May 4, 2011

MDA Corp. Sets Internal Deadline for Reaching Acquisition Decision (Source: Space News)
Canada’s MDA Corp. will either decide on a large acquisition of a U.S. satellite hardware or space-services company by July or return to shareholders the cash it is now retaining for such a deal, MDA Chief Executive Daniel E. Friedmann said May 3. (5/4)

Post-Shuttle Economic Assistance Grants Could Still Happen (Source: NASA Watch)
From Jim Muncy: "Strictly speaking, the Congress did not tell NASA they could not spend [the $40 million] on this purpose. The Continuing Resolution simply cut funding from the same account within NASA that the $40m would have come from ('Cross Agency Support'). NASA has understandably decided it will be too hard to fund everything they have to fund (salaries, center infrastructure, and a large part of OCT) out of the remaining CAS funding, and therefore they can't spare the $40m."

"However, the CR also earmarked $1.8 billion for the Space Launch System. $40m will not make any difference in SLS' outcome. Certainly Senator Bill Nelson could convince his colleagues to allow Administrator Bolden to reprogram $40 million from SLS to this purpose. Or more, if it could also cover Texas and even Utah transition grants. So, it is possible that Senators Nelson and Hutchison could still make this happen." (5/4)

KSC Moves Toward Demolition of Spaceport Facilities (Source: NASA)
NASA KSC is soliciting capability information from small and disadvantaged businesses to establish small business subcontracting goals for the demolition of various facilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Click here for the solicitation, including a list of facilities to be demolished. (5/4)

Musk: Why the U.S. Can Beat China: The Facts About SpaceX Costs (Source: SpaceX)
When I started SpaceX, it was not surprising when people said we wouldn’t succeed. But now that we’ve successfully proven Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon, there’s been a steady stream of misinformation and doubt expressed about SpaceX’s actual launch costs and prices. A Chinese official noted that SpaceX currently has the best launch prices in the world and they don’t believe they can beat them.

This is a clear case of American innovation trumping lower overseas labor rates. I recognize that our prices shatter the historical cost models of government-led developments, but these prices are not arbitrary, premised on capturing market share, or “teaser” rates meant to lure in an eager market only to be increased later. They are based on known costs and a demonstrated track record, and they exemplify the potential of America's commercial space industry.

Because SpaceX is so vertically integrated, we know and can control the overwhelming majority of our costs. This is why I am so confident that our performance will increase and our prices will decline over time, as is the case with every other technology. The total company expenditures since being founded in 2002 through the 2010 fiscal year were less than $800 million, which includes all the development costs for the Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon. Click here to read the article. (5/4)

The First Trillionaires Will Make Their Fortunes in Space (Source: Big Think)
Just as explorers during the Age of Discovery established new trade routes in pursuit of resources such as gold, silver and spices, the future explorers of space will be chasing unimaginable riches. As Peter Diamandis told the International Space Development Conference, “There are twenty-trillion-dollar checks up there, waiting to be cashed!” These cosmic cash cows are so-called Near-Earth asteroids that contain a wide range of precious resources. (5/4)

Faulty Switch Box Replaced Inside Endeavour (Source: Florida Today)
Kennedy Space Center teams this morning finished replacing an electronic switch box inside Endeavour believed responsible for last week's launch scrub. The old box, called the Load Control Assembly-2, is undergoing tests in a malfunction lab to try to pinpoint the problem that prevented a set of fuel line heaters from turning on last Friday. (5/4)

Soyuz Launches With Russian Meridian 4 Military Satellite (Source:
A Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat rocket has launched a communications satellite for the Russian military. The rocket, carrying the fourth Meridian spacecraft, lifted off from pad 43/4 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The Meridian-4 satellite is part of a system of military communications satellites which are intended to replace the ageing Molniya system. (5/4)

SpaceShipTwo's First "Feathered" Flight (Source: Virgin Galactic)
On May 4, in the skies above Mojave Air and Spaceport in California, SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spaceship, demonstrated its unique reentry ‘feather’ configuration for the first time. This test flight, the third in less than two weeks, marks another major milestone on the path to powered test flights and commercial operations.

SpaceShipTwo (SS2), named VSS Enterprise, has now flown solo seven times since its public roll-out in December 2009 and since the completion of its ground and captive -carry test program. At the controls of the of the spaceship were Scaled Composites’ test pilots Pete Siebold and Clint Nichols while Mark Stucky, Brian Maisler and Brandon Inks crewed the purpose built, all composite, twin fuselage WK2. (5/4)

Northrop CEO Suggests U.S. Ease Rules on Defense Exports (Source: Reuters)
Northrop Grumman suggested that the U.S. could bolster defense exports by easing its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) rules, which often restrict information related to sensitive technology or data. "The U.S. has been very focused on protecting its technological edge, but that has probably done damage to its defense industrial base," a Northrop official said. "These policies intended to keep this technology for the U.S. but encouraged other nations to develop their own technologies, meaning the U.S. lost valuable export opportunities." (5/4)

"Astronaut Parade" in Cocoa Beach to Feature Eleven Astronauts (Source: Cocoa Beach Life)
The City of Cocoa Beach will play host to an "Astronaut Corvette Parade" on May 7 at 9:34am to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first American in space and at the exact time when Alan B. Shepard "blasted off" into space aboard his Freedom 7 capsule. The parade has been scheduled to take advantage of the many astronauts expected to be at the Kennedy Space Center this weekend to participate in Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction activities. (5/4)

DigitalGlobe Commercial Sales Falling Short of Projections (Source: Space News)
Satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe on May 3 said its commercial business is facing unexpected headwind this year and will fall short of the company’s earlier growth projections of 25 percent or more. The slower-than-forecasted growth in what remains a minority of its total business is due mainly to large contracts that are taking longer to materialize than predicted. The potential revenue has not disappeared, only delayed, company officials said. (5/4)

Atlas V, Military Satellite on Track for Friday Launch (Source: Florida Today)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and missile warning satellite are ready for their planned blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 2:14 p.m. Friday. Managers determined all systems were "go" during a Launch Readiness Review this morning. A review of the Eastern Range's readiness to support the launch was to follow. The weather forecast is promising during Friday's 40-minute launch window, which closes at 2:54 p.m. (5/4)

C-band Reflector on Intelsat New Dawn Fails to Deploy (Source: Space News)
Intelsat said May 3 one of the two principal reflector antennas on its just-launched New Dawn telecommunications satellite has failed to deploy in orbit and that release of the other antenna will await attempts to force the first one to spring loose. The satellite’s manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corp., has told Intelsat that the C-band reflector’s ejection-release mechanism has functioned, releasing a series of pins that hold the antenna close to the satellite’s body for launch, Intelsat said.

But other data, including temperature readings from the satellite, have confirmed that the reflector remains stuck in place. Ground teams have begun a series of maneuvers to remedy the situation. One, nicknamed “rock n’ roll,” consists of shaking the satellite. Another will include exposing the stuck antenna to heat from the sun, alternating with exposure to cold, in an attempt to force deployment. (5/4)

House Panel Proposes Zeroing Missile Tracking System (Source: Space News)
A proposed satellite system for tracking ballistic missiles as they coast through space would receive no funding next year under legislation unveiled May 3 by a House defense oversight panel. The Missile Defense Agency requested $160.8 million in 2012 for the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), but a House Armed Services subcommittee denied that request in its entirety. (5/4)

Spy, Military Satellites Launched from Florida Helped Get Bin Laden (Source: Florida Today)
The Navy SEALs who conducted the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden are called the quiet professionals. No one outside their tightly guarded world knows who they are, and that’s the way they want it, rejecting publicity for the anonymity the dangerous work requires.

But there’s another group of military professionals who played a critical role in tracking down and killing the terrorist leader and without whom bin Laden would still be a free man. They are the members of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base and their civilian contractors who launch the military and spy satellites for the Pentagon and National Reconnaissance Office from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (5/4)

A Look at the Isle of Man's Space Stations (Source:
Isle of Man-based space exploration company Excalibur Almaz Limited is currently storing two space stations at a hangar in Jurby.'s John Gregory was invited to have a closer look. It was earlier this year when the two space stations arrived in the Island from Russia.

The stations - one a completed test unit and the other a near-complete space station frame - are owned by Excalibur Almaz and the company's aim is to become the world leader in providing reliable, affordable and routine access to space for exploration and tourism. (5/4)

The Last of the Space Shuttles (Source: Corsair)
As Jim Mahon sat behind his wall of computers last Friday at Santa Monica College's John Drescher Planetarium, he projected slides onto the circular dome overhead, providing a rich history of NASA's Space Shuttle program, which after 30 years is coming to a close.

Mahon is the current caretaker of the John Drescher Planetarium, and he operates the 100-inch telescope atop Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains. By dispensing his vast knowledge of space exploration and NASA history, Mahon gave his audience a glimpse of where the shuttle program began and where it will likely be heading. (5/4)

Moffett Field's Hangar One Windows to Come Down (Source: San Jose Mercury News)
The distinctive, corrugated windows that have been part of Hangar One since it was built in the 1930s are too damaged to preserve and will have to come down as crews dismantle much of the landmark structure in Mountain View, according to the U.S. Navy.

Preservationists had hoped to see the windows left alone as a Navy contractor removes the hangar's exterior panels, leaving the frame to be re-skinned in the future. The thick, wavy windows are reinforced with chicken wire and preservationists say they are an important part of the structure's history. (5/4)

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