June 18, 2010

Obama Asks Congress to Shift $100M from NASA for Job Initiatives (Source: Space News)
NASA stands to lose $100 million under an amended budget request U.S. President Barack Obama sent to Congress June 18. The money, part of the $19 billion NASA stood to receive under the 2011 budget request Obama sent to Congress in February, would instead go to the Departments of Commerce and Labor for initiatives aimed at helping Florida and other states bracing for job losses associated with the end of the space shuttle program.

“This request would fund an initiative to develop a plan to spur regional economic growth and job creation along the Florida Space Coast and other affected regions in furtherance of my Administration’s bold new course for human space flight, which revitalizes NASA and transitions to new opportunities in the space industry and beyond,” Obama wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a June 18 letter detailing a number of changes to his 2011 budget request.

In April, Obama pledged $40 million to NASA’s largely Florida-based space shuttle workforce transition to new jobs. He appointed a task force led by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to decide how best to spend the money. Bolden told Congress in April that the $40 million would come from $1.9 billion NASA was requesting in 2011 to cover costs associated with terminating agency’s Moon-focused Constellation program, a 5-year-old effort to replace the space shuttle with new rockets and spacecraft optimized for lunar missions. (6/18)

Bigelow Discloses Name of Boeing's Commercial Capsule (Source: Space News)
It looks like the commercial crew capsule that Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace are developing with a little NASA seed money finally has a name: the CST-100. That little news nugget was divulged by Robert Bigelow in a Commercial Spaceflight Federation press release announcing that his aerospace company is now a full-fledged member of the Washington-based trade group. (6/18)

Rocket Racing Coming to Melbourne? (Source: Florida Today)
Following its flame-throwing debut, a futuristic rocket-powered plane built in Sebastian will streak skyward during a second public appearance later this summer for the Rocket Racing League (RRL). Handcrafted of foam and fiberglass, the test plane was assembled last fall by Velocity Aircraft engineers at Sebastian Municipal Airport. In 2008, RRL bought Velocity Aircraft to design and build prototype rocket-propelled airframes. But last month, Velocity Aircraft's original owners bought back their former company. They will continue developing and crafting RRL vehicles, including a fourth-generation racer.

Delayed since 2005 because of financing and other factors, RRL officials hope to eventually field NASCAR-like racing teams that compete on virtual-reality 5-mile racetracks. Last fall, RRL officials eyed Melbourne International Airport as a possible headquarters site, county records show. Multiple locations remain under consideration across the country. The RRL remains headquartered in a suite near the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Last year, executives met with officials with Space Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Brevard Workforce about moving to Melbourne International Airport. (6/18)

Expert: Russian-Built First Stage Unlikely to Cause S.Korean Rocket Explosion (Source: RIA Novosti)
An explosion of a South Korean rocket last week was not caused by Russian-built first stage of the spacecraft, a deputy head of the Russian Federal Space Agency said. The KSLV-1 (The First Korean Space Launch Vehicle) rocket-carrier with STSAT-2B climate satellite onboard blasted off on June 10 and exploded two minutes after take-off. "The commission investigating causes of the accident continues its work and has several versions. But I am almost positive that the breakdown of the KSLV-1 rocket-carrier was not caused by Russia's first stage," Vitaly Davydov said. (6/18)

Gen. (Ret.) Lance Lord Resigns From Astrotech (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech Corp. announced that General (Ret.) Lance Lord has resigned as a Member of the Board of Directors of Astrotech Corp. and as Chief Executive Officer, effective June 18, 2010. "It has been an honor working with the entire Astrotech team over the last several years," General (Ret.) Lance Lord said. "I have accomplished what I set out to do with Astrotech. I'm convinced the ASO business is in great hands and will continue to be successful." (6/18)

NASA OIG is Not Pleased With Zero G (Source: NASA Watch)
NASA Inspector General released a report that examines the performance of Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero G), a private company hired by NASA to provide reduced gravity flights for NASA research, engineering, and astronaut training. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that Zero G has provided inconsistent levels of microgravity flight services since it began providing NASA with reduced gravity flights in August 2008. Consequently, the OIG concluded that NASA should revise the contract's performance-based payment structure to motivate Zero G to provide more consistent, high-quality microgravity flights. (6/18)

U.S., EU Plan Deeper Cooperation on Satellite-Based ATC (Source: AIA)
Meeting today in Spain, regulators from the U.S. and the European Union are expected to sign an agreement that would boost cooperation in developing satellite-based air traffic control systems. The goal is to ensure that the U.S. NextGen system is compatible with its European counterpart, Sesar, allowing airlines to operate on either continent with a single avionics upgrade. With billions of dollars already committed to firms on both sides of the Atlantic -- including EADS, Honeyell, Boeing and Rockwell Collins -- officials are under pressure to deliver a system that can deliver on promised improvements in flight time, fuel burn and congestion. (6/18)

Lockheed Martin, Alaska Aerospace to Pursue Missile Defense Contract (Source: AIA)
Lockheed Martin says it is partnering with Alaska's state-owned Alaska Aerospace Corp. to pursue a contract with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency valued at about $600 million per year to maintain and improve the country's ground-based missile defense system. Boeing won an earlier contract to maintain the system, but the Missile Defense Agency amended the draft request for proposals in May for a "re-compete." (6/18)

Huntsville's Constellation Contractors Getting the Bad News Beginning Today (Source: Huntsville Times)
Huntsville's Constellation contractors find out as early as today (Friday) about what's left of the rocket program, and that means hundreds of layoff notices beginning next week. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center began sending letters to contractors Thursday telling them how much money they have left to spend on Constellation for the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Contractors said Thursday they've been waiting for these "scope of work" letters to decide how many layoffs they have to make. An estimated 1,750 workers support NASA's Constellation program here, a Marshall spokeswoman said Thursday. Most perform computer, engineering and technical work. (6/18)

More KSC Workforce Reductions Coming Soon (Source: SPACErePORT)
Kennedy Space Center's workforce, which includes 2,200 civil servants and 13,000 contractor employees, will probably begin seeing the effects of NASA's "termination liability" policy in July. About 2,000 contractor workers are believed to be impacted within the coming month, from companies like USA, ATK, SAIC and ASRC.

What once was considered the 'ceiling' for workforce reduction numbers, is now being viewed as the 'floor'. Meanwhile, Brevard Workforce is working in unprecedented ways with NASA KSC's human resources office to provide support to about 4,100 people who have registered for workforce support services from the county agency. KSC personnel are being trained to assist Brevard Workforce. (6/18)

Countering Houston Critics of Obama's Space Support to Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
Critics in Texas and elsewhere have raised objections to the $40 million being provided to mitigate the impacts of the Shuttle retirement in Florida. They point to the potential for up to 6,000 job losses at Johnson Space Center. Florida advocates point to a larger job loss impact on the Space Coast, and at the Houston-area's current ~8% unemployment rate, within a local metro-economy that is much more likely to absorb such losses. Houston's unemployment rate is relatively small compared with ~12% in Central Florida. Central Florida's unemployment rate could shoot up much higher as KSC-area space layoffs reach their peak. (6/18)

Aerospace Production Workers Earning More (Source: AIA)
The average aerospace production worker is making more money in 2010 than he or she ever has. Hourly earnings for aerospace production workers hit a record high in the first quarter of 2010, averaging $33.10 per hour. For more aerospace salary and employment data check out AIA's statistics page here. (6/18)

Our Space-Traffic Camera (Source: Post and Courier)
A new telescope in Hawaii is keeping a close eye on all the rocks and space junk whizzing past Earth. One day it may help us avoid a cataclysmic collision of the kind that probably wiped out the dinosaurs. The same thing could happen to mankind, absent our intervention. The Pan-STARRS 1 telescope, a joint project of NASA, the Air Force and a consortium of universities, began operating this spring. Its primary purpose is to map moving objects in space, particularly those with a potential to collide with earth. (6/18)

Former ATK CEO Made $9M Last Year (Source: Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)
Daniel Murphy Jr., the former CEO of Edina-based defense contractor Alliant Techsystems Inc. received $9.26 million in compensation last year, up from $6.84 million he was paid in fiscal 2009. Murphy stepped down as an executive officer in November 2009, citing personal reasons. He didn’t officially leave ATK, however, until the company’s fiscal year ended March 31. (6/18)

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