February 7, 2011

Charles Bolden's Story: "From the Segregated South to Low Earth Orbit" (Source: Space Daily)
It's a long way from the segregated south to low Earth orbit. But I am fortunate to have made the journey and to have had many opportunities to serve my nation in a 34-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and in many roles at NASA, currently as head of the nation's space program.

When I was a young man, my service as NASA's first African American Administrator under the Nation's first Black president would have been nearly unthinkable. But through the efforts of many people of all races, our nation has changed. Click here to read the article. (2/7)

Delta-4 Looks Toasty During Vandenberg Launch (Sources: Aviation Week, SpaceFlightNow, HobbySpace)
Seconds before liftoff, thousands of pounds of hydrogen are dumped through the three RS-68 engines to optimize their hydrogen/oxygen mix for ignition. The excess of this hydrogen forms a cloud around the vehicle that is deliberately burned off with spark generators - called radial outwardly firing igniters - just prior to ignition.

Mostly, the excess hydrogen dissipates in a swirl of yellow flame that does little more than blacken the exterior of the first stage. But some of the hydrogen clings so tenaciously to the CCBs that pockets of it are the source of flame shooting out from the sides of the vehicle. ULA says these are harmless and disappear as the vehicle slowly rises. Click here to see some photos. (2/7)

Gates, French Defense Minister to Sign Space Pact (Source: Bloomberg)
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and French Defense Minister Alain Juppe are signing an agreement to cooperate on reducing the risk of accidents and collisions in space. The non-binding agreement between the U.S. and France is similar to one the U.S. made with Australia last fall. Gates and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged a year ago in Paris to cooperate more in aeronautics and space. The U.S. and Australia agreed to investigate building radar facilities in Australia “to support the United States space surveillance network.” (2/7)

India: ISRO Spectrum Deal Under Review (Source: The Hindu)
In the aftermath of the expose by Business Line and The Hindu, the Central government said on Monday that it was in the process of reviewing the deal between the Indian Space Research Organization's commercial arm Antrix Corp. and the Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. that gave the latter free access to scarce spectrum worth an estimated Rs. 2 lakh crore. (2/7)

New Rocket Engine Tested At Stennis (Source: WDSU)
NASA put a new rocket engine to the test Monday at the John C. Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi. After a short delay, the rocket engine test was 53 seconds of raw power. It was very loud and powerful, generating huge plumes of flames and smoke. NASA said the testing of the Aerojet AJ26 engine went off without a hitch. The AJ26 will power the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Taurus II rocket. (2/7)

CEOs Urge Passage of Fiscal 2011 Pentagon Budget (Source: Reuters)
The chief executives of 14 defense companies urged Congress on Monday to pass a defense spending bill for fiscal 2011 instead of extending the current stopgap measure that keeps funding at 2010 levels. The failure of lawmakers to pass a defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2011, which began on October 1, could have serious consequences, the CEOs of Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing's defense business and a dozen other companies said in a letter to congressional leaders. (2/7)

Aerospace Corp. Paints Picture of NPOESS Program Doomed From the Start (Source: Space Policy Online)
The NPOESS weather satellite program was doomed to failure according to an Aerospace Corporation report posted on NOAA's website this week. Historically, NOAA and DOD operated separate civil and military polar-orbiting weather satellite systems; NOAA also operates a geostationary weather satellite system. The decision to pursue a "converged" polar-orbiting system to meet both NOAA and DOD requirements was made in 1994 by the Clinton Administration.

It was a tri-agency partnership among NOAA, DOD and NASA, with NASA serving in a technoiogy development capacity. The Obama White House dissolved the NPOESS partnership in February 2010 after years of cost growth and schedule slippage. Click here to read the article. (2/7)

Dr Sandile Malinga Appointed CEO of South African National Space Agency (Source: Defence Web)
The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, has welcomed the appointment of Sandile Malinga as Chief Executive Officer of the newly launched South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Malinga had acted as Sansa’s caretaker chief executive officer (CEO) since January 2010. His new appointment was confirmed by Cabinet on Wednesday.

Pandor officially opened the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) in December last year. Established through the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008, SANSA is responsible for the implementation of the National Space Strategy, including the coordination and integration of all national space science and technology programmes. The space strategy seeks to promote the peaceful use of space, foster research in space science and communications and navigation, and promote international co-operation in space-related activities. (2/7)

Branson Plans Hotel at Spaceport America (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Independent has an interesting update on Richard Branson’s plans for his Virgin Hotels venture, which is set to launch in about two years: "San Diego and Washington DC are likely candidates, and Branson also announced that one of the the first sites will be in New Mexico, overlooking the spaceport which will send his Virgin Galactic tourist flights into space." He also told conference attendees that each hotel will be different, saying that putting a Virgin stamp on the hotels wasn’t enough and that the goal was to be the “funnest” hotel for guests to go to. (2/7)

Jet Dragster Maker Moving Into Embry-Riddle Research Park (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
Students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will soon get more firsthand experience building jet dragsters as well as other research projects as a motorsports company moves its headquarters into Embry-Riddle's new Research and Technology Park. Larsen Motorsports will be the first tenant in the 90-acre park with hopes of making the transition from Haines City to Daytona Beach by summer.

Embry-Riddle has had a relationship for seven years with Larsen Motorsports, including being a sponsor of jet-dragster driver Elaine Larsen, who owns the company with her husband, Chris. Embry-Riddle sponsors one of her cars, which was designed by Embry-Riddle students in Daytona Beach. Embry-Riddle students at the university's Prescott campus in Arizona are building another jet dragster planned to hit the asphalt in March. (2/7)

Rising Engine Costs, Uncertainty Drive Up Atlas 5 Prices for NASA (Source: Space News)
Industry officials say the winding down of the space shuttle program has led to higher prices for the RL-10 upper-stage engine, the second-most-expensive component on the Atlas 5, which is built by United Launch Alliance (ULA). The RL-10 is manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which also builds the space shuttle’s main engines. Meanwhile, prices for the Russian-built RD-180, a liquid oxygen/kerosene engine that powers the Atlas 5’s main stage, are also on the rise. The RD-180, the single most expensive Atlas 5 component, is built by Russia's NPO Energomash.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is facing the prospect of its business being “about half of what the shuttle business has been in the past,” a company official said, adding that the company is taking steps to reduce its facilities by over half in the next few years. The ULA-built Delta 4 rocket also uses a variant of the RL 10 as well as a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne-built main engine, but this vehicle currently is not used to launch NASA payloads. (2/7)

STSS Demo Satellites Ready for Missile Defense Testing (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The Missile Defense Agency says it is merging its $1.7 billion STSS tracking satellite mission with ground- and sea-based interceptor tests, a campaign officials hope will enable the military to launch kill vehicles against missiles before they fly in range of conventional radars. If proven, the ability to detect and track missiles from space will give commanders another tool to go along with sensors based on land, at sea and in the air. The addition of a space-based detection network, which STSS is designed to demonstrate, could give strategic, regional and theater defense systems more warning of an enemy missile and permit the launch of interceptors against the threat earlier than ever before. (2/7)

Satellite Internet Plan Could Interfere with Planes' GPS (Source: AIA)
A plan to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas could hamper satellite-based air traffic control systems, according to the Air Transport Association and other aerospace interests. Technology company LightSquared wants to rebroadcast satellite L-band communications via a land-based network of 40,000 antennas, but ATA says it is "extremely concerned about spectrum issues and the possibility of inadvertent interference." (2/4)

Democrats Oppose GOP Effort to Cut FAA Budget (Source: AIA)
Kentucky's two Republican senators are seeking to roll the FAA's budget back to 2008 levels, a move that some Democrats say would threaten safety programs and hamper efforts to upgrade the nation's air traffic control system. "We share your concerns about our nation's debt, and are willing to work with you in developing constructive solutions," five Democratic senators wrote in response to the proposal by Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. "However, we will not accept any amendment that puts the safety of Americans at risk and hinders economic growth." (2/4)

U.S. Looks for Allies on Space Policy (Source: AIA)
U.S. officials are seeking international allies to help protect against threats in space. "Space becomes critical to everything we do, and that's why we're worried that the environment is increasingly challenging," said Deputy Defense Secretary Gregory Schulte. "You have more debris in space and you have countries that are developing counterspace capabilities that can be used against us." The U.S. and EU hope to win broad agreement for a code of conduct in space in order to avoid misunderstandings and minimize conflict. (2/4)

The Soviet Plan to Go to the Moon Was Stupid (Source: Gizmodo)
I look at the Soviet plans to go to the Moon and I wonder if they secretly contracted the Marx Brothers to design it. I guess it's easy to say that with hindsight—look at the Apollo program—but couldn't they really see that this was not a very smart option? First, the design of the N-1 rocket was way too complicated; it was underfunded from the beginning. Envisioned by legendary rocket scientist Sergei Korolyov, it arrived too late, years after the Saturn V. It had too many engines, which introduced too many failure points. The same was true about the number of stages. While the Saturn V only had three stages (plus the engine in the Apollo spacecraft and the Lunar Lander) the N1 had five stages—all kerosene and oxygen-based—plus the LK Lander engine and the LOK engine—the equivalent to the Apollo ship but with room for only two astronauts.

But perhaps the most surreal aspect of the program—which is described in this article about new research made by Charles Vick—was their idea for the landing. After reaching lunar orbit, the single astronaut that was going to land on the Moon had to go out of the LOK lunar orbiter through a door, fly to the LK lander, open two hatches, undock the lander, land on the moon, get back up to moon orbit, dock with the orbiter, get out again of the lander carrying a suitcase full of moon samples and whatever else, and fly back to the spacecraft that was going to take him home. (2/7)

Rep. Harman To Leave Congress (Sources: Space News, Washington Post)
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) will announce her resignation from Congress Feb. 8 to take over as president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center. Harman, whose suburban Los Angeles district hosts several prominent space companies, is a former ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is considered an expert on space and intelligence matters, and successfully opposed an effort by the Bush Administration to set up an office in the Department of Homeland Security to handle requests to use spy satellite imagery for domestic law enforcement and security purposes. (2/7)

Mergers and Spinoffs Shake Up the Defense Industry (Source: Washington Post)
Companies big and small have been rethinking their portfolios and buying and selling accordingly. Locally, Boeing bought Fairfax-based Argon ST -- which had lingered on the market for about six months; Lockheed Martin decided to divest its Enterprise Integration Group, which provided systems engineering and integration services; and White Plains, N.Y.-based ITT Corp. announced it would separate into three pieces: a manufacturing business, a water technology firm and a McLean-based defense and information solutions firm. Companies are seeking to reorient their businesses, selling off units that pose potential conflicts of interest or are not core to a company's operations and buying businesses in what are widely considered growth industries like cybersecurity, health IT and cloud computing. (2/7)

NASA's STEREO Probes Reveal First Image of the Entire Sun (Source: WIRED)
This weekend, NASA's twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) probes reached their positions on the exact opposite sides of the Sun, and broadcasted the first uninterrupted images of the entire star. The probes left Earth in October 2006, and headed for locations on two opposing points of the Earth's orbit, and therefore the opposing faces of the Sun. It took more than four years for STEREO A -- which advanced ahead of our planet -- and STEREO B -- which fell behind -- to reach points exactly 180 degrees away from each other.

The telescopic images beamed back aren't just regular photos, either. Both probes are tuned to four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet radiation to trace solar activity like flares, tsunamis and magnetic filaments. The four year operation had more important intentions than broadcasting a photo of a big, orange sphere, of course. It gives astronomers and weather prediction experts an unprecedented view of upcoming solar events. (2/7)

Iran Unveils Homemade Satellites, Rocket (Source: Xinhua)
Iran unveiled four domestically- manufactured satellites on Monday, two years after it launched the first self-developed satellite into orbit. Four national satellites, Fajr (Dawn), Rasad (Observation), Zafar (Victory) and Amirkabir I, and a satellite carrier Kavoshgar 4 (Explorer 4) were unveiled on Monday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The satellites would be put in orbit in the near future, Ahmadinejad said. (2/7)

Air Force Awards Lockheed Martin $107 Million Space Fence Radar Contract (Source: Lockheed Martin)
The U.S. Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $107 million follow-on contract for the next phase of Space Fence, a program that will increase space situational awareness and enhance safety for both manned and unmanned space operations. Under the 18-month contract, Lockheed Martin will further develop and prototype its ground-based radar system design in preparation for a final Space Fence production contract next year. Space Fence will replace the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System, or VHF Fence, which has been in service since the early 1960s. The higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will allow for the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than the current systems allow. (2/7)

Raytheon Awarded $107 Million Contract for Space Fence Preliminary Design (Source: Raytheon)
Raytheon has been awarded a $107 million U.S. Air Force contract to further the design of the Space Fence system. Under this contract, Raytheon will deliver a preliminary design and test a functional radar prototype to ensure cost and schedule certainty and technical maturity of the final design in support of Milestone B. A functional radar prototype, with hardware and software components representative of the technology in the final design, will demonstrate the maturity of these critical technologies. (2/7)

Merging Human Spaceflight and Science at NASA (Source: Space Review)
Space science and human spaceflight, long foes in the battle for funding, are going in opposite directions at NASA. Lou Friedman argues it's time to unite the two under a common mission of exploration. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1775/1 to view the article. (2/7)

Buy This Satellite? (Source: Space Review)
Recent events have demonstrated the importance, but also the fragility, of Internet access. Jeff Foust reports on one group making a long-shot bid to buy a satellite to improve Internet access in underserved parts of the world. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1773/1 to view the article. (2/7)

Patent Rights and Flags of Convenience in Outer Space (Source: Space Review)
The effective commercialization of space requires a legal regime that, among other things, protects the intellectual property rights of companies doing work there. Matthew J. Kleiman describes a potential loophole in international space law that could undermine that legal protection. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1772/1 to view the article. (2/7)

Google Lunar Prize Competitor Books Ride to the Moon (Source: Discovery News)
SpaceX sold its first launch to the moon, a mission that gives Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, an early leader in a $32 million race to land a privately owned rover on the lunar surface. The contract reserves a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to fly Astrobotic's lander and rover to the moon as early as December 2013. There's room aboard the Falcon 9 for another 240 pounds of additional cargo, space Astrobotic Technology is selling for $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000-per-payoad fee for integration, communications and other support services.

Aside from adjusting navigation software, Falcon 9 doesn't need any modifications to reach lunar orbit, according to Elon Musk. "Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.

The rovers were launched separately aboard two Delta 2 rockets. Astrobotic Technology is one of 21 teams competing for $32 million in prize funds put up by Google and Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency. (2/7)

Will Florida's Plan to Nurture 'Industry Clusters' Revitalize Its Economy? (Source: Examiner)
As world competition for jobs, especially good-paying jobs, grows more cutthroat, can Florida keep up, much less prosper? Better-paying jobs in significant numbers will not magically materialize in Florida. They must be planned for by state officials, aggressively recruited by smart business leaders, created by the graduates of our universities, nurtured by policymakers and filled by Floridians better trained than today's.

To jump-start a 21st century economy, Florida is betting big on cultivating specific business slices called "industry clusters." Statewide, Enterprise Florida wants to cultivate six distinct industry clusters, including Clean Technology, Biotech/Life Sciences, Information Technology, Aviation/Aerospace, Homeland Security/Defense, and Financial/Professional Services. Florida's economic development leaders sure talk a good game. What's less clear is how forcefully Florida will stop talking and start walking. How does the state make these clusters take root and grow?

Some say a Florida cluster czar could help add momentum and direction. Some wonder if newly arrived Florida Gov. Rick Scott, so keen to reinvigorate the state economy, could take on that responsibility. If the state waits too long to build its industry clusters — with the types of higher-wage jobs we wish for our children in Florida — it will have to spend even more money to catch up. (2/7)

Next Up at Vandenberg: Taurus XL (Sources: SpaceFlightNow.com, Examiner)
The 30th Space Wing's next launch is an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket for NASA scheduled for Feb. 23. The Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket will launch NASA's Glory Earth observation satellite. Glory will collect data on black carbon and aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere and solar irradiance and its affects on Earth's long-term climate record. The mission was delayed from Nov. 22 to finish a fairing separation redesign effort and troubleshoot a spacecraft solar array drive motor problem. (2/7)

2011 Budget Delay Causes Issues for Defense Department (Source: Federal Times)
Top Defense Department officials are deeply frustrated by Congress' almost five-month delay in passing a 2011 appropriations bill. Like all federal agencies, DoD is operating under a continuing resolution, or CR — set to expire March 4 — that extends last year's funding levels but does not approve any new initiatives, programs or adjustments in program funding. The delay is forcing department executives to postpone important program decisions, resulting in derailed schedules, poor management decisions and uncertainties over how to plan the president's 2012 budget request, due to be unveiled next week.

This situation is "the worst of all possible reductions," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Jan. 26. "That's how you hollow out a military even in wartime." Even if Congress does pass a 2011 budget when the current CR expires — which is not at all a certainty — the department's budget problems are sure to linger, planners warn.

"The best case is we're going to be six months into the fiscal year and we don't have a budget. It is not a good situation to be in," said a senior Navy official. "It forces you into stupid management decisions." And among the options Congress is considering is one to extend the CR until the end of the fiscal year. It also may opt to pass a Defense appropriations bill for the remainder of the year. (2/7)

Teachers in Space to Fly Student Experiments on Masten Vehicles (Source: Parabolic Arc)
In the summer of 2011, high-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers will have the chance to fly experiments on an early unmanned flight of a suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV). The Excelsior STEM mission is sponsored by Teachers in Space, a nonprofit project of the Space Frontier Foundation.

The Excelsior STEM mission will fly on a vehicle built and operated by Masten Space Systems, based at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. Teachers will build experiments for the mission during a Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop that will take place Aug. 1-5 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s AERO Institute in Palmdale, CA. The workshop is being developed under a cooperative agreement between Teachers in Space and NASA. NASA Ames Research Center is helping to develop educational experiment kits that teachers will assemble during the workshop. (2/7)

NASA Glenn Perplexed Amid Budget Quandary (Source: Crain's Cleveland Business)
So far, fiscal 2011 is not turning out like Ramon Lugo III had hoped. NASA Glenn Research Center this year had been expecting to get more money and a leadership role in a new NASA program aimed at developing new technologies for deep space exploration. But those things might not happen because of uncertainty at the federal level, said Mr. Lugo, the center's director. Congress hasn't approved the federal budget for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1, 2010. That delay has put new programs at NASA and other agencies on hold.

Plus, a strengthened push to cut federal spending could hurt NASA's budget, which likely would hurt NASA Glenn, Mr. Lugo said. Any cuts also might hurt NASA Glenn's chances of keeping its leadership role in the new Exploration Technology Development and Demonstration program, he said. If NASA's budget is cut, there's no telling which of the agency's 10 centers would absorb the hit, but Mr. Lugo said it is unlikely any particular center would be spared. Should that happen, NASA Glenn first would cut discretionary spending and defer some purchases, but it might need to cut staff, he said. (2/7)

Space: An Experiment in Orbit (Source: Guardian)
It is the laboratory with the world's highest overheads. Its capital costs are indeed astronomical. But this month America's International Space Station becomes truly international. An unmanned Russian Progress space truck and a Japanese vehicle called Kounotori are already plugged into the station: they came to deliver groceries and fuel; they will remain as temporary accommodation; and they will depart as garbage disposal units. They will be joined next week by a European robot delivery van called Johannes Kepler, with more than seven tons of propellant, supplies and oxygen. Later in February, the space shuttle Discovery will join the party on what will be its last mission. In April, Endeavour will deliver the last hardware, then also retire. Atlantis, the remaining shuttle, stands by for a final mission in June.

Thereafter all fuel, food, water, oxygen, household supplies, experimental apparatus and spare parts will be delivered by the other partners, not by Nasa. When the station's lavatories need to be emptied, Moscow, Paris or Tokyo will take care of it. If the station needs to be moved out of danger, then a European or a Russian tractor will do the heavy lifting. If the people on the ISS need to get home, they must board a Russian Soyuz lifeboat. Each shuttle launch costs Nasa $500m. It can no longer afford to run the fleet and will rely on private enterprise to design, test and fly reusable vehicles between Earth and the ISS. (2/7)

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