October 6, 2010

ULA Rocket Launch Delayed Until Nov. 5 (Source: Florida Today)
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy scheduled to launch Oct. 19 has been pushed back to Nov. 5. The rocket will launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Because it is a National Reconnaissance Office mission, details such as the launch window and the spacecraft's destination are not being released. (10/6)

Embry-Riddle Wins Grant to Boost Global Security and Intelligence Degree Program (Source: ERAU)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will begin development of a new degree track in its popular Global Security and Intelligence Studies program due to a grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Embry-Riddle's Prescott campus was awarded the grant, valued at just over $222,000, to create a bachelor degree program that will develop a workforce of security professionals with potential to fill highly coveted positions in the United States Intelligence Community. (10/4)

The “Best Language” for an HLV in the Authorization Bill? (Source: Space Politics)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) credited his colleague, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), for ensuring that NASA Marshall Space Flight Center would have a leading role in the new exploration plan through the development of an heavy-lift launch vehicle (HLV) in the authorization bill passed by Congress. “We got the best language we could get in the authorization bill,” he told the paper. “We worked hard to get that in; there was a lot of resistance to it.”

That statement is a little curious, since Shelby indicated that he was a little unhappy with the HLV language in the bill. “I remain concerned with the limiting direction set forth on the heavy lift rocket’s design,” he said in a statement last week after the House passed the bill. “NASA must not deliver a rocket that is simply a shuttle without wings. This would not represent a step forward for innovation or for the future of our space program.” (10/6)

U.S. Lawmaker Balks at NASA Chief’s China Visit (Source: Space News)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s plan to visit China this month for high-level talks about possible cooperation on human spaceflight has prompted a senior Republican appropriator to request a security briefing on the trip before it happens. In an Oct. 5 letter to the NASA chief, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he strongly opposes any partnership with Beijing that involves human spaceflight, including efforts to involve China in the international space station. (10/6)

Layoffs Continue as NASA Slows Constellation Spending (Source: Space News)
NASA has advised contractors to anticipate reduced spending on the Moon-bound Constellation program it plans to terminate, prompting a new round of contractor layoffs. The U.S. space agency is bound by a 2010 law to continue funding all Constellation-related contracts until Congress enacts new appropriations legislation approving the termination or restructuring of the program.

Lawmakers failed to pass any 2011 appropriations bills before leaving Washington last month until mid-November, leaving NASA and the rest of the federal government to operate through Dec. 3 under a stopgap measure called a continuing resolution that funds agencies at no greater than 2010 spending levels. For NASA, that means making do for at least the next eight weeks with 1.5 percent less than the $19 billion the White House has budgeted for the agency for 2011. (10/6)

Editorial: One of Those Shuttles Belongs at Seattle's Museum of Flight (Source: News Tribune)
NASA will be passing out space shuttles in a year or two. We want one. By “we,” we mean the Pacific Northwest, a region whose fortunes have been tied to aerospace since William Boeing launched his Model 1 seaplane in 1916. The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field – which displays more than 80 fascinating and historically significant aircraft – is one of the nation’s great showcases of aviation. As it phases out the shuttle program, NASA is looking for homes for the Atlantis, Enterprise and Endeavour. This is a marriage made in the heavens. (10/6)

Editorial: NASA Must Build Rocket, Not Congress (Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
Why should that even be an issue, you ask? Politics. What else? Common sense says scientists and engineers at NASA should design America's next generation of rockets and spacecraft, which are to replace the space shuttle fleet and carry explorers beyond the moon. Congress has a crucial role to play, of course, because only the Congress can authorize the money the new program will need — currently an estimated $11 billion to get started over three years.

But Congress last week put its nose where it does not belong. It passed a bill ordering NASA to use existing workers and technologies from the space shuttle and Constellation moon-rocket programs to build a new rocket capable of carrying 130 tons into space. The mandate has no scientific basis. It is purely to help some lawmakers protect their districts and their electability — particularly in Utah, where an aerospace company had been designing rockets for the now-canceled Constellation program. (10/6)

Challenge to Background Checks Falters (Source: New York Times)
Scientists at a California research facility appeared likely to lose their challenge to background checks required by a Bush administration antiterrorism initiative, judging from the justices’ questions on Tuesday during arguments at the Supreme Court. Starting in 2005, the government has required federal contractors to conduct background checks of their employees using standard forms. The scientists objected to inquiries about drug counseling and wide-ranging questioning of their acquaintances.

The issue in the case was whether making the scientists submit to the checks as a condition of employment violated a constitutional right to privacy. In two decisions in 1977, the Supreme Court said there might be a constitutional right to “informational privacy,” but it was not clear about its possible scope. The right, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said Tuesday, “is somewhat ill-defined or undefined.” Click here to view the article. (10/6)

Japan's Hayabusa Probe May Have Brought Home Space Dust (Source: News.com.au)
Japan'S space agency has found particles that may be extra-terrestrial in the capsule of the space probe Hayabusa that returned home in June after a seven-year journey to an asteroid. Scientists discovered minute particles that may be from outside Earth. Their components have characteristics that differ from dust or aluminum powder samples that had been collected earlier and which had been believed to have originated from Earth. (10/6)

Space Tourism Agents Lined Up (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
They're like your neighborhood travel agents - except their package tours' most unique feature is nowhere to be found on earth. A group of actual "space agents" is touring Spaceport America and the surrounding Mesilla Valley through Thursday during the New Mexico Spaceport Authority's annual forum.

The agents are taking a guided tour spanning three counties to help impress upon potential customers what the area has to offer: Las Cruces, Mesilla, Hatch, Truth or Consequences, White Sands Missile Range and White Sands National Monument, the National Solar Observatory at Sacramento and the New Mexico Museum of Space History. (10/6)

China Launches Two Satellites to Monitor Space Environment (Source: Xinhua)
China successfully launched two environmental research satellites from north China's Shanxi province on Wednesday morning, according to the launch center. With a designed lifespan of more than two years, the two satellites of the "Shijian VI-04" group will carry out probes on space environment and radiation and conduct space science experiments, according to the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. (10/6)

Former Goddard Chief: NASA's Plan Underfunded (Source: Daily Press)
NASA's new human spaceflight policy may have gained the support of Congress, but it still has critics. Among them is A. Thomas Young, a former director at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "My big worry is that we've gone from one unaffordable program to another unaffordable program," he said at NASA Langley Research Center.

He was speaking about President Obama's controversial plan to scrap NASA's return to the moon mission in favor of promoting the commercial space industry, extending the International Space Station and developing new space technologies. Young praised parts of the plan, including the Mars mission and developing more fuel-efficient airplanes. But like the moon mission Constellation, he said NASA's new policy lacks sufficient funding. "If we don't fix that, then all we're going to do is have another train wreck," he said. (10/6)

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