May 1, 2010

Aerojet and Florida Turbine Technologies Partner to Develop NASA's New Rocket Engines (Source: Aerojet)
Aerojet and Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT) have entered into a strategic partnership to compete for R&D and production on NASA's new hydrocarbon engine and advanced upper stage engine. This expands the very successful teamwork that Aerojet and FTT have underway on the Air Force Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) and Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) programs. In 2007, Aerojet and FTT competed and won the HBTD program which is the only U.S. engine development program working on an advanced rocket engine cycle. (4/29)

Charlie Bolden’s Stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I Tests (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Much has been made in the last week of Constellation Program manager Jeff Hanley’s decision to press ahead with Ares I test flights the day after President Barack Obama spoke about a new vision for space exploration that did not include Ares I and Ares V. In his speech to Johnson Space Center on Wednesday, NASA chief Charlie Bolden suggested that Hanley was acting with his consent. He even made a veiled swipe at the Orlando Sentinel story last week that reported on Hanley’s e-mail and suggested it did not have NASA HQ backing.

“Leaked memos and utilizing selected phrases out of context to indicate discord where there really is none only helps to inflame the debate rather than help us succeed. It also serves to hurt some very good people in our organization who are in fact doing what I ask and what Congress has directed,” Bolden said in a departure from his prepared remarks. (5/1)

Delays Continue To Affect Vega, European Soyuz Programs (Source: Space News)
The European version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket will be unable to conduct more than its inaugural flight this year, rather than the two launches planned earlier, and Europe’s new light-lift rocket, Vega, is unlikely to make its debut until early in 2011, the head of the Arianespace launch consortium said. (5/1)

Arianespace Funds Improvement to Ariane-5 (Source: Space News)
Arianespace has secured the approval of its shareholders for a capital augmentation of 50 million euros ($66.2 million). The fresh cash will give the company the flexibility to make investments to improve the performance of the heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket, including the shock-absorption system used when the Ariane 5 fairing separates into two halves and is propelled away from the rocket. (5/1)

Galaxy 15 Satellite, Still Adrift, Poses Threat to Orbital Neighbors (Source: Space News)
An Intelsat satellite that stopped communicating with its ground controllers April 5 remains out of control and has begun moving eastward along the geostationary arc, raising the threat of interference with other satellites in its path, Intelsat and other industry officials said.

In what industry officials said is an unprecedented event, Galaxy 15 has remained fully “on,” with its C-band telecommunications payload still functioning even as it has left its assigned orbital slot of 133 degrees west longitude 36,000 kilometers over the equator. The first satellite likely to face signal interference is the AMC-11 C-band satellite owned by SES and stationed at 131 degrees west, just two degrees away from Galaxy 15’s starting position. (5/1)

Pitching for NASA, Hutchison Back in the Game (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The devil may be in the details. But for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the details spell opportunity on her road back from defeat in the race for Texas governor. The 66-year-old insider is working to parlay the nitty gritty of President Barack Obama's decision to extend space station operations to 2020 into enough leverage to help sustain Houston's Johnson Space Center by winning a two-year extension of space shuttle flights.

Legislation crafted by Hutchison in the Senate and Rep. Kosmas (D-FL) in the House, would require NASA to identify and make specific delivery arrangements for supplies and equipment needed by the orbiting space laboratory before steps are taken to end shuttle operations this year. “Everybody expects politicians to back programs that benefit their states,” says one supporter. “But Sen. Hutchison is building her argument on policy and sound technical issues to make her case much more persuasive.”

Even though she serves in the minority party, Hutchison has outsized influence on Capitol Hill. The reason: She tends to avoid the red-meat rhetoric that discourages Democrats from joining her and would preclude the White House from working with her on compromises. (5/1)

NASA Chief-of-Staff to Leave Agency (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
"Administrator Charlie Bolden on Friday announced two changes in his leadership team at Headquarters in Washington. David Radzanowski was selected as the agency’s new chief of staff, and James Stofan was named as the acting associate administrator for Education. Radzanowski, who was NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Program Integration in the Space Operations Mission Directorate, succeeds George Whitesides, who is returning to private industry. Whitesides was selected chief of staff after serving on the NASA transition team for the incoming administration of President Barack Obama in November 2008. (5/1)

Pasadena's Planetary Society Relocates (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
After 25 years, the Planetary Society handed over the keys to its headquarters inside a historic Green and Green-designed Craftsman home on Catalina Avenue on Friday. "There's a lot of nostalgia here, because we've done so much in this building," said Louis Friedman, executive director of the 50,000-member international astronomy society. "At the same time, we are about the future."

The society, founded in 1980 by Friedman, Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray, sold its building for $1.7 million to Pasadena-based Architecture for Education Inc. Company President Gaylaird Christopher said his firm plans some renovations to the historic home built in 1903 but will mostly keep it as is. (5/1)

NASA Chief Draws Fire for Rich Benefits Plan for Astronauts (Source: Wall Street Journal)
NASA chief Charles Bolden is coming under fire for his efforts to secure generous lifetime health benefits for former astronauts, including himself, in the latest controversy over his leadership. Opponents object to the plan—which also would provide coverage for the astronauts' spouses and children—because they say that Mr. Bolden stands to personally benefit, and that it gives preferential treatment to a single group of agency retirees. (5/1)

Q&A: He Wants Free Markets in Outer Space (Source: Houston Chronicle)
As CEO of MirCorp, a private, Dutch-based company that leased Russia's Mir space station and contracted the flight for the first space tourist, Dennis Tito in 2001, Jeffrey Manber had a front-row seat for NASA relations with Russia and the early commercialization of space. With NASA about to become more reliant upon Russia than ever, and President Barack Obama wanting more capitalism in space, Eric Berger spoke to Manber. Click here to read the interview. (5/1)

Race To Save Space Jobs Continues (Source: CFL-13)
More than 200 space industry leaders met in Brevard County Friday as the push continues to save shuttle worker jobs. “We're ready for it, now it's coming on and we're going to address it,” said Lynda Weatherman from the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

A panel comprised of Brevard’s superintendent of schools and county manager, and the heads of Space Florida and United Space Alliance, the lead space shuttle contractor, fielded questions and shared their thoughts on how to offset as many job losses as possible.

New Mexico Spaceport Director Was Under Investigation (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
There appears to be more behind former Spaceport Authority director Steve Landeene's resignation that first met the eye. Landeene was under investigation for "entering a private deal to purchase a ranch neighboring Spaceport America" at the time of his resignation, the Journal reports.

The report indicates Landeene was suspended from his job pending the results of a conflict of interest based on the land purchase. Rick Homans disclosed this information to the Journal after the Albuquerque paper pursued a tip about the deal for Landeene to purchase land adjacent to the spaceport after the Spaceport Authority declined to make the buy. (5/1)

Cecil Joins Commercial Spaceflight Federation (Source: Florida Times-Union)
Cecil Field Spaceport has joined the Commercial Spaceflight Federation after receiving unanimous approval from the Federation's Board of Directors. The Spaceport, which received its spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Authority earlier this year, has four 200-foot wide runways, three of which measure 8,000 feet. The fourth runway is 12,500 feet in length, making it one of the longest in the state. Cecil plans to use its infrastructure to become a base for suborbital commercial human spaceflight in Florida. (5/1)

Outgoing Spaceport Director: Nothing Wrong With Land Deal Talks (Source: AP)
New Mexico's outgoing spaceport director said Friday there was nothing improper about his efforts to purchase a ranch bordering the spaceport site. Steve Landeene said he and his wife began considering whether to buy the Jornada Ranch in Sierra County in a proposed $2.5 million deal, but only after Spaceport Authority board members declined an opportunity to buy it for the state's use.

Landeene resigned April 16, one day after a personnel hearing was called to investigate whether he had a conflict of interest. "Everything has always been done with the best intent for the state and the spaceport in mind. It's laughable that a conflict or those concerns could even be raised," said Landeene, who held the executive director's job since December 2007.

Spaceport Authority chairman Rick Homans said board members never approved Landeene's involvement in the proposed land deal, prompting Economic Development Secretary Fred Mondragon to suspend Landeene during an investigation this spring. Editor's Note: Looks like he may have just been buying a home near his future office. (5/1)

Armadillo Offers $102,000 Rides to Space (Source: MSNBC)
Virginia-based firm Space Adventures has signed an exclusive deal with Armadillo Aerospace, a Texas-based company founded by computer game entrepreneur John Carmack, to sell $102,000 space tourist seats on new suborbital rocket ships that are currently in development at Armadillo.

Flights aboard Armadillo's vertically-launched rocket ship in development will depart from a spaceport in the United States and take passengers to regions above 62 miles (100 kilometers), where space begins. After the engine is shut down, those aboard will experience up to five minutes of weightlessness and will have the opportunity to gaze out at 360-degree views into space and Earth's horizon below.

The $102,000 price tag for one of Space Adventure's suborbital spaceflights may seem hefty, it is nearly $100,000 less than rival company Virgin Galactic's asking price for a seat on SpaceShipTwo, which is undergoing captive-carry tests at the moment. (5/1)

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