December 30, 2010

Space Florida Wins Air Force Spaceport Services Contract (Source: DOD)
Space Florida has been awarded a $48 million contract which will provide spaceport services for the Space Launch Division within the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center/Space Development and Test Directorate. At this time, no funds have been obligated. Editor's Note: This is the same "Spaceports-3" contract that other spaceport authorities in Virginia, California and Alaska have been awarded to support Air Force Minotaur missions. Space Florida can now compete against these other spaceport authorities for such missions, using Launch Complex 46 at the tip of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (12/30)

Adams Pledges Support for NASA Human Spaceflight (Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal)
Sandy Adams of Orlando was elected in November to represent U.S. House District 24... "I will work to educate my colleagues about the importance of restoring human space flight as the mission of NASA -- not as an afterthought or something that would be "nice" to do, but as the core mission of the agency. It's not just a national security issue for me, but also a jobs issue, as thousands of our friends and neighbors have helped to make the United States pre-eminent in space exploration and human space flight. We cannot and should not be forced to rely on the Russians and Chinese to get our astronauts into space." (12/29)

Sen. Shelby’s Pork Lust Forces NASA To Spend $500M On Canceled Rocket Program (Source: Think Progress)
Thanks to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), taxpayers are footing a $500 million bill for a NASA rocket that the agency has no plans or desire to continue developing. Pork legislation inserted into a spending bill by Shelby earlier this year is requiring NASA to spend millions on the canceled Ares-1 rocket program through March, even while the agency can’t find funds to begin a much-needed modernization of the famed Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida:

At the root of the problem is a 70-word sentence inserted into the 2010 budget — by lawmakers seeking to protect Ares I jobs in their home states — that bars NASA from shutting down the program until Congress passed a new budget a year later. [...] But Congress never passed a 2011 budget and instead voted this month to extend the 2010 budget until March — so NASA still must abide by the 2010 language.[...]

The language that keeps Constellation going was inserted into the 2010 budget last year by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who sought to protect the program and Ares jobs at Marshall Space Flight Center in his home state. His office confirmed that the language was still in effect but did not respond to e-mails seeking details. (12/30)

Discovery's Launch Still 'Go' for Feb. 3 Despite New Cracks (Source: CFNews-13)
Small cracks were found on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank Thursday during X-ray tests. But mission managers said the cracks should not delay the Feb. 3 launch. The cracks, a couple inches long, were detected on the tops of three stringers on panel 6, which is on the opposite side of the tank from Discovery. The cracks will be repaired using the same method as the others. (12/30)

Buzz Aldrin Sues Over Image on Moonwalk Trading Card (Source:
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man ever to walk on the moon, is suing the trading card giant Topps for using a photo of him taken on his historic moonwalk as part of a recent series of collectible cards, according to news reports. After being unable to negotiate a licensing fee for the image, the 80-year old Aldrin filed a lawsuit against Topps in a Los Angeles federal court on Dec. 27, "contending that the trading card company had unjustly profited from his historic achievement. (12/30)

11 Things Americans Will Be Doing in Space in 2011 (Source:
From private spaceflights to NASA missions to the moon, Mars and beyond, the next year promises to be a busy one for Americans in space. Here's a preview of just some of the coming attractions for U.S. spaceflight in 2011. Click here. (12/30)

NASA Accepts Proposals for Space Lab Control (Source: Galveston Daily News)
The International Space Station has nearly reached its full operating capacity more than 10 years since assembly of the orbiting laboratory began. Gearing for the next phase of the station’s purpose, NASA is seeking a nonprofit research management organization to develop and oversee the U.S. part of the lab. NASA’s 2010 Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama on Oct. 11, extends station operations to at least 2020. (12/30)

Editorial: Spotlight on Station (Source: Florida Today)
Could 2011 be the year of the International Space Station? Proponents are saying yes as the shuttle program ends and the $100¤billion outpost becomes the focal point for the human exploration of space for the next decade.
The Space Coast has a great deal at stake because plans for a resurgent launch industry at Cape Canaveral are joined at the hip to private rockets flying cargo and crews to the station.

That, plus the prospect of ground facilities here serving as a hub for preparing experiments headed to the outpost, make it critical the station receive the funding required in coming years to fulfill its mission. A mission that has survived a torturous, quarter-century road that includes several redesigns, a near-death experience in Congress and delays in completion caused by the shuttle Columbia disaster.

The station has been attacked from the start as a boondoggle that could never meet its lofty goal as a platform for groundbreaking scientific research that could lead to wonder drugs and super-smart computers. Now it has a chance to prove critics wrong, which it has the potential to do. Click here to read the editorial. (12/30)

Editorial: New Governor Should Retain NM Spaceport Leadership (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Every time a new governor is elected, it means a certain amount of upheaval in state government. Susana Martinez has earned the right to select her own team to head the many state agencies and departments. And, given that the Republican governor-elect has a very different perspective than her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson, it should come as no surprise that she is cleaning house in Santa Fe and replacing Richardson appointees with those more in line with her views.

But, we believe there is one Richardson appointee who should be retained - at least for the immediate future. Spaceport Authority Director Rick Homans has overseen the steady progress at the facility this past year. With the spaceport on schedule to open in 2011, this would be a poor time to change leadership. (12/30)

NASA's Continued Funding Uncertainty (Source: Huntsville Times)
As 2010 ends, NASA Headquarters in Washington says it is stuck in a "holding pattern" between its old space program, known as Constellation, and its new mission of building a heavy-lift rocket for deep space exploration. In part, NASA Headquarters blames U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, with whom the White House fought all year over space policy. But Shelby's office says that there is no reason NASA can't move forward.

"NASA is just making excuses and continuing to drag its feet, just as it has done for the past two years under the Obama administration," Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo said Wednesday. Looming even larger in NASA's future is the pending arrival in Washington of a new Congress with a Republican-led House of Representatives committed to cut federal spending. Will the new Congress take a scalpel to NASA's budget? No one knows. Will NASA make any substantial progress before the new Congress acts? No one expects it. (12/30)

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