January 20, 2011

ISS Resupply From Four Corners Of Globe (Source: Space Daily)
A quick succession of international space supply trucks will arrive on the International Space Station's loading docks early in 2011, dropping off more than 11 tons (10,000 kilograms) of food, computers, medical equipment and supplies, spare parts and experiment gear - not to mention the necessities of everyday human life in orbit.

Demonstrating a multinational commitment to supporting life, work and research on the station at the start of its second decade, space trucks from Japan, Europe and Russia will launch to the station in January and February, followed quickly by the space shuttle Discovery. Click here to read the article. (1/20)

Palazzo to Chair House Space Subcommittee, Adams a Member (Source: Space Politics)
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee announced this afternoon subcommittee assignments for the committee’s Republican members. A freshman member, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), will chair the space and aeronautics subcommittee. He is one of several new Republican members with NASA centers in their districts; in Palazzo’s case, it’s NASA Stennis. Florida Rep. Sandy Adams is also on the subcommittee. Democratic members have not been announced, but should be very soon. The committee’s first meeting, an organizational meeting, is scheduled for Jan. 25. (1/20)

Air Force Launches NRO Satellite Aboard Delta 4 Heavy (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Air Force on Jan. 20 launched a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta 4 Heavy rocket. It was the first Delta 4 Heavy rocket to launch out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and the largest rocket to ever launch from the west coast of the United States, the press release said. The previous four Delta 4 Heavy launches have been conducted at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (1/20)

NASA Inventions Headed to Your Home (Source: Newsweek)
Arguments over whether now is the time for the government to spend billions on sending people into space notwithstanding, the agency’s efforts to do so have generated a host of new technologies that influence our lives every day. Without NASA we wouldn’t have Dustbusters, Ziploc bags, or memory foam mattresses. NASA’s Spinoff 2010 report, which the agency publishes annually to promote the commercial applications of its investments in technological research, highlights a number of innovations that affect our lives every day. Click here to read the article. (1/20)

U.S.-China Space Policy: What's Up? (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
Flying below the news media’s radar -- but high on the Pentagon’s list of concerns during this week’s visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao -- is China’s space program. The joint statement issued by the two governments in Washington yesterday repeated past promises to “deepen dialog and exchanges in the field of space” but conspicuously excluded any discussion of space security, which had been included in the U.S.-Chinese joint statement released after President Obama’s trip to China in November 2009.

This omission, according to Gregory Kulacki, the China Program manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), may be due to the fact the administration’s attempts to engage China on space have not been productive. According to Kulacki, Obama administration officials responsible for engaging China on space issues have privately confessed frustration and disappointment with China’s response to their efforts, which they perceive as a lack of interest. (1/20)

China to Launch 1st Mars Probe in 2013 (Source: People's Daily)
Qi Faren, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and chief designer of Shenzhou spaceships, indicated on Jan. 16 that China is expected to launch the first Mars probe in 2013. The probe, Yinghuo-1(YH-1), was due to blast off in October 2009 with Russia's "Phobos Explorer" from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, but the launch was postponed.

Qi Faren disclosed that China and Russia will launch the first Mars probe this year. By 2013, there will be a minimum distance between the Mars and the Earth, which will be a good time to launch the Mars probe. If this opportunity is missed, China will have to wait several years to launch another. Therefore, China will consider launching its first Mars probe independently. (1/20)

Ribbon Cutting Postponed for New NASA Facility at Wallops (Source: Virginian Pilot)
NASA has postponed a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Wallops Flight Facility, originally scheduled for Friday, because of expected bad weather. A new date has not been set. The ceremony was to be for the Horizontal Integration Facility, which will handle what are described as “medium-class” missions. (1/20)

Florida Group Adopts State Legislative Priorities for 2011 (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Aerospace Career & Development Council (ACDC), a Space Coast group composed of representatives from space-related businesses, government agencies, and academia, adopted a slate of policy priorities for the 2011 Florida Legislative Session. Included are eight items aimed at improving the competitiveness of the state's space industry, and mitigating the impacts of the Space Shuttle's retirement.

Legislative sponsors are already committing to sponsor bills that would: provide innovative tax credits specifically for space businesses; establishing a recurring funding stream for Space Florida and space-related economic and infrastructure development; removing a 2018 sunset provision for spaceflight liability protections; establishing an aerospace-focused tuition reimbursement tax credit; providing $4 million for Shuttle workforce retraining and assistance; and establishing an R&D tax credit.

