February 22, 2011

Space ‘Poster Child’ For Cost Increases (Source: DOD Buzz)
Tougher contracts, less ambitious and more flexible requirements must be pursued if the Air Force and the US military are to get the space systems they need, says the head of Air Force Space Command. “We have to get control of the cost of space programs. We’ve become the poster child for things that are late and expensive. We’ve got to develop better requirements and trade requirements. We’ve got to be willing to say good enough is good enough,” Gen. William Shelton said.

How to do that? “If it’s good enough to win, we need to build good enough to win… We’ve got to write better contracts contracts that hold contractors accountable.” One of the poster children for better contracts is the Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite that has been ever so slowly climbing into orbit recently. While Shelton made it clear he thinks that the spacecraft will make it to orbit, it will have cost the American taxpayer a considerable amount of cash. Reports indicate that the problem lies in a fuel line that was not correctly cleared before launch. So fuel is not making it to the spacecraft’s engines. Shelton would not confirm the cause but did say it “was a quality issue.”

The Air Force has incurred the opportunity costs due to the late arrival on orbit, plus the cost of the technical teams, Shelton said. To ensure contractors are held responsible in future he wants contracts to be rewritten so they are much clearer about who is liable for what when problems occur once the satellite leaves the ground. (2/22)

Statue of World's First Spaceman Gagarin to Go Up in London (Source: RIA Novosti)
A monument to world's first cosmonaut Yury Gagarin will be erected in downtown London in July, Britain's minister for universities and science, David Willetts, said. Willetts made the statement after signing an agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos in Moscow on holding the Russian-British Year of Space in 2011. He said the statue will be built near a monument to British explorer and navigator James Cook, joking that the site could serve as a perfect place for space launches. (2/22)

Green Touches Energize KSC's Newest Facility (Source: Happy News)
Kennedy Space Center rang in 2011 with the grand opening of NASA's "greenest" facility on Jan. 20. As the new hub for fueling spacecraft on journeys to unlock the mysteries of the universe, the Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility will tap into Earth's most natural resources. "This is our start. This is setting the standard," said Kennedy's Center Director Bob Cabana. "How can you not be enthused about something that requires zero energy? It actually puts more energy out than it requires to run in a 24-hour period." Click here for a photo with the article. (1/25)

NASA Ames to Manage New Emerging Commercial Space Office (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA Ames will assume management of a new Emerging Commercial Space Office that would be created under space agency’s proposed FY 2012 budget, officials said. Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Ames Director Pete Worden said the office would focus on spurring the development of new space technologies that are not covered by other NASA and FAA commercial space centers. The office’s activities would include managing NASA’s $30.1 million Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data program, adapting smart phones and other off-the-shelf technologies for use in satellites, transferring NASA technology and knowledge to the private sector, and related activities. (2/22)

NASA Picks Seven Companies to Discuss CCDev 2 Proposals (Source: Space News)
As it awaits congressional action on its 2011 budget, NASA is proceeding with plans to award roughly $200 million to companies developing technologies in support of the agency’s commercial space transportation goals. NASA contacted seven companies in February, inviting ATK, Blue Origin, Boeing, Orbital Sciences Corp., Sierra Nevada Corp., SpaceX, and ULA to Johnson Space Center to discuss their proposals for a second round of awards under the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. NASA hopes to make the awards in March.

NASA spokesman Michael Braukus declined to comment on CCDev source selections. Multiple industry sources said NASA contacted the six companies in writing, inviting them to discuss their bids in Houston and ranking the strengths and weaknesses of specific proposals. NASA officials have said the value of the second round of CCDev contracts, known as CCDev 2, will depend on funds appropriated this year.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 recommended Congress appropriate $312 million for NASA’s commercial crew initiatives this year. However, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution Feb. 19 that would slash funding for NASA in the remaining seven months of this fiscal year by about $600 million below the $18.7 billion appropriated for the agency in 2010. (2/22)

House Majority Cuts NASA FY11 Budget by $600 Million (Source: Space KSC Blog)
NASA's Fiscal Year 2011 budget began last October, but the money for the budget must be appropriated in a separate bill by Congress. Until that happens, Congress passes a "continuing resolution" (CR) to keep the government in operation, essentially extending the prior year's budget, sometimes with targeted additions or cuts. NASA is currently operating under a CR that will expire March 4. If no new CR is passed by then, theoretically the government could "shut down," although what really happens will be determined agency by agency.

NASA's routine administrative activities might close, but STS-133 would still be on orbit and of course so would the International Space Station, so presumably critical employees associated with those missions would continue to work — without pay?! It remains to be seen. The House of Representatives early Saturday passed a CR (H.R. 1) that if enacted would cut about $600 million from NASA's approved budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

According to Space Policy Online, the appropriations committee already had cut NASA $303 million below its FY2010 appropriated level. With the $298 million cut in the Weiner amendment, NASA would be cut $601 million from its FY2010 appropriation, giving the agency a total of $18.123 billion for FY2011. Compared with President Obama's request of $19.000 billion for NASA in FY2011, it is a $877 million reduction. (2/22)

Adams, Posey Vote for H.R. 1 Budget Bill (Sources: Florida Today, Space KSC Blog))
Space Coast congressional representatives Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) and Sandy Adams (R-Orlando) voted to support H.R. 1, despite the bill's substantial reduction to NASA's FY-11 budget. Rep. Posey spoke on the House floor in opposition to "across the board" cuts and requested a more "surgical" approach to FY-11 budget reductions. Here's a video of Rep. Posey's remarks. (2/22)

Blame Game in the House on NASA FY-11 Cut (Source: Space Politics)
Last week the full House approved an amendment to its 2011 continuing resolution to transfer nearly $300 million from NASA to a Justice Department community policing program. The amendment was introduced by a Democrat, but passed thanks to the votes of 70 Republicans, who joined 158 Republicans to approve the amendment. So what was the reaction of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)? He blames the Obama Administration: “If the White House had argued for NASA among House Democrats, we would have protected NASA from this cut,” he told the Huntsville Times. Of course, if those 70 Republicans hadn’t voted for it, the amendment wouldn’t have passed regardless of what the Democrats did, as the GOP is now in the majority, but Brooks offers no explanation why 70 of his fellow House Republicans voted for the amendment. (2/22)

Bicoastal Blastoffs: Shuttle East, Rocket West (Source: Orange County Register)
Two U.S. spacecraft are scheduled to blast into orbit this week -- one from each coast. The first, the "Glory" climate satellite, is to be carried into polar orbit Wednesday by a Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 2:09 a.m. Pacific time. On Thursday, space shuttle Discovery makes its 39th and final flight, ferrying astronauts, work modules, spare parts and a "humanoid" robot from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. That launch is set for 1:50 p.m. Pacific; the countdown began Monday. (2/22)

Brevard County Commission Wants High Speed Rail (Source: Florida Today)
The Brevard County Commission decided to draft a letter supporting high-speed rail linking Port Canaveral with Orlando International Airport and Disney. The letter will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos. A key caveat in the letter: The commission supports rail development using federal and private dollars, not state or local funds. The vote was 4-1. (2/22)

New National Space Society Chapter in Florida Plans Space Law Symposium (Source: SPACErePORT)
A new South Florida Chapter of the National Space Society has been established, bringing the number of active chapters in the state to three. The new chapter has multiple lawyers on its board who will be holding the 1st annual SPACE LAW Symposium on May 11 at Palm Beach Atlantic University. The event will begin at 1:00 pm. An Embry-Riddle legal scholar will be among the presenters. Attendees be eligible for 4 CLE credits including 1 Ethic's component. Chapter President (and attorney) William McEachern can be reached at wmceache@bellsouth.net for information. (2/22)

Breaking Up is Hard to Do (Sources: Space News, Frontline)
A series of articles appearing in India's Frontline magazine explores in detail the controversial satellite-lease deal between Antrix Corp., the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and Devas Multimedia, including the potential legal avenues for terminating the arrangement. The Indian government announced it would annul the five-year old deal in which Devas, a company run by former ISRO officials, was given what has been described a sweetheart deal to lease 90 percent of the capacity on a pair of S-band satellites under construction by ISRO. (2/22)

