January 4, 2011

Turkey Pushed for Its Own Astronaut on Space Shuttle (Source: Space.com)
In exchange for buying Boeing jets, Turkey wanted a Turkish astronaut to fly on a NASA space shuttle, according to a classified U.S. State Department message recently released by the organization WikiLeaks. The leaked cable was written in January 2010 by James Jeffrey while he was U.S. ambassador to Turkey. Jeffrey (now ambassador to Iraq) was apparently urging Turkish Airlines, which is partly owned by the Turkish government, to purchase planes from Boeing rather than its European competitor Airbus.

Turkish Minister of Transportation Binali Yildirim told Jeffrey that while price was the main consideration, Turkey could be swayed by perks, including help getting the budding Turkish space program off the ground – a request that had previously been made by Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, to President Obama. "Yildirim hinted obliquely that Turkey's desire to send an astronaut into space -- expressed in a letter from President Gul to President Obama -- is also tied into its consideration of commercial deals.

The Turkish minister also requested help from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in strengthening Turkey's aviation infrastructure, and said that heightened cooperation between the FAA and Turkey could also help sweeten the deal. He added, however, "While there should not be a link between this deal and FAA/NASA assistance in developing Turkey's aviation and aerospace agencies, such assistance in and of itself could be mutually beneficial and merits further study." (1/4)

Lighting Firm Exec Dies in Cycling Accident (Sources: Florida Today, SPACErePORT)
A Space Coast company working to develop LED lighting for the International Space Station (among many other LED products) is mourning the accidental death of chairman, president and CEO Zachary Gibler, 46, in a cycling incident. Lighting Science Group Corp. of Satellite Beach has reorganized to fill the void of the executive it called "a guiding force."

Gibler was among the business leaders who met with President Obama during his visit to Kennedy Space Center last year. They discussed Lighting Science Group's work with NASA to develop cutting-edge lighting technologies for use in space. (1/4)

Russia To Develop New Heavy ICBM By 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia's state arms procurement program through 2020 provides for the development of a new heavy ballistic missile. The final decision should be made in 2012-13 by the expert community, not solely the Defense Ministry, said Yury Solomonov of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT), the developer of the troubled Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. "This matter is beyond the Defense Ministry's competence. It is a matter of state importance," he said. (1/4)

Martinez to Audit New Mexico Spaceport Spending (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, was one of Spaceport America's biggest supporters, spearheading the project early on and heavily backing it throughout his eight-year tenure. His successor, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, spent much of her 2009 campaign taking aim at Richardson and his initiatives. Does that mean Martinez, a Dona Ana County resident who took office Saturday, is a spaceport opponent?

"The citizens of Dona Ana County and Sierra County have spoken. They're the ones who voted on whether or not they wanted to have their tax dollars spent on spaceport," Martinez said during an interview Thursday before her sendoff gala. "We're going to respect that." But Martinez said she wants to "make sure that the spending is in the best way."

Martinez said her transition team had requested information, such as a contract between Spaceport America and anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, from the Richardson administration and, as of Thursday, hadn't received it. She said she wants to audit that contract and spending on the $200 million construction project. (1/4)

New Mexico Governor Could Change Spaceport Board and Executive Positions (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Questions remain about whether Gov. Martinez will keep Homans and the current members of the spaceport board of directors. At least some of those questions may be answered Wednesday during an emergency meeting of the spaceport board, called last week by outgoing Chairman Ben Woods. A single item - a closed session to discuss personnel matters - is on the agenda.

Some spaceport board members on Monday expressed support for Executive Director Rick Homans and pointed out that the hiring and firing of the executive director is the prerogative of the spaceport board, not the governor directly. But board member Toots Green, an Alamogordo Republican, said that Martinez could "ask for everybody's resignation and then re-appoint" the board.

Editor's Note: Meanwhile in Florida, Governor Rick Scott is required to appoint an entirely new board of directors for Space Florida, which has been operating for several months without board oversight. (1/4)

Floridians to Serve on Key House Committees (Source: SPACErePORT)
Sandy Adams and Daniel Webster will serve on the Science & Technology Committee. John Mica and Daniel Webster will serve on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Bill Young, Ander Crenshaw and Mario Diaz-Balart will serve on the Appropriations Committee. Jeff Miller, Tom Rooney and Allen West will serve on the Armed Services Committee. Cliff Stearns will serve on the Energy & Commerce Committee. Bill Posey will serve on the Financial Services Committee. Sandy Adams will serve on the Judiciary Committee. John Mica will serve on the Oversight & Govt. Reform Committee. (1/4)

Arianespace Needs Aid To Avoid Loss in 2010 (Source: Space News)
Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch consortium on Jan. 4 said revenue for 2010 dropped by about 10 percent compared to 2009 and that the company will report a loss unless it receives requested financial aid from European governments. The Evry, France-based company conducted six launches of its heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket in 2010, down from seven in 2009, and this is the main reason for the revenue drop, to slightly more than 900 million euros ($1.2 billion), in 2010. (1/4)

Arianespace Family Takes Shape in 2011 (Source: Arianespace)
Arianespace will meet new challenges in 2011, as the complete European family of launch vehicles enters service. No less than six Ariane 5 launches are scheduled, including for the ATV 2, “Johannes Kepler”, on Feb. 15. Arianespace will begin operating the Soyuz launch complex in April, and plans to carry out at least two Soyuz launches during the year from the Guiana spaceport. At the same time, Arianespace has planned three Soyuz launches from Kazakhstan.

Arianespace and ESA have also signed the production contract for the first operational launch of the Vega light launcher, while Arianespace and ELV have signed the VERTA framework contract concerning the supply of five Vega launchers following the qualification flight. Arianespace will take over responsibility for Vega launch facilities at the end of June, then carry out the first Vega launch during the second half of the year. Arianespace plans a total of 12 launches in 2011. (1/4)

Viking Found Organics on Mars, Experiment Confirms (Source: Discovery)
More than 30 years after NASA's Viking landers found no evidence for organic materials on Mars, scientists say a new experiment on Mars-like soil shows Viking did, in fact, hit pay dirt. The new study was prompted by the August 2008 discovery of powerful oxygen-busting compounds known as perchlorates at the landing site of another Mars probe called Phoenix.

Scientists repeated a key Viking experiment using perchlorate-enhanced soil from Chile's Atacama Desert, which is considered one of the driest and most Mars-like places on Earth, and found telltale fingerprints of combusted organics -- the same chemicals Viking scientists dismissed as contaminants from Earth. (1/4)

Space Shirts: Local Company Looks to the Future (Source: Aviation Week)
With the changes that are coming to businesses around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) some local companies are branching out, while remaining true to their roots. Although not well known outside of the Cape Canaveral area, Space Shirts is where many space insiders and aerospace companies go when they need a specially-made t-shirt or polo.

However, the privately-owned company located just outside the gates of KSC produces more than just shirts and is looking to expand the products it produces as the shuttle era draws to a close. “We’ve seen things slow down in the past with tragedies and in-between programs,” Brenda Mulberry said. “For about two years after the end of the shuttle program – we will be extremely busy, just moving out space shirts. After that we will expand what we produce to include products revolving around airplanes and educational efforts.” (12/30)

Allard Commission: National Space Council Needed (Source: Space Policy Online)
The recommendations of the congressionally-mandated "Allard Commission," including the need to reestablish the National Space Council, are still valid two years after they were issued. Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor of National Security Studies at the Naval War College, draws that conclusion in an article for the Joint Force Quarterly's latest issue.

