April 28, 2010

Soyuz Rocket Launches to Space Station (Source: Russia Today)
A Russian Soyuz rocket has blasted off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. It is carrying two-and-a-half tons of supplies for the International Space Station, including fresh water, food and clothes. Aside from the basic necessities, the six crew members currently living at the ISS will also receive parcels from their families. Among the bars of chocolate and fresh fruit, there are books on everything from science fiction to psychology. It'll be three days before the cargo reaches the ISS. Russia is planning four more similar deliveries this year. (4/28)

Scientists Finds Evidence Of Water Ice On Asteroid's Surface (Source: Space Daily)
Asteroids may not be the dark, dry, lifeless chunks of rock scientists have long thought. A University of Tennessee researcher has found evidence of water ice and organic material on the asteroid 24 Themis. This evidence supports the idea that asteroids could be responsible for bringing water and organic material to Earth. 24 Themis is a 200-kilometer wide asteroid that sits halfway between Mars and Jupiter. (4/28)

Celestis Plans Memorial Payloads for New Mexico Launch (Source: Celestis)
Celestis 09, The Pioneer Flight, is projected to launch May 4, 2010 from Spaceport America, near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This suborbital mission will launch aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle. We are pleased to be working with the primary sponsor of the mission, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, by providing matching funds that assist students to launch their experiments into space.

Aboard The Pioneer Flight will be flight capsules and modules from the US, China, Taiwan, and Great Britain. After the flight, the capsules and modules containing cremated remains will be returned to the families of Pioneer Flight participants. As always we will welcome friends, family members, and others as our special guests for a launch pad tour and viewing of the launch. (4/28)

Northrop Grumman Net Income Up by $80 Million (Source: MartketWath)
Northrop Grumman Corp. first-quarter net income rose by about 21% to $469 million, from $389 million in the year-ago period. The defense contractor said its revenue increased to $8.6 billion from $7.9 billion. (4/28)

General Dynamics Reports First-Quarter 2010 Results (Source: GD)
General Dynamics reported first-quarter 2010 earnings from continuing operations of $599 million, compared with 2009 first-quarter earnings of $593 million. Revenues in the quarter were $7.75 billion. Net earnings for the first quarter of 2010 were $597 million, compared to $590 million in the first quarter of 2009. (4/28)

We're Flying to an Asteroid – But Which One? (Source: New Scientist)
Deciding to send astronauts to an asteroid is all very well, but now NASA will have to find the few space rocks that are suitable to visit, and work out how to rendezvous safely. The goal would be to gain experience of safely sending humans far from Earth, as a stepping stone towards longer journeys to Mars. Studying the interior of an asteroid up close could also prove important if we ever need to deflect one. Yet achieving the goal will mean overcoming daunting challenges.

Before landing on an asteroid, a spacecraft must enter its orbit, rather than simply whizzing by. That means matching the object's speed and direction of motion, which in most cases would require burning too much rocket fuel to be practical. The only way round this would be if the asteroid's motion happened to be very similar to Earth's at the time of its closest approach. Even if a space rock passes that test, few have close approaches to Earth in the right time frame, in 2025 or the following few years. (4/28)

Solar Sails Could Clean Up Space Junk (Source: Space.com)
Future satellites could deploy solar sails to help take down pieces of space junk floating around Earth and a tiny new spacecraft hopes to make it possible. A British satellite the size of a shoe box is slated to launch next year to test how a solar sail can act as an atmospheric brake and end its mission in a fiery plunge. If successful, the one-year mission could help lead to bigger, better solar sail spacecraft capable of trawling the space around Earth for dangerous space junk, mission planners said. (4/28)

Russia Consolidates Astronaut Corps (Source: Itar Tass)
Russia has created a single team of cosmonauts. The decision was made by the inter-agency commission of the Federal Space Agency on Wednesday. Until now there were three teams of cosmonauts in Russia: one belonged to the Cosmonauts’ Training Center, which includes military pilots, another belonged to the Space Rocket Corporation Energia, and the third one was that of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. (4/28)

India Planning to Launch 10 Satellites in a Year (Source: Economic Times)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch 10 satellites in a year to better communication network and improve disaster management, the government revealed Wednesday. "The aims and objectives of these satellites include natural resources management, augmenting the communications infrastructure, satellite navigation, disaster management support, space science research and planetary exploration," a minister said. (4/28)

Charles Bolden Addresses Job Cuts, NASA's Future in JSC Visit (Source: KHOU)
The head of NASA spoke to employees at the Johnson Space Center Wednesday, addressing the impact the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the space program will have on jobs in the Houston area. In his speech NASA Administrator General Charles Bolden talked about the space agency’s vision and the future of the Constellation program. Both the Constellation and Orion programs are based out of Houston and are on the chopping block under Obama’s NASA plan.

Bolden’s visit came amid circulation layoff rumors, focused on the contractor base at the JSC. He said contract workers will be the first to feel the impact of changes to the space program. Officially, the Constellation and Orion programs are congressionally mandated and cannot be canceled without permission. Congress and the Obama administration are still at odds about the future of the space agency. (4/28)

Funding for Orion Launch Abort System To Cease April 30 (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. is warning subcontractors supporting development of a launch abort system for NASA’s Orion crew capsule that funding for the effort will cease April 30, according to industry sources and documents. In an April 20 letter to Alliant TechSystems (ATK), one of two companies developing motors for the Orion Launch Abort System, Orbital said Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin would restrict funding for the effort by the end of April. An Orbital official asserted that the lack of funding “does not constitute a Contract termination,” which would violate a law passed in December that prohibits NASA from using 2010 funding to cancel any contracts or activities under its Constellation program. (4/28)

NASA Plans "Tweetup" for Next Shuttle Launch (Source: NASA)
At the next space shuttle launch, NASA will host 150 people from around the world and provide them with a behind-the-scenes perspective to share with their followers via the social networking service Twitter. Participants will meet with shuttle technicians, managers, engineers and astronauts, tour KSC and view the shuttle launch. People are expected to attend from more than 30 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and England. Attendees were randomly selected from more than 1,000 online registrations. Click here follow the Tweetup participants. Editor's Note: I was selected to participate! (4/28)

Lack of Policy Makes Space a "Wild West" (Source: Toward Freedom)
Fifty years into what has become known as the Space Age, the condition of space operations has changed dramatically. Today more than 50 nations own satellites and commercial operators own even more. There are now nearly 1,000 active satellites orbiting the planet, carrying out critical roles in telecommunications, navigation, banking, science, and other civilian and military operations. However, the space above Earth has come to resemble what space security expert Laura Grego calls the Wild West. Increasing numbers of satellites are entering the region yet there are few restrictions on their behavior, increasing the risk of accidents and the possibility of misunderstanding that could lead to conflicts on the ground.

The Obama administration seems to understand that space policy during the past decade, like foreign policy in general, has made the US more and more unpopular among other nations, not to mention being contrary to its own best interests. The president will re-shape space policy, as far as the Congress will let him. There are some immediate opportunities for a change in direction. The administration is in the process of rewriting the National Space Policy, which guides US space activities across all sectors; that is, civil, commercial, government, and military. And a Space Posture Review. to be completed by the end of this year, will establish priorities for the national security uses of space. (4/28)

Bolden: It's Time to Focus on America's Future in Space (Source: Houston Chronicle)
With the fiscal year 2011 budget proposal and a recent speech in Florida, President Barack Obama has provided NASA with all the assets and vision needed to make a critical shift in our human spaceflight program. We are working with Congress to make this vision a reality. The goal is to develop a long-range plan to get beyond low-Earth orbit and eventually to Mars. If we flounder, it is unlikely we will have a similar opportunity in our lifetimes. America will lose its leadership in technological innovation and human spaceflight.

How did we get here? Six years ago, all of us were excited when President George W. Bush committed NASA to traveling again beyond low-Earth orbit. Unfortunately, the necessary funding increases never came. On its current path, Constellation would not get astronauts back to the International Space Station on U.S. rockets until two years after the station's scheduled retirement in 2015. And Constellation won't get us beyond low-Earth orbit in any reasonable time or enable us to land on the moon again. Sticking with Constellation also would continue to put at risk funding for other critical national priorities, such as science, aeronautics, technology development and education.

Before I ever was approached about becoming the NASA administrator, it was obvious to me we had serious problems in balancing our priorities. It was equally obvious it would take courageous action on the part of the president and NASA leadership to realize our dream of sending people beyond low-Earth orbit. To make this dream a reality, we must identify quicker and less costly ways to develop new launch systems. We must speed the acquisition process so it doesn't take a decade to make a new system operational. And we must work diligently with the commercial sector to help them succeed at providing safe, reliable, redundant access to low-Earth orbit while NASA develops futuristic capabilities to reach deep space. These changes will not be easy, but they are by no means impossible. (4/28)

General Dynamics Sees Improving Margins, Backlog (Source: AIA)
General Dynamics Corp. saw better margins and higher earnings in the first quarter as aerospace and combat systems performed especially well. Though revenue dropped 6.2%, the company saw its order backlog rise 3% to $47.4 billion. (4/28)

First Pain, Then Gains for NASA (Source: Longmont Daily Times-Call)
When President Obama announced he would move the American space program away from a proposed second wave of lunar exploration, some saw it as a sign that the United States was willing to take a back seat when it comes to trips outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Changes are coming, that’s for sure. By the end of the year, the U.S. will put an end to its space shuttle program, which has ferried astronauts and equipment to orbit for the past 30 years.

Moving forward, Obama has asked for NASA to embark on the type of mission for which it was created: to develop new technology in the effort to push our boundaries farther into the solar system. By doing so, it means turning away in large measure from the Constellation program, a rocket that would have taken humans back to the moon. Potential cost overruns combined with a failure to significantly advance technology would have had long-term negative effects for the space agency. While such a choice may mean some short-term pain in the aerospace industry, the commitment to advance American technology will make the nation stronger in the long run. (4/28)

FAA Close to Setting Up Commercial Spaceflight Research Center (Source: Network World)
The FAA this week took a step closer to setting up a central hub for the development of key commercial space transportation technologies such as space launch and traffic management applications and setting orbital safety standards. The hub, known as the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation would have a $1 million yearly budget and tie together universities, industry players and the government for cost-sharing research and development. The FAA expects the center to be up and running this year.

The new center would be similar to other FAA Centers for Excellence that through myriad partnerships develop and set all manner of aviation standards from aircraft noise and emissions to airport systems. According to the FAA the center's purpose is to create a world-class consortium that will identify solutions for existing and anticipated commercial space transportation problems. The FAA expects the center to perform basic and applied research through a variety of analyses, development and prototyping activities. Click here to read the article. (4/28)

Space Situation is Bush's Legacy (Source: SpaceKSC)
Shorthly after President George W. Bush announced his plan to retire the Space Shuttle and pursue (but not adequately fund) a Moon/Mars program, Florida Today published an opinion article by Dr. Alex Roland, a former NASA historian known for his criticism of human space flight. Titled “Bush's Space Plan a Political Hoax,” the article warned that the Moon-Mars program would inevitably balloon in cost as had NASA's predecessor human flight programs, taking money away from other NASA projects.

"The problem, of course, is that his successor will inherit a gutted agency, with the failed detritus of the shuttle and space station visions still limping toward some unspecified denouement, and public expectations of mission impossible on the moon and Mars barely begun. The space program, in short, will be in a shambles. That will be the legacy of this cynical, political hoax." (4/27)

No comments: