July 16, 2010

Update on 'Zombie Satellite' (Source: AOLnews)
Fears that an out-of-control "zombie satellite" could wreak havoc in space have thus far not panned out. Intelsat's Galaxy 15 gained its nicknamed because its electronic brain and station-keeping capabilities were fried but its communication payload is still functioning. This week, Galaxy 15 drifted by another communications satellite, Galaxy 13, with no disruption. Starting next week, it will move toward Galaxy 14. Intelsat isn't bracing for the worst. "We do know what we're doing," an official said.

In the meantime, military researchers using new data obtained from NASA satellites say there is proof that it was a solar storm that fried Galaxy 15's brain this spring. Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory describe Galaxy 15 as the "first casualty" of the new solar cycle, which produced an eruption of magnetic energy on April 3. The news is not surprising: Experts had pinned the likely blame on a solar storm ever since Galaxy 15 first stopped responding to commands from Earth. (7/16)

Oklahoma Museum Competing Against KSC, Other High-Profile Attractions (Source: KJRH)
NASA is retiring the shuttles Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour soon, and Tulsa is fighting to get one. So are New York City, Chicago, Dayton, Portland and Seattle, along with the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"Oh absolutely we stand a chance." Tulsa Air and Space Museum's executive director Jim Bridenstine says Tulsa's location gives it an edge over the competition. "If you look at them, they're mostly on the east or west coast," said Bridenstine. "We think we can reach a demographic in an area of the country that isn't historically served by NASA." (7/16)

Space Tourism’s Best Value For Suborbital Space Flight – XCOR’s Lynx (Source: PRWeb)
Xtraordinary Adventures, in conjunction with RocketShip Tours, is taking reservations for space flights on The Lynx, XCOR Aerospace's newest fully reusable rocket powered suborbital vehicle. With the lowest published price in the industry, the Rocketship Tours / Xtraordinary Adventures offers a complete package of training, medical screening and suborbital flight for $95,000, more than half the price of Virgin Galactic at $200,000, and $7000 less than Space Adventures’ $102,000 price tag on an unpiloted robotic flight to space. Current plans for the Lynx call for first civilian liftoff in early 2012 after a thorough and successful flight test campaign. (7/16)

National Space Policy: From Strength to Weakness (Source: Hudson-ny)
When the Bush administration published its National Space Policy in August of 2006, it set off a minor uproar among the high priests of the Church of Arms Control. The text, which took the administration more than five years to put together, was for the most part a strong restatement of America's abiding commitment to preserving its freedom of action in space -- the same commitment that the US has kept to preserve the freedom of the seas.

The world now depends on space-based communications, navigation, and remote sensing for everything from entertainment to agriculture to finance to weather prediction and more. In 2009, global space activity was estimated to be worth more than $257 billion dollars -- which may well be an underestimate. Anything this valuable, and this vulnerable, can and will be attacked. Click here to read the article. (7/16)

Highlights of the Senate Bill (Source: SPACErePORT)
The newly passed Senate authorization bill was cosponsored by Senators Nelson, Hutchison, Rockefeller, Vitter and LeMieux. It would: enable Space Station operations through at least 2020; add a new Space Shuttle mission; continue the Commercial Crew & Cargo program with new milestones and performance objectives; initiate a heavy-lift rocket program for flights beginning in 2016; and direct NASA to develop a multi-purpose crew vehicle to fly on the heavy-lift rocket.

The bill appears to require that NASA maintain and restructure existing Shuttle and Constellation contracts to support these new mission requirements. This eliminates several high-cost contract termination expenses and could accelerate contractor work on the projects. Also included is a "rescoping" requirement for NASA to review its facility/infrastructure needs to eliminate unneeded duplication. (7/15)

Senate Bill Addresses Placement of Retired Orbiters (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Senate bill includes the following language to guide decisions on the disposition of the Space Shuttle orbiters: "Upon retirement, NASA shall decommission orbiter vehicles through established safety and competitive processes with priority given to locations with the best public value, educational opportunities and historical connections [to] the orbiters."

This appears to give a major advantage to sites on the Space Coast and Houston, but not to competing sites in New York, Seattle, and Oklahoma. (7/15)

Senate Bill Appears to Lock-In Shuttle Derived Heavy Lifter (Source: SPACErePORT)
Language peppered throughout the Senate bill would make it difficult for NASA to pursue a heavy-lift rocket that is not based closely on the existing Space Shuttle stack. This language is perhaps the most direct reference: "Development of the follow-on transportation system will allow for the capability to restart and fly the Shuttle, if directed by Congress or the President, prior to completion of the final Shuttle mission."

The bill also directs NASA to utilize "existing workforce and assets" and extend (rather than cancel) existing contracts. In addition, NASA would "ensure that existing critical capabilities are maintained," and "ensure critical skills are retained, modified and developed as necessary." (7/15)

Senate Bill Addresses International Space Traffic Management, Orbital Debris (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Senate bill requires NASA to develop a report on the status of efforts with other nations to develop a framework to address space traffic management concerns. It also requires NASA to work with other nations on a framework for dealing with orbital debris. (7/15)

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