Three Florida Journalists Share Space Foundation's Public Outreach Award (Source: Space Foundation)
Three journalists who have shaped the way the nation views and understands space have been selected to receive the Space Foundation's 2011 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, to be presented at the 27th National Space Symposium on Apr. 11. The recipients are: Jay Barbree, NBC News; Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press; and William Harwood, CBS News. Editor's Note: All three are based on Florida's Space Coast. (2/22)

Whitesides Featured at UCF Talk on Virgin Galactic (Source: SPACErePORT)
George Whitesides, CEO and President of Virgin Galactic, will discuss the promise of Space Tourism and how new vehicles in development will open new avenues for science and technology. He will speak on Monday, Feb. 28 from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the Pegasus Ballroom on UCF's Orlando Campus. His presentation is associated with the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, but is free and open to the public. (2/22)

Embraer Won't Rule Out Bigger Role for Space Coast Facility (Source: AIA)
Embraer could eventually manufacture commercial aircraft at its new plant in Melbourne, Fla., according to CEO Frederico Fleury Curado. "Today would be totally premature to make any plans. I can tell you we're not here for the short term, we're here for the long term, so it's possible," Curado said Monday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the $50 million facility, where the Brazilian company will assemble Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 business jets. (2/22)

Renowned NASA Space Flight Risk Expert Dr. Feng Hsu Now Assessing Private Risks (Source: Earth Times)
With more than 90 books published and worldwide recognition for his expertise as technical adviser and leading expert of Risk and Safety Assessment and Management at several NASA centers and Brookhaven National Lab, Dr. Feng Hsu recently shared his assessment of the risks in getting the new civilian space travel industry off to a safe, successful liftoff.

“The time of this futuristic business is not quite here yet, and it could be another year or two. Even if SpaceShipTwo and Lynx tests of their spacecrafts will be on schedule successfully in the summer of 2011, there could still be some tough challenges ahead from a profitable commercial operation since there are far too many risk factors that must be overcome,” Hsu said. “A single system anomaly or mishap during test flights or even in private space flights could potentially kill the entire industry in its infancy. It is not so much of the real system risk or failure, it is all about the public’s perceived high risk of space travel.”

Mitchell J. Schultz, managing director of Xtraordinary Adventures, said he’s pleased to have the collaboration and support from Dr. Hsu on risk evaluation of suborbital space flight and space tourism: “Dr. Hsu adds a new level of expertise and connections that will not only help our company, but also help the entire private space tourism industry for taking a more realistic view and achieve some of its objectives much sooner. His whole-hearted support will also enable Xtraordinary Adventures to expand into international markets around the globe.” (2/19)

Xtraordinary Adventures Promotes Space Travel (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Mitchell J. Schultz, space tourism specialist and managing director of Xtraordinary Adventures, recently published several articles about the possiblities of a mishap in early private spaceflight, and issued a list of 1,000 of the most successful athletes, businesspeople, models, comedians, authors, movie, TV and music personalities that should become more aware now of taking a suborbital space flight.

"All these super personalities have a following and peers who will go wild when they hear that their STAR is going on a space trip," Schultz said. "With Dr Hsu's risk assessment of all vehicles and companies available for suborbital spaceflight, Xtraordinary Adventures can make this available for all who wish to know more. Regardless of which vehicle they wish to fly in, this is their opportunity to be listed and forever recognized as one of the earliest civilian space pioneers."

Within the last five years, more than 500 worldwide adventures have already pre-registered for a suborbital space flight. SpaceShipTwo and Lynx are scheduled to be test flown this summer in Mojave, California. Costs remain between $95,000 and $200,000 and all future participants must be qualified and pre-instructed on flight expectations. (2/22)

Middle East at Forefront of $7.5 Billion Space Tourism Industry (Source: AME info)
The plethora of opportunities for private and public sector investors throughout the region that exist in the commercial space and satellite industry will be examined during the third annual Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF), in Abu Dhabi on 9-11 May.

With many aspects of commercial space and satellite services continuing to take giant strides forward, it is highly appropriate that Abu Dhabi should be hosting one of the leading international space and satellite conferences. Having just arrived in French Guiana, Yahsat's Y1A satellite which is due to be launched in the coming weeks, highlights the crucial investment role that Abu Dhabi and the wider Middle East is playing.

Indeed those involved in space tourism are looking towards the Middle East for further funding. "Virgin Galactic and Bigelow Aerospace have already set up investment deals with UAE groups and perhaps it's only a matter of time before we see another international space company's development being funded from the Middle East," said Nick Webb, Director, Streamline Marketing Group, organisers of GSSF 2011. (2/22)

Hynes: Time to Bring Private/Public Investment Together in Space Industry (Source: Las Cruces-Sun-News)
In the 1850s when our country started to fund the transcontinental railroad, we were in a deep recession. There was no railroad industry, not in our country, not in the world. Locomotives were not safe, in fact they killed people. There were no manufacturing plants capable building engines, rail, nor was the country in the position to enable this new industry to grow. This was a time for vision and leadership and it was coming. President Lincoln, who made his reputation as a railroad lawyer, knew linking the country together would create an immense market for jobs, and quicken the flow of fresh goods from the East to West.

The global aerospace industry was created in America in the 1950s. By the time the military developed the ICBM program, and the civilian agency that is now NASA, the government had taken over the space industry... Since the 1970s, the shuttle was the only way humans got to space from the U.S. Soon we will rely on the Russians to get our astronauts to the ISS. The government has left our country without a fundamental tool, a vehicle rated to carry humans to space. It is like having a railroad without locomotives to carry people. (2/22)

Launching a Space Station to Other Worlds (Source: Discovery)
Imagine strapping a giant rocket engine on the International Space Station (ISS), inflating a few balloon-like structures to hold your luggage, and adding a spinning carousel-wheel for artificial gravity. This ungainly-sounding assemblage, dubbed Nautilus-X, ("Non-Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States eXploration") has been proposed by the NASA Technology Applications Assessment Team at the Johnson Space Center.

The JSC group is chartered with examining key technologies that can advance space exploration in a timely and affordable manner. The designers optimistically believe that such a planet-roaming "space station with rockets" could be ready by 2020 at a cost of under $4 billion. If this number is realistic, the vehicle would be cheaper than the projected costs for the "Apollo-on steroids" Orion capsule.

NASA has already spent approximately $5 billion on Orion since 2006, and will need roughly another $6.6 to 7.1 billion to meet a 2015 launch. The real ISS could be used to test components of the Nautilus, and no doubt the experience with the ISS would provide applicable spin-off technology. Click here to view the article. (2/22)

This Moon was Made for Mining (Helium-3) (Source: Discovery)
The 2009 indie film Moon features Sam Rockwell as an employee (named Sam) of the fictional Lunar Industries, a mining corporation back on Earth. Just wrapping a three-year solitary stint on the moon, Sam is charged with overseeing the automated harvesters which extract helium-3 from the lunar regolith. Canisters of the harvested helium-3 are then sent to Earth to be used to generate fusion energy.

Much of the film deals with Sam's growing personal crisis as he finds out a few unpleasant things about his employer. The movie's premise is technically science fiction, but the notion of mining the moon for valuable natural resources that are in short supply on Earth is closer to reality than you might think.

As Discovery News reports, thanks to a critical shortage last year, the price of the isotope helium-3 has skyrocketed from $150 per liter to $5,000 per liter. But helium-3 isn't the only resource the moon might have to offer. It could also be a source for rare earth elements, such as europium and tantalum, which are in high demand on Earth for electronics and green energy applications (solar panels, hybrid cars), as well as being used in the space and defense industries. (2/22)

Space Exploration Requires Longer Leash (Source: Galveston Daily News)
Space is boundless, so it’s more than a little ironic that the United States keeps hitting the same wall in its efforts to fund its space exploration programs. The problem is not so much today’s or even tomorrow’s freezes on spending — it’s tough all over. The problem is in conflicting priorities.

