May 5, 2010

FAA Grant Program for Space Transportation Infrastructure (Source: FAA)
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will provide infrastructure funding through a new Commercial Space Transportation Grant Program. This program has an initial appropriation of $500,000. One of the main purposes of the Commercial Space Transportation Grant Program is to ensure the resiliency of the space transportation infrastructure in the United States. The program authorizes the use of Federal monies in conjunction with matching state, local government, and private funds.

Development projects eligible for funding include technical and environmental studies; construction, improvement, and design and engineering of space transportation infrastructure, including facilities and associated equipment; and real property to meet the needs of the United States commercial space transportation industry. The FAA desires to award the appropriated funds before the end of fiscal year 2010. Click here for information. (5/5)

Hutchison & Kosmas: Bipartisanship Key for the Future of Space Program (Source: The Hill)
...One alternative we have proposed would be to slow the flight rate of the remaining space shuttle missions and move those flights into next year and possibly 2012 while manifesting the planned backup flight with an available cargo capability. We can use this time to complete a detailed assessment of the spare and replacement equipment needs and provide for carriage to the space station if our analysis shows limits in other cargo vehicles. This modest measure would not call for increases to the number of shuttle flights, but instead would simply space them so the gap would be narrowed considerably.

In addition to stretching out the current shuttle schedule, we need to reconsider the proposal to cancel the Constellation Program as an option for successor technologies to replace the space shuttle. The program has struggled due largely to funding issues; however we should not turn away from billions of dollars of research and years of engineering. It is possible to build on our current capabilities, ensure earlier availability, and control costs.

The options include utilization of the shuttle infrastructure and Constellation work to develop a new heavy lift vehicle that can be brought online sooner and upgraded as technology evolves... We agree with the president that science and research should be enhanced for the future of space exploration and have outlined at least a few ways increased funding for these activities can be accomplished... There is room for increased investment in commercial space activities as the president proposes, although as a redundant capability to a NASA owned and managed human space flight capability. (5/5)

"Not Your Father's Spaceport" - KSC Ready to Host Balloon Missions (Source: Discovery)
After a 100-year dry spell in technological innovation, a pioneering inflatable airship is about to debut, promising a near-space experience for science experiments, as well as a sky-based platform to relay communications and to keep watch on oil spills, forest fires or even pirates at sea. E-Green acquired airship builder 21st Century Airships, which holds patents for Bullet 580 technologies and designs, including a system of bags that hold helium for lighter-than-air lift and an inner hull that is filled with ambient air.

E-Green has tested and flown 14 prototypes and plans to inflate the "Bullet 580" for the first time later this month. Its first mission will be to carry a NASA soil moisture sensor, expected to fly from the Kennedy Space Center over the summer. The Florida spaceport, which will be largely idle after the space shuttles are retired later this year, is looking to partner with companies that can use the shuttle runway and other facilities. "The spaceport of the future is not your father's spaceport," said Jim Ball, development manager for Kennedy Space Center. "We are looking at broadening our portfolio of compatible uses." Click here to read the article. (5/5)

DiBello to Address Space Club (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Frank DiBello will be the guest speaker for the National Space Club meeting Tuesday. His presentation is titled "Florida's Future in Space." The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Radisson at the Port, Cape Canaveral. DiBello was selected in May 2009 to lead Space Florida, which serves as the point of contact for aerospace-related economic development in Florida. He develops and executes programs designed to retain, grow and expand aerospace business in Florida. (5/5)

Are We Starting A Space Arms Race? (Source:
Many existing space technologies play dual roles in both military and civilian life. Even something as basic as a satellite image can be used for either military weapons targeting or civilian crop rotation, says Joan Johnson-Freese. Space plane technology can seem equally ambiguous — the Air Force deputy undersecretary of space programs scoffed at the notion of X-37B paving the way for future space weapons. "The whole issue is further complicated because...virtually any object traveling in space can be a weapon if it can be maneuvered to run into another object," Johnson-Freese said.

Uncertainty matters a great deal for how other nations view the recent U.S. space plane and hypersonic glider tests, regardless of whether or not the technologies lead to future weapons. "They are testing capabilities that could certainly be useful to the military if it chose to use them in an offensive manner," Johnson-Freese said. "And the military has been silent on intent." (5/5)

NASA Takes First Steps Toward New Heavy-lift Space Rocket (Source: Network World)
While some in congress may grumble, NASA has officially begun its search for a next-generation rocket capable of taking equipment and humans into space. President Obama said there would be $3.1 billion for the development of a new heavy lift rocket to fly manned and unmanned spaceflights into deep space. Obama said he wanted this technologically advanced rocket to be designed and ready to build by 2015. With that goal in mind, NASA sent out a Request for Information that will begin what has in the past been a long process to build a "new US developed chemical propulsion engine for a multi-use Heavy Launch Vehicle.

NASA said it was looking for a "demonstration of in-space chemical propulsion capabilities; and significant advancement in space launch propulsion technologies. The ultimate objective is to develop chemical propulsion technologies to support a more affordable and robust space transportation industry including human space exploration." The space agency said it will look for features that will reduce launch systems manufacturing, production, and operating costs. (5/5)

Shutdown Attempt on Wayward Intelsat Craft is Unsuccessful (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Intelsat was unsuccessful in its May 3 attempt to shut down the electronics payload of its Galaxy 15 satellite, which in early April ceased responding to ground commands and is in an uncontrolled drift, with a fully active suite of C-band transponders, toward other satellite orbital slots, Intelsat said May 4. Galaxy 15 is closing in on the slot occupied by the AMC-11 spacecraft operated by SES World Skies, and with its active payload will be in a position to cause potentially severe interference with the SES satellite during a two-week period starting around May 23. (5/4)

Ariane 5 To Launch Hughes Satellite in Coface-backed Deal (Source: Space News)
France’s Coface export-credit agency, in the latest example of its willingness to lend a hand to satellite projects sponsored by the established operators as well as struggling startups, has agreed to finance up to 85 percent of the value of the contract to launch Hughes Communications’ large all-Ka-band Jupiter satellite aboard Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket in early 2012, Hughes and Arianespace announced May 5. (5/5)

NASA Tops 'Open Government' Ranking (Source: OMB Watch)
Overall, most agencies scored at 70 percent of total points or higher. Fewer than half of all agencies received 80 percent or higher. The top three agencies, which scored above 100 percent, were the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It should be noted that no agency achieved 100 percent compliance with the OGD criteria, as can be seen in the agencies' basic scores (scores that did not include any bonus points). Those agencies that scored over 100 percent overcame minor point deductions by earning bonus points. (5/4)

Kosmas & Hutchison: Space Exploration Helps Us on Earth (Source: Washington Post)
We engage in manned exploration of space because it enhances quality of life on Earth through space-based research. The international space station's research capabilities are now available after years of construction and $100 billion of investment. It offers opportunities to conduct research in an environment unavailable on Earth and it must be sustained, but not just for the sake of science.

One problem in the president's proposal is that it does not address the risk to the station that will result from retiring the space shuttle and canceling the Constellation replacement program at the same time. A healthy and viable space station is critical to the emergence of the commercial space industry that the president's proposal relies on.

If the space station is lost, the primary reason to send humans into space in the next decade will be lost. That is a blow that would probably eliminate any business case for the commercial market and would cripple the future of manned space exploration in this country. We send humans into space to advance science and technology, not for vanity. (5/5)

Buzz Aldrin Touches Down at Ohio State (Source: The Lantern)
Former NASA astronaut Col. Buzz Aldrin will touch down at Ohio State as part of the OSU Medical Center Stress Trauma And Resilience Program speaking series. Co-hosted by President E. Gordon Gee and Medical Center CEO Steven Gabbe, Aldrin will be a special guest at “Faces of Resilience,” event. Following his celebrated moon mission and his retirement from NASA, Aldrin felt a deep sense of loss and lack of direction. His own psychological trauma involved depression and alcohol, issues in his life that nearly destroyed him. He is now a courageous advocate for others with similar problems. (5/5)

Students Launch Rocket at Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
As the 20-foot, 1,100-pound rocket fired gracefully skyward against the backdrop of a New Mexico sunrise Tuesday, something struck a chord in the heart of 19-year-old Quang Tran. A Vietnam native who's studying computer science at New Mexico Highlands University, Tran and his classmates were among the roughly 100 college and high school students from around the state who had science projects aboard the rocket. Going into the launch, Tran said, he was excited but didn't realize how much the event would affect him.

"When I put on my camera and pointed to the rocket right at the time it went up, I just felt: 'This is so emotional I can't find any words to express it, and I think it's one of the best moments I've ever experienced," said Tran, a freshman.

Organizers called the second-ever educational launch at Spaceport America a success. The SL-4 rocket, made by the Colorado-based UP Aerospace, reached suborbital space -- about 73 miles up -- and fell to earth without many glitches. That's in contrast to last year, when the first educational rocket launch only made it part of the way to space. Though this mission reached suborbital space, UP Aerospace President Jerry Larson said the rocket didn't reach its goal of 80 miles. (5/5)

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