June 2, 2011

7-Eleven Launches Promotion with Spaceflight Sweepstakes Prizes (Source: 7-Eleven)
In June, 7-Eleven, Inc. will award one of its most unusual prizes ever – a trip to space – as part of its super month-long promotion with Paramount Pictures' film Super 8, released in theaters June 10. Super prizes, super prices, special movie-themed cups and online rewards are part of the 7-Eleven® stores' sweepstakes built around what promises to be one of the summer's hottest movies. (6/3)

Intelsat 18 Launch Contract Reverts to Sea Launch (Source: Space News)
The Intelsat 18 telecommunications satellite will be launched by Sea launch from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in September or October following Sea Launch’s agreement to donate rocket hardware previously intended for a future Intelsat launch campaign.

In an ironic twist to a months-long dispute between Intelsat, the Russian government, Sea Launch owner Energia and Land Launch — the company that was supposed to launch the satellite — Intelsat 18 has returned to Sea Launch’s manifest, the officials said. The transfer has been accomplished so that Intelsat’s payments to SIS for a Land Launch campaign will be accounted for by Sea Launch.

Editor's Note: There's a lot of intrigue surrounding Sea Launch's exit from bankruptcy. The company is now largely controlled by Russian interests, which seems to have dashed earlier plans for Sea Launch to team with Excalibur Almaz, and perhaps also has limited Ukrainian company Yuzhnoye's opportunities to market its Zenit launch vehicle. The re-emergence of Yuzhnoye's Mayak launch system, and a new Yuzhnoye partnership with Excalibur Almaz, is likely a direct result of the Sea Launch situation. (6/2)

Senators Call for Competitive Heavy-Lift Propulsion Procurement (Source: Space News)
California’s U.S. Senate delegation wants NASA to ditch existing propulsion contracts associated with the now-defunct Constellation program and open a new round of competitive bidding for the systems to be used on the heavy launcher Congress has directed the agency to build.

The competitive process could save “billions of dollars” over the life of the SLS program, the lawmakers wrote. Congress has ordered NASA to build a heavy-lift vehicle capable of sending astronaut crews and cargo to deep space by 2016. The rocket is also to serve as a backup launch vehicle for sending crews and cargo to the space station.

Propulsion provider Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif., which did not have a major role in Ares, has expressed strong interest in competing on SLS, and NASA officials worry that using existing contracts to develop the vehicle could draw a bid protest. (6/2)

Teledyne Brown, Aerojet Form Alliance to Build Rocket Engines in Huntsville (Source: Huntsville Times)
A "strategic alliance" by two high-tech companies could lead to hundreds of jobs coming to the Huntsville area. Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown Engineering and Aerojet have joined forces to pursue contracts to manufacture liquid rocket engines. The engines will be for the Marshall-developed heavy lift rocket through NASA's Space Launch System program.

"This could put the 'rocket' back in 'Rocket City'," said Rex Geveden, president of Teledyne Brown. If the Teledyne-Aerojet team wins the award, it could add as many as 1,400 employees here and California, company officials said. "I am glad to hear about today's announcement," said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL. (6/2)

New Lunar Lander Test Sparks Grass Fire at NASA (Source: Houston Chronicle)
A new lunar lander that NASA workers were testing apparently sparked a grass fire on the grounds at the Johnson Space Center. The fire erupted about 2:40 p.m. on Jun. 1 in an empty field. It was brought under control within about two hours. There were no reports of any injuries, officials said. The testing was part of Project Morpheus — a NASA-designed lunar vehicle large enough to carry more than 1,000 pounds of cargo to the moon, officials said. (6/2)

Space Shuttle Endeavour Not Expected to Arrive in L.A. Until Late 2012 (Source: LA Times)
The space shuttle Endeavour is expected to arrive at its permanent retirement home in Los Angeles in the latter half of 2012, the president of the California Science Center said Wednesday. Initially, museum officials had said the shuttle could arrive by the end of this year. But NASA officials said it would take longer to detoxify the space shuttle and prepare it for retirement.

Parsons, a global engineering firm based in Pasadena, is donating its services to cover the logistics of transporting the orbiter from LAX to the museum grounds. The orbiter will have to be routed on streets that are not obstructed by freeway overpasses. (6/2)

Russia to Start Building New Spaceport in Far East This Summer (Source: Itar-Tass)
Russia will start building a new spaceport, Vostochny, in the Far East this summer, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Deputy Director Sergei Savelyev said. “We link our strategy for further space exploration to this spaceport. It will be not just a launch pad, but it will have all necessary infrastructure – an assembly and testing complex, a manned mission complex, a medical center, an airport, and surface transportation,” he said. (6/2)

Ivanov Calls for More Active Use of GLONASS for Transportation, Road Safety (Source: Itar-Tass)
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the Russian space navigation system GLONASS should be used more actively for monitoring civilian and passenger transportation, road construction, Emergencies Ministry and Interior Ministry operations, cadastre control, and bridge construction.

He believes that the use of GLONASS for these operations will cut their cost. “By cost cutting I mean reduction of corruption and direct theft, which unfortunately abound,” Ivanov said. He said that the Moscow city administration is already using intellectual mass transit management system in order to reduce traffic jams. To this end, all public buses in Moscow will be provided with GLONASS receivers in 2011. (6/2)

Ivanov Says GLONASS Needs to Go Global (Source: Itar-Tass)
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia should market its GLONASS navigation system globally more actively. “Basically, all leading world manufacturers have started creating chips using two navigation technologies: GLONASS and GPS. Considering such interest, we should go into world high-tech markets more boldly and promote our system more actively,” Ivanov said. (6/2)

Crews Gush Over Beloved Shuttle, Concur New Vehicle Critical for Exploration (Source: Florida Today)
The shuttle program's end next month is a difficult but necessary step to enable human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, where the shuttle can't go, astronauts said Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. They said these final milestones, while bittersweet, should focus not only on the loss of the shuttle.

Instead, they should celebrate the shuttle's achievements while also accepting that if humans want to some day explore the moon, asteroids or Mars, it's time to move on. "We could continue flying the shuttle, and it is a beautiful vehicle, but we've got to get out of low-Earth orbit, and to do that we need a new vehicle," Rex Walheim said. (6/2)

'India Build Satellite Service Station' (Source: IBN)
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam today suggested that Indian Space Research Organization build a space satellite service station in geo-synchronous orbit as he saw an opportunity for it in this field. Kalam, himself an acclaimed rocket scientist, said many satellites in the geo-synchronous orbit face problems relating to power and fuel after three or five years in service. He wanted ISRO to take advantage of this opportunity to service such satellites. (6/2)

'India to Launch 12 Foreign Satellites' (Source: Express Buzz)
India has bagged multi-million dollar contracts to launch 12 foreign satellites in the lower orbit from its spaceport over the next two years, a top space agency official said. "Through our commercial arm Antrix Corporation, we have received orders from Canada, Indonesia, Germany and other European countries to launch a dozen satellites in the sun-synchronous orbit during the next two years," said ISRO's chairman.

Of the 12 satellites, four are from Canada, two each from Indonesia and Germany and one from Luxembourg. The remaining three spacecraft are from universities in Europe. Antrix is also in negotiations with France to launch a remote sensing satellite (EnMAP) in the lower orbit. India has already launched a total of 26 foreign satellites during the past decade for various countries, including Germany, Italy, Israel, Korea and Singapore. (6/2)

'Indian Astronaut to Walk on Moon in 2025' (Source: IBN)
Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Wednesday hoped an Indian astronaut would walk on the Moon in 2025 and on Mars by 2035. "I believe an Indian astronaut will walk on the Moon in 2025 and on Mars by 2035. The Indian space agency should attempt to put an Indian on Moon and Mars between 2025 and 2035," Kalam said. (6/2)

