February 18, 2011

Senate Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill (Source: AIA)
By an 87 to 8 vote, the Senate approved the Federal Aviation Administration bill on Thursday, which will fund the FAA for two years. Democrats claim the FAA bill is the new Congress' "first jobs bill" and would save or create an estimated 280,000 jobs. (2/18)

Russian Cosmonauts to Get New Uniform, Anna Chapman Not Involved (Source: RIA Novosti)
Experts are designing a new uniform for Russia's cosmonauts but former spy Anna Chapman is not among them despite some media reports, the chief of the astronaut training center said on Friday. "A few groups [designers] have moved from words to business independently, but Anna Chapman is not among them yet," said Sergei Krikalyov of the Gagarin Astronaut Training Center.

Chapman, 28, referred to as a "hot Russian spy" in foreign media, was arrested in New York last June as a member of a Russian spy ring and then deported to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange. Unlike her fellow spies, who have disappeared into the shadows, Chapman has become a celebrity since the scandal broke. (2/18)

Europe's Earthcare Space Laser Mission Gets Go Ahead (Source: BBC)
Europe is to press ahead with its Earthcare space laser mission, despite a 30% rise in its probable final cost. The satellite will study the role clouds and atmospheric particles play in a changing climate. But the difficulty in finding a workable design for the spacecraft's lidar instrument means its total budget will now top 590m euros (£500m). ESA member states are convinced though that Earthcare will deliver invaluable data. Delegates to the 18-nation alliance accepted the findings of a review that assessed the technical risks of proceeding. (2/18)

STS-133 To Launch Next Thursday, Feb. 24 (Source: Space Policy Online)
Following a Flight Readiness Review, NASA confirmed Feb. 24 as the launch date for STS-133. Liftoff is scheduled for 4:50 pm EST. The mission originally was scheduled to launch last November, but was delayed first by a gas leak and then by problems with "stringers" on its External Tank This is the last flight of the Discovery orbiter. (2/18)

Boeing Gives Ohio Museum $5 Million to Help Snag Shuttle (Source: Florida Today)
Boeing is donating $5 million to an Air Force museum in Ohio that a senator hopes will help it acquire one of NASA's retired shuttle orbiters. Boeing's contribution, with three installments, had been planned before the release of President Barack Obama's fiscal 2012 budget. But that spending blueprint proposes $14 million to prepare the museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton to house Atlantis.

The foundation for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has now raised $20 million to build a 200,000-square-foot building to house presidential aircraft, a space gallery and an array of cargo and tanker planes, officials said. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, said Thursday that the Boeing contribution could help land one of three shuttle orbiters in Ohio. (2/18)

Parties, Video Contest to Mark 50th Anniversary of First Man in Space (Source: National Post)
In less than two months, celebrations worldwide will mark the 50th anniversary of mankind’s first step into outer space. On April 12, 1961, in a flight lasting only 108 minutes, 27-year-old U.S.S.R. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth one time, ejected from his capsule, and parachuted safely to the ground 7 kilometers below.

For the last ten years, space lovers around the world have celebrated Mr. Gagarin’s achievement by holding Yuri’s Night celebrations on its anniversary. Yuri’s Night events have grown in number every year. "Parties have ranged from large as 12,000 at the NASA Ames Research Center to backyard barbecues with a dozen neighbors — and every size in between. From the educational to the celebratory, Yuri’s Night parties are all-inclusive happenings that connect space enthusiasts of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds."

At this time, the Yuri’s Night website has registered 109 events in 27 countries on 5 continents on 2 worlds (one of those being a virtual world). Also, this year Yuri’s Night is holding a Gagarin tribute video contest, with the best entries being shown worldwide. Editor's Note: This year's Space Coast Yuri's Night event will be held at the KSC Visitor Complex, organized by Delaware North Corp. Click here for information. (2/18)

EIAST Signs Contract with Kosmotras for Dnepr Launch (Sourc: AME Info)
The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science & Technology (EIAST) has signed a contract with the International Space Company Kosmotras (ISCK) from Russia for the launch of the second remote sensing satellite of the UAE, DubaiSat-2. DubaiSat-2 will be launched on board a Dnepr Rocket from Yasny Cosmodrome in Northern Russia by the fourth quarter of 2012, as part of a clustered launch, in which DubaiSat-2 will be the primary satellite on board. Editor's Note: EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace recently signed an agreement to create a next-generation commercial human spaceflight program. (2/18)

Lockheed, Boeing Programs Boosted in $31.7 Billion Space Plan (Source: Bloomberg)
Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman satellite and launch services are among 13 major programs boosted in the U.S. Air Force’s space budget of $31.7 billion through 2016. The plan includes $20.3 billion for procurement of satellites and launch services aboard Atlas V and Delta IV boosters and $11.4 billion in research, including redesign of a Northrop Grumman weather satellite. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor or team partner on the four highest-funded Air Force space programs. (2/18)

NASA Official: JWST Could Still Be on the Ground in 2016 (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Based on an ongoing budget impasse and the flat spending plan released by the White House this week, the troubled James Webb Space Telescope likely won't begin probing the universe until at least 2016, according to the mission's top manager. Federal budget problems have curtailed NASA's ability to boost spending on JWST despite needing more money to keep the over-budget mission on track.

An independent review panel concluded last fall the earliest JWST could launch is September 2015 at a total mission cost of $6.5 billion. NASA was previously holding to a June 2014 launch target at a life-cycle cost of $5.1 billion. The September 2015 launch date was just the best-case scenario. It required the JWST program receive $250 million in extra funding in both fiscal years 2011 and 2012 to get the observatory in space by late 2015. (2/18)

Who Gets a Retired Shuttle? Ohio Now a Contender — But Won’t Beat Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In actuality, there are four shuttles in play: the three working orbiters — Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery — and the first prototype — Enterprise — which is currently the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va,. near Dulles Airport. Enterprise is a full-scale test vehicle not equipped for spaceflight.

Informed speculation currently holds that Endeavour will be staying in Florida to help keep tourists coming to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, while Atlantis would likely go to New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum which is housed onboard the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier docked in the Hudson River on New York City’s west side. The museum has applied to NASA to be allowed to display a shuttle at Manhattan’s Pier 86.

Discovery is headed to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, which then puts Enterprise up for grabs. Los Angeles has been considered the front runner — until now. Of course, official NASA will not confirm any of this. But the news that Ohio had somehow beat out KSC to display an orbiter was not taken seriously by Florida’s Democratic senator and chief space champion, Bill Nelson. Nelson told reporters Wednesday night that he was not worried. (2/18)

What Hibernating Bears Can Tell us About Space Travel (Source: Christian Science Monitor)
Scientists have taken an unprecedented look at the biological changes bears undergo when they bed down for winter, and the results have been little short of stunning, researchers say. From an unexpectedly dramatic slowdown in the chemical processes that keep the bears alive to their rafter-rattling snores, ursine metabolic tricks may suggest more-effective ways of stabilizing trauma patients, and could contribute to new approaches for helping astronauts counter the physical changes they experience during long missions in space. (2/18)

NASA Launching Colorado Solar Experiment from New Mexico on Feb. 23 (Source: SpaceRef.com)
NASA will launch a University of Colorado experiment to image the sun on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket Feb. 23, from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) will support measurements by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. The EVE experiment will be launched on NASA Black Brant IX two-stage suborbital rocket. The rocket will reach an apogee of approximately 186 miles. NASA's Sounding Rocket Program is managed at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia." (2/18)

Florida's Challenger Specialty Plates Really Funding CEO Salary (Source: WTSP)
Floridians do their part to help fund the astronaut memorial at KSC through the Challenger Columbia specialty license plates which continue to be in the top 15 of the more than 100 specialty plates sold in the state. The Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) gets $12.50 for each plate sold. In the past five years 185,576 of the plates were sold. Last year 28,093 were sold bringing in $351,165 to keep the memorial fund going.

Dr. Stephen Feldman is AMF's CEO is being paid $303,593. That's right, almost every dollar spent on the specialty plates cover Feldman's Salary. The chairman of AMF's board of the foundation former astronaut Michael McCulley says the money collected from the specialty plates is spent on educational programs, administration and memorial maintenance. Meanwhile IRS records show the foundation collected $851,131 in the last reported year.

That means more than 1 out 3 dollars collected went to Feldman's salary. In addition the same year AMF lost $1,014,844. In fact each year the foundation pays more for Feldman's salary than it does for the Space Mirror maintenance. The board says the salary it is a fair compensation for what Feldman does. However an independent charity watchdog agency says the average salary for a CEO of a similar sized non profit is $102,000. Florida nonprofits paid about $97,000 on average to their CEOs. Click here to see the video report. (2/18)

Russian Prosecutor General Identifies Violations in Launching Glonass-M Satellites (Source: News BCM)
The General Prosecutor's Office has identified violations at startup of the Proton-M launch of GLONASS-M satellites. According to the official representative of the Office, Maria Gridneva, "it had been decided to use some newly developed products with a limited amount of testing at the space-rocket complex". It became known that the main cause of the fall of the three GLONASS satellites into the Pacific Ocean was the erroneous excess of the 1,5-2 tons norm of fuel during the refuelling of the booster rocket Proton at Baikonur. (2/18)

NASA Plans Teleconference on Space Station Nonprofit Management (Source: NASA)
NASA released a final version of a cooperative agreement notice (CAN) for an independent, nonprofit research management organization to stimulate, develop and manage U.S. use of the International Space Station National Laboratory. The agreement pertains to operations other than NASA's exploration missions. The agency will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 22, to discuss the release. The teleconference will be streamed live here. (2/18)

NASA Seeks K-12 Educators To Defy Gravity, Conduct Research (Source: SpaceRef.com)
For the first time, NASA is offering teachers from across the country an opportunity usually reserved for researchers -- the chance to design a science experiment and then test it aboard a microgravity research plane. Proposals should be submitted to NASA's Teaching From Space office by March 14. On March 30, NASA will select 14 teams, composed of four or more teachers. This summer, teachers and their experiments will fly aboard a modified Boeing 727 jetliner provided by the Zero-Gravity Corp. of Las Vegas. Click here for information. (2/18)

Sierra Nevada, SpaceX to Help Denver-Boulder Area Become Silicon Valley of Space? (Source: WestWord)
​These days, as the government slashes NASA's budget and entrepreneurs start making inroads towards the heavens, the space race is increasingly becoming a private-sector enterprise. The development could bode well for this Colorado region. Indeed, the Denver-Boulder area may just be perfectly positioned to become the Silicon Valley of the galaxy.

Take Sierra Nevada Space Systems. The longtime defense firm has lately been making inroads into the space industry, and last year won $20 million from NASA for its development of Dream Chaser, a new breed of space plane. Among the other significant winners is SpaceX, a headline-grabbing space start-up that includes on its board of directors Kimbal Musk, the Boulder-based tech entrepreneur and owner of The Kitchen.

There's also the eSpace Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a Boulder-based business incubator founded by Sierra Nevada Space Systems and the University of Colorado -- itself a big player in space research -- that aims to help get new space innovators off the ground. All in all, it's quite the line-up. It seems like all we're missing around here is a launch pad. (2/18)

Another NASA Funding Amendment to Watch? (Soource: Space Politics)
The House is continuing to debate hundreds of amendments associated with HR 1, the year-long continuing resolution that would fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. Among the amendments that have not yet been taken up on the floor of the House is one by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that would, in effect, defund NASA’s exploration program:

Amendment No. 96: At the end of the bill, after the short title, insert the following new section: Sec. 4002. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Exploration”.

That amendment is taken seriously enough to warrant a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter from 14 members of Congress who represent districts or states with NASA centers. The DeFazio amendment “would prohibit NASA, one of the most effective job-generating agencies in the federal government, from spending any money on its exploration program,” according to a version of the letter. “By prohibiting funding for NASA’s exploration program so late in the operating year, it will result in tens of thousands of lay-offs to on-site contractors across the country." (2/18)

SpaceX Falcon 1 Work Delayed in Favor of Falcon Heavy, Dragon (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX has delayed development of its single engine Falcon 1 rocket, which has lifted off five times from the Central Pacific, to focus on development of its Dragon capsule that might carry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

The company also plans to speed development of its Falcon Heavy, which could compete with United Launch Alliance for government launches. ULA, which employs about 700 in Brevard County, launches about a dozen rockets a year from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg in California.

"The Air Force (Space and Missile Systems Center) in Los Angeles told us that we needed to fly Falcon Heavy and activate our new launch facilities at Vandenberg (AFB) in order to compete for the (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle ) contract currently held by ULA," SpaceX Communications Director Kirstin Brost said. (2/18)

Chicagoans Favor Earth Over Mars (Source: Medill)
The Medill News Service asked Chicagoans what they think about space travel -- and if they would sign up to visit Mars. Click here to view the video. (2/18)

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