November 21, 2010

Space Nonprofit CEO's Pay Unusually High (Source: Florida Today)
Each year, thousands of Florida car owners pay an extra $25 for a special Challenger/Columbia memorial license plate, in honor of American astronauts who gave their lives in pursuit of space exploration. Half the money goes to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), created to develop and maintain the towering granite "Space Mirror" at Kennedy Space Center bearing the names of fallen heroes. The other half goes to a different group, the Technological Research and Development Authority, which spurs technology development in business and education.

Last year, each organization got about $377,000 from the plates. However, only a small fraction of the AMF income is spent maintaining the Space Mirror, which hasn't worked as designed since the mechanism that rotates it to track the sun broke 13 years ago and AMF deemed it too expensive to fix. In fact, the money AMF spends to keep up the memorial is about half what it pays its chief executive officer, Stephen Feldman.

Feldman's pay stands out because his organization is relatively small -- 10 full-time staffers -- and because it relies almost entirely on public support. Most of AMF's income comes from license plates, charitable donations and rent from tenants for use of offices in AMF's Center for Space Education, which sits for free on federal land at the KSC Visitor Complex. Editor's Note: AMF's facility houses the state's NASA-sponsored Educator Resource Center, offices for Space Florida, the Florida Space Grant Consortium, and University of Central Florida. (11/21)

Russians Want to Use Nanosats to Predict Earthquakes (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Roscosmos website features a very interesting news item about a Russian plan to use nanosats to help predict earthquakes. RIA Novosti quotes Russian Space Systems company director Yury Urlichich as saying that an “earthquake precursor monitoring system” that would include a constellation of nanosats to monitor “special vibrations in the ionosphere [that] can be used to detect the quake.” (11/21)

Delta-4 Launches Spy Satellite From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source:
The initial portion of Sunday's launch of the United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office has been called a success. "This mission helps to ensure that vital NRO resources will continue to bolster our national defense," said Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, 45th Space Wing commander. "The spectacular evening launch showcases how the 45th assures access to the high frontier and supports global operations."

"The Delta 4 rocket continues to evolve and mature with this fourth Delta 4-Heavy launch from the Cape," said Maj. Jeremy Geib, Delta 4 Launch Operations Flight commander. "The team cut Heavy launch processing time over 50 percent." (11/21)

Delta IV-Heavy Launch Rescheduled to November 21 (Source: USAF)
The 45th Space Wing launch of a Delta IV-Heavy Launch Vehicle carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload has been rescheduled to Nov. 21, 2010, at 5:58 p.m. Eastern Standard Time from Space Launch Complex 37. During closeout processing of the launch system in preparation for flight Friday, engineers detected that the installation of some ground support equipment pyrotechnic ordnance lines did not meet requirements. These ordnance lines fire the "hold down bolts" at liftoff releasing the Delta IV Heavy for flight. (11/21)

Canadian Official: Space May Be First Front for the Next Major Conflict (Source: The star)
It won’t look like a scene from Star Wars, but the man in charge of space development for Canada's defense department predicts the initial steps of the next major conflict are more than likely to start in orbit and Canada should be prepared. There will “absolutely” be more of a military role for Canada in space than in the past, Col. Andre Dupuis said as he discussed the defense department’s plans to overhaul its space defence policy. “The first line in the sand for the next major conflict may very well be in space or cyberspace, but probably not on the ground or in the air or in the seas,” Dupuis said in an interview while attending the annual conference of the Canadian Space Society. (11/21)

Future in Space Hits Road Blocks (Source: Ottawa Citizen)
Big rovers for astronauts to drive. Little ones to drive around Mars by themselves. Tiny ones to go into tight places. And a Canadarm sequel called The Next Generation. That's Canada in space, coming soon -- but only if the Canadian Space Agency ever gets the long-term plan that will allow it to commit to these major tasks.

The president of the Canadian Space Society, Kevin Shortt, says the final frontier in space is getting long-term commitment from the Space Agency. He says no company wants to start the long, expensive job of designing new Mars rovers and find out later that the government wants satellites instead. (11/21)

Remembering Kurt Debus (Source: Alamogordo Daily News)
"We develop the rockets, and it's up to Debus to see they do what they're supposed to do," the New York Times quoted Dr. Wernher von Braun in Debus' obituary, published Oct. 11, 1983. Debus, who was born on Nov. 29, 1908, in Frankfurt, Germany, retired from NASA on Nov. 19, 1974. Known as "The Father of Kennedy Space Center," he was KSC's first director, from 1962-1974. His efforts created "what is known today as the Cape Canaveral Spaceport."

He worked at Peenemunde in Germany during the war, where von Braun supervised building the V-2 missile. Post war, Debus escaped to the U.S. as part of Operation Paperclip, which put German scientists to work on rocket and missile technology. Debus was classified as an Army "special employee." The scientists, considered "prisoners of peace," worked at White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico. In 1949, the Army relocated most of the scientists to Huntsville, Alabama.

At the time, the Joint Chiefs were also considering moving launches from White Sands to Florida's coast, ever since a V-2 veered off course in 1947 and smacked into "a cemetery south of Juarez." "He almost hit a house of ill-repute," the monologue quoted von Braun recalling at Debus' retirement ceremony. From the Cape, Debus orchestrated some of NASA's most historic missions. Click here to read the article. (11/21)

Women Persevere to Rise in Aerospace Field (Source: Denver Post)
Each spring for the past 26 years, the global aerospace community has gathered at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for the National Space Symposium. "It used to be all old white guys," said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. "Women are still in the minority, but there is an increasing number of women in aerospace.

"There are not that many of them, but you're not surprised to see them anymore. One day you look around and say, 'Holy crap, there's a lot of them.'" Women say it's taken a lot of persistence to get to that visibility level in aerospace-related careers, from the ranks to executive offices. After peaking in the 1990s, the number of women nationally working today in aerospace-related fields is roughly 10 percent, and women make up about 18 percent of engineering students, according to several studies and organizations. (11/21)

Texas Members Set to Lead Key Committees, Could Dash New York's Shuttle Bid (Source: New York Daily News)
New York City's odds of snagging a retired NASA space shuttle for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum just got way longer in an uphill fight with Texas. Don't-mess-with-Texas types are set to take over key House committees with huge sway over NASA's budget, and they've made clear where they want any or all of the three retiring shuttles - Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour - to go.

"East Texas, West Texas, Northeast Texas and even the 4th District of Texas, even the Panhandle, would make excellent homes for the orbiter fleet," said 87-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.), the oldest member of Congress. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) said, "It should come as no surprise to anyone that I believe the people of Houston in particular have earned the right to house one of the orbiters, and every member of the Texas congressional delegation agrees with me."

Hall and Olson made the arguments in September, when they teamed up with the powerful Florida delegation in trying to muscle New York out of the bidding. The main competition to the Intrepid came from the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but more than 15 other museums nationwide also have put in bids. (11/21)

Hayabusa to Yield More Bounty? (Source: Straits Times)
It was confirmed this week that the Hayabusa space probe brought back microscopic particles from the Itokawa asteroid, but space agency officials are now saying larger particles in the probe's capsule also are likely from the distant body. The larger particles, measuring about 0.1mm in diameter, were found in the same canister that contained the smaller particles confirmed to be from Itokawa. The smaller particles measured about 0.001mm to 0.01mm in diameter.

If the larger particles are determined to be outer-space material, a more detailed analysis of the minerals' crystal structure would be possible. This could provide more clues regarding the temperature variations the solar system has experienced since being formed, officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. Jaxa hopes to confirm the larger particles' origin by the end of this year. (11/21)

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