November 15, 2010

Committee and Subcommittee Leadership Named - In Tallahassee (Source: SPACErePORT)
In the Florida Legislature, both the House Speaker (Dean Cannon) and Senate President (Mike Haridopolos) are consistent supporters of Florida's aerospace industry. Last year they helped secure over $35 million in state funds for space-related programs. In preparation for the 2011 Legislative Session, Cannon and Haridopolos have started appointing committee and subcommittee chairs to manage different issues, including space policy and economic development.

In the Senate, Haridopolos has appointed Space Coast Senator Thad Altman to lead a subcommittee on "Military Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security". Senator Don Gaetz of Okaloosa County (home of Eglin Air Force Base) will chair a subcommittee focused on transportation and economic development. In the House, Rep. Dorothy Hukill will chair the Economic Affairs Committee. Hukill has sponsored space-focused bills in recent years, and her district, north of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, is home to many space industry workers.

Of course, the entire legislative delegation from the Space Coast (which include both Sen. Haridopolos and Sen. Altman) are traditionally steadfast in their support for space industry development. The delegation will meet on Dec. 14 to discuss their constituents' priorities, including proposed legislation in support of the state's space industry. (11/15)

GLONASS Goes to India (Source: Russia & India Report)
The federal network operator NIS GLONASS signed an agreement to establish a consortium with DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System), India, for participating in tenders to create Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Indian metropolitan areas that are to provide traffic monitoring solutions. DIMTS is a joint venture between the New Delhi Government and IDFC (Infrastructure Development Finance Company), a major Indian financial and investment corporation. (11/15)

British Minister Visits India, Looks Forward to Space Collaboration (Source: Deccan Herald)
A British minister on Monday said his country was looking forward to collaborate with India in the areas of space technology and academics. This follows the visit of the British Prime Minister David Cameron to India during which the two countries had decided to take the collaboration to a new level, he said. The UK is looking forward to collaboration in the areas of sharing of space technology and academics, he said. (11/15)

USAF Considers New Contracting Methods (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force is likely to begin implementing new purchasing practices for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) rocket family and existing and new satellite programs in the interest of efficiency, says Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton. This could include bulk buys of EELV—an effort the Air Force has been exploring for months—as well as multi-year satellite procurements and changes in how the service calculates financial awards for contractors. Proposals are now under review by officials in the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The first of these are likely to be included in the Fiscal 2012 budget request, which will go to Congress for review in February. (11/15)

New Florida Initiative Powers UCF's Plans To Help Local Space Industry (Source: UCF)
The University of Central Florida will offer new programs to retrain residents who lose their jobs as the space shuttle program ends, thanks in part to grants from the Board of Governors of the State University System. UCF received five grants worth about $1.3 million for projects that will help strengthen education, research and Florida’s economy.

The grants are part of the 2010 New Florida Initiative. The goal of the program is to create partnerships among universities in the areas of health, science and engineering while creating high-wage jobs. Eleven universities were awarded $10 million for 31 projects. Two training programs will aid local residents who may lose their jobs due to the changes at NASA. Specifically, certificate programs will be offered in the areas of active flow and noise control, which play critical roles in today’s aerospace, propulsion and power-generation industries. Also, UCF’s Department of Physics work with Space Florida and NASA KSC to create a Center for Microgravity Research. (11/15)

Mining on the Moon is a Not-So-Distant Possibility (Source: Missouri S&T)
While lunar mining might some day be economically feasible for countries and companies, a Missouri University of Science and Technology researcher believes strongly that mining in space is essential to the very survival of our species. "Humanity eventually needs to live in more than just one place, other than the Earth," says Dr. Leslie Gertsch, an associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T. According to Gertsch, moon dirt contains a surprising amount of vital compounds, including water and maybe even "rare-earth elements" like lithium (think lithium-ion batteries). (11/15)

Deficit Reduction Efforts to Target Defense Spending (Source: AIA)
A major storm is brewing in Washington over the federal budget, and defense spending is directly in the cyclone's path. A second bipartisan deficit-cutting plan, due this week from a task force headed by former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., is expected to recommend a freeze on defense spending. (11/15)

Companies Replace Countries as Key Players in Space Race (Source: AIA)
Whereas nations used to compete against one another to build space stations, it's now private businesses that are leading the space race. Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas says it already has six clients lined up for an inflatable space habitat, and another venture, called the Commercial Space Station and led by two companies in Russia, is offering a combination laboratory and hotel. (11/15)

