August 21, 2010

NASA Learns to Stop Worrying and Love Heavy Lift (Source: Space Politics)
When the administration released its FY2011 budget proposal in February, development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle was not a high priority: the proposal deferred a decision on an HLV design to as late as 2015. Instead, the proposal called for technology development for an HLV, including a new hydrocarbon rocket engine. That hasn’t set well in Congress, and the Senate’s NASA authorization bill calls for development of a HLV starting in FY11. NASA, it seems, is now willing to support that approach.

“NASA wants to start heavy-lift work in 2011 ‘in a very robust way,’” the Huntsville Times reported Lori Garver as saying. And what about the need to study various HLV designs? “We don’t need to study it anymore,” said Marshall director Robert Lightfoot, whose center would lead any HLV program.

Garver said “We had not well explained the issues with Constellation,” and she complemented Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the most vociferous critics of the administration’s NASA policies, saying “One of the reasons we are as far as we are (in space) is because of Sen. Shelby.” (8/21)

Air Force Association and Dean Davis Recognized For Achievement in Aerospace Education (Source: CSA)
The Air Force Association and Dean Davis have each been selected to receive the 2010 Crown Circle Award in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the field of aerospace education. The awards will be presented at this year’s EAA AirVenture Teacher Day on July 26th in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Crown Circle Award was established in 1979, recognizing performance and outstanding leadership in aerospace education. The award is one of the highest honors available in aerospace education.

Mr. Davis is director for the California Space Authority (CAS) and for the California State Educational Workforce Initiative (CSEWI), where he helps develop aerospace education STEM plans for the State of California. At the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) he supports regional and national aerospace education STEM activities. He promotes aerospace education and STEM internationally as Vice President of the Satellite Educators Association (SEA) which teaches STEM to students by providing information regarding meteorology, oceanography, earth resources, and GPS topics. Dean is the aerospace education and STEM consultant to the international high school Conrad Foundation, Space Solar Power, and Human Space Colonization contests. (8/20)

Spaceport Board OKs Road Agreement (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority board on Friday OK'd an agreement that's a first step toward paving a southern road to Spaceport America. Two other entities - the Dona Ana County and Sierra County commissions - also must approve the document before it becomes final. Officials have said paving a southern route to the spaceport will improve access to the facility from Do-a Ana County, by shortening the overall driving time. (8/21)

NASA Gives Glimpse of World's Most Realistic Flight Simulator (Mercury News)
It's called NASA's Vertical Motion Simulator. In layman's terms, it's perhaps the most realistic flight simulator in the world, a video-gamer's dream. On Friday, NASA celebrated the 30th anniversary of the simulator, which is keeping a busy schedule despite the approaching end of one of its most famous uses -- allowing astronauts to simulate space shuttle flights before their missions.

"There's nothing like this anywhere else," said Kathleen Starmer, a contractor working with NASA as the Ames Research Center's deputy director of outreach. A shuttle will likely fly for the last time in 2011, but members of the center say that research, not training, has been at the heart of the simulator's duties, and they have no plans to ramp down its use. (8/21)

SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft Successfully Completes High Altitude Drop Test (Source: SpaceX)
SpaceX on Aug. 12 successfully completed a high altitude drop test ot their Dragon spacecraft - meeting 100% of test objectives. This is the last in a series of tests to validate parachute deployment systems and recovery operations before the craft’s first launch. An Erikson S-64F Air-Crane helicopter dropped a test article of the spacecraft from a height of 14,000 feet, roughly nine miles off the coast of Morro Bay, California.

In a carefully timed sequence of events, dual redundant drogue parachutes deployed first to stabilize and gently slow the craft before three main parachutes, 116 feet in diameter, further slowed the craft to a picture perfect landing. From there, recovery ships successfully returned the Dragon and parachutes to shore. Click here to view video and photos. (8/20)

Massive Fuel Tank Arrives at Wallops (Source: Salisbury Daily Times)
A 162-foot-long, 56-wheeled vehicle transporting the largest tank of the fuel farm needed to launch Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II rocket arrived Monday at Wallops Island after a three-month journey from Mexico. The empty 80,000 gallon liquid oxygen tank, which is 124 feet long and 13 feet in diameter and weighs 230,000 pounds, spent three months in transit from a manufacturing facility in Mexico City. (8/21)

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