parts available for missions, that's a potential shuttle extension of five years under the present capability. I have proposed that the heavy-lift rocket, which nearly everyone involved in space policy agrees we will need, be based upon the existing space-shuttle architecture. That means the heavy lifter uses the four-segment solid-fuel boosters, external tank and shuttle main engines, existing shuttle facilities, and, equally as important, the existing shuttle workforce. Only the winged orbiter is replaced with a payload canister with the three engines mounted at its base.

This first-generation, shuttle-derived booster could lift far more than any space capsule into low Earth orbit, doing in a single launch what would take many capsules to achieve. That first-generation booster could evolve into a Mars-capable heavy lifter, gradually replacing the two four-segment solids with winged fly-back boosters and new upper transfer stages. The funds to pay for this vehicle and tests of its designs are already contained in President Obama's proposed fiscal-year 2011 budget. (3/17)

NASA Needs a Clear Destination for Space Exploration, Experts Say (Source:
Top space experts on Monday bemoaned the lack of a clear destination in the new NASA space plan proposed by President Barack Obama, but they often disagreed on what that new goal should be. The space luminaries gathered at the Tenth Annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate to discuss the topic, "Moon, Mars and Beyond: Where next for the manned space program?" The debate was moderated by astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Buzz Aldrin argued that NASA should accomplish something significant before the political will for spaceflight fades. "I think we need to consider the attention span of the public, and the term limit of people in Congress that want to get reelected," said Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. "We want to keep activity going that is inspirational for the young people, that is something that happens within term limits."

"It's a fundamental mistake to give NASA $20 billion a year and not give them a destination," Paul Spudis, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute said. Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin agreed. Without a specific goal, NASA was likely to waste money designing separate technologies that don't work together, he said. Retired Air Force general Lester Lyles, disagreed. He remains confident that NASA will produce useful technologies even without a firm destination. (3/17)

Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium Coming to Cocoa Beach on May 12-14 (Source: LaunchSpace)
This Symposium focuses on the problems of design, fabrication, test, and operational use of aerospace mechanisms with an emphasis is on hardware developments. Attracting attendees from all over the world, the Symposium provides a social and technical forum for personnel active in the field of mechanisms technology, as well as providing a source of information for others interested in this field. This Symposium will feature 46 papers on topics such as Mars and Lunar rovers, Cubesats, pointing gimbals, and the Space Station. Click here for information. (3/17)

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