May 16, 2011

Endeavour Flies to ISS for the Last Time (Source: Space Daily)
On 16 May 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on its final mission (STS-134) to the International Space Station (ISS). On board are the commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory H. Johnson, mission specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and Italian ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Endeavour is carrying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and the external carrier platform 'EXPRESS Logistic Carrier 3' to the ISS. The AMS is equipped with several particle detectors that will investigate cosmic radiation. The task of the magnetic spectrometer is to explore fundamental questions about the origin, matter and structure of the Universe. (5/16)

Preparations for Third Ariane 5 Mission of 2011 Move to Final Phase (Source: Spacce Daily)
India's GSAT-8 multi-mission satellite has been integrated on the Ariane 5 launcher for Arianespace's third flight of 2011, moving this mission campaign into its final preparations for a May 19 liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana. GSAT-8 is now positioned as the lower spacecraft in Ariane 5's dual-payload "stack," clearing the way for installation of the ST-2 satellite as the upper passenger. (5/16)

Could Exoplanet be a Haven for Life? (Source: Space Daily)
Scientists said on Monday a rocky world orbiting a nearby star was confirmed as the first planet outside our solar system to meet key requirements for sustaining life. Modelling of planet Gliese 581d shows it has the potential to be warm and wet enough to nurture Earth-like life, they said.

It orbits a red dwarf star called Gliese 581, located around 20 light years from Earth, which makes it one of our closest neighbors. Gliese 581d orbits on the outer fringes of the star's "Goldilocks zone," where it is not so hot that water boils away, nor so cold that water is perpetually frozen. Instead, the temperature is just right for water to exist in liquid form. (5/16)

Shuttle's End Spells Change at NASA (Source: Nature)
The final, 135th launch of the 30-year shuttle program will take place by late summer, when Atlantis is set to take flight to ferry another load of astronauts, equipment and supplies to the station. "Although we're ending the space-shuttle program, we are not ending the nation's human space-flight program," says Philip McAlister, acting director of NASA's commercial space-flight development program. "It's evolving into an exciting new paradigm."

US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chastised President Obama for not allocating enough money for a heavy-lift Shuttle replacement that would launch in 2016. "The bottom-line impact of the president's space agenda is a full retreat from America's long-standing commitment to space exploration," Rubio wrote. Others echo Rubio's ire — something that could come back to haunt Obama, given Florida's probable role as a key battleground state in the 2012 presidential election. (5/16)

Why I’m Not Sorry to See the Space Shuttle End (Source: Smithsonian)
When I think about the end of the Space Shuttle program, I’m really not that sorry to see it come to a close. Oh, it’s not that I’m not a fan of space exploration, but the Space Shuttle never lived up to its original concept, and it’s been sucking up a lot of money over the years, money that could have paid for even more discoveries than have already been made.

When the Space Shuttle was conceived in the 1960s, before we had even landed on the Moon, proponents were making claims that a reusable space vehicle, one that could land like an airplane, could be cheaper to operate on a per-launch basis and could launch as frequently as once a week. But the reality was far different.

One analysis of the program pegged the cost per mission at $1.3 billion (I’ve also seen estimates of $1.5 billion), enough to fund almost 3,000 research grants at the National Science Foundation or pay for a big chunk of a spacecraft like Cassini that will be producing data for decades. Another way to look at this is the cost per kilogram of getting something into space: The shuttle averages about $10,400 per kilogram of payload while the Russians pay only about $5,400 using their Soyuz spacecraft. (5/16)

Virgin Territory for One Lucky CFO (Source: CFO)
What kind of company has a valuation of $900 million, hundreds of millions in venture funding, $55 million cash in the bank from prepaid customers, and no CFO? A spacey one. Virgin Galactic, a leader in the race to launch commercial space flights, is looking to hire the first CFO in a brand-new industry sector.

"It's a historic thing," says George Whitesides, the former NASA chief of staff who is the company's chief executive. "The executives here are thinking back to the early days of aviation, when companies like American Airlines were getting started. For the right person, it would be tremendously exciting." (5/16)

So Can We Vacation in Space Yet or What? (Source: Torontoist)
What ever happened to space tourism? Weren't commercial spacecraft supposed to make it so regular celebrity multi-millionaires like Lance Bass could experience the wonders of low Earth orbit? Well it's been seven years since Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne claimed the Ansari X Prize for the first privately funded, repeatable manned space flight, and the genial bass vocalist is still waiting for his chance to sail skyward.

According to Virgin Galactic VP of special projects Will Pomerantz, who joined the gathering via a tabletop speakerphone pod, viable commercial space tourism is not a distant dream. His company has already pre-sold tickets to 215 would-be astronauts (and processed bookings for 17 Canadians)—a number which sounds more impressive when you consider that only 517 people in history have ever been to space.

So far, the Virgin Galactic "fleet" only consists of one spacecraft, which is based heavily on Scaled Composite's Ansari X Prize winning design. The VSS Enterprise is still undergoing testing, but the company has plans to build an additional four models. Virgin hopes to bring the price point down to somewhere around the cost of an SUV. (5/16)

After Last Shuttle Launch, Will U.S. Space Dominance End? (Source: ABC News)
After decades of dominance in space exploration, the next-to-last shuttle flight brings the country to the threshold of a period that experts are calling "The Gap," -- the first significant stretch of time in decades during which the U.S. will be unable, on its own, to put astronauts into space.

"I don't like it at all," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat who has led oversight of the space program. "The previous administrations have not made space a priority. It's expensive. Now we're in this situation." If the fears of some in Congress come true, a period of unprecedented drift for the space program could follow the final Shuttle launch.

In addition to The Gap, Political leaders are bemoaning that efforts to reach more distant destinations appear hazy and uncertain. Critics are worried that without a clear destination or proven spacecraft to get there, it could be a long, long time before a manned U.S. rocket heads for the heavens. "What used to be a gap is now a cliff," said Michael D. Griffin. "What really is happening here is the destruction of an American institution that has been preeminent in the world for the past 40 years. I believe it's tragic." (5/16)

Endeavour Draws Smaller Crowd to Space Coast (Source: The Republic)
Manny Kariotakis got goosebumps watching the last launch of Endeavour, even though the space shuttle disappeared Monday behind clouds seconds after blasting off from the pad 10 miles away. "We're part of history!" said Kariotakis, a 50-year-old day care owner from Montreal, while viewing the liftoff on U.S. 1 in Titusville.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators joined Kariotakis in that history, witnessing Endeavour's last launch and the second-to-last mission before the space shuttle program ends. But it was a smaller turnout than the crowds that viewed the last shuttle launch in February and Endeavor's failed launch attempt in April. Blame the early morning hours. (5/16)

DoD Stresses Need for "Targeted Research and Development" (Source: Defense News)
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said that over the next decade the Pentagon needs to focus on "targeted research and development." The Defense Department must invest in cyber tools, long-range strike forces, unmanned aircraft and other projects despite a reduction in defense spending, Lynn said. "Each of these technology areas will be crucial to future conflicts," Lynn said. (5/16)

Groups, Lawmakers Oppose Political Donations Disclosure Order (Source: AIA)
Some lawmakers are joining industry groups in opposition to a draft executive order that would require disclosures by contractors regarding their donations to politically active groups. Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the AIA, said that the measure would require contractors "to develop, implement and maintain a system to track and record all personal political contributions. This additional cost burden is particularly challenging for small companies. They simply don't have the resources to meet this mandate." (5/16)

Florida Venture Capital Deals are Below National Average (Source: SSTI)
Florida's venture capital deals between 2005 and 2010 averaged $6.838 million each, about $40,000 below the national average. Florida's 2010 average deal size of $4.76 million was $1.9 million less than the national average for that year. (5/11)

California Venture Capital Deals are Above National Average (Source: SSTI)
California's venture capital deals between 2005 and 2010 averaged $8.31 million each, about $1.43 million above the national average. California's 2010 average deal size of $8.51 million was $1.85 million more than the national average for that year. (5/11)

Gov. Scott Upbeat After Shuttle Launch (Source: Palm Beach Post)
Gov. Rick Scott remained upbeat on FoxNews this morning despite the final launch of the Endeavor shuttle, taking with it 7,500 jobs in the Space Coast. Scott said the imminent shrinking of the Kennedy Space Center presents an opening for his “seven steps to 700,000 jobs” plan.

“We’ve got a great opportunity because of all the talent in that part of the state. There’s a lot of defense manufacturers that we’re talking to. There’s companies all over the world that are talking about coming to Florida, in particular the Space Coast because of the talent of all the employees,” he said. (5/16)

Editorial: Put NASA Training to Work in Gulf (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The focus on safety is not going to diminish in the future by the government or the offshore drilling industry. While progress has been made in responding to another oil spill catastrophe — both by regulators (readjusting the old Minerals Management Service) and the drilling industry (a new containment device) - there is still much that must be addressed if we truly are going to be as safe as possible when utilizing our oceans for energy.

The Clear Lake area - situated on the Gulf of Mexico and home to NASA's Johnson Space Center - is currently faced with a unique situation. With the demise of the Space Shuttle program, a large number of scientists, engineers and technicians are being laid off. This agency has become the best organization on the planet when it comes to safety, reliability and quality assurance. Its knowledge pertaining to safety in process and technologies far exceeds what would be expected to explore and produce for oil and gas off and onshore.

The skills they have developed from years of experience in disciplines such as risk management, management of change, hazard analysis, systems safety, test safety, operational safety and quality assurance/engineering cannot be readily developed through training. Expertise in these disciplines can only come from experience and application. With minimal training and knowledge transfer in the design and operation of offshore systems, NASA's highly skilled work force can be brought in to solve the inspection and verification piece to our offshore safety puzzle - now. (5/16)

Meet NYC's Shuttle, the Hiistoric Enterprise (Source: New York Post)
The Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV-101) is a unique piece of American space history. She is the eldest sister of the shuttle fleet -- her lost siblings Columbia and Challenger, plus Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour -- and has a special place in the hearts of everyone who has ever worked at NASA. (5/16)

Satellite on a Chip' Launches with Space Shuttle (Source: Discovery)
Endeavour will deliver three of prototype microchip mini-satellites to the Space Station to see how well they function in that harsh environment. The tiny satellites -- measuring just one square inch -- are mounted on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE-8) pallet, which will be attached to the space station in turn. The chip satellites contain sensors, a microchip, and an antenna to transmit collected data about the chemistry of the solar wind and associated radiation and particle impacts. (5/16)

After the Shuttle: NASA Gets Set for Second Space Race (Source: MSNBC)
NASA is retiring its space shuttle fleet, and many are wondering what’s next. Well, tighten your seat belt: The second great space race is about to begin, and it could shave two or three years off astronauts' down time without something American to fly.

As the sun sets on American spaceships for what some experts argue will be at least five to seven years, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, a veteran astronaut himself, has come up with a twofer — a cost-cutting plan that will have private rockets and spacecraft builders racing to the finish line with new hardware. Click here to read the article. (5/16)

Boeing Considers Liberty Rocket for Capsule Launches (Source: MSBC)
Boeing is currently talking with the ATK folks about using its Liberty rocket to boost the CST-100’s first flights, with hopes of making a decision next month. If ATK’s Liberty and Boeing’s CST-100 team up, the U.S.-European rocket should open the door for customers in international governments desiring their own space program.

However, Boeing reportedly believes it has the time to man-rate and build the astronaut support facilities for the Atlas 5, and may ask Liberty merely to stand by for possible later use. Critics say Boeing will be taking more chances that something could go wrong with the Atlas 5 instead of using Liberty. "Boeing could find itself eating SpaceX’s dust," one observer said.

You can bet it’ll be a race to the finish line by the old and the new. And when there are two or more players in a market, the competition cuts costs for the consumers — in this case, NASA and the American taxpayers. All of us end up being the ultimate winners. Who needs a one horse race? (5/16)

Peugeot Offers Suborbital Space Prize (Source: Peugeot)
Enter Peugeot's extraordinary prize draw and you could become one of the few individuals to exerience: a) the rush of blasting 100km above the earth's surface into space; b) extensive training and flight preparation; c) a tour of the spaceport; d) presentation of Astronaut Wings (a badge only awarded to space travelers); e) photos and videos of your amazing experience; or f) you can choose an alternative cash prize. Click here for information. (5/16)

The Evolving Role of Clusters in the Aerospace Industry (Source: ERAU CAAL)
Have you ever wondered why industry clusters are important? After all, one has to look no further than Silicon Valley to know that something special happens when firms in the same industry locate close to one another. Aerospace clusters have played a key role in the evolution of the industry. Since clusters tend to possess higher levels of talent and information, they also tend to attract higher levels of R&D. There is also evidence which suggests that members of a cluster tend to be more profitable than their non-member counterparts.

Unfortunately, there is evidence which suggests that the core of our aerospace industrial base--small to medium manufacturers--is declining as a growing number of parts and components are produced overseas. While we fully support free trade, we must also be mindful of the role of clusters — and work together to sustain and grow these vital sources of jobs, innovation, and national security. (5/12)

A New Rocket for Science (Source: Space Review)
Much of the attention SpaceX's proposed Falcon Heavy rocket has received has focused on its use in exploration or national security applications. Alan Stern notes that the rocket also has the potential to revolutionize science missions. Visit to view the article. (5/16)

The Space Station's Billion-Dollar Physics Experiment (Source: Space Review)
The key payload on the shuttle Endeavour, scheduled to launch Monday morning, is a physics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Jeff Foust reports on what the AMS is supposed to do and how it had to fight for its ride to the ISS. Visit to view the article. (5/16)

Collective Assurance vs. Independence in National Space Policies (Source: Space Review)
Earlier this year the European Union issued a document outlining its planned space strategy. Christopher Stone compares that document with American policies and finds some interesting distinctions. Visit to view the article. (5/16)

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