June 24, 2011

Shuttle Workers Prepare Discovery for Museum Duty (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Technicians readying the shuttle Discovery for public display say the retired spaceship will be ready to leave the Kennedy Space Center in February for its new home at a Smithsonian museum annex near Washington.

But the veteran spacecraft's piggyback journey atop a modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft will likely not begin until April due to potential wintry weather along the East Coast, according to Stephanie Stilson, the NASA manager leading the shuttle retirement work at KSC. The specialized Shuttle Carrier Aircraft can only fly through fair weather with an orbiter riding piggyback. (6/24)

KSC Will Host 150 People for Tweetup at Launch of Jupiter-Bound Mission (Source: NASA)
NASA will host a two-day launch Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on Aug. 4-5 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket. The launch window opens at 11:39 a.m. EDT on Aug. 5.

Tweetup registration opens at 3 p.m. EDT on June 24, and closes at 3 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 27. NASA will randomly select 150 participants from online registrations. For more information about the Tweetup and registration, click here. (6/24)

Space Coast Artist Exhibits Shuttle Homage in New York Gallery (Source: Florida Today)
Malabar artist Lloyd Behrendt pays homage to the end of the space shuttle era with an exhibition of his photographic art at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in New York City. Four of his works will be part of the gallery's "Melodies of the Moon and Sky" exhibition running through July 5.

Behrendt is well known for his enthusiasm surrounding the space program and Brevard County's cultural community, especially through his active leadership on the Brevard Cultural Alliance board of directors. Since 1966, he has photographed about 300 launches from Cape Canaveral. He creates black-and-white silver prints, then adds color with oil pencils. Click here. (6/24)

OHB Buys SSC’s Space Systems Division (Source: Space News)
Fast-growing satellite and rocket hardware manufacturer OHB of Germany, which already has operations in Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, has established a foothold in Sweden with the purchase of the Space Systems division of SSC, officials with the companies said. The transaction, described as an asset deal in which OHB assumes the risks of the Space Systems division’s future performance, was concluded for a symbolic price of 1 Swedish krona, or about 15 U.S. cents. (6/24)

Orion Spacecraft on Display in Tallahassee (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
More than 500 people from all over the world have traveled into space. However, only 24 of those individuals have gone more than a few hundred miles from the earth's surface. That's about to change, says Larry Price, Orion deputy program manager at Lockheed Martin. Orion is NASA's latest project -- a spacecraft that will have the capability to carry humans deep into space.

"This spacecraft will allow astronauts to travel to other planets and asteroids," Price said. "It will help us learn about our solar system and how to possibly change the path of asteroids." Today and Saturday the Tallahassee community will have the chance to see the spacecraft during a special visit at the Challenger Learning Center. It will be set up outside at Kleman Plaza.

"We are the perfect fit for (the visit)," said Chelsea Bundschuh, CLC marketing assistant. "We are a nonprofit that uses space to educate to the youth. We also have a summer camp going on right now and this week the camp is focused on rockets. The kids are really excited." (6/24)

SpaceWorks Releases Report on Space Based Solar Power Demonstrator (SpaceWorks)
Niche markets (military installations, developing nation remote power, etc.) may be potential markets where Space Solar Power (SSP) satellites may be economically viable, given certain government support and Earth-to-Orbit launch cost assumptions. An operational demonstrator could be one approach for those markets.

The SSP First Revenue Satellite (FRS). The FRS would be a mid-power (1-20 MW of delivered power) space-to-ground demonstrator of SSP. The purpose would be two-fold, prove the end-to-end technical capability and then demonstrate operations over multiple years. Click here to see the article and download the paper/presentation. (6/24)

3 Questions About NASA's New Heavy-Lift Rocket Plan (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Congress mandates that NASA build a new heavy-lift rocket to take the place of the retiring space shuttles and the canceled Constellation program, one capable of taking astronauts into orbit and far beyond. Now the first steps of NASA's plan have been released, but PM contributor Rand Simberg says this proposal's complexity and politically driven makeup could mean that it will never produce a flyable vehicle. Click here. (6/23)

NASA Defends Satellite Refueling Demo (Source: Space News)
NASA’s plans to demonstrate on-orbit satellite refueling and to encourage U.S. companies to enter that business is causing serious concern at MDA, the Canadian company that announced plans in March to build its own spacecraft servicing vehicle. Under contract with the Canadian Space Agency, MDA built the ISS Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, which will play integral role in NASA’s effort to demonstrate satellite repair and refueling.

