November 6, 2010

SpaceX Awaiting FAA Approval of Dragon Re-entry License (Source: Space News)
SpaceX is awaiting U.S. regulatory approval to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vessel as soon as Nov. 20 after more than a year spent tying up loose ends associated with the recoverable space capsule’s re-entry license application, which the company submitted in final form to federal regulators Oct. 29.

FAA spokesman Hank Price said the agency is continuing to review SpaceX’s updated application for the re-entry license, which would be the first ever granted by the agency since Congress gave the FAA authority to license commercial re-entry vehicles in 2004. ”The caveat, with a lower-case ‘c’, is that when doing re-entry, the launch license really is not valid until you receive a re-entry license.” (11/6)

Sen. Hutchison Gets Award for Keeping Federal Funds Flowing Into Houston (Source: Parabolic Arc)
As newly emboldened Republicans make plans for major rollbacks of federal spending, one of their own is being honored for maintain the flow of federal dollars into conservative Texas. Kay Bailey Hutchison is the recipient of the 2011 Quasar Award for helping to pass the NASA authorization bill — which saved thousands of federally funded jobs in Houston — and for ensuring other federal largess. (11/5)

With NASA Budget, Time for Republicans To Be... Republicans (Source: Pajamas Media)
The new Congress is going to face some very ugly budget choices, and be looking for savings wherever it can. There is little doubt that NASA will face serious scrutiny, even after the turmoil of the past nine months, since the Obama administration ineptly rolled out its budget request in February. Now that they are taking over the House, it is time, with respect to human spaceflight, for Republicans to grow up and start acting like the conservatives, fiscal and otherwise, they profess to be. There is no reason to continue NASA programs that can be more efficiently run privately, and which provide meaningless prestige rather than progress.

A best-case scenario may be a roll-back to 2008 levels ($17.3B, or a 9% reduction from the FY2011 request of $19B), as the Republican leadership has suggested. A worse one is a cut back to $15B (as rumors indicate will be the recommendation of the Deficit Commission), a 21% reduction. The worst, at least for those who favor manned spaceflight, is program cancellation entirely, though this is unlikely given international obligations for the International Space Station. (11/5)

U.S. Should Learn From Early China's Exploration Mistakes (Source: Pajamas Media)
In the early 15th century, the Ming Dynasty of China, Admiral Zheng was sending out fleets of large sailing ships — the biggest in the world — laden with treasure of the empire to distribute to and impress the heathens in other lands. The ships reached all the way to the coast of Africa and perhaps even across the Pacific to the Americas.

Unlike the Europeans who would explore a few decades later and went to the Americas and East Indies for “God, Gold, and Glory,” it was a program of purely national prestige. Accordingly, because it was not engaging in trade or returning anything of value commensurate with the cost, it was ultimately canceled and the ships destroyed, to the point at which even building such ships became a capital crime.

Many space advocates take a false lesson from this history — that China should not have turned its back on exploration, and by so doing relinquished the new worlds being discovered to the Europeans who settled the Americas and Australia. But the true lesson is that exploration should be done not for prestige, but as a precursor to exploitation and a return on investment, and in this new frontier there are fortunately no Siberian-Americans or Australian aborigines to enslave or exterminate. (11/5)

Promise - and Problems - of Power From Space (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
The vast challenge of space, frigid and airless, lured 100 engineers and entrepreneurs to Sunnyvale recently to dream about using extraterrestrial manufacturing and mining projects to pave the way for what may be the final migration of our species. "We're talking about opening the space frontier to human colonization," said Gary Hudson, an organizer of the Space Manufacturing conclave held last weekend at NASA Ames Research Center.

Such proposals were advanced in the mid-1970s when now-deceased space scientist Gerard O'Neill and retired solar expert Peter Glaser argued that orbital photovoltaic arrays could send energy wafting down to Earth in the form of electromagnetic waves gentler than sunlight. John Mankins says such arrays would be far more economic today, thanks to efficiencies in everything from solar cells to rocket launchers - not to mention the environmental benefit of supplying electricity without adding greenhouse gases.

Mankins estimated that it would cost $10 billion over 10 years to mount a large orbital solar program - which seems like a lot until compared with the 40-year, $50 billion investment that the United States and other countries have poured into determining the feasibility of Earth-based fusion reactors. Click here to read the article. (11/6)

Saudi Arabia, Ukraine to Hold Joint Space Explorations (Source: RIA Novosti)
Saudi Arabia and Ukraine have signed an agreement to cooperate in peaceful space exploration, the website of the Space Agency of Ukraine said. The agreement was signed between President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel and Director General of the National Space Agency of Ukraine Yuriy Alekseyev. The agreement stipulates that Saudi Arabian and Ukrainian scientists will cooperate in fundamental space research and a range of applied sciences, particularly geophysics. (11/6)

United Launch Alliance Launches 350th Delta in Program's 50-Year History (Source: ULA)
For the 350th time in its illustrious 50-year program history, a Delta rocket launched from U.S. soil, adding another chapter to one of the most successful rocket launch programs in American history. The 350th mission was a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launching the fourth Italian-built Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean Basin Observation (COSMO-SkyMed 4) satellite from Space Launch Complex-2 at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. (11/6)

Commercial Space Tourism May Spike Black Carbon Emissions (Source: Reuters)
At a time when a half-dozen U.S. companies are vying to be the first to bring tourists to space, a report to be published in November in the journal Geophysical Research Letters warns that fuel emissions from such rocket launches may pose serious consequences for the Earth’s stratosphere—causing as much as a 1-degree Centigrade rise in polar temperatures and a 5 percent to 15 percent reduction in polar ice. The study looked at the emissions that could be expected in the stratosphere from rocket engines.

“What we’ve discovered from these [engineering] models is that the stratosphere is particularly sensitive to black carbon particles, commonly called ‘soot,’ from rocket engines,” explained study co-author Martin Ross, an atmosphere scientist with The Aerospace Corporation, a Los Angeles–based, federally funded research and development nonprofit organization that provides guidance and technical advice to military and civilian space operations. (11/6)

Non-Profit Organization Proposed for Space Station Lab Management (Source:
A new NASA-sponsored study provides guidance for how the agency should manage the U.S. research capabilities aboard the International Space Station (ISS). NASA should hand over responsibility for managing and marketing the ISS National Laboratory to a non-profit organization (NPO). Click here to download the report. (11/5)

Fox News Examines (Briefly) the Future of NASA Funding (Source: Space Politics)
A brief segment on Fox News on Friday featured Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) (an odd choice, given that he doesn’t play a major role in space issues, although he does sit on the full House Science and Technology Committee) claiming that NASA is a “national security issue” and that the Obama Administration “cut back on spending” for NASA. “I think space is a necessity,” he said, suggesting he would seek to protect the agency’s budget from potential cuts.

Berin Szoka of the Space Frontier Foundation played up the commercial aspects of the administration’s plan. “In the short term, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter whether we’re sending astronauts up into orbit,” he said. “What matters is, is NASA going to build a commercial sector that can make our presence in space sustainable?” Unfortunately, there was no opportunity in the brief segment for the two to debate their viewpoints. (11/5)

Earth May Have Had Water From Day One (Source: New Scientist)
In the beginning, there was water. Earth's life-sustaining liquid came from the dust from which the planet was born, a new look at these particles suggests, and not simply from collisions with objects that later crashed into the planet from space. The origin of the oceans has long been a mystery. Earth's birthplace in the dusty nebula around the young sun should have been hot enough to keep any water vaporized. So it seemed clear that the dust that coalesced to create Earth was bone dry, and that water somehow arrived later.

Ice-rich comets or asteroids from farther out in the solar system could have supplied it, but that raises a further problem. Comets are richer in deuterium, a stable heavy isotope of hydrogen, than Earth's oceans. And asteroids should have brought more platinum and other rare elements than have been found. These mismatches are difficult to explain if most of Earth's water came from impacts.

Now, it seems that water may after all have been present in Earth's building blocks. Simulations by Nora de Leeuw of University College London and colleagues suggest that the dust grains from which Earth formed had such a tenacious grip on water that they could have held onto the molecules despite the high temperatures. (11/5)

CSA Chief Featured at Aerospace/Defense Forum (Source: CSA)
California Space Authority Executive Director, The Honorable Andrea Seastrand will be the guest speaker at the November 19, 2010 Aerospace & Defense Forum November meeting in Los Angeles. Ms. Seastrand will discuss the latest economic impact of California Space Enterprise, conducted by A.T. Kearney for the California Space Authority and the status and plans for CSA's major project, the California Space Center. RSVP is required to or 818-505-9915. Click here for additional information. (11/5)

California Space Authority Plans Annual Membership Event in Los Angeles on Dec. 2 (Source: CSA)
A California Space Authority (CSA) Annual Membership Reception and Dinner Meeting will be held at The Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles on December 2. Join your CSA Board of Directors and fellow CSA members for a night of networking and dinner. RSVP Required by Monday, November 22. This is a Members Only event. For information on becoming a member and to register for the meeting, please contact Elizabeth Burkhead at 805-349-2633 or (11/5)

California Space Center Attracts First Users (Source: CSA)
Two aerospace companies have reserved space at the Mission Support Center of the CA Space Center (CSC). The CSC will be built on a 71-acre site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County. The companies – SpaceX and Orbital Sciences -- have requested a total of more than 25,000 square feet for offices and a command and control center. The first phase of the Mission Support Center will include about 100,000 square feet of Class-A office space a mile from the front gate of VAFB on Highway 1. For additional information regarding this opportunity, please contact Dianna Minor at 805-349-2633, ext. 110.

Development of California Space Center Moving Forward at Vandenberg Spaceport (Source: CSA)
Proposals for the first phase of the California Space Center are due on November 12 More than 20 companies have formally expressed an interest in participating in that phase, which will focus upon site preparation and the installation of utilities. Oral interviews are scheduled for November 22 and 23. Contract award is expected the week of December 13. (11/5)

Delta Rocket Soars From California Spaceport with Italian Payload (Source:
After multiple delays, a Delta 2 rocket blasted off from the California coast on Friday, beginning a 58-minute flight to deploy the fourth craft in a quartet of Italian satellites observing Earth. Liftoff was at 7:20 p.m. PDT. (11/5)

Aviation-Focused Design Challenge Registration is Open (Source: CSA)
Registration is now open for the 2010-2011 Real World Design Challenge. The Challenge is totally free to participate in and open to teams of 3-7 high school students. It is an aviation design competition that uses real engineering tools. We have added some new tools this year, and each teacher that participates gets more than $1 million in professional engineering software. Teams get access to mentors, and state winners get an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the National Finals. Please check out our new website and sign up. (11/5)

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