July 2, 2010

Obama Backs Plan for Adding Broadband Wireless Spectrum (Source: Space News)
President Obama on June 28 issued a memorandum backing a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to free up 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum, including some frequencies now used by U.S. weather satellites and mobile satellite service providers. The FCC in March rolled out its congressionally mandated National Broadband Plan, which outlines policies and actions intended to ensure all Americans have high-speed Internet access. The plan’s long-term goals include ensuring the United States has the world’s fastest and most extensive broadband infrastructure; ensuring at least 100 million U.S. homes have access to affordable broadband services with speeds of 100 megabits per second; and enabling citizens to use broadband services to track energy consumption. (7/2)

Aderholt: NASA’s Human Space Flight Program is Worth Saving (Source: Daily Caller)
"In February, the Obama administration announced its fiscal year budget, which proposed to eliminate the NASA human space flight program, called Constellation, and instead rely on the commercial space industry and other countries to ferry future astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS)."

"The president says that his plan is fully committed to the mission of NASA, but I, and many of my colleagues, believe that his proposal will forfeit America’s leadership in space and unnecessarily cut thousands of jobs across the nation at a time when we are trying to recover from a recession. The Obama administration proposes to “lease” rides on commercial rockets...[and] the U.S. taxpayer will have to fund almost the entire cost of developing that fleet of new 'taxis' and the administration has set no minimum percentage for which commercial companies must provide."

Editor's Note: Here's another misrepresentation of the President's plan. Saying it will "eliminate the NASA human space flight program" is inaccurate...unless NASA intends to eliminate its astronaut corps and forego any exploration beyond the International Space Station. (7/2)

Nilesat Launch Scheduled for Aug. 3 Aboard Ariane-5 (Source: Broadband TV News)
Arianespace announced that the Nilesat and RascomStar-QAF satellites have arrived at the Spaceport for Ariane 5’s third launch this year, scheduled for August 3. A chartered An-124 cargo jetliner arrived at Cayenne’s Rochambeau International Airport with the Nilesat-201 and RASCOM-QAF1R spacecraft, both of which were built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for their respective customers: Nilesat and RascomStar-QAF. (7/2)

Russian Space Freighter Misses Docking Attempt, Flies By Space Station (Source: Florida Today)
A supply-filled Russian space freighter zoomed by the International Space Station after its automatic rendezvous and docking system failed to lock on to the frontier outpost. Launched Wednesday from Kazakhstan, the Progress 38 spacecraft was about to begin the final stage of its rendezvous with the station when its Kurs automatic docking system failed to link up with counterpart equipment on the back end of the Russian Zvezda Service Module.

The loss of telemetry resulted in the spacecraft, loaded with 2.5 tons of supplies and equipment, to glide by the space station rather than make an anticipated final approach to the outpost. the spacecraft was about three kilometers away from the station when it passed by. Flight controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center were trying to determine the cause of the telemetry loss, which occurred about 25 minutes before a planned 12:58 p.m. docking. (7/2)

Plan to Save 7,500 NASA Jobs Proposed (Source: MSNBC)
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is proposing to save as many as 7,500 jobs of those who work on NASA's launch team by funding an additional space shuttle supply flight to the International Space Station a year from now. That mission would be followed immediately with the building of a heavy-lift rocket and spacecraft to replace the space shuttle.

The committee's plan, due to be submitted to President Obama July 15, could save 7,500 skilled jobs alone here at the shuttle's launch site, and thousands more at other space centers and contractors. It would also significantly shorten the time span the United States will need to be dependent on Russia to fly its astronauts to the space station. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told NBC News that NASA is on board with the plan that will, while the new heavy-lift rocket and spacecraft are being built, clear the way for commercial rockets to supply the space station.

If the Senate plan is adopted, the president's goal of eventually reaching Mars will come much earlier. Astronauts will first fly "flexible" missions to asteroids and to the lunar and solar Lagrange points before heading for the Red Planet. (7/2)

Italy Plays Lead Role In Launcher Initiatives (Source: Aviation Week)
After years of studying the feasibility of building a homegrown atmospheric reentry capability, Europe is preparing to demonstrate initial advanced concepts. Mastering atmospheric reentry is a prerequisite for any plan involving cargo and crew-return vehicles, reusable space transportation systems, planetary probes and sample-return missions. Italy is a key participant in projects aimed at these prerequisites. Click here to read the article. (7/2)

AFRL, NASA Glenn Conference with Historically Black Colleges (Source: Dayton Daily News)
The Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA Glenn Research Center are co-sponsoring a science, math and technology forum next week with faculty and students of historically black colleges and universities. Those invited include deans, professors, researchers and students interested in science and technology areas of air, weapons, space and cyberspace, organizers of the event said. The goal is to promote long-term relationships between AFRL, NASA and the colleges and universities to support technical innovation and develop employment opportunities for students. (7/2)

Europe, Canada Eye Extra Soyuz for Station Access (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
European and Canadian space officials are in talks with Russia to purchase dedicated Soyuz capsules to ferry their astronauts to the International Space Station. The discussions focus on continuing crew transportation services after 2015, and possibly expanding European and Canadian astronaut access to the orbiting lab before then. (7/2)

New Agency to Merge All Export Licensing Activities (Source: AIA)
As the Obama administration works to upgrade the country's outdated export control system, an independent agency is being established to merge all export licensing activities under a board of directors that will report to the president, according to National Security Adviser James Jones. Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association, Jones underscored the need for a modernized export-control system: "There is no national security without economic security," he said. (7/2)

NextGen Investments Slated for Sharp Increase (Source: AIA)
Airports are retiring radar-based air traffic control systems, but billions of dollars are still needed before the successor NextGen system is fully operational. Companies like Honeywell and Rockwell Collins Inc. could see double-digit hardware sales as the industry undertakes a broad upgrade designed to reduce delays and improve efficiency. (7/2)

Survey: Defense, Aerospace Industries Face "Leadership Vacuum" (Source: AIA)
A new survey of executives at U.S. and Canadian aerospace and defense companies found that as many as 67% said they lacked confidence in their company's ability to develop future leaders, and 63% lack confidence in their company's ability to deal with human capital challenges. Many cited a "top down hierarchical structure" as a contributing factor to the challenges, and a senior executive with Accenture, which conducted the survey, said it's clear that the aerospace and defense industry faces a fast-approaching "leadership vacuum" as senior executives reach retirement age. (7/2)

Orbital Rockets Selected To Launch Two NASA Satellites From California (Source: Space Daily)
Orbital Sciences has received two separate orders from NASA to launch scientific satellites on its industry-leading small rockets, Pegasus XL and Taurus XL. These contracts bring the total Pegasus and Taurus orders to 55 vehicles since the first Pegasus was purchased in 1988. Taken together, the two rockets have launched or will boost a total of 35 NASA scientific and technology demonstration spacecraft on 30 missions since 1990.

Orbital will launch the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft in December 2012 aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. A Taurus XL rocket, also launched from Vandenberg, in early 2013, will deliver the OCO-2 satellite into a 705 km sun-synchronous polar orbit where it will join NASA's "A Train" constellation of Earth monitoring scientific satellites. Meanwhile, the next scheduled Taurus launch will boost the Orbital-built Glory satellite into low-Earth orbit for NASA in the fourth quarter of 2010. (7/2)

A Very Scary Light Show: Exploding H-Bombs In Space (Source: NPR)
Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will. Code-named "Starfish Prime" by the military, it literally created an artificial extension of the Van Allen belts that could be seen across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to New Zealand.

The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.

In Honolulu, the explosions were front page news. "N-Blast Tonight May Be Dazzling: Good View Likely," said the Honolulu Advertiser. Hotels held what they called "Rainbow Bomb Parties" on rooftops and verandas. When the bomb burst, people told of blackouts and strange electrical malfunctions, like garage doors opening and closing on their own. But the big show was in the sky. (7/2)

Huntsville Space Professionals: A Resource For Constellation's Jobless (Source: WHNT)
The future of manned space flight, beyond the final two scheduled shuttle missions, remains unclear. The President's proposal to cut out the Constellation program has already led to some layoffs, and in turn, an uncertain future for those now out of work. But, there is a group in Huntsville hoping to make life easier for those affected by the Constellation cuts. Three men who've all been laid off themselves created the non-profit organization Huntsville Space Professionals.

They've created this website and Facebook page geared toward people affected by the proposed Constellation shutdown. In an unsuspecting neighborhood in South Huntsville, three men with a dream strategized. As engineers for NASA, they met in offices and conference rooms. But for now, they're holed up in a kitchen.

It's a mix of advice, news, job posts and Facebook posts where people can express their feelings about the layoffs, like this post from member Mike Bridges, which reads, "So sad to see so many departing 4601 today. I pray there will be better days for all of you and very soon!" (7/2)

Shuttle Delay Staves Layoffs For Now (Source: Galveston Daily News)
Contractors for NASA’s shuttle program will get a job extension for at least a couple months. NASA announced Thursday Shuttle Discovery’s launch would push back from September to Nov. 1. The Shuttle Endeavour will launch Feb. 26, 2011, for its final mission.

NASA officials have proposed an additional launch of Shuttle Atlantis for June 2011, which requires White House approval. The shuttle launch delays did not surprise Boeing contractors, company spokesman Ed Memi said. “Most people knew the launch would be delayed,” Memi said. Boeing’s Houston jobs will be hit hard once the shuttle fleet retires. The company will lay off about 1,000 employees, and a vast majority are in Houston, Memi said. (7/2)

In a Space Probe’s Journey, a Test for Japan (Source: New York Times)
The Japanese are calling it a miracle. The Hayabusa space probe returned last month from a seven-year, 382-million-mile round trip to an asteroid, giving a much-needed confidence boost to a country worried that its technological prowess might be waning. But Japan is still holding its breath. Did the mission accomplish one of its main objectives?

The June 13 return of the Hayabusa, which drew heavily on Japanese industrial expertise, has fanned hopes that this nation has not lost its edge in technology and manufacturing. The American journal Science has called Hayabusa — the Earth’s first visit to an asteroid and the longest mission to outer space — a “trailblazer.” Japanese companies hope the mission can translate to sales in the steadily expanding market for space technology. (7/2)

After Two Setbacks, India Set to Launch Five Satellites on 12 July (Source: Live Mint)
After two setbacks this year, India is set to launch five satellites on 12 July. In April, the Indian Space Research Organization lost its fourth-generation communication satellite when its geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV), powered by a home-grown cryogenic engine, plunged into sea within five minutes of launch. The rocket was to put India in an exclusive club of nations capable of hurling communication satellites and offering space launches commercially.

ISRO then deferred the launch of its workhorse polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) scheduled in May after it found leaks in the rocket’s second stage. The leaks were detected when pressurized nitrogen was pumped in the rocket as part of tests on the launch pad.

The same rocket will be fired now, following repairs and further tests. The rocket will also launch Alsat-2A, a remote sensing satellite from Algeria and India’s first African customer, two nano satellites from the University of Toronto, and Studsat, a small satellite built by engineering students in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. (7/2)

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