NASA's Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole (Source: NASA)
Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy. The black hole could help scientists better understand how massive stars explode, which ones leave behind black holes or neutron stars, and the number of black holes in our galaxy and others. The 30-year-old object is a remnant of SN 1979C, a supernova in the galaxy M100 approximately 50 million light years from Earth. (11/15)

N.M. Spaceport Kicks Into High Gear for Commercial Spaceflight (Source:
Work on Spaceport America is in full swing, with the state-of-the-art space launch facility near Truth or Consequences, N.M. expected to become fully operational in 2011. Officials at Spaceport America here have been working closely with their anchor tenant — Virgin Galactic — in the company's quest to provide pay-per-view passenger treks to suborbital space. Other leading aerospace firms, such as Lockheed Martin, Moog-FTS, Armadillo Aerospace and UP Aerospace, are also moving toward increased use of Spaceport America facilities to push forward on their space ventures. (11/15)

Union of Concerned Scientists Releases Report on Space Security, Sustainability (Source: UCS)
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has released “Securing the Skies: Ten Steps the United States Should Take to Improve the Security and Sustainability of Space.” UCS worked with experts in the security community to identify near-term, achievable steps the Obama administration should take to ensure the sustainability of the space environment, keep satellites safe, and enhance stability in space and on the ground.

While the Obama administration is saying many of the right things and is taking some steps forward, it needs a more comprehensive and coordinated approach. The report, authored by Laura Grego, Senior Scientist, and David Wright, Senior Scientist and Co-Director of the Global Security Program, recommends 10 practical actions the administration should take to get started on the right path towards a comprehensive, multilateral space security plan. Click here to download the report. (11/15)

Will the Lame Duck Congress Punt on Appropriations? (Source: Space Politics)
One member of Congress, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), said she would make “full funding” for NASA in FY11 a priority in her remaining weeks in Congress as members return today for a lame duck session. But will Congress even take up full FY11 appropriations bills? Congress may instead simply pass another continuing resolution, deferring a final decision on FY11 appropriations until the next Congress. According to the article, while outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could push through an omnibus appropriations bill, the Senate may not be able to because of “procedural roadblocks” that Republicans could create to slow down the process and seek spending cuts. A final decision will probably not come until votes on House Democratic leadership positions for the next Congress. (11/1)5

Fourth Crack Found on Shuttle Discovery's External Tank (Source:
Engineers inspecting the shuttle Discovery's external tank have found a fourth crack in the structural ribs, or stringers, making up the outer skin of the compartment between the liquid oxygen and hydrogen sections. Analysts are discussing techniques for making sure even more cracks are not present under the tank's foam insulation while work to repair the initial cracks proceeds. (11/15)

Reality Bites: The 2010 National Space Policy (Source: Space News)
Reading comments posted in association with articles about President Obama canceling the Constellation program, the 2010 National Space Policy (NSP) and NASA’s subsequent attempts to regroup, I’m struck by the generalized, vitriolic rage voiced in many of them. President Obama is charged in hyperbolic language with ending the U.S. human space exploration program, and both disinterest about ramifications and often even malice are attributed to his actions.

If the rage being expressed is actually frustration and fear associated with loss of Constellation-related jobs, it is understandable. It’s the same feelings exhibited by auto workers in Michigan when told by both presidential candidate Obama and McCain that their jobs weren’t coming back. More often, however, the rage is voiced as against the cancellation of a program dear to the heart of Americans, and against their will. That, unfortunately, is not entirely accurate.

While the Augustine commission report upon which the Obama Administration heavily relied in making the decision to cancel Constellation described strong public support for human exploration, as have past, similar surveys, the answer to a different question not asked is the important one: Compared with other areas of government funding, including health care, roads, education, defense and social welfare programs, where would you prioritize human space exploration? Click here to read the article. (11/15)

Aerospace Engineering Faces A Bright Future (Source:
For a while there, it was looking like a career in aerospace engineering was problematic. Now it looks like times are going to change this scenario considerably. For starters, President Obama's new NASA program, which commercializes a lot of the federal space agency's R&D programs, means that many private corporations that used to be shut out of NASA now have a shot of making all manner of air and space craft. Another thing is his green economy initiatives. This is creating new opportunities for commercial crafts that will be much more energy efficient. Throw in the military and the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees the need for more Aerospace Engineers from "slow" (fewer than 9%) to average (9-13%).

As for financial assistance, there is plenty out there for the budding rocket scientist. Besides standard Pell, SEOG and similar state and government packages, one should consult the National Science Foundation for S-STEM scholarships as well as a number of private corporations and professional societies. A good source for more information on this is the Aerospace Industry Association. It should be noted that a degree in the field will probably involve moving along Florida, Texas or around the West Coast, as that is where the bulk of the aerospace industry as settled.

What should also be taken into consideration is most in this profession go on for their Masters or PhD, but many of the hiring companies offer work-study programs if the young engineer takes his courses with an online college. Once all is said and done though, one can do quite well in the profession. The Bureau estimates the average salary of an Aerospace Engineer is slightly under $95,000. It usually comes with a very attractive benefits package including health and life insurance and other perks. (11/15)

It's Time to Pop the Space Balloon Meme (Source: Space Review)
There's been a growing number of efforts by amateurs to fly balloons high into the atmosphere and take "pictures of space", or even claim to have flown in space. Jeff Foust examines how how this phenomenon, and especially the media coverage of it, could have a detrimental effect on actual spaceflight. Visit to view the article. (11/15)

An Experiment in Sustainability and Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
Future long-duration human spaceflight will require technologies that can sustain life while reusing and recycling as much as possible. Kit Martin argues that the same technologies can also be essential to sustaining life on Earth. Visit to view the article. (11/15)

Kosmas Pledges Space, Small Business Support to the End (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Outgoing U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-FL, aims to use the lame duck session to wrap up a few pieces of unfinished business, including a last-ditch effort to create a new federal grant program to help small businesses startups. "I will continue to look for opportunities to create jobs and help Central Florida's economy," she said.

"One of my highest priorities is ensuring that NASA is funded at the authorized levels [of $19 billion]...If the Republican pledge to roll back all federal spending goes through, then thousands of jobs on the Space Coast will be at risk, and I will fight in the remaining weeks to ensure that NASA is not cut." (11/15)

Russian Space Cargo/Laboratory Ship Disposed of in Pacific (Source: Itar-Tass)
The transport spaceship Progress, which was on a mission as a scientific laboratory for three weeks, has been dumped in the Pacific on Nov. 15. After a retro-fire burn, the spaceship began de-orbiting, and its remaining fragments and waste from the ISS fell in the ocean, sinking to a depth of four kilometers several thousand kilometers east of New Zealand, far from navigation routes. The Progress was undocked from the ISS on Oct. 25 and transferred to a lower orbit to perform a "geophysical experiment" during its autonomous flight. (11/15)

Russian Cosmonauts Assemble ISS Research Platform During Spacewalk (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russian flight engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Skripochka opened the ISS hatches of the docking module Pirs for a space walk. “The cosmonauts have to assemble a universal workplace on the service module Zvezda for research equipment to be used in Russian and European experiments in the future,” an official said. (11/15)

Forecast Good for Spy Satellite Launch Atop Massive Delta IV Rocket (Source: Florida Today)
Air Force meteorologists expect an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for Thursday evening's planned launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket with a classified government payload. The planned 6:10 p.m. launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be the fourth by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy since 2004. (11/15)

Bolden Sees Future At Dulles Mission Control Center (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, vowing to fight for an early flight of Orbital Science Corp.’s Taurus II launch vehicle, says he can foresee the day when human spaceflight is controlled from the company’s office-building campus near Washington Dulles International Airport.

Bolden said he will do everything he can to produce some $300 million in augmented funding for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) this year. With its share of the money, Orbital will be able to launch a Taurus II on a “risk reduction test flight” as early as the third quarter of next year. (11/15)

Russia's Soyuz to Return ISS Crew to Earth Earlier Than Planned (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia's Soyuz TMA-19 spaceship with a Russian cosmonaut and U.S. astronauts on board will return to Earth earlier than planned because Kazakh authorities will restrict air traffic several days ahead of a government summit. Landing of the spaceship will therefore be moved to November 26. (11/15)

Harris Corp. Built Huge Antenna Launched with Skyterra Satellite (Source: BBC)
A US satellite carrying the biggest commercial antenna reflector ever put in space has been launched successfully from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. The mesh structure on the Skyterra-1 spacecraft is 22m (72ft) across. It will relay signals for a new 4G-LTE mobile phone and data system for North America. Callers whose networks are tied into the system will be automatically switched to a satellite if they are out of range of a terrestrial mast. (11/15)

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