June 4, 2010

Embry-Riddle Wins Grant for Spaceflight Regulatory Analysis (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has approved a grant to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to conduct an Airport/Spaceport Safety Regulations Analysis. The grant, totaling $20,442, is the first space-focused research grant awarded by FDOT, which typically funds research on highway and airport issues. Included will be an analysis of current state, federal and agency airport and spaceport regulations and rules focused on licensing, liability, security and safety.

With multiple commercial spaceports hosting both horizontal and vertical take-off and landing vehicles (sometimes co-located on operational airports), Embry-Riddle will identify areas of regulatory compatibility, redundancy, and contradiction, to assist FDOT's efforts to support the emerging commercial spaceflight industry. FDOT is responsible for inspecting and licensing airports for safety, and is determining how the state's regulatory structure should be applied to joint-use airport/spaceport facilities.

"FDOT sees significant challenges ahead to ensure that the industry can operate safely, efficiently, and profitably," said FDOT's State Aviation Manager. "At Embry-Riddle's urging, the FDOT Research Center is now considering space issues among the topics we fund every year, and we hope to leverage any space-related FDOT research and development investments with those [from the FAA's anticipated] Center of Excellence for Space Transportation." (6/4)

SpaceX Launches First Falcon-9 from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon-9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch vehicle appeared to work as planned as it carried a mock-up Dragon capsule into space. SpaceX will review data from dozens of sensors to determine whether any subsystems did not function properly. They expect a final analysis to be complete within about a month. (6/4)

Falcon-9 Flies in the Face of Congressional Doubt (Source: MSNBC)
Members of Congress and space luminaries such as Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon have criticized Obama's policy and said companies such as SpaceX couldn't be relied upon to deliver on their promises. Retired Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, complained that such companies "don't know what they don't know."

"A reasonably successful flight would dramatically validate Obama's new space strategy, while a setback would embolden his political enemies in the ongoing congressional debate over spaceflight jobs and pork," NBC News space analyst James Oberg said before the Falcon-9 launch. (6/4)

Falcon-9 Hit Bullseye, Says Musk (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The Falcon 9 rocket fired up its nine first stage engines and took off from Cape Canaveral at 2:45 p.m. EDT Friday. The first stage powered the rocket to an altitude of more than 50 miles before shutting down and separating from an untested upper stage at the edge of space. The upper stage's Merlin engine ignited and burned for several minutes to propel the rocket toward orbit.

Glowing red hot, the upper stage engine was supposed to burn for nearly seven minutes and shut down at T+plus 9 minutes, 38 seconds, according to SpaceX. After a brief moment of stability, a camera mounted on the second stage showed the rocket begin to slowly roll. The rolling motion gradually accelerated up until SpaceX said the Merlin engine shut down. It is unclear if the upper stage powerplant fired for the full planned duration.

Elon Musk says the rocket achieved a nearly perfect orbit. GPS telemetry showed the rocket's second stage and dummy Dragon capsule hit "essentially a bullseye," he said. The apogee was about 1 percent higher than planned and the perigee was 0.2 percent off the target. The second stage shutdown was nominal. The Falcon 9 was shooting for a circular orbit 250 kilometers, or 155 miles, high and an inclination of 34.5 degrees. (6/4)

Bolden: $30 Million to Spur Job Growth Post-Shuttle (Source: Florida Today)
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told a town hall meeting today that $30 million of the $40 million that President Barack Obama dedicated to helping the Space Coast would go toward spurring job growth. The remaining $10 million would be used for job training. Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke gathered for a town hall on helping the Space Coast economy survive the end of the shuttle program, which is expected to lead to about 8,000 layoffs at Kennedy Space Center.

Bolden and Locke are co-chairs of a high-level task force created by Obama and ordered to report back to him by Aug. 15. The main theme of the meeting: the region's highly skilled workforce can't be allowed to disappear. "While the challenges are significant, they also provide opportunities for us a region," Frank DiBello told the several dozen people in attendance, including U.S. Rep Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. The multi-agency task force hopes to help diversity the region's economy. (6/4)

French Bond Issue To Fund Rocket, Satellite Projects (Source: Space News)
The French space agency, CNES, expects to award contracts valued at more than $900 million in September as part of a multibillion-dollar French government bond issue that has earmarked funds for work on a next-generation rocket, two Earth observation satellites and satellite-delivered broadband, a senior CNES official said June 4. Marc Pircher, director of CNES’s Toulouse Space Center, said a total of 750 million euros ($915 million) will be divided evenly among the three project categories. (6/4)

Congressman Posey’s Statement on Space Workforce Town Hall Meeting (Source: Rep. Posey)
Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) released the following statement in regards to the town hall meeting conducted by Commerce Secretary Locke, NASA Administrator Bolden and Democrat Members of Congress on the future of the space workforce. Administration officials removed Space Coast Congressman Rep. Posey from the invitation list.

“I’m disappointed that the Administration chose to inject partisanship into what really should be a serious and non-partisan effort to help address the needs of Florida’s aerospace workforce...I am committed to and look forward to continuing to do all that I can to work in a nonpartisan manner to help Space Coast workers transition into new jobs. Obviously, the Administration is not pleased with my efforts to extend the Space Shuttle program and continue Constellation, but even if we are able to extend these programs there will still be the need for several thousand space coast workers to transition into new careers and partisanship should have no part in that effort.” (6/4)

6 Private Companies That Could Launch Humans Into Space (Source: Space.com)
The era of private spaceflight is breaking new ground with the first test launch of the new Falcon 9 rocket by the company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which hopes to use the booster to fly its Dragon spaceship on space station trips. And with NASA's space shuttles retiring this year, SpaceX is not alone in the bid to launch cargo and astronauts into space.

NASA has tapped SpaceX and another company – Virginia's Orbital Sciences – to build unmanned cargo ships to stock up the International Space Station after its final two shuttle missions fly later this year. Click here to view the article. (6/4)

Space Center Houston Targets Acquisition of Retired Space Shuttle (Source: Business Wire)
Houston area business leaders and philanthropists aim to ensure that the NASA Johnson Space Center provides a permanent home for one of three retiring space shuttles at the city’s premiere tourist destination, Space Center Houston.

The fate of one of space exploration’s most heralded vehicles awaits the decision of NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., expected early this summer. Approximately 20 venues across the nation are vying to be the final landing spot for a shuttle. Currently, Discovery is slated to reside with the National Air and Space Museum at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Still undecided are locations for Atlantis and Endeavour.

For area advocates, Houston is the logical location for a retired shuttle. The NASA Johnson Space Center is the home of Mission Control and the Astronaut Corps. Since the early 1970s, JSC designed, developed, managed and controlled the Space Shuttle Program. During that time, the program forged a multi-generation connection to the Houston area with more than 20,000 professionals currently employed in the local space industry. (6/4)

Space Service Market Likely to Grow to $7-9 Billion by 2015 (Source: PTI)
There is lot of potential in India's aerospace sector, with the space service market likely to grow to $7-9 billion by 2015, a top official of Antrix Corporation has said. However, the domestic market is currently worth $2-3 billion. "We are looking at investments from groups like EADS. We want to double the production capacity of satellites to meet the demand of the domestic and international market," he said. "There is tremendous potential in the aerospace sector and it is likely to grow to $7-9 billion by 2015," he said. (6/4)

300 KSC Workers Set to Lose Jobs Today (Source: Florida Today)
Today is the last day on the job for about 300 United Space Alliance employees at Kennedy Space Center, as the company trims staffing ahead of the shuttle program's end. "This layoff is occurring because we looked at our work force requirements based on our budget and the Space Program Operations Contract work scope that's in front of us, and determined we needed to make an adjustment," said a USA spokeswoman. In total, the layoff affects 376 people, or 4 percent, of the Houston-headquartered company that serves as NASA's prime contractor for shuttle fleet operations. (6/4)

Hints of Life Found on Saturn Moon (Source: New Scientist)
Two potential signatures of life on Saturn's moon Titan have been found by the Cassini spacecraft. But scientists are quick to point out that non-biological chemical reactions could also be behind the observations. Titan is much too cold to support liquid water on its surface, but some scientists have suggested that exotic life-forms could live in the lakes of liquid methane or ethane that dot the moon's surface.

In 2005, Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field and Heather R Smith of the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, calculated that such microbes could eke out an existence by breathing in hydrogen gas and eating the organic molecule acetylene, creating methane in the process. (6/4)

Chinese GPS Moves Closer (Source: Xinhua)
The launch of the country's fourth Beidou orbiter late on Wednesday night signals "a step closer" toward the highly anticipated Chinese-version of the Global Positioning System (GPS), a senior official said on Thursday. Beidou, or Compass system, is built to rival the United States-developed GPS, the European Union's Galileo and Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System, and is aimed at allowing travelers, drivers and military officials to know their locations.

China aims to have 12 Beidou navigation satellites in orbit before 2012 to cover the Asia and Pacific region, and complete the system with 35 navigation satellites to provide global services by 2020. At 23:53 pm on Wednesday, the fourth orbiter was launched into space atop the Long March 3C carrier rocket from Xichang of Sichuan province. It is the second Compass satellite launched in the past six months. (6/4)

Group Wants Local Leaders to Weigh In (Source: Florida Today)
Federal efforts to ease the pain of the shuttle program's end on the Space Coast economy continued Friday with a town hall meeting in Orlando. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, co-chairs of a task force ordered by President Barack Obama, hosted about 100 business and economic development officials from around the region at the Orlando Airport Hyatt Hotel. With $40 million available, the multi-agency task force hopes to help diversify the region's economy as Brevard County braces for up to 8,000 direct job losses at Kennedy Space Center over the next year, and likely thousands more in the surrounding community. (6/4)

Russia Proton Rocket Launches Arab Satellite (Source: Itar-Tass)
The Russian rocket Proton with the Arabsat-5B (Badr 5) communications satellite of the Arabsat Arab Satellite Communications Organisation was launched from the Baikonur spaceport on Friday. According to Roskosmos, “The Proton engines worked for 581 seconds, after which the orbital unit comprising the satellite and upper stage entered the suborbital trajectory ensuring the support orbit inclination of 51.5 degrees.” (6/4)

Something Hit Jupiter...Again! (Source: MSNBC)
Just as astronomers were telling the world that they figured out what gave Jupiter a black eye last July, yet another cosmic impact left a mark on the giant planet last week. And this time, it was caught on video. Actually, two of the world's best-known amateur observers of Jupiter both saw the flash of impact. In Australia, Anthony Wesley captured a picture of the hit just before sunrise Friday (Down Under time). And in the Philippines, Christopher Go turned his pictures into a short video that was posted on SpaceWeather.com. (6/4)

AIAA Applauds Programs to Assist Transition of Space Shuttle Workers (Source: NASA Watch)
AIAA President Dr. Mark J. Lewis said: "The Labor Department's decision, in tandem with Rep. Suzanne Kosmas' (FL-24) recently introduced 'Space to Schools Act' - which encourages former space shuttle program workers with relevant aerospace experience to qualify as elementary, secondary, or vocational school teachers, by providing up to $10,000 per worker for required teacher training - represent concrete, first steps by the government to assist the transition of space shuttle professionals." (6/4)

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