May 20, 2011

Ariane 5 Gives Two Satellites a Lift Into Space (Source:
Riding 2.6 million pounds of ground-shaking thrust, an Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from the South American jungle Friday and delivered communications satellites into orbit to reach customers in Asia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Liftoff occurred at 2038 GMT (4:38 p.m. EDT). (5/20)

Final Space Shuttle Launch Set for July 8 (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA announced Friday that shuttle Atlantis is targeted for an 11:40 a.m. launch from Kennedy Space Center on Friday, July 8. It will be the 135th and final launch of the 30-year space shuttle program. Space shuttle Endeavour, which blasted off Monday on the penultimate mission, is currently docked at the International Space Station. It's due back on Earth June 1. (Editor's Note: Today I learned that "penultimate" means "next to last". I was under the mistaken impression that it meant "very last".) (5/20)

Astronauts to Talk with Pope Saturday (Source: Florida Today)
The dozen astronauts and cosmonauts now in space will have an audience Saturday with Pope Benedict XVI. The first papal call to the International Space Station is planned at 7:11 EDT. The pope will speak in English during the 20-minute call from the Foconi Room of the Vatican Library, and also address Italian astronauts Roberto Vittori and Paulo Nespoli in Italian, according to a press release from the European Space Agency . (5/20)

Astronaut Hall of Fame Inducts Two USAF Officers (Source: CSA)
Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of 14th Air Force at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and retired Air Force Col. Karol Bobko are the newest members of the US Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center. Helms spent a total of 211 days in space. On her final trip to the International Space Station in 2001, her fifth time into space, she and a fellow astronaut set a record for the longest space walk: eight hours and 56 minutes.

Bobko flew on three space shuttle missions, logging more than 386 hours in space. He piloted the first flight of the Challenger in 1983 and successfully used a robotic arm to activate a malfunctioned satellite during a 1985 flight on Discovery. Their induction ceremony was May 7. There are now 79 space explorers enshrined in the hall. (5/16)

Space Angels Network Aerospace Venture Forum Planned in Silicon Valley on May 24 (Source: CSA)
Accredited investors are invited to join Space Angels Network for our next Aerospace Venture Forum in Silicon Valley. Space Angels Network is the premier source of aerospace dealflow for investors and of early-stage capital for aerospace-related ventures. In this unique Forum, you will have the opportunity to meet other active angel investors interested in aerospace and aviation, and you will hear presentations from pre-screened aerospace entrepreneurs about their companies. We will end the evening with an "investors only" closed-door review of the presenting ventures, featuring Waypoint 2 Space of San Diego. Visit (5/20)

Success for New Mexico Suborbital Launch (Source: NMSGC)
A successful May 20 launch of the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL was cheered by students New Mexico, Arizona and Texas as their experiments reached space, bringing a successful conclusion to months of work and preparation. Working together with partners UP Aerospace and Spaceport America, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC): sponsored the Education Launch to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. (5/20)

New Mexico Suborbital Launch Also Carried Celestis Cremains (Source: Celestis)
Celestis is pleased to announce that Celestis 10, The Goddard Flight, was successfully launched into space at approximately 7:21 am MDT on May 20 from Spaceport America. The flight was named after the father of American space exploration, Dr. Robert Goddard, who performed much of his pioneering aerospace work in New Mexico.

This flight was an Earth Rise mission and was launched aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle. We were pleased to work with the primary sponsor of the mission, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, by providing matching funds that assisted students to launch their experiments into space. The capsules and modules containing cremated remains will be returned to the families of Goddard Flight participants. (5/20)

Florida Universities Support First-Year FAA Center of Excellence Research (Source: FAA)
In a progress report for the recently created FAA Center of Exellence for Commercial Space Transportation, an FAA official provided an update on the progress of Center's research tasks, including projects supported by Florida-based universities like FIT, FSU, UCF, and UF. FIT is supporting an air and space traffic management study. UF and FSU are researching high temperature pressure transducers, and autonomous rendezvous and docking. and UCF is researching ultra-high temperature composites.

The Center received $2 million for its first year of operations and will receive at least $1 million per year for the next nine years. A 100% industry match is required for all federal funding. Click here for information. (5/19)

Congress Scrutinizes NASA's Progress, But Next Steps Unclear (Source: National Journal)
Congress has yet to decide what the next steps for NASA are, but that hasn't kept lawmakers from criticizing the space agency for moving too slowly. The White House and lawmakers have proposed reining in NASA's budget, but experts warn doing so could hurt the economy in the long term. "While cutting the federal deficit is essential to assuring our economic future, cutting back on exploration investments is a penny-wise but pound-foolish approach that will have infinitesimal impact on the budget deficit," said Frank Slazer, vice president of AIA. (5/19)

Panelist: SpaceX Costs Offer Hope For NASA (Source: Aviation Week)
A comparison of what it cost SpaceX to develop the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and the estimate of what it would cost NASA to do the same job, offers hope that NASA can focus on deep-space exploration and leave flights to low Earth orbit (LEO) to the private sector, according to a member of the outside panel that reviewed U.S. human spaceflight plans for President Obama.

Christopher Chyba, a professor of astrophysics and international affairs at Princeton University, who played a key role in the 2009 deliberations of the panel headed by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the agency’s confirmation of SpaceX costs are “encouraging about the future.”

Chyba, who counseled against NASA trying to operate spaceflight vehicles and developing new ones simultaneously as a member of the Augustine panel subcommittee on exploration beyond low Earth orbit, said the SpaceX experience developing a launch vehicle that has successfully orbited its Dragon capsule for a splashdown recovery bodes well for NASA’s plan to turn over cargo and crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS) to commercial operators.

“The other thing that I think one would want to understand in some detail would be why would it be between four and 10 times more expensive for NASA to do this, especially at a time when one of the issues facing NASA now is how to develop the heavy-lift launch vehicle within the budget profile that the committee has given it,” Chyba said. (5/19)

NASA's High Costs "A Mystery" (Source: Transterrestrial Musings)
As far as Congress is concerned, high costs are a feature, not a bug, as long as they don’t get so high that the program dies. Because high costs means lots of jobs for their constituents that they can point to at election time. A more efficient commercial industry would probably create even more jobs, but they would be a lot less visible. And note that whether or not anything is actually accomplished is secondary, if it’s a concern at all. Did anyone in Congress ever complain that Constellation was behind schedule? Maybe, but I don’t recall it. (5/20)

Apollo Plus 50 (Source: The Economist)
Fifty years ago, on May 25 1961, President Kennedy summoned a joint session of Congress and asked America to commit itself to the goal, before the decade was out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth. If it succeeded, he said, it would not be one man going to the moon—“it will be an entire nation”.

Planting a man on its surface required no big technological innovations, says John Logsdon, “just very expensive mastery over nature using the scientific and technological knowledge available in 1961”. As to whether it is was worthwhile, there is no accountant’s answer even 50 years on. The Apollo project cost about $150 billion in 2010 dollars, five times as much as the Manhattan Project and 18 times the cost of digging the Panama Canal.

The moon landing was more than a win in the cold war. It also changed the way people of all nations thought about themselves and the planet they share. It showed that it really was possible for man to step out of this world into another. Apollo 8’s photographs of a little Earth, shining vulnerably in a great black emptiness, made people aware of the planet’s fragility and helped to spur the green movement. (5/20)

Logsdon: America Should Cooperate, Not Race Other Nations Into Space (Source: Huntsville Times)
The glory days of an Apollo-sized space program will never come back, a leading space historian said. But America can still have a "pretty good space program" if it wants one. There are serious doubts it wants one, author and historian Dr. John Logsdon told a lecture audience at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Asked to comment on the fact America has no successor to the space shuttle making its last flight this summer, Logsdon called that "the leading indicator that we don't have a serious (space) program." "Mike Griffin has been warning about it for years," Logsdon said, referring to former NASA administrator and current University of Alabama in Huntsville professor Dr. Michael Griffin. "It's not NASA's fault," Logsdon said, blaming Congress for not "having the will to carry through when the going got tough.

"It's unfortunate," Logsdon said. "I could use other words, but there are young people in the room." Despite his skepticism, Logsdon said there is actually enough money in the current plan for NASA for "a pretty good space program, as long as you're not in a hurry." The best approach, he said, "is to do this together" with other nations. (5/20)

Energy Niche for NASA Exes (Source: Houston Chronicle)
On reflection, it seems obvious: NASA's extremity can be the offshore oil and gas industry's opportunity. Indeed, it probably should be. Recent cutbacks at the space agency make available a pool of highly skilled engineering, technical and scientific talent that is ideally suited to help the industry come back from the safety and ecological disaster brought by last year's BP spill in the central Gulf of Mexico.

We feel certain that fact has not been lost on those in the offshore industry or, for that matter, those involved in its oversight and regulation. The ideal placement for NASA alums would seem to be on the staff of an Ocean Safety Institute being proposed by the Greater Houston Partnership. The institute would include both government and the drilling industry and also has attracted the interest of Mexico's national oil company. Over the years, in dealing with close calls and tragedies, the space agency has developed an unrivaled forte in the areas of safety and risk management.

Editor's Note: This is not dissimilar to efforts in Florida to transition the KSC space workforce toward programs and jobs in the energy sector. NASA Headquarters officials recently agreed that this is exactly the kind of focus that is needed, as it leverages the skills these workers have gained while supporting NASA. Absent, however, is a formal federal program or initiative to put this transition in motion in collaboration with ongoing state and local efforts. (5/20)

Space Coast Energy Group Advances Plans for Economic Diversification (Source: SCEC)
The Space Coast Energy Consortium, in coordination with Regionerate LLC, Space Florida, and the Florida Banner Center for Clean Energy, convened a focus group of Central Florida energy-related manufacturing and R&D firms. The discussion focused on the need to use existing programs and authority more effectively (including the Florida Opportunity Fund and Qualified Energy Conservation Bond programs) as well as specific projects that could be developed based on the capabilities of firms in the region.

Examples include: 1) Applications of superconductivity and cryogenics, including large motors and generators and power modulation systems; 2) Techniques and equipment for conversion of biomass (such as agricultural waste products) to gaseous and liquid fuels; and 3) Developing integrated structural modules (for roofing or other structural components) that include solar photo-voltaic and/or solar thermal components.

Participants also discussed ways to coordinate these initiatives with various state and Federal partners, including NASA, Dept of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab, Florida Solar Energy Center, FSU's National High Magnetic Field Lab, and the state's economic development infrastructure. (5/19)

Non-Profit NASTAR Foundation Formed to Support Aerospace Industry (Source: ETC)
The NASTAR Foundation, a non-profit organization that fosters opportunities for people of all ages to experience the excitement of aerospace exploration, has been formed. The Board includes a former astronaut, university development officer, entrepreneur, corporate CEO, a national security specialist and a workforce development professional.

Core focus areas are to: a) Inspire, facilitate, and grow public awareness and participation in aviation and space activities; b) Enhance workforce development through life-long learning opportunities; c) Support innovative programs that improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; d) Facilitate theoretical and applied research to meet the needs of the aerospace industry; and e) Advance health & safety through the creation of medical and training standards for the commercial space industry

One of the first projects for the NASTAR Foundation is to develop medical and training standards for commercial space flight. NASTAR Foundation will form committee(s) as necessary to develop the standards and is encouraging participation from industry. For more information visit (5/20)

NASTAR Offers Training for Future Scientist-Astronauts and Educator-Astronauts (Source: ETC)
The NASTAR Center, the premier commercial aerospace training and research center in the world, and member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, is conducting Suborbital Scientist space training for future scientist- and educator-astronauts. Participants learn how to design and fly scientific research experiments onboard commercial suborbital spacecraft such as those operated by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, XCOR Aerospace, and Armadillo Aerospace.

A total of 42 researchers from 18 different universities and organizations have now each spent three days training at NASTAR Center in four separate classes since the Suborbital Scientist Training Program debuted in January 2010. The upcoming suborbital scientist class on July 11-13 is already fully booked, and a university booked a custom class for July 18-20. The next available slot for potential scientist-astronauts is September 12-14.

Keith Cowing, a Board of Directors member of the Challenger Center for Space Education and well-known space journalist, remarked, "Based on my NASTAR experience (centrifuge & altitude chamber), ANYONE in good health with good training can fly to space. These new suborbital vehicles will inaugurate a new era for education and science, and I'm excited to cover it just as its true potential starts to unfold." (5/20)

Hawaii Set to Play Bigger Role in Space Exploration (Source: Pacific Business News)
The state of Hawaii and NASA are set to sign an agreement to collaborate on the development of test sites on the Big Island for technology and equipment that could be used in the exploration of the moon and other planets. Officials from the NASA Ames Research Center in California are scheduled to be in Hawaii next week to sign the agreement with Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The agreement will be an amendment, or annex, to a Space Act Agreement signed in April 2010 by then-Gov. Linda Lingle. (5/20)

Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory Set for Shake-Up (Source: Nature)
Cornell University has lost its long-term contract to run the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the world’s biggest radio dish, Nature has confirmed. A decision this week by the US National Science Foundation means management of the National Atmospheric and Ionospheric Center (NAIC) that includes the AO will move from Cornell to a consortium including SRI International, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), the University of Puerto Rico, and other institutions. (5/19)

Rockets for Schools Returns to Sheboygan Shoreline (Source: The Sheboygan Press)
The launch date is approaching for the 50 high-powered model rockets scheduled for liftoff along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Sheboygan this weekend as part of the Rockets for Schools event. More than 500 middle- and high-school-aged kids from Wisconsin and Illinois will participate in the two-day event, which is aimed at inspiring interest in science, math and engineering. (5/20)

Colorado Area Has Shot at National Aerospace Hub (Source: Boulder Business Report)
The Boulder Valley can become the nucleus of the commercial space industry, but it will not be able to do it on its own, local aerospace experts said at the Boulder Economic Summit. The event, organized by the Boulder Economic Council and hosted by the University of Colorado, focused on Boulder's Innovation Economy. Companies and research entities will need to cooperate with other groups around Colorado to make the state a leader in the industry or risk losing an opportunity that would bring it tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, the experts said.

"We have all the pieces to be No. 1, but we haven't put them together, or told their story," an official said. A component behind that will be the aerospace and clean energy industrial park that CAMT is trying to develop in Loveland. The park would help private companies develop technology and commercialize technology already developed by NASA. (5/20)

Ariane 5 Assembled for Friday Launch (Source:
An Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to blast off Friday with two satellites to provide direct television broadcasting and navigation services. Liftoff is set for 4:38 p.m. EDT from French Guiana. The ST 2 communications satellite will ride in the Ariane 5 rocket's upper position. Bolted in the lower part of the rocket's payload fairing, GSAT 8 carries communications transponders and a navigation instrument for the Indian Space Research Organization. (5/19)

No comments: