April 4, 2011

NASA Will Retain Block II SSMEs (Source: Aviation Week)
Not every element of NASA’s space shuttle fleet is headed for a museum or the trash bin, as the three-decade old program is retired following the scheduled missions of Endeavour in late April and Atlantis in late June.
Between 14 and 16 Block II reusable space shuttle main engines (SSMEs) will be retained and preserved for possible use by yet-to-be-defined follow-on initiatives. “The SSMEs are an extremely valuable asset,” NASA shuttle program manager John Shannon says. “We have a plan to store them in a ‘purged safe’ environment, along with all of the ground systems required to maintain them, until we decide what to do with the next program.” (3/31)

Tough Decisions Ahead for Planetary Exploration (Source: Space Review)
Last month the planetary science community rolled out a study identifying its priorities for missions in the next decade. Jeff Foust reports on how the difficult choices included in that report are further complicated by NASA's latest budget proposal. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1815/1 to view the article. (4/4)

In Praise of Mercury (Source: Space Review)
Last month NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft slipped into orbit around Mercury, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet. Lou Friedman describes his "personal, not scientific" connection to that rocky world. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1814/1 to view the article. (4/4)

Space Law and the New Era of Commercial Spaceflight (Source: Space Review)
As commercial spaceflight, including both suborbital and orbital human flights, become more common, these applications will raise new legal issues. Christopher J. Newman and Ben Middleton discuss some of the issues that space law experts will have to grapple with in the near future. Visit http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1812/1 to view the article. (4/4)

Vandenberg Airman Wins Space Command Award (Source: AFSPC)
Air Force Space Command named its 2010 Outstanding Airmen of the Year during a banquet on April 1. The AFSPC Airman of the Year award went to Senior Airman Nora Limjoco, 30th Medical Operations Squadron, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Limjoco will go on to compete at the Air Force level for a chance to be named one of the service's overall 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. (4/1)

Shuttle Launch Delay Highlights Complexity of ISS Scheduling (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The delay of Endeavour's launch took many people by surprise, but the issue had been percolating until a negotiation took place on Sunday – after NASA management arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the Soyuz TMA-21 launch. Endeavour’s available launch window ran from April 19 – May 3. However, contained within that window was an April 23-29 cutout (or elimination of launch opportunities for Endeavour) due to the currently-scheduled rotation of Progress unmanned resupply vehicles at the ISS.

Only one line, in a managerial summary memo on March 21 hinted towards the Russians showing a strong preference for their vehicle to remain on schedule, mainly relating to the Progress’ time-sensitive cargo, understood to be a biological experiment which needs to be placed into one of the ISS’ freezers within days of launch. While many people could have assumed a resupply craft would not be able to hold priority over a hugely important shuttle mission, Russian commentators have noted numerous occasions where they have altered their plans for NASA, which is likely to have been the basis for agreeing to provide assistance to Roscosmos this time around. (4/4)

CCDev-2 Awards Expected to Total Roughly $270 Million (Source: Space News)
NASA expects to award roughly $270 million April 6 to multiple contractors seeking to refine designs for launchers and spacecraft that would transport astronauts to and from low Earth orbit on a commercial basis, according to government and industry sources. NASA is awaiting congressional action on its 2011 budget request, which proposed spending $500 million on commercial crew initiatives this year. Absent a congressional appropriation in the current budget year, however, NASA announced in October that it expected to award just $200 million. (4/4)

Make Your Satnav App a Reality (Source: ESA)
Submit a great satnav idea and win a prize with ESA support to create your own business. Previous winning ideas today guide visitors around exhibition centres, help position offshore ships with centimetre accuracy and spot pollution in waterways. The eighth European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) began on 1 April. Inventors and entrepreneurs can propose their ideas on how to use satellite navigation technology in new applications on Earth. (4/4)

Record Loss of Ozone Over Arctic (Source: ESA)
ESA’s Envisat satellite has measured record low levels of ozone over the Euro-Atlantic sector of the northern hemisphere during March. This record low was caused by unusually strong winds, known as the polar vortex, which isolated the atmospheric mass over the North Pole and prevented it from mixing with air in the mid-latitudes. This led to very low temperatures and created conditions similar to those that occur every southern hemisphere winter over the Antarctic. (4/4)

KSC Visitor Complex Unveils Plan for Retired Shuttle (Source: CFNews13)
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has been fighting for years to get its hands on one of the shuttles. Now, they have unveiled plans of a new exhibit, part of a 10-year master plan that officials have been working on for some time. "We would be honored to showcase one of the space shuttle orbiters, so we have begun designing a dynamic, interactive exhibit to tell the space shuttle story from our own unique perspective," said Bill Moore.

Moore said the Visitor Complex has a 64,000-square-foot design complex in mind for the display. Officials said the $100 million master plan is funded through money generated by visitor admission, food and retail sales, all at no additional taxpayer expense. In a written statement, Visitor Complex officials said the new exhibit will showcase up to 10 themed areas, plus new and enhanced visitor amenities, bringing authentic and exciting NASA programs to life. (4/4)

Dayton In Competition For The Space Shuttle (Source: WHIO)
There is a big battle going on to bring one of the four retiring Space Shuttles to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson. More than twenty different sites around the country want one of the space shuttles on display.Here at Wright Patterson, museum officials believe this should be home to the Atlantis. Its missions were most closely aligned with research and technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

"Atlantis flew more military payloads than any other shuttle," said museum director Jack Hudson. "We told them about public access to the museum. We feel superb. We're within a day's drive of 61 percent of America's population," said Hudson. (4/4)

NASA Teams Recommend Early Closure of Shuttle Hangar (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA is beginning the process of shutting down processing operations in Florida. Specifically, NASA and the Space Shuttle Program are preparing to release Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 from service earlier than anticipated. Put simply, all three OPFs are no longer necessary to support Shuttle operations, and with other potential customers expressing interest in using Shuttle hardware for variant vehicles (namely – though not confirmed – the US Air Force’s X-37B), NASA is moving toward an early release of OPF-3 – with handling of T&R processing of the Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour in only two OPFs. (4/4)

Europe Wants Better Space Cooperation with China (Source: CNBC)
The European Union says it wants to improve cooperation with China on space exploration. EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said Monday that the space initiatives should become an integral part of EU foreign policy making it all the more important to improve cooperation with China, which has a rapidly developing space policy. The EU said it want to specifically develop its links in the field of satellite navigation. (4/4)

Canadian Island Eyed for Space Launch Site (Source: Canada.com)
Vancouver Island has been identified as a possible location for a Canadian space-launch site. Redouane Al Fakir has drawn plenty of attention to himself in the past few months as he has led the charge for Space Launch Canada. He says Canada could save money by having their own launch site, rather than spending money to launch satellites in other countries, such as India.

The Vancouver astrophysicist would like to see a spaceport on B.C.'s coast and has recently discussed Vancouver Island as potentially the best location. Al Fakir will not disclose what he thinks is the ideal site, but it is in the Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet region. He wants to meet with local community members and stakeholders across Vancouver Island. Financial incentives alone should encourage people to at least take interest. (4/4)

Getting to Mars Means Stopping and Landing (Source: Astrobiology)
With the space shuttle program reaching its end, scientists are focusing on technology that can take humans beyond Earth. All eyes are on Mars, but designing a spacecraft that can travel to and land on the Red Planet remains a prime challenge. Scientists and engineers must make thousands of predictions of all the things that could go wrong during flight. Click here to read the article. (4/4)

Will Space Jam Delay Shuttle Launch? (Source: MSNBC)
With just a lttle more than two weeks to go before the shuttle Endeavour's last scheduled launch, there's talk that the history-making mission might be postponed once again due to a potential traffic jam in orbit. The Daily Beast reports that Endeavour's April 19 liftoff might be put off until April 29 because the Russians aren't willing to slow down the voyage of a robotic Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station.

If both missions proceed as planned, the Progress would be showing up while Endeavour is still attached to the space station, which is an operational no-no. NASA had hoped to persuade the Russians to put their Progress into a "parking orbit" for a few days after its April 27 launch. That would give Endeavour time to finish its business and fly away from the space station before the cargo ship's automated docking. But the Beast's Peter Boyer quotes unnamed sources as saying that the Russians don't want to delay the Progress' arrival. (4/4)

Soyuz to Carry American to International Space Station (Source: Florida Today)
Just a week before the 50th anniversary of the historic launch of Yuri Gagarin, a U.S astronaut who grew up believing he had family ties to the world's first spaceman is slated to set sail today for the International Space Station. As a kid in Yonkers, N.Y., Ronald Garan's grandfather used to tell him a story about his great grandfather immigrating to America from Russia. His name: Ivan Gagarin.

Like millions of people in the early 20th century, Ivan Gagarin passed through the Ellis Island immigration inspection station in Jersey City, N.J. Among the questions he was asked: his name, occupation and the amount of money he carried. As the story goes, Ivan Gagarin didn't think his name sounded American enough. So he changed it to John Garan. "My grandfather went on to say, 'and of course, we're related to Yuri Gagarin.' So I really thought as a kid that there was some kind of family connection with Yuri Gagarin," Garan said.

"I'm pretty sure, I'm almost positive, that the story's not true. But as a kid, I always believed it was true." Editor's Note: Garan is another astronaut alumni of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Two other Embry-Riddle alums flew last month on Discovery's final mission. (4/4)

Is China Committed to the Prevention of an Arms Race in Space? (Source: Examiner)
Several China news agencies reported on March 31, 2011 that the Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued a white paper on national defense entitled China's National Defense in 2010. The paper is a comprehensive report of China's stance on matters relating to its national defense. Included is a section dealing with the prevention of an arms race in space. Specifically, the section states that:

"[t]he Chinese government has advocated from the outset the peaceful use of outer space, and opposes any weaponization of outer space and any arms race in outer space. China believes that the best way for the international community to prevent any weaponization of or arms race in outer space is to negotiate and conclude a relevant international legally-binding instrument." Click here to read the article. (4/4)

California Community College Students Named NASA Aerospace Scholars (Source: NASA)
Eighty students from community colleges in 28 states and Puerto Rico have been selected to travel to a NASA center to develop robotic rovers. The National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. NCAS is an interactive online learning opportunity highlighted by a three-day experience at NASA. Selected students are encouraged to study mathematics, science, engineering and computer science by interacting with engineers at Johnson Space Center. Fifteen California students were selected to participate. Click here for a list. (4/7)

Shuttle Launch Delayed for at Least 10 Days (Source: Daily Beast)
The scheduled April 19 launch of the space shuttle Endeavour is expected to be postponed for at least ten days, sources close to the project said Sunday. The glitch evidently has to do with a scheduling conflict involving a Russian resupply craft, the Progress, which was to launch a few days after the Endeavour. That craft cannot dock with the International Space Station while the shuttle is there, and NASA had hoped to persuade the Russians to agree to put the Progress—-a robotic craft—-into a “parking” orbit until the Endeavour had completed its mission. Apparently, agreement could not be reached, and NASA is now looking for a new launch date – likely, April 29 — for the Endeavour. (4/4)

1 comment:

MarekFloryda said...

So NASA is going to save SSME's now just to drop them into the ocean later?