April 8, 2011

Space Bills Advance in Tallahassee as Session Nears End (Source: SPACErePORT)
The end of the Florida Legislative Session is fast approaching, and space industry advocates are working to push a collection of bills and budget items through the process. Near final approval are bills to eliminate a sunset provision on an "informed consent" liability law for commercial human spaceflight; a space industry incentives act that provides innovative tax relief for new and expanding space businesses; and a measure to provide aerospace employment and tuition-reimbursement tax credits.

Further from the finish line is a measure that would provide tax credits for R&D. Though not explicitly aerospace-focused, this is among the priorities for Space Florida as it tries to diversify the state's space industry beyond launch operations. Meanwhile, Space Florida's proposed budget is set at $10.04 million (recurring) in the Senate, but only $7.84 million (non-recurring) in the House. The $10 million figure is aligned with Gov. Scott's request. (4/8)

Florida Economic Development Bill Advances with Changes to Space Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Senate has approved SB-2156, a bill that would make sweeping changes to the state’s economic development efforts. A new “Jobs Florida” agency would be established within the Governor’s Office, with an accompanying public-private “Jobs Florida Partnership” taking on the responsibilities now held by Enterprise Florida. The Partnership’s board would assume oversight responsibility for Space Florida, while a new Space Florida Advisory Council would be appointed to provide policy-level liaison with the space agency.

The 11-member Jobs Florida Partnership’s board would include at least one person with expertise in space or aerospace, with initial appointments made by Oct. 1, but requiring Senate confirmation. Up to 10 additional “at-large” board members may be added to the core board, and would be allowed to provide financial contributions to defray the Partnership’s operating expenses. The chair of Space Florida’s Advisory Council would serve as an ex-officio board member.

Space Florida would be “administratively housed” within the Jobs Florida Partnership, though it would operate with the powers already set forth in its enabling statute, Chapter 331, Part Two. All funds held in trust by Space Florida would be transferred to the Jobs Florida Partnership, to be used “for the original purposes of the funds.” Space Florida would no longer effectively serve as a “body politic” and “subdivision of the state”. (4/6)

Florida House Approves Economic Development 'Superfund' (Source: Herald Tribune)
An economic development "superfund" won approval from the Florida House on Thursday. Bills to create the fund, which initially would have $427 million, and to continue funding it beyond its first year, passed the Florida House on a pair of 81-38 votes. Democrats complained that the rules regarding the use of the proposed State Economic Enhancement and Development Trust Fund -- also known as the SEED Fund -- gave Gov. Rick Scott too much control over the money. The effort to reorganize the state's economic development, tourism and growth management agencies into a single entity under Scott also has drawn sharp criticism from the tourism industry. (4/8)

United Space Alliance Lays Off Another 535 Shuttle Workers (Source: Florida Today)
A few say "good-bye." Most just vanish. Hundreds of morning customers no longer stop to see Jamie Rogers and buy coffee on their way to work at Kennedy Space Center. "I've seen people come in shaking after they get a pink slip. It makes me want to cry," said Rogers, 36. She helps manage Condor Petroleum's service station and convenience store on State Road 3, which is heavily traveled by workers heading north to KSC. "They say, 'Thursday is my last day,' or they're just upset."

After today, Rogers may have seen the last of another wave of workers as United Space Alliance terminates 535 employees, who will turn in security badges and pick up their final paperwork at the NASA Shuttle Logistics Depot in Cape Canaveral. As the space shuttle program ends, upward of 3,500 layoffs since October 2009 have harmed many businesses surrounding KSC and contributed to Brevard County's double-digit unemployment, which actually improved in February to 11.4 percent. (4/8)

Space Coast Loses Bid for Major Solar Energy Program (Source: Florida Today)
It’s another gut punch to the Space Coast economy. Tuesday’s announcement that a Central Florida consortium that included Brevard County will not be the site of a major research project to make solar panels a viable alternative to fossil fuels within five years. The prize went to New York state, which will serve as headquarters for the work that’s led by the technology-development group Sematech after New York gained most of $62.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Central Florida officials wanted the effort centered at a former Intersil building in Palm Bay that had been donated to the University of Central Florida. That would have generated about 300 advanced research and development jobs locally within two years and 4,200 jobs in Brevard and Central Florida within five years as private businesses came here to work on the project. (4/6)

Energy Consortium Plans Career Event for Aerospace Workers (Source: SCEC)
The Space Coast Energy Consortium is proud to announce the Kennedy Space Center Pathways to Energy Careers event, presented in partnership with Brevard Workforce, the Florida Solar Energy Center, Space Florida, Workforce Florida Banner Centers for Construction and Clean Energy Training, and USA. The event will take place at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa on Apr. 27. The event will provide an opportunity for energy-related companies to showcase their products, emerging technologies and operations to members of the KSC workforce.

It will also provide an opportunity for firms to meet many of the highly skilled engineers and technicians who have been working on our nation's space program in Florida. Many of these technicians and engineers will be looking for new opportunities in the next few months following the conclusion of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The purpose of this event is to introduce them to opportunities in the field of energy-related manufacturing, services, and power generation. Click here for information. (4/7)

Unlike at Other NASA Centers, KSC Visitor Complex Would Remain Open in Govt. Shutdown (Source: SPACErePORT)
The KSC Visitor Complex is operated under a unique concession agreement by Delaware North Corp., allowing the private company to staff the popular tourist attraction while most of KSC is shut down. Other NASA Center visitor facilities would have to close under a government shutdown. Most of the KSC Visitor Complex is located outside of the security gate at KSC, but Delaware North would be able to continue offering bus tours into the secured KSC installation, including to the Apollo/Saturn V Center within view of the Shuttle launch pads. (4/8)

Delaware North Bids to Keep Shuttle at KSC (Source: Buffalo Business First)
As NASA determines where it will place three orbiters on permanent display, Delaware North Cos. has upped its offer to make sure at least one of them ends up at Kennedy Space Center. Delaware North operates and manages the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where the space shuttles are currently housed. The Buffalo-based company has put together a $100 million project to showcase an orbiter at the complex. (4/8)

Editorial: Bring Shuttle Home (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
More than two dozen sites around the nation have been hotly competing to land one of NASA's three retired space shuttle orbiters after the program ends this year. The most deserving location — for logical, sentimental and moral reasons — is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. We hope it's no coincidence that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will be at KSC on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight. That's also the day when he is expected to announce the final destinations for the retired orbiters.

Editor's Note: Winning a retired Shuttle for display in Florida was initially viewed as 'icing on the cake' to top-off a list of other post-Shuttle successes for Florida's space industry, including a $35 million grant program to diversify the local economy, a $5 million FAA space transportation Tech Center, a $2 billion KSC spaceport improvement program, an accelerated government heavy-lift program, a robust commercial crew/cargo program, etc. All of these are still very much TBD. (4/8)

Giffords Plans to Attend Space Shuttle Launch (Source: Roll Call)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to attend the April 29 launch of space shuttle Endeavor, which will be commanded by her husband Capt. Mark Kelly. The Arizona Democrat’s office released a press release Friday detailing the plans for her attendance. Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 8 in Tucson, Ariz., during a “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a local grocery store. Six people were killed in the shooting, while 12 others were wounded.

But the Congresswoman has been making a steady recovery in a treatment facility in Houston, Texas. Giffords will attend her husband’s launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, pending approval from her doctors. Meanwhile, her staff is doing all they can to make the arrangements possible. (4/8)

Government Shutdown Would Idle All but 500 NASA Workers (Source: Space News)
All but about 500 of NASA’s 19,000 civil servants would be furloughed if the Congress and White House fail to reach a deal to keep the federal government operating beyond April 8. Among the employees who would not be allowed to work are those preparing the Space Shuttle Endeavour for its scheduled April 29 launch. The NASA Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston would continue to operate; civil servants and contractors there are responsible for maintaining the safety of the international space station and its six occupants.

'Alan's Day' Celebration Planned on May 5 (Source: NSSFL)
May 5 will be the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's historic first U.S. human spaceflight. NASA, the Air Force, private industry, and a dozen space and community organizations have joined together to celebrate that event, honor the people who made it possible, examine the changes it has made to our civilization and look to the future. The commemorative ceremony will be held at the original launch pad which is located at the Air Force Museum on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (4/8)

Defense Firms Prepare to Lose Work as Result of Government Shutdown (Source: AIA)
Workers in the defense industry are among those who are bracing to find themselves out of work next week if the government shuts down as a result of an impasse over federal budget negotiations. The founder of Belzon Inc., in Huntsville, Ala., for instance, says he expects revenue to drop to 10% on Monday and has told his 65 employees there may be no work next week, and other companies report similar situations -- and a hope that the shutdown won't last long. (4/8)

Lockheed Martin: No Plans to Furlough Workers, For Now (Source: AIA)
Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Stevens has told workers the company currently has no plans to furlough workers if the government shuts down over a budget impasse on Saturday. Stevens said he and other industry leaders have been working with Congress to try to avoid a shutdown and pass an appropriations bill. (4/8)

Advanced Life-Support System Could Get Trial Run on ISS (Source: AIA)
The International Space Station may get a new, simplified life-support system capable of generating oxygen and recycling water without moving parts. A test on the space station is seen as a crucial step in developing life-support systems for spacecraft venturing beyond low-earth orbit, including a future mission to Mars. "Here's a phenomenal opportunity to make the ISS less dependent on Earth, which reduces its operating cost," says Taber MacCallum, CEO of Paragon Space Development Corp., which is behind the system. "In the same way, we need to make a deep-space mission not dependent on Earth." (4/8)

Public-Private Group Plans European Spaceport (Source: SpaceRef.com)
A public-private partnership has announced the initiative to begin the process of bringing commercial spaceflight to The Netherlands and the Amsterdam Region. In order to create spaceflights the Spaceport Development Working Group (SDWG) will be investigating planning, environmental and safety issues, as well as economic benefits for the entire Lelystad region. The first results are due to be expected in six months time.

SpaceLinq, the spaceflight operator who chose Lelystad as its home base, plans to jointly operate a carbon neutral facility with both the spaceport and spaceliner drawing green energy from local wind turbine farms. RS&H, an American engineering firm, is negotiating the possibility to perform a technical and environmental study of the airport and surrounding areas. Florida-base engineering firm Reynolds Smith & Hill is negotiating the possibility to perform a technical and environmental study of the airport and surrounding areas. (4/8)

GenCorp Reports 2011 First Quarter Results (Source: GenCorp)
GenCorp net sales for the first quarter of 2011 increased by 12.3%, and totaled $209.8 million compared to $186.8 million for the first quarter of 2010. Net income for the first quarter of 2011 was $1.2 million, compared to a net loss of $8.9 million for the first quarter of 2010. (4/8)

Europe to Target Space Hazards (Source: Flight Global)
Europe must, as a matter of priority, establish a space situational awareness system to monitor orbiting debris, solar radiation and asteroids, according to a "reinforced" space policy set out by the European Commission. Brussels is anxious to reduce the €332 million ($475 million) annual damage done to European assets by radiation and debris collisions, and to mitigate the unquantifiable but potentially massive problems caused by complete loss of a satellite or Earth impact of an asteroid. (4/8)

Aerospace Corp. Clarifies Intent of Commercial Crew Modeling Tool (Source: CSF)
“The intent of this report was not to pass judgment on the economic feasibility of a commercial crew transportation provider, but rather to illustrate the ability of the tool to conduct parametric sensitivity studies.” The document continues, “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.” (4/7)

Poll: Russians Agree Life May Exist on Other Planets, But Oppose Broader Space Programs (Source: InterFax)
Russians believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial civilizations and understand the importance of space exploration, but they oppose broader space programs. Also, poll numbers show that half of Russians (50%) are certain that our country will keep its leading position in space. (4/8)

Russia Targets Bigger Role for Space Program (Source: Reuters)
Russia will boost its efforts to explore the solar system and seek a bigger share of the market for space launches in the next decade, Prime Minister Vladmir Putin said on Thursday. Energy-rich Russia's space budget for 2010-2011 is 200 billion roubles ($7.09 billion), which Putin said made it the world's fourth-largest spender on space after U.S. space agency NASA, the European Space Agency and France. "Such resources enable us to set serious goals," Putin said. (4/8)

MoonEx Aims to Scour Moon for Rare Materials (Source: LA Times)
A team of prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are shooting for the moon with a new private venture aimed at scouring the lunar surface for precious metals and rare metallic elements. The private company Moon Express Inc., or MoonEx, is building robotic rovers alongside scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center northwest of San Jose. MoonEx's machines are designed to look for materials that are scarce on Earth but found in everything from a Toyota Prius car battery to guidance systems on cruise missiles.

While there's no guarantee the moon is flush with these materials, MoonEx officials think it may be a "gold mine" of so-called rare earth elements. "From an entrepreneur's perspective, the moon has never truly been explored," said Naveen Jain, chairman and company co-founder. "We think it could hold resources that benefit Earth and all humanity." The Mountain View start-up is made up of about 25 employees, including former NASA engineers. (4/8)

Govt. Shutdown Could Temporarily Close NASA Plum Brook (Source: Sandusky Register)
If the federal government runs out of money and shuts down, the postman will still show up in Sandusky and local Border Patrol agents will continue patrolling their beats. But NASA Plum Brook Station could close for a while. Constituent services might lag, too, if you need to call your Congresswoman for help. Most people at NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Plum Brook Station will be furloughed, except for a minority whose roles are considered essential, said Lori Rachul, a NASA spokeswoman. (4/8)

Vandenberg Engineer has Huge Duties (Source: Lompoc Record)
As a systems engineer for the Atlas 5 rocket program at Vandenberg Air Force Base, John Sigafoos has big responsibilities. Like, really big — as in 8.5 million pounds and more than 230 feet. The Lompoc resident who works for the rocket’s manufacturer, United Launch Alliance, oversees several different systems critical for launches to happen. Among his biggest responsibilities at Space Launch Complex-3 East on South Base is the behemoth mobile service tower that shelters the rocket — and its work crew — prior to blastoff. (4/8)

Vandenberg Launch a Go Even if Gov’t Shuts Down (Source: Lompoc Record)
A looming federal government shutdown has launch managers at Vandenberg Air Force Base crafting plans for keeping an Atlas 5 rocket on track for its planned departure Tuesday. Officials are working to determine what civilian employees are deemed essential to help military members and contractors get the rocket off the ground, Vandenberg officials said. “We’re planning to still go forward regardless of the status of the government shutdown,” Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson said. The United Launch Alliance booster, standing some 19-stories tall, is scheduled to blast off at 9:51 p.m. Tuesday from Space Complex-3 East on South Base. (4/8)

Construction has Started in Seattle on Shuttle Home (Source: Dayton Daily News)
The Seattle community is heavily involved in the pitch to get a retired space shuttle. A space shuttle flag has flown atop the Space Needle, a high-profile landmark since it was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Students in the region have begun their own letter-writing campaigns. Anna Hiatt, a contestant in the state’s “Mrs. Washington” beauty pageant, has been promoting Seattle’s Museum of Flight, its shuttle effort and its education programs during visits to schools. (4/8)

Editorial: Shuttles Gone, But NASA Still a Texas Economic Asset (Source: Austin Business Journal)
On Aug. 30, 1984, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off on its maiden voyage. Last month, it flew its final mission before retiring to a museum. NASA still employs about 17,000 people in 10 centers located across the U.S. In Texas, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center employs more than 3,000 in mission control and other areas. These are generally high-paying jobs across a spectrum of scientific fields, and ongoing operations of the sites lead to a notable economic stimulus. (4/8)

Planning for a NASA Shutdown (Source: Space Politics)
The vast majority of NASA personnel would be furloughed in the event of a shutdown. Of the agency’s 19,014 employees, only 481 full-time equivalents (FTEs) would be exempted on a full- or part-time basis during a shutdown, with nearly half of those at JSC (reflecting, presumably, ISS operations.) Only 6 of the nearly 1,700 personnel at the Glenn Research Center would be exempted fro furlough, and only 22 of the 1,600-plus at Headquarters. A larger number–nearly 2,000 agency-wide–would be available “on call” if necessary for specific tasks. (4/8)

The Final Tab for Space Shuttle Launches: $1.5 Billion Each (Source: Houston Chronicle)
With just two shuttle flights remaining before NASA retires the fleet we can now begin to close the books on the costs of the space shuttle program. And that's just what Roger Pielke Jr. and Ray Byerly have done in a letter Nature this week. Among their findings: The U.S. Congress and NASA spent more than $192 billion (in 2010 dollars) on the shuttle from 1971 to 2010. The agency launched 131 flights through 2010, the average cost of which was about $1.2 billion. Including costs incurred over the life of the program (dating to 1969), this value increases to about $1.5 billion per launch. (4/8)

Weather Satellite Still Fighting For Funds (Source: Aviation Week)
While Senate and House leaders are still at loggerheads over how to fund the government, a NOAA weather satellite system is just one of a number of potential casualties. If the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), the civilian spin-off of the canceled National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, continues to be funded at FY-10 levels as it has under a series of stop-gap funding bills, officials are looking at a delay of up to a year and a half. (4/8)

LISA, the Gravitational Wave Hunter, Canceled (Source: Discovery)
April is proving to be the cruelest month for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a major space mission to look for gravitational waves that was slated for launch around 2015. But news broke this week that NASA is abandoning funding for the project, which means the US will cede its role in developing this critical instrument in order to redirect funds to the James Webb Space Telescope.

Sure, money is tight these days, and we need a replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope. It's still a sad, sad day for physics. We invested 14 years in LISA and now -- poof! -- it's gone. Is it the end of the world? Not likely. It's just one more step down the long road of decline, as the US gets left behind in cutting-edge research and exploration. Who knows? We could see a lot more scientists migrating to Europe, China, and other countries that still value investment in science and technology. (4/8)

S.Ossetia Could Host Base for Cosmonauts (Source: Interfax)
Russian pilot cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko has said that South Ossetia has the conditions for building a base for cosmonaut training and rehabilitation and suggested that the republic's authorities consider his proposal. "I have already proposed: let us build a base here. I do not know how feasible it is but I think there are all the conditions for that," Korniyenko said after visiting the republic as part of a Russian delegation ahead of the Cosmonautics Day celebration.

"South Ossetia's mountains are 1.5-2 kilometers high, which is precisely the altitude which creates light hypoxia that stimulates the body and boosts the immune system," he said. "Besides, there are plenty of sulfuric water springs so needed for cosmonauts after flights to rehabilitate their muscular and skeletal system," Korniyenko added. (4/8)

Space Station Crucial for Going to Mars, NASA Chief Says (Source: Space.com)
NASA is on track to send humans to Mars, the space agency's chief said. Addressing an auditorium full of scientists, industry members, educators and former astronauts, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the agency committed to a future manned mission to Mars, and that the International Space Station is a vital test bed for getting there. "The International Space Station is the centerpiece for our human exploration and our spaceflight endeavors in the coming decade," Bolden said. "I like to say it's our anchor for the future of human exploration." (4/8)

Cosmic Burst in Distant Galaxy Puzzles NASA (Source: AFP)
NASA is studying a surprising cosmic burst at the center of distant galaxy that has burned for more than a week, longer than astronomers have ever seen before, the US space agency said Thursday. Calling it "one of the most puzzling cosmic blasts ever observed," NASA said it has mobilized the Hubble Space Telescope along with its Swift satellite and Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the phenomenon.

"More than a week later, high-energy radiation continues to brighten and fade from its location," NASA said in a statement. "Usually, gamma-ray bursts mark the destruction of a massive star, and flaring emission from these events never lasts more than a few hours." The first in a series of explosions was detected by a NASA telescope on March 28 in the constellation Draco. Astronomers think the the blast occurred "when a star wandered too close to its galaxy's central black hole," NASA said. (4/7)

NASA Examines Top Martian Landing Spots for Next Mars Rover (Source: Space.com)
NASA is close to deciding on a landing site for its Mars rover Curiosity, a nuclear-powered mega-robot designed to reconnoiter the Red Planet as never before. Curiosity is being readied for its sendoff to Mars later this year. The rover’s task will be to prowl around for environmental conditions favorable for microbial life and to collect evidence about whether Martian life ever existed.

A landing site status report on the nearly $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity (MSL) project — classified with NASA's most ambitious "flagship" planetary missions — was given here during the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) March 7-11. Some 1,800 space scientists attended the meeting, organized by the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA's Johnson Space Center. (4/7)

Mickey Rooney, Famed Hollywood Star, Joins San Diego Air & Space Museum on May 7 (Source: SDASM)
Mickey Rooney, famous actor known for National Velvet (1944) with Elizabeth Taylor, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (as a Navy fighter pilot) (1954), Black Stallion (1979) and most recently Night at the Museum (2006) is appearing at the San Diego Air & Space Museum's "Hollywood Studs & Starlets" fundraising event on May 7. All proceeds from the event benefit the Museum's youth educational programs. (4/7)

Cost of Trident Rocket Motors Jumps by 85 Percent (Source: DOD Buzz)
The cancellation of NASA’s Constellation rocket program last year and the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet has contributed to significant cost spikes for the solid fuel rocket motors the Navy uses on its Trident sea launched ballistic missiles which are the only solid rockets in use today. The Navy has seen the cost of its Trident missile motors spike by roughly 85 percent for fiscal year 2012 over FY-11; the engines now cost $19.2 million versus $10.7 million apiece.

“If you look at it in terms of pure volume, NASA is about 70-plus percent of the solid rocket industry, we’re about 20 percent,” Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, the Navy’s chief of strategic systems, told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. “It would take ten Trident motor, first, second and third-stages in order to make one solid rocket motor booster for the Shuttle. So, in pure volume, NASA’s decision is one that causes the overhead [cost of building the motors] to be spread amongst the remaining programs.”

He went on to note that “we are the only strategic program of solid rocket motors that are currently in production so we are bearing that overhead shift.” About 60 percent of the Trident motor cost spike is due to “overhead” increases, said Benedict. The Navy is working with Lockheed and ATK, the two main supplies of solid rocket motors and parts, “as they try to develop not only a business plan but understand the larger plan for the” government’s future need for solid rocket motors. (4/7)

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