August 19, 2010

Florida Project Selected for NASA Global Climate Change Research (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded $7.7 million in cooperative agreements to 17 organizations across the United States to enhance learning through the use of NASA's Earth science resources. The winning proposals in the Global Climate Change Education Awards illustrated innovative approaches to using NASA content in elementary, secondary and undergraduate teaching, and lifelong learning. Florida Atlantic University was among the winners, for a project titled "Using NASA Data to Improve Climate and Science Literacy of Young Adults." (8/17)

Former NASA Engineer Releases Book on Spirituality and Spaceflight (Source: SPACErePORT)
Mike O’Neal weaves together an intriguing mix of spirituality, space, and angels in his new book, “An Angel’s View: Encountering God through the Stories of the Heavenly Hosts.” Combining a deep knowledge of Scripture with personal experiences from his 31-year career at NASA, the author offers fresh and unique insights into the stories of God’s angels. Click here for information on the author and his book.

Editor's Note: O'Neal spent about a year on sabbatical from NASA studying spirituality and space. As a result of his work, NASA has considered establishing a pluralistic chaplaincy to support astronauts who will take part in long-duration space missions. The concept was backed by key members of the Astronaut Office in Houston. O'Neal found that astronauts on long-duration space missions would face profound personal challenges similar to some of the extreme isolation environments that military personnel were subjected to. (8/18)

Four U.S. Satellite Providers Win Federal Broadband Grants (Source: Space News)
Four satellite-broadband providers have been awarded a combined $100 million in U.S government grants to provide links to rural areas of the United States under the government’s broadband stimulus program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service announced Aug. 18. Three of the four companies were awarded grants to provide two-way satellite broadband to specific regions. The fourth, Hughes Network Systems of Germantown, Md., was given more than half the grant total, $58.8 million, for use in nationwide rural-broadband projects. (8/19)

Private Equity Firms Emerge as Interested Buyers in Aerospace (Source: AIA)
Aerospace and defense firms that go on the auction block are finding that private equity firms are often the leading, and sometimes only, interested takers. Several buyout firms have shown interest in the auction of aerospace parts maker McKechnie Aerospace, and private equity firms may also be considering commercial satellite maker Loral, which announced in June its plans to raise $100 million through an initial public offering. (8/19)

NASA Moves Ahead with Asteroid Plans (Source: AIA)
NASA is moving ahead with plans to achieve President Barack Obama's goal of sending astronauts to visit an asteroid by 2025. The agency has narrowed down the possible list of near Earth objects that could be accessible with a heavy-lift rocket to just three, and it plans to begin development of robotic missions to the asteroid next year, even if an ideal asteroid has yet to be identified. (8/19)

Love Scorned Astronaut Faces Military Justice in Jacksonville Courtroom (Source: WOKV)
The NASA astronaut who made international headlines after attacking a romantic rival with pepper spray at the Orlando International Airport in 2007 spent Thursday in a military courtroom at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The government is asking a Navy review board to recommend discharging Captain Lisa Nowak and reduce her rank and pay grade. Nowak pleaded guilty last year to burglary and battery in a plea deal that dropped more serious charges of kidnapping. She was not sentenced to any jail time and has continued her career as a Navy aviator, despite being booted from the Astronaut program. (8/19)

NRC Recommends Astronomy / Astrophysics Projects with Potential Caltech Roles (Source: Caltech)
The National Research Council (NRC) recommended three space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics projects with potential major roles for researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech): CCAT, a submillimeter telescope to be erected in the Chilean Andes, which will help unravel the cosmic origins of stars, planets, and galaxies; the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), designed to detect gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space and time formed by the most violent events in the universe; and the development of a Giant Segmented Mirrored Telescope (GSMT)—the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) being one of two such telescopes under development—which will yield the clearest and deepest view of the universe. (8/19)

NASA Astronaut Brought Religious Artifact Into Orbit (Source: The Jewish Chronicle)
On May 14, Garrett Reisman got out of bed, brushed his teeth and got into an old Airstream motorhome that took him, along with five other astronauts, to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. Then they boarded the shuttle, strapped themselves into their seats and, at 2.30pm, were, quite literally, blasted off the face of the earth. Within nine minutes, they reached 17,500 miles per hour.

When Reisman spent his three months aboard the Space Station in 2008, he famously fixed a mezuzah above his bunk. Was it out of religious conviction - the astronaut went to Hebrew school as a child and was barmitzvahed in a Reform synaogue? "It was probably more that I wanted to acknowledge my Jewish heritage and represent the Jewish people," he says, noting that he has a mezuzah on his home in Houston too. "I was looking for a way to connect to my Jewish roots." (8/19)

Space Policy and Topsy-Turvy Political Philosophy (Source: Space Politics)
Conventional wisdom has it that Democrats are pro-big government and Republicans are pro-big business; oversimplistic, perhaps, but illustrative nonetheless of one of the major differences between the country’s two major political parties. Two Congressional races in Florida are showing that, when it comes to space policy, those philosophies are reversed.

In Florida’s 15th Congressional District, immediately south of the Kennedy Space Center, Rep. Bill Posey (R) is running for reelection and making space a major issue in his campaign. As for creating jobs from commercial space ventures, he sounds skeptical: “(The Obama administration) keeps talking about this great commercial space market, but… there are no specific plans for exploration.” By contrast, his likely Democratic challenger, Shannon Roberts, is more positive about the prospects for commercial human spaceflight. “(Private companies) are really ready to take this on. I think it’s very timely,” she said.

In the neighboring 24th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) supports something like the compromise NASA authorization bill the Senate passed earlier this month, providing some funding for commercial crew development while pushing NASA to start immediate development of a heavy-lift vehicle. Most of the Republicans who are vying to run against her in the general election, though, are either quiet on the subject of commercial spaceflight or opposed to it. In the words of one candidate, Tom Garcia: “I don’t think you can just turn it into a commercial industry. It needs to stay under government control.” (8/19)

Space Travel or Astronomical Lie? (Source: WRS)
Barbara Burtscher has been the toast of Switzerland: a twenty-five-year old poised to become the country’s first female astronaut. Except that she wasn’t. Since last summer there’s been a flurry of interest in Burtscher, with articles in newspapers and magazines claiming she’d been at something called the Nasa Education Center where she’d been encouraged to sign up for the official astronaut programme. But earlier this week the physics teacher from Toggenburg in St Gallen was brought back down to earth after some tardy fact-checking revealed a few holes in the story. (8/19)

Is Space the Valley’s Next Frontier? (Source Tech Crunch)
The idea that space could be a serious growth opportunity for Silicon Valley was laughable ten years ago. But while rockets aren’t a mass market—they’re a lucrative one. Ask Musk who got a $2 billion contract from NASA for SpaceX. Are we really on the cusp of settling the galaxy and will the same people who settled the virtual world be the ones who take us there? Worden thinks that idea isn’t such a joke anymore.

If this new world is possible there are a million questions. We’re basically talking about colonizing space and last time a group of nations decided to “carve up” a new world, there were a lot of political, environmental and economic implications with which countries in South America, Africa, and South East Asia are still grappling. Will we do better with space? Click here to see a TechCrunch interview with Pete Worden of NASA Ames. (8/19)

Decatur Company Hopes to Build Rockets for Astronauts (Source: WAFF)
The recent launch of the Atlas V rocket was deemed a success, and not only for the United States, but also for the Decatur United Launch Alliance plant. "Our ULA Decatur employees played a very important role in the recent launch," said ULA's Doug Shores. Hopes are high that the 670 ULA workers will be building rockets transporting astronauts into space, and that's just one reason why the recent Saturday morning launch was so important. "It's one of many we hope to roll through the factory, down to the launch sites in coming years," said Shores. (8/18)

NASA and ATK Plan Five-Segment Rocket Motor Test on Aug. 31 (Source: NASA)
NASA and Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) will conduct a full-scale test of a five-segment, first-stage solid rocket motor at 11:05 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, Aug. 31. The test at the ATK Aerospace Systems test facility in Promontory, Utah will assess motor performance at low temperatures. (8/18)

Will Sen. Shelby Suddenly Remember There’s a Commercial Launch Company in Decatur? (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The United Launch Alliance plant in Decatur, Ala. has been all but invisible over the last six months as the Obama Administration and Congress battled it out over plans to commercialize human spaceflight to orbit. NASA officials mentioned the possibility of using Atlas V and Delta IV vehicles built at the plant from time to time, but they never pushed it very hard. (Probably because the program would be competitively bid and they legally couldn’t endorse any one option.) Meanwhile, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby seemed to forget that the ULA facility even existed at all as he fought tooth and nail against the plan. (8/19)

