August 28, 2010

Companies to Raise Orbit of Satellite (Source: Florida Today)
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin Corp. plan to raise the orbit of a recently launched military communications satellite without the aid of its primary thrusters, which shut down prematurely, according to the Air Force. The liquid apogee engine system, or LAE, is one of three propulsion systems on the first satellite launched by the Advanced Extremely High Frequency program, which intends to provide highly secure communications channels even during nuclear war. (8/28)

New Day Dawns for Shuttle Technician (Source: Florida Today)
The sun is setting on the shuttle program, and on Jen Scheer's career as a shuttle technician. But for the near future, the 35-year-old Merritt Island resident's focus is on sunrises. Each morning before work at Kennedy Space Center, Scheer snaps pictures of day breaking and posts a favorite on Twitter and other sites. The ritual has won an international following and become a book project, one that demonstrates the power of online social networking and symbolizes the promise of a fresh start after so much uncertainty about the space program. (8/28)

Katrina-Damaged Tank Expected Ahead of Schedule (Source: Florida Today)
As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's Gulf Coast landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, a storm-damaged piece of shuttle hardware is making a comeback. Refurbishment of a damaged external tank is nearly complete at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, and it could be delivered to Kennedy Space Center within a month. The tank had been expected to arrive on Oct. 6, but is now expected to arrive a week or two ahead of schedule. (8/28)

Boeing Capsule Moves Forward With Innovative "Pusher" Escape System (Source:
With the impending retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet, aerospace juggernaut Boeing is hard at work developing a new capsule-based spaceship that could be ready for its first commercial spaceflight by 2015. Boeing's new Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft is designed to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), as well as future private space stations.

The spacecraft will be equipped with a unique pusher abort system in case the crew encounters an emergency during launch. "This is the first time anyone has proposed or succeeded with a pusher design," Keith Reiley said. "The pusher appears, to us, to be simpler, less expensive and just as safe."

If necessary, the launch abort system would fire pressurized propellant for three seconds to quickly push the vehicle away from the rocket. A parachute would then be deployed to assist with the landing. One of the advantages of the pusher design is that in the event of a smooth launch, the same propellant can also be used on orbit, either in guiding the CST-100 to dock with a space station, or to boost stations themselves, whose orbits slowly decay over time. (8/28)

Loral Improves Profit Margins as It Prepares Stock Offering (Source: Space News)
Loral is planning a stock introduction for up to 19.9 percent of its equity and has increased its profitability in 2010 as a result of higher throughput in its factory and reduced operating costs. The company believes its satellite-building division can maintain a gross profit margin of between 8.5 percent and 9.5 percent over the long term, on condition that it continues to win at least five satellite orders annually. (8/28)

Europe, Japan Weigh Cargo Return from Space Station (Source:
The European and Japanese space agencies are considering upgrades to outfit their robotic space station servicing spacecraft to return cargo to Earth, potentially laying the groundwork for crewed capsules by the 2020s. Officials expect decisions on the new spacecraft by next year.

Neither space agency has started development of a piloted spaceship, but both organizations have started designing re-entry vehicles that would bring supplies back to Earth. The ability to return cargo from the space station -- down-mass in space-speak -- will be severely curtailed once the space shuttle is retired next year. (8/28)

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos Licked by James Lick in Space Race (Source: Forbes)
The list of rich men obsessed with space exploration is as long as an Apollo rocket. The sums spent are long, too. Musk has put up an estimated $100M, Bezos is into the millions likely, Paul Allen spent $100M. Robert Bigelow, a budget hotel-chain mogul, built a life-size space station in his well-guarded Bigelow Aerospace factory in Nevada.

But Musk and Bigelow look like pikers next to James Lick. The wealthiest man in California (150 years ago), Lick spent more on a single telescope (in today’s dollars) than all of their investments combined. Lick made his fortune in real estate after the Gold Rush. He built most of downtown San Jose, Calif. and late in his life was moved to spend $700,000 on the Lick Observatory, finished in 1876 in San Jose at a cost of what would now be the equivalent of $1.2 billion (in 2008 dollars). (8/28)

Space Tourism Sector a Good Opportunity for Insurance Firms (Source: Economic Times)
As space tourism matures, it holds tremendous opportunity for insurance companies to offer risk coverage to those on-board, similar to what they do for passengers of airlines, industry officials said. At an international conference on space business, organized as part of Bengaluru Space Expo 2010, speakers noted that since Yuri Gagarin's flight in 1961, citizens of 38 countries have flown in space.

To date,most individuals have been astronauts/cosmonauts, military personnel and scientists who have been extensively and expensively trained, they said, adding, while this would continue, one would see the emergence of "space tourism" with access to space for private individuals. Speaking on risk and insurance solutions for space ventures in the 21st century, Executive Vice-President of ISB, Tim Wakeman said within India, the space industry is thriving, contributing around Rs 10,000 crore per annum to the Indian economy.

He said it's good time to buy insurance for spacecraft as market conditions are favourable with premium rates on the decline and availability of insurance capacity is three-four times the demand. (8/28)

NASTAR Center and Special Aerospace Services Test Atlas-5 Human Spaceflight Scenarios (Source: NASTAR)
The NASTAR Center has completed the initial phase of a research effort focused on commercial human spaceflight and systems development related to emergency detection and response using an Atlas V flight profile, under a contract with Special Aerospace Service (SAS). Nominal scenarios were performed with three subjects in order to understand crew reaction times. Subjects are medically monitored and tested at NASTAR Center. One subject, Jeff Ashby, is a former NASA Space Shuttle commander.

Under current funded efforts with NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, SAS is supporting United Launch Alliance's Emergency Detection System (EDS) development program. EDS is the key technology to enable use of the flight-proven Atlas V and Delta IV fleet as part of a potential 'crewed' launch system for commercial spaceflight. The Emergency Detection System monitors key systems parameters and provides warnings and crew instructions on failures. Several potential crewed space craft providers are interested in using the Atlas V with their spacecraft. (8/28)

Space 2010 Conference & Exposition kicks off in Anaheim (Source: OC Metro)
The nation’s brightest in the aerospace industry will descend upon Orange County on Monday to discuss the future of space exploration and technology. The four-day AIAA Space 2010 Conference & Exposition, which will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center and Hilton Anaheim, is slated to draw in about 1,200 attendees. With the theme of Space: Imagine, Innovate, Collaborate, SPACE 2010 will cover three matters: developing technologies that will aid future exploration of the solar system and the universe, creating more affordable ways to launch spacecraft, and promoting opportunities for the government and industry to build future systems. (8/28)

Japan to Stay in ISS Project Past 2016, Launch Hayabusa 2 Probe in 2014 (Source: Mainichi Daily News)
The Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has decided Japan will continue to participate in the International Space Station (ISS) project through 2016 and beyond. The government will officially communicate its decision, made Aug. 27, to other participating countries in the near future. Meanwhile, the headquarters also decided to move ahead with a fiscal 2014 launch timetable for the Hayabusa 2 -- the successor to the Hayabusa probe mission to a near Earth asteroid. (8/28)

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