The commission, named after former Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) who wrote the legislative language that created it in the FY2007 DOD authorization act, completed its report in 2008. The commission was set up to make an independent assessment of the organization and management of national security space programs. The commission made four recommendations:

A) establish and execute a national space strategy and reestablish a National Space Council chaired by the National Security Advisor; B) create a senior National Security Space Authority; C) establish a National Security Space Organization to consolidate the space functions within the Air Force and NRO; and D) adopt and implement strategies for developing and managing a core group of government professionals to support the nation's space acquisition responsibilities. (1/4)

Moon and Space Station Partially Eclipse Sun (Source: Discover)
Europe, Asia, and Africa got to see a nice partial solar eclipse as the Moon passed in front of the Sun, blocking as much as 85% of the solar surface. Thierry Legault traveled from his native France to the Sultanate of Oman to take pictures of the eclipse. Why there, of all places? He traveled so far because due to the geometry of the ISS orbit, it was from there that he had the best chance of getting a picture of the station as it too passed in front of the Sun during the relatively brief duration of the actual solar eclipse. Click here to see the photo and article. And here's a shot of an ISS lunar partial eclipse. (1/4)

Florida Space Coast Chapter of the National Space Society Elects New Officers (Source: SPACErePORT)
Laura Seward and Robert Driscole will serve as the new president and vice president, respectively, of the Florida Space Coast Chapter of the National Space Society. Click here to visit the chapter's website and for information on how to join. (1/4)

Budget Cuts Top Priority as 112th Congress Convenes (Source: Space Policy Online)
As the House and Senate swear in new members, the House will come under Republican control with John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. The Senate remains in Democratic hands with Harry Reid (D-NV) continuing as Majority Leader. Both parties know that reining in the federal deficit is one of the country's top priorities, but the road to agreement on how to do that is expected to be quite rocky.

While most politicians will privately admit that the only way to reduce the deficit significantly is to cut spending on "mandatory" programs - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - those are difficult to cut politically because they affect so many voters. Instead, they are expected to aim first at "discretionary" programs, which include NASA, NOAA, DOD and most of the federal agencies with which people are familiar. (1/4)

What Deficit? (Source: Buffalo News)
Is it too much to ask? Can our elected representatives in Washington make even a game attempt to avoid obscene wastes of taxpayer money? The latest outrage centers on NASA being forced to continue its defunct Ares I rocket program, at least until March. The extension squanders nearly $500 million, according to one estimate. But in Washington, it's only money.

Development of the Ares I, a would-be element of NASA's once-vaunted Constellation program, will continue for at least a couple of more months, even though a blue-ribbon panel of space scientists, engineers and astronauts determined in October 2009 that Constellation could not deliver on its promise of sending astronauts back to the moon. The panel also deemed the Ares I rocket a particularly wasteful element.

But Ares I development contracts are scattered around a few states and congressional districts, so Congress got all jittery about ending development outright, even before the blue-ribbon panel presented its report to the White House. To protect jobs at the Marshall Space Flight Center in his home state of Alabama, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby inserted a 70-word sentence into the federal budget adopted in 2009 for fiscal 2010. The sentence barred NASA from shutting down Ares I until Congress passed a new budget a year later. (1/4)

Embry-Riddle Students and Faculty Support AIAA Aerospace Event (Source: SPACErePORT)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is well represented at this week's AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando. Embry-Riddle students and faculty are supporting one undergraduate paper, four graduate/faculty research papers, and one panel chairmanship (on ramjet/scramjet engine technology). Visit http://bit.ly/fcDaui for event information. (1/4)

New Treaty + New Rockets = New Business for Florida (Source: Space Florida)
The New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty bodes well for increasing the potential number of launches from Florida. The previous version of the START treaty (1991) contained a provision limiting the number of places where each nation could launch space boosters converted from decommissioned Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Any space launch vehicle using an ICBM or Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) was subject to START restrictions.

Under the old treaty, each nation was allowed only five designated “space launch facilities” as places where START-accountable ICBMs or SLBMs could be used as suborbital sounding rockets or orbital boosters. The U.S. had declared four of its five sites: Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia; Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska; and the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the mid-Pacific. The fifth U.S. site had not been officially declared, but there was a move afoot to designate White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico.