LightSquared's Wireless Network Interferes With GPS (Source: Wall Street Journal)
LightSquared's plan to launch a new national wireless broadband network faces a setback as preliminary tests suggest the start-up's network could knock out some GPS systems. This could slow down FCC approval of its new network and create problems for other companies – including its primary financial backer, Harbinger Capital Partners, which has put $2.9 billion of assets into LightSquared. (6/2)

Shuttles Leave Pieces Behind for Science and Safety (Source: New York Times)
NASA, it seems, is having trouble letting go. As the agency gets its space shuttles ready to be shipped out to museums, it will not be sending them off lock, stock and barrel. The crews doing the prep work have been flooded with requests to squirrel away parts of the spacecraft for analysis. Valves, flight-control instruments, even the tires and windows — little is safe from the clutches of NASA engineers.

“I’ve got a list of hundreds of items that have to come off the ship,” said Stephanie S. Stilson, who is directing the preparation of the shuttle Discovery for delivery to the Smithsonian Institution next year in what NASA calls its “transition and retirement” program. In April, NASA named the permanent old-age homes for its shuttles, which have been escorting astronauts to space for 30 years.

The Endeavour, which completed its last mission early Wednesday with a pinpoint landing after 16 days in orbit, will bask in glory only briefly before it is groomed for delivery to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Atlantis, which will make its final flight next month, is destined to live at the KSC Visitor Complex. (6/2)

Sonic Booms Lead To Burglary Arrests (Source: WKMG)
Sonic booms caused by space shuttle Endeavour early Wednesday morning led to the arrest of two teens accused in five car burglaries in Osceola County. Melvin Andrew Manning Jr., 18, and Justin Dinzey, 18, both of St. Cloud, were arrested on burglary charges. According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, a woman in the Remington Way subdivision in Kissimmee was awakened around 2:30 a.m., just before Endeavour landed at KSC. The woman said she woke up after hearing the sonic booms, looked out her window and saw two people inside her car in her driveway, according to the Sheriff's Office. (6/2)

Army Supports Student Launch Program (Source: Army.mil)
A scientific rocket screamed skyward at Spaceport America May 20, 2011, as students from all over New Mexico, as well as Texas and Arizona came to see their scientific payloads fly into space during a scientific and educational mission supported by White Sands Missile Range. The rocket carried 27 experiments from elementary, middle schools, high schools and universities into space before returning to earth, and landing at the Army-managed White Sands Missile Range, or WSMR.

Under the New Mexico Space Grant Student Launch Program, students were able to assemble their own scientific payloads to be launched over 65 miles above the earth. The rocket launch represented more than just an educational opportunity for the students, but a cooperative effort between different organizations and companies. Even though the rockets flight began at Spaceport America, a state-run spaceport, it ended its flight on White Sands Missile Range and used range airspace. (6/2)

Olson, Mitchell Laud NASA’s Orion Decision (Source: Friendswood Journal)
After months of delays, hundreds of layoffs and uncertainty, NASA’s announcement that it will use the Orion capsule to carry humans into deep space was welcome news in the space community. Most hailed the decision, seeing it as moving the space program forward and saving jobs.

“This was the only fiscally and technologically prudent decision that NASA could make,” Congressman Pete Olson said of Bolden’s plans that the next U.S. space transportation system will be based on Lockheed Martin designs originally planned for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2006. “The system has been funded and the development testing is well under way.” (6/2)

Has America Opened Its Last Frontier? (Source: Human Events)
Looking back from 2,000 years in the future, were a historian to see that America had sent men to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s and then never sent them back again, he would justifiably conclude that this nation had peaked as an historical force in the last half of the 20th century.

By the time America elected Barack Obama, this historian would see, it was already on the way down. Were he to simultaneously examine the rise of the welfare state, he would notice a telltale trend: As socialism dug deeper into the soul of America, America's pioneering spirit waned. Americans stopped wanting to open new frontiers -- to get there first. Rather than take bold risks and settle new realms, Americans had settled down to wait for the government's largesse. (6/2)

Russian GLONASS Beats American GPS in Accuracy Roscosmos (Itar-Tass)
Russia’s navigation system GLONASS is more accurate than American GPS, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Deputy Director Anatoly Shilov said. “Today the accuracy of GLONASS is 6 meters, and that of GPS is 7 meters,” Shilov said at the 5th international forum on satellite navigation on Wednesday, June 1.

He said the accuracy of the Russian navigation system would have to be improved to 2-3 metres in the years to come. In his opinion, this can be done only if the system operates at full capacity with 24 satellites. Russia plans to launch another GLONASS-M satellite in August and another three in September-October from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. (6/2)

Tweetup At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Previews 2011 Missions (Source: NASA)
News media representatives are invited to cover a Tweetup hosted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on June 6. More than 100 NASA Twitter followers, who registered in April, will attend the event. With four NASA/JPL space missions launching in 2011 and an asteroid belt encounter nearly under way, this year will be one of the busiest ever in planetary exploration.

Tweetup participants will interact with JPL scientists and engineers about these upcoming missions: Aquarius, to study ocean salinity; Grail, to study the moon's gravity field; Juno to Jupiter; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover. Tweetup participants also will learn about the Dawn mission and its planned encounter with the asteroid Vesta. (6/2)

Latest Chinese Polar Satellite Checked Out (Source: Aviation Week)
China has renewed its polar-orbiting weather satellite group with the in-orbit verification of the Fengyun 3B. With the satellite now going into service alongside sibling Fengyun 3A, China will have a global observation interval of 6 hr., down from 12 previously.

Fengyun 3B was subject to half a year of in-orbit checkouts after its Nov. 5 launch. With all systems functioning properly, it was handed over to the national weather bureau on May 26, says national space contractor CASC. The tests showed the satellite exceeding the performance of Fengyun 3A, CASC says, without giving details. (6/2)

When the Multiverse and Many-Worlds Collide (Source: New Scientist)
Two of the strangest ideas in modern physics - that the cosmos constantly splits into parallel universes in which every conceivable outcome of every event happens, and the notion that our universe is part of a larger multiverse - have been unified into a single theory. This solves a bizarre but fundamental problem in cosmology and has set physics circles buzzing with excitement, as well as some bewilderment. Click here. (6/2)

Sonic Booms Kept 9-1-1 Dispatchers Busy (Source: WBBH)
From reports of break-ins to gunshots, area dispatchers heard it all Wednesday morning. Luckily, those "emergencies" were nothing more than the sonic booms from the shuttle crossing right over Southwest Florida. The Lee County 911 center was flooded with calls from people wanting to know what was going on at their home at 2:28 in the morning.

The boom felt throughout Southwest Florida was the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour landing 200 miles away in Cape Canaveral. The Lee County Sheriff's Office received about 75 calls in just 30 minutes and a majority were for the sonic boom. Deputies did have to respond to a handful of calls in the early morning to make sure it was actually the shuttle that went bump in the night. (6/2)

True Cost of NASA Cuts is Astronomical (Source: Atlanta Neighbor Newspaper)
The announcement came that after seven years of searching the red planet, NASA’s great Mars rover The Spirit was declared inoperative by the institute last week. The Space Shuttle program is on its last breath as well with a final flight by The Atlantis slated for July.

Hampering our space program with budget cuts doesn’t just limit the amount of Hubble photos we can gaze at online. It injures us across the board. It is short sighted thinking that in the long-term will put us behind the rest of the planet’s developed countries in terms of technology, creativity and innovation. And these days, we need all the creativity and innovation we can get. (6/2)

UF Students Busy Perfecting Softball-Size Satellite (Source: Gainesville Sun)
University of Florida students are testing an experiment while testing their stomachs at NASA's Microgravity University. Six students left Wednesday for the program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Undergraduate students from around the U.S. competed to participate in the program. They'll be carrying out experiments aboard NASA's microgravity aircraft.

