May 21, 2010

Payload Glitch Delays Delta-4 Launch of GPS Satellite from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
A United Launch Alliance Delta-4 rocket will try again on Saturday night to launch the first of a new generation of Global Positioning System satellites from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch was scrubbed a few minutes before liftoff on Friday night due to an issue with the GPS satellite. (5/21)

NASA Outlines Flagship Tech Demonstrations (Source: Aviation Week)
The latest in a series of requests for information (RFIs) from NASA under its proposed Fiscal 2011 budget lists six “flagship” space testbeds costing $400 million to $1 billion each that would push technologies needed for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Technologies include in-space fuel depots; advanced solar-electric propulsion; lightweight modules, including inflatables; aerocapture and/or landing at asteroids and larger bodies; automated rendezvous and docking; and closed-loop life support systems. Click here to read the article. (5/21)

NASA Releases RFI for Commercial Crew Transport (Source: NASA)
NASA is currently in the conceptual phase of developing requirements for a Commercial Crew Transportation (CCT) capability that would be able to transport NASA astronauts and spaceflight participants safely to and from LEO and the ISS. The purpose of this RFI is to collect information from industry to help NASA plan the overall strategy for the development and demonstration of a CCT capability and to receive comments on NASA human-rating technical requirements that have been drafted as part of this initiative. Click here for information. (5/21)

Orion Lifeboat Making Waves for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Plans (Source: Space News)
Boeing is willing to build a crew capsule for NASA on a commercial fixed-price basis but is troubled by the agency’s plans to continue funding development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle to serve as a space station lifeboat, according to a Boeing executive. "We would have a cost-plus, government-funded capsule competing against a commercially fixed-price capsule,” Jayne Schnaars, Boeing’s vice president of business development for space exploration, said. “So we’re working with NASA to say, ‘We want this business, we know we can do it, help us.’” (5/21)

Ariane 5 ECA Finally Launches with Astra 3B and COMSATBw 2 Satellites (Source:
Arianespace’s delayed opening launch of 2010, with the Astra 3B and COMSATBw 2 satellites, has launched from the European Spaceport in French Guiana via the Ariane 5 ECA. Launch was at 10.01pm GMT. Technical issues delayed the launch from March, before another issue in April caused the rollback and review of the vehicle’s hardware. (5/21)

Go For Launch! (Source: Air and Space)
In this unique time-lapse video created from thousands of individual frames, photographers Scott Andrews, Stan Jirman and Philip Scott Andrews condense six weeks of painstaking work into three minutes, 52 seconds. The action starts in the hangar-like Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where Discovery has been outfitted for its STS-131 mission. Click here. (5/21)

NASA: Space Station Nearing Completion (Source: NASA)
According to a NASA twitter message, the International Space Station is now 98% complete by habitable volume, 94% complete by pressurized volume & 93% complete by mass. (5/21)

International Cooperation Emphasis of Forthcoming U.S. Space Policy (Source: Space News)
The U.S. will soon unveil a pair of new space policy documents that will prescribe increased international cooperation on the development of space systems and detail a code of conduct for space operations. The White House National Security Council has been leading an interagency effort to draft a new National Space Policy to provide guidance for U.S. civil and military space activities. The framework for the policy changes is in place, but specifics about their implementation are still being hammered out, said Michael Nacht, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs. The National Space Policy is expected to be finalized around the end of May, he said. (5/21)

Harris Corp. To Buy CapRock for $525 Million (Source: Space News)
Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., agreed to pay $525 million to acquire managed satellite network services provider CapRock Communications. CapRock of Houston is a privately held firm with 700 employees that specializes in communications services for government and commercial customers in remote locations such as battlefields and oil rigs. The company had an operating income of $28 million last year on revenue of $359 million, Harris said in a press release. The deal is expected to close late this year. Harris is a $5 billion company with 15,000 employees, about half of which are scientists and engineers. (5/21)

Oberstar: Expect FAA Reconciliation by July 4 (Source: AIA)
Official negotiations have not yet begun to iron out differences in House and Senate legislation for long-term reauthorization of the FAA, but Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn. -- chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- predicts a deal will be done by July 4 on a long-term reauthorization of the FAA. (5/21)

Cabana Featured at June 8 Space Club Luncheon (Source: NSCFL)
"KSC Today and Tomorrow" will be the focus of Robert Cabana's remarks during a National Space Club luncheon on June 8. Cabana is the director of KSC. The luncheon will be held at the Radisson Resort at Port Canaveral, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Visit for information and registration. RSVP before June 3. (5/21)

Wieman: Science Education May Not Be Rocket Science (Source: Science)
NASA has the right stuff for space exploration, but it may not be the best classroom teacher. So says Carl Wieman, the Nobelist who President Obama has tapped to oversee the Administration’s heightened effort to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education from within OSTP.

Wieman was asked if NASA should play a bigger role in the federal effort to raise student achievement and produce a better-trained workforce. He politely but firmly suggested that NASA stick to what it does best—-sending astronauts and scientific instruments into the heavens. “NASA has a unique role in inspiring people...And there’s something really dramatic about rockets blasting into outer space. But...NASA does not bring much expertise to exactly what’s critical to achieving learning in science and engineering.”

Wieman knows of what he speaks. In parallel with his Nobel-winning research on lasers, Wieman has spent 2 decades studying how students learn and how to train teachers to be more effective. And for several years he has chaired the Board on Science Education at the National Academies’ National Research Council, which reviewed NASA’s education programs and found them wanting. (5/21)

Editorial: Commercial Rocket Uncertainty Shows Why NASA Should Fly (Source: Florida Today)
Sometime in the next few weeks, the first major test of President Obama’s plan to use private rockets to ferry astronauts into orbit should occur at Cape Canaveral. But if Falcon 9 goes kaput, opponents will say it’s proof the proposal won’t work and calls to cancel it will grow. In truth, win or lose, the situation is more complex than either side acknowledges.

Success would be a win for commercial backers, but wouldn’t answer serious questions surrounding the approach. And while failure would provide opponents with ammunition, it’s common for new rockets to have trouble on maiden flights and become highly reliable mainstays. Those factors point to why the White House and Congress should select a dual-track strategy that would OK commercial companies to move forward while also allowing NASA to continue testing a system involving the Ares 1 rocket.

Obama has already tacked somewhat in that direction, saying a stripped-down version of the manned Orion spacecraft he initially killed with the rest of the Constellation moon project would proceed. Unlike some critics, we believe private companies have the potential to play a valuable role and should be given the chance to prove it. (5/21)

Longevity Record on Mars for a NASA Space Rover (Source: New York Times)
The NASA rover Opportunity is now the longest surviving spacecraft on the surface of Mars. As of Thursday, 2,307 Earth days — more than six years — have passed since the Opportunity landed on Jan. 25, 2004. In rover local time, that is 2,246 Sols, or Martian days. That surpasses the mark of 2,245 Sols set by the Viking 1 lander, which set down on Mars on July 20, 1976, and operated until its last transmission in November 1982.

The Opportunity is currently driving to a large crater, named Endeavour, that it will not reach for two more years, if it persists that long. That would be far beyond what was hoped for when it first landed. The Opportunity, and its twin, the Spirit, were designed for a three-month mission. (5/21)

SpaceShipTwo Flown To Launch Altitude (Source: Aviation Week)
Scaled Composites has successfully pressurized and powered up Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) from the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft in flight for the first time. The milestone was achieved on the second captive-carry test flight, which took the vehicle to its planned launch altitude at around 51,000 ft. On its first flight under the wings of WK2 on March 22, the spaceship was carried to an altitude of 45,000 ft., but the vehicle was not pressurized or activated. "A simulated spaceship decent/glide mission was made from altitude,” says Scaled Composites, based in Mojave, Calif. (5/21)

Embry-Riddle Joins FAA Heavy Hitters Supporting NextGen (Source: Aviation Week)
FAA’s biggest guns -- current and past -- turned out to urged the swift implementation and funding of NextGen, the satellite-based air traffic management system, at Aviation Week’s “NextGen ahead” symposium last week in Washington, D.C.. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's NextGen Testbed program director led and participated on multiple panel sessions. (5/21)

Embry-Riddle Project Assesses Capacity Issues at Cecil Field Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
Under an MOU with the FAA, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has assigned students from its Air Traffic Management program to conduct a study of capacity chokepoints at the newly licensed commercial spaceport. The two students are looking at Cecil's current and future air traffic densities impacting the Special-Use Airspace that supports the spaceport. (5/21)

Arizona Museum Scrubs Bid to Get Shuttle for $28.8M (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
The Pima Air and Space Museum survived the first two rounds of proposals to host one of the soon-to-be retired space shuttles, but withdrew after concluding the cost of acquiring one was too high. "Essentially, we determined we were not in a position to raise $28.8 million in the short time frame given," said the museum's executive director. She said NASA wanted the money raised by the end of this year. She said the museum also took a realistic look at the competition and decided it would be gambling a lot of staff time and effort on a long shot. (5/21)

New Mexico, Swedish Spaceports Work Together (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Two lines in Paul McCartney's song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" vocalizes "hands across the water, heads across the sky." That could also apply to the blossoming relationship between Spaceport America and Spaceport Sweden. An agreement to begin a "Sister Spaceport" connection between the two facilities began almost four months ago. Karin Nilsdotter, director of Spaceport Sweden, has spent much of this week in Las Cruces meeting with Spaceport of America and state officials, and educators.

Nillsdotter said Thursday she is excited about all the possibilities that exist to develop a strong collaboration between the two facilities. "This is a new global industry," Nilsdotter said. "Hence, there is a lot we can learn from each other." (5/21)

Pioneers Gather to Celebrate Space Station's Ancestor (Source: Florida Today)
Pioneers of an early U.S. military effort to build a space station gathered in Cocoa Beach today to reminisce about a program that was cut shortly after one test flight but which helped lay the groundwork for Skylab and, eventually, the International Space Station. The program, created in the early 1960s, was the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory. Planners envisioned a laboratory module about the size of a small house trailer that would allow four Air Force crewmembers to operate in a "shirt-sleeve" environment in orbit. It would have given the United States a unique vantage point for surveillance of the then-Soviet Union. (5/21)

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