NASA is being instructed to keep building it’s own vehicles and to support commercial projects. But the agency is not getting enough money to do both. For some time now, NASA has been hobbled because it is an agency that has goals that might take 20 or 30 years to achieve, yet congressional priorities can change every two years, and the president’s goals can change every four. What’s needed is some realization that we can’t, as Americans, achieve 20-year goals in space while setting new funding priorities every couple of years. NASA is one agency that needs to be on a longer funding leash. (2/22)

Space Shuttle Discovery Counts Down Toward Thursday Launch (Source: Florida Today)
NASA is counting down to the planned launch Thursday of shuttle Discovery and six astronauts on the orbiter's final flight into space. Grounded for four months by dangerous external tank defects, Discovery and its crew are slated to blast off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:50 p.m. Thursday. (2/22)

Glory Launch On Schedule for Wednesday Morning (Source: LaunchAlert)
The launch of NASA's Glory spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 23. Liftoff will be from Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Calif. Liftoff is targeted for 2:09 a.m. PST (5:09 a.m. EST) in the middle of a 48-second launch window. (2/21)

NASA's New Satellite, 'Glory,' Will Monitor Aerosols' Effects On Climate Change (Source: Huffington Post)
NASA is set to launch its latest Earth-orbiting satellite on a $424 million mission to analyze airborne grit spewed by volcanoes, forest fires, smokestacks and tailpipes. The Glory satellite is slated to blast off before dawn Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Taurus XL rocket. Once boosted to an altitude of 440 miles, it will join a fleet of satellites that has been collecting climate data for years.

Its main job will be to study fine airborne particles known as aerosols. Smaller than the diameter of a human hair, these ubiquitous specks can track great distances across the globe and are largely responsible for producing hazy skies. Scientists know very little about aerosols and their effect on climate. A better understanding is critical to improving climate models. (2/22)

Astronaut Gibson Hired as Expert Witness in Yankee Plane Crash (Source: New York Post)
Lawyers for the widow of Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle say any idiot can fly a space shuttle, but it takes a real pilot to control a tiny, single-engine plane. The legal eagles want to keep a former space-shuttle commander from telling jurors about his NASA career when he testifies about Lidle's fatal Upper East Side plane crash. Ex-astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson is slated to appear as an expert witness for aircraft manufacturer Cirrus Design, which Melanie Lidle has charged with negligence in the design of her late husband's Cirrus SR20 G2.

The plane slammed into an apartment building while making a turn over the Hudson River. Court papers say Gibson's spaceman credentials are "simply irrelevant" to the 2006 crash that killed Lidle and his pal/flight instructor Tyler Stanger. "Flying an airplane and commanding a space shuttle are two very different things," the Manhattan federal court filing says. "The space shuttle is fully automated with an autopilot, in sharp contrast to a single-engine airplane that a pilot flies manually from airport to airport."

Former Space Shuttle Workers Find New Home at Embraer (Source: Florida Today)
Having a reservoir of skilled aerospace workers is already paying off for Brevard County. Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer's new final assembly aircraft plant in Melbourne has hired 61 people for its operation. Eighteen of those new employees -- 30 percent of the total so far -- previously worked on the NASA's shuttle program. They will assemble and outfit Embraer's Phenom 100 and 300 executive jets. More former shuttle workers are expected to be hired as Embraer heads toward its 200-person employment level.

"We had a number of drivers that we looked at and considered when we established this facility," said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Holding Inc., Embraer's U.S. subsidiary. "Obviously the availability of a skilled labor force here was very important." Finding other skilled jobs for displaced space shuttle workers has become a priority for local economic development officials.

They predict at least 8,000 workers will lose their jobs when the space shuttle program ends later this year. But from that upheaval could come opportunity -- and a desirable selling point. "The workforce is probably one of the biggest attractions we have in this area," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida. Shuttle workers are attractive hires because of their work ethic, their rigid adherence to safety and their ability to follow process and procedure." (2/22)

Masten Conducts Tethered Flight Test (Source: HobbySpace)
Masten Space Systems carried out a tethered flight test of their Xaero vehicle. "This is the second tethered flight of Xaero. The first flight is short and boring. This test is our first look at how well the rocket is navigating itself. It went very well and the guidance engineering department is working to fine tune the system for perfect performance." The company plans to conduct future flight test at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Click here to see the video. (2/21)

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