June 23, 2010

Martian Cave Discovered By 7th Graders (Source: Space.com)
A class of 16 seventh-graders has found a mysterious cave on Mars--a kind of "Martian skylight"--during the course of their research project analyzing images snapped by NASA's Mars orbiter. The Evergreen Middle School class pinpointed a "hole in the roof of a cave on Mars" that may have been formed by volcanic activity on Mars. The pit is believed to measure some 620 by 520 feet wide and 380 feet deep. (6/23)

Editorial: No Way to Run the Space Program (Source: Huntsville Times)
President Obama's determination to overhaul the space program has become painfully clear to hundreds of households in Huntsville this week. Some contractor employees working on the Constellation program have already been told to expect layoff notices and buyout offers, and others will probably join them this week and next. Up to 1,000 or so jobs are at stake at 21 local contractors employing 1,750 people on the Constellation program.

Nationwide, from 2,500 to 5,000 people working on Constellation will be dismissed during a tepid recovery from the nation's deepest recession in eight decades while space program supporters are trying to save their jobs. In Huntsville, many contractor employees will be able to find work sooner or later, if they can hold out for later; the Army will need qualified experts in a variety of fields for perhaps 1,800 of the 2,300 BRAC jobs that have not moved here yet. "There are plenty of positions open," Joe Ritch, chairman of the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee, told The Times. "These people are ideal candidates." (6/23)

Millions Earmarked For Space Coast Industry (Source: Aviation Week)
An Obama administration proposal to use $100 million from a revamped NASA exploration program budget to mitigate the effect of upcoming layoffs in the aerospace industry would be particularly generous to Florida, which will begin disbursing more than $31 million in state funds for space industry initiatives on July 1. The Obama proposal, unveiled June 18, requests $40 million for Florida’s “Space Coast,” which includes Brevard County and neighboring regions in the Cape Canaveral area, and $60 million for other unspecified states affected by the shutdown of the space shuttle program, the termination of Ares rocket development and revisions in the Constellation Moon program. The money would come from Obama’s $1.9 billion budget request for Constellation transition for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The NASA stimulus funds would be in addition to a $15 million Department of Labor grant already awarded to Brevard County for worker training programs and more than $31 million from the state of Florida for a range of programs overseen by Space Florida, the state’s Brevard-based space industry development agency. The state projects, which begin with the start of Florida’s 2011 fiscal budget on July 1, Click here to view the article. (6/23)

Japan Postpones Michibiki Satellite Launch on Concern Over Part (Source: Business Week)
Japan postponed the launch of a rocket carrying the Michibiki satellite because of concerns over a component produced by an overseas supplier, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The new launch date is undecided, Mitsubishi Heavy and JAXA said in a joint statement on the heavy machinery maker’s website that didn’t identify the manufacturer of the part in question. Mitsubishi and JAXA said earlier this month the rocket would be launched on Aug. 2. (6/23)

Sixty Two in Congress Send Letter to Obama (Source: Space Policy Online)
Sixty-two Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama today expressing concern that the decision to cancel the Constellation program could mean that the United States would cede its leadership in human spaceflight to other countries. The letter calls for a human mission beyond low Earth orbit in the coming 10 years and immediate development of a heavy lift launch vehicle, saying "we see no need to prolong a decision that will result in the loss of a highly-experienced and motivated workforce." The Members say they look forward to working with the President "to make the necessary changes to support an exploration program that continues our elite astronaut corps, preserves an irreplaceable workforce, protects our defense industrial base and ensures that the U.S. will leave low-Earth orbt within the decade." Click here to read the letter. (6/23)

U.S. House Members Call for “Immediate Development” of Heavy-lift Rocket (Source: Space News)
A bipartisan group of more than 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to President Barack Obama Tuesday urging that he direct NASA to immediately begin development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of sending NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle on deep space missions. In a June 22 letter to the president signed by 62 House lawmakers, including 25 Democrats and 16 members of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the members say it is in the nation’s best interest to leverage the $10 billion NASA has already invested in Constellation, a 5-year-old effort to replace the retiring space shuttle with Orion and the Ares family of rockets. Obama marked the program for cancellation in his 2011 spending proposal delivered to lawmakers in February. (6/23)

Senator Brownback Hosts Commercial Spaceflight Event with Norm Augustine (Source: SpaceRef.com)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), the former Chair of the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee, will be hosting an event for his Senate colleagues and their staff on June 24 to discuss commercial spaceflight. Senator Brownback said, "The private sector brings to the table many ideas for the next chapter of America's mission in space, and I look forward to hearing from leaders in the spaceflight industry about the best ways to achieve a thriving commercial spaceflight industry. The growth of commercial spaceflight will lead to the creation of many highly-skilled, high-paying jobs. My home-state of Kansas has been a leader in general aviation for years now, and I have no doubt that we will also be leaders in commercial spaceflight." (6/23)

Editorial: Keep Shuttle Flying Until Replacement is Ready (Source: Wilmington News Journal)
We agree with John Glenn, Mercury astronaut and former U.S. Senator from Ohio, that NASA’s space shuttles should keep flying until a reliable replacement is ready to be deployed. Two more shuttle missions are currently planned, with the second and possibly final mission likely to be delayed until next year. NASA is hoping President Obama will agree to a third flight but, as the situation appears now, that would be the last mission for the current fleet of shuttles. So, what happens then? The president’s plan, which we find lacking, is to rely on the Russians to fly U.S. astronauts to the space station and back. Those rides won’t come cheap. Today, the Russians are charging $26.3 million a ride. They will increase the price next year to $51 million, well above the rate of inflation. In 2013, it will be $55.8 million. (6/23)

'Citizens' Group Carries Obama's Water in Space (Source: Sunshine State News)
A taxpayer watchdog group with a history of opposing space projects blasted an Alabama senator for trying to keep the Constellation program alive. The Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste awarded Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., its "porker of the month" award for co-sponsoring an amendment that would force NASA to keep spending money on Constellation. Shelby and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett last month inserted their Constellation language into an emergency spending bill for funding military operations in Afghanistan.

“Sen. Shelby’s actions just perpetuate the notion that politicians in Washington are living on a completely different planet,” CAGW president Tom Schatz said in a statement. But Florida officials, led by U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, have lobbied for Constellation to continue while they cast doubt on the White House's vision for future space exploration. “The real waste is canceling a program that’s near completion after investing $9 billion into it," Posey said. (6/23)

Coloradans Urge Congress to Fund Space Programs (Source: Denver Post)
Seven Coloradans are among the 56 U.S. space leaders who are urging Congress to support full funding of the administration's proposed commercial crew program to the international space station and of NASA's human-space-exploration projects. Local signers include Dan Baker, Heather Bulk, Michael Joyce, Mark Sirangelo, Frederick Slane, Alan Stern and retired Col. Jim Voss. (6/23)

NASA Aims for Later Shuttle Finales (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is considering new target launch dates for its last two scheduled shuttle missions to give engineers more time to prepare equipment for the International Space Station and avoid heavy traffic around the outpost. Launch of Discovery carrying a station warehouse module would be targeted for Oct. 29. Endeavour would aim for liftoff on Feb. 28. Senior managers are expected to approve the new dates at a meeting on July 1. The Oct. 29 date for Discovery would give engineers more time to load a modified Italian cargo carrier with as much gear as possible before Discovery blasts off. (6/23)

Obama Space Policy Directive Coming Soon (Source: Spaceports Blog)
The Obama administration is expected to release its National Space Policy sometime in the next few weeks. This public summary of the administration’s main principles and goals for using space will supersede the Bush administration’s policy, which was issued in 2006. If the administration’s public statements are any indication, the new policy likely will represent a return to a more international approach to space; a more balanced view of civil, commercial and military uses of space; and a greater openness to arms control and cooperative solutions to international space security issues.

The Space Development Committee, a group that includes Apollo 11 astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 14 astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, and members from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense says the president's space policy should include space-based solar power. "The answer is eight minutes above Mr. Obama's head. Solar power harvested in space means jobs, economic recovery, power to the global poor, and a new American century. Space solar power can turn America from a billion dollar a day oil importer to a net energy exporter. Space solar power can be harvested 24/7 and transmitted directly to the cities and villages that need it, from America, Europe, India, and China to the electricity-deprived corners of Africa and Asia. Drill up, not down, Mr. Obama. Space solar power," says Howard Bloom. (6/23)

Ariane 5 Launch Planned for Wednesday Afternoon (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Arianespace will orbit the Arabsat 5A communications satellite for operator Arabsat, and the COMS multi-mission satellite for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) with the launch scheduled from the the Ariane launch complex N° 3 (ELA3), in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission launch window is between 5:41-6:45 p.m. EDT. (6/23)

Trident II D5 Missile Scores Record 134 Test Flights In A Row (Source: Space Daily)
The U.S. Navy conducted successful test flights June 8 and 9 of four Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBMs) built by Lockheed Martin. The Navy launched the unarmed missiles from the submerged submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) in the Atlantic Ocean. This test marked the 131st, 132nd, 133rd and 134th consecutive successful test flights of the Trident II D5 missile since 1989 - continuing a more than 20-year record of reliability that is unmatched by any other large ballistic missile or space launch vehicle.

The Navy launched the missiles as part of a Follow-on Commander's Evaluation Test. The Navy conducts a continuing series of operational system evaluation tests to assure the safety, reliability, readiness and performance of the Trident II D5 Strategic Weapon System, as required by the Department of Defense's National Command Authority. The Navy conducts the tests under the testing guidelines of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Each missile was converted into a test configuration using a test missile kit produced by Lockheed Martin that contains range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.

Editor's Note: The Navy's submarine-launched Trident missiles have historically been major users of the Eastern Range. Launch Complex 46, which Space Florida plans to use for Minotaur, Athena-3, and possibly Taurus missions, was originally developed for land-based test launches of the Navy's missiles. The Navy would retain this capability under an agreement with Space Florida. (6/23)

Astrium To Study Cryogenic-Fueled Rockets Under $24 Million ESA Contract (Source: Space News)
Astrium Space Transportation will study technologies for re-ignitable cryogenic-fueled rocket upper stages under a two-year contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) valued at 20 million euros ($24 million), Astrium announced June 23. The work, to be conducted as part of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program, will focus on managing liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in low-gravity conditions. (6/23)

Pulsed Fiber Laser Hits Record Power Level For Space Missions (Source: Space Daily)
A pulsed fiber laser Northrop Grumman is developing for future space-based environmental missions has surpassed power output requirements by producing more than 170 watts of average power with nearly perfect beam quality. This type of fiber laser has the advantages of high efficiency and compact size, and is scalable and adaptable for a variety of space missions, including spaced-based 3-D imaging, altimetry and optical remote sensing using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology, according to a company official.

Northrop Grumman has surpassed Phase I goals for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Revolution in Fiber Lasers (RIFL) program that seeks to mature fiber laser technology. As a result, the company has received a contract for Phase II. The $4.6 million, 18-month Phase II DARPA contract calls for scaling power to 3kW in a single mode fiber amplifier. (6/23)

No comments: