November 5, 2010

Loral Future Hinges on Telesat Decisions (Source: Space News)
Loral Space and Communications on Nov. 5 said it likely will spin off or sell all of its Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) satellite-manufacturing subsidiary in the event that satellite fleet operator Telesat, in which Loral has a 64 percent economic interest, decides to pursue a stock offering or a strategic transaction. (11/5)

Failed W3B Satellite To Remain in Orbit for Decades (Source: Space News)
The Eutelsat W3B satellite declared a total loss less than 24 hours after its Oct. 28 launch because of a leak in its propulsion system will spend the next 20-30 years in its parking orbit following ground teams’ inability to guide it into a controlled atmospheric re-entry, satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space said Nov. 5. (11/5)

Indian, U.S. Experts Team On Space Solar Power (Source: Aviation Week)
Former Indian President A.P.J. Kalam has lent his name to a new cooperative effort by experts in the U.S. and India to advance space solar power (SSP) as a way to improve life on Earth. Kalam, 79, is a space pioneer who served as the 11th president of India. He and his former associates at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have teamed with the Washington-based National Space Society (NSS) for an initiative aimed at accomplishing the work necessary to field a system of large satellites that would collect solar energy and beam it safely to Earth’s surface.

Kalam was joined on the line by John Mankins, a former exploration chief technologist at NASA who is president of the Space Power Association, and T.K. Alex, director of the ISRO’s Satellite Center. Alex will join Mankins as co-principal investigators on the Kalam-National Space Society Energy Initiative. The group plans a bilateral meeting in Huntsville, Ala., next May to establish a course of action and organizational structure. (11/5)

China Launches Weather Satellite (Source: RIA Novosti)
China has launched a new meteorological satellite. The launch was made from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China's Shanxi Province. The satellite is equipped with a dozen advanced detectors and is capable of carrying out a three-dimensional, all-weather, multi-spectrum quantitative detection to acquire data from the ground surface, the ocean and space. (11/5)

Astrotech Reports First Quarter 2011 Financial Results (Source: Astrotech)
Astrotech cash flow of $1.6 million the quarter ended September 30, 2010 resulting in $9.7 million in cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2010. The Company posted a first quarter fiscal year 2011 net loss of $1.2 million, on revenue of $5.3 million, compared with a first quarter fiscal year 2010 net income of $0.8 million on revenue of $7.8 million. The Company's 18-month rolling backlog, which includes contractual backlog and scheduled but uncommitted missions, was $19.9 million at September 30, 2010. (11/5)

Discovery Launch Delayed Until End of November (Source:
NASA scrubbed Friday's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Discovery because of a hydrogen leak, making it unlikely that the mission would launch before the end of November. During fueling of the shuttle's external tank Friday morning technicians discovered a gaseous hydrogen leak at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, equipment that also caused problems on two previous shuttle missions. The launch is now likely to be delayed until November 30. (11/5)

Laying Claim to Committee Posts (Source: Space Politics)
With the Republicans retaking control of the House, the race is underway to seek seats on various committees as well as their chairmanships. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the current ranking member of the House Science and Technology Committee, is in line to chair the committee in January, and this week issued a press release that made it sound like he was staking him claim on the chairmanship. He cited several “key areas” that the committee should conduct oversight of, none of which is directly related to space policy: “climate change, scientific integrity, energy research and development (R&D), cybersecurity, and science education.” It’s unclear yet if any other member, such as Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), will challenge Hall for the committee chairmanship.

Mo Brooks, the Republican who won Alabama’s 5th District in Tuesday’s election, vowed he would “shield NASA”, along with defense and law enforcement, from budget cuts. Interestingly, though, he did not indicate he was seeking a position on the House Appropriations Committee, where he could play a role in stopping such cuts. Instead, he said he was seeking posts on two to three committees, including the Science and Technology Committee. (11/5)

Future Budget Battles (Source: Space Politics)
Another aspect of the election outcome is a new focus on budgets and spending. A major concern is the new Republican leadership would seek to make sharp cuts in spending across the board, including for NASA. Back in September the House GOP leadership proposed rolling back spending to FY2008 levels in its “Pledge to America”, which would trim NASA’s budget from the $19 billion proposed for FY2011 by nearly $2 billion. Such cuts would put additional stresses on the budget that some believe is already too small to carry out everything NASA is tasked to do in the new authorization bill.

Can NASA escape those cuts, if they are in fact pushed through Congress? While Republicans have control of the House now, Democrats remain in charge of the Senate, with the chair and ranking member of the Senate appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), easily winning reelection. That may make it more difficult for House Republicans to get sharp budget cuts through; however, Democrats eager to retain their now narrower majority in the Senate may be willing to go along with some cuts.

How those cuts will affect specific NASA programs remains to be seen: outgoing House Science Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) told Florida Today that it would be “hard to move forward with this new commercial track” should NASA spending be reduced. (11/5)

Arianespace To Launch Azerbaijan’s 1st Satellite (Source: Space News)
Arianespace will launch Azerbaijan’s first national telecommunications satellite in mid-2010 aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket under a contract signed Nov. 5, Arianespace and the Azerbaijan government announced. The Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite, carrying 24 C-band and 12 Ku-band transponders, will be operated from 46 degrees east longitude in geostationary orbit in a partnership between Azerbaijan and Malaysia’s Measat satellite operator, which is expanding into Africa. (11/5)

Commercial Space Travel Rules of the Road (Source: Discovery)
Fast-forward 10 years and in addition to flying cars and unmanned aircraft, there are suborbital rocket rides launching from New Mexico, astronauts getting ready for a taxi ride to the space station, and people living in privately owned outposts in orbit. That's the future showing up on FAA radars as the agency prepares for commercial space travel.

Figuring out the ground rules for operating in space falls on the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Unlike NASA, the FAA is a regulatory agency, with powers to license, police and punish offenders. The agency is gearing up for the new world of commercial space with a research consortium, headed by New Mexico State University. The FAA also plans to set up a technical operations center at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport if Congress approves funding. (11/5)

NASA: Lockdown at Glenn Research Center in Ohio Just a Drill (Source:
A lockdown at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland on Friday was just a drill, NASA confirmed. "It was an unscheduled security test," NASA headquarters spokeswoman Katherine Trinidad said. During the drill, local police and emergency responders arrived at the scene. The unexpected events caused widespread news reports of a gunman on the premises and possible shots fired. (11/5)

More Layoffs Coming Today at United Space Alliance (Source: Florida Today)
Some 171 United Space Alliance workers at Kennedy Space Center received layoff notices this week. Their last day will be Jan. 7. "Most people were notified in person," USA spokesperson Tracy Yates said. "Those who were out on leave were notified by mail." The layoff affects 320 workers companywide. USA now employs slightly more than 4,100 workers at KSC. (11/5)

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