February 8, 2011

Conservative, Free-Market Leaders Call for Competitive Market in U.S. Spaceflight (Source: CSTF)
The Competitive Space Task Force, a coalition of fiscal conservatives and free-market leaders, unveiled today its strategy for creating a free and competitive market for spaceflight and space services enabling the country to recapture the imagination and innovation of America’s space program and foster a new entrepreneurial spirit in the emerging Space Economy.

Retired Congressman and former Chairman of the House Science Committee Robert S. Walker remarked, “The Space Economy is emerging as the next great frontier for economic expansion and U.S. leadership. If we really want to ‘win the future,’ we cannot abandon our commitment to space exploration and human spaceflight. The fastest path to space is not through Moscow, but through the American entrepreneur.”

Said Rand Simberg, Chairman of the Competitive Space Task Force, “America cannot simply sit in the passenger seat and expect to lead. We need to pilot the ship. We need to lead the way.” The Task Force recommends: Accelerating crew transportation systems to low Earth orbit; Maximizing private sector access to the U.S. segment of the ISS; Fixed-price, pay-for-performance contracts to reward private investment and innovation in human exploration and spaceflight projects; and Dramatically reducing the costs of NASA programs. Click here. (2/8)

CAGW President Speaks at Press Conference on Competitive Spaceflight (Source: CAGW)
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz addressed the importance of increasing private sector participation in space exploration while reducing the government’s role. Schatz deliver his remarks at a press conference featuring members of the Competitive Space Task Force that includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TechFreedom, Institute for Liberty, Reason Foundation, The Atlas Society, and the Space Frontier Foundation.

“At CAGW we believe taxpayers spend money more effectively than government bureaucrats. As a result, getting the government out of space exploration is one of our top priorities. It is gratifying to have a chance to work toward that goal alongside such an impressive alliance of like-minded groups”

Editor's Note: "Getting the government out of space exploration" seems counter to the interests expressed by many commercial space advocates. Rather, they would prefer that the government focus exclusively on exploration and research, allowing the private sector to assist these exploration efforts and to exploit commercial opportunities in places already explored. (2/8)

Governor Requests $10.04 Million for Space Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
Governor Rick Scott's proposed FY-2012 budget includes $10,039,943 for Space Florida, an increase of $6.2 million over the agency's FY-2011 budget. The increase is significant, but is said to include funds intended for post-Shuttle workforce assistance in addition to the agency's day-to-day economic development and spaceport operations responsibilities. The workforce funds (an amount that wasn't specified within the agency's total budget) would probably be transferred to separate groups that specialize in workforce development.

Also available to Space Florida through the Governor's Office would be incentive funding aimed at attracting and expanding businesses within targeted industry clusters, including aerospace. $6.1 million is also requested for an economic development grant program for space/defense/rural infrastructure. The Florida Legislature will now consider the Governor's proposed budget alongside separate budget proposals developed by the state's House of Representatives and Senate. The annual two-month Legislative Session will begin on March 8. (2/8)

Governor Links Florida Industry Incentive Grants to University Partnerships (Source: SPACErePORT)
Florida Governor Rick Scott plans to spend $800 million over two years on economic development in the state. He also will promote university R&D by requiring companies who receive incentive grants to enter into research partnerships with universities in the state. Here's an excerpt from his plan: "Florida has many unique clusters revolving around university specific research. State economic development grants will always include partnerships with universities to develop research strengths into unique clusters."

Editor's Note: Aviation/Aerospace is one of the industry clusters targeted for economic expansion in the state. Multiple aerospace companies will likely seek state incentive funding for their expansion/relocation in the state. Embry-Riddle is ready to support these projects, so companies are encouraged to contact me to discuss how we can work together. (2/7)

ATK Teams with EADS Astrium on Liberty Rocket for NASA (Source: Star Tribune)
Alliant Techsystems is entering the competition to be a part of a NASA-administered program to replace the space shuttle with commercially designed and developed systems for human spaceflight. Alliant is partnering with Astrium, a French aerospace company, on a new two-stage launch vehicle to be called Liberty. Alliant would produce the first stage of the rocket at its facilities in Promontory, Utah. Astrium would provide the second stage, and Alliant would oversee the final assembly at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (2/8)

Liberty Rocket Resembles Ares-1 (Source: Florida Today)
ATK and Astrium, the company that builds the liquid-fueled core stage of European Ariane 5 rockets, are pitching the 33-story Liberty rocket to NASA. The launcher looks similar to the Ares-1 rocket that was being developed for NASA's Project Constellation, which was canceled by the Obama Administration. For its first stage it employs the same advanced, five-segment version of the shuttle's solid rocket booster. But in a move that significantly lowers development costs, the second stage of the rocket is based on the flight-proven core stage of Europe's Ariane 5 rocket. (2/8)

ATK Wants to Sell NASA a Recycled Ares-1 (Source: NASA Watch)
So, let me get this straight: NASA pours billions into ATK to develop the 5-segment SRB first stage of Ares 1. It has never been flown. Massive cost overruns, technical problems, and multi-year schedule delays force its cancellation. Now, ATK takes that multi-billion dollar taxpayer investment, paints a fancy logo on it, and tries to sell it back to the taxpayers as a commercial product? Oh yes, this rocket will deliver "44,500 pounds to the International Space Station orbit". Hmm, that's less than NASA's advertised Ares 1 capability i.e. "25-ton payload capacity to deliver resources and supplies to the International Space Station". (2/8)

ULA Completes CCDev Emergency Detection System Abort Demonstration (Source: SpaceRef.com)
United Launch Alliance (ULA) completed the most significant portion of the final milestone for its Commercial Crew Development Emergency Detection System (EDS) project last month, demonstrating the EDS test bed in ULA's Denver Launch Support Center using the high fidelity Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL).

During testing last year, several abort simulation runs were successfully generated that illustrate the EDS abort detection capability for a wide range of anomalous launch vehicle conditions, both slow and quick to evolve into a catastrophic event. As soon as EDS detected the anomalous condition, the launch vehicle issued a command to the spacecraft to separate and initiate the abort escape sequence. (2/8)

NASA Notes "Unprecedented" Interest in Commercial Space Development (Source: AIA)
Private companies are building new spacecraft in "a rapid and unprecedented way," said NASA's deputy chief Lori Garver after visits last week to Bigelow Aerospace and Sierra Nevada. "We're looking to loosen our grip and allow companies to do those things in low Earth orbit that we've been doing for over 50 years," she said. (2/8)

Shortfall in FAA Fund Could Mean Higher Taxes, Fees (Source: AIA)
The Government Accountability Office reports that the FAA Trust Fund -- used to improve airports, air traffic control and the like -- is facing declining revenues and a precariously low balance. "The Trust Fund's uncommitted balance, which exceeded $7.3 billion at the end of fiscal year 2001, dropped to $299 million at the end of fiscal year 2009 -- the lowest balance over the past decade," the GAO said in a report released Monday. The agency says monies flowing into the fund could be $25 billion less than projected over the next six years, forcing higher taxes for airlines or passengers.

Editor's Note: This trust fund has been proposed in the past as a source for spaceport infrastructure funding. Aviation proponents opposed the suggestion because launch companies and spaceports did not pay taxes/fees that fed into the trust fund. This begged the question: could a portion of spaceport user fees, rocket fuel surcharges, and/or a payload tax structure be put in place to make this work? (2/8)

Russia Reiterates Option to Exit Arms Treaty if U.S. Adds Missiles (Source: AIA)
Despite agreeing to participate in the landmark START arms treaty, Russia is still concerned about revised U.S. missile defense plans. The Kremlin has reiterated that it reserves the right to withdraw from the treaty if the U.S. significantly builds up its missile shield. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister emphasized on Monday that his country would re-assess its obligations under the treaty in light of such a buildup of U.S. missiles. (2/8)

Germany, France Discuss EADS' Ownership Structure (Source: AIA)
Germany and France are reportedly engaged in "intensive dialogue" over the future ownership structure of EADS amid possible changes in Daimler AG's stake in 2012. EADS was formed in 2000 to pool the aerospace interests of companies in France, Germany and Spain, but stakeholders including Daimler and French publisher Lagardere SCA trimmed their stakes by 7.5% in 2006, and there have been several shake-ups in ownership since then. Countries involved in manufacturing have meanwhile been careful to guard a balance of the production line and management. (2/8)

Ambitious Mission Would Probe Depths of Jupiter’s Icy Moons (Source: Space.com)
American and European scientists are firming up the details of an ambitious joint mission to Jupiter to explore oceans on the giant planet's icy moons. The overarching theme of the Europa Jupiter System Mission, a combined effort by NASA and the European Space Agency, will be "the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants," the two space agencies announced. The proposed mission, if approved, would send orbiters to two of Jupiter's ocean-harboring moons. A NASA craft would head to Europa, while an ESA orbiter would circle the moon Ganymede, officials said. (2/8)

Congress, NASA Spar Over Budget Constraints (Source: AIA)
NASA is warning policymakers that its first new rocket in four decades may be a no-go because the $8 billion appropriated by Congress is not enough. "We have done calculations with current models and approaches to doing this type of development and it doesn't work with funding constraints combined with schedules that were laid out in the Authorization Act," says Doug Cooke, an associate administrator at the space agency. But Congress has little time for what it views as foot-dragging. "NASA must stop making excuses and follow this law," says Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL. (2/8)

House Group Proposes Shifting Earth Science Funds to Manned Spaceflight (Source: Space News)
A group of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives is proposing to shift funds from NASA’s climate-change research coffers to the agency’s manned spaceflight program, an effort they say could preserve what they described as the agency’s core mission even as the new GOP-controlled House seeks to make good on vows to roll back federal discretionary spending this year.

“With your help, we can reorient NASA’s mission back toward human spaceflight by reducing funding for climate change research and reallocating those funds to NASA’s human spaceflight accounts, all while moving overall discretionary spending toward [fiscal 2008] levels,” states a Feb. 7 letter to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the panel’s commerce, justice, science subcommittee that oversees NASA spending. (2/8)

Senate Leader Urges President to Support Space in FY-12 Budget Request (Source: SpaceRef.com)
"I strongly urge you to support the space program in your budget request for FY 2012. Any digression from the hard fought compromise would likely result in another year of turmoil for an already battered community. Thousands of highly skilled individuals have already lost their jobs, and additional job losses are expected as the agency transitions to the next generation space vehicle. Florida has been particularly hard hit with projected job losses over the next year and a half at more than 7000 - a state with an unemployment rate that already hovers near 12%. While many of these jobs are being lost with the Shuttle's retirement, we can reduce these job reductions by properly implementing the NASA Authorization Act." Click here. (2/8)

Harbinger To Sell Remaining Inmarsat Shares (Source: Space News)
Hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners is selling the remainder of its shares in mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat in a transaction likely to generate gross proceeds of more than $650 million — which is about what a Harbinger-owned satellite-terrestrial broadband project will owe Inmarsat over the next three years. Harbinger’s LightSquared venture has agreed to pay Inmarsat $337.5 million immediately and $115 million per year, rising at 3 percent per year, in return for the use of part of Inmarsat’s L-band radio frequency over North America. (2/8)

Grassroots Space Lobbying Planned for March in Washington (Source: Space Politics)
March Storm, the annual citizens space lobby effort by ProSpace, has released its plans for the 2011 event scheduled for March 13-15. This year’s effort will support one major initiative, “The Zero-Gravity, Zero-Tax Act of 2011″. Specific details of the proposed legislation are not included in the announcement beyond “creating a tax holiday on the profits of new commercial space business enterprises.” Similar legislation has been proposed in the past but failed to gain support in Congress. ProSpace will also express its support for NASA’s commercial crew and cargo program. (2/8)

Senate to Take Up NASA Amendment (Source: The Hill)
The Senate will vote on legislation that would strike language from the FAA authorization bill that could lead to budget cuts for NASA. The amendment from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) would kill language that creates an advisory committee to examine whether or not NASA should continue R&D on civilian aircraft. Nelson's amendment is aimed at protecting NASA from further budget cuts. The measure enjoys bipartisan support, including from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). (2/8)

Ohio Lawmakers Lead Push to Bring Shuttle to Air Force Museum (Source: Dayton Daily News)
Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Mike Turner are leading a new effort to urge NASA to donate one of its retired space shuttles to the national Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In a letter to be sent today to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Turner and Brown write that the museum “provides a premier venue to showcase the shuttle." The letter was signed by every member of the state’s congressional delegation except House Speaker John Boehner, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich could sign it today. (2/8)

Icarus: Which Exoplanet to Visit? (Source: Discovery)
The Icarus study is tasked with designing an interstellar space vehicle capable of making in situ scientific investigations of nearby stars. The specific target star has not yet been selected, but its choice will be constrained by a number of factors. One of these is the design requirement that the target star should be reached within a hundred years of launch, and "ideally much sooner."

Given realistic propulsion options, and the further requirement that the scientific payload be decelerated at the target, this implies a maximum realistic range of 15 light-years from the solar system. However, given that the project ideally wishes to complete the mission in much less than 100 years, it follows that the actual target will probably have to be significantly closer than 15 light-years. (2/8)

Opening Up The X-37B (Source: Space Daily)
The US Air Force's X-37B spaceplane has generated a lot of attention and suspicion, even before the vehicle blasted off on its maiden voyage in April 2010. Conspiracy theorists would have us believe that the vehicle is an orbiting weapon, designed to attack other satellites or ground targets. This is highly implausible, for a variety of reasons, but it hints at the lack of certain facts about the spaceplane and its tasks. More sober guesses about the X-37B's purpose include space reconnaissance and the testing of new sensor equipment. Click here to read the article. (2/8)

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