The group's agenda (posted here) is aligned closely with the state legislative agenda being pursued by Space Florida, and the industry group organizing the state's annual "Space Day" event in Tallahassee. Editor's Note: The ACDC group also discussed a collection of federal space policy priorities for Florida that will be voted on within the next two weeks and be shared with the state's Congressional Delegation. (1/20)

Energy Group Kicks Off Economic Diversification Effort on Space Coast (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Space Coast Energy Consortium is sponsoring a Jan. 20 kickoff event and networking reception at their new headquarters facility in Cape Canaveral. The Consortium has initiated an "asset mapping" initiative to identify energy industry capabilities in Brevard County, as part of a larger effort to diversify the region's economy beyond it's current reliance on space industry programs. The consortium will establish working groups to focus on emerging elements of concern to the energy sector. Click here for information. (1/20)

NASA Borrowing From Shuttle and Ares I (Source: Aviation Week)
Engineers and managers at NASA are sure to change their new reference vehicle designs for the government’s next heavy-lift and human-spaceflight vehicles, because they’re already saying they don’t have enough money to carry them out. But key senators are insisting that they do.

“To date, trade studies performed by the agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures that would both meet all SLS requirements and these goals,” states a 22-page “preliminary” report on its plan to develop the vehicles sent to Congress. “For example, a 2016 first flight of the SLS does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out-year funding levels.”

NASA officials stress that while the designs meet congressional requirements to use existing hardware (the 15 existing SSMEs, for example), contracts and workforce as much as possible, the reference vehicles are not necessarily the final choice. Internal NASA teams are studying a kerosene-fueled alternative to the SSME, and a modular approach using three smaller-diameter stages similar to the Delta IV-Heavy configuration. In addition, 13 companies are conducting studies of technologies that might help NASA refine its heavy lifter. (1/20)

Republicans Set Down Marker on Spending: $2.5 Trillion in Cuts (Source: The Hill)
A caucus of conservative Republicans unveiled a proposal on Thursday that would trim federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the RSC will be using the plan as a “marker” in the fight over the continuing resolution that will fund the government after March 4.

The RSC’s deficit reduction plan would reduce spending for the rest of 2011 to levels set in 2008, and impose 2006 spending levels for the 10 years after that. The plan does not include adjustments for inflation. “We want to see a full $100 billion in cuts [for 2011],” Jordan said. (1/20)

Spending Cuts and Fiscal Restraint: Careful What You Wish For! (Source: Florida ARC)
Florida space advocates spent much of 2009 and 2010 trying to convince Washington to increase space-related spending in the state, to mitigate the impact of the Space Shuttle's retirement. In response, the 111th Congress passed a NASA authorization bill that includes an additional Space Shuttle mission, accelerated development of a heavy-lift rocket to replace the Shuttle, $2 billion in spaceport upgrades, and new NASA responsibilities at KSC for commercial launches and exploration technology development.

Most of these Florida-based investments, along with an overall budget increase for NASA, were part of President Obama's new post-Shuttle plan for the agency. He also requested that $40 million be provided through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for projects to diversify Central Florida's space industry. But during the campaigns of 2010, many candidates claimed the President would cut NASA's budget and end human spaceflight in the U.S., some going as far as blaming Obama for President Bush's order to end the Space Shuttle program.

What's now likely to happen is a renewed debate on NASA's future, in the context of a Republican budget-cutting "Pledge to America" that could reduce NASA's 2011 budget by nearly $2 billion. So, while the 2010 candidates talked about resurrecting NASA's Constellation moon program, or re-starting the Space Shuttle program, now that they're elected they'll have a hard time fitting anything into NASA's shrinking slice of the federal pie. Moreover, those NASA investments tailored specifically to benefit Florida are being viewed as low-hanging fruit for the budget cutters. (1/16)

Resetting U.S.-China Space Cooperation (Source: Space Politics)
In a joint statement yesterday during Hu’s visit to Washington, the issue of space again appeared, with a new offer by the US for hosting a Chinese space meeting: "The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space. The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010. The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit.

The statement this time refers to a “Chinese delegation” instead of the “appropriate Chinese counterpart” to the NASA administrator, perhaps getting around one issue Chinese space experts like Dean Cheng have observed: China has apparently never designated who the counterpart to the NASA administrator is in the Chinese space program.

