May 2, 2011

Space Florida Board Shift Leaves Some Puzzled (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Legislature is expected to protect most of Space Florida's autonomy during a major shake-up aimed at consolidating the state's economic development programs under a much-changed Enterprise Florida. But although it would remain functionally separate, Space Florida's board of directors would be eliminated in favor of using the Enterprise Florida board to provide oversight.

The Enterprise Florida board would likely have less aerospace expertise, and would include several seats for voting members who would contribute cash for the privilege of serving (a situation criticized for its potential conflicts of interest). Another concern is whether the board will be sufficiently responsive to consider deals and policy issues brought forward by Space Florida. Would it meet separately as Space Florida's board, or would Space Florida's issues be added to busy mega-meetings where a wide range of non-space issues dominate the agenda? (5/2)

Behind the Scenes at SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 (Source: Universe Today)
SpaceX took members of the media on a tour of Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, where the NewSpace firm has successfully launched two of its Falcon 9 rockets and one of its Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX had obviously worked long and hard to allow the world to get a grasp what it is that they are doing. Click here to read the article. (5/2)

Alien Planet Nearly Dense as Lead (Source:
Astronomers have pinned down some details of an exotic nearby alien planet that's almost as dense as lead. The exoplanet, called 55 Cancri e, is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth but eight times as massive. That makes the alien world the densest solid planet known -- twice as dense as Earth. (5/2)

Handicapping NASA's New Commercial Launch Providers (Source: Satellite Spotlight)
NASA has made it clear it wants at least two different options to LEO as it moves forward. The space agency is already following the redundancy approach with commercial ISS cargo resupply, selecting SpaceX and Orbital for delivery services over a three year period. Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX all received contracts to continue to develop their systems for manned spaceflight.

I think there are two clear winners and two dark horses in the race. SpaceX has to be considered the front-runner on four fronts: technology development, capability demonstration, risk reduction, and price. Boeing will likely be the other initial winner for commercial crew delivery, assuming NASA keeps funding its CST-100 capsule program. The company has clearly presented a roadmap of system development and testing, including two unmanned tests in 2014 and a two crew flight test in 2015.

Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada are the dark horses. Each company has an interesting concept, but both have a long way to go before they have a complete system ready for flight. Click here to read the article. (5/2)

Boeing Could Also Launch ISS Cargo Aboard its CST-100 Capsule (Source: Satellite Spotlight)
If Boeing completes its CST-100 human-rated capsule development it would be able to provide a COTS ISS shuttle cargo resupply alternative in 2015 by using a derivative of its capsule. Since the CST-100 spacecraft is designed to fly up to 10 times, Boeing could simply rip the seats and escape system out of an end-of-life capsule and fly it a couple more times to deliver cargo to the ISS. (5/2)

Endeavour's Launch Will Occur No Earlier Than May 10 (Source: NASA)
NASA space shuttle and International Space Station managers met Monday and determined that Tuesday, May 10 is the earliest Endeavour could be launched on the STS-134 mission. That date is success oriented based on preliminary schedules to replace a faulty Load Control Assembly (LCA) box in the orbiter's aft compartment. (5/2)

Old Reliable: The Story of the Redstone (Source: Space Review)
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the flight of Alan Shepard, the first American to travel in space. Drew LePage examines the history of the Redstone rocket that made Shepard's flight possible. Visit to view the article. (5/2)

A Muddled Future (Source: Space Review)
The space shuttle Endeavour was set to launch Friday on its final mission, but was scrubbed hours before liftoff because of a technical issue. Jeff Foust notes the near-term uncertainty about when Endeavour will launch parallels the long-term uncertainty about the future of the Space Coast after the shuttle program ends. Visit to view the article. (5/2)

Pomp and Circumstances (Source: Space Review)
Friday's attempted launch of the space shuttle Endeavour was scheduled for the same day as the big royal wedding in England. Dwayne Day compares and contrasts the symbolism and significance of each. Visit to view the article. (5/2)

Space Club Invites Award Nominations (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club's Florida Committee solicits nominations for two annual awards, including their Lifetime Achievement Award and a new Rising Star Award. Lifetime Achievement awards go to retired or currently employed leaders in government or industry. The Rising Star awards will recognize younger achievers for "above and beyond" accomplishments. Nominations are due before May 27. Click here for information. (5/2)

KSC Director Headlines May 10 Space Club Luncheon (Source: NSCFL)
KSC Director Robert Cabana will be the featured speaker at a May 10 luncheon sponsored by the National Space Club's Florida Committee. Cabana will address the future of KSC, a topic of much debate as the Space Shuttle approaches retirement and Congress debates the future of new space transportation and exploration programs. RSVP by May 4. Click here for details. (5/2)

ITT Beats Expectations with $124 Million Quarterly Profit (Sources: AIA, Reuters)
ITT Corp. reported a first-quarter profit of $124 million, a 15% drop from the same quarter in the previous year. However, the results exceeded market expectations, despite costs related to the company's planned breakup reducing its income. The White Plains, N.Y., conglomerate reduced its forecasted revenue for 2011 to reflect uncertainty in defense spending. (5/2)

SpaceX: Bringing the Heavens to the Masses (Source: Houston Chronicle)
His shift was over, but Gary McAdams couldn't just leave work and go home. Not on a day like this. He drove a mile or so down to the S-curve and parked in the bar ditch next to a barbed-wire fence. A sturdy wind like the ones fueling wildfires to the north swept across the cornfields and cow pastures as he waited.

For more than an hour and a half, he stared back to the southwestern horizon, where his employer SpaceX, one of the new pioneers in space travel, was preparing to test-fire a massive nine-engine rocket. McAdams stayed focused on a white tube sitting atop a giant concrete tripod. "I can't get enough of this," he said.

Just before ignition, wispy trails of white emanating from the tube blossomed into a full, billowy cloud. A veil of water sprang forth from nozzles attached to the tripod and a flash of fire obliterated it from view. Several seconds later, a roar like the devil's own freight train blew past. And then just as suddenly, the wind dissolved the smoke and quiet returned to Central Texas. "Isn't that crazy?" said McAdams, delighted to be part of it all. (5/2)

Endeavour Launch Schedule Gets Tricky After May 8 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Endeavour will launch no earlier than Sunday, May 8. If that date doesn’t work out, the scheduling gets trickier, as Monday May 9, Tuesday May 10 and Wednesday May 11 all present scheduling problems with a Soyuz craft now docked at the International Space Station. (5/2)

Rockets to Nowhere (Source: Daily Kos)
The end of the space shuttle approaches and its primary legacy, the International Space Station, is essentially finished. Soon the new 2010 NASA reauth bill will really kick in, a new era of cost-effective space exploration will dawn. But like a zombie that keeps lurching about with arms outstretched no matter how many bullets or kitchen implements are put into its rotten head, the undead Spawn of Ares rises from the grave to feed on the blood of taxpayers.

More accurately, it's kind of like a rocket-bridge to nowhere. Except it's worse: there are plenty of places for rockets to go, this one included; our vast unexplored solar system beckons! It's just that this one probably won't go to any of them because there's barely a snowball's chance in hell it will ever be completed. And without a prolonged funding commitment, even the early costs could quickly swell up and delay or eliminate rockets that will go somewhere.

The SLS is a heavy lift vehicle that could loft a cool 100-plus tons into orbit, affectionately referred to as the Senate Launch System by critics. It would soak up billions in development costs and would not be operational for a decade or so. Meanwhile, there are smaller, nimble rockets capable of performing the same tasks over multiple missions already in final flight testing that will soon be available at a fraction of the cost. (5/1)

Visualization of a Large Space Habitat (Source: HobbySpace)
HobbySpace has posted this nicely made visualization of a large space habitat in Earth orbit. Click here. (5/1)

Group Seeks to Establish July 20 as Space Exploration Day Holiday (Source: HobbySpace)
The United States will greatly benefit from having an official holiday that not only commemorates the achievements of the past, but that ignites an excitement for the advancements of the future. Click here to learn about an ongoing effort to establish July 20 as that national holiday, and to sign a petition in support of the holiday. (5/1)

Florida's Share of U.S. Venture Capital Deals Declines (Source: SSTI)
Between 2005 and 2010, Florida's share of venture capital deals declined from 3.15 per million residents, to 2.07 per million residents, dipping as low as 1.73 along the way in 2009. Florida was ranked 37th nationwide in 2010, 1.65 deals-per-million below the U.S. median. (5/1)

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