April 24, 2010

ULA Lays Off Nearly Two Dozen Texas Workers (Source: Brownsville Herald)
United Launch Alliance laid off 22 workers in March at its plant at Harlingen, a company official has confirmed. ULA spokesman Chris Chavez in Colorado said the company, formerly Lockheed-Martin, has laid off a total of 77 workers. The cutbacks in Harlingen were a combination of managerial and production positions, he said, adding that 137 employees remain in Harlingen.

The cutbacks are a result of the company nearing completion of orders for a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense project, Chavez said. “That’s a U.S. Army missile used to destroy incoming missiles,” Chavez said. “In Harlingen, we build the metallic structures for the THAAD missile under a subcontract to Lockheed-Martin.” (4/25)

New Plan for NASA is Better for Ohio (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
It generated controversy for scuttling manned missions to the moon, but President Barack Obama's new plan for NASA could generate jobs and dollars for Ohio. Several aerospace companies might return jobs to Cleveland because of the new responsibilities that would be given to the Cleveland-based NASA Glenn Research Center under the plan, said Ramon Lugo, acting director of NASA Glenn. "It's an exciting time," he told members of the recently formed Ohio Aerospace and Business Aviation Council at a meeting this week. (4/25)

Homans to Return to New Mexico Spaceport Post (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Gov. Bill Richardson announced Friday that Taxation and Revenue Secretary Rick Homans will serve as chairman of the Spaceport Authority until a replacement executive director is hired. Homans previously served as Spaceport Authority chairman from 2005-07, before leaving the post for a job in the private sector.

"We are reaching a critical point in our efforts to recruit new jobs to New Mexico, and I will be working closely with Secretary Mondrag-n to pursue some high-profile companies to the state," Richardson said. "At the same time, we need all the expertise we can get as we complete construction of Spaceport America, and I am tapping Secretary Homans to lead that effort." Homans said the Spaceport Authority will move "as quickly as possible" to hire an executive director. (4/25)

AIAA Chief Endorses Kosmas' "Space to Schools Act" (Source: AIAA)
Robert Dickman, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, issued a statement in support of HR 5903, the "Space to Schools Act of 2010": "On behalf of AIAA's 35,000 members, I urge the passage of HR 5903, the 'Space to Schools Act of 2010.'

This legislation addresses the critical teacher shortfalls in the 'STEM' subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, by encouraging veteran scientists and engineers, and other experts, to enter the classroom and help educate the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technology workers. The bill will provide our nation's schools with a direct infusion of qualified, motivated, and able talent. (4/24)

China Open To Human Spaceflight Cooperation (Source: Aviation Week)
China’s human spaceflight program is developing a 13-ton cargo carrier to supply the space station it plans to orbit late this decade, but the program’s leader is ready to discuss using it for International Space Station logistics, as well. A Chinese space official says his agency is prepared to cooperate across the board on human spaceflight with NASA and other agencies, including joint human missions and unpiloted logistics with the 5.5-ton-payload-capacity cargo vehicle it plans to test after 2014-16. (4/24)

Change in Experiment Will Delay Shuttle’s End (Source: New York Times)
A $1.5 billion seven-ton cosmic-ray experiment scheduled to be carried aloft July 29 on the space shuttle Endeavour won’t be ready until August, according to the experiment’s leader, Samuel Ting of MIT, delaying the end of the 29-year-old shuttle program.

NASA officials acknowledged that there would be a delay but said they had not yet decided when the final launching would be. The experiment, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, was to be installed on the International Space Station as one last scientific errand before the final shuttle launching, of the Discovery, now scheduled for Sep. 16.

Last week, however, Dr. Ting told NASA that he would replace a key component of the spectrometer, a powerful superconducting magnet, with an ordinary magnet. The redesigned instrument would not arrive at the Kennedy Space Center until August. It would be too late for July and is not a part of the final Discovery mission. Editor's Note: Take your time, Dr. Ting! (4/24)

ZERO-G Plans South Florida Flight on May 8 (Source: ZERO-G)
On May 8, Zero Gravity Corporation's (ZERO-G), G-FORCE ONE will blast off from Fort Lauderdale offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the law of gravity. Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely and lighten up in complete weightlessness onboard ZERO-G's weightless flight. ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights. To reserve a seat, visit www.gozerog.com. (4/24)

Russian Rocket Sends New Satellite to Orbit for North America (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Beginning a 9-hour launch sequence, a Proton rocket lifted off Saturday morning with a new communications satellite to replace two aging spacecraft serving North America. The 18-story rocket launched at from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. (4/25)

Atlantis Journeys to Launch Pad, Perhaps for Final Time (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Facing what could be the final voyage in its quarter-century of spaceflight, the shuttle Atlantis emerged from Kennedy Space Center's assembly building bathed in spotlights and traveled to the launch pad Thursday. (4/24)

Next Up at the Cape: Falcon-9 (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceX has reserved May 8 for the first launch of its new Falcon-9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch window opens at 11:00 a.m. and extends into the night. This will be a demonstration mission, to qualify the launch vehicle and a stripped down version of the company's Dragon capsule. (4/24)

Will Russia Help Build Mexico's Spaceport? (Source: Space Daily)
US astronaut Jose Hernandez and engineer Fernando de la Pena will travel will visit Mexico to inspect a spaceport site and study details of the future construction. The facility will be built near the city of Chetumal, on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The space center, to be located some 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) away from residential locations, will built on about 30 hectares of land.

Hernandez has said the Mexican space agency was ready to cooperate with all countries in peaceful space exploration. According to the astronaut, Mexico is technically unable to carry out rocket launches by itself at the moment, but will probably be able to in ten years or so. For now, he said, the country should obtain the necessary technology.

Russia and Mexico signed an agreement on cooperation in space research and exploration for peaceful purposes in 1996. In March 2009, a delegation of experts from Russian space agency Roscosmos visited the Latin American state to discuss the creation of the Mexican space agency with local lawmakers. Roscosmos deputy head Sergei Savelyev said Russia was ready to help Mexico develop its national space program on a commercial basis. (4/24)

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