April 13, 2010

Florida's Space Industry on High Alert (Source: Sunshine News)
Calling President Barack Obama's NASA budget "unacceptable," U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas joined Rep. Bill Posey in demanding a greater commitment for space exploration from the White House. Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, and Posey, R-Rockledge, spoke Friday at a congressional forum in Cocoa in advance of Obama's scheduled visit to Florida on Thursday. With more than 7,000 direct jobs on the line, Florida's space industry has coalesced with state and federal officials to lobby for continued funding of human spaceflight. "Since being elected, I have prioritized and focused on finding ways to minimize the human spaceflight gap and protect Space Coast jobs," the freshman Kosmas said.

"There has been no study on job losses, as required. The (administration's) decisions are being made in a vacuum," Posey charged. Posey, also a first-term congressman eyeing re-election this year, said the president's vision is shortsighted in 10 ways. Click here to read the article. (4/12)

Armstrong Comes Out Against Obama's Space Plan (Source: Florida Today)
The first man to stand on the moon came out today against President Barack Obama's decision to cancel the return-to-the-moon Constellation program. Neil Armstrong, who rarely makes any public comment, joined up with James Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, and the last man to stand on the moon, Eugene Cernan, to warn that the president's plan could be "devastating." They sent their statement to Jay Barbree, a longtime space reporter for NBC who lives in Brevard County and covered all of their missions. Click here to read their letter. (4/13)

President Obama To Lay Out Plan To Bring 2,500 Extra Jobs To KSC (Source: Florida Today)
President Obama will outline a plan for NASA on Thursday that will bring 2,500 more jobs into the Kennedy Space Center area than the Project Constellation moon program that he aims to cancel, a senior White House advisor told Florida Today. Obama will announce plans to restructure the Orion spacecraft to develop an emergency crew rescue vehicle for the International Space Station, reducing reliance on the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Obama also will commit to making a decision in 2015 on what type of heavy-lift launch vehicle NASA will develop for missions beyond Earth orbit. The decision will be based on the results of a $3.1 billion heavy-lift technology development program outlined in his proposed 2011 budget. Click here for a fact sheet on Florida impacts from the policy update. (4/13)

Obama Revives Orion, Speeds Heavy-Lift (Sources: AP, NASA Watch)
President Barack Obama is reviving NASA's Orion crew capsule that he had canceled with the rest of the moon program earlier this year, in a move that will mean more jobs and less reliance on the Russians, officials said. Orion still won't go to the moon. It will go unmanned to the International Space Station to standby as an emergency vehicle to return astronauts home, officials said.

Administration officials also said NASA will speed up development of a massive rocket. It would have the power to blast crew and cargo far from Earth, although no destination has been chosen yet. The rocket would be ready to launch several years earlier than under the old moon plan.

Overall, the Obama program will mean 2,500 more Florida jobs than the old Bush program, a senior White House official said. In addition, a space industry group on Tuesday released a study that said the president's plan for private ships to fly astronauts to and from the space station would result in 11,800 jobs. Click here to see details of the plan. (4/13)

NASA and Chrysler Establish Advanced Technology Partnership (Source: NASA)
A new agreement between NASA and Chrysler seeks to use technologies originally developed for human spaceflight to enhance future vehicles and adapt advanced automotive technology for use in space. NASA and Chrysler have entered into a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement focusing on areas such as mobility systems, advanced materials and wireless technologies. The goal of the agreement is to advance technologies in areas of common technical interest by leveraging each organization's skills and expertise. Some of the areas to be reviewed include materials engineering, robotics, radar and battery systems. (4/13)

Rocket Racing League to Unveil New Air Hot Rod (Source: Space.com)
The Orlando-based Rocket Racing League, a competitive venture billed as NASCAR with rockets, is set to launch its 2010 World Exhibition Tour and debut a new X-racer rocket plane in a high-flying event. The demonstration, set for April 24, is part of the planned QuickTrip Air & Rocket Racing Show in Tulsa, Okla. Beginning this year, the Rocket Racing League will conduct a series of demonstrations at air shows across the country that will stretch into 2011. The demonstrations are expected to highlight a mixture of staged trials, single vehicles navigating the racecourse in the sky, as well as multiple aircraft competing head to head. (4/13)

NASA Selects Companies for Aerospace Vehicle R&D (Source: NASA)
NASA's Langley Research Center has selected five companies to provide the agency with support for analytical and experimental research and technology development, primarily for aerospace vehicles. The companies are Analytical Services & Materials, Inc.; ATK Space Systems; Boeing; Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman. The Structures, Materials, Aerodynamics, Aerothermodynamics, and Acoustics Research and Technology contract is valued at up to $400 million over five years. (4/13)

Obama to Check Out Military Spaceplane at KSC (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
When President Obama tours the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Thursday, the one scheduled non-NASA stop he is due to make is at Launch Complex 41. The stop has symbolic significance as many expect that ULA and its Delta and Atlas rocket families could lead the way in fulfilling the president’s vision to outsource flying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station to private companies.

There is no planned visit to nearby LC-40 where SpaceX is preparing its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for their maiden launch next month. Many critics of having NASA rely on commercial rockets for travel to the space station focus on SpaceX, which is a new up and coming company that lacks a long launch track record. ULA on the other hand has launched 39 rockets successfully in 39 months without a hitch.

According to ULA officials, Obama is scheduled to visit the launch pad for 15 minutes during his tour to see an Atlas V rocket being prepared to launch an experimental military space plane on April 20. There he will be met by ULA CEO Mike Gass who will brief him on the rocket. The president is then expected to have his picture taken with the Atlas in the background — a major coup for ULA. (4/13)

Editorial: Obama's NASA Plan is a Downer (Source: Washington Times)
Pity poor NASA. Rather than reaching toward the stars, America's premier scientific organization has settled its sights on studying shrimp schools beneath the Antarctic ice cap and sticky accelerators on Toyotas. Such is the scope of hope and change in President Obama's universe. In his 2011 budget, the president zeroed out NASA's Constellation project, the package of launch and landing vehicles that were to replace the aging space shuttle fleet to carry Americans into space. As a candidate, Mr. Obama said he "endorses the goal of sending human missions to the moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars." The O Force changed its mind. Killing the Constellation project means billions wasted while space-flight hardware collects dust. "Yes we can" has become "mission impossible." (4/13)

Who's Attending Obama's Space Summit? (Source: CFL News 13)
The details of President Barack Obama's Thursday Space Summit are still shrouded in mystery. Many of the invitees will have to cut their Colorado Springs National Space Symposium trip short to be back in time for the president's visit. Brevard County District 1 Commissioner Robin Fisher, who spearheaded the well attended Save Space Rally in Cocoa Sunday received an invitation. Also, Dale Ketcham, head of the Spaceport Research and Technology Institute at KSC received an invitation.

Representatives for United Space Alliance, Boeing and ATK have not gotten word if they will be included in the summit. Obama will arrive at KSC around 1:45 p.m. Thursday. The exact details of what he will do before 3 p.m. are unclear. He will deliver a major space policy speech regarding NASA's future at 3 p.m. Editor's Note: At least one official from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (me!) has received an invitation. (4/13)

FAA Banking on NextGen & GPS to Vastly Improve Air Travel (Source: AIA)
The Federal Aviation Administration says its NextGen aviation transportation system will lead to much-improved air safety measures by using global positioning satellites to keep better tabs on planes in the air and on the ground. NextGen will use satellite-based technologies to boost air capacity and the efficiency of U.S. airports. The FAA says NextGen will even reduce fuel burn, carbon emissions and noise. (4/13)

Lockheed Martin: Orion Cancellation Could Affect Jobs (Source: AIA)
President Barack Obama's plan to eliminate the Orion spacecraft program, along with the Constellation program to return Americans to the moon, could result in job losses in Lockheed Martin Corp.'s space systems, according to the head of Lockheed's space unit. Lockheed is the prime contractor to NASA for the program, and Joanne Maguire, executive vice president for Lockheed's space business, said the company will try to place as many people in other jobs as possible, but there are thousands of people around the country and "you don't just put them to work on a contract the next day without a hiccup," she said. (4/13)

NASA Luminaries Urge Obama to Change Policy (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, legendary flight director Gene Kranz and several NASA astronauts and former center directors have sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to reconsider a new space policy that cancels NASA’s Constellation moon rocket program. Click here to read the letter. (4/12)

Florida Agency and Labor Groups Urge Obama to Refine Policy (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Leaders from Space Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO, the Associated Industries of Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast sent a letter to the White House urging President Obama to consider some "goals and principles" to adjust his new space policy. Click here to read the letter. (4/12)

What's Happening with Langley's Climate Program? (Source: Daily Press)
The folks at NASA Langley say they could receive a 10 percent boost in funding. Langley leaders provided specific budget numbers for certain programs, such as aerodynamics. But they were less forthcoming when it came to earth science, specifically CLARREO, which stands for Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory. The idea behind CLARREO is to send the most sophisticated instruments into space to measure climate change and build a database that's as close to bulletproof as it comes. The effort will cost up to $800 million, be centered at Langley, and provide work for about 150 people. (4/12)

KSC Launch Pad Demolition Paves Way for Uncertain Transition (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Although its once-planned tenant is being scrapped, the servicing towers at the Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B will be demolished this summer to ready the complex for an uncertain future. The $1.3 million job was originally planned to begin outfitting the seaside launch pad to host Ares 1 rockets, the booster NASA was planning to carry crews to orbit after the space shuttle's retirement.

NASA is going ahead with plans to bring down the fixed and rotating service structures at pad 39B, even though the Ares 1 rocket and the entire Constellation program are being axed. Officials say they are continuing with the pad facelift to prepare the facility to support future commercial or heavy-lift rocket development work. "Once we're finished with it, it's going to be a new asset that can support any type of program," said Jose Perez-Morales, a pad project manager at KSC. (4/12)

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