Oil and Gas Exploration Benefit from Space Tech (Source: ESA)
A special kind of titanium and a manufacturing technique used to build the Ariane 5 rocket could become the next successful spin-offs from Europe’s space programme, benefiting the oil and gas industry. Together with space sensor technology that could be used in new offshore drilling tools, these exciting developments are the result of several technology demonstrator projects just completed for ESA’s Technology Transfer Program. The wider use in the coming years of unmanned autonomous underwater vehicles in the offshore oil and gas industry calls for new technologies and advanced materials that can handle extremely harsh environments. (8/18)

Space Shuttle Trainer Coming to Seattle's Museum of Flight (Source: Seattle PI)
NASA's space shuttle full fuselage trainer is coming to Seattle's Museum of Flight, which is also vying to win a real shuttle orbiter. "We will, in fact, be awarded the full fuselage trainer – in which all the shuttle astronauts have trained – when the program is discontinued," Museum of Flight Marketing Director Mike Bush said Wednesday. "It's important to note that this has nothing to do with whether or not we're awarded an actual shuttle." The trainer now lives at the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, where astronauts train. It replicates a real orbiter, although it doesn't have wings. (8/18)

Editorial: Task Force & Nelson Bill Lay Groundwork for Jobs (Aug. 19)
The outlook for rebuilding the Space Coast’s post-shuttle economy finally is coming into clearer view. The transition will be extremely difficult as thousands lose their jobs. But new policies and proposals coming together in Washington suggest the long-term prospects won’t be as bleak as pessimists fear, providing that our community embraces change and innovation, and runs with it.

The past week has seen a key Senate panel pass a compromise NASA plan that calls for adding one last shuttle flight next year, having NASA immediately start developing a new, heavy-lift rocket and manned spacecraft, and providing funds to grow the commercial space industry. The measure has White House support but still needs full congressional approval, which it deserves. (8/19)

Inmarsat Says New Satellites Will Cost $1.2 Billion (Source: AP)
British satellite-telecommunications provider Inmarsat said on Wednesday that it will spend $1.2 billion for three Boeing Co. communications satellites and associated ground costs. Boeing disclosed the satellite deal earlier this month, but without a price tag. Inmarsat said it would spend the money over about four-and-a-half years. The satellites will provide mobile broadband. The satellites are expected to begin operating in 2014. (8/18)

Iridium Merges Science with Communications Mission (Source:
Working under a U.S. government grant, researchers are calling upon the Iridium satellite constellation for the first real-time global space weather observations from low Earth orbit. Led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the new space weather research program will help forecasters predict the onset of sun-triggered geomagnetic storms that could cause power outages and communications blackouts. (8/18)

Ping-Pong Balls to Float Crew Capsule Simulator (Source: NASA)
If ping-pong balls can float a sunken boat, they should be able to keep an uncrewed space capsule simulator from sinking. That's what a team of summer students and engineers think at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Langley is fabricating a proposed design of an astronaut crew module simulator for uncrewed flight-testing as part of the agency's effort to build a vehicle to replace the space shuttle.

Because the crew module will not be pressurized during the test, it will not have the buoyancy of a pressurized spacecraft. This puts the simulated crew module at risk of sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after splashdown. To save the valuable test article for analysis and possible reuse, Langley called on a team of creative minds for a solution. (8/17)

Executive Director Of Tulsa Air And Space Museum Resigns (Source: NewsOn6)
The Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum resigned Wednesday, according to a statement from the museum. Jim Bridenstine is leaving TASM to pursue his love of flying. He rejoined the Navy as a pilot in the reserves in March. Bridenstine called the museum a "wonderful institution" for Tulsa. During his time at TASM, Bridenstine spearheaded the effort that put Tulsa in the running to land one of NASA's retiring space shuttles, a project he said he will continue to support. (8/18)

Russia Marks 50th Anniversary of Space Dogs Flight (Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News)
Russia is marking the 50th anniversary of the space flight of two mongrel dogs—Belka and Strelka—who became the first living creatures to circle the Earth and come back alive. The August 1960 mission helped test the equipment which was used to carry the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space on April 12, 1961. Belka and Strelka were part of a Soviet program of animal tests intended to pave the way for human space flight. They followed Laika, a dog that flew into space on Nov. 3, 1957 but wasn't meant to survive and died. (8/18)

Brevard Workforce Board Seeks Board Members (Source: Brevard Workforce)
Brevard Workforce is seeking business people who are interested in being a member of the workforce board. To qualify a company must have at least 5 employees and the board member must be the CEO, COO or CFO of the organization. We’d like representation from including clean energy, advanced manufacturing, modeling and simulation, and photonics/lasers. If you, or any business you know, are interested in being a member of the Brevard Workforce Board, please contact Lyn Sevin at for an application. (8/16)

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