March 31, 2011

British Micro-Satellites to Ride Falcon 9 (Source: Florida Today)
Britain's leading satellite builder plans to launch small satellites from Cape Canaveral aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets within the next two years. That could create jobs in Brevard County while boosting the area's visibility overseas. "We actually see SpaceX as one of the things that will open up the American market to small satellites," said Philip Davies, business development manager with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in Surrey, England.

The company has built nearly 40 dishwasher-sized satellites, which are used for communications and Earth imaging. It sees a growing market once SpaceX establishes itself as a low-cost launch provider. That California-based company, owned by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, has had two successful launches from Cape Canaveral and plans a third this summer. (3/31)

Space Coast Small Business Hires for KSC Contract (Source: Craig Technologies)
March was a busy month for woman-owned Craig Technologies, processing fourteen new hires to support the NASA KSC Engineering Services Contract (ESC) they were awarded in November with their teammate QinetiQ. The new team consists of integration and test and software engineers, along with technicians and administrative support personnel. The $1.9 billion contract calls for support services that include the design and development of ground systems and equipment, flight systems engineering and support engineering. (3/31)

Gravity Satellite Yields 'Potato Earth' View (Source: BBC)
It looks like a giant potato in space. And yet, the information in this model is the sharpest view we have of how gravity varies across the Earth. The globe has been released by the team working on Europe's Goce satellite. It is a highly exaggerated rendering, but it neatly illustrates how the tug we feel from the mass of rock under our feet is not the same in every location. Gravity is strongest in yellow areas; it is weakest in blue ones. Click here. (3/31)

Stunning Russian Earth Photos Differ from NASA's (Source: Daily Mail)
They are some of the most revealing and fascinating images yet taken of Earth. Clearly showing various land colors according to terrain and finely detailing the height contours of mountains, they are incredibly beautiful to look at. But they are also unique and quite different to the images of our planet captured by numerous NASA missions over the years. For these images were not taken by NASA, but by an orbiting Russian spacecraft, and the reason for the difference in Earth's appearance can be attributed to a different method of interpreting data being beamed back. Click here. (3/31)

Kelly Awaits Docs' OK on Giffords Seeing Launch (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Space shuttle commander Mark Kelly said Thursday he’s still awaiting doctors’ blessing to bring his wounded congresswoman wife to his launch in just under three weeks. NASA, meanwhile, took stock of minor damage to Kelly’s shuttle on the launch pad as severe thunderstorms swept through Kennedy Space Center.

Each shuttle crew member arranges a party for family and friends who descend on Cape Canaveral for the launch. The astronauts themselves are in quarantine and cannot attend; spouses stand in as hosts. In Kelly’s case, his identical twin astronaut brother, Scott, could fill in. Scott is just back from a five-month stay at the International Space Station. (3/31)

Israel, The Third Nation on the Moon? (Source: Forbes)
If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they’re doing it in their spare time.

The three engineers – Yariv Bash (electronics and computers), Kfir Damari (communication systems), and Yonatan Winetraub (satellite systems) all have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world, and also both teach and study. They all had heard of the Google Lunar X Prize independently, before being introduced by mutual friends who, as Yonatan puts it “thought we were all crazy enough to do it, so we should meet each other.” (3/31)

Brits Believe Space Travel Insurance May be Required in 2020 (Source:
A new survey has revealed that some Brits are of the opinion they will be able to holiday to the moon in the near future. The online travel agent says that out of the 1,926 people questioned, 11 percent believe that holiday trips to the moon will be possible by 2020. According to the research, around 22 percent of respondents expect that by 2020, there could be the existence of space station resorts. (3/31)

Brits Meet with Colorado Aerospace Firms (Source: Boulder Business Report)
British space industry representatives toured DigitalGlobe and Ball Aerospace & Technologies in a two-day visit to look for business collaboration opportunities. The small delegation of about half a dozen people also visited National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facilities in Boulder, the United Launch Alliance in Littleton, and met with economic development officials and others in the Denver metro area. The British Council trade department in Chicago coordinated the trip. (3/31)

House GOP Members Call for Increases in Defense Spending (Source: AIA)
Some Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee are going against the budget-slashing trend and asking for $7 billion more to be added to the $553 billion base defense budget for 2012 that the Obama administration has requested. In a letter to the House Budget Committee, 29 members of the Armed Services Committee called on lawmakers to "not jeopardize the security of the nation by accepting across-the-board cuts to national defense without regard to the inherent strategic risks." (3/31)

FCC Says Broadband Network Will Depend on GPS Study (Source: AIA)
Under pressure from transportation and defense officials, the Federal Communications Commission says a huge broadband relay network will not proceed until experts have addressed concerns over possible interference with GPS systems. "The process followed in addressing those issues will include the ongoing input of our federal partners, the GPS community and industry," an FCC spokesman noted. The agency has issued conditional approval for the broadband wireless network, pending a report on GPS interference issues that is due June 15. (3/31)

BBC Gets a Behind-the-Scenes Look at SpaceShipTwo (Source: NewSpace Journal)
BBC reporter Richard Scott has a bit of an exclusive: a look behind the scenes of the development of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo as well as Spaceport America in New Mexico. The real exclusive is the first look inside SpaceShipTwo, briefly seen in the two-minute video. (Other videos in the article include an interview with test pilot Pete Siebold and a tour of Spaceport America.) Click here. (3/31)

Posey: Direct NASA Toward Human Spaceflight (Source: Space Politics)
Yesterday the House Budget Committee took testimony from fellow members of the House on various issues as it prepares work on a budget resolution for fiscal year 2012. That included a statement from Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who spoke out on the need to fully fund NASA’s human spaceflight programs, cranking up the rhetoric in the process.

Posey’s statement included familiar themes: NASA’s human spaceflight program was adrift thanks to the Obama Administration’s decision to cancel Constellation, with implications for American leadership and national security, even while the administration sought increase spending on climate change research and commercial spaceflight. And he sought to make those points with blunt language.

“By failing to set priorities within NASA’s budget, the Administration has left NASA with no priorities,” he said. “Should Congress fail to step in where the Administration has left a leadership void we will be making an unacceptable compromise in our national security and lose economic and intangible benefits from our space program.” Click here to read the article. (3/31)

Space Week in Texas (Source: NASA JSC)
Space Week 2011 was held in Texas on March 24-31. This year’s theme was “Space Matters. Destination: Station...and Beyond.” NASA landed in Austin and the State Capitol on March 31. Activities included educational and interactive exhibits and inspiring speaker presentations highlighting ISS achievements, honoring the Space Shuttle Program and celebrating the future of space exploration. Click here for more. (3/31)

Ariane Abort Produces Fire and Smoke, But No Blastoff (Source:
With its hydrogen-fueled Vulcain main engine already spewing flame, an Ariane 5 rocket was dramatically grounded Wednesday by a last-second abort moments before two mighty solid rocket boosters were to have ignited to send the 1.7-million-pound launcher toward space. A final computer check of the Ariane 5's health uncovered a problem that triggered the cutoff of the countdown. Like the space shuttle, the Ariane 5 rocket's core cryogenic main engine ignites seconds before twin solid-fueled boosters, giving computers a chance to gauge the vehicle's health before firing the strap-on motors, which can't be turned off. (3/31)

California Space Authority Backs Export Reforms (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The California Space Authority lobbied on behalf of President Barack Obama’s effort to reform restrictive export laws that industry officials are costing Americans jobs and destroying U.S. competitiveness in the lucrative high-tech markets, including satellites.

CSA led its annual California Space Week Washington DC this week. Representatives of the Golden State’s space community visited Congressional and other DC offices in support of a broad agenda that also included NASA, DoD, and education. With four of the five major U.S. satellite makers in California, CSA has a strong interest in reforming laws limiting the ability of those companies to export their technology overseas. California accounts for 22 percent of the global space market in all categories. (3/31)

Foundation Opposes "Senate Launch System" (Source: Space Frontier Foundation)
Please remind your Representative & Senators they are not rocket scientists! Let NASA compete all the best ideas for a Space Launch System... Don’t mandate an unaffordable/unsustainable “Senate Launch System”!

The Senate’s draft CR, which didn’t even pass the Senate, told NASA to build a 130-ton heavy-lift launch vehicle right away... using current contractors and 1970s era technology. Everyone reading this alert wants NASA to start exploring again. But there are a lot of options for exploration transportation that don’t require paying the huge fixed costs of the Shuttle or Constellation forever. Heavy-lift capabilities can be developed incrementally over time, as we can afford them and are ready to use them. (3/31)

CSA: NASA’s Contribution to California’s Economy: $17.7 Billion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
NASA contributes $3.6 billion in direct contracts and an additional $14.1 billion in in-direct jobs to the Golden State through its three field centers, according to the California Space Authority. The agency directly employs more than 7,100 with an annual payroll in excess of $900 million. The statistics are included in a points paper on NASA that CSA issued for 2011 California Space Week Washington DC.

The paper is designed to instruct participants in what to say when visiting Congressional offices. The document urges full funding for NASA at the proposed $18.7 billion level. It also recommends full support for NASA’s HLV, Multiply-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), CCDev and COTS programs in accordance with the authorization act signed into law last year. CSA also opposes a proposed $298 million cut in the agency’s operations budget to pay for police salaries. (3/31)

Obama Administration Pushing Back on Congressionally Directed Rocket (Source: Space News)
Obama administration officials continue to push back against a congressionally directed heavy-lift launch vehicle that would salvage elements of the Constellation program. White House science adviser John Holdren said that while the president’s proposed $18.7 billion FY-12 NASA budget would fund key themes contained in the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act, Congress’ inability to pass a 2011 spending bill is preventing the agency from beginning work on the new Space Launch System (SLS) and Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

With the White House under pressure to curb spending, Holdren said the president’s proposal represents “the most aggressive program” for a heavy-lift launch vehicle development given the constrained budget NASA will face in the coming years. “There is, I think, a real question as to whether it can be done in the time that the Congress would like, but in the end it’s difficult to legislate scientific and engineering reality,” he said, adding, “NASA is determined and the administration is determined to do the best we can to get a heavy-lift vehicle as fast as we can and I think that’s the best one can say.” (3/31)

Some Skepticism Lingers Regarding Heavy-Lift Rocket (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
Lawmakers, a space industry official and an academic remained skeptical Wednesday about NASA's commitment to developing a heavy-lift rocket. Jim Maser, representing the AIAA, told the House space subcommittee the industry is uncertain about how much the government will invest in its own rockets and how much it will spend helping private companies develop rockets.

"We simply do not know what is next," said Maser, president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which builds the space shuttle's external engine. "We are in a crisis." The confusion arose because the government last year canceled the Constellation program that aimed to return to the moon. NASA hasn't decided yet how much of the Constellation's Ares 1 rocket will be used to develop a heavy-lift rocket to reach asteroids or Mars.

"NASA must not delay," said Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, chairman of the space committee. "Lengthy studies are no longer needed." Doug Cooke, administrator of NASA's exploration directorate, assured lawmakers the agency plans to decide by late June how much of Ares will be used to develop a heavy-lift rocket. He said NASA already has decided the Orion capsule from Constellation will be used to develop a capsule for the rocket. (3/31)

Florida House OKs Space Industry Incentives (Source: Florida Capital News)
A House panel on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a series of tax breaks and incentives designed to offset two of the biggest economic disasters in the state — the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the retirement later this year of the space shuttle. The Finance and Tax Committee voted to approve HB-873 by Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.

The bill would provide up to $20 million in tax credits for aerospace-related businesses, but the program is non-recurring and would not kick in until 2017. Crisafulli said the measure is needed to offset the 9,000 direct layoffs that are expected to follow the retirement of the shuttle later this year. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, cast the only dissenting vote.

"I don't think these types of credits for this industry are appropriate," she said. "I'd rather have them go for renewable energy." A companion measure by Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, is making its way to the Senate floor. (3/31)

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