April 21, 2011

Ukraine Sees Space as Ticket to Developed Nation Status, Eyes Closer Ties With Russia (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said: “I see our space achievements as a driving force of the country’s development. Participation in space programs indicates technological capabilities, economic prospects and the level of national security of a state... This is our ticket to a prestigious club of developed countries.”

Ukraine and Russia have good potential for the development of joint projects in rocket-space industry, President Yanukovych has said today in Yenakiyeve, adding that the issue of joint development of our countries’ rocket-space systems had been discussed during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (4/21)

Taurus 2 Risk-Reduction Flight Approved for October Launch (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
NASA has agreed to pay approximately $100 million to Orbital Sciences Corp. for a test flight of the Taurus 2 rocket to reduce risk on future launches to resupply the International Space Station, company officials said Thursday. The test flight is scheduled to blast off in early October from a new launch pad on Wallops Island, Va.

The launch will not carry Orbital's Cygnus cargo freighter, a separate development which will resupply the space station eight times through 2015. The Cygnus spacecraft should be ready for its in-orbit demonstration by December, according to David Thompson, Orbital's chairman and CEO. (4/21)

The Politics of Space Pork (Sources: SpaceKSC Blogspot, Politico)
Boeing spent nearly $18 million on its own lobbying operation in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition, Boeing hired 19 outside lobbying firms and paid them an additional $3.5 million-plus. Boeing’s PAC donated more than $2.2 million during the past cycle, including $7,500 to Shelby’s campaign committee, $13,000 to Mikulski’s reelection committee and leadership PAC, $1,000 to Aderholt and $3,500 to Wolf.

Lockheed Martin spent nearly $13 million on in-house lobbying and $3 million on outside lobbyists. Lockheed Martin’s PAC shelled out nearly $3.5 million in 2009-10, with the lawmakers seeking the NASA funding receiving more than $69,000.

ATK, spent $1.3 million on federal lobbying, according to disclosure reports. Its PAC gave out $28,500 to lawmakers involved in obtaining the new NASA funding, including $15,000 to Shelby. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which is working with ATK on part of the rocket system, is a division of United Technologies, and is itself a major lobbying force — spending $14.5 million in 2010 — with a PAC that dished out nearly $30,000 to members pushing for the NASA money. (4/21)

Blue Origin Planning Reusable Launch Vehicle (Source: Aviation Week)
Blue Origin is planning a reusable launch vehicle to carry its biconic seven-seat capsule to low Earth orbit, following an interim step when the company will offer suborbital flights in a three-seat version. Although the company's CCDev-2 award was the smallest of the four granted, NASA apparently hopes the deep pockets of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who also founded Amazon.com, may open up an alternative to the other CCDev-2 approaches.

Their funded activity would include testing a 100,000-lb.-thrust liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine that would power a Reusable Booster System (RBS). “Blue Origin’s RBS employs deep-throttling, restartable engines to perform vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) maneuvers for booster recovery and reuse.” Initially the company plans to launch its Space Vehicle on a human-rated Atlas V, and transition to the reusable booster later on.

Editor's Note: The Blue Origin concept is moving farther away from the DC-X "Delta Clipper" design tested with its "New Shepard" vehicle. The "biconic" capsule appears to be a partial lifting-body shape, similar to early versions of Russia's proposed Kliper, which would have landed via parachute. The RBS, however, would still use a rocket-powered vertical landing. This could preclude launches from the Cape, unless the landings occurred after a nearly complete orbit or somewhere far downrange across the Atlantic. (4/21)

Orbital’s Launch Failure Review Nears Conclusion (Source: Space News)
Orbital Sciences Corp. expects by the end of April to have a firm grasp of what caused the March 5 failure of its Taurus XL rocket’s fairing to separate, resulting in the loss of a $424 million NASA climate-observation satellite in the second consecutive fairing-related failure of the rocket in two years.

Orbital CEO David Thompson said the company has not seen NASA or other prospective customers backing away from future use of the Taurus XL rocket. Orbital expects to continue to sell Taurus XL launch services to NASA and other U.S. government agencies for the foreseeable future. Thompson admitted that the loss of the Glory satellite, in the wake of a similar 2009 failure, has put pressure on Orbital to end its failure-investigation review with definitive results. (4/21)

Federal Budget Pays for Summer Shuttle Flight (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The U.S. government budget approved last week all but validates NASA's hope to fly the shuttle Atlantis on a much-needed bonus mission as soon as June 28, according to agency officials. "We're not overly-constrained budget-wise," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations.

Stephanie Schierholz, an agency spokesperson, said the budget signed into law last week "essentially" puts to rest concerns about funding the June mission of Atlantis. The extra flight, numbered STS-135, was added to the shuttle manifest to stock the International Space Station for continued operations after the shuttle's retirement. (4/21)

Russia May Launch Upgraded Soyuz Rocket by 2012 (Source: Xinhua)
Russia plans to launch a light version of the Soyuz carrier rocket by 2012, commander of the Russian Space Forces Oleg Ostapenko said. The Soyuz 2-1V launch vehicle is a two-stage medium class carrier rocket developed by the Progress design bureau. Ostapenko said the Space Forces would be ready to carry out the launch between the end of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. (4/21)

Orbital Sciences Launch Failure Hurts Results (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Orbital Sciences Corp. ended the quarter with a record backlog of business and a healthy gain in earnings, even as the failure of a Taurus rocket last month hurt operating results. Orbital reported net income of $12.3 million, up 33 percent from net income of $9.3 million a year ago. The company had total revenue of $317.7 million, up 7 percent. Orbital received $1.6 billion in new orders during the quarter and ended the period with a record $5.6 billion backlog. (4/21)

Mixed Reaction in Titusville to Obama's Plan to Watch Endeavour Launch (Source: CFnews13)
Ralph and Diane Baxter said they are upset over the state of the country, and the city of Titusville. Diane, who has lived in Titusville her entire life, said she is very worried about the future, and believes President Obama could be doing more for the space program. Her husband, Ralph, also said he was not impressed with the president's performance, calling Obama just another tourist in town.

While many may agree with the Baxters, other Titusville residents said they were delighted that the president has decided to come back to the Space Coast. Among those excited for the Obamas' arrival was Alice Gardner, who works at Steve's Diner. "I think it's a great idea," she said. "I'm glad he is coming. I'm hoping he'll stop by here for breakfast. I think he will see how many people are involved in the launch program, how many people it brings into our county and what a special day it will be."

Obama would be the first president to watch a space shuttle launch from the Space Coast since 1998, when President Bill Clinton was in Brevard County to watch the launch of shuttle Discovery. Editor's Note: Here's a local cartoon. Congressman Bill Posey has repeatedly encouraged President Obama and/or his family to attend a launch, suggesting that there's no better way to get the President excited about supporting space exploration. (4/21)

Commercial Satellites Could Rent Space to Military Payloads (Source: Washington Post
The Defense Department is looking for ways to cut the multibillion-dollar annual costs of its space programs, which include putting some of its military payloads on commercial satellites. “You can look into the future, and the costs projected for [our space programs] are just not affordable," said Ashton Carter.

Reductions in defense spending for space and other programs, Carter said, would largely go toward meeting the goal set by President Obama to cut overall national security spending by $400 billion over the next decade. Pentagon budgets represent the bulk of spending on national security."

Speaking to an audience at the Heritage Foundation, Carter said one “opportunity” for the Pentagon was to rely on “hosted payloads,” with a private company effectively offering real estate on its satellites for Defense Department payloads. That, Carter said, “obviates the need for us to have our own spacecraft.” (4/21)

Pentagon's Arms Buyer Says More Large Programs To Go (Source: AIA)
Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter said more big-ticket weapons programs will be cut in the 2013 fiscal year as the U.S. reins in its defense budget. The Pentagon recently announced that it will terminate a $13 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. "There undoubtedly will be more cancellations of that kind," said Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition. (4/21)

Obama's Plan Moves Conversation Toward Deeper Defense Cuts (Source: AIA)
President Barack Obama's proposal that the U.S. cut security spending by $400 billion over the next 12 years has emboldened those who are striving to chop defense spending by nearly $1 trillion. The fiscal hardliners didn't appear to have much of a shot until Obama made his pitch. Now, the momentum is swinging toward those who are interested in deeper cuts. (4/21)

Honeywell Raises 2011 Profit Forecast (Source: AIA)
Honeywell International saw its quarterly earnings rise, prompting an increase in its profit forecast for the year. In March, the company predicted profit of as much as $3.80 a share, but now it expects to be as high as $3.95 a share. Honeywell is expecting sales to climb as much as 9.7%. (4/21)

Defense Created 27,000 San Diego Jobs During Recession (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)
The defense industry created almost 26,600 jobs in San Diego County in fiscal 2009, helping the region get through a devastating recession, says a new economic analysis by UC San Diego. While jobs were vanishing in construction and other sectors, defense-related employment grew to 354,367. The finding appears in a report commissioned by the San Diego Military Advisory Council, a booster group. (4/20)

Endeavour to Chart New Ground in Rendezvous Demo (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
It's a test pilot's dream. Use an existing vehicle to try out technology for its replacement. The U.S. military does it with fighter planes, and now NASA plans to demonstrate an important piece of space navigation equipment next month on the shuttle Endeavour's last mission.

Eager to put the space shuttle to use before it fades into the history books, NASA has bolted a futuristic eye-safe laser system and high-resolution digital camera inside the shuttle Endeavour's cargo bay for an unprecedented orbital ballet with the International Space Station. The objective: Assess how the next-generation navigation sensors perform in the challenging environment of space. (4/21)

Shooting for the Moon Amid Cuts (Source: Politico)
For all the rhetoric about cutting government spending, NASA’s space mission remains sacred in Congress. A handful of powerful lawmakers are so eager to see an American on the moon — or even Mars — that they effectively mandated NASA to spend “not less than” $3 billion for a new rocket project and space capsule in the 2011 budget bill signed by the president last week.

NASA has repeatedly raised concerns about the timeframe for building a smaller rocket — but the new law expresses Congress’s will for the space agency to make a massive “heavy-lift” rocket that can haul 130 metric tons, like the ones from the days of the Apollo. Congressional approval of the plan — all while $38 billion is being cut elsewhere in the federal government — reflects not only the power of key lawmakers from NASA-friendly states, but the enduring influence of major contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing in those states. (4/21)

Design Flaw Behind India's December GSLV Launch Failure (Source: Space Daily)
A design deficiency in the shroud at the bottom of the cryogenic stage has been identified as the primary factor in the crash of India's GSLV-F06 flight in December 2010. The cover could not withstand load and pressure distribution during launch and caused the "pulling out" of the connectors between the onboard computer in the equipment bay and four strap-on boosters on the first stage. This aborted a signal to the strap-ons, ultimately leading to altitude dip and crash. (4/21)

Indian Scientists Find Micro Life in Earth’s Atmosphere (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
In a major breakthrough, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has discovered micro-life, not known to exist on earth’s surface, in the atmosphere. internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Jayant Vishnu Narlikar referred to two successful balloon tests done in 2001 and 2005 under the guidance of the ISRO. He said air samples collected by releasing the balloons up to a height of 41 km in 2005 had confirmed the presence of micro-organisms not known otherwise on earth.

Air was pumped into stainless steel tubes 41 km from earth’s surface. A thorough research on the contents was carried out in testing laboratories at Cardiff in UK and in India. “The scientists found a total of 12 bacteria of which three were not belonging to planet earth. The new bacteria were immune to bombardment by ultraviolet rays, unlike bacteria found on earth’s surface,” Mr Narlikar revealed.

According to him, the new bacteria could have slipped into earth’s atmosphere, after coming into contact with the tail of a comet traveling through the space. “These new life forms could have been trapped into the comet’s tail as they traveled through space and found their way into earth’s atmosphere when they passed alongside,” he said. He suggested the moon be scanned for micro-organism in its environment, especially in areas where traces of water have been found. (4/21)

India to Conduct GSLV Test Flight in 2012 with Russian Cryogenic Stage (Source: Economic Times)
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will conduct a test flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) with a Russian cryogenic stage engine by the first half of 2012. The test flight would be conducted only after making necessary improvements based on the analysis of the GSLV F06 that failed on December 25, 2010. (4/21)

Muslim World's Growing Contributions in Space (Source: Elan)
We don’t hear much about Muslim scientists in the field of space and astronomy, but there have been many amazing contributions. In recent years, we would rarely think about Muslims when speaking about space. Usually NASA and Russia are at the forefront of any conversation regarding space, but now we have reason to speak about Muslims and space again. Click here to read the article. (4/21)

Beams of Electrons Found to Link Saturn and Enceladus (Source: Daily Mail)
Scientists have long been intrigued by Enceladus, which orbits 112,000 miles above Saturn. Cassini spotted ice volcanoes erupting from the surface of the moon in 2005 and scientists believe this could be evidence of a massive underground ocean. The craft has passed the 310 mile-wide moon 14 times since it arrived, gradually unlocking its secrets.

Scientists studying resulting data have found that the jets of gas and icy grains emitted from the south pole of Enceladus, form an ionsphere when they become electrically charged. This has led to the discovery of a new current system, caused by a dynamo effect, due to the motion of Enceladus and its ionsphere passing through the magnetic bubble that surrounds Saturn. (4/21)

Caltech Gives Obama's Science Advisor His Own Asteroid (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
President Obama's science and technology czar John Holdren delivered the eighth Lee A. Dubridge Distinguished Lecture at Caltech Tuesday night, focusing on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in federal policymaking. Climate change and clean energy, math and science education, nuclear power and the battle to prioritize science, technology and innovation under continuing budget stress were all discussed at length.

As a "thank you," the Institute, in collaboration with JPL, gave Holdren his own asteroid. The naming, a "small, symbolic gift," Caltech professor and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail said, "I think will keep the bonding between you and Caltech and JPL forever." The move elicited broad laughter from the audience - some of whom might remember Holdren's 10-page letter to Congress last year about the need to ready U.S. defenses against the remote threat of near earth objects (NEOs). (4/21)

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