May 7, 2011

ULA Gets $575 Million for Launch Support (Source: DOD)
United Launch Services is being awarded a not-to-exceed $575,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract to provide Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launch services in support of the following missions: Mobile User Objective Services 2; Wideband Global Satellite Communications 6; and National Reconnaissance Office Launch 65. At this point, $245,250,000 has been obligated. (5/6)

Babbitt Raises Concerns Congress will Underfund FAA (Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Randy Babbitt, head of the Federal Aviation Administration, said he is concerned that lawmakers will approve a funding bill for his agency that is "well below" the White House's proposal. "Funding at these levels would degrade the safe and efficient movement of air traffic today and in the future," Babbitt said. (5/6)

Rep. McKeon Argues Against Cutting Defense Spending (Source: Federal Times)
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., wants to see the U.S. remain the world's policeman and is objecting to President Barack Obama's proposal to cut defense spending by $400 billion over the next decade. McKeon, who serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, commended Obama for the operation that led to Osama bin Laden's death, but he raised other concerns about Obama's leadership. Some Democrats as well as some Republicans are pushing to include defense in their effort to reduce spending. (5/6)

It’s Not Pie in the Sky, it’s a Spacecraft (Source: El Defensor Chieftain)
A funny thing happened on the way to the Roundhouse — the spaceport morphed from boondoggle to engine of economic development. The visionaries who’ve supported it since the early 1990s always saw it that way, but it’s been controversial. It was interesting to watch candidate Susana Martinez step around the project during her campaign. Had she made it a campaign issue, she would have faced a howling mob of scientists and engineers with pitchforks and laser pointers.

Signaling her embrace of the spaceport, Martinez named an executive director, Christine Anderson, with a lengthy, impressive resume. Anderson has some small shoes to fill — the string of political pals appointed by the state’s former chief executive. One of the first things Anderson did was fire the consultant managing construction. That’s what I do, she said. And so it is.

With a new cast on the same stage, maybe former critics and the public will be more receptive to the latest word from Virgin Galactic, the spaceport’s biggest tenant. Media slant presented Sir Richard Branson as an eccentric tycoon who planned to send tourists into space. (5/6)

SpaceX Founder Defends Firm's Low Rocket-Launching Prices (Source: Daily Breeze)
There is at least one thing America can do cheaper than China: build launch vehicles. The founder of Hawthorne-based SpaceX this week defended his company's launch prices, which are far less than any other rocket service. Elon Musk, who in 2002 started the company better known as SpaceX, said on his blog that his rockets are "a clear case of American innovation trumping lower overseas labor rates." (5/7)

Atlas V Hauls Up New Missile-Warning Satellite (Source: Florida Today)
A new-generation missile-warning satellite is on its way to an operational station 22,300 miles above Earth after a sporty launch Saturday aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Its first stage powered by a Russian RD-180 engine, the 19-story rocket sprinted off its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and arced out over the Atlantic Ocean on its way into orbit. (5/7)

FAA Wants Office at KSC (Source: Florida Today)
The FAA plans to hire 50 staffers at Kennedy Space Center if Congress approves funding for a new commercial spaceflight center, officials told a House panel Thursday. The plans depend on congressional approval of a proposal to spend $5 million in fiscal 2012 on the Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center, which would oversee commercial spaceflight.

Several lawmakers, including Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), whose district includes KSC, questioned the proposed increase in regulatory oversight and suggested it might stifle development of a commercial rocket program. Overall, spending on the FAA office that oversees commercial spaceflight would increase by 75 percent to $26.6 million. "I am very concerned about the budget," Adams said. "This is kind of troubling to me." (5/6)

Venezuela Parliament Authorizes New Satellite Program with China (Source: Xinhua)
Venezuela's National Assembly on Thursday endorsed a new satellite contract program with China, the second such bilateral project between the two countries. The parliament published the authorization of the new project, also known as "VRSS-1," in Venezuela's official gazette, at which point the project legally takes effect.

The notification in the gazette said this program is developed jointly between Venezuela's Ministry for Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries and China Great Wall Industry Corporation. The public notification of the project follows the vote in parliament on April 28 in which legislators approved the training of staff as well as to build, launch and track the VRSS-1 satellite. (5/6)

Fewer Jobs for Aspiring Astronauts (Source: USA Today)
You may want to practice your Russian. As the country marked the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's 1961 Cold War space trip Thursday, things have changed for the modern astronaut. Only two shuttle launches are left, with Endeavor on the launch pad for a May 10 flight and the final Atlantis flight scheduled June 28.

After those shuttle missions end, astronauts will likely head to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz rockets at least until 2016. "A lot of the training now is in Russia," says NASA Johnson Space Center astronaut training chief Duane Ross. (5/6)

Shuttle Launch Slips to at Least May 16 (Source: CBS)
Launch of the shuttle Endeavour, grounded April 29 by an electrical glitch in the ship's hydraulic system, will be delayed until at least May 16 pending additional troubleshooting and repairs, NASA managers said Friday. Engineers have not yet pinned down the cause of the short circuit that vaporized fusing in a heater control power switch. (5/6)

Nearby Residents: Spaceport Sucks Up Water (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
A few sprigs of green decorate the otherwise bare limbs of three Chinaberry trees in front of the Jim and Sylvia Smith's remote home, just miles from Spaceport America. The branches, the Smiths said, should be more verdant by this time of year, displaying an array of flowers, but, instead, they're dying for lack of water.

The Smiths relied on their ground well for years, up until the spring of 2010, when it mysteriously went dry. After some investigation, they found the disappearance had coincided with the start of heavy groundwater pumping about a mile away, at what's called the Romero Well. FNF Construction, based in Albuquerque, had leased the well in October 2009 for its work in building the $209 million Spaceport America. It got water rights from the city of Las Cruces. (5/6)

Luxury Hotel Near Spaceport is a Good Idea (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Someone who's paying $200,000 for a couple of weightless minutes during a suborbital space ride, the theory goes, will want someplace out of the ordinary to stay before and after the flight. With that in mind, Virgin Galactic - which will be giving the space rides - wants to build a luxury hotel in Truth or Consequences, about 30 miles from Spaceport America, the launch site.

That sounds like a pretty good idea. Someone paying $200K for a space flight probably doesn't want to spend time in a $29.95 per night motel or a "tourist grade" hotel. And currently there aren't any luxury digs near Spaceport America. (5/6)

Moscow Court Upholds Ban Against Satellite Image Distributor (Source: RIA Novosti)
A Moscow court upheld a ban on Friday prohibiting the Russian research and development company ScanEx from distributing satellite images of Earth at a resolution higher than two meters. Scanex works under license from the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, to collect, process and disseminate Earth remote sensing data. A 2008 ban prohibited ScanEx from distributing high-resolution images, considered by the defense ministry to contain sensitive military information. (5/6)

Telesat Reports Higher Sales, Profit (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Telesat of Canada, whose owners for several months have been preparing for either a stock-market introduction or a multibillion-dollar sale of the company, on May 5 reported a modest revenue increase and improved profitability for the three months ending March 31. (5/6)

Australia Awards Large Satellite Broadband Contracts (Source: Space News)
Satellite operators Optus of Australia and Thaicom of Thailand, and satellite user-terminal builder Gilat of Israel, have won contracts totaling 300 million Australian dollars ($320.6 million) to provide satellite broadband services to consumers and small businesses as part of Australia’s massive investment in broadband connectivity. (5/6)

Cocoa Beach Throws Astronaut Parade (Source: Florida Today)
Happy early birthday, Cocoa Beach. The city is toasting 86 years as a community, as well as celebrating 50 years of manned spaceflight, with an astronaut parade and a community fest filled with water slides for the children, food, beer and music.

"We've got about 20 confirmed astronauts coming," Malik said. "One is Scott Carpenter. Local elected officials will also be on hand." The astronauts will ride in style, thanks to the Cape Kennedy Corvette Club. Retired astronauts Jon McBride and Bruce Melnick belong to the local car club. (5/6)

Globalstar Posts Quarter's Results (Source: Globalstar)
Total Revenue, Adjusted EBITDA Loss and Net Loss for the three-month period ended March 31, 2011 were $18.3 million, $2.5 million and $6.5 million respectively compared to $15.6 million, $1.8 million and $35.6 million for the same three-month period in 2010. Revenue for the three-month period in 2011 includes $2.0 million of non-recurring revenue recognized as a result of the termination of the Company´s Open Range partnership. (5/6)

Triana Sat Eyed For Competitive Test Launch (Source: Aviation Week)
Air Force officials are proposing in their fiscal 2012 budget plan to fund a launch of a NASA satellite to provide competition for potential new entrants to the rocket market. The service is requesting $135 million in the fiscal 2012 budget, sent to Congress in February, to fund the competition for launching NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.

The satellite, formerly known as Triana, was proposed by former Vice President Al Gore while in office to provide a near constant stare at Earth from geosynchronous orbit as well as other scientific data. It was pulled from the ill-fated 2003 Columbia Shuttle mission and shelved thereafter during the George W. Bush administration. Though the satellite would provide scientific data to government users, it is not a critical payload; thus it is suitable for boost in a test launch that poses higher risk than other Pentagon launches. (5/6)

Olsen: “What’s the Next Mission for NASA?” (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, is marking the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic first flight into space in 1961 with a pointed question – what’s next for the nation’s pioneering space program? The second-term House member, who represents the Johnson Space Center community, says that the road ahead for NASA’s manned space flight program is not as clear as it was after Shepard’s sub-orbital flight in the Mercury capsule Freedom 7. (5/6)

NASA Astronauts to Visit Isle of Man (Source: BBC)
The six NASA astronauts who crewed the final mission of the space shuttle Discovery are to visit the Isle of Man. Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt, Eric Boe, Stephen Bowen, Alvin Drew and Steven Lindsey will make the six-day trip in July. The team will host a series of talks at island secondary schools as well as appearing at Tynwald Day on 5 July.

Chief Minister Tony Brown said: "This promises to be a memorable occasion for the Isle of Man". NASA engineer Nicole Stott is married to a Manx businessman and has been an ambassador for the Isle of Man in space. On her last mission she carried a piece of Tynwald Hill into space and in October 2009 she conducted a live video link from orbit with a group of island high school students. (5/6)

Final Shuttle Launches Create Short-Term Boon (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
It’s no mystery to John Greulich why a massive horde of tourists are expected to flock to Kennedy Space Center for the final two NASA space shuttle launches. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a 16-story shuttle go into space at more than 1,700 mph — it’s absolutely spectacular,” said Greulich, the general manager of the 123-room Holiday Inn Titusville. The final two space shuttle launches likely will attract a total of 1.3 million spectators and generate at least $50 million in total economic impact — significantly more than that of past launches. (5/6)

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