December 26, 2010

European Communications Satellite Riding Proton to Orbit (Source:
A Russian Proton rocket launched Sunday with a European broadband communications satellite, the continent's first spacecraft dedicated to high-throughput Ka-band connectivity for Internet and television services. The satellite, named KA-SAT, carries 82 Ka-band spot beams to spread a staggering 70 gigabits per second of capacity across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. (12/26)

Virginia Governor Boosts Spaceport Budget (Source: Spaceports Blog)
Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell appeared before a joint meeting of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees of the soon-to-be 2011 General Assembly in Richmond with his budget priorities for next year and among them - a financial boost for the state's commercial spaceport at Wallops Island.

McDonnell pledged significant operational support to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, increasing the operation budget of the spaceport. His latest request to the 2011 General Assembly is $1,379,095 for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011, a $379,079 increase over what was approved last year.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, one of only four FAA-commercial orbital launch facilities in the nation, is expected to commence launching re-supply and cargo to the Space Station in 2011. NASA is also planning a unmanned mission from Wallops Island to the Moon in early 2013. Virginia was the first state in the nation to adopt a Commercial Space Flight Liability and Immunity statute in 2007 and the first to adopt a ZeroGravity-ZeroTax statute in 2008. (12/26)

Florida Transportation Officials Tour Spaceport (Source: Space Florida)
Representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had a familiarization tour of sites at KSC and CCAFS as part of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Master Plan Project Review. The aim of the tour was to familiarize the FDOT with the Spaceport’s Transportation Improvements Projects, to assist in their determination of 2010-2011 Project Priorities, and to define their interface with the state’s Strategic Intramodal System.

The group visited project sites listed in the Master Plan including the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Launch Complex 40, Space Florida Launch Complexes 36 & 46, Exploration Park, and the Space Life Sciences Lab. Click here for more. (12/26)

Failed Rocket Launch Threatens India Space Ambitions (Source: AFP)
The explosion of an Indian space rocket is likely to hit the country's efforts to push further into the global market for launching commercial satellites, experts warned. The accident was the second setback for India this year following the crash in April of a rocket that was meant to showcase domestically built booster technology. Experts called on the ISRO to go back to drawing board with the 1.75-billion-rupee ($39 million) GSLV before attempting to offer the rocket as a platform for international satellite launches. They also warned that India's ambitions to send its first manned space flight in 2016 were under threat. (12/26)

Global Space Launch Failures in 2010 (Source: Xinhua)
In 2010, several states encountered space launch failure accidents. However, it will not weaken the determination of human beings to explore the mysteries of the universe, and great space expeditions will continue in the future. Click here for info on recent Indian, Russian and Korean launch failures. (12/26)

Virgin Galactic Partnerships Not Tied to Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Spaceport America's anchor tenant company, Virgin Galactic, announced recently it's partnering with two other companies that have their sights set on orbital spaceflight. The other companies, Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp. and the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., have submitted competing bids to NASA for a chance at flying U.S. astronauts to space after the shuttle program retires. But don't expect orbital flights to launch from Spaceport America any time soon.

For starters, Virgin Galactic's proposed role seems limited at this point. The commercial spaceflight company has said it would market seats aboard orbital flights to its existing suborbital-flight customer base, as well as to the larger public, according to a company news release. Virgin Galactic may also have some involvement in vehicle testing for the companies' development programs. Also, potential launch locations for orbital vehicles are limited by infrastructure and regulation. That's the case with Sierra Nevada Corp.'s proposal, said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of the company's space systems division.

"It's not possible for any of the companies' orbital to fly out of New Mexico because of physics and logistics, so we all would be flying out of one of the coastal spaceports," he said. "New Mexico doesn't have a rocket port that can launch a vehicle of this size - we're flying out of an Atlas V rocket.,, We could fly to Las Cruces as an entry point and land there, if we wanted to," he said. (12/26)

The Shuttle's Last Christmas (Source: Florida Today)
‘Twas the Shuttle’s last Christmas and our spirits were low, For the program was ending and soon we’d all go. We’d processed the Shuttles with infinite care And followed each mission as if we were there. We made every effort to achieve all our goals; We offered our talents, our hearts and our souls.

Our work was much more than a meager career; ‘Twas an honor and privilege beyond all compare. As this marvel of science was applauded worldwide, We looked on each Shuttle with unfettered pride: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and then Atlantis, Endeavour all ferried brave men. Click here to read the poem. (12/26)

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