June 3, 2010

Irish Firms 'Should Look to Space to Boost Employment' (Source: Careers Portal)
A focus on researching space exploration technology will help boost employment in Ireland, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has said. Speaking as he unveiled global space technology firm AMPAC-ISP's new European headquarters in Dublin, Batt O'Keeffe said the government is investing EUR14.5 million in the European Space Agency, which means Irish firms can bid for technology development contracts. About 70 Irish companies have participated in European Space Agency programs over the past decade, according to Enterprise Ireland. (6/3)

Space Florida Rockets Supported DARPA Hypersonic Mission (Source: Space Florida)
DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2) high-speed glider was launched on a sub-orbital trajectory from Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a three-stage Orbital Sciences Minotaur IV rocket, flying southwest toward the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Through a collaborative arrangement with the U.S. Army, and in support of the HTV‑2 flight, a suite of Space Florida's Super Loki rockets were transferred from Florida to the Pacific Missile Range in Hawaii, where they were launched to provide high-altitude meteorological data prior to the overflight of the HTV-2 vehicle. (6/3)

US Senate Aerospace Caucus Established (Source: AIA)
Senators Patty Murray and Christopher “Kit” Bond officially launched the Senate Aerospace Caucus in May to promote a strong, secure and competitive aerospace sector. The caucus will focus on education, workforce development, industrial base competitiveness and acquisition oversight. Click here for a list of members. (6/3)

NASA Rover Finds Clue to Mars' Past and Environment for Life (Source: NASA)
Rocks examined by NASA's Spirit Mars Rover hold evidence of a wet, non-acidic ancient environment that may have been favorable for life. Confirming this mineral clue took four years of analysis by several scientists. An outcrop that Spirit examined in late 2005 revealed high concentrations of carbonate, which originates in wet, near-neutral conditions, but dissolves in acid. The ancient water indicated by this find was not acidic.

NASA's rovers have found other evidence of formerly wet Martian environments. However the data for those environments indicate conditions that may have been acidic. In other cases, the conditions were definitely acidic, and therefore less favorable as habitats for life. (6/3)

High-Tech Space Planes Taking Shape in Italy, Russia (Source: Space.com)
The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane may eventually get some company in low-Earth orbit as other countries such as Italy and Russia push forward with plans for their own reusable winged spaceships. Italy's prototype space plane, named Pollux, successfully carried out high-speed maneuvers that slowed it down from a falling speed of Mach 1.2 during a test flight in April. More recently, Russia has begun considering whether to revive a Cold War era, air-launched mini-shuttle in response to the U.S. X-37B space plane debut. (6/3)

Russia to Test Launch New Spacecraft from Baikonur in 2015 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia will test launch a new spacecraft from Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan in 2015, the head of the manned space program at Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. "Competition for building new manned spacecraft is growing so we must ensure we hold the first test launch in 2015," Alexei Krasnov said. The new-generation six-seated spacecraft is currently being developed by Russian spacecraft manufacturer Rocket and Space Corporation Energia. The preliminary design has been presented to Roscosmos. (6/3)

Space Florida Sponsors K-12 Planetary Lander Competition (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida, in conjunction with NASA-KSC, sponsored a 'Planetary Lander' engineering design and demonstration competition for Elementary, Middle School and High School students at Universal Orlando on May 29. 36 teams competed from schools throughout Florida. Each of the Landers was specially designed using NASA materials and instructions, and during the competition the Landers were dropped 20 feet to test their survivability with egg payloads.

High School winners were from Orange County (Dr. Philips High School), St. Johns County (St. Augustine High School), and Orange County (Timber Creek High School). Middle School winners were from Pinellas County (Clearwater Middle School). Elementary School winners were from Hillsborough County (FishHawk Creek Elementary), and Brevard County (Palm Bay Elementary). (6/2)

Governor Crist Signs Bill to Replace Space Florida Board (Source: SPACErePORT)
On May 26, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed HB-451, a bill to restructure Space Florida's board of directors. The bill is designed to ensure that board members are more closely associated with the space industry, with representation from commercial, civil, and military space contractors. The previous board was viewed by the bill's supporters as including too many people uninvolved in the industry (often appointed more because of their political ties).

Unfortunately, the new board will not be required to have a member representing university/research interests (though this doesn't preclude the Governor from appointing one or more with this background). Such representation would be more important than ever as Florida and KSC face new opportunities to diversify their roles in the space industry. Click here to view the bill text. (6/3)

JSC Community Left Out of $15 Million Aid Package (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The Obama administration dealt another symbolic blow to Houston's space community Wednesday by delivering $15 million in assistance to help Florida aerospace workers get new jobs after the shuttle fleet retires this year. No such money so far has been promised to the Johnson Space Center.

Editor's Note: The $15M grant is the result of a formal application to USDOL, submitted months ago by Brevard Workforce. It was not an out-of-the-blue gift from the Obama Administration. I wonder if Houston has submitted a similar application and was rejected. (6/3)

NASA and Commerce Officials Update Florida Leaders on Task Force Efforts (Source: NASA)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will present an update about the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development on June 4. The administration recently launched a $40 million, multi-agency initiative for regional economic growth and to prepare space industry workers for future opportunities. Task force activities will complement local and federal economic and workforce-development efforts. (6/3)

Is Florida Favored for Aid for Political Reasons? (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Neither the White House nor NASA have outlined detailed assistance for displaced aerospace workers in the greater Houston area who may suffer layoffs from the end of two manned exploration programs that are the bread and butter for NASA mission control. JSC could lose up to 7,000 NASA and contractor jobs.

“No one should be surprised by this,” said Bob Mitchell, head of the Bay Area Economic Partnership. “This is a political statement by the White House and an attempt by this administration to divide the states.”

Florida remains an electoral battleground in presidential elections while Texas has voted reliably Republican since 1980. “We are happy that Florida will receive the support that it deserves,” Mitchell said. “It is just unfortunate that this administration continues to play games with the fine men and women who have dedicated their lives to human space exploration.” (6/3)

Students Become JPL Teachers (Source: La Canada Valley Sun)
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is home to some of the most innovative thinkers. This was no exception Friday, when a group of students from Paradise Canyon Elementary School lectured JPL scientists on how to colonize Mars. The team comprises four fifth-graders: Loren Barton, Ankur Jain, Charlie Lea and Anirudh Tammewar, and one third-grader, John Hickman. All of them are members of the science club at Paradise Canyon.

Their presentation was made possible by the Imagine Mars Project, a program that started in 1999 and pairs students with scientists, engineers and civil leaders as they are given the task of creating a futuristic Mars community for 100 people, a mission this group had been working on since October. (6/3)

SpaceX Talks Mission Objectives for Falcon-9 Flight (Source: SPACErePORT
According to comments from Elon Musk and other SpaceX executives during a June 3 teleconference, the primary objective of Friday's inaugural Falcon-9 launch will be the qualification of all aspects of the rocket's first stage design and performance. Reaching the intended 250km circular orbit (8-10 minutes after launch) is desired, but more emphasis is on proving the first stage.

While this first flight will focus on the launch vehicle performance, Flight 2 will be more focused on the Dragon capsule, paving the way for an un-crewed Dragon visit to the International Space Station dring the third Falcon-9 mission. 2013 is the earliest date for an astronaut delivery flight, based on a two-year development schedule for a launch abort safety system. Meanwhile, SpaceX has already initiated a "block-2" improvement program for the Falcon-9. (6/3)

Lockheed Martin MissesOut on $2.9B Iridium Satellite Contract (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Satellite phone company Iridium Satellite LLC has awarded a $2.9 billion project to European satellite builder Thales Alenia Space. Colorado-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems was the other finalist bidding for the project. The Iridium Next project was considered the largest contract being bid for private satellite construction. (6/3)

Senator Requests $9.5 Million Alaska Spaceport (Source: Kodiak Daily Mirror)
More help may be on the way for the Kodiak Launch Complex in the form of federal military funding. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced his request to authorize $9.5 million for the Narrow Cape facility. The request is an earmark inserted in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act. Like another $4.5 million the Alaska Legislature recently sent to the Kodiak Launch Complex, the federal funding would help cover the day-to-day expenses of the complex as it looks for rocket launch customers to provide a sustainable source of income.

“The Air Force is clearly interested, as is NASA and several other groups,” Begich said. “We wanted to create a bridge while they investigate their sustainability options.” Earlier this year, the Kodiak Launch Complex lost its contract with the Missile Defense Agency, its only customer of the last five years and the source for the majority of the facility’s launches.

The missile launch business will go to the Marshall Islands in a move to make missile defense tests more realistic. Last month, Alaska’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Missile Defense Agency asking it to consider bringing more business to Kodiak. The Kodiak funding in the National Defense Authorization Bill is part of $421 million authorized for military projects in Alaska. (6/3)

Woman Pleads Guilty to Conflict of Interest at NASA (Source: Virginian-Pilot)
A 50-year-old woman pleaded guilty to using her position as a NASA employee to gain employment for her husband at the Langley Research Center. Patricia Biondolillo admitted she was employed as a human resources specialist and co-op program coordinator at the Hampton facility and as part of her job screened people who had inquired about employment at Langley. She used non-public information about a job opening to introduce her husband’s resume to the selecting official for that position and failed to disclose her relationship. She also pressured university officials to expedite her husband’s admission and, therefore, employment at Langley. (6/3)

1 comment:

The Yellow Porcupine said...

The Kodiak Launch Complex has been totally dependent on handouts from the feds and the state since 1995.
No launches since 2008 and launch revenues have never covered the cost of operating the facility. Why do we keep bailing out this useless facility?