July 31, 2010

Advocates Assess Legislative Setback for Commercial Space (Source: Space News)
Recent moves by House and Senate lawmakers to scale back NASA’s commercial crew transportation initiative will slow the momentum that has been propelling entrepreneurial space activities forward, but will not stall those activities, according to government and industry officials attending the Space Frontier Foundation’s annual conference. “If the president’s budget does not pass, commercial space will prevail anyway, it just will be much more difficult,” said Esther Dyson, an entrepreneur and investor with holdings in several space companies including Space Adventures of Vienna, Va., and XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif.

Editor's Note: Is there a sufficient near-term market to develop and sustain a commercial orbital human spaceflight industry without NASA's proposed investments? Probably not. Is a NASA-only market sufficient to support one or two companies at a cost lower than a government-operated launch program? Maybe. In addition to supporting NASA's needs, would a modest non-NASA market for orbital human spaceflight ensure the success of the industry? Probably. Is such a non-NASA market likely to emerge in the near term? Hopefully. (7/31)

Satellite Operators See Divergent Paths to Greater Profits (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator SES on July 30 said it is weighing expansion in Latin America, Asia and even Canada and has not ruled out using its huge cash flow starting in 2012 to purchase growth, whether by acquisition or by securing new orbital slots. SES reconfirmed that its spending on new satellites, which is peaking this year at $1.07 billion, will start to fall in 2011 and then drop sharply in the following years. (7/31)

Scott Wins Seat on ETC Board (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)
Environmental Tectonics Corp., Pennsylvania-based maker of spaceflight, flight and driving simulators and other devices, is expanding its board with the addition of a sixth member. Winston E. Scott, a retired U.S. Navy captain living in Florida , was named to the board. Scott, who is dean of the Florida Institute of Technology's College of Aeronautics, was a mission specialist on two NASA shuttle flights, in 1996 and in 1997. He is also a former president of the Florida Space Authority. ETC owns the National Aero Space Training and Research (NASTAR) Center, which is considering an expansion facility in Central Florida to support commercial spaceflight training. (7/31)

A Plan for California Space Leadership (Source: CSA)
The California Space Authority Unveils new Space Enterprise Strategic Plan for 2010 thru 2012. The plan reflects the collaboration of more than 200 key space stakeholders representing almost 100 industry, government, academic and non-profit organizations throughout California. Click here for more. (7/30)

NASA Bill Stays Grounded (Source: Politico)
The already delicate effort to overhaul NASA’s funding and mission enters August in political jeopardy, thanks in part to House Democrats’ inability to get on the same page. Despite the best attempts of Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, to bring the three-year funding plan to a vote this week, a coalition of members frustrated by his haste protested to the majority leader, ultimately forcing the chamber to punt until September. (7/31)

Satellite Operators Team To Avoid Collisions (Source: Aviation Week)
A new cooperative data tool will help keep geostationary commercial communications satellites from colliding or causing signal interference, a service its initiators hope to extend to government spacecraft and satellites in low Earth orbit as well. Spurred in part by the February 2009 collision between an active Iridium spacecraft and a defunct Russian military-communications satellite, the new Space Data Center automatically plots conjunctions in the orbits of satellites owned by participating operators and alerts their control centers to the problem. (7/31)

DOD Work for Scaled Composites? (Source: SPACErePORT)
After Northrop Grumman bought Scaled Composites at the Mojave Air and Space Port in 2007, there was much speculation about what kinds of new work might be assigned to the suborbital spaceship and aircraft builder. Earlier this month Northrop Grumman won a $42 million contract from the Naval Air Systems Command to develop a next-generation radar jamming system. The system to be replaced flies in a pod underneath various military aircraft. Some of the Northrop Grumman work is slated to take place at Mojave, which could mean the new jammer will be tested aboard a Scaled Composites aircraft. (7/31)

New Space Exploration Robot Takes First Steps (Source: La Canada Valley Sun)
Hikers in the upper Arroyo Seco may have felt like they stumbled onto the set of a science-fiction movie this week when they crossed paths with ATHLETE, a new robotic-vehicle designed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for use in space exploration. The ATHLETE — short for All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer — is a joint project between NASA's JPL, Stanford University and Boeing, and could one day be used to transport cargo on the surface of Mars or the moon. JPL engineers took the rover-type vehicle out for trial runs in the upper Arroyo Seco on Tuesday and Thursday, and about eight more test runs in coming weeks. (7/31)

Katy Perry Sending Russell Brand to Outer Space (Source: E! Online)
Now here's a present that's really out of this world! Katy Perry bought hubby-to-be Russell Brand a trip to outer space for his 35th birthday, via Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space venture. "It is true," Virgin Galactic rep Louella Faria tells E! News. "We are very excited to have him on board." (7/31)

Honeywell Provides Guidance System For Atlas V Rocket (Source: Honeywell)
Honeywell has been selected by United Launch Alliance to provide primary avionics components for guidance and navigation of the Atlas V rocket in a follow-on contract worth up to $90 million over the life of the long-term contract. Honeywell will provide the Fault Tolerant Inertial Navigation Unit (FTINU) and the Redundant Rate Gyro Unit (RRGU). (7/31)

McCollum's Space Coast Visit Ends with Space Briefing (Source: Florida Today)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum ended a day of campaigning on the Space Coast with a briefing from local space industry leaders. "There's no place I will turn more attention to immediately than bringing businesses and jobs and opportunities to the Space Coast," promised McCollum, Florida's attorney general. "There just won't be."

McCollum spent part of the day talking to Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and visiting the center's Space Station Processing Facility, where payloads are prepared for shuttle missions. At the round table discussion in Cape Canaveral organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, about a dozen the local space leaders explained the opportunity for KSC to diversify beyond launch operations, to not just fly payloads but to design and manage them and service the space station as a National Lab. (7/31)

Dark Matter Eldorado (Source: Science News)
Darth Vader and other rulers of the dark side have reason to celebrate. Observations confirm that a faint group of stars in the Milky Way’s backyard has the highest density of dark matter — the invisible material thought to account for 83 percent of the mass of the universe — of any galaxy known. The findings provide a bonanza for astronomers trying to unveil the nature of dark matter. (7/31)

Wallops Research, NASA Taxiway Decision Delayed (Source: DelMarVaNow.com)
Accomack County's nine supervisors have the weekend to mull over whether to borrow up to $9 million to pay for a taxiway connecting the Wallops Research Park and a NASA runway. The amount would be $233 for every man, woman and child in the county, according to the 2009 U.S. Census population estimate of 38,462 residents. The taxiway at least initially would benefit one company, BaySys Technologies. The company specializes in installing luxury interiors in airplanes. (7/31)

Sierra Nevada Space Exec: Let Orion be Orion (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Count Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada Corp.’s space division, among the people who’d like to see NASA fund the Orion capsule to go to the moon and pioneer flying astronauts deeper into space. But Sirangelo means really funding Orion for those missions, not as a rescue space ship serving the International Space Station. Already, $4 billion has been spent on Orion. It’s expected to take another $4 billion to $5 billion to have Orion ready to fly to the ISS.

“And that’s just for a capsule that has no way to get there,” Sirangelo said. Orion’s ISS rescue mission is less ambitious than the moon and Mars landings NASA originally intended for Orion under the Constellation human space flight program. Budget difficulties and doubts about the Constellation program’s new Ares rockets prompted NASA to cut its funding from future budgets. Barring some surprise in Congress, the Constellation program is dead. (7/31)

No comments: