September 22, 2010

State Department: Opportunities, Challenges in Implementing National Space Policy (Source:
SpaceRef has posted the prepared remarks of State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Frank Rose for a discussion of how the State Department is proceeding with the implementation of the new National Space Policy. Click here to read the remarks. (9/22)

Futron Releases Market Study for Commercial Lunar Transportation (Source: Futron)
Futron, working with ASRC, built a business model for NASA to demonstrate how a hypothetical new company entering the lunar transportation market as a supplier might evolve. As NASA’s plans for human lunar return changed during the course of the project, the project focus shifted to assessment of a somewhat limited business model purely for cargo transportation, excluding human lunar return and related activities such as communications or navigation.

Overall, the analysis suggests that there are benefits to NASA of a commercial lunar transportation market and a reasonable chance of success for the market to develop, if NASA is able to provide clear support. Click here to view the study. (9/22)

International Partners Discuss Space Station Extension And Use (Source: NASA)
The International Space Station partner agencies met via videoconference on Sep. 21 to discuss continuation of space station operations into the next decade and its use as a research laboratory. The Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) meets periodically to ensure coordination of station operations and activities among the partners.

Japan has approved continuing space station operations beyond 2016. The Russian Federation has approved continuation to 2020. NASA, ESA and CSA are working with their respective governments to reach consensus about the continuation of the station. Each partner agency reaffirmed its commitment to gaining the maximum return from station with increasing the operational efficiency. (9/22)

First Kourou Launch of Soyuz-ST Rocket Could be March 2011 (Source: RIA Novosti)
The first flight of Russia's Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the European space center in French Guiana may take place in March 2011, a senior Russian space official said. The Soyuz-ST was originally scheduled to blast off from the European Space Agency's Kourou Space Center carrying a French satellite, Hylas, on December 17, but the launch was called off. The French operator said it was because it had become clear the Russian rocket would not be ready to fly by the end of the year. (9/22)

Ex-Astronaut Brings the Right Stuff to ASRC (Source: Maryland Gazette)
With a career in NASA and the Navy, along with a brief brush with Hollywood, it would seem there is no uncharted territory left for Scott Altman. Altman, 51, has served as a Navy pilot and astronaut, receiving the Navy Air Medal for serving as strike leader for a support mission over southern Iraq in 1995 and the Distinguished Flying Cross for leading space shuttle crews. But as of this month, Altman will be tackling his newest challenge as vice president of strategic planning for ASRC Research and Technology Solutions. (9/22)

SpaceX CEO Musk Comes to Washington to Lobby for Obama's NASA Strategy (Source: Washington Post)
Elon Musk has come to Washington. Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, has emerged as one of the most prominent backers of President Obama's controversial plan to increase the role of commercial space companies at NASA. The plan could benefit companies like SpaceX because it calls for relying on private firms for transportation to the international space station and other low-orbit missions.

During a recent interview, Musk bristled at the notion - increasingly asserted by Republican detractors - that he has become a Democratic partisan. After all, he's an avid supporter of Republican Meg Whitman, the California gubernatorial candidate who oversaw the acquisition of PayPal when she headed eBay. But Musk also acknowledged that he is "a fan of Obama," calling him "a good president" and "a big proponent of competition." He said he has been disappointed in GOP opposition to the administration's NASA plans.

But Musk also acknowledged that he is "a fan of Obama," calling him "a good president" and "a big proponent of competition." He said he has been disappointed in GOP opposition to the administration's NASA plans. Musk complained publicly that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) refused to meet with him, and he accused Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) of "trying to hurt a Texas company," since SpaceX tests rockets in her state. (9/22)

O'Keefe Recovering From Alaska Plane Crash (Source: CFNews13)
The Facebook page used by the family of former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe had a new post this morning, saying O’Keefe has been released from one hospital, is in a rehabilitation facilty and could be heading home soon. O’Keefe and his son, Kevin, were two of the four survivors of the Alaska plane crash in early August that killed former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and four others. Kevin spent just over a week in the hospital before he had recovered enough to be released. (9/22)

Astronautical Society Plans Space Station Conference in Florida on Nov. 16-17 (Source: AAS)
The American Astronautical Society plans a national conference in Cape Canaveral on Nov. 16-17. "International Space Station: The Next Decade" will be held at the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral. AAS is offering the right conference at the right time, with exclusive focus on International Space Station utilization and research. Click here for information. (9/22)

SpaceX Targets November for Dragon Demo Flight (Source: Space News)
SpaceX has shifted a planned Oct. 23 launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vessel to November. "We’ve submitted a request for November 8th or 9th and are waiting for the range to complete their standard deconfliction work and provide a formal approval,” a SpaceX spokeswoman said.

The flight, a demonstration test of the medium-class rocket and space capsule being developed under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, was originally slated to occur in Sep. 2008, according to the company’s 2006 NASA Space Act Agreement. The document was later modified to reflect a June 2009 initial demonstration flight. Routine resupply runs to the international space station were expected to follow as early as December of this year, but hardware development has taken longer than planned. (9/22)

Celestis Plans Price Hike for Launching Human Remains from New Mexico Spaceport (Source: Celestis)
Celestis' next "Memorial Spaceflight" is planned for April 1, 2011, from Spaceport America in New Mexico. An UP Aerospace "SpaceLoft XL" rocket will carry cremated remains samples along with other suborbital payloads. Prices for the service start at $695. However, Celestis plans to increase its prices within the next couple of months. Click here for information. (9/21)

NASA Selects High Schools for Satellite Software Challenge (Source: NASA)
NASA and MIT have selected 24 high schools to participate in a new science, technology, engineering, and math education program. The teams will design software to program small satellites aboard the International Space Station. The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, and Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, are three volley ball-sized spherical satellites that fly inside the space station’s cabin to test advanced maneuvers for spacecraft, like formation flying and autonomous rendezvous and docking. Naples High School, from Naples Florida, is among the winning schools. (9/22)

Thales Alenia Space to Supply Components for Russian Satellites (Source: RIA Novosti)
Satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space signed a three-party agreement with two Russian space enterprises to supply electronic components for three communications satellites. The space enterprises are the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC) and Information Satellite Systems - Reshetnev. Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between France's Thales (67%) and Italy's Finmeccanica (33%). It has worked with Russian enterprises for more than 15 years. (9/22)

Canadian Space Agency Funding Mars Exploration (Source: Montreal Gazette)
The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a contract to develop a Canadian-designed vehicle to explore the surface of Mars. The $6-million contract given to B.C.-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates will help fund the development of a semi-autonomous rover that can be commanded from a remote location. "The project will position Canada as a potential partner in international space exploration missions, and maintain Canadian technical expertise in space robotics," according to a release from the space agency. (9/22)

NASA’s Green Frontier (Source: Green IT)
While NASA has been knocked off its orbit lately, one of its most recent endeavors never left the ground but is still leading the pack in innovation. NASA's massive 50,000 square-foot, two-story Sustainability Base in Ames, Calif., was named the winner of the General Services Administration’s Real Property Award for Green Innovation. (9/22)

Mercury Found to Have Comet-Like Appearance (Source: EurekAlert)
NASA satellites designed to view the escaping atmosphere of the Sun have also recorded evidence of gas escaping from the planet Mercury. In addition to its appearance as a bright disk of reflected sunlight, a “tail” of emission can be seen in some of the satellite images. (9/22)

Loft in Space (Source: Milwaukee News Buzz)
A group of UW-Madison students will compete against teams from Oklahoma State University and the University of Maryland to design an inflatable space habitat for NASA. Each of the three teams will receive $48,000 from NASA to design and build the cylindrical habitats, which must measure a modest four meters tall and five meters in diameter. Despite their small size, the habitats must provide some kind of sleeping loft for astronauts. NASA would use such a habitat in orbit of Earth or on future missions to the Moon or Mars, where it could be easily transported and then inflated once in place. (9/22)

Houston-Area Schools Move to Support Families Amid NASA Layoffs (Source: AIA)
Several school districts in the Houston area are preparing to help families affected by substantial layoffs among NASA contractors as the space shuttle program ends. In the Clear Creek district, for instance, administrators have announced a new "Clear Creek ISD Cares" program in which rules will be relaxed to make it easier for children to remain in their schools if they move out of the district. (9/21)

Norway Joins EU-led Galileo Program (Source: Space News)
Norwegian and European Union (EU) authorities on Sept. 22 signed a cooperation agreement on Europe’s future Galileo satellite positioning and timing project that will permit Norway, which is not an EU member, to provide Galileo hardware and polar ground stations for the Galileo system. Under the agreement, Norway will contribute 70 million euros ($91 million) to Galileo and will commit itself to defending Galileo radio spectrum at international regulatory agencies. (9/21)

Arianespace Heading Toward an Unprofitable 2010 (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch consortium may report a net loss again this year following schedule delays that have kept it to just three launch campaigns since January. The France-based consortium has secured approval of its shareholders for a capital increase of 50 million euros ($65 million), and perhaps more, with the funds to be moved to Arianespace’s books by the end of the year.

The company is also continuing to make small improvements to its Ariane 5 ECA rocket by moving to lighter-weight materials and other changes that are expected to result in an increase in the rocket’s payload-carrying power. (9/21)

Arianespace Shifts ATV Mission to Accommodate Commercial Mission, Labor Laws (Source: Aviation Week)
Arianespace says it will launch the second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to the International Space Station (ISS) early next year, reserving the sixth and final 2010 Ariane 5 flight for a commercial mission. Arianespace officials say the decision, made by the board of directors on Sept. 20, was based on preparation of ATV-2 taking longer than expected; it will not be ready until too late in the year for it to be “reasonably accommodated,” given the Christmas/New Year holiday period and strict French labor laws. (9/22)

No Space Pork! - Activist Group Opposes House Version of NASA Bill (Source: IFL)
The Institute for Liberty, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, delivered thousands of constituent letters to Capitol Hill, directed at two embattled members of Congress and their lack of fiscal restraint. U.S. Representatives Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ8) and Alan Grayson (D-FL8) both have voiced support for HR5781, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. Their constituents are urging these members to oppose this bill, which adds billions of unnecessary pork-barrel dollars to NASA’s budget, over the objections of the Senate and leading space scientists.

“The bill is worse than a sham,” said Andrew Langer, President of IFL. “It is a travesty of incredible proportions. Despite the advice of Nobel Prize winners and Buzz Aldrin, Congressman Giffords is continuing to support worthless programs at NASA, programs that have not gotten us any closer to our goals in space, while continuing to outsource our manned space flights to Russia!” (9/21)

Lockheed Works on Orion Mockup at KSC (Source: Denver Post)
A Lockheed Martin-led crew has begun simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion spacecraft mockup to verify that tools, processes and integration procedures work as expected. The work on Orion, designed for missions to the international space station and beyond, is being done at the operations and checkout facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Orion. (9/22)

China Launches Satellite, Presses Forward with Station and Lunar Goals (Source:
China has carried out the ninth orbital launch of the year. A Long March 2D carryied the Weixing-11 remote sensing satellite on Wednesday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Once again the Chinese media refer the new satellite as intended for “scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.” As was the case with previous launches of the YaoGan Weixing series, Western analysts believe this class of satellites is being used for reconnaissance and military purposes.

It is now known that China plans to launch its second lunar probe, Chang’e-2, at the end of September, or on the first days of October. Chang’e-2 will test soft-landings and other technologies in preparation for the launch of the Chang’e-3 – China’s first unmanned landing on the moon slated for 2013. It will also experience numerous orbital changes and adjustments. In addition, it will also carefully explore a landing zone enabling future satellites to land on the moon safely.

Next year will see the launch of the TianGong-1 space module. TG-1, weighing about 8,500 kg, is expected to accomplish the country’s first space docking and is regarded as an essential step toward building a space station. The unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will be the partner in China’s first space docking, as controllers on the ground carry out the docking maneuvers. The manned Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, the two other spaceships set to dock with Tiangong-1, will follow. (9/22)

Space-Race Relic Perplexes NMSU Putters (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Most people call it "the kabonger," but the structure near the 15th hole of New Mexico State University's golf course isn't your average fairway obstacle. "That's the remnant of that original satellite-tracking antenna network developed in the very early stages of the space race," says former golf coach Herb Wimberly, who said the Cold War-era frame was already obsolete in 1962 when the NMSU golf course was designed around it. Government officials ordered it remain for at least 10 years so they could test a blue paint for NASA on it, he said. (9/22)

Nelson: Extra NASA Funding on Hold Until Lame-Duck Session (Source: CQ)
Sen. Bill Nelson a leading champion of the nation’s space program, said that increased funding for NASA would have to wait until the lame-duck session after the Nov. 2 elections. Nelson, D-Fla., had hoped to insert language into the continuing resolution, or CR, that Congress must pass to keep the government running after the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.

“For us to be able to change the CR right now I don’t think is realistic,” Nelson said. Republicans have been demanding a “clean” CR, without extra funding or policy changes. Democrats will need at least one GOP vote to move the CR through the Senate. Nelson, who chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Science and Space, is in the midst of negotiations with House members on a NASA authorization measure that would reorient the agency’s human spaceflight program. (9/21)

Japan's ISS Module Too Expensive for Commercial Users (Source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has received few requests from private corporations wanting to lease space in the research module Kibo on the International Space Station, with the high cost thought to be a major reason for the lack of interest. Under a pricing system introduced by JAXA in June last year, corporations can pay 5.5 million yen per hour to have astronauts from Japan, the United States or other nations carry out scientific experiments or other activities in Kibo.

JAXA expected to receive commissions for 10 to 30 hours per year, but orders have fallen well short of that, the agency said. Since JAXA began leasing space in Kibo in September 2008, just four commercial operations have been conducted in the module. They include the shooting of TV commercials for chewing gum and cameras, and a project that involved keeping seeds in space for several months and later distributing them to children on Earth. (9/22)

NASA Selects High Schools for Satellite Software Challenge (Source: NASA)
NASA and MIT have selected 24 high schools to participate in a new science, technology, engineering, and math education program. The teams will design software to program small satellites aboard the International Space Station. The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, and Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, are three volley ball-sized spherical satellites that fly inside the space station’s cabin to test advanced maneuvers for spacecraft, like formation flying and autonomous rendezvous and docking.

Two California high schools are among the winning schools, including the Bellarmine College Preparatory School, and James Monroe High School Engineering and Design Academy. Click here for information. (9/22)

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