The treaty’s five-site constraint and the apparent plan to designate WSMR as the last U.S. space launch facility threatened to restrict Space Florida’s use of Launch Complex 46 at the Cape. Our plans to utilize LC-46 for launching solid-propellant space boosters include those derived from surplus ICBM assets. These boosters include Minotaur and Taurus I (which employ motors from decommissioned Peacekeeper and Minuteman ICBMs, respectively), among other rockets. Click here to read the article. (1/3)

Cables Point to German-French Battle Over Satellite Technology (Source: CNN)
Normally Germany and France are close partners at the heart of Europe -- but U.S. diplomatic cables suggest a battle royal between the two allies over satellite technology, with the German space and intelligence agencies accusing the French of bad faith and looking to the United States as a future partner to develop next-generation satellites.

At the heart of the rivalry is HiRos -- a High Resolution Optical System -- that would potentially be a leap forward in satellite surveillance. A flurry of cables obtained and released by WikiLeaks shows German officials lobbying for a "strategic US/German partnership" in 2009 to develop the system, amid French attempts to kill it. (1/3)

India to Launch Singapore's First Satellite in February (Source: Deccan Herald)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is expected to launch Singapore's first satellite in orbit next month. The launch of the satellite, dubbed X-Sat, has been delayed since 2007. Experts estimated that the delay has raised the cost of satellite four-fold to more than 40 million Singaporean dollar from earlier estimates of 10 million, according to a report in The Straits Times today. (1/4)

Hernandez considering Space Station Mission (Source: Recordnet)
For Stockton astronaut Jose Hernandez, 2009 was the year of space travel, 2010 the year of working with Congress, and 2011 has the makings of a year of big decisions. These days, he reflects on the work that followed his space mission - a job in Washington - and on a decision whether to stretch his dream by signing on for an extended stay aboard the International Space Station.

Hernandez, born in French Camp to migrant farm worker parents, is the first person from San Joaquin County to go into space, and his journey from English learner to astronaut inspired many to dream big and seek educational opportunities to pursue such dreams. But coming back to Earth has been equally challenging for the Franklin High School and University of the Pacific graduate.

Now that his desk assignment is complete, Hernandez is faced with choosing whether to make another space trip: a six-month mission to the International Space Station. It would require him first to train at a foreign space agency for 21/2 years. "It's a pretty demanding job," Hernandez said, and one that would require greater sacrifices from his wife, Adela, and their five children. It would mean he would be away from them for three years. (1/4)

Discovery's Tank to Get Reinforcement Before Flight (Source: Florida Today)
Shuttle program managers today gave the go-ahead to proceed with some modifications to Discovery's external tank in preparation for a flight still targeted for early February. Technicians plan to reinforce 34 of the 108 structural support beams called "stringers" on the tank' mid-section, a handful of which were found to have cracked. The stringers being reinforced are located on two panels where solid rocket boosters connect to the intertank and are the ones subjected to the most stress during flight. (1/4)

Weird Asteroid Really a Crusty Old Comet? (Source: National Geographic)
A large asteroid known for more than a century appears to actually be a comet in disguise, astronomers say. Most asteroids are chunks of metallic rock that have virtually no atmospheres. Tens of thousands of asteroids circle the sun inside what's known as the main asteroid belt, a doughnut-like ring that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

By contrast, most comets are loose clumps of dirt and ice thought to originate in the Kuiper belt, far beyond the orbit of Neptune. When a comet's oval-shaped orbit brings it close to the sun, its ices vaporize and the comet develops its signature halo of gases and dust. On December 11 astronomer Steven Larson of the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona spotted what appeared to be a faint comet not currently in any comet databases.

Larson later realized the cometlike body is traveling along the same circular, stable orbit as an asteroid named 596 Scheila. Discovered in 1906, the space rock is more than 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. The scientist thinks the body belongs to a mysterious group of solar system hybrids called main belt comets, or MBCs, which have orbits like those of asteroids yet display comet-like activity. (1/4)

Study Could Leave Astronauts With Pink Slips (Source: WESH)
NASA may have to get rid of some of its astronauts. A cut to the astronaut corps is under review. NASA has 63 astronauts, all of whom have flown in space. It has nine astronaut trainees who are hoping for their first flights, but it has no launches planned from the United States after the shuttle retires. After the Kennedy Space Center's last two or three launches, a federal panel is considering whether the agency really needs more than 70 astronauts.

Astronaut salaries range from $64,724 to $141,715 per year. The astronauts of the 1960s had a chance to move onto Skylab and the shuttle, but now NASA has no other missions planned. Commercial launchers such as SpaceX are hoping to get into the human spaceflight business. If they do, it's not clear who or how many would get to fly. Several astronauts have resigned recently. (1/4)

New Mexico Uncertainty (Source: NewSpace Journal)
What plans Gov. Susana Martinez has for Spaceport America aren’t clear. A recent article claims that Martinez “is looking to privatize operations at Spaceport America” but gives no specifics. During the campaign, Martinez indicated that she didn’t want the state investing more money into the spaceport, saying such “additional large investments would be a misguided use of our taxpayer funds.” She said she wanted more private investment for any future development costs as well as “expanding the scope of the spaceport beyond personal space flights.” (1/4)

Dream Chaser Model Drops in at NASA Dryden (Source: NASA)
NASA Dryden supported helicopter air-drop flight tests of a 5-foot-long, 15-percent scale model of the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Dream Chaser vehicle is based on the NASA HL-20 lifting body and is designed to carry up to seven people to the International Space Station and back. The vehicle is slated to launch vertically on an Atlas V rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways. Dryden provided ground and range safety support, including a T-34 chase aircraft for photo and video imagery. (12/17)

Glonass Completion Now Expected This Year (Source: Aviation Week)
The Russian government is struggling to compensate for a Proton launch failure that dashed hopes of having a full 24-unit Glonass navigation satellite constellation in service by the end of 2010. The mishap, which occurred on Dec. 5, destroyed three Glonass M spacecraft that would have ensured a full operating capability (see p. 29). As of Dec. 28, Glonass included 22 operational satellites, plus four in maintenance and two spares, sufficient for 99-100% global availability. A 24-spacecraft fleet is needed for full global coverage, including equatorial areas. (1/3)

Germany Denies it Plans Secret Satellite Project with U.S. (Source: AP)
Germany's aerospace center denied Monday that it is working with the U.S. on a $270 million high-tech secret spy program, insisting that its plans for a high-resolution optical satellite have purely scientific and security uses. U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and suggest that Germany joined a partnership with the U.S. to create a satellite spying program that was presented as a commercial enterprise, but is actually run by the German intelligence service and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. (1/3)

Wipro Building India’s Fastest Supercomputer for Space Agency (Source: Live Mint)
India’s third largest information technology firm, Wipro Ltd, is building what will become the country’s fastest supercomputer for the Indian Space Research Organization-—giving the agency critical muscle to crunch large volumes of data as it designs more complex launch vehicles and sets out on ambitious space programs. (1/3)

NASA's Langley, Wallops Have Big Impact in Virginia (Source: NASA)
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton and Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore generate $1.2 billion and more than 10,000 jobs in Virginia. On Feb. 2-3, Langley Director Lesa Roe and Wallops Director William Wrobel will join with representatives of the aerospace industry and academia at AeroSpace Day at the General Assembly in Richmond. Learn how NASA's Virginia facilities, Virginia's aerospace companies and excellent academic institutions are playing a critical role in advancing the nation's future in space exploration, aeronautics and science. (1/3)

No comments: