January 11, 2011

45th Space Wing Commander Briefs Industry Leaders on Eastern Range Improvements (Source: SPACErePORT)
Brigadier General Ed Wilson, commander of the 45th Space Wing, provided an update on the Air Force's continuing efforts to maintain and improve its level of support to military, NASA and commercial space programs at the Eastern Range, Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Patrick Air Force Base.

He said that although the Wing is accustomed to supporting big government programs, it has seen much success in becoming more responsive to new, smaller programs, including support to companies like SpaceX, Masten Space Systems, and new non-space missions for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles flying from the spaceport. He said the Eastern Range currently has a manifest of 13 missions for 2011.

He announced progress on new contract solicitations for modernizing and operating the Eastern Range, and the development of federal legislation to help the Air Force (and other agencies) become more responsive to the needs of the commercial launch industry. These efforts will likely be boosted by the promotion of General Susan Helms to assume leadership of the 14th Air Force. She formerly commanded the 45th Space Wing and understands the challenges faced by commercial launchers seeking to operate from the Eastern Range and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (1/11)

Space Club Selects Florida Military Space Honoree (Source: SPACErePORT)
The National Space Club, Florida Committee, honored Captain Frank Brooks of Hurlburt Field in Northwest Florida as its sixth annual Defense Space Award recipient. Capt. Brooks is the chief of space training for a Space Specialty Team at the 623rd Air & Space Operations Center. He's responsible for training Air Force Special Operations officers to use space-based assets. His name will be added to a National Space Club kiosk in the state capitol building in Tallahassee. (1/11)

Wing Commander Predicts Pick-Up In Commercial Launches (Source: Florida Today)
The nation's primary gateway to space faces difficult times as NASA's shuttle program winds down, but the commercial space sector is expected to pick up over the next several years, the commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing said. "We've got a tremendous amount of launch business coming our way next year and the year after that and on into the future," Air Force Brig. Gen. Burke "Ed" Wilson told about 300 people at a National Space Club Florida Committee luncheon in Cape Canaveral. "We only see it growing in the future." (1/11)

Buzz Aldrin at San Diego Air & Space Museum for Book Signing and Opening of New SPACE Exhibit (Source: SDASM)
On Feb. 1 at 1:00p.m., San Diego Air & Space Museum visitors can meet Buzz Aldrin who, together with Neil Armstrong, became the first person to land on the moon on the Apollo 11 lunar mission. Visitors can purchase a copy of his recent memoir Magnificent Desolation and have it personally signed by him. Also, copies of his children's books Look to the Stars and Reaching for the Moon, are available for purchase and autographs.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California's official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and it was the first aerothemed Museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Visit www.sandiegoairandspace.org for more information. (1/11)

Planck Telescope Probes 'Cosmic Treasure Trove' (Source: AFP)
Astronomers exulted on Tuesday at the first results from Europe's billion-dollar Planck space telescope, designed to probe the microwave secrets of the "Big Bang" 14 billion years ago. Launched in May 2009, Planck has carried out three complete scans of the Universe, yielding a catalogue of 15,000 new celestial objects, including 30 galaxy clusters. The data is a "treasure trove" that will be exploited for years to come, said Jan Tauber, a project scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA). (1/11)

NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress (Source: Space News)
NASA told U.S. lawmakers Jan. 10 it intends to build a heavy-lift rocket that incorporates the space shuttle’s main engines, giant external tank and taller versions of the solid-rocket boosters it jettisons on the way to orbit, according to a senior NASA official. However, neither the rocket nor the crew vehicle it would launch could be completed within the cost and schedule Congress outlined for the project late last year.

Congress directed NASA last fall to get started this year on a multipurpose crew exploration vehicle and a heavy-lift rocket initially capable of hauling 70-100 metric tons of payload to orbit. That guidance was included in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law in October. The law gave NASA 90 days from enactment to produce a heavy-lift launch vehicle study. Click here. (1/11)

STS-133 Now Scheduled for February 24 (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA officials announced that the new launch date for STS-133 (Discovery) is February 24. They also said that the launch date for STS-134 (Endeavour) may slip to April 18, and they are "chatting" about a late August date for the final shuttle mission, STS-135. (1/11)

Delta 4-Heavy to Usher in 2011 at Vandenberg (Source: Lompoc Record)
The West Coast’s eagerly awaited debut of the behemoth Delta 4-Heavy rocket is set to kick off the 2011 launch year at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Targeting a blastoff next week, perhaps as early as Jan. 20, the Delta 4-Heavy, built by United Launch Alliance, will fly from Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base. “This launch will be the culmination of a multiyear effort to not only prepare this rocket and satellite for launch but also to modify and upgrade SLC-6 ...,” said ULA spokesman Mike Rein. (1/11)

Pentagon's Proposed Cuts Caught Many Lawmakers Off Guard (Source: AIA)
Lawmakers say they had no warning of the nature of the sweeping defense cuts proposed by Pentagon officials last Thursday. Among proposed cuts that did not go over well with some lawmakers were the proposed $78 billion in cuts to the Pentagon's five-year spending plan, and the proposed termination of a major weapons program, the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. (1/11)

Revolutionary New Drones Tested in California (Source: AIA)
Three revolutionary drones being tested at California's Edwards Air Force Base in coming weeks are seen as substantial advances over the Predator and Reaper drones that the Obama administration has deployed as central to the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. The planes include the Global Observer, built by AeroVironment Inc., which has a wingspan nearly the size of a Boeing 747, the bat-winged X-47B, built by Northrop Grumman and capable of carrying laser-guided bombs, and Boeing's Phantom Ray drone. (1/11)

Giffords Shooting Clouds Space Shuttle Plans (Source: Information Week)
In addition to being a national tragedy, the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several other individuals in Arizona also threatens to complicate NASA's plans for what could be the final flight of the 30-year-old space shuttle program. Representative Gabrielle Giffords is the wife of astronaut Mark Kelly. Kelly is scheduled to be the flight commander aboard the shuttle Endeavour when it makes the last, currently scheduled shuttle flight this spring.

NASA has said it may operate one additional flight before ending the program, but that remains uncertain. With Giffords lying in an Arizona hospital with a critical head wound, and facing months, if not years, of rehabilitation if she pulls through—an outcome doctors see as increasingly likely—there's a chance Kelly will step down from the mission to remain at his wife's side. (1/11)

The Mission of a Lifetime (Source: Washington Post)
In May 2008, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was anxious. It was the eve of her husband Mark Kelly's third outer-space mission, but the first shuttle launch of their marriage. "There was definitely angst, there was obvious worry," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a close friend of the couple who attended the pre-launch party and stayed in contact with Giffords throughout Kelly's orbit. "There have been two shuttles that have not come back."

Now, days after a gunman shot Giffords in the head and wounded 19 others, six of them fatally, it is Kelly who sits by her bedside, waiting for his wife to come back to him. "He is very strong," said Wasserman Schultz, who spoke with the astronaut on Monday afternoon. "He is using all the strength that he has for her. He is using all his optimism to propel her towards recovery." (1/11)

Russia Allocates $3.8 Billion for Space Programs in 2011 (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said his government will spend 115 billion rubles ($3.8 bln) on national space programs in 2011. Russia celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight, by Yury Gagarin, this year. The prime minister said that in 2011 Russia planned to launch about 50 spacecraft and adopt a federal program for the development of the Glonass satellite navigation system until 2020. (1/11)

Russia Has Ambitious Space Exploration Plans for 2011 (Source: Itar-Tass)
2011 has been proclaimed in Russia to be the "Year of Space" by decree of President Dmitry Medvedev, because of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight. A meeting of the organizing committee for celebrations on the occasion was held in the Mission Control Center on Tuesday. The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who heads the organizing committee, discusssed the fulfilment of the plan of the central events of the celebrations.

The launching of the manned spaceship Sojuz TMA-21 with the next space mission for the International Space Station (ISS) on board will be the first important event in a series of celebration events. According to Anatoly Perminov, President of the Federal space Agency (Roscosmos), the spaceship will have the name of Gagarin on its hull. Click here to read the article. (1/11)

Sex on Mars? Something to Think About (Source: Daily Press)
Will the first spaceship ferrying astronauts to Mars be sponsored by Google? Will the journey be a one-way trip? If so, is it possible to conceive a healthy child in deep space? These questions and more are examined in a 974-page book, "The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet," first published in the online Journal of Cosmology. Jointly written by astronauts, scientists, engineers and doctors, the book is a "blueprint for the human exploration of Mars," said Joel Levine, a NASA Langley Research Center scientist who helped write and edit the publication. (1/11)

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