September 21, 2010

NASA Wants To Move Beyond Technology Auctions (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA managers are looking for new ways to get the technology its engineers develop for space exploration out into the broader U.S. economy, where businesses can adapt it for commercial products. The agency is seeking suggestions on how it can work with intellectual property management services to match advanced technologies at its field centers with private firms willing to pay for licenses to use the publicly funded technology for private profit. (9/21)

GAO: GPS Program Improved, But Needs Better Interagency Requirements Planning (Source: Space Policy Online)
In its latest report on the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) tells Congress that the system is looking better than the last time GAO assessed it, but the process for interagency requirements setting by the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Transportation (DOT) needs improvement. (9/21)

National Security Council Gets New Space Policy Guru (Source: Space Policy Online)
Peter Marquez, the White House National Security Council (NSC) staffer who spearheaded interagency consensus-building that led to President Obama's new National Space Policy, is moving on. Where he's headed was not publicly announced, but his successor is Chirag Parikh, who made his debut at the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies' National Space Forum. Marquez' last day in the job is this coming Friday.

Parikh is an aerospace engineer with 14 years of experience in the Air Force and intelligence communities, and a very approachable person eager to engage with the space community. He will have the task of developing the implementation strategy to go along with the policy, as well as efforts to update three other specific U.S. space policies on space transportation, commercial remote sensing, and positioning, navigation and timing satellites (i.e., GPS). (9/21)

NASA IG Praises TDRSS Program Management, Clears Boeing (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) audited the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) program to determine if it was being effectively managed and came away primarily with praise. Its few qualifications had to do with how NASA charges non-NASA customers for using the system, but in terms of procuring the next two satellites in the series, K and L, the agency got a tip of the hat. (9/21)

Congress Unlikely to Tackle NASA Spending Before Election (Source: Florida Today)
Congress isn't expected to make spending decisions about NASA until after the election, key lawmakers said Tuesday. Lawmakers have been debating the space agency's future for most of the year, after President Obama proposed changing course with an extra $6 billion over five years. But there are only a couple of weeks remaining until Congress leaves town for the Nov. 2 election.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has been negotiating a new blueprint for NASA with Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who is chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. But the House and Senate remain divided on issues such as how much to devote to commercial rockets and when to go ahead with a heavy-lift rocket. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the chamber could still debate a NASA policy bill next week if Gordon and Nelson reach a compromise. But that's looking increasingly unlikely. (9/21)

Space Coast Firm Wins Ames Facilities Maintenance Contract (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected IAP World Services Inc. in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to provide facilities maintenance services at the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The contract has a maximum value, including options, of $101.8 million. This is a hybrid indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity fixed-price task order and cost-plus- fixed-fee contract that begins Oct. 1. The contract consists of a three-year base period and includes one two-year option. (9/21)

NASA Grants Increase STEM Learning For Minority Students (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded grants to nine academic institutions and their partners that serve large numbers of minority and underrepresented students to strengthen offerings in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. The grants total approximately $1.15 million through the agency's Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research (CIPAIR) project.

Two of the grants will be shared by four California-based institutions, including San Mateo/Canada Community College, San Francisco State University, Santa Monica Community College, and the University of California at Los Angeles. (9/21)

Mars Moon May Have Formed Like Our Own (Source: New Scientist)
The Martian moon Phobos may have been blasted off its mother planet by a violent impact, or built from fragments of a much larger moon that was destroyed long ago, according to observations from Europe's Mars Express spacecraft. If confirmed, the result would overturn the prevailing theory that Phobos was once a wandering asteroid that got captured by Mars. That theory was based on the fact that visible light reflected off the moon closely matches the spectrum of a common type of carbon-rich asteroid. (9/21)

Boeing Commercial Crew Project Depends on NASA Funding (Source: Bay Area Citizen)
It’s a unique partnership: Boeing will design and build the spacecraft, and Space Adventures will sell seats on flights to low Earth orbit. When this idea might become reality depends on whether Congress provides NASA with enough funds to promote commercial spaceflight. Boeing hopes the CST-100 capsule becomes NASA’s No. 1 choice to transport astronauts to the space station once the shuttle retires.

With the capability to carry seven passengers, the CST-100 would also have room to sell trips for private passengers, an arrangement that could result in more competitive pricing for both NASA and private individuals, Space Adventures chairman Eric Anderson said. “It would be a good deal to the U.S. taxpayer to have multiple customers (instead of just NASA),” (9/21)

House May Stay in Session Longer for NASA, Other Bills (Source: ABC News)
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer knocked down reports today that the House could shut down at the end of the week to enable members to return early to their districts to campaign for reelection. “My view is we’re going to be in session next week," he said. At a briefing with reporters, Hoyer blitzed through an ambitious to-do list to tackle before adjournment, including a NASA Reauthorization bill, the Child Nutrition Bill, and the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The House is currently targeting adjournment for October 8, although the majority leader would not commit today to returning for the week of October 4. (9/21)

Congress Postpones Decisions on Military Spending Until After Midterms (Source: AIA)
Leaders in the House and Senate have decided to postpone decisions on the $678.2 billion Defense Appropriations bill and the $726 billion Defense Authorization bill until after the November midterm elections. The military will instead be funded with a continuing resolution providing money to the services at the same rate it has received funding through 2010. Editor's Note: Let's hope a continuing resolution for NASA is not next. (9/21)

Soyuz Spacecraft Upgrade Increases Payload by 70 kg (Source: RIA Novosti)
New onboard digital command and control systems have helped increase the payload of Russia's manned Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft by 70 kg, the head of the Energia space corporation said. The new equipment replaces the Argon analogue system that has been used for more than 30 years. A Soyuz with a new digital computing and telemetric system will be launched to the International Space Station on October 8. (9/21)

Atlas-5 Launches NRO SpySat from California (Source:
Igniting a major surge of five national security space launches in the next few months, an Atlas 5 rocket soared away from America's western spaceport Monday night carrying a covert spy satellite. The 19-story rocket majestically rose from the Space Launch Complex 3-East pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base and maneuvered on a noticeable south-southwesterly course that would take it into an apparent retrograde orbit around the planet.

Following orders from the government customer, a veil of secrecy was draped over the launch about four minutes into flight. The rest of the rocket's ascent and release of the payload were conducted without providing live information to the public. The satellite belongs to the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency responsible for designing and operating the country's fleet of intelligence-gathering satellites. (9/21)

NASA Launches New Technologies Aboard Suborbital Rocket at Wallops Island Spaceport (Source: NASA)
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility has launched new rocket technologies aboard a Terrier-orion suborbital rocket. The mission, Suborbital Technology Experiment Carrier (SubTEC) III, is designed to demonstrate multiple technologies, improve sounding rocket capabilities, and support range development initiatives. The rocket’s primary payload, the NASA Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS), is an autonomous onboard system that can enhance the function of the human ground command flight termination system. In the event of a deviance off the nominal flight path. (9/21)

Parked Car Causes Stir During U.S. Spy Satellite Launch (Source:
A new spy satellite launched into space late Monday on the latest classified mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, but not before a private car caused delays because it was parked in the wrong spot. The satellite's launch was delayed about a half hour due to the pesky car, which was parked at Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 8 – an area that was supposed to be clear of vehicles. Flight controllers wanted to be sure it wasn't a range safety concern, launch officials said. They later decided it was no concern for the launch. (9/21)

Discovery Secured to Launch Pad (Source: Florida Today)
Space shuttle Discovery is on Launch Pad 39A after making an overnight trip from Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building. The shuttle was secured on the launch pad by 1:49 a.m. on Tuesday‬, a little more than six hours after exiting the Vehicle Assembly Building at 7:23 p.m. Monday. ‪ More than 3,000 employees and family members were issued passes to watch the historic rollout. Discovery is targeting a Nov. 1 launch to the International Space Station. It's scheduled to be its final mission. (9/21)

Spacewalking May Cost Astronauts Their Fingernails (Source: Discovery)
Here’s a scene you may have missed: Astronauts seal themselves into pressurized spacesuits and leave their ship to make repairs outside. When they get back, one guy peels off his glove liner, looks down and sees that his fingernail has come off too. Turns out, that’s not fiction. “It’s probably the biggest nuisance,” says Deva Newman, an MIT professor who conducted a statistical analysis of injuries reported during spacewalks. “It’s not a show-stopper, but it is the most prevalent thing.”

The problem is particularly pressing for astronauts with wide fingers, Newman and colleagues found, a result that questions conventional wisdom that nail trauma results from astronauts' fingers repeatedly contacting hard inner surfaces of their balloon-like gloves. Some of the damage may be due to the gloves impeding blood flow at the joints where astronauts' fingers attach to the palms of the hands. “The damage is cumulative. The astronauts are wearing these gloves hundreds if not thousands of hours for training,” Newman says. (9/21)

No comments: