April 7, 2011

Shutdown Would Halt Most Shuttle Work at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
Most government and contractor employees at Kennedy Space Center would be forced to stop working if the federal government shuts down Friday night, but any impact to Endeavour's April 29 launch depends on the length of a shutdown. The majority of about 2,100 NASA civil servants and 10,500 contractors -- the approximate total after previously planned layoffs effective on Friday -- would not be allowed to work.

"There will be personnel needed to keep the shuttle in a stable configuration, but the majority of work on the shuttle will come to a halt," said Allard Beutel, a KSC spokesman. KSC's ability to support an April 29 launch of Endeavour's final flight wouldn't be affected unless a shutdown dragged on beyond next week. As of today, launch teams have nine contingency days available to absorb any unexpected delays, a total that includes four weekend days when no work is currently planned. (4/7)

Budget Uncertainty Delays Commercial Crew Awards (Source: Florida Today)
NASA was expected to announce this week the winners of a second round of funding for development of the U.S. spacecraft and rockets that will fly astronauts after the shuttle. But it appears the announcement is on hold given continued uncertainty about the 2011 budget and a looming federal government shutdown. Companies contending for a share of the more than $200 million to be awarded don't expect news until the budget talks are resolved. (4/7)

3-2-1-Blastoff to Shuttles’ Final Destination (Source: Washington Post)
As the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch draws near, the focus is not so much on the past but the future: Where will the shuttles wind up once the program winds down? NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former shuttle commander, is making the final decision, with input from a committee. He’ll announce the winners Tuesday while marking the 30-year anniversary at Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s launch and landing site, and the front-runner in the nab-a-shuttle race.

The festivities could end up being delayed if the federal government shuts down. As the big day looms, shuttle suitors are getting anxious and pulling out all the stops. Even the prime contender, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, is jittery despite its “knock your socks off” endorsement from NASA’s shuttle launch director. (4/7)

Amateur Radio Satellite to be Activated Aboard ISS Starting April 11 (Source: AMSAT)
The ARISSat-1 satellite, presently still inside the ISS, will be turned on and use an external antenna to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight. The transmissions will begin on Apr. 11 at 14:30 UTC and continue until 10:30 UTC on Apr. 13. Due to the fact that the solar panels are covered, the satellite will be powered only by the onboard battery. The satellite will run in low power mode. This means that the transmissions will cycle ON/OFF. They will be ON for 40-60 seconds and OFF for 2 minutes. (4/7)

EADS North America Expands Space And Related Product Activities In USA (Source: Space Daily)
EADS North America announced that it has further integrated and expanded the company's Space and related product activities in the U.S., supporting government agencies, private sector customers and academia. The line of business (LOB) will be led by John Schumacher, who will serve as Vice President for space business. (4/7)

NASA Mulls Commercial Space Plan (Source: MSNBC)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says that commercial spaceships are an essential part of the space agency’s future, but that the next step in space commercialization depends on Congress. Two companies, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX, are already receiving millions to build and test spaceships for ferrying cargo into orbit. Now NASA is on the verge of awarding as much as $280 million more for spacecraft capable of launching astronauts, in the second phase of a program known as Commercial Crew Development, or CCDev2.

Last month, analysts at FBR Capital listed their favorites for CCDev2 money: Orbital Sciences, Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp., with AlliantTechsystems (ATK), Blue Origin, Excalibur Almaz and United Launch Alliance also on the short list. Bolden suggested that the payout depended on whether Congress approved a spending plan that provided $312 million for the program, which would cover the awards as well as administrative costs. "If it's less than $312 million, then we've got to go back and look at where we are with CCDev2," Bolden said. (4/7)

Counting Down to a Mission to Mars (Source: MSNBC)
Now that the International Space Station is complete, NASA is touting it as a test bed for future voyages to Mars. But when will those voyages start? Would you believe Oct. 9, 2033? That's one of the best dates available for launching a Mars mission, according to Ben Donahue, space exploration engineer at Boeing Advanced Systems. The alignments of Earth and Mars make 2033 an "easy year" for interplanetary navigation. And after all, President Obama did call for a mission to the environs of the Red Planet by the mid-2030s. (4/7)

Florida 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. Seven Florida students were selected to participate. Click here for a list. (4/7)

Russia's Star City Counts Down to Tourism Relaunch (Source: Telegraph)
Still cloaked in secrecy and enjoying legendary status in spacefaring circles, the Soviet-era space training center at Star City near Moscow is pinning its hopes on a futuristic makeover. The sheer density of decorated Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia living on its territory – around 40 bearers of this prestigious medal among a population of 6,700 – illustrates the cosmic array of feats performed over the years from Zvezdny Gorodok, or Star City.

Built in the Sixties and still not on any map, the hangars and Soviet apartment blocks hidden in the pines 15 miles north-east of Moscow was the starting point for all of the country’s cosmonauts, as well as many foreign guest astronauts. And while it boasts a futuristic array of space training equipment, entering the complex is like traveling back in time. Formerly designated “Closed military townlet No1”, Star City became a curious monument to Soviet architecture. Everything – utilities, roads and buildings – is in dire need of repair.

“Nothing has been done here for 45 years,” says the local mayor, Nikolai Rybkin, adding that five billion roubles (£108m) was needed for renovation. The government has now promised the funds and 200 million roubles (£4.3m) have already been allocated for a spruce-up for the Gagarin flight festivities. A former FSB intelligence service colonel elected mayor by popular vote in 2009, Mr Rybkin’s ambitious plans for this historic site involve increasing accessibility while maintaining security. (4/7)

Russia Looks to Grab Half of World Space Launch Market (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russia needs to increase its presence on the global space market and increase its share of launches from 40% to 50%, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. "Our country presently provides up to 40% of all space launches in the world. I believe it is well within our power to increase this share by another 5% or maybe even 10%," he said.

He stressed, however, that Russia should not confine itself to the role of an "international space cabbie." "We need to expand our presence on the global space market, which, incidentally, has grown 150% since 2003 and is now worth around $200 billion. That's big business," Putin said. Russia currently has over 100 satellites in orbit and will continue to increase their number, he added. (4/7)

CCDev Announcement Postponed Due to Federal Budget Impasse (Source: MSNBC)
NASA's announcement of CCDev2 contract winners was expected on Apr. 6 but the announcement has been delayed indefinitely, apparently because of the continuing back-and-forth over the federal budget, according to John Elbon, vice president and program manager for commercial crew programs at the Boeing Co. (4/7)

Virgin Oceanic Plans Deep Sea Exploration (Source: On Orbit)
Sir Richard Branson, American sailor, pilot and explorer Chris Welsh, and submarine designer Graham Hawkes has launched Virgin Oceanic, a project to explore "the last frontiers of our own Blue Planet: the very bottom of our seas." The project includes a partnership with Google: "Using their mapping technology, Google hopes to chronicle the dives as they happen and share discoveries, footage and record breaking achievements with the world." Click here for details. (4/7)

Lossie Spaceport: The Distance Between Dreams and Reality (Source: Scotland Herald)
AS we approach the 50th anniversary of the first human to journey beyond our fragile atmosphere, we find that the UK space industry is more fashionable than ever. This is not, as it has been historically, because of the glamour and national prestige, although this helps, but because of its value to the economy. The success and prosperity of the UK’s and Scotland’s space industry is probably one of our best kept national secrets. But the business of space is no “and finally” story.

The space industry has matured significantly since Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s short flight 50 years ago. Throughout the recent recession it continued to show growth rates as fast as the Chinese economy. Today the UK industry is worth over £7.5 billion annually, and is growing per annum at 10% in value. The zero-cost plan to revisit the Outer Space Act, the legal basis for the regulation of UK activities in outer space, is a move strongly welcomed in Moray, with the threatened RAF Lossiemouth base seen as a potential space tourism hub. This is exactly the type of pioneering, privately funded innovation which the UK excels at in the space sector. (4/7)

Posey: Back to the Moon (Source: Florida Today)
Washington is engaged in a serious discussion about America’s future — debating fundamental questions about our priorities. The goals we set today will shape our future and meeting milestones along the way will ensure that we reach our destination. Our deliberations with respect to NASA and America’s future role in space are no less important. While budget allocations are important to our space program, without a resolute vision for our human spaceflight program [it] will flounder and ultimately perish.

As the shuttle program winds down, our human spaceflight program lacks a clear mission. We are on the verge of ceding 40 years of American leadership in space. Handing over space leadership to Russia and China would be detrimental to our economy and our national security. Time is of the essence. To help provide this vision, I will introduce legislation calling for NASA to resume the goal set forth in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act to return to the moon. (4/7)

Two Dying Stars Reborn as One (Source: CFA)
White dwarfs are dead stars that pack a Sun's-worth of matter into an Earth-sized ball. Astronomers have just discovered an amazing pair of white dwarfs whirling around each other once every 39 minutes. This is the shortest-period pair of white dwarfs now known. Moreover, in a few million years they will collide and merge to create a single star. "These stars have already lived a full life. When they merge, they'll essentially be 'reborn' and enjoy a second life," said Smithsonian astronomer Mukremin Kilic. Out of the 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, only a handful of merging white dwarf systems are known to exist. (4/7)

Virgin Galactic's Private SpaceShipTwo Soars Over San Francisco (Source: Space.com)
A private spaceship built for the space tourism firm Virgin Galactic took to the sky above San Francisco Wednesday (April 6) to help christen a sister company's new terminal at the city's international airport. The spacecraft, called SpaceShipTwo, flew into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with its mothership WhiteKnightTwo to mark the opening of the airport's new Terminal 2, where Virgin America – a California-based sister company to Virgin Galactic – will serve as an anchor tenant. The Virgin America aircraft "My Other Ride Is a Spaceship" accompanied the SpaceShipTwo and its carrier into the airport. Click here for photos. (4/7)

NASA Cuts Basic Services at Marshall Including Deliveries and Janitorial Rounds (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is cutting between 150 and 300 contract employees who provide basic services such as buses, janitorial work and deliveries as it struggles to keep its essential missions funded in the face of government funding cuts. The cuts announced Wednesday, plus changes since NASA ended its Constellation rocket program, mean at least 1,200 lost jobs in Huntsville in the last year, according to figures provided by the agency. (4/7)

Redstone, Marshall Facing Possible Mass Furloughs (Source: Decatur Daily)
The Army will furlough non-essential federal employees at Redstone Arsenal if Congress and the president do not reach a budget agreement by 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Non-essential contractor employees at Redstone also could face furloughs, depending on the structure of their contracts. Many employees at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center also could be affected by a budget impasse. In broad terms, all “non-excepted” employees will be sent home after their agencies issue an execute order if Congress does not pass, and the president does not sign, a continuing resolution or appropriation. (4/7)

House 2012 Budget Keeps Obama's Defense Spending Proposal Intact (Source: AIA)
The 2012 budget proposal set fourth by House Republicans does not slash President Barack Obama's original $671 billion defense request but sets that figure as the ceiling for funding. The House budget plan would cut more than $6 trillion from the deficit over the next decade by slashing at programs including Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, while also calling for tax cuts. (4/7)

NASA Chief Warns of Widespread Furloughs in Federal Shutdown (Source: AIA)
NASA is making contingency plans for an "orderly shutdown" if lawmakers are unable to agree on budget cuts that would keep the lights on at federal agencies. "We will take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of our astronauts on the International Space Station and our other missions," said a NASA spokeswoman. "Critical personnel will remain in place." But Administrator Bolden warned that other employees could face widespread furloughs. (4/6)

Space: the Final Beer Frontier (Source: Brisbane Times)
A group of Brisbane researchers are leading a new space race, as they help develop a special beer for intergalactic travelers. Researchers at Queensland University of Technology's microgravity “drop tower” are testing the first Australian space beer, which will cater to the soon-to-launch space tourism industry. QUT's research facility director, Ted Steinberg, said the microgravity tower simulated the low-gravity level present in space, allowing the companies behind the beer to determine how it would be affected by space travel. (4/7)

U.S. Space Launches Mobile Communications Business (Source: SpaceRef.com)
U.S. Space LLC announced the formation of U.S. Space Mobile Communications LLC, which will provide mobile voice, data and video communications solutions to the U.S. Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security and other U.S. Government agencies that will enable them to communicate on the move in performing their missions. (4/7)

Government Furlough May Affect Kennedy Space Center (Source: CFnews13)
A big day in space history is coinciding with the possible government shutdown, leaving federal agencies in a lurch. One of those is NASA. Next week, an event may be postponed if it takes effect. It has workers at the Kennedy Space Center wondering if they will be clocking in. April 12 marks several milestones for NASA and human spaceflight -- a 50th anniversary and a 30th anniversary. We will also set to find out where the three shuttles will be displayed upon retirement.

The event marks the 30th anniversary of STS-1 with space shuttle Columbia back in 1981. Potentially hundreds of KSC workers will pack around shuttle Atlantis' Orbital Processing Facility to celebrate along with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, KSC Director Bob Cabana, and STS-1 Pilot Bob Crippen. "We have about 13,000 employees here at KSC, and they will all be invited to the event," said Lisa Malone from NASA Public Affairs. But will it happen if the federal government shuts down Friday?

"Federal employees would not report to work and this event would be postponed," Malone said. Malone added they are still waiting to see which non-essential employees would stay home on furlough. "The general guidelines we've been given are to protect life and property," Malone said. "Anyone who is in support of those functions supporting the agency, those folks would be allowed to come to work." Another question remains if the event does take place, will Bolden announce where the retiring shuttles will end up? (4/7)

Asteroid Stalks Earth in Weird Horseshoe-Shaped Orbit (Source: Space.com)
A newfound asteroid has been discovered to be trailing Earth on an oddball course: an orbit that looks a lot like a horseshoe. The space rock, called asteroid 2010 SO16, has been following Earth as our planet orbits the sun for at least 250,000 years and is up to 1,312 feet (400 meters) wide, scientists said. It was initially spotted by NASA's WISE infrared space observatory. (4/7)

Russia's Federal Space Agency Beheaded at Odd Time (Source; Pravda)
Prior to the celebration of the 50th anniversary since Yuri Gagarin's space flight, it became known that the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, Anatoly Perminov, would soon leave his position. Russia's Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov stated that Perminov's dismissal was only connected with his age. The head of Roscosmos is 65. Ivanov did not specify the date when Perminov is going to step down.

"Mr. Perminov is 65 years old. According to Russian laws, a state official can not be employed at any state position once he is over this age. As for the date, April 15, April 20, April 30 - I do not see any big difference. When NASA's chief Charles Bolden comes to Russia, there will be a person to meet him," Ivanov said on a visit to Washington. Mr. Perminov himself reacted to the news normally. "I have my supervisors. When there's a need for me to change my job, they will let me know," he said. (4/6)

Russian Space Chief Has No Plans to Step Down, Roscosmos Says (Source: Bloomberg)
Russia’s space chief Anatoly Perminov has no plans to retire or resign early, said his spokesman Alexander Vorobyov. “This issue should be decided by the country’s leadership,” Anatoly Perminov, 65, said. He was responding to comments by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to reporters in Washington D.C. that were published today in the official government newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Perminov can’t continue to work in his position because of his age, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported. Russian law sets an age limit of 60 years old for officials, which the president and prime minister have the right to waive. “The current law doesn’t consider the real physical state of top officials,” Vorobyov, a spokesman for Roscosmos, said by phone. “The Roscosmos chief can do more pull-ups than any candidate for his position who has been reported in media.”

Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that possible candidates to replace Perminov include the Defense Ministry’s head of procurements Oleg Frolov, and Roscosmos deputy chief Anatoly Davydov. After recent launch failures, Yuri Karash, a member of the Russian Space Academy, said by phone on Monday: “This was the last straw, Perminov will be out soon. It is the matter of days.” (4/7)

Putin to Chair Meeting on Russian Cosmonautics (Source: Itar-Tass)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will chair meeting on the development of Russian cosmonautics in the city of Gagarin on Thursday, April 7. The discussion will focus on the current state and the future of manned space missions and space exploration plans up to 2030, as well as international cooperation in space, specifically further development of the Russian module of the International Space Station (ISS) and broad use of space technologies for socio-economic development of the country.

The participants will discuss such projects as the expansion of fundamental space studies, including the exploration of the Moon, Mars and its satellites, the creation of new carrier rockets and a new spaceship for manned missions to replace Soyuz ships. This will require further development of infrastructure and modernization of the Baikonur and Plesetsk spaceports and the construction of the new Vostochny launching site to give Russian independent access to space. (4/7)

Florida's Wasserman Schultz, Space Advocate, Takes DNC Post (Source: SPACErePORT)
South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been nominated to lead the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Wasserman Schultz has been a strong advocate for Florida space industry issues, and co-sponsored multiple bills aimed at delaying the Space Shuttle's retirement and accelerating the development of replacement vehicles. She has visited the Cape Canaveral Spaceport multiple times. Her new position could enhance her influence on space issues. (4/7)

Air Force’s Deep Ties to Shuttle are Dayton’s Unique Advantage (Source: Dayton Daily News)
The Air Force was deeply involved with NASA in the space shuttle program from the beginning, assigning engineers to work on its design and development, lobbying Congress, shaping how the orbiters would be used, and providing airmen as pilots, commanders or other crew. That’s why NASA should award a shuttle to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson, advocates said. (4/7)

For NASA's Aquarius, Quest for Salt a Global Endeavor (Source: NASA JPL)
With more than a few stamps on its passport, NASA's Aquarius instrument on the Argentinian Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC)-D spacecraft will soon embark on its space mission to "taste" Earth's salty ocean. After a journey of development and assembly through NASA facilities; a technology center in Bariloche, Argentina; and testing chambers in Brazil, the Aquarius instrument, set to measure the ocean's surface salinity, recently made the trip from São José dos Campos, Brazil, to California's Vandenberg Air Force Base for final integration and testing before its scheduled launch on June 9. (4/7)

Florida House Approves Tax Incentives for Space Businesses (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With 7,000 layoffs expected at Kennedy Space Center this summer after the space shuttle is retired, there’s growing concern about the future of what used to be known as “America’s Spaceport.” Today, the Florida House passed HB 873, an attempt by Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, to induce more commercial rocket companies to set up on the Space Coast by offering them some tax incentives. But in an acknowledgment of the state’s current revenue problems, the incentives won’t be available until the years 2015-2017.

One is a “fully transferable net operating loss tax credit,” which would allow businesses to sell their net operating losses to other Florida companies for cash infusions into their businesses. There’s also a non-transferable corporate income tax credit of up to 50 percent for a commercial space-related business. To qualify for either incentive, a business must create or maintain at least 35 jobs and invest a minimum of $15 million in infrastructure development.

“Florida is no longer the national leader in space-related incentives. Other states are passing us by, so the Legislature must take action to attract more space businesses,” Crisafulli said in a statement. “97 per cent of the space-related market opportunity is located outside of Florida – it is ours to capture, and this bill will help us do just that.” Senator Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, has sponsored the Senate companion, SB 1224. (4/7)

Rocket Production Issue Threatens Intelsat 18 Launch Date (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Intelsat is scrambling to secure launch alternatives for its Intelsat 18 telecommunications satellite amid concerns that the provider currently under contract, Russia’s Land Launch operation, will be unable to secure rocket components to assure the planned June liftoff, industry officials said. The issue has been complicated by what looks like a divorce between Land Launch and Sea Launch Co. following the latter’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009.

It was during these proceedings that Luxembourg- and Washington-based Intelsat transferred its Intelsat 18 launch contract from Sea launch to Land Launch — specifically, to Moscow-based Space International Services (SIS), which operates Land Launch. Land Launch and Sea Launch use the same basic Zenit 3SL rocket, with Land Launch flying from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and Sea Launch operating from a converted oil platform to launch from the Pacific Ocean on the equator. Sea Launch previously marketed the Land Launch vehicle.

At least three entities — Sea Launch, Land Launch and the Russian government for an upcoming science mission — all have an interest in protecting their own planned Zenit launches. Intelsat officials were in Moscow the week of April 4 in a last-ditch effort to sort out the situation and make the case that the company, which has been a principal promoter of Sea Launch and Land Launch on the global commercial launch market, is adamant about Intelsat 18 being launched in June. (4/7)

Marshall Space Flight Center Cuts Spending and Up To 300 More Jobs in Huntsville (Source: Huntsville Times)
Continuing budget problems have led NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to announce belt-tightening plans that will cost between 150 and 300 contractor employees their jobs. Center Director Robert Lightfoot announced the changes at an "all hands" meeting of center employees and support contractors Tuesday. "Tough times require tough choices," Lightfoot said. "Marshall Center is doing what is necessary to live within our budget and retain the essential capabilities needed to support NASA's mission. We know this is a difficult time for members of our contractor workforce who are being affected by reductions and we intend to assist them in their career transition as much as possible."

Marshall lost hundreds more contract jobs last year when NASA shut down the Constellation rocket program that was one of the center's major projects. Spokesman Dominic Amatore said today that a combination of factors led to the latest layoffs. He cited the lack of a budget for this year, continued funding by stop-gap measures and cuts in this year's budget, including a possible $300 million to be removed from the line-item that funds general operations at all of NASA's centers. (4/7)

Deep-Space Travel Could Create Heart Woes for Astronauts (Source: UAB)
Astronauts anticipate more trips to the moon and manned missions to Mars. But exposure to cosmic radiation outside the Earth’s magnetic field could be detrimental to their arteries, according to a study by University of Alabama researchers. Using an animal model, researchers assessed the affect of iron ion radiation commonly found in outer space to see if exposures promoted the development of atherosclerosis, as terrestrial sources of radiation are known to do. They observed that cosmic radiation accelerated the development of atherosclerosis, independent of the cholesterol levels or circulating white blood cells of the mice. It also worsened existing atherosclerotic lesions. (4/7)

NASA Campus in Colorado Could Mean 10,000 New Jobs (Source: KUSA)
At the cost of $5.5 million, the Agilent technology campus could soon have dozens of companies working to turn thousands of NASA patents into products. They are jobs the mayor of Loveland says the town welcomes. "These are the kind of jobs that are good paying jobs and the kind of jobs you can raise your family on," Mayor Cecil Gutierrez said. The Federal Space Act agreement calls for the creation of the park. It also calls for NASA to partner with a nonprofit designed to strengthen Colorado's clean energy industry, a group known as CAMT (Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology). (4/7)

Embry-Riddle Professor Studies Atmospheric Tidal Waves (Source: Daytona Beach News Journal)
While the rest of the world was mesmerized by the Japanese tsunami, Michael Hickey and a few colleagues focused on different waves set off by the earthquake and tsunami, waves invisible to the human eye. The earthquake not only sent waves of energy speeding through the Pacific Ocean, it and the resulting tsunami pushed waves of disturbance up into layers of Earth's atmosphere, said Hickey, a physics professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Hickey and a team of researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory say those waves leave a clear signature on satellite receivers.

Someday they hope those waves might help give more precise warnings about the potential size of a tsunami. More than 2,000 GPS receivers are strategically placed around Japan, said Attila Komjathy, Hickey's colleague and lead author on the paper. Installed to help monitor changes in the earth's surface to help predict earthquakes, the receivers can also monitor movement in the atmosphere with "millimeter accuracy," Komjathy said. Hickey's model, when combined with actual observations, confirmed that waves in the atmosphere detected by the GPS network on March 11 were caused by the earthquake and tsunami, Komjathy said. (4/6)

Commercial Crew Market Study Generates Small Firestorm (Source: Space News)
NASA is downplaying the significance of a recent study by the Aerospace Corp. that concludes the agency could pay up to $20 billion over 15 years to foster private development and operation of a single, viable commercial crew transportation system. According to the federally funded research group’s findings, the agency’s out-of-pocket cost to ferry astronauts between Earth and the international space station aboard privately developed space taxis could exceed $100 million per seat — significantly more than the agency currently pays to fly astronauts to the orbiting outpost aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

“The Aerospace Corporation used their own assumptions for many of the inputs to the analysis; they did not use proprietary data inputs from companies developing commercial crew systems or from NASA, which makes their analysis of limited use,” Braukus said in a April 5 email, one day after a set of Aerospace Corp. briefing charts on the study surfaced on NASA Watch. According to Aerospace Corp.:

"We produced a modeling tool that could be applied to a variety of data sets to produce conclusions about the costs associated with scenarios for a commercial crew transportation system. The results shown to NASA and Congress recently were not intended to represent any specific real world scenario. We modeled a scenario utilizing data from as long as 10 months ago in order to demonstrate the tool's viability, not the viability of any specific commercial crew transportation system." (4/6)

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