Engineers at NASA built special tools for the MDA robot to enable controllers on the ground to use it in the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), which will last over approximately two years. NASA officials say that they have no intention of developing a satellite refueling business to compete with private industry. “The results of the RRM tests will be shared with everyone, including [MDA]. NASA is not doing this to compete with industry...NASA believes it will help reduce the eventual risk and cost to industry.”

Nevertheless, NASA’s satellite repair and refueling programs may help produce a U.S. competitor to the MDA project or encourage U.S. firms to play a role in multinational satellite servicing ventures, government and industry officials said. (6/24)

Europe Plans Commercial ZERO-G Aircraft Program (Source: Space Daily)
Once available only to astronauts and scientists, the weightless experience is about to become a bit more accessible, provided you've got the cash. An Airbus A300, owned by French aeronautics firm Novespace and run by France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) will be used for commercial flights, including one before the end of this year.

Final approval from France's civil aviation authority is pending, and the price tag -- provisionally set at 4,000 euros (5,700 dollars) -- has yet to be finalised. But Clervoy envisions half-a-dozen sorties a year with 40 passengers each starting in 2012. It would be only the third such commercial service in the world, along with one in the United States and one in Russia. (6/24)

Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Woes Worsen (Source: Aviation Week)
Lockheed Martin Space Systems will forfeit $15 million for issues related to a satellite for the U.S. Air Force, the latest in a series of performance issues. The defense contractor's space systems unit is planning to reduce its workforce by about 1,200 employees. "In today's economic environment, we have two choices: Make painful decisions now or pay a greater price down the road," said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of the space division. (6/24)

White House Opposes Provisions in Defense Spending Bill (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration has threatened to veto the defense spending bill for 2012. "The administration strongly opposes a number of provisions in this bill. If a bill is presented to the President that undermines his ability as commander-in-chief or includes ideological or political policy riders, the president's senior advisors would recommend a veto," said the Office of Management and Budget. (6/24)

How Will We Regulate Commercial Space Flight? (Source: Forbes)
What if having a vibrant space program requires bypassing NASA? There exist great pressures for change despite NASA’s signature successes. Programs by companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are laying the groundwork for humanity’s next evolution in transportation, even if one is skeptical (as I am) about manned flights to asteroids or Mars.

Future generations’ ability to deliver goods or hop from New York to Tokyo or Sydney in the time it takes to ride the D.C. Metro today could utterly change the world yet again. But while it’s still early in the game, we should strive to keep regulators earthbound. The FAA calls low-earth orbit flight risky; pioneers like Branson say they’ll be safer than government-manned space flight.

Commercial space’s real hurdle is dealing with inevitable dangers in a grown-up way by fostering the right risk-management institutions. Basically, industries that don’t exist yet aren’t over-regulated yet, and thus have the potential to create extraordinary wealth. We must lay the groundwork for the fundamental risk-management-market institutions that enhance safety better than tossing everything to regulators. Click here. (6/24)

Revised Treaty Regime Would Foster Space Industry Growth (Source: Forbes)
We’ll inevitably need to revisit the global Outer Space Treaty that forbids or undermines commercial development of the moon or asteroids. In the 1400s, Spain, Portugal and England weren’t about to agree not to cross the oceans. A treaty-replacement “Homestead Act” type mindset encourages leaps forward, spurring advances in robotics, communications and nanotechnology. (6/24)

Europe Ends Independent Pursuit of Manned Space Travel (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Europe appears to have abandoned all hope of independently pursuing human space exploration, even as the region's politicians and aerospace industry leaders complain about shrinking U.S. commitment to various space ventures.

After years of sitting on the fence regarding a separate, pan-European manned space program, comments by senior government and industry officials at the Paris Air Show underscore that budget pressures and other shifting priorities have effectively killed that longtime dream. (6/24)

Space Research Brings New Ultrasound Tools for Healthcare (Source: NSBRI)
The remoteness and resource limitations of spaceflight pose a serious challenge to astronaut health care. One solution is ultrasound. Scientists with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) have developed tools that expand the use of ultrasound during spaceflight and on Earth, especially in rural and underserved locations. These tools include techniques that streamline training and help remote experts guide non-physician astronauts to perform ultrasound exams.

Ultrasound can be used to assess numerous conditions – fractured bones, collapsed lungs, kidney stones, organ damage and other ailments – in space and on Earth. With an NSBRI grant, they also created a catalog, or atlas, of "space-normal" imagery of the human body, setting the stage for astronauts to provide care without consulting a physician on Earth. This atlas was handed over to NASA earlier this year. (6/24)

Space Station Welcomes Russian Cargo Ship Arrival (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
The International Space Station received a cargo freighter Thursday when the Russian-made vessel loaded with three tons of supplies safely approached and docked on autopilot. The Progress M-11M spacecraft linked up to the station's Zvezda service module at 12:37 p.m. EDT while orbiting 245 miles above eastern Kazakhstan. (6/23)

Mars Rover Arrives at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
With its launch still at least five months away, NASA's Curiosity rover, the biggest and most advanced built to explore Mars, completed its journey from California to Kennedy Space Center this week. An Air Force C-17 transport plane on Wednesday delivered the rover and the descent stage that will help lower it to the Martian surface. (6/24)

Stern: Commercial Space Ready to Take the Lead (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
For too long, the economy of Florida's Space Coast has been too heavily dependent on a small number of huge government projects. This narrow business model calls to mind the adage "if you only own one stock, you probably deserve what you get when it goes down." Tragically, the state and the nation failed to learn this very lesson when the end of the Apollo program devastated Central Florida's economy in the 1970s.

Fortunately though, the dawning era of commercial American space efforts is giving rise to a far wider variety of new space systems and projects with refreshingly diverse markets and backers. The opportunity is there to create a Florida space economy that will be far more robust than any in the past 50 years.

These commercial space activities have the potential to create numerous manufacturing, launch and operations jobs in Florida, and also create engineering services, hotel and restaurant jobs, and possibly even new entertainment-themed attractions. They will significantly blunt the blow of the shuttle's demise. Click here. (6/24)

Huntsman: Space Policy will Come; Right Now it’s an Affordability Issue (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman is not ready to outline his policies and plans for space flight — an issue eagerly watched by thousands of people employed or formerly employed by and around Kennedy Space Center — but suggested that the first order of business is watching the budget.

When asked Thursday about the long period NASA now faces before it can have a manned space flight program again, Huntsman began by talking about first getting the country’s economic house in order. He said space will be a part of that because of the “long term return on investment” from space projects.

“We always want to be at the cutting edge of space flight. Today it’s an affordability issue. When we get around to space policy, we’ll come down here and make sure people are fully aware of what our hopes are,” he said. (6/24)

LightSquared Needs More Tests, House Panelists Say (Source: Bloomberg)
Revamping navigation equipment on commercial aircraft to accommodate LightSquared would cost billions of dollars, and halt implementation of a new U.S. air-traffic control system called NextGen that is to use GPS, said Tom Hendricks, a senior vice president with the Air Transport Association.

LightSquared should face more tests of whether it interferes with the U.S. global positioning system before getting regulatory clearance, speakers at a congressional hearing said. Lawmakers “may request” that the FCC “allow time for full, comprehensive testing” of LightSquared’s proposal to operate on different airwaves than first planned, Representative Tom Petri said. (6/24)

Appropriations Amendment Aims To Protect GPS (Source: National Journal)
The House Appropriations Committee has waded into the controversy surrounding LightSquared's efforts to deploy its wireless broadband network and concerns that it will interfere with the use of global positioning systems used by both the government and private sector.

The committee Thursday adopted an amendment to the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill for the Federal Communications Commission that would bar the agency from allowing LightSquared or any other broadband provider to move forward with a service that would interfere with GPS services. (6/24)

Dejection Drives ISRO Official to Commit Suicide (Source: Deccan Herald)
Depression got the better of 60-year-old Chandrashekar M, who committed suicide at the ISRO Satellite Center (ISAC), where he was an accounts officer. According to his family, Chandrashekar had been depressed for a long time and was also counseled at Nimhans recently.

He was also upset that he was taken to Nimhans and had even fought with his family, a police officer quoting one of the family members told Deccan Herald. Chandrashekar came to his office at about 7.30 am and hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his chamber. (6/24)

Moon Geyser Finding Significant, UCF Scientist Says (Source: UCF)
A team of international astronomers this week reported that a salt-water reservoir is the likely source of geyser plumes observed on Enceladus – one of Saturn’s moons. Joshua Colwell, a University of Central Florida physics professor who has been studying Saturn and its surrounding moons for years, said the discovery is significant because it rules out several theories about the source. (6/24)

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