Space Frontier Foundation Sponsors SpaceUp San Diego on Feb. 12-13 (Source: SFF)
SpaceUp has proven to be a unique and successful format for spreading new ideas on space exploration, outreach, and education. The Space Frontier Foundation is excited to once again sponsor this unConference and highly recommends our supporters take part. At SpaceUp San Diego, all attendees will have an opportunity to present their views on space industry, as well as decide on the schedule, topics, and structure of all events. It will take place Feb. 12-13, 2011 at The Loft at UC San Diego. Space is limited so register online now at spaceup.org/sandiego/register. (1/20)

MSCI Announces "Commstellation" Global Satellite System (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Microsat Systems Canada Inc. (MSCI), Canada's designer and builder of the Multi Mission Microsatellite Bus (MMMB) and Commercial Microsatellite Bus (CMB), is pleased to announce the development of "COMMStellation", a polar communications constellation comprised of 78 microsatellites that will orbit the Earth at 1,000 km, providing backhaul capacity while connecting remote regions of the Earth to the Internet. (1/20)

NASA Sets Extra Space Shuttle Mission for June 28 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Space Shuttle Program baselined the STS-135 mission for a target launch date of June 28. It is NASA’s intent to fly the mission with orbiter Atlantis carrying the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. The mission also will fly a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and return a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems. (1/20)

Bolden: Report to Congress on Heavy-Lift was 'Interim' and Will Change (Source: Space Politics)
“The interim report that we turned in Jan. 10," according to Charles Bolden, "was in fact an interim, and it did not say we could not” build an HLV on the schedule and budget laid out in the NASA authorization act. “We are a can-do agency so we did not say we could not do what [Congress] told us to do in the authorization act.” He said that the reference vehicle designs in that report will be the ones NASA will develop “if we can find a way to make it happen”; otherwise, “we will come back with alternatives that we will have developed through coordination with industry and the Congress.” (1/20)

Test of Army CubeSat Shows the Small Orbiter Can Help Soldiers (Source: Huntsville Times)
Less than two hours after its launch at Cape Canaveral last month, a team of young Space and Missile Defense Command engineers was in contact with the Army's first satellite in more than 50 years. They hadn't expected to "talk" with SMDC-ONE for a few days as it settled into orbit. But their pre-launch preparations were precise and they were working with the breadbox-sized satellite on its first pass over their lab on Redstone Arsenal. (1/20)

Nelson: Where Obama Went Wrong in Florida (Source: Herald Tribune)
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is clearly looking for some separation from President Barack Obama. Nelson, a Democrat facing re-election in 2012, listed key spots Obama or his Administration have gone wrong with Florida, including NASA. Nelson said Obama made the mistake of rolling out a budget in 2009 that failed to explain how the President would handle NASA.

Worse, it included “disastrous” language that made it appear the administration was going to cancel the manned-space program without little explanation. That sent shockwaves of fear throughout the state, Nelson said. They should have said they were going to restructure the manned space program as was their intention, Nelson said. In spite of those mistakes, Nelson said he expects the president to do better in Florida as the economy rebounds. (1/20)

Obama Administration to Release New Space Security Strategy (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
The Obama administration is expected to release its National Security Space Strategy sometime in the next few weeks. The document will spell out how the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will carry out the president’s National Space Policy, which the administration issued last June. The U.S. government has a keen interest in maintaining satellite safety and security, protecting the space environment, and ensuring that insecurity in space does not threaten security on the ground.

Experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) expect the space strategy document to consider security primarily from a military perspective. It is unlikely that it will address broader ways to approach space security and sustainability issues. For example, the document is unlikely to recommend that the United States take the lead on space diplomacy, she said. Diplomatic engagement could help relieve suspicions among countries, reduce incentives for building anti-satellite systems and other space weapons by establishing negotiated limits, and avert space disputes. (1/20)

India Allocates Rs. 9 Crore for Research on Manned Mission (Source: The Hindu)
The Indian Space Research Organization has allocated Rs. 9.8 crore to Institute of Aerospace Medicine for upgrading its laboratories to conduct research for its manned mission into space. “The Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine is working in collaboration with ISRO to develop a spacecraft to carry man to space... ISRO has given us Rs. 9.8 crore to upgrade our laboratories for conducting the research,” an official said. (1/20)

Project Daedalus: A Plan for an Interstellar Mission (Source: Discovery)
Project Daedalus was a feasibility study for an interstellar mission, using 1970s capabilities and credible extrapolations for near-future technology. One of the major objectives was to establish whether interstellar flight could be realized within established science and technology. The conclusion was that it was possible, but that it would be very difficult.

The potential of fission/fusion power as a propulsion mechanism that would allow for interstellar flight has been recognized since the first half of the 20th century. The idea was initially proposed by Stanislaw Ulam at Los Alamos in 1947, and then in 1958 Ted Taylor initiated Project Orion.

UA Finalist for NASA Grant (Source: AZ Daily Wildcat)
The team behind an asteroid sample space probe is preparing for what they hope will be the initiation of a decade of research for the UA. OSIRIS-REx — or Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — is a space probe that would be slated to collect a minimum of two ounces of pure asteroid to study at the UA, a year into the project and backed by $3.3 million in NASA funding. (1/20)

Beaming Rockets into Space (Source: Astrobiology)
Space launches have evoked the same image for decades: bright orange flames exploding beneath a rocket as it lifts, hovers and takes off into the sky. But an alternative propulsion system proposed by some researchers could change that vision. Instead of explosive chemical reactions on-board a rocket, the new concept, called beamed thermal propulsion, involves propelling a rocket by shining laser light or microwaves at it from the ground.

The technology would make possible a reusable single-stage rocket that has two to five times more payload space than conventional rockets, which would cut the cost of sending payloads into low-Earth orbit. NASA is now conducting a study to examine the possibility of using beamed energy propulsion for space launches. The study is expected to conclude by March 2011. Click here for information. (1/20)

Europe, China at Impasse on Satellite Navigation (Source: Space News)
Negotiations to resolve signal overlaps between European and Chinese satellite navigation systems have made no progress despite more than two years of effort and the issue now poses “a major problem for the security of the EU,” the European Commission says. “[A] solution will not be found without political support” from top European authorities and from the European Parliament, according to the commission. (1/20)

Galileo Assessment Pulls no Punches (Source: Space News)
The European Commission, after months of tiptoeing around the issue, has informed its 27 member governments that the Galileo satellite navigation system will not reach full service until 2020 at the earliest and will be much more costly to field than previously disclosed.

Once deployed, the Galileo network will be unable to generate more than a token amount of revenue and will be more expensive to operate than forecast, even without considering the cost of replacing aging satellites with new ones, the commission said in a report sent to its member governments and to the European Parliament. (1/20)

Astrium Hired to Help German Troops Phone Home (Source: Space News)
Astrium Services has signed a multimillion-euro contract to provide deployed German troops with telephone and Internet access over four years. The contract with the German Bundeswehr, which will take effect July 1 following a six-month implementation phase, includes services to German troops in both current and future deployments. The Bundeswehr intends to offer 30 minutes of free communications per week to each deployed solider. (1/20)

Zenit Rocket Launches Weather Satellite from Kazakhstan (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
A Zenit rocket lifted off Thursday from Kazakhstan with a Russian weather satellite to snap real-time images of clouds and storm systems. The Ukrainian Zenit 3F booster blasted off from pad 45 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was the first space launch anywhere in the world in 2011. (1/20)

ULA Seeks Discount from Port Authority (Source: Decatur Daily)
United Launch Alliance is considering making Decatur the permanent home of its Delta Mariner, and it wants a discount to do so. The Decatur-Morgan County Port Authority considered the request at a meeting earlier this week. ULA uses the Mariner to transport rockets to Florida for launch.

The previous contract required ULA to pay $2,000 each time it docked the Mariner, plus $200 per day while it was in port. Port Authority President Jeremy Nails told the board that ULA projects its current contract would require it to pay $56,000 a year if Decatur becomes its home port. The company, he said, wants a 20 percent reduction and a flat-rate contract, so it would pay the Port Authority $44,800 per year. (1/20)

You Can Book a Trip on Virgin Galactic via Kayak.com (Source: Mashable)
By entering the airport code for Spaceport America into the “From” field on Kayak.com, and 50m (the number of miles at which the thermosphere starts) into the “To” field, you can uncover flights into space. Let me explain this to you clearly, since I know you’re dying to fork over $200,000 and get anti-gravitational: 1). Enter “90n” (the Spaceport America airport code) into “From,” 2). Enter “50m” into “To,” 3). Make your departure and arrival days the same, 4). Choose “first” class (naturally), 5). Hit “Search.” Viola! You’re ready to book! (Granted, you are just booking for now — space trips have yet to begin.) (1/20)

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