May 10, 2010

Many Launches Expected But Uncertainty Looms (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. military and intelligence community’s space launch manifest is ramping up to an unusually high pace to deploy several first-of-fleet spacecraft that will modernize the nation’s communications, missile warning, surveillance and navigation infrastructures. But uncertainties are clouding the outlook of the liquid- and solid-fueled booster industrial base following a White House decision to terminate NASA’s Constellation program. For the Pentagon, the cost of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles was already on the rise due to a price increase in second- and third-tier supplier parts such as nozzles and avionics. Even with the savings produced by the 2006 United Launch Alliance joint venture, overall per-unit cost is increasing, says Gary Payton. Add to that the impact of the Constellation decision, and the industrial base is reeling.

In the meantime, the NRO is preparing for the “most aggressive launch schedule this organization has undertaken in the last 25 years,” says USAF Gen. (ret.) Bruce Carlson, NRO director. Several “very large, very critical” satellites are awaiting launch in the next 12-18 months for the NRO. “We simply have to get them off,” he says, underscoring how urgently they are needed. While Kehler and Carlson look forward to fielding their new satellites, delays in fielding spacecraft for both communities during the last decade have raised the level of urgency regarding the satellites’ in-service dates. There is little room for error, since service gaps could arise. (5/10)

JPL Invites the Public to Annual Open House (Source: JPL)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., invites the public to a close-up look at JPL's past, present and future at its annual Open House on Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event, themed "Worlds Beyond," features displays and demonstrations from numerous space missions, and a first look at JPL's recently renovated von Karman Visitor Center. On special display will be the JPL-built Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, retrieved from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope last year by space-walking astronauts. The instrument, affectionately known as the "Camera that Saved Hubble," is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The camera captured many of Hubble's iconic space images. (5/10)

Glenn Celebrates Partnership with Cleveland's MC2STEM High School (Source: NASA)
NASA's Glenn Research Center will celebrate a new center partnership with the MC2STEM High School at the Great Lakes Science Center. At MC2STEM, or Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, students are exposed to authentic experiences in science and engineering through project-based learning that will prepare them for the 21st century global workforce. Glenn's partnership with MC2STEM High School, which began December 2009, includes Glenn employees who serve as subject matter experts, tutors and keynote speakers at career luncheons and also provide job shadowing experiences. Educators are offered professional development to enrich their understanding of curriculum concepts. (5/10)

Loral Reports First Quarter 2010 Financial Results (Source: Loral)
Loral's for the quarter were $422.3 million. This compares to revenues for the first quarter of 2009 of $381.6 million. Loral reported net income of $29.4 million compared to a net loss of $10.8 million for the first quarter of 2009. The increase in net income was driven largely by the effect of changes in the U.S/Canadian dollar exchange rate and partially offset by a $14.4 million charge for directors' indemnification expense. The company ended the quarter with $142.2 million in available cash compared to $168.2 million at the end of 2009. (5/10)

Mass. Gets $1.5 Million in NASA STEM Grants (Source: Mass High Tech)
Gov. Deval Patrick and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced today that Massachusetts and six Massachusetts educational institutions have been awarded a $1,515,024 grant under the NASA Summer of Innovation pilot program. Under the three-year pilot program, NASA will partner with the Massachusetts colleges and universities to use the agency’s mission and technology programs to boost summer learning. The program has a particular focus on students who are underrepresented and underperforming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (5/10)

UF Astronomer Plans Second Look at Mega Star Birthing Grounds (Source: University of Florida)
Astronomers this summer will take a close look at a rare cosmic cradle for the universe’s largest stars, baby bruisers that grow up to have 50 times the sun’s mass. The international team of astronomers headed by University of Florida scientist Peter Barnes used an Australian radio telescope to find the cloud of gas and dust 8,000 light years away in the Southern sky constellation Carina. The cloud is in the early stages of collapsing in on itself, offering astronomers an unusual vista on the first contractions of behemoth star birth. (5/10)

NASA Glenn to Spend $16 Million Upgrading Icing Research Facility (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
NASA Glenn Research Center will spend $16.6 million to upgrade key cooling equipment at its icing research tunnel, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The test site is one of NASA's busiest. Icing on aircraft wings can be simulated at speeds up to 300 mph and temperatures of 25 degrees below zero, for customers like Boeing Co. and the U.S. Department of Defense. (5/10)

First Soyuz Rockets Coming Together in South America (Source:
After unpacking two Soyuz rockets from shipping crates, Russian workers at the Guiana Space Center are testing and assembling the boosters before moving the vehicle to the launch pad this summer. Two Soyuz 2-1a rockets were transported from Russia to French Guiana in November, and engineers are putting the launchers together for the first time in a new integration building near the Soyuz launch pad, which is still under construction. Each Soyuz rocket includes four strap-on boosters, a core stage and a third stage, all fueled by kerosene and liquid oxygen. A Fregat upper stage will be added atop the Soyuz to inject satellites into specific orbits. (5/10)

Satmex Orders New Satellite from Loral (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Satmex of Mexico has received approval from its bondholders to spend up to $100 million on a new Satmex 8 telecommunications satellite in return for increasing the interest rate Satmex pays on bonds due in 2011, a development that enabled Satmex to sign a firm satellite-construction contract with Loral, according to statements from the companies. The agreement came soon enough for Satmex to win a commitment from Loral that Satmex 8, to carry 64 C- and Ku-band transponders, will be ready for launch by July 1, 2012. This will give Satmex enough time to place the satellite in operation before the current Satmex 5 spacecraft is forced into retirement. (5/10)

NASA Ames Stimulates California Economy with Jobs, Innovation (Source: NASA)
NASA's Ames Research Center generated 5,300 jobs and $877 million in total annual economic activity in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area in 2009, according to a new economic benefits study. The study found that nationally, NASA Ames supports more than 8,400 jobs and generates $1.3 billion in annual economic activity. Coordinated by the NASA Research Park Office and prepared by Emeryville-based Bay Area Economics (BAE) in association with Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management's San Francisco office, the study also reported that NASA Ames produced 5,900 jobs and contributed $932 million to California's economy in 2009. The study also forecast that NASA Ames' total economic impacts will grow significantly as its NASA Research Park (NRP) is completed. (5/10)

Gates: Long-Term Measures Needed to Reduce Military Budget (Source: AIA)
With the military's budget increasing at an unsustainable rate, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he has ordered military and civilian leaders to find savings of 2% to 3% and to shift spending toward war-fighting costs. Gates said the choices that are needed would likely anger "powerful people" and noted: "These savings must stem from root-and-branch changes that can be sustained and added to over time. Simply taking a few percent off the top of everything on a one-time basis will not do." (5/10)

NASA Working to Solve Voyager 2 Data Transmission Issue (Source: AIA)
NASA engineers have switched off science data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft as they diagnose a problem that has led to unintelligible transmissions from the edge of the solar system. By all indications, the probe itself is functioning properly, but the flight data system that formats transmissions back to NASA has been malfunctioning for several weeks, leaving mission managers unable to decode science data. (5/10)

Lyles: New NASA Budget Harms Human Spaceflight (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
President Obama’s new plan for NASA takes too much money from the the agency’s human spaceflight program to fix funding in other parts of the agency, said one member of the Augustine Panel. “This time the pendulum has swung the other way,” wrote retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles, who said that previous NASA budgets have starved the rest of the agency at the expense of human spaceflight and NASA’s back-to-the-moon Constellation program. “It makes no more sense to have a NASA with an under-emphasis on human spaceflight than it did to have a NASA with an over-emphasis,” wrote Lyles to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, who serves on the House spending panel with oversight of NASA’s budget. Click here to read his letter. (5/10)

Destination: Onward (Source: Space Review)
In his new direction for NASA, President Obama has directed the space agency to plan for exploration to multiple destinations beyond Earth orbit using new technologies. Doris Hamill explains why this will require a new spirit of cooperation between the operational and research sides of NASA. Visit to view the article. (5/10)

One Last Mission? (Source: Space Review)
Some in Congress have suggested adding one additional shuttle mission to the three remaining on the current manifest. Taylor Dinerman examines what useful things such a shuttle mission could do beyond simply keeping the shuttle workforce employed into next year. Visit to view the article. (5/10)

A New Eye in the Sky to Keep an Eye on the Sky (Source: Space Review)
Recent events like an ASAT test and satellite collision have illustrated the importance of space situational awareness to keep track of the growing number of objects in orbit. Jeff Foust reports on one spacecraft planned for launch this year that will aid those efforts. Visit to view the article. (5/10)

India's Missile Defense/Anti-Satellite Nexus (Source: Space Review)
India has shown recent interest in developing not just a missile defense system but also an ASAT capability. Victoria Samson analyzes these developments and their implications for space security. Visit to view the article. (5/10)

Human Stem Cells Grow Differently in Space (Source: Discovery)
Human stem cells grown in a rotating vessel to simulate microgravity are vastly different from those allowed to develop under normal conditions, a new study shows. The research raises questions about the viability of humans traveling in space without gravity for long periods of time. Australian scientists used a NASA-developed bioreactor to grow cells from a human embryonic stem cell line. These types of cells can develop into any of the body's three primary layers -- ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm, which in turn form more than the 220 types of cells found in humans.

The team discovered that 64 percent of the proteins found in the stem cells grown in simulated microgravity were not in control samples. In particular, the bioreactor cells contained several proteins involved in the breakdown of bone and in the regulation of calcium, neither type of which were found in stem cells grown in regular, Earth gravity. Editor's Joke: This just shows that our DNA is pre-programmed to allow our species to live in space, where our bone strength will be less important. Our destiny is to become gelatinous space beings. (5/10)

UCF Knight Shoots for the Moon (Source: UCF)
University of Central Florida student Rene Diaz calls his plan to be an astronaut “the road of Buzz Aldrin.” Diaz does more than dream of being an astronaut; he devours opportunities to get himself chosen. He researched every astronaut and spoke with Aldrin and several others to see what got each selected. (Aldrin, as an MIT doctoral student, made himself an expert in a critical space maneuver necessary for journeying to the moon.)

Diaz decided to be the expert in things like mining helium 3 ions on the moon for fusion fuel. As a freshman, he volunteered his way onto a research project and wound up with a published paper, the goal of grad students and doctoral candidates everywhere. Diaz is on track for a double major in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering in 2011. He has worked on a couple of research projects, is UCF chapter president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is vice president of the ASME’s student board for the Southeast U.S.

President Obama’s nixing of NASA’s manned moon and Mars plans was a “very disappointing” moment for Diaz. But he hopes an international lunar effort might replace a NASA solo venture. “Therefore, I will continue my work in this moon mining development and focusing on the advocacy of this coalition of nations for an international lunar base,” he says. (5/10)

Live 'Star Trek' Show Launching Near NASA's Florida Spaceport (Source:
A slice of "Star Trek's" final frontier will warp into the visitor's center for NASA's Kennedy Space Center spaceport in Florida this June with the world premiere of the interactive stage show STAR TREK LIVE. Featuring live actors on a set with giant screens and special effects, the program aims to entertain and educate about life in space through the futuristic lens of the starship Enterprise at the non-profit KSC Visitor Complex. The 30-minute show's interactive storyline sets up the audience as cadets in the inaugural class at Starfleet Academy. While contending with an unwelcome visit from a time traveling, renegade Romulan, audience members will discover the many challenges of modern-day space travel, as well as how humans will continue to (boldly) go where no one has gone before. (5/10)

Air Force Raises the Stakes for a Space Arms Race (Source: Centre for Research on Globalization)
It's not as if things aren't bad enough right here on planet earth. What with multiple wars and occupations, an accelerating economic meltdown, corporate malfeasance and environmental catastrophes, I'd say we have a full plate already. Now the Defense Department wants to up the stakes with new, destabilizing weapons systems that will transform low- and high-earth orbit into another "battlespace," pouring billions into programs to achieve what Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has long dreamed of: "space dominance."

Indeed, Pentagon space warriors fully intend to field a robust anti-satellite (ASAT) capability that can disable, damage or destroy the satellites of other nations, all for "defensive" purposes, mind you. Back in 2005, The New York Times reported that General Lance W. Lord, then commander of AFSPC, told an Air Force conference that "space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. ... Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future." Five years on, that "mission" is still a top priority for the Obama administration. While some might call it "net-centric warfare" on steroids, I'd choose another word: madness. (5/10)

Russia to Develop Lunar Lander for India (Source: The Hindu)
Russia will develop a lander that will ferry a rover to explore the moon's surface as part of the Chandrayaan-II mission, slated for launch in 2013. “The GSLV will be the launch vehicle for Chandrayaan-II and the prime responsibility of realising the lander is Russia's. The rover, to be realised by us [Indian Space Research Organisation], will carry out in situ probe on the moon's surface. We will also develop the scientific instruments to go around with it,” said an ISRO official. “Unlike Chandrayaan-I, whose moon-impact probe did a hard-landing on the moon, the lander ferried by the Chandrayaan-II orbiter to soft-land on the moon's surface would be about 1,200 kg. While the rover interface would be done by us, the lander interface with the rover would be developed by Russia,” he said. (5/10)

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