They will be testing a control-movement gyroscope in the environment, preparing for its use in a small satellite called SwampSAT. UF graduate students are designing the satellite, a little bigger than a softball, with plans for its launch next year. The device is believed to be the smallest of its kind. It allows the UF satellite to be pointed in a specific direction. Such a capability could have use for the military or in applications such as weather satellites. (6/2)

Thales Delivers First Cygnus PCM to Orbital (Source: Space Daily)
Thales Alenia Space has delivered to Orbital Sciences its first Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) developed to transport cargo to the International Space Station. This first PCM will be used for the Cygnus demonstration mission, under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) research and development initiative with Orbital.

The module was shipped from the Thales Alenia Space plant in Turin, Italy to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, where Orbital will integrate it with the Cygnus service module to produce the complete Cygnus spacecraft. The first mission is currently scheduled for December 2011, using Orbital's Taurus II launcher. (6/2)

GAO: DoD Space Acquisitions Threatened by Poor Oversight (Source: Fierce Government)
Two acquisitions--Space Fence and the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS)--that are critical to space situational awareness will begin within 2 years, but face significant and inherent challenges due to the number of governmentwide organizations and assets involved, according to a Government Accountability Office report. (6/2)

Jen Scheer, Space Outreach Advocate (Source: No Country for Young Women)
Jen is an accomplished former space shuttle technician with a unique combination of talents in the fields of art and science. After spending many years working on advanced mechanical and technical tasks at the Kennedy Space Center, she left her job in 2010 to pursue a variety of independent projects. One involves publishing a book of sunrise photos taken at the Kennedy Space Center. Another is an education program called Project Mercury Rising, an initiative she’s developing to teach young people about engineering and space exploration. She is now also the CEO and president of Rocketopia, LLC. Click here to read an interview. (6/2)

Did You Help Build NASA's Space Shuttles? (Source: San Diego Union Tribune)
Endeavour has returned safely to Earth, and now there's only one shuttle flight left. Atlantis is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center on July 8th. The Union-Tribune will be produce special coverage of the end of the space shuttle program. We'd like to hear from San Diego County residents who helped design, build or process any of the shuttles. Simply send an email to gary.robbins@uniontrib.com. Please include your full name and your hometown when you tell us about your contribution. (6/2)

UCSD to Study Back Pain in Astronauts (Source: San Diego Union Tribune)
NASA has awarded UC San Diego $1.2 million to explore why many astronauts -- particularly those in long-term service aboard the International Space Station -- suffer so much lower back pain. Click here to see the video. (5/23)

Boeing Opens Exploration Launch Systems Office in Florida (Source: Boeing)
Boeing has established an Exploration Launch Systems Engineering and Integration office in Titusville to support the operational readiness of NASA's next launch system, currently under study. The Florida office complements Boeing's ongoing work on the Upper Stage Production and Instrument Unit Avionics contracts held at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

"This strategic decision reflects Boeing's commitment to provide the most effective, reliable and competitive assembly integration and launch services in support of the nation's next-generation space activities in Florida," said Frank DiBello, head of economic development agency Space Florida. "Florida is pleased to be Boeing's partner in leveraging key infrastructure and critical skills in support of future space exploration program initiatives."

Boeing recently submitted trade studies and detailed cost and schedule information to NASA so the agency can evaluate the company's heavy-lift launch vehicle system concepts, propulsion technologies and affordability. Boeing's 50-year history in human spaceflight and its skilled workforce will enable missions beyond Low Earth Orbit to transport payloads such as large-array telescopes and to explore deep space. (6/2)

No comments: