April 30, 2011

Local Leaders Push for Energy and UAS Programs at KSC (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Space Coast Energy Consortium (SCEC) last week held a clean energy jobs event in Cocoa, intended to link space industry workers with employment opportunities in the clean energy sector. Members of the group also appealed to senior officials from NASA and other federal agencies during a different meeting to urge transitioning the unique capabilities at Kennedy Space Center toward clean energy technology development.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver responded affirmatively, saying this is exactly the kind of transition envisioned by the agency's leadership. SCEC officials then met briefly with the other agency officials to discuss their ideas.

Also discussed during the multi-agency meeting were ideas for increasing the number and variety of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) programs at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, for the military, NASA, NOAA, and DHS. There is also an emerging requirement at the FAA for establishing new UAS Test Ranges in collaboration with NASA and the Air Force. (4/30)

FAA Commercial Space Issues Get Hearing (Source: Space Politics)
The space subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is holding a hearing on May 5 to consider the FY2012 budget request of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). The FAA requests $26.6 million for the office in 2012, up considerably from the $15.2 million it got in FY2010.

The increase is largely due to the planned creation of the Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center at the Kennedy Space Center, as well as a proposed $5-million Low Cost Access to Space Initiative prize announced by FAA/AST in February. In addition to the budget, there are moves afoot in industry to adjust existing law regarding commercial spaceflight that could come up at the hearing.

Some industry advocates want to extend a current moratorium on new FAA spaceflight regulations that is set to expire in Dec. 2012. They propose revising the moratorium to expire eight years after the first U.S. commercial human spaceflight. This change might be rolled up into another proposal to include third-party indemnification for spaceflight participants, similar to existing indemnification for commercial satellite launches. (4/28)

Shuttle Delay Doesn't Stop Obama Visit to KSC (Source: Florida Today)
President Barack Obama came and went Friday, but shuttle Endeavour stayed put on the Space Coast. "I bet you were hoping to see a rocket launch today," shuttle Commander Mark Kelly told Obama, who flew into the Cape with his family planning to see Endeavour off on its mission to the International Space Station.

Obama, his wife Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia and mother-in-law Marian Robinson were to view the launch from the roof of the Launch Control Center but instead toured the building and met with Endeavour's crew, their families and NASA officials. That followed a tour of KSC's Orbiter Processing Facility, where shuttle Atlantis is being prepared for the final mission in program history on June 28. (4/30)

Gabrielle Giffords Meets with Obamas at KSC (Source: Arizona Republic)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords didn't get to see her husband blast off into space on Friday, but she met privately with him and President Barack Obama at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Giffords has been in Florida since Wednesday. It is her first trip away from the Houston facility where she has been undergoing rehabilitation since an assassination attempt in late January. (4/30)

Asteroids Collide at 11,000 Miles Per Hour; Scientists Study Debris (Source: UCLA)
Scientists have captured and studied the collision of two asteroids for only the second time in the history of astronomy. UCLA's David Jewitt and colleagues reported on observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of a large asteroid that was hit by a much smaller one.

On Dec. 11, 2010, astronomers noticed that an asteroid known as Scheila had unexpectedly brightened and was sporting short-lived dust plumes. Data from NASA's Swift satellite and Hubble Space Telescope showed that these changes likely occurred after Scheila was struck by a much smaller asteroid, probably in late November or early December. The shape, evolution and content of the plumes enabled the scientists to reconstruct what occurred. (4/30)

Former Planet May Have Grown a Tail (Source: Science News)
Just like Mickey’s dog, the former planet Pluto has a tail — or at least a hint of one. Scientists have detected a wisp of carbon monoxide in Pluto’s thin upper atmosphere, extending a quarter of the way to its largest moon, Charon, or about 3,400 kilometers above Pluto’s surface. To the astronomers who detected it, the cloud appears to have properties resembling a comet’s gas tail. (4/30)

Groupthink Not a Problem in Simulated Mars Mission (Source: WIRED)
Getting along with your fellow astronauts can be dangerous. Too much consensus — what some psychologists call “groupthink” — can keep crews from being creative in a crisis. But a new study found that six “cosmonauts” on a simulated Mars mission emerged from 105 days in a replica spacecraft with their quirks intact.

The study was the first to directly tackle the possible downside of harmony, rather than antagonism, in a space mission. “Earlier, we had been focusing on how tension increases over time,” said social psychologist Gro Sandal of the University of Bergen in Norway. “This paper has more or less the opposite focus: whether people start to think more and more similar while they are isolated.”

Groupthink is still a controversial concept: Not all social psychologists think it exists. But those who believe in it think it tends to happen when people isolated in an extreme situation — a war zone, for instance, or a ship in the Arctic — start thinking in lockstep and avoiding outward disagreement. Groupthinkers also often feel like they’re united against a common enemy — on a space mission, this could be Mission Control. (4/30)

China Astronaut Calls for U.S. Cooperation (Source: Reuters)
China's most renowned astronaut said on Friday his country and the U.S. should make good on their presidents' promises to cooperate in space. "I think the two countries should proactively implement the intent expressed in the joint communique to eliminate obstacles and promote exchange and cooperation in our space programs," Yang Liwei, now the vice director of the country's Manned Space Engineering Office, said.

Efforts at U.S.-China cooperation in space have failed in the past decade, stymied by economic, diplomatic and security tensions, despite a 2009 attempt by President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, to launch collaboration. Obama and Hu, in a statement in November 2009, called for "the initiation of a joint dialogue on human spaceflight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit." (4/30)

Government Officials Meet with Space Industry Leaders (Source: Florida Today)
In town for the Endeavour launch, officials from NASA, the Office of Personnel Management, NOAA and other federal agencies met for an hour with about 100 space industry officials Friday in Cape Canaveral. No new programs or additional funding was announced, but continued support of Brevard and its space programs was reiterated.

The meeting comes after the loss of a $40 million grant to help laid-off shuttle workers, which was promised by the Obama administration but was cut during budget negotiations. A $15 million award, however, has been delivered to help retrain thousands of engineers and technicians. "We are really focused on our future," Space Florida President Frank DiBello said. "We recognize it's in our hands, not Washington's." (4/30)

Shuttle Tourist Dies in Auto Accident (Source: Florida Today)
A shuttle launch-viewing trip turned fatal for a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle when he was crossing U.S. 1 in Titusville with family and friends Friday. Titusville Police said John V. Devoles, 70, of The Villages, Florida, died shortly after 5 p.m. at Holmes Regional Medical Center, where he was flown following the 11:30 a.m. accident. (4/30)

Scaled Composites Ramps Up SS2 Test Rate (Source: Aviation Week)
Scaled Composites marked a dramatic increase in the test rate of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) by completing two glide tests over five days, including a 16-min. 7-sec. glide on April 27 that represents the longest flight to date. Back-to-back flights tested minor aerodynamic and control system improvements to the 60-ft.-long, 42-ft.-wingspan vehicle.

The sudden surge in testing follows several weeks of weather-related delays, and has seen release altitudes from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership raised to 51,000 ft. and beyond. The higher altitudes provide more time to continue the flutter envelope expansion that began with the third flight in November 2010.

The flights also evaluated stability and control, and provided pilot training for the Scaled test team. Glide testing is being used to refine the vehicle’s aerodynamics and low-speed handling qualities. The next test phase will involve higher-speed subsonic flight with a short burst of thrust from the Sierra Nevada-developed RM2 rocket engine. (4/30)

John Glenn Talks End Of NASA Space Shuttle Program (Source: NBC4i)
Ohio's own John Glenn believes it's a mistake for NASA to abandon the shuttle program and as a result, cut its access to the $100 billion space station, which he calls the most unique laboratory ever designed. "We need the basic research and innovation that is provided not just by the ability to go farther into space, but by all of the research that we can do within earth's orbit here," Glenn said. (4/30)

Japanese Space Entrepreneur Heads to Jail (Source: NTD)
Once touted as a symbol of a new, dynamic Japan, 38-year-old entrepreneur Takafumi Horie is now heading to jail. Known for his celebrity lifestyle and aggressive takeover bids, Horie rattled corporate Japan, as he expanded Internet Company Livedoor into a conglomerate worth $6 billion at its peak. But this week, he lost his final appeal in a fraud case, and is resigned to doing time.

The two-and-a-half year prison term is unusually harsh by Japanese standards, as most white-collar criminals are often able to avoid jail time. Horie is vowing to return to his current business in space tourism once he gets out of prison. (4/30)

Raytheon Plans to Move Some California Operations Out of State (Source: Noozhawk)
Raytheon employees in Goleta were informed Wednesday that one of the company’s divisions will see layoffs and be moving its operations to other states. The company’s Tactical Airborne Systems and Electronic Warfare division, or TAS-EW, learned that the move eventually will directly affect 114 employees, as well as some support employees.

Layoffs are expected to begin as early as June and continue through the rest of the year. Moving production to sites in Dallas, Texas, and Forest, Miss., is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. The company recently laid off nearly 50 employees in its Vision Systems department. Despite that, the company is committed to a strong presence in Goleta, as well as the future of the TAS-EW division. (4/27)

Republican Dilemma: Reduce Federal Spending, But Not My Special Interests (Source: Daily Caller)
George LeMieux wants to cut government spending and shrink the federal government. That is, unless you’re talking about paying for space ships that fly to asteroids. The former Florida Republican senator, who recently launched his campaign to unseat current Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, vowed Tuesday to increase spending for the nation’s space exploration program while simultaneously touting his record on limited government.

“There are very few things the federal government should be doing,” LeMieux said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “But one of the few things the federal government can only do is space exploration. We are seeing good private sector folks that are trying to go into low- Earth orbit and that’s great and we should encourage them, but the only folks that are going to go to an asteroid or go to Mars is going to be NASA.”

Space ships are to the Sunshine State what farm subsidies are to Iowa. And for Republican candidates straining to out-Tea Party fellow conservatives, the massive federal spending on the behalf of the nation’s farmers and rocket scientists can be a real dilemma. LeMieux, who doesn’t support Obama’s economic “stimulus” program, made a passionate case for how, at least in the case of space exploration, government spending creates jobs. (4/27)

Space Adventures Circumlunar Mission Teleconference on May 5 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Space Adventures Board Chairman Eric Anderson and Vice-Chairman Richard Garriott will outline the future of private exploration and announce new developments regarding the company’s circumlunar mission during a teleconference on May 5 at 2:30 p.m. Space Adventures has already sold one seat reservation for a circumlunar mission aboard a Russian soyuz spacecraft. One remaining seat must be sold to make the mission a reality. The third seat would be for the Russian cosmonaut mission